What Makes WT Different?
WingTsun™ (pronounced ‘wing chun’) is also called Leung Ting WingTsun®. Many people call it ‘WT’ for short.
A student of WingTsun kung-fu that has reached the first few student grades can understand the differences in WingTsun from a technical point of view but how would he or she explain this to a friend?
Leung Ting, the Grandmaster of this version of the art of Ng Mui and late Grandmaster Yip Man, made certain aspects of his system his “technique trademarks” and footwork was the most important.
The popular culture and a few so-called martial art experts in the media have, in the past, pronounced the art of Yip Man as lacking in worthwhile footwork. Quite frankly, this might be true in lineages other than those of Leung Ting if those in that lineage do not actually TEACH the footwork in the system!
Wing Tsun not a New ‘Style’
Grandmaster Leung Ting had not invented any new ideas that he was not taught by late Grandmaster Yip Man, but rather has organized the art into a step-by-step program of learning from beginner to expert. He had invented this new teaching system in the mid 1970s. The goal was to make sure each student learned the same material whether that student learned from a teacher in the United States, the far east or in Europe and that there were no ‘missing techniques.’ His communication skills have made him the most successful teacher of this art in the world.
In self-defense, the most important part is to be able to move well. If you cannot move well, you will be hit or taken to the ground. Nobody can withstand a larger, more powerful attacker if he decides to tackle you! If you cannot get out of the way quickly you also cannot borrow his force.
Some of WingTsun’s most dedicated disciples are former practitioners of other styles. Many of these styles give lip service to topics like stances, footwork, or using your attackers force. Through this author’s personal practice and observation none of them can practically achieve the ability to borrow an attacker’s force. What I mean by practically is to achieve this skill in a few years of focused weekly training, much sooner than a life time. In WingTsun, we have an extensive and highly developed program of chi sau (sticky hands) in which a student can learn the fine points of “defending without seeing,” and “defending by tactile sensation.”
The downfall of some teaching programs in other lineages is the lack of knowledge or commitment to the corresponding footwork training. If an attacker is trying to hit you in the head and you throw up your hand to block, the attack will get through and crack your skull if you have lead in your feet. Chi sau teaches us to stick to our attacker’s limbs and feed us information about our attacker’s movements. But logic tells us that it cannot provide a barricade against a superior strength. A weaker defender must move his or her feet – quickly and correctly and not be in the path when the force comes through! Chi sau allows us to act in accordance with the speed and power of our attacker’s force so as not signal our intentions to our attacker (even as our attacker signals his intentions to us).
The WingTsun footwork, after studious and daily practice, allows us to develop a close relationship between our feet and the ground. The intention of WingTsun – the art, is to keep us standing up and not to fall to the ground. The ground is not a friendly place while under a real attack, especially for a smaller person. In addition, if we assume that our attacker will have greater upper body strength than us, we have to rely on our greatest strength which is our legs.
One of the most important points about footwork is in the turning stance. In some lineages, the turning stance is done using the heels or even the ball of the feet. They might also indulge in moving both feet at the same time! In WT, we use the center of the foot. Only one foot is turned at a time. Failure to follow this idea is like a regression to an inferior method and can be regarded as a ‘cardinal sin’ in WT circles.
The frontal stance, the sideling stance and the advancing steps are done with 100% of the weight on the rear leg. Many other lineages use 60 (back leg), (40 front leg), 70-30 or 80-20 stances. The 100% back leg, 0 % front leg stance keeps an attacker from sweeping our front leg. It also keeps our weight from shifting from front to back as we advance forward. Such shifting delivers a SLOW and unbalanced advancing step. The 100% weight on the rear leg stance means that a sudden kick with the forward leg is a constant possibility.
In conclusion, WingTsun is driven by leg power and footwork so get to work and start stepping and turning today!
© Copyright 2010 – 2015, Keith Sonnenberg. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction without permission.