Wing Chun in decline: My quest for the historical model of Wing Chun

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Cynik75

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There are people who train and teach Wing Chun very effectively already, and have been doing for a long time. Seek out and learn from them.
Any names and examples of effectiveness?
 

wckf92

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Just for the sake of discussion, if you charge in with jab-cross (like WC chain punches). Your opponent also charge in with left-right-hooks. You protect your center from inside out. Your opponents protect his center from outside in.

Who will win?

?
What does this have to do with what @Trondyne posted? He was discussing chi sau. Are you saying that in your version of chi sau you "jab cross" aka chain punch while "charging in"?

Again, in the wing chun I learned there are concepts and ideas contained in the forms which address 'outside in' and 'inside out'.

Finally, chi sau is not about "winning". If that's your mindset then great, but it is not the point of that drill. It is simply an attribute builder. If you are concerned with someone winning or losing then you are training your ego.
 

wckf92

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I generally agree with you, though I think perhaps you've partially misdiagnosed the problem and solution.

I was never interested in gamification and sportification of Wing Chun, though I am very much interested in pressure testing it and making it functional.

I think that Wing Chun mostly suffers from:
#1 Not practicing against realistic, non-Wing Chun attacks
#2 Over specializing and over emphasizing things like Chisao (I personally value Chisao and sensitivity training very highly, and believe you should continue to practice it, but don't confuse it with combat or sparring, etc. And, understand its place, which is to build proper reflexes in a low intensity environment where students can explore the art and process the different sorts of energies and lines of attack that can occur. Treating it as a competitive exercise as many tend to do is not something that I'm sure is all that valuable. I get some inspiration from arts like Lameco and Kali Ilustrisimo where there are "free flowing" drills where one party counters, and the other feeds attacks, but also counters and throws in unexpected attacks/angles, etc. -- such that, the intensity is low enough to allow creativity and learning/exploring, but high enough to constantly offer a challenge, and unexpected angles of attack, etc. And, both parties learn: one practices being proactive, the other reactive/proactive. A lot of Wing Chun practice also tends to focus far too much on being reactive, at the expense of learning how to be proactive, which is absolutely necessary and is really at the heart of Wing Chun's offensive nature.)
#3 Not learning to hit effectively or deal with someone really trying to hit you
#4 In a sparring context, not knowing how to close into a range where Wing Chun is effective (*I personally do not believe that sparring and especially competition are the end all be all yardstick by which one should judge an art, but it is still an important part of training)

There are people who train and teach Wing Chun very effectively already, and have been doing for a long time. Seek out and learn from them. Perhaps what Wing Chun suffers most from is a certain close mindedness and unwillingness to train with other teachers, lineages, and styles, etc.

In the end, realize that competitive fighters are extremely specialized in exactly what is necessary for their competitive environment, and put in a ton of hard work -- much more than most, somewhat more casual TMA schools. It's not what you train, but how you train. No need to modify your Wing Chun so much as modifying how you practice it, I think. So, I do agree with you on the latter bolded part. I do not think that focusing on some competitive environment is necessarily the answer, but teachers probably do need to focus a whole lot more on making the basics more functional under stress, and against other styles -- for both themselves, and their students. We're very good at countering mid-level, centerline punches delivered in our ideal range. That's great. But how do you deal with other lines and other energies, and opponents who don't stick using Wing Chun principals and body mechanics? That takes practice.

Remember also, though, that Wing Chun was sort of in a boom with the Ip Man movies. Now that that's gone, it's back to being more obscure, I think.

Great post! Lots of truth bombs in here.
 

wckf92

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When

- you throw a straight punch, if your opponent throws a hook punch, his hook punch can knock down your straight punch.
- your opponent throws a hook punch, if you throw a straight punch, can your straight punch knock down his hook punch?

The hook punch has advantage over the straight punch. IMO, it's easier to protect your center line from outside in than from inside out.

WC doesn't tend to throw punches with the intent of "knocking down the other guys punch".

But, to your comment: curved can defeat straight and straight can defeat curved.
 

Trondyne

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When

- you throw a straight punch, if your opponent throws a hook punch, his hook punch can knock down your straight punch.
- your opponent throws a hook punch, if you throw a straight punch, can your straight punch knock down his hook punch?

