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Close Range Martial Art

Among the many differences between Wing Tsun and most martial arts offered is a Wing Tsun specialty, close-range techniques. The prevailing idea of most arts is long-range defense and offense. The idea that goes along with this is that one can develop more power from a greater distance. This is basically true. In addition, by using long range techniques and the strategies that go along with it, a defender can keep an attacker from getting too close. This is another, seeming advantage. However, Wing Tsun departs from this obvious explanation for the methods of the other martial arts.

Eastern martial arts have always looked at our existence as a continuous interplay between soft and hard, fast and slow, up and down and so on. It is obvious to those that think in these terms that close range techniques can counter long range techniques. It also makes sense that long range can counter close-range given the right application and training. The shame is that more martial arts do not know how to train close-range punching, at least. In fact, it is very problematic to apply a horizontal fist which twists as it is applied at close range. The body adapts to the vertical fist punch better. One can apply the vertical fist with surprising speed and minimal aspects to slow it down. In addition, when an attack originates within inches of its target, it is very hard for the person on the receiving end to stop it.

Now we have a punching method that can reduce the distance it must travel even further than regular Wing Tsun punches. This increases effective speed.

By training the valuable Wing Tsun footwork, a defender can move in close, uncomfortably close for one opponent, to an attacker to deliver close-range punching and other striking techniques. Although the closer range hand attacks are not quite as powerful as a longer-range hand attack, target areas like the bridge of the nose, the throat, the temple, and other soft targets, do not require great power to do damage or inflict pain. Odds of hitting the target accurately also increase.

When a beginner starts training, the Wing Tsun punches do not feel powerful at all. Power comes later after the appropriate muscles and tendons are trained. Emphasis in training is to develop ‘explosive’ power. In order to do this, lightness and elastic nature of one’s arms is important and must be pursued and developed. This is no-doubt where Bruce Lee got his idea to demonstrate a “one-inch punch.”

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

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