One obvious attraction of Wing Chun to new students is that there is no requirement to use strength, in fact it is frowned upon, softness and relaxation are the sought after conditioning. Observing a typical class you would be hard pressed to see anyone breaking a sweat or moving dynamically, no one applying effort.
I know there will be people reading this thinking “He should come and train with us” but I assure you no matter what you think your Wing Chun class is doing it is nothing compared to Boxing Gym, a Judo Dojo or a Ju Jitsu Club, all of which I have been involved with at one time or another in my more than 55 years in the Martial Arts so I am talking from experience.
When was the last time someone left your class to go to the emergency ward to get stitches inside their cheek, to get an arm relocated or to have a sprained wrist strapped up, over the years all of these things and many more have happened to me in the course of an ordinary evenings training. In 25 years of Wing Chun training I have never seen anyone cop even a half serious injury, I have however seen a few people get a bit of a tap leave early never to return.
Not getting beaten up at training is in no way a negative thing, however training that brings no real test of a persons mettle is of dubious value in self protection, it is after all violence, fighting, we anticipate.
I consider myself to be a Martial Artist that now focuses on Wing Chun as opposed to an out and out Wing Chun practitioner, as a result I do not feel any obligation to uphold the opinion that Wing Chun is flawless and superior, because it quite simply is not, like all other Martial Art styles it has holes in it big enough to drive a fist through, often just being aware of the holes is all that is needed to avoid them, pretending they are not there just increases the chance of falling in one, any way at the end of the day it is not the style that gets us out of harms way, it is intention and effort.
There is a well respected and oft proven maxim in combat sport that states “Train hard so that you can fight easy” how does this relate to training that is soft and effortless?
As a fighting art Wing Chun becomes so much more effective if you have other skill sets that you can then apply Wing Chun thinking and strategy to, this is where Wing Chun really starts to shine, understanding that to win you really do have to go “Hard” and if we choose Wing Chun thinking we need to develop how to do this with minimum effort, not softness, the thing is that if you have no personal experience of what it means to go “Hard”, to go “Beast Mode” how can you ever do it without effort?
This is the disconnect that plagues Wing Chun, you cannot learn to be “Hard” through “Softness”.
On a more positive and encouraging note by using Wing Chun thinking and application it is more than possible to soften up something considered too hard without loosing all of the associated benefits of that said hardness.
There is no “HARD” training in Wing Chun so if you are training to develop an effective skill set some needs to be brought in from outside, we need to bring in training that hurts, training that is physical and will leave us with overuse soreness, we need exercises that break every rule that Wing Chun stands for we need to feel the issues that come with difficult to resolve conflict.
Kung Fu translates to something on the lines of achievement through time and effort, not softness, not looking for easy.
The majority of Wing Chun students join schools because of self defence issues, most are not looking to develop a lasting skill set, just some quick easy solutions to potential problems, but they get sucked in by the fairy stories that get told, that they can develop into serious and dangerous martial artists by standing around and doing very little, they get told tales of famous masters that stood around doing little for hours on end and eventually became the best in the world, this appeals to the inherent laziness deep inside all of us, and of course plays into every schoolboy Kung Fu Fantasy.
In life, every single aspect of life, sport, work and play you get nowhere without hard work and effort.
The really big worry with the schools and students that are “Looking for Easy” is that not only do they buy into the IDEA that you can win a brawl without training hard, but that they could be literally staking their lives on it if they expect wishy washy Mothership thinking to get them out of deep and serious “You are here” doo doo.
GO HARD OR GO HOME.