There are a lot of videos on the internet that go on and on about proper techniques and what works in a fight and what doesn’t. Some make very proper arguments about strength training and techniques training and how important strength is. Some criticize the soft arts like tai chi and aikido about their insistence on not using strength to win. One such person objected for a long dissertation about those who insist that some instructors insist that strength should not be used. Most of these talking heads speak from the sport-context in which they were raised and later taught. Every match has rules, unlike street attacks. Certain gloves are often worn, and soft targets are off limits for good reason. Matches are often fought on a raised platform with ropes. Competitors must fight. They are not allowed to run. On the street, a weak, non-athletic defender might have to “cheat” to save their life. This usually would mean kicking low (as in Wing Tsun), poking the eyes, biting, striking soft targets like the throat and other neck targets. There is more to the story. Logic might dictate that the stronger opponent will win in a fight but that does not have to be the case. Excellent technique can make the difference. Clashing with an attacker’s strength is usually not a good use of energy or strategy. In Wing Tsun and in some other arts, an attacker’s strength can be used against them. This is routine in some wrestling systems. Persons objecting to instruction that strength should not be used may have heard wrong or the instructor does not understand how to get their point across. Without some measure of strength, the persons objecting would be correct…you would not be able to stand up. However, I have not heard these persons talk about footwork and how it makes the difference in one’s ability to use an attacker’s strength rather than clash or be defeated by it. They probably do not know how footwork comes into play when borrowing attacker’s force! Incredibly, I even saw one video that spoke about how important footwork is and then never showed the feet in his video! The important footwork of Leung Ting WingTsun® is, after all, one of the “secrets” of the Wing Tsun system that Great Grandmaster Leung Ting has taught. It is all well and good to teach and explain Wing Tsun’s footwork, but a student must practice it in coordination with their hand technique. Without practice, one can never master anything. One of the challenges of learning how to avoid clashing with greater forces is to “give up your strength,” or “abandon the strength,” as GGM Leung Ting put it in one of his books. This is a skill. You must abandon, not the strength itself but your insistence on using your supposedly greater strength in beating an attacker. Most people are not aware that they are not “getting rid of their own force” so they can borrow it. This is a contest within yourself, of your ego. Si-fu Keith Sonnenberg

Training the arms in WingTsun is not the same as weight training. We will explain the training methods in a minute but first, some explanations:

The ultimate purpose of arm training in WingTsun is to deliver a serious and disabling strike to a vital area of a serious attacker as a self-defense method. To do this, the aim is to develop flexibility, reactivity, control, explosive power and sticky energy. The benefits are fast hand speed, ability to intercept oncoming attacks to the face or body, develop spacial relationships, precision hand movements, reaction time increased behind the wheel of a car, catch falling objects out of the air, react quickly to all manner of unpredictable emergencies, hands stay flexible into old age as long as the practice continues.

The training methods are:

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Realistic Application of Force

There is a reason that large and strong persons are successful in judo, jiu jitsu, and wrestling. Size, weight and strength are big factors in winning. In martial sports, a level playing field is important for the sport. Spectators and players alike want it to be difficult. What would be interesting or fun about matching a 275 pound, six foot – six inch tall competitor against a five foot- five inch 120 pound competitor when all training and rules are the same for both competitors? It would be a wipe out in a few minutes at best and the outcome is predictable. Therefore sporting event organizers generally do not set up this kind of event. Rules, weight, size and other factors are all matched as evenly as possible.

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Kay Tang wrote an excellent article for the Arizona Republic on exercise and balancing cardio, strength training and stretching in: Exercises That Are Necessary to Be Healthy.

Check it out!