Wing Tsun is completely different in its approach to getting power. For those immersed in another discipline, this statement is met with a lot of skepticism. It just seems easier to develop power using a person’s native power to hit or kick. Internal power has a mysterious ring to it. To clarify the reason for Wing Tsun’s internal power, we must explain why this approach is the one we take in Wing Tsun. Often, power, when in actual use in self-defense, is a relative term. In trying to use one’s inherent or what we will call, your ‘native’ power, it is often necessary to wind-up and use a long distance to gather power. In addition, the upper body muscles are usually engaged, hitting in a circular fashion or in the case of some other martial arts, a punch from the side of the body might. A punch from the side of the body would use a body twist or hip action to add power. All these actions add power but are slower and tend to leave the fighter-defender open to counterattack. These techniques work well enough in sport competitions where there seems to be a give and take of scoring techniques. Injury or death is not an issue. The match can continue, even after a scoring technique by one player. In full contact, the rule is often to wear one player down, accumulate more points or score a knockout. Targets such as the eyes, throat spine, and even kidneys are off limits. Player need not worry much about protecting these areas. Taking this a bit further, getting a punch to hit an opponent with power who is playing with you by jumping and dancing can be difficult to put it mildly. In self-defense, however, it does not make sense to leave oneself open to counterattack in the vital areas. When we are attacked, the ability to stick with the arms of our attacker for a split second creates a set distance and a relative distance to connect during the attack. If an opponent isn’t attacking but rather jumping or dancing out of range, he presents no immediate threat. When he comes back into range, he can be hit. Wall bags and wooden dummies are specific tools to build power in Wing Tsun practice. Other, similar tools can be used but these are the traditional ones which are very effective. Many blogs and videos talk about how Wing Tsun (or Wing Chun) punches have less power. True as far as it goes except when a technician borrows power from the attacker’s own attacking movements. In addition, it is questionable if a lot of power using a telegraphed windup is necessary when striking such prime Wing Tsun targets as the throat, side of the neck, base of the skull, eyes, kidneys or kicking the knee joints. A ‘score’ on any of these targets can stop an attack immediately using Wing Tsun punches, stamping kicks, elbow strikes, edge of the hand strikes, or palm strikes.
-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg