Virtually all martial arts taught today had, at one time, a very effective combat purpose. As the decades and centuries passed, the purpose for some arts faded. To preserve the concepts, techniques, and philosophy of those arts, many were preserved as sports. The best self defense martial art was usually the one that had not been converted to a sport. However, it also had to be relevant and had application to modern circumstances.
Wing Tsun has a heritage of being a secret art that would counter the soldiers of the Ching dynasty, schooled in the older Shaolin system, it evolved into a family system when it was inherited by Dr. Leung Jan, an herbal doctor who lived in Fat Shan.
Wing Tsun found a home in the urban areas of southern China. It was taught to just a few persons at a time and became highly developed close-range method of self-defense by wealthy land-owners like the Yip family.
Today we have the art renowned for having been made popular by Grandmaster Yip Man and his student, martial artist and actor, Bruce Lee. It is a highly regarded art of self-defense, economical in movement, using straight-lines and borrows an attacker’s force. Based on proper training, it can be adapted as a combat art. It is not a sport and happens to be difficult to use as a ring art with modern safety rules. Most of Wing Tsun’s tools are used against soft targets and works best when severe damage can be done to an attacker to those soft targets, eyes, throat, base of the skull, and spine. Such an art was a life-saver to the descendants of Wing Tsun in violent times.
-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg