A prominent feature of Wing Tsun kung fu training is defending and attacking at the same time. Wing Tsun’s hands, located at the center of the chest, go out to meet the attack simultaneously in some long-range applications. In other applications, a bridge is established microseconds before the fight is underway to establish the direction, the power and speed of the attack, as well as the posture, tension and even the attitude of the attacker.

In some instances, a simple straight-line thrusting punch is all that is needed. This is the ultimate in simultaneous defense and offense.

The backup to this approach can be bong sau (wing arm) which is an arm which bends like a green branch of a sapling tree, followed by the punch, pinning hand-punch (gum dar), or edge of the hand strike (fak sau).

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

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.

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Some martial arts teach blocking as a defense within the first few classes. One arm is used to push an attack away or set up a ‘fence’ to keep the attacker’s arm from entering the defender’s area. Wing Tsun’s Grandmaster Leung Ting tells his instructors to stay away from the term ’blocking’ because it implies cordoning off an area. It means to clash force with an attacker. In Wing Tsun we do not ‘block’ but we do defend, differently. From the very first day we are teaching a student to yield to the force of an attack by deflecting, moving aside to evade an attacker’s power, or dissolving his force with efficient anti-grappling methods. The next step in training is to learn the footwork required to use that force against the attacker.

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Wing Tsun chain punches are, perhaps almost as well-known as wooden dummy techniques or sticky hands techniques as an iconic method of this martial arts system. That said, do you really know what they are and why they are effective?

The key is Wing Tsun’s center-line concept.

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The martial art techniques used by Wing Tsun practitioners are economical in movement. They are geared toward self-defense and stopping an attacker. Wing Tsun has always been a self-defense system and so the techniques are strictly practical in real situations. There is no sport application. There is a lot of talk about sparring in various internet articles, expounding on the benefits. Certainly, there must be some interaction and realistic application training to be an effective training. Sparring offers this kind of effective training. Without it, how does one respond if the student does not know the natural of the attack? A student must learn how to react, should he or she see a technique coming and how to respond in a fast and tense exchange.

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A great many actual attacks by persons on others in real life situations involve grabs. Not everything is a strike in actual circumstances. In our self defense classes in Gilbert, we offer as a special topic, the concepts of Leung Ting WingTsun® as applied to grappling attacks or grabs. The Leung Ting WingTsun® system utilizes the applications of the forms in the Yip Man lineage to teach students how to defend at five ranges or, what may be more descriptive, five situational ranges: kicking, hand /arm range, knees and elbow range, anti-grappling while standing, and ground-fighting self-defense.

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Pre-arranged Techniques

It has become common to see videos on the internet showing a series of self defense moves and then the maker of the video claiming that these are the best ways to counter ‘these attacks’ or these ‘ring fighting’ techniques.

In fact, the unfortunate trend in martial arts training has been examining specific techniques for validity versus some theoretical idea of how a street fighter or criminal attacker or ring fighter might attack instead of understanding concepts. For many, many years, martial arts instructors have stated that one cannot learn martial arts from a video and yet here we have a whole generation of internet video fans attempting to do just that.

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Learning Unique Skills

It did not take me long after beginning WingTsun™ training to figure out that I was learning certain high level skills in the martial arts. I had studied another style for eight years and during that time I read and read some more. We did not have the internet so I just read books and magazines about what exists in the martial arts world. At the time, I never thought I would have an opportunity to dive straight into the “deep end” of the practice of high level skills found mostly in the Chinese martial art systems.

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Defend and Attack

To defend and attack; these are basic ideas in martial arts and war.

WingTsun™ instructors are taught by the Grandmaster of our art, Leung Ting, that if attacked, avoidance measures are the best way to insure safety. If there is a chance to run away to safety, it is the best course of action.

However if forced to defend, many self-defense situations will have to involve a counter-attack by the defender. WingTsun teaches that, in defending, a defend-and-then-counter approach, in terms of the time factor is much too slow a response. It is completely unrealistic.

In fact in fights, even in non-contact tournaments, one never sees a block-then-defend approach. By the time you as our defender blocks a punch, for example, the opponent’s next attack is already on the way or even has already hit you! In WingTsun, however, simultaneous defense and offense is emphasized from early in the training.

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Three WingTsun Kung Fu Punches

One of the abiding principals of WingTsun is simplicity.

WingTsun has a simple concept. It has only three different punches in its repertoire. The first punch is the “Straight-line Thrusting Punch” also known as the Character Sun Thrusting Punch. This is because the punch when viewed from the front has a passing resemblance to the Chinese character for the word “sun.” When a punch is truly straight, it defeats the flight path of so many other punches, grabs, and strikes because it takes less time to arrive. Its flight path is shorter. This one WingTsun punching technique works in at least 80% of the situations one may encounter.

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