While Wing Chun versus Boxing is a popular subject at least in the Wing Chun community, the truth of the matter is Boxing is not opposed to Wing Chun. There is no rule that says Wing Chun practitioners cannot compete in Boxing, Kickboxing, or MMA. The problem is we chose not to compete in these arenas. The principles of Wing Chun Fighting can be applied in a street fight, in sparring, in MMA, in Kickboxing, and even in Boxing. Wing Chun Boxing is the science of Wing Chun applied in the sport of Boxing.
Boxing is still perhaps one of the purest forms of combat today in that it is limited to a specific skillset - punching. It’s a sport that comes down to how well one can use two hands. Other combat sports use kicks, grabs, throws, takedowns, and submissions so fighters who are not skilled in one area can compensate for it in another. Boxers can’t substitute their lack of hand skills with some other skillset. If a boxer can’t punch, he can’t fight. Therefore, boxers naturally develop a high level of skill in their punching because that’s all they use.
Wing Chun is primarily a close range art similar to boxing. Therefore, as Wing Chun practitioners, we want to prove Wing Chun can compete with Boxing. Conversely, most boxers have probably never heard of Wing Chun. Will a Wing Chun boxer ever reach the pinnacle of the sport like Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao? Maybe, maybe not. Wing Chun was designed for reality-based self-defense and not for sport, but imagine how good your Wing Chun would be if you’re able to compete in Boxing, Kickboxing, or MMA where the rules limit much of Wing Chun’s offense. If you can apply your Wing Chun under those circumstances, then you can apply it anywhere.
The Principles of Wing Chun Boxing:
1. Vertical Fist Punching- Wing Chun Boxing uses vertical fist punching. Most boxers use a horizontal fist turning the punch over as it is in motion to the target. Vertical fist punching has a number of advantages. First, vertical fist punching supports better body structure and alignment to the ground by keeping the elbow down. With a horizontal fist, the elbow has to rotate out. When the elbow is out, the energy created from the impact of the punch also goes out. This type of punch relies on the torque and power you can put into the punch generated from the rotation of the hips. When the elbow is down, the energy created from an impact goes down, into your structure, into the ground. This type of punch relies on body mass and connection to the ground to generate power.
The vertical fist punch is also faster in that it cuts out any wasted motions of rotating the fist. The rotation of the fist slows the punch down slightly because now instead of all your energy going forward into the punch, some is reserved to rotate the fist, elbow, and shoulder. It’s not just the fist that rotates, but the whole arm must rotate to support a horizontal punch. Therefore a vertical fist is actually slightly faster and uses less energy. Also, with the elbow down, it helps protect the rib cage from body shots.
The vertical fist is also nice with boxing gloves because it is narrower than a horizontal fist and can thereby go through an opponent’s standard guard. So, why do boxers punch with a horizontal fist? It uses more energy, so in theory, it should be stronger (unless you’re generating energy from the ground as in Wing Chun). Also, the horizontal fist protects the head a bit more as the shoulder rotates and comes up to cover the chin. However, this also reduces visibility.
2. Defense- Many of the Wing Chun trapping techniques are ineffective with gloves. Pak Sao, both inside and outside, is perhaps the most effective. Otherwise, as in Boxing, Wing Chun covers by bring the forearms and elbows to the targeted area. We can still use Tan Da, Bong Sao, Kwan Sao, Gaun Sao, and other covers, but without the ability to stick to the opponent due to the gloves, we simply cover by bringing the forearms up or down, using Pak, Tan, Gum, or Kwan Sao where appropriate. We can level shift and sink lower in our stance. We can also maneuver in every way you see boxers maneuver to set up their shots.
3. Power Generation- Wing Chun primarily generates power from the ground. This means we keep a strong base, a strong horse, and push from the back leg to root into the ground. We keep the heels down when punching. This is primarily used for straight line or angular attacks. Another way we generate power is by using our opponent’s own power against him. A punch hits much harder if your opponent runs into it. The idea is when he pushes, we pull; when he pulls, we push. This applies whether or not he is using active or passive energy. Active energy is energy going forward; passive, goes backward. If he goes back we push him back more, if he goes forward, he makes impact with a punch. The final way, we generate power is through turning, turning on the horse, turning the hips, and turning the shoulders. The difference in how Wing Chun turns versus Boxing is we maintain structure and alignment. The power is generated more from the turn of the hips and legs than from the turn of the shoulders. When we turn, the emphasis is on one side going forward while the other goes back, rather than a circular motion. The side going back helps accelerate the side going forward and vice versa.
These are principles of Wing Chun Boxing I’ve discovered. You must discover your own based on your own style, lineage, background, and experience. Like Boxing, it’s important to train these principles with all the modern equipment available including the heavy bag, speed bag, double-end bag, and focus mitts. Also, sparring, skipping rope, and running should all be part of a conditioning program designed for the Wing Chun boxer. The point is there’s no reason we can’t compete in the wide range of combat sport venues available today. Saying Wing Chun can only be used in a street fight is like saying a tea cup can only be used hold tea. Although it was designed specifically for tea, can it not also hold water or ice or sugar? Perhaps, there are containers that hold these items better, but to say something can only be used for that which it was designed for is incorrect. Thank you for reading.
Wishing you happiness and peace of mind.
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