The hook punch has advantage over the straight punch. IMO, it's easier to protect your center line from outside in than from inside out.

The framing is off... Wing Chun isn't:

1. About charging in randomly from outside with a barrage of chain punches
2. That straight always beats a curve. (Wing Chun has curves)
3. A long range focused art although it has long range tools.

In Western Boxing fighters more often use a jab to enter with for obvious reasons... Is this always the case, no.


It should be fairly obvious that if someone places their fist in close proximity to your face you will have trouble attacking around it in time. The closer the range the less time there is to go around it or evade it.

WCK (Wing Chun Kuen) is a close range often in-contact art.. Timing and geometry efficiency changes as the range changes... You could say the centerline width increases as the range does creating a triangle shape pointing at the opponent. Like this shape: V

"Clearing the line" from the inside out uses a shorter path, has more leverage and timing advantages. WCK mostly hits from wherever the hand is, directly to the target, WCK does not move to the inside first... Attacking "the line" means we are attacking the opponent's CG, in CMA that's called energy issuing and is used to steal his balance... (the high pressure stream of water)

Using the centerline gives the WCK fighter a strategic reference to use for attack and defense.

Moving along the the line of his attack allows the use of forward defense/offense that has a timing advantage not possible in lateral movements (minimizes early/late intercepts and timing errors JKD) Taking the line invites the other person to go around it. Using that line means you can deflect and attack in one beat or one action along that line. (JKD)

In contact WCK uses the line to "listen" for the opponent's force to leave (lateral energy) in which case we don't. lol This very simple idea allows close range clinch options that otherwise wouldn't be possible (path of no resistance).

There are lots of elements within the art (perhaps too many) centerline and use thereof is a common thread that helps bring it all together, but you have to use your brain when using it, it's not a cure all.

Effective use of linear attacks have a timing and efficiency advantage when used correctly. WCK protects a "room" by filling it up with junk. If I pile a load of junk into a room from floor to ceiling you'll have trouble getting in their even if the door isn't locked...

You can disagree all you want about the strategy of WCK lots of people prefer other methods...
 
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Trondyne

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Exactly. This is a point which is greatly misunderstood...yet is in the forms.
Of course it depends on what you're trying to do... We also may well already be on the line as in the first form which clearly brings the hand onto the line before the punch.... It's up to the user to decide what makes sense....

When I see people claiming to do WCK and not on the line at all then I would question the method...
 

geezer

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Of course it depends on what you're trying to do... We also may well already be on the line as in the first form which clearly brings the hand onto the line before the punch.... It's up to the user to decide what makes sense....

When I see people claiming to do WCK and not on the line at all then I would question the method...
Not sure what you mean by "on the line"...Centerline?

You see centerline punching stressed most in Siu Nim Tau, but by Chum Kiu and Biu Tze you also explore situations in which the hand may be off-center and follows the shortest path to it's target. The Biu Tze "hook" is one example. The concepts of efficiency and following the shortest distance to the target can take precedence over centerline in many situations.

Context is everything!
 

Kung Fu Wang

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brings the hand onto the line before the punch....
If you close your

- front door, your side doors will be open.
- side doors, your front door will be open.

It depends on whether you want your opponent to come in through a certain door, you then open that door and invite him in.
 
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Flying Crane

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Any names and examples of effectiveness?
Well, my Sifu (now deceased) was in the Chris Chan lineage in San Francisco. My impression was that at least some of those fellows could definitely hold their own. I dont think they ever got into MMA bouts so I doubt you will find any of them on video. But whatever. I know my Sifu had to unleash on some fellows here and there. It kept him safe. But hey, its not on YouTube so maybe it didnt really happen

I know at some point he was part of a school full-contact matchup against a Muay Thai school from Thailand. He was the only one of the wing Chun guys who was successful in that match and knocked his opponent out. He was completely disgusted with the experience and told his Sifu, never again. It was just an ego- building exercise and he had felt coerced into taking part.

That is one of the things I really respected about him: he could see through the crap and recognize the dick-measuring competition for what it was.
 

Poppity

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Well, my Sifu (now deceased) was in the Chris Chan lineage in San Francisco. My impression was that at least some of those fellows could definitely hold their own. I dont think they ever got into MMA bouts so I doubt you will find any of them on video. But whatever. I know my Sifu had to unleash on some fellows here and there. It kept him safe. But hey, its not on YouTube so maybe it didnt really happen

I know at some point he was part of a school full-contact matchup against a Muay Thai school from Thailand. He was the only one of the wing Chun guys who was successful in that match and knocked his opponent out. He was completely disgusted with the experience and told his Sifu, never again. It was just an ego- building exercise and he had felt coerced into taking part.

That is one of the things I really respected about him: he could see through the crap and recognize the dick-measuring competition for what it was.

I believe I can clear this up. The guy with the biggest dick is my friend Dave.

Although I have never seen the offending article we know this to be true because Dave practices the same martial art as someone whom he has watched on the TV who is a world class fighter.

We also know Dave is a formidable fighter because he spends his time deriding martial arts he doesn't practice on the internet and boasting about his own prowess.

As his friends we are always incredibly impressed by Dave.
 
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Flying Crane

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I believe I can clear this up. The guy with the biggest dick is my friend Dave.

Although I have never seen the offending article we know this to be true because Dave practices the same martial art as someone whom he has watched on the TV who is a world class fighter.

We also know Dave is a formidable fighter because he spends his time deriding martial arts he doesn't practice on the internet and boasting about his own prowess.

As his friends we are always incredibly impressed by Dave.
I think this is a surprisingly accurate assessment of the state of things.
 

Koryuhoka

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I find Wing Chun is actually thriving. People are very interested in the less popular lineages like Gu Lo Village. There is interest in methods by Pan Nam and Chu Shong Tin. These lineages are gaining followers as of late.
 

geezer

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I find Wing Chun is actually thriving. People are very interested in the less popular lineages like Gu Lo Village. There is interest in methods by Pan Nam and Chu Shong Tin. These lineages are gaining followers as of late.
On one hand, I'm genuinely glad to hear that. I'm glad people are still interested in Wing Chun.

On the other hand, many of the people drawn to the more esoteric and internal branches of the martial arts (including Wing Chun) are not seeking a fighting art. They are looking for something else. A sense of having found something special, secret, even "magical".

Back in the 80s, my old Chinese sifu once told me that there was a reason why Yip Man's kwoon became so well known in Hong Kong in it's day. His students could fight. The system worked. The little-known and secret WC branches stayed "secret" ...not because they had something so special, but because they couldn't stand up to a real test. They didn't want real fighters showing up at their door.

He expressed doubt that that was still the case with a lot of the newer generation in WC. And that was over 30 years ago. Now, we have very few fighters ....and people are still looking for magic.

Check out this video by Nima King of the CST lineage. There's some stuff here I agree with, but also a lot of parlor tricks. Look at the way the guy jumps around when Nima raises his leg at 2:18. That's almost like "Yellow Bamboo".


TBH my old sifu did a few energy tricks himself. After many years with him I asked him why he did that ....when he actually had some good fighters. He told me "Most people don't want to fight. You are selling them dreams."
 

Koryuhoka

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On one hand, I'm genuinely glad to hear that. I'm glad people are still interested in Wing Chun.

On the other hand, many of the people drawn to the more esoteric and internal branches of the martial arts (including Wing Chun) are not seeking a fighting art. They are looking for something else. A sense of having found something special, secret, even "magical".

Back in the 80s, my old Chinese sifu once told me that there was a reason why Yip Man's kwoon became so well known in Hong Kong in it's day. His students could fight. The system worked. The little-known and secret WC branches stayed "secret" ...not because they had something so special, but because they couldn't stand up to a real test. They didn't want real fighters showing up at their door.

He expressed doubt that that was still the case with a lot of the newer generation in WC. And that was over 30 years ago. Now, we have very few fighters ....and people are still looking for magic.

Check out this video by Nima King of the CST lineage. There's some stuff here I agree with, but also a lot of parlor tricks. Look at the way the guy jumps around when Nima raises his leg at 2:18. That's almost like "Yellow Bamboo".


