Learning several martial arts simultaneously, all with different concepts and ideas regarding fighting and self-defense must be very confusing for a beginner. Learning a “deflecting hand,” for example, out of the context of its source art does not allow the student to understand its use.

Many schools claim to teach students reality fighting. How real can it be unless they travel to the nearest dark alley complete with gravel, weeds, pallets, etc.? Real fighting means contact. Some contact is important to give a student a real sense of danger. Sometimes this danger is necessary so that the you will be sure to defend.

There is truth to the use of contact that is advocated by some but not the whole truth. Nobody can know what kind of opponent you will face in real life. You might have to “cheat” to save yourself from disabling bodily harm or death. In addition, you cannot TRULY simulate a street fight very easily without seriously hurting somebody for no reason. If your opponent is not hurt as in a pretend fight, he will continue to attack. This is not what you want in a reality fight.

Wing Tsun is designed for when the “chips are down;” stop your attacker at all costs. The concept in Wing Tsun is to be direct. Fakes are regarded as real attacks. If you are in fear for your safety or your life, the direct approach is preferred. This is all necessary in a real fight for your safety and your life when you are attacked without provocation. If you do not know your opponent on the street, in a bar, in an elevator, stair well, parking garage, etc., these are necessary considerations.

Your odds of being injured in training for full contact or strenuous grappling sessions go up tremendously depending on the duration of the fights, the level of use of contact gear or not, and other factors. This is particularly true if conflicting types of movement are involved from different styles being taught. It is one thing for very experienced fighters use it in a ring fight. It is quite another for beginners or even intermediate students in a gym to partake when they are paired up.

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

Some schools that teach a mixture of styles of martial arts may begin by showing you the basic moves in more than one fighting style with no basic start of understandable concepts. Oh they might explain how this set of techniques is used and why but that hardly explains how you, the tall guy, for example, are supposed to deal with your opponent who is a more athletic guy with a bigger build. In addition, those moves are a few steps more advanced from where you should be. They do it as a sales gimmick to keep you interested. Sounds fine, you say. It is not fine. Every person, no matter how talented, requires repetitive practice of a technique in isolation before they can put it together with footwork, follow-ups, and other relevant details. Your ability to absorb details that make success possible with those techniques are not going to be ingrained into your “muscle memory.”

An enemy or a ring fighting opponent is going to try to disguise their intentions should they initiate an attack. To use the techniques you have learned, those techniques need to be available to use instantly without pre-thinking. In addition, your own skills need to be flexible enough to change in a nano-second. This requires some mental training as well. Some beginners may have the mindlock of indecision, fear, or stubbornness born of loyalty to what you trained on last night. If you have ever been in a fight, you know that you cannot pre-plan anything about such an encounter. Wing Tsun teaches you to “give up” that favorite technique or your pride in your strength if it isn’t working.

It is important to learn a system of movement that has flexibility. That sounds fine but what real flexibility is, is the ability to move like rubber and cling to an attacker’s limbs to guide them away from their target or you moving away with rapid footwork while counterattacking at the same time. You will not need to see an attack and then try an intercept it in mid-air. This is an error-prone strategy. True sticky hands skills are the solution to this missing element in most fighting styles. It is part of what you will learn at Wing Tsun Arizona.

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

I think the simple answer is yes.  Traditional training, if it also involves conditioning, can be a great start toward training for ring fights and cross training in other arts if your goal is the octagon type of fights we see today. Traditional martial arts offer basic principals of the individual style that could be overlooked in a mixed martial arts setting in the interest of “getting through it” so you can move on to another martial art.

At first, you, as the beginning student cannot usually understand why these basic movements are so important unless you have had good grounding in another traditional martial art. The truth is, the basics also train the smaller muscle groups that, again, are overlooked in faster training methods. They can strengthen and condition joints that work to prevent injury and increase efficiency.

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The manual for training for full-contact fights with Wing Tsun has been available for over 30 years. It is called Dynamic Wing Tsun Kung Fu by Grandmaster Leung Ting.  The book is, in part, a basic book for those interested in fighting applications and part training manual for winning a full contact ring fight. The book includes photos and short descriptions of 12 different fighters that won their fights in such countries as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Denmark and Yugoslavia in the early years of Grandmaster Leung Tings’s teaching career.

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The world of martial arts is a mixture of focused students and practitioners and technique collectors. Our Grandmaster Leung Ting warns his students early on about being “technique collectors.” He created his teaching system out of the Wing Chun he was taught and re-named it Wing Tsun. Instead, he says, it is the skills that are important. This theme is a thread throughout the Yip Man lineages. It is stronger in some lineages than others. It even exists in an oft quoted Bruce Lee saying, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

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Many people wonder how to make movements automatic and reactive in developing their martial arts skills. I can understand disappointment if you practice all your basics regularly on your own and see little if any results. Besides increasing the repetitions, how are martial arts skills built?

I will speak for Wing Tsun Kungfu since it is the martial art that I have spent the most time with. However, I believe it is the same with other arts as I spent years in Korean karate and Filipino Escrima. One should think about the intent of the movements.

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Many a Wing Tsun / Wing Chun / Ving Tsun student and lay person has read and studied the story of the origins of Wing Tsun. They have heard of the Buddhist elder, Ng Mui who was a Siu Lam (Shaolin) kung fu expert. The story goes that she escaped the burning of the Siu Lam Monastery by Ching soldiers along with four others each of whom gave rise to various kung fu styles that exist today. Ng Mui eventually taught another female, a teenager named Yim Wing Tsun. The teenager eventually married her betrothed. Her husband decided that this secret style should be named after her. Wing Tsun was eventually passed down in a narrow family line until the present day. Read more

Timing is one of the most crucial aspects for successful techniques in the martial arts. In a punch performed in the air, for example, letting the power leave your fist too soon means that the power is gone before it reaches the target. Not allowing the power to be released until after you hit the target might mean that you hurt your fist on the target. There would be no power there to reinforce the punch. If one’s defending arm has not reached the correct position at the correct moment, you could be hit. This is, of course, not a terrible problem in the training hall but it could be in a real self-defense situation!

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The difference between Wing Tsun and other martial arts is not always obvious. Many martial arts that come from a so-called Shaolin root have a basic set of movements called a “form” which is a pattern of hand movements and steps which might be compared to a dance. However, the techniques have fighting applications. The principals are normally how the style defends and attacks, how to get power, how to turn and fight and so on.

Wing Tsun does have a basic form called Siu Nim Tau. Its meaning is “Little Idea Form.” The techniques in the form teach very basic ideas such as the “Character Sun Thrusting Punch” and the three seed techniques, tan sau, fook sau and bong sau plus two more sections of techniques totaling 108 points.

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Sparring, basically has the same meaning in almost all martial arts, martial sports, and combat sports such as boxing and Muay Thai. Wing Tsun is different however. In fact, it might not meet the definition in Wing Tsun.

In the above martial arts and sports, two combatants face off with each other. They generally walk around each other waiting for a good moment to attack. Usually a fighter is looking for an opening or a weak moment on the part of their sparring partner to attack.

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