The main purpose of Wing Tsun kungfu has always been self-defense. These days in the U.S., many people do not see a need to learn self-defense “because we have a safe neighborhood,” “We have a safe city” or they regard learning physical self-defense as an inappropriate activity for them. “Why not use a gun?” is the usual refrain. Some areas of martial arts training in other schools create a different mind-set. It might be tough-man contests, winning at any cost, inter-school competition or tournaments. The mind-set of Wing Tsun, however, is not about violence but, instead, how to prevent it. Every stage of preventing violence is addressed both philosophically and in actuality in Wing Tsun until the last resort when violence becomes the only answer. We see the stories of assaults all the time in the news. Once you become knowledgeable and trained, your confidence is increased several fold. Fear is reduced. Now you have become confident in your ability to handle situations. A weapon is seldom kept on your person at all times. If you have no physical self-defense abilities, your options are reduced considerably and so is your confidence in handling them.
Today, Wing Tsun is less complicated than other kungfu styles. It enables using the force of an attacker. It uses much faster pathways in its strikes and kicks. It emphasizes practical movement and not choreography.
Wing Tsun differs from other self-defense systems or martial arts by its economical structure, by your not clashing force with an attacker, and your ability to evade or dissolve and therefore use his force against him which you achieve through training. Wing Tsun also does not have a “rule book” as to what can be used in self-defense. We can only be guided by our legitimate self-defense needs and our laws.
To understand how Wing Tsun became so unique, it may help to understand a bit of its history.
According to legend, Wing Tsun was developed by a woman. Actually two women. The first was Ng Mui, a Buddhist elder who was skilled with an older method of kungfu that required strength and power and long, low stances and was not at all suitable for a weaker person who would be faced with larger, stronger attackers. After fleeing the Monastery where she lived, which was under attack, she traveled to a mountain top to meditate and was inspired by observing animal movements. However, that seems to have changed in that the resulting techniques do not resemble the animal movements of her former martial art, but, instead, were adapted for use by the human body. The second woman was Ng Mui’s student who further refined it and it became named after her. The woman was Yim Wing Tsun.
Wing Tsun’s position in the world of martial arts:
Although Wing Tsun can and has been adapted for ring fighting in the past, it was not without a certain brutality in old matches in the far east. Wing Tsun is not for settling grudge matches between angry young men. It is for serious encounters where your personal safety is at risk.
“When a fight takes place in difficult locations, e.g. a narrow lane, a small room, a place full of obstacles, etc., it would become awfully disadvantageous for other fighters, especially for those trained to fight in the ring. However, it is just the opposite to a Wing Tsun fighter…” – Great Grandmaster Leung Ting, 10th Level MOC, International Wing Tsun Association, Hong Kong
“There is an old maxim: Never box a boxer, never wrestle a wrestler. It is still true but seems to have been forgotten.” – Grandmaster Keith Kernspecht, 10th Level, European WingTsun Organization
“It is a matter of fact, that the time factor is the key which determines the practical value of any kung-fu movement.” Great Grandmaster Leung Ting, 10th Level MOC, International Wing Tsun Association, Hong Kong
“In more than 40 years as a police officer, body-guard, martial artist and instructor I was not obliged to go to the ground once.” – Grandmaster Keith Kernspecht, 10th Level, European WingTsun Organization