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To analyze martial arts effectiveness, first one must define whether it is important to be effective for participation in a sport as in tournaments or ring fighting or for self-defense. WingTsun™ is practiced as a self-defense system while offering a mental training that directs a student to the simplest solution in an encounter and improved overall confidence. Complex procedures have the effect of possibly failing in a real situation.

In a self-defense class, if you are taught to dissolve an arm grab by circling your arm in a clock wise direction for the right arm grab, are you really going to remember, in a panic situation, which arm grab requires clock-wise or counter-clock wise rotation? The WingTsun concept is to simply hit / kick your attacker. Complex procedures are time-consuming. Time is a critical element in all self-defense.

As a time-saver, WingTsun takes the shortest path to the target. If the target is blocked, the defender stays with the barrier but yields their forward pressure in order to find another path. WingTsun training does not require a thought process to find another path but uses trained tactile reactions from the sticky hands drill.

If an attacker is headed for you and threatens by his actions to roll right over you, WingTsun’s economical footwork is another time saver. You get out of your attacker’s way in real time. The attacker won’t have the ability to change direction to follow you. The WingTsun defender thus outflanks his-her attacker.

WingTsun’s emphasis on borrowing an attacker’s force is not just for weaker people. It is also good strategy. By eliminating the clashing of forces, you also eliminate the element of which person is the stronger. In self-defense, deciding who is stronger is not important. After all, there are no trophies for the winner in a real struggle to avoid injury or death! Additionally, it is unwise to set up a contest of strength in the iffy situation of a full on assault.

In a WingTsun class, we examine strategies and tactics to see if they are practical in the context of street assaults as well build energetic skills and confidence in practice drills with fellow students.

In class, WingTsun drills set up a defense called ‘centerline.’ This is a position that is basically symmetrical, that is, a practitioner does not stand with one shoulder facing an attacker but rather, square with an attacker with both sides almost the same. Theory practice dictates that we use our ‘inquisitive hands’ to defend. Use of this hand position is a teaching tool. One hand is extended like an arrow but with elbow bent down to protect the center. The other hand, called ‘protect hand’ is closer to the chest as a redundant guard. If we protect the shortest route to ourselves, our attacker is forced to take a longer path to reach us. This gives us a shorter path and is a powerful beginning to get inside our attacker’s defenses, especially since most non-WingTsun people do not cover their centerline in this way but rather leave it wide open! One does not pose like this in a real encounter however. This would merely serve to reveal one’s skills! The concept remains and that is to be able to use both hands equally and give a defender maximum visual depth perception and utility and being able to defend and attack at the same time with either hand.

All this preparation for self-defense is not some paranoid person’s pass time. The mental training that comes with WingTsun is the biggest reason to train with us.

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg