Do you modify your Wing Chun when sparring?

geezer

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When you spar, especially if you spar against other styles, do you adjust or modify your guard and techniques or do you work from the classical back-weighted stance, facing your opponent squarely with hands held in a man-wu-sau position extending out from center-line?

And how do you move? Are you constantly moving and evasive or do you try to find or create an opening and explode straight forward?
 

ShortBridge

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My view is this: Sparring is a drill. It's training.

So, if the purpose of me sparring has to do with my Wing Chun, then modifying it would be counter-productive.

If my goal for sparring with something different (conditioning, competition, getting tougher, learning about another style or approach...) then maybe.Usually when I'm working with someone out of my club who wants to spar, it flows into a discussion about rules and usually those rules start to chip away at what my normal approach to Wing Chun is, like kicks below the waist.

But many people on this forum and in the real world equate sparring with "reality", so I wanted to clarify that that is not what I mean by my answer.
 

Martial D

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When you spar, especially if you spar against other styles, do you adjust or modify your guard and techniques or do you work from the classical back-weighted stance, facing your opponent squarely with hands held in a man-wu-sau position extending out from center-line?

And how do you move? Are you constantly moving and evasive or do you try to find or create an opening and explode straight forward?

If you've read many of my posts, you know my answer already. Yes, heavilly modified.

Always moving, equally weighted stance, back heel lifted, boxing footwork and head movement. The wingchun is always searching for the outside gate and stuffing guard/strikes with one hand while striking with the other while upright in the pocket.(or from either end of the bjj guard position)
 

Danny T

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My opinion is wing chun or any training system is to be utilized as required at any particular time.
The so called WC guard isn't a guard but a position to be used when needed. To stand with the arms out in front when not engaged I feel is foolish. Moving into the mon sao guard as one enters or intercepts the opponent's movement is a far better than standing with a mon sao vs most of what one will encounter. Ever spar empty hand vs knife? Great way to get cut. In order to be a good wc person one must be able to adjust and adapt as needed.
 
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geezer

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My opinion is wing chun or any training system is to be utilized as required at any particular time ...The so called WC guard isn't a guard but a position to be used when needed. To stand with the arms out in front when not engaged I feel is foolish...

This is how I look at it. Context is everything.
 

Danny T

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Geezer,
I would go as far as to say;
those who adhere to strict adherence to a particular action or structure do not understand the wing chun system and do not understand the realities of physical conflict...(fighting). Mon Sao or any specific arm/hand structure is like stances. Snapshots in time.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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To stand with the arms out in front when not engaged I feel is foolish.
I won't call the following posture "foolish".

When you put your arms in your opponent's striking path, you have already eliminated your opponent's straight line punch ability. All his straight line punch will have to meet your hands first. You just force your opponent to punch around your arms.

shield-spear.jpg
 
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Danny T

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I won't call the following posture "foolish".

When you put your arms in your opponent's striking path, you have already eliminated your opponent's straight line punch ability. All his straight line punch will have to meet your hands first. You just force your opponent to punch around your arms.
I can only assume you missed the referencing of the so called wc guard (mon sao). The arms in the mon sao is the anatomical upper limb of the human body. What you are referencing in your example are completely different arms.
 

Flying Crane

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Ive said many times that what is important first is the principles, and then the techniques. Training is developing the principles, often through the medium of the techniques. But that is an idealized scenario, useful in training because it emphasizes the principles.

The chaos of combat typically does not allow the idealized or perfect use of the techniques or the postures. So you adapt to the reality presented to you. What you look like in combat may be very different from what you look like in training. But if the principles are engaged then you are still using your training. It is still wing chun, or whatever your system is.

People like to say that you will fight how you train. I agree. But that does not mean that you need to look the same in a fight as what you look like in training.
 

KPM

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Ive said many times that what is important first is the principles, and then the techniques. Training is developing the principles, often through the medium of the techniques. But that is an idealized scenario, useful in training because it emphasizes the principles.

The chaos of combat typically does not allow the idealized or perfect use of the techniques or the postures. So you adapt to the reality presented to you. What you look like in combat may be very different from what you look like in training. But if the principles are engaged then you are still using your training. It is still wing chun, or whatever your system is.

People like to say that you will fight how you train. I agree. But that does not mean that you need to look the same in a fight as what you look like in training.

I would tend to agree with you to a certain extent and for specific arts. However, many "traditional" martial arts teach a very specific biomechanics....or way of moving....that is heavily emphasized in their forms and drills. What makes that martial art specifically THAT martial art is both the principles AND those specific biomechanics. So if you abandon those biomechanics in an actual fight, can you still be said to be doing that specific marital art? And if you are using those biomechanics in a fight, wouldn't you look like you know that martial art? A western boxer does not spend all that time learning to generate good punching power with good biomechanics in the gym and then abandon that when he gets in the ring.

The part I agree with is that combat is indeed chaos and doesn't always allow for idealized or perfect techniques and biomechanics. However, as many of you know, my pet peeve is the people that spend years or decades learning a traditional martial art and then step into a sparring arena and look like sloppy kickboxing. Using the "chaos of combat" and "what we do is principle based" arguments are just a cope out for not really knowing how to use the martial art they study, or for studying a martial that really doesn't work in that kind of situation but not admitting that.
 

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Havent got as far sparring in Wing Chun as yet, but as the system I study is modified, would it not all be exactly as the theme of the thread suggests, all open to personal, or system interpretation?
 

Flying Crane

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I would tend to agree with you to a certain extent and for specific arts. However, many "traditional" martial arts teach a very specific biomechanics....or way of moving....that is heavily emphasized in their forms and drills. What makes that martial art specifically THAT martial art is both the principles AND those specific biomechanics. So if you abandon those biomechanics in an actual fight, can you still be said to be doing that specific marital art? And if you are using those biomechanics in a fight, wouldn't you look like you know that martial art? A western boxer does not spend all that time learning to generate good punching power with good biomechanics in the gym and then abandon that when he gets in the ring.

The part I agree with is that combat is indeed chaos and doesn't always allow for idealized or perfect techniques and biomechanics. However, as many of you know, my pet peeve is the people that spend years or decades learning a traditional martial art and then step into a sparring arena and look like sloppy kickboxing. Using the "chaos of combat" and "what we do is principle based" arguments are just a cope out for not really knowing how to use the martial art they study, or for studying a martial that really doesn't work in that kind of situation but not admitting that.
In training, those biomechanics are exaggerated as a way to emphasize the lesson. That is what gives a system its particular look. The biomechanics are based on the principles. If you are using the principles, then the biomechanics are still there, even if no longer exaggerated. So again, in combat, it can look quite different.

I dont personally understand why it would matter if someone looks like they trained in a particular method. To me, that would be irrelevant. I dont care at all if someone could guess what method I trained simply by watching me destroy a couple thugs.
 

KPM

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In training, those biomechanics are exaggerated as a way to emphasize the lesson. That is what gives a system its particular look. The biomechanics are based on the principles. If you are using the principles, then the biomechanics are still there, even if no longer exaggerated. So again, in combat, it can look quite different.

---Again, only to a certain extent and only with particular systems. But if someone is training Wing Chun and pivoting on the heels to angle and generate power, and training the "step slide" or "drag step" for punching....and then starts swinging from the hips and pivoting on the ball of one foot like a boxer when sparring....and yet say they are still using "Wing Chun" principles.....they are not using biomechanics based upon Wing Chun principles. I would not say that the biomechanics taught in the Wing Chun forms and drills are exaggerated. They are a very specific thing, and if someone is not using those biomechanics in application, then can they be said to still be doing Wing Chun?

I dont personally understand why it would matter if someone looks like they trained in a particular method. To me, that would be irrelevant. I dont care at all if someone could guess what method I trained simply by watching me destroy a couple thugs.

---I agree! But we have had a fair number of people showing sparring/fighting videos with a clear influence from western boxing/kickboxing without giving acknowledgement or credit to that fact ....claiming they are doing "pure Wing Chun"....or "applied Wing Chun" or some such non-sense. I just think people should be honest with themselves and others and admit when they are departing from their system or style.

---And really, the bottom-line here is that when the **** hits the fan and you are under pressure and stress....if you have abandoned the majority of your traditional training to the point that it is no longer recognizable, then what is the point of spending all that time training it? Your time is better spent training a system that is going to hold up under stress and actually function in a real fight.
 

ShortBridge

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---And really, the bottom-line here is that when the **** hits the fan and you are under pressure and stress....if you have abandoned the majority of your traditional training to the point that it is no longer recognizable, then what is the point of spending all that time training it? Your time is better spent training a system that is going to hold up under stress and actually function in a real fight.

Here's the thing and I don't expect us to ever align on it as a community - There's a big difference between sparring and the **** hitting the fan. I've a decent amount of experience with both, as much as we seem to want them to be the same thing this decade, they are not.

If I (or one of my students at this point) enters a tournament then I would coach and encourage him to try to win. It's a game, it's a sport, figure it out and compete. That's why you do those things. Doing so may or may not conform to our normal training, it depends on the tournament.

If I set up sparring with someone from outside of our club, then I would have a reason and a purpose. Assuming that purpose was to test their training and bring lessons home that we can work from, then they need to go in with what they train. If they train in Wing Chun for 10 years and then go try to box, we learn nothing. We learn that they are not a good boxer. I can teach them that without ever leaving our kwoon. Sparring for a purpose is not necessarily about winning it's about training. Every drill...and sparring is a drill...should have a purpose. If the purpose is becoming better at your system, then you can't abandon your system for sparring and still accomplish that. You can't put on gloves in your backyard once and prove that your system is good or bad. Boxers and kickboxers spar all of the time and no single session defines them and there are never winners and losers. They might be conditioning, working on slipping or footwork or any number of other things. If you don't know what they are working on, you can't watch a minute of it and know if they were successful or not. They understand that...we seem not to.

Being assaulted in your home or on the street is a different matter entirely. I dream of a day when we can discuss martial arts without equating the two things...but I also know better.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Geezer,
I would go as far as to say;
those who adhere to strict adherence to a particular action or structure do not understand the wing chun system and do not understand the realities of physical conflict...(fighting). Mon Sao or any specific arm/hand structure is like stances. Snapshots in time.
I tend to believe this of all systems. I obviously haven't experienced all of them, but this belief has never let me down.
 

KPM

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Here's the thing and I don't expect us to ever align on it as a community - There's a big difference between sparring and the **** hitting the fan. I've a decent amount of experience with both, as much as we seem to want them to be the same thing this decade, they are not.

If I (or one of my students at this point) enters a tournament then I would coach and encourage him to try to win. It's a game, it's a sport, figure it out and compete. That's why you do those things. Doing so may or may not conform to our normal training, it depends on the tournament.

If I set up sparring with someone from outside of our club, then I would have a reason and a purpose. Assuming that purpose was to test their training and bring lessons home that we can work from, then they need to go in with what they train. If they train in Wing Chun for 10 years and then go try to box, we learn nothing. We learn that they are not a good boxer. I can teach them that without ever leaving our kwoon. Sparring for a purpose is not necessarily about winning it's about training. Every drill...and sparring is a drill...should have a purpose. If the purpose is becoming better at your system, then you can't abandon your system for sparring and still accomplish that. You can't put on gloves in your backyard once and prove that your system is good or bad. Boxers and kickboxers spar all of the time and no single session defines them and there are never winners and losers. They might be conditioning, working on slipping or footwork or any number of other things. If you don't know what they are working on, you can't watch a minute of it and know if they were successful or not. They understand that...we seem not to.

Being assaulted in your home or on the street is a different matter entirely. I dream of a day when we can discuss martial arts without equating the two things...but I also know better.

Sure! Sparring can be seen as training, or sparring can be seen as competition. There can be two very different approaches to sparring based upon which attitude you take. THAT is the dichotomy that is hard for people to come to grips with! However, I see a less distinct dichotomy between sparring as competition to be won and when the "**** hits the fan." Fighting is fighting. If someone accosts you on the street it may be very close quarters and a "self defense" situation, but the minute you have repelled or survived that initial attack and stepped back, now you are in a "face off" and it should be no different than competition sparring.
 

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Sure! Sparring can be seen as training, or sparring can be seen as competition. There can be two very different approaches to sparring based upon which attitude you take. THAT is the dichotomy that is hard for people to come to grips with! However, I see a less distinct dichotomy between sparring as competition to be won and when the "**** hits the fan." Fighting is fighting. If someone accosts you on the street it may be very close quarters and a "self defense" situation, but the minute you have repelled or survived that initial attack and stepped back, now you are in a "face off" and it should be no different than competition sparring.

I still mostly disagree, but it's okay.

Back in the 1700s, when I did those sorts of things, competition was totally different than sparring. Sparring is something that you do with sparring partners as part of your training. A boxing match, even a club fight was different than that. In a sport like boxing, they look very similar, but really aren't the same thing to the people coaching and competing. But, I've been away from sports like that for decades, so maybe things have changed.

The scrapes I've been in in the real world felt and played out virtually nothing like any sparring session or boxing match I was ever in or at. Someone pulling a gun or knife on you, swinging a beer bottle at your head or ambushing you doesn't play out like a 2 minute round with rules in place. YouTube seems to have convinced a generation that it does. I'm just the old, out-of-touch LARPer suggesting that it isn't and not expecting to change any minds.

...which means I probably shouldn't be typing this. Let's see if I can stop...right after this post. :)
 

Flying Crane

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In training, those biomechanics are exaggerated as a way to emphasize the lesson. That is what gives a system its particular look. The biomechanics are based on the principles. If you are using the principles, then the biomechanics are still there, even if no longer exaggerated. So again, in combat, it can look quite different.

---Again, only to a certain extent and only with particular systems. But if someone is training Wing Chun and pivoting on the heels to angle and generate power, and training the "step slide" or "drag step" for punching....and then starts swinging from the hips and pivoting on the ball of one foot like a boxer when sparring....and yet say they are still using "Wing Chun" principles.....they are not using biomechanics based upon Wing Chun principles. I would not say that the biomechanics taught in the Wing Chun forms and drills are exaggerated. They are a very specific thing, and if someone is not using those biomechanics in application, then can they be said to still be doing Wing Chun?

I dont personally understand why it would matter if someone looks like they trained in a particular method. To me, that would be irrelevant. I dont care at all if someone could guess what method I trained simply by watching me destroy a couple thugs.

---I agree! But we have had a fair number of people showing sparring/fighting videos with a clear influence from western boxing/kickboxing without giving acknowledgement or credit to that fact ....claiming they are doing "pure Wing Chun"....or "applied Wing Chun" or some such non-sense. I just think people should be honest with themselves and others and admit when they are departing from their system or style.

---And really, the bottom-line here is that when the **** hits the fan and you are under pressure and stress....if you have abandoned the majority of your traditional training to the point that it is no longer recognizable, then what is the point of spending all that time training it? Your time is better spent training a system that is going to hold up under stress and actually function in a real fight.
I just dont see it as necessarily abandoning the training. I suppose it really does depend on the individual person and how skilled they are. Certainly some people do simply abandon all theyve learned, it can happen to anyone. But what it looks like is not my first or second or third criteria for judging that.

Its ok, I dont mind the difference in opinion.
 
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Buka

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Geezer,
I would go as far as to say;
those who adhere to strict adherence to a particular action or structure do not understand the wing chun system and do not understand the realities of physical conflict...(fighting). Mon Sao or any specific arm/hand structure is like stances. Snapshots in time.

I tend to believe this of all systems. I obviously haven't experienced all of them, but this belief has never let me down.

Those^^ right there.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I still mostly disagree, but it's okay.

Back in the 1700s, when I did those sorts of things, competition was totally different than sparring. Sparring is something that you do with sparring partners as part of your training. A boxing match, even a club fight was different than that. In a sport like boxing, they look very similar, but really aren't the same thing to the people coaching and competing. But, I've been away from sports like that for decades, so maybe things have changed.

The scrapes I've been in in the real world felt and played out virtually nothing like any sparring session or boxing match I was ever in or at. Someone pulling a gun or knife on you, swinging a beer bottle at your head or ambushing you doesn't play out like a 2 minute round with rules in place. YouTube seems to have convinced a generation that it does. I'm just the old, out-of-touch LARPer suggesting that it isn't and not expecting to change any minds.

...which means I probably shouldn't be typing this. Let's see if I can stop...right after this post. :)
I think some of that is a matter of definition of the term "sparring". It sounds to me like you use it like we'd use "scrimmage" in soccer. You can scrimmage during practice, or even with another team, but it's not taken very seriously. The rules may be entirely the same, but it's not really the same intensity as playing a "real" game. Under that kind of definition of sparring, it is distinctly different from competition.

I use "sparring" to refer to two people trying to hit each other, etc., in the context of MA. It can be light and technical, or can be for knock-out. The latter would have a lot more similarity with a full-contact competition than with anything else in the training hall.
 
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