Wing Tsun is an old martial art, the creator(s) of which which reduced the number of movements of the old Shaolin systems to create a new system. Relatively fewer representative techniques remain within Wing Tsun forms to preserve them and allow you, a practitioner, to access the roots and intentions of the founders. Unlike other arts of that era, however, Wing Tsun became an urban self-defense system with applications highly relevant for today.
Since then, it had been practiced mostly in secret until Bruce Lee brought what he learned from late Grandmaster Yip Man in Hong Kong to America in the 1960s. This fact was mentioned in Black Belt magazine in that period. A few obscure books were written as well by various authors.
All the techniques of the three forms and the wooden dummy techniques have a purpose. It is not enough for you to “know” the purpose. Students must train the movements and exercise the variables with a partner.
The most important emphasis is on the applications, purpose and training of the mind and body, not the choreography. In addition, it is important, to the Wing Tsun frame of mind, to make the techniques reflexive. Techniques are trained to be in your “muscle memory.” This is carried further at the intermediate training grades with sticky hands. Sticky-hands skill enables you to feel the direction, speed, and power of an attack through the limbs. Attempting to catch or block an incoming attack in the air is much less certain. The only way this works is if you and your training partner have preset expectations on how each of you is going to attack and defend. This is far from what happens in a real street attack or other uncomfortable situation.
Wing Tsun applies all ranges of fighting in attack: kicking range, punching range, elbow and knee range, take down-grappling range, and ground defenses.
In conclusion, Wing Tsun is a dramatic departure from most of the punching and kicking martial arts presented today in very large gyms.
-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg