Everybody Tries to Make Martial Arts Complicated

“Everybody tries to make martial arts complicated,” something Grandmaster Leung Ting Ting has often stated. The Wing Tsun idea starts with simplicity. This martial art started out 300 years ago as a martial art of change. The developers thought that existing martial arts were too complicated.  They wanted to change the prevailing approach which was teaching numerous predetermined sequences of movements to make the learning faster and simpler and retain effectiveness. Learning numerous forms was and is considered a distraction. Predetermined poses, sequences and techniques can greatly slow a martial art student’s path to effective self-defense abilities, many of which have no relevance to today’s applications. Many old martial arts were designed for military battle where the weapons were halberds, swords, and soldiers on horseback on uneven terrain.

The idea behind Wing Tsun™ is really very simple. We use the shortest distance to the target all the while controlling your position and contact with your adversary. When attacked, you must react with precision to nullify the power, defend, and efficiently counter attack at the same time. Wing Tsun has a lot of simultaneous movements. Coordination between hands and feet and timing are the biggest topics at long range. You, the student, must train the sequence of movements within the body to react in a millisecond; i.e., the hands, then the feet, to close the gap with your opponent.

At close range, the idea is the same but with the addition of sticky hands. You must stick to an attacker’s arms to follow their force and react in real time. Without it, there is no time for the eyes (which may not see the attack which is outside of peripheral vision) to see, then the brain interprets the direction, power, and location of the attack, then react with appropriate defense. Sticky hands cut off this time delay. You are now ‘wired in’ to your attacker’s actions. If you follow a two-step method: defending-then-counter-attacking, it will be too late. The goal is simultaneous defense and counter attack.

To practice a set of movements in the air, without a partner, is only a starting point or would serve as an exercise. Any sequence longer than 2-3 movements will very likely not happen that way in reality. Much simpler actions that have innate efficiency are more practical ways to train. The follow up should be suitable to the circumstances.
There are no secret techniques, only techniques you haven’t mastered.

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg