A running argument on the internet goes something like this: Is Wing Chun practical? Wing Chun is no good in a street fight. MMA fights prove Wing Chun is not practical. False.
Possibly an individual that has the incorrect mindset is no good in a street fight. The art is above average and maybe the best for street self-defense.
MMA fights do not prove that a martial art lacks a practical application for the street since streets fights are totally unlike a ring fight that has rules, time-limits, limits on legal targets and techniques. Of course, any fighting practice prepares a student in certain areas of person-to-person combat.
The reality though, is that regardless of how good or bad a Wing Chun instructor or their programs are, it is the person that is ultimately responsible for their own safety on the street. Notwithstanding, I believe a lot of programs can be improved insofar as street safety and self-defense if the instructor so chooses. All the elements are there in the art of Yip Man. Straight, fast punches, edge of the hand strikes, elbows, knees, escapes from grabs, even a hook punch and a lifting punch. There is emphasis on attacking the weak areas of the human body, low kicks, and simplified techniques that are direct and purposeful.
What steers a program away from these practical ideas are the intensely technical ideas of the art in sticky hands (admittedly so fascinating) and structural considerations. A certain amount of attention is needed to the practical use of these methods in drills for defending oneself.
In our Wing Tsun system, we are applications oriented. Each time a student learns a new technique, the application is also taught. The practical use of it is included. Self-defense training at some level is a regular part of our curriculum.
-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg