Wing Tsun Fighting

As many people who surf the internet might know, there is a great deal of uninformed nonsense about Wing Chun / Wing Tsun/ Ving Tsun. Most are easily refuted with a little bit of research.

What is true is that Grandmaster Yip Man taught everybody differently. Why this happened I will leave to my Si-fu, WingTsun Grandmaster Leung Ting’s explanations in his book Roots and Branches of Wing Tsun.

Wing Tsun as passed down to the present day is meant to be a complete fighting system. If people misinterpret it, it is not because there is something ‘missing’ in the art.

Wing Tsun has many different phases and adaptations because of its inherent flexibility. In the Leung Ting system, in the beginning, attention is paid to defense, first in the form of Siu Nim Tau and the Chum Kiu form. The exception is the key offensive concept (the easiest technique to learn and the most practical), the stepping chain punches. The biggest deficiency is that many people do not understand how and when to use the chain punches. Consequently you hear the nonsense about how Wing Tsun / Wing Chun / Ving Tsun cannot be used against a boxer. This is false. It all depends on what techniques are ‘allowed’ and is a false premise in the first place.

The premise is false in that we are pitting a sport like boxing with highly developed punching and footwork against a martial art like Wing Tsun with numerous weapons from low kicks, elbows, knees, edge of the hand techniques such as fak sau and spade hand. In reality, a street fight would not be ‘a boxer vs a Wing Tsun fighter’ event! Neither fighter is likely to restrict his techniques to his art as in a ‘fair fight.’ The boxer lacks kicking, kick defenses and anti-grappling. The Wing Tsun fighter would have the advantage in the technique arsenal and familiarity with targets that are illegal in a boxing ring. In the boxer’s environment in the ring, the Wing Tsun fighter would be prevented from using his kicks according to rules. The Wing Tsun fighter would have to wear gloves thus reducing the effectiveness of any hand techniques. The boxer could use his fast hands and footwork to full advantage. This is even assuming the Wing Tsun fighter trained his stamina and familiarity with boxing gloves.

In the broader Wing Tsun concepts, the direct nature of Wing Tsun should be applicable to any type of attack. One should not care about what ‘style’ is being used – just the trajectory of the punch or kick. However knowledge of the fighting style one is fighting against can be important in an organized fight such as a ring fight.  Organized fighting can be an excellent place to test ideas and concepts. One must look at the broader concepts of Wing Tsun in order to learn the whole art: defense, offense, biu tze, wooden dummy and being flexible in body and mind. The forms and drills are representations of our art used as starting points.

Knowledge of another style is less important in a street fight. The fight in the street better be over in 30 seconds or less. In a ring fight, you can be expected to fight five to fifteen rounds with breaks between rounds. Restrictions on techniques used are considerations. Also considered has to be that you are likely to see a large portion, albeit edited for restrictions, of the arsenal of the other style in the course of five to fifteen rounds! In a street fight, you do not want the fight to last as much as thirty seconds! Whatever unfair defense or surprise defense you can mount within the law could save your life.

For a ring fight, Wing Tsun can be effective against any other style if you train properly for it. Ring fighting requires a particular type of training involving fitness, ability to take a punishment for a prolonged engagement, familiarity with the rules and familiarity with other forms of fighting.

All that said, restrictions on the techniques and targets limits much of what a Wing Tsun practitioner can do in current mixed martial arts match rules. The rules favor strength and grappling arts. A quick end to the fight is not favored by promoters or spectators.

A quick end to a fight IS favored by you in a street fight!

Wing Tsun punches are fast and hit their targets when used properly. The targets, however, are restricted in mixed martial arts matches to preserve the life of the fighters!

With all the restrictions, fighters are discovering that kicks to their heavily muscled opponents are more effective than traditional martial arts hand techniques – IN THE RING. That is why we have seen an upsurge in the use of kicks in these events.

The next issue is… “What if the rules were not so restrictive?”

One only needs to look at the book ‘Dynamic WingTsun Kung Fu’ by Grandmaster Leung Ting. In the book, he presents photos of his students in the 1970s who won many matches in more or less unrestricted matches done publicly in Asian countries. The book also carefully outlines his Wing Tsun ring fighting training program. It is a fascinating and excellent training program designed to win in ring fights using all the weapons of the fighter including knees, elbows, stop kicks, anti-grappling methods, techniques performed on the ground, lifting punches and on and on! Unfortunately I believe this section of the book has become a hypothetical program because such matches have been restricted even in these Asian countries because of the injuries to fighters!

– Sifu Keith Sonnenberg