What is Wing Chun Fighting? To answer that question, let’s first examine a related question, “Who are Wing Chun Fighters?” Wing Chun Fighters are a subset, a growing movement in the Wing Chun Community that seek to apply their skills not just in the classroom, but through combat, whether street fighting, sparring, combat sports, and most importantly, through how they live their life.
These groups and lineages go beyond the standard forms, drills, and chi sao. They train hard and in a realistic manner. Therefore, Wing Chun Fighting defines this sub-group within the Wing Chun Community that take Wing Chun from theory to application. Let’s examine what this looks like.
First of all, Wing Chun fighters train to fight. What does that mean? It means they sweat, they are tired and exhausted by the end of class, but they don’t quit, they keep going, seeking the most challenging training possible because they train to fight. This is not saying you won’t have days where the workout is not intense. Perhaps, you’ll have days in class working mostly Chi Sau and short bridge applications which tends not to be labor intensive (depending on the school). However, Wing Chun fighters have frequent training sessions where they push themselves and endure pain, but keep going. They are not weak and out of shape. They are fierce and aggressive. If they aren’t able to get that kind of workout in class, they do so outside of class working a bag or with a partner.
That raises our second point. Wing Chun fighters train outside of class. Yes, I can’t stress how important this is. If all your training is done in class, then you’ll be missing a lot. Outside of class is where you learn how to make techniques work for you. It’s your own personal laboratory. It’s here where you can shadowbox. Yes, you can shadowbox in Wing Chun without actually “boxing.” Simply by using Wing Chun techniques simulate a sparring match or real fight, practice footwork, striking, and defending. Outside of class is where you can create. You can apply the theories and concepts of Wing Chun in new ways that work for you individually. Here you can also see how the theories and concepts work within the existing techniques you already know. The possibilities are endless.
Third, Wing Chun fighters use Wing Chun. This should be an obvious one, but many guys, attempting to use Wing Chun in a fight end up using everything but Wing Chun. After years of training Wing Chun, they get into a real fight and end up swinging wildly abandoning everything they trained. Part of that is just the adrenaline rush and fear element that occurs during a fight. This is difficult to simulate in light training. The harder and more realistic you train, the better. So, a Wing Chun fighter uses Wing Chun. However, to caveat that, Wing Chun is more than just the straight blast Wing Chun chain punch. If your arsenal of Wing Chun only consists of 1 punch and 3 kicks, then you’re in trouble. A Wing Chun fighter uses all the weapons in his arsenal.
Fourth, Wing Chun fighters study other martial arts. Yes, know your enemy. Study boxing, muay thai, tae kwon do, etc. Learn how they move, how they hit, how they defend, so you can learn to counter them. Spar with them. You can also learn a lot about how and why your Wing Chun works or doesn’t work for yourself. It’s wise to develop a good base in Wing Chun before studying other martial arts as the principles vary significantly between each one. For example, hand sensitivity drills differ sharply between Wing Chun and Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). In FMA, you may touch, block, or check your opponents punch three times before you throw a punch of your own. In Wing Chun, most drills only involve one defensive and offensive move executed together; not defense, defense, defense, then offense. Of course not all FMA is the same and there is a purpose behind this method. The point is they are different.
Fifth and finally, Wing Chun fighters fight. Why? Because they question everything. Wing Chun fighters never assume a technique will work because Sifu said so. They have to test the techniques for themselves in a real fight or competition. If the moves don’t work, they either drop ‘em or figure out why they don’t work and improve so they do. Some still prefer the old school challenge matches, but the vast majority engages in some form of sparring or competition fighting.
Of course, sparring and competition fighting are not real fights with no rules, but they suffice in providing enough resistance and variables for the fighter to test what does and does not work in his arsenal and improve upon it. It’s important to fight in some manner and not just against other Wing Chun people, fight against variety of styles. Some Wing Chun people don’t fight because they say their techniques are too dangerous and someone may get hurt. Others say they don’t spar because it teaches bad habit by forcing you to hold back and not use illegal techniques. Still others say they don’t have to spar because Chi Sao and the corresponding drills are enough. Ok. Believe what you will.
The difference between Wing Chun fighters and the other Wing Chun people is that fighters don’t debate over Wing Chun, they fight. They don’t just recite what their Sifu says without knowing for themselves that it works for them in a fight. It’s amazing how a stiff punch in the face settles all disputes over what works or does work, who’s the best, who’s doing the real art, etc. Almost any debate in Wing Chun can be easily settled by two fighters battling it out, but sadly most are content arguing their positions via social media.
Cheers to those of you who are fighters, who are not brainwashed by your lineage of Wing Chun, who question everything, test things out for themselves, and never accept anything at face value. Keep fighting.
Wishing you peace and compassion.
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