In most of the Wing Chun fights I’ve seen, the Wing Chun fighter tends to almost exclusively use the chain punches with rarely any other form of attack. Typically, it’ll be a combination of the chain punch and a front kick. Besides these two attacks, there is no variety in the arsenal of the Wing Chun fighter. Why not? Does Wing Chun punching only consist of chain punching or the straight punch? Or are there other options? Here, I explore the wide range of options.
In addition to the chain punches, Wing Chun also has a lead straight punch and a rear straight punch. In this tribute video of Sifu Wong Shun Leung, right around the 1:04 mark, you see him doing a straight punch to the side of his body from a wide horse stance. Notice the punch is not the typical “Sun Punch” from the center of the body going straight out in front of you. He’s punching to the side. Why? When I visited WSL Ving Tsun Hong Kong, I was told this type of drill was used to train Luk Dim Boon Kwan, the six and half point pole. However, is there a combat application of such a punch? In the same sequence, he also punches across his chest in the same direction with the other arm. This too is not the typical “Sun Punch” we see in the chain punches in that it is going across the chest to the other side of his body. This is similar to a cross or rear straight punch thrown by a boxer with the exception that Sifu Wong Shun Leung’s horse is low and he’s punching with a vertical fist. These are two punches that are distinctly different from the Wing Chun chain punches or single straight punches thrown from Yi Jee Kim Yeung Ma (Wing Chun stance).
In terms of combat application, while Sifu Wong Shun Leung throws these punches from a low horse stance, nothing says you can’t throw a lead straight or rear straight from your fighting stance. Remember, Wing Chun has no complete techniques in the forms in the way some styles of Karate do for example. Tan Sao, Pak Sao, punches, kicks, etc…these are all elements; they must be combined with other elements to form an effective technique. For example, bong sau by itself from Yi Jee Kim Yeung Ma will not stop a punch, you must combine it with your footwork to divert or jam the punch with the proper timing. This is a big misunderstanding in the Wing Chun Community as many practitioners expect to execute the movements exactly as they appear in the forms or drills, but they don’t work in a fight without coordinating the whole body. Then they wonder why and say Wing Chun doesn’t work. This is what is meant by structure in Wing Chun. It is the whole body working together and with the laws of physics, not individual elements independent of each other.
What other punches does Wing Chun have? How about an uppercut? We see from the second form, Chum Kiu, an uppercut is performed after the bong sau stepping portion of the form. In the third form, Biu Jee, we see a curving strike following the double pull of the hands and turning of the horse at the end of the form. In some lineages, this curve strike is performed as a hook punch and in other lineages, it’s a hammer fist striking with the meaty portion of the fist with the elbow curving inward. Eitherway, it’s not a standard “Sun Punch.” In addition to these punches, Wing Chun also utilizes chopping style strikes, elbows, finger strikes, and forearms. So, why do Wing Chun practitioners usually just use the chain punches, when in reality, the Wing Chun arsenal is just as versatile as any other martial art?
To be honest, most people use the chain punches because that’s all they know. Most practitioners especially in non-sparring schools only learn Pak Da, Lop Da, Tan Da, Gaun Da all with the single straight punch from a square stance and perhaps turning on the heels. Those who do know the additional punches we’ve mentioned don’t know how to put them together in combination. The only combination they know is alternating the chain punch. The lead and rear straight punches, curving punches, uppercuts, chops, forearm strikes, elbows…these are all left out of the toolbox. When boxers use combination punching, they do so with a purpose. They don’t just mindlessly keep throwing the same series of punch to the same target area.
Boxers mix up their punching in combination targeting multiple areas with various timings to keep their opponent guessing. For example, you may have a boxer throw a 1,1,2 (double jab, rear cross). The jabs come at about the same speed and power, the rear cross is a bit delayed traveling from a further distance (the rear hand), but it carries more power. The double jab temporarily blinds the opponent so they can’t see the rear cross coming until it’s too late. To learn to use your Wing Chun punches in combination, it’s best to train for it, shadow box, and work the focus mitts. Focus mitts will teach you to target different areas as your trainer can move the pads around to a different strike. Obviously, you can combine your punching with kicking in combinations.
The bottomline is Wing Chun has just as much in our punching arsenal as Boxing, Muay Thai, and any other martial art. We gotta learn how to use it. The only way is to train it, experiment with it, shadow box, hit the focus mitts, and incorporate these new weapons slowly into our repertoire. In future articles, we go in depth about different ways to use each of these punches and strikes. Thank you for reading.
Wishing you peace and compassion.
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