August 16, 2013 / in Wing Chun Theory / by Sifu Justin Och
Is Wing Chun unstoppable? Of course not—no martial arts style is perfect. On top of that, it’s not necessarily the style that wins a fight, but the dedication and fitness of the practitioner who wields it. Still, there are some Wing Chun weaknesses that we can discuss freely and with openness to the style’s apparent limitations. Every line of attack in Wing Chun has a minimum of four lines of weakness that the form uses to disrupt the original speed and direction. Thus, slap blocking or parrying an attack by pressing it inward and upward, or outward and downward, causes the assailant to lose both power and structure. This is done primarily through redirection and loss of energy. When a Wing Chun practitioner reacts correctly and quickly to the strike of an assailant, he no longer has to deal with the original equation of net force and vector sums in a one-directional response.
Wing Chun has historically, however, focused on a close-combat range, focused on an area between the actual striking range and a grapple. Because many schools fail to train using tosses and grappling during sparring—or fail to do much sparring at all—strikes are often trained in response to a contact initiation (someone throws a punch). Long-range fighting skills as well as ground techniques and grappling may be left untouched—at least for many years. At Sifu Och Wing Chun we combat these tendencies by emphasizing sparring, grappling, and ground techniques for all of our Advanced Wing Chun classes and students.
Without sufficient training and sparring practice and techniques being mastered, Wing Chun can be vulnerable to less conventional fighting styles like wrestling or more common professional boxing. If you’re learning Wing Chun you simply must spar and ensure that you’re not simply learning programmed responses to predictable attacks. Those who fail to do so may find themselves unable to adequately defend themselves in a street fighting scenario.
Multiple Styles Incorporated Into Wing Chun
For schools like Sifu Och Wing Chun that emphasize sparring and the integration of multiple techniques, there are less issues for those working on their techniques to develop sufficient skill and reaction time. Integrating techniques and styles from kickboxing or even MMA can really advance students in how to deal with non-traditional and long range attacks. Sparring against a wide range of potential styles and offensive techniques is a great way to reduce what might be considered Wing Chun weaknesses. When you are well-practiced and your defensive styles become natural and reflexive, you’l be in much betters ape when addressing what are otherwise considered Wing Chun weaknesses.
Where Wing Chun really shines is in its ability to deflect stronger attacks with both precision and speed. If, for example, a truck tries to derail a train by driving directly down the track, it loses. This is because it has to deal with the full momentum and force of not only the fist or front of the train but every “cargo section” that has built speed, weight and momentum behind it. A truck striking the side of a train has a much greater chance of derailing the intended target as it only deals with a small portion of the overall power and momentum built within the vehicle.
Another example is attacking the opponent’s attack. This can be done in multiple ways. Using the intercepting fist or turning punch, and striking or hitting the opponent’s strike from an outside angle. Though the assailant may strike first, your angled deflection takes an inward and upward angle that meets only a fraction of its energy, to divert its intended destination point.
This first uses “live hand” which is using your arm on top of the opponent’s. As the opponent punches, you punch at their centerline, staying on top of your opponent’s punch, while keeping your elbow slightly bent, thus redirecting their strike as you hit their center. This allows you to strike last but arrive first, with your assailant’s attempt redirected and your strike reaching its intended target, by blocking and attacking simultaneously.
Other examples of this type of redirection are the Jum Sau, also known as forearm block, Biu Gee, also known as thrusting fingers which can block and slip in an attack at the same time by keeping the fingers and arm forward and the elbow slightly down. A Bong Sau, also known as a wing arm block, that uses the angle of the forearm and the height of the elbow and shifting to redirect the opponents attack upward or to the side.
Want to eliminate the potential weakness of Wing Chun? Practice against multiple techniques, drill to perfection, and ensure you’re engaging in real sparring that exposes you to non-traditional attack methods.