Wing Chun people boast about staying true to the original teachings of Yip Man, staying true to lineage.
If we hope to fully understand our training it is hard and probably self-defeating to ever move away from or ignore the question ‘does Wing Chun work in a street fight’?
Wing Chun is simply a method and as such will always work, the real question should be ‘can we make Wing Chun work for us if we get in a street fight’?
In the Martial Arts World, there are two different and unconnected approaches to fighting.
Firstly there is Combat Sports, Competition Fighting Styles that are essentially for aggressive athletic people to test themselves against other aggressive athletic people, it is essentially a dominance game of strength and endurance and requires great physical conditioning and a very specific mindset.
And then there is Traditional Martial Arts that are usually for ordinary people, usually without great physical conditioning, to get out of violent situations, self-defence oriented, dealing with unplanned unprepared for, acts of random violence.
Young men and Hollywood tend to conflate these two very different approaches with predictable results that we would expect when we, for instance, compare a professional athlete to a weekend ‘fun runner’.
A sad truth, Traditional Martial Arts do not teach people how to think about fighting.
What does any Traditional Martial Art teach any of us?
Pick your favorite flavour not only Wing Chun, it teaches its own particular Martial Arts philosophy and a set of exercises that if used to inform our choices can give us the upper hand over another, SIMILAR, relatively untrained person.
Not how to fight.
However, if we are the type of person that possesses a fighting mentality then the philosophies and exercises of our chosen T.M.A. can inform our actions in such a way as to take us to another level, to bridge the gap and potentially succeed with ease.
It is the thinking we need to address, not the actions, we could be the most efficient and skilled in our style but if we do not know how to transition from our styles environment to the new and very different fighting environment we have little chance.
Similarly learning how to play musical scales can make you an accomplished musical technician but that should not be confused with being a talented musician, much more than a set of scales are needed if we wish to be a world-class composer/performer.
We need imagination, we need to be able to make strange unheard of connections that harmonise beautifully, we need to be able to improvise.
If our T.M.A. does not teach us how to improvise, how to transition between environments, does not teach us how to fight where can we get this help?
That is the easy part, a couple of years back I began to visit a few Throwing and Ice Hockey sites, I was involved in both of these sports as a youngster and some of the IDEAS I learned then I incorporated into my M.A. training over the years.
What I saw in the advances in technique and the imparting of information was so far removed from what I had experienced as a young man that they may well have been different sports.
When I joined my Sifu’s school in the early 1990s and began instruction in Wing Chun what I was taught as current training had apparently not changed since at best the 1950s when it was tested in the Biemo contests between schools in Hong Kong.
That is the problem with ‘Tradition’, it does not change, in Wing Chun people boast about staying true to the original teachings of Yip Man, staying true to lineage.
There is the rub.
Nothing changes, if nothing changes.
Here is a brief thought experiment, if you needed to choose between two dentists, one with equipment and methodology from the 1950s or one with equipment and methodology from today which one would you choose?
Really!!!!! 1950? That’s going to hurt.
This is not Wing Chun’s problem as such, it is more that the majority of the teachers choose to present it in a way that is outdated, outmoded and out of touch with reality.
They all mean well but so few have a genuine experience of violence, those that do tend to make excellent instructors, as for the others the best I can say is that you are buying a Pig in a Poke.
With or without assistance from an Instructor we can quite easily develop the correct type of thinking that can facilitate using our T.M.A. to do the job we hoped it would do.
Think about the dark possibility of losing in a street confrontation, as unpleasant as that may be it is the only logical place to start, let us imagine for instance that we are on the floor being kicked.
How did we get there?
Did we trip or where we knocked down?
Could we have avoided it?
This is the way to build a plan, it should not start with he does this so I do that, it should start before the first blow, how do we prevent him from carrying out his plan?
In this respect, there is very little difference between violence and sports matches.
I will talk more about this soon.