One of my favorite acronyms when teaching Wing Chun and for my personal training regimen goes like this:
Adaptation is the Shortcut to Success (A.S.S.)
When discussing Wing Chun as an effective art for street self-defense or for combat sports, or when demonstrating how and why the Wing Chun system is ideally suited to all body types, from the combat athlete to the slenderly-built woman or the older individual who lacks the physical makeup to compete in pure strength with a young, muscly dude I always hammer home the principle of ADAPTATION.
It is adaptation which makes Wing Chun work-but not because the system is altered or modified. Not at all! Rather, true adaptation as it relates to Wing Chun’s effectiveness in combat lies in internalizing the core principles of the art to the point where they become part of you. It has been said that once the skills become so second nature to you that they become woven into your muscle memory your actions transcend physical skill and become an art form.
When I was in my mid twenties, after many a late night we would head to the local burrito joint which was always hopping around 2am. Manning the grill was a little guy we referred amongst ourselves as “Taco Joe.” I remember being entranced by how quickly he would fill an entire griddle full of meat into folks’ orders. He was a master, and I cannot recall a screwed up order even one time. He truly had made his job an art form.
After awhile I would look forward to going up there not just to eat but so that I could observe him at work. Although we never personally spoke he is tattooed in my brain all these years later.
Wherever you are, Taco Joe, you played an important part in my evolution as a fighter and an instructor. As the Chinese would say, you have excellent cooking gongfu.
That is the type of skill we seek to have in Wing Chun; taking a physical skill and making it look effortless.
Real fighting is not pretty; it is sloppy, scrappy and chaotic. If your skill set is based on some shitbag who attacks you moving “this” way or reacting like “that” so you can pull off your fancy fluff moves, you my friend are out of luck.
If on the other hand your training is based on addressing SITUATIONS through focused and dedicated training in core techniques that are able to be applied to a limitless amount of scenarios and which is forged in the fire of both progressively heavier contact and chaos, you are on the right track.
Begin today to re-evaluate the way you train based on the goals you seek to accomplish through your training. This cannot be done “all-in” right away. Training to functionalize a fighting skill, just like any other skill, must be done in a logical and progressive way. Try these 2 easy to integrate drills to get your feet wet:
2 Quick Shortcuts To Developing Applied & Applicable Wing Chun Combat Skills
- Have a classmate don protective shin pads (I prefer the neoprene sleeve slide-on style as this prevents them from shifting and exposing your shinbone every time a kick is thrown like those who only use plain velcro straps often do) and throw some basic kicks at you-front, round and side. Maintain your fighting stance and move in when a kick is thrown. Will you eat some? Absolutely! That’s the whole point, gang! Begin slowly and up the juice until you rewire your brain to move in and close the distance each time you can see a kick begin loaded or launched. At first you will move in while collapsing your structure to alleviate the blow but after awhile you will maintain structure and body unity as you do and as you move in you will displace your opponent’s structure as your triangular base creates a wedge that drives into their power base. Once you’ve successfully stuffed their attack you and then follow up accordingly.
- For dealing with realistic punches nothing beats a good pair of boxing gloves (I have always found the Title Boxing Classic Pro-Style Training Glove to be excellent quality at a very reasonable price) and tell your partner to hit you. Don’t tell him how to hit you, just have them hit you. Figure out how to NOT get hit through your training. Obviously take this and all contact drills slow at first and as your confidence with both the drill and your response to the drill increases, have your partner put a little more pepper in their strikes and you can add the same amount of juice to your reactions.
Now you’re using your Wing Chun effectively!
These two drills will be enough to get you started on the path to Wing Chun proficiency via adaptability. Doing so will simultaneously reinforce your forms and basic skills practice as once shit goes down and the punches and kicks start coming with some zing on them you will find out pretty damn quick that your best weapon against an onslaught from an opponent is your training.
Most importantly insofar as your own training and growth in Wing Chun as a system of practical, usable self-defense and close range combative skill, you will have answered your own question when that little part of your brain says (and it will), “is adaptation really that important to make my Wing Chun work for me?”
You bet your A.S.S it is.
Train Smart, Stay Safe