March 17, 2017 / in News, Techniques and Styles, Wing Chun History / by Tim Kittelstad
Krav Maga is renowned for is brutality and viciousness. The Israeli military adopted it because it can be taught in a short amount of time. Wing Chun, made famous by Bruce Lee and the recent “Ip Man” movies, is known for its speed and ability to devastate an attacker. In recent years there has been a rise in both across the US. How are the two connected and why the sudden growth in popularity? We will delve into that in this article.
In a post WWII world interaction and fascination with Japan was at it’s height. Many Japanese now lived in the US. Interaction with the American culture grew and grew. With the interaction came Karate which spread across the US like wild fire. However, as with any trend, there are people that would take advantage of that only for monetary gain. Karate, as a legitimate art, began to become watered down. Even though there existed many good schools (and many still do), the general public started to notice the negative trend. By and large Karate in the US morphed from a powerful, dangerous art, to a weaker cousin that was only suited for tournaments and scoring points. This shift paved the way for something new to take hold.
(Writer’s note: This section of the Article is not a stab at Karate. It is simply pointing out the unfortunate decline of authenticity as a whole in the US.)
Modern Krav Maga Versus Wing Chun
With Bruce Lee’s explosion onto the scene, Kung Fu (specifically Wing Chun) started to get some of the limelight. Around the same time Krav Maga started to make it’s way to the US. With Wing Chun focusing on the most direct route to it’s target and Krav using a blend of styles to achieve maximum brutality, the stage was set for the two to emerge. However, before we continue with their growth in the U.S. lets look at some differences and similarities between the two.
Both Krav and Wing Chun were designed at a time of war. Wing Chun during the 17th century China at civil war and Krav during the 1930 right after WW1 and prior to WWII. Wing Chun was designed originally to be a system that could be learned in a fraction of the time of the available Kung Fu systems. In the same way, Krav fused boxing, judo, juijistu , and aikido to create something that Jewish civilians could immediately defend themselves with. In recent times Krav has added Maui Thai and actually some Wing Chun (through Jeet Kune Do) into its system. They both seek to dispatch their opponent as quickly as possible. Additionally, both systems “fight dirty”, using any means necessary to prevail.
Now even with Wing Chun’s addition to Krav Maga there will obviously still be differences. First to be addressed would be training time. Modern Wing Chun takes anywhere from 8-10 years to finish the system.* Whereas the entire Krav system can be learned (on a military style training regiment) in four months to a year. Both of these depended on the dedication of the student of course. Second, Wing Chun was designed as a complete system with which all parts fuse together and flow seamlessly. Comparatively, Krav fused many styles so there will naturally be some disconnect systems.
The third difference would be training style. One perk of a Krav School is that they tend to really focus on the brutality of combat. Understanding, right from the beginning, how chaotic combat can be. The right mindset is instilled right from the start and can be seen all throughout their training. Wing Chun on the other hand does utilize more finesse. In training the “soft” side the harshness of combat can sometimes be lost in some schools.
In Closing, both systems are effective in street combat. With Karate, and a few other arts, becoming very commercialized, the public wanted something new. Something that gets right to the point and gets the job done. That is the reason for the two arts quick rise to fame. Now with all arts both Krav and Wing Chun have also fallen prey to commercialization. So before choosing a school do your homework on the instructors! Once you choose, train hard and stay committed!
*(Writers note: Wing Chun in the 17th century was designed to be learned in 3 years. This was accomplished by monks training 8 hours a day consistently.)