Why do people who don’t practice Wing Chun think that Wing Chun is not effective? Because they don’t see (or at least they think they don’t see) Wing Chun on TV in a cage.
These are the same folks who always love to say things like,“Wing Chun sucks!” or “Wing Chun isn’t realistic.” I ask them to define realistic and it almost without fail leads to the next question asked to discredit Wing Chun which happens to be one of my favorites as far as ham-handed objections go: “if Wing Chun is so deadly, why don’t Wing Chun people compete in MMA?”
The answer to that is easy. Wing Chun folks DO compete in MMA! They just don’t stick solely to Wing Chun proper. The end goals of each discipline are different. So listen up, ’cause I’m only going to say this once.
Wing Chun is a martial art and combat science. MMA is a combative sport.
Wing Chun is about simplicity, efficiency and directness; MMA is a sport with several areas of expertise that need to be developed.
In the old days of the UFC where guys would have to fight 4 times in a night, you needed to approach fighting in the Wing Chun mentality-i.e., no dicking around, get in, get out ands rest for your next fight.
As MMA grew into a mainstream sporting event its’ current structure grew to take on that of boxing. So, that question is really a trick one since it truly is comparing apples and oranges. The end goal of a Wing Chun fighter is not to be able to go 3 rounds with someone-it is to get shit done between 30 seconds and get the hell out of there.
Now I’m not going to pollute my otherwise fine post with the same “too deadly to compete” garbage that so many Wing Chun folks out there throw up as the natural retort to such a question when it gets posed to them, but I will say this: every Wing Chun stylist should have someone don boxing gloves and shin pads and have them come at you trying to really knock your shit around (Click HERE to check out my personal recommendations and review of all the gear you need to do some REAL no-bullshit training). You will get a feeling for realism very quickly.
In line with realism and the structure of Wing Chun as being a close-in system, let’s take a look at Sgt Rory Miller’s book, Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence. This is hands down, bar-none my favorite book on the martial arts out there, period.
Literally every page in this book, which does a better job of both validating the practice of the arts and calling out how completely unprepared and combat ineffective mainstream arts have become, contains useful information on bridging the gap from practice to the realities of a self defense situation.
One of the most eye-opening sections of the book details (among many other extremely useful concepts) what he calls the “Four Basic Truths of Violent Assault.” These are, specifically, that violent assaults happen CLOSER, FASTER, MORE SUDDENLY and with MORE POWER than people realize. For my review on this book and why I recommend it so strongly, click HERE.
Let’s look at #1, that attacks happen CLOSER than people realize. As a Wing Chun stylist, for several years I took this first principle for granted. After all, Wing Chun trains me to react to an attack that’s launched from a close space because, well, I mean we practice Chi Sau, right? So what’s the problem?
Turns out, quite a bit.
Hands From Hell
In Wing Chun, the practice of Chi Sau teaches us to become aware and practice making our hands come alive. The purpose of Chi Sau is not to stick to the opponent’s arms; in fact, here’s a bit of a paradigm shift for how to approach Chi Sau:
Your hands are magnets; your opponent’s head is a metal ball or sphere. Your hands then seek the most direct and unobstructed route to stick to his face and head. If a magnet is dislodged (i.e., your hand is parried, trapped or otherwise taken off the beeline to his face) it simply shoots back to his face with the speed and absence of emotional reaction in the quickest way it can. That’s all Chi Sau is, folks.
Consider the following clip between Sifu David Peterson and Grandmaster Wong Shun Leung. Notice how Wong always seeks not only to take David’s space but also to consistently aim for David’s face or chin, much like the magnetic hands to the ball of metal we just spoke of. This gave him control and the ability to attack vital areas of the body.
Remember, to quote David Carradine in the old Kung Fu TV show, “men do not beat drums before they hunt for tigers.” In line with Rory Miller’s first of the 4 Basic Truths of Violent Assault, if someone is going to attack you, they will wait to do so until they think you are unaware, unprepared and unable to resist and most likely do so at a distance that is closer than you are comfortable with.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Think about it: trains, elevators, staircases, sidewalks-if it is crowded, you think nothing of being close to someone. If there is no one else around and someone begins to get to close you get a little uncomfortable. Why? Because there is no reason for them to be there in that situation unless you have invited them in.
Putting This To Bed
Let me rope this rant in by laying it out there like this: if someone attacks you they must enter your space. Training with purpose; training with this first of the 4 Basic Truths in your head will rewire your muscle memory to react to an attack launched in a close-quarters situation with an attack of your own to their vital areas (eyes, throat or balls)-save the rapid fire punches to the face baloney for the Ip Man films unless you like cutting your hands on teeth or busting knuckles on a cheekbone or a forehead. NO thanks, I’m sticking with thumbs to the eyes, chops to the throat and whacks to the balls.
Do yourself a favor-check out Sgt. Miller’s book HERE. It will change the way you view training for the better. I swear this should be required reading before anyone starts teaching-or training for that matter. It would definitely help flush out a lot of the bullshit out there.
Never fall into the pit of thinking that just because you train Wing Chun you are prepared to handle an attack in close range. Get out there, have someone knock your shit around a bit with gear on, put yourself in situations where you have to look within your training to find an answer and START from there.
Once you do that you have begun on the right path, Grasshopper.
Train Smart, Stay Safe