This is my interpretaion of the style from what I have learned up to this point. Over time, my views may change. As of today, however, this is how I see things. Also, I don’t want this to be taken as a condemnation of other styles. This blog is simply meant to point out why wing chun became my style of choice.
In my opinion, there are three main features of wing chun that make it unique. These features are listed below, and they are broken down into “sub-features.” (My friend Jeff will get a kick out of that line…inside joke.)
This is one of the things that immediately drew me to the style. You don’t need to be super acrobatic to do the techniques. The simplicity of the style is apparent in the following ways:
*There are only three empty hand forms. In some styles, you have to learn three forms just to get up to your next belt. Then you have to learn ANOTHER set of forms to advance once again.
*Aside from empty hand, there are only three forms that involve using tools: the wooden dummy, pole, and knife forms. So in the entire system there are only SIX forms.
*In my opinion, the entire concept of wing chun can be broken down into one main focus: a wing chun practitioner wants to DEFEND their own centerline while ATTACKING the centerline of their opponent. As you can probably guess, “centerline” is an imaginary line running down the center of your body. Why do we seek to attack and defend that? Because there are lots of vulnerable spots along that line.
2) ECONOMY OF MOTION
Wing chun’s moves are all very small and compact. It doesn’t take up a lot of space. The sub-features for this category:
*Wing chun practitioners learn right away to practice simultaneous attack and defense. In some styles they will show you to block first, THEN punch. Not so with wing chun; it’s all at the same time, right from your first class.
*We learn to attack from wherever our hand or foot may be. Our training teaches us to resist the urge to wind up and telegraph the blow. If someone comes at me while I am sitting down, with both hands resting on my knees, then I don’t have the time to wind up. I have to make my hand move from my knee to their body, and I have to learn how to generate enough power (through the development of body mechanics) so that such an attack would put the fight in my favor.
3) SENSITIVITY AND SPEED OVER STRENGTH
In our closing feature, we have two bullets here:
*The sensitivity of the style can be seen in the practice of chi sao. This is where two wing chun practitioners stand facing each other with their arms touching and then “roll” their arms. (For a visual of what this means, just go to Youtube and look up chi sao. Fair warning: some videos are pure garbage.) What they are doing is feeling for gaps in their own defense, as well as that of the opponent. Why do we do this drill? Because that is the range in which our style takes place: somewhere between the punching and grappling ranges.
*Speed: in a fight, a wing chun person will rely on the cumulative effect of several strikes instead of winding up to land one killing blow. This is because whenever you execute an attack, you open yourself up for a counter. It is much easier to counter the opponent’s retaliation if you don’t overcommit to any one attack.
Some of this may be hard to follow if you are only reading it and haven’t ever seen the style in action. If anyone is interested, just say the word and I will try to post some videos about it.