TBH my old sifu did a few energy tricks himself. After many years with him I asked him why he did that ....when he actually had some good fighters. He told me "Most people don't want to fight. You are selling them dreams."
The original post is about Wing Chun in Decline. My response was that it is growing in popularity, not that people are still interested in it.

The groups I mentioned are not esoteric or internal. Gu Lo Wing Chun is from the village Leung Jan went to live in his retirement. There, he expanded WC, adding content. It is not a well known branch of WC.

Chu Shong Tin's method relies on correct body mechanics for effective application, rather than Internal Breath. Yip Man taught Master Chu a more advanced method through complete relaxation and allowing the body parts to move as one, instead of individually. Master John Kaufman explains this very clearly.

There are not parlor tricks in CST's method. Only correct body alignment, intention, breath - contract, expand, float and sink. Maybe Nima King's method of transmission is not familiar with you. I know little about him so I cannot comment.

It seems that if you have an interest in the deeper understand of a martial art, people will consider it a waste of time and deem the theories inapplicable. But no one considers that perhaps Yip Man had a deep grasp of the theories he taught to CST, which he was able to apply with great skill, and wanted to make sure it didn't die with him.

Perhaps also, people have not made the connection with applying the deeper teachings. They appear to be meaningless until someone makes the connection.

It happened in Okinawan Karate, with the advent of Seiyu Oyata, Tetsuhiro Hokama, Kishaba Sensei and others who imparted the deeper teachings of Okinawa Bujutsu. Karate used to be a kick/block/sweep/punch art. And now, there are people who are applying what little is left of "ti", and the skills taught to the Okinawas by the 36 Families that moved to Okinawa from China around 1394.

Making the connection is everything. Believing that the outward appearance is the sum of it, is disastrous and leads to the mindset of today's "striking art" "grappling art" generation.
 

BrendanF

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Yip Man taught Master Chu a more advanced method through complete relaxation and allowing the body parts to move as one, instead of individually. Master John Kaufman explains this very clearly.

It's pretty clear that CST developed his style of WC extensively after his training with YM. He was widely known as the 'king of SLT' because of his personal preference for incorporating zhan zhuang type of work into his practice.
 

Flying Crane

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On one hand, I'm genuinely glad to hear that. I'm glad people are still interested in Wing Chun.

On the other hand, many of the people drawn to the more esoteric and internal branches of the martial arts (including Wing Chun) are not seeking a fighting art. They are looking for something else. A sense of having found something special, secret, even "magical".
Ive seen this as well, but is this really new? I suspect things have been this way for a lot longer than you and I have been walking the earth. Just my suspicion. Some people can fight. Many cannot, or at least not so well as we might have assumed, given the training. Most dont train appropriately, but that isnt the fault of the system. It is in how people train.

Back in the 80s, my old Chinese sifu once told me that there was a reason why Yip Man's kwoon became so well known in Hong Kong in it's day. His students could fight.
All of them? Seriously? I think schools get a reputation based on a small number of highly successful folks, but there are a lot more who never make a name for themselves, never reach that level. So are we looking back in time through rose colored glasses? Nostalgic for a past that never was?
He expressed doubt that that was still the case with a lot of the newer generation in WC. And that was over 30 years ago. Now, we have very few fighters ....and people are still looking for magic.
Every generation looks back to the good old days and laments the poor showing of the younger generation. Your Sifu did it. Perhaps you are doing it now?
TBH my old sifu did a few energy tricks himself. After many years with him I asked him why he did that ....when he actually had some good fighters. He told me "Most people don't want to fight. You are selling them dreams."
So your Sifu contributed to the downfall of wing Chun, when he actually had some good fighters. He sold dreams. Youve been honest here about some characteristics of your old Sifu. Its clear that he is a salesman and has his eye on the mighty dollar and wants control/power over things. This is my impression, just from what you have posted here, over time. So you are, in some ways, a product of his cynicism and his example. You can see through it, but on some level it still clouds your outlook.

take care of your own training. If you teach, do so to the best of your capabilities and keep the bar high. Dont worry about what others are doing.
 

geezer

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Youve been honest here about some characteristics of your old Sifu. Its clear that he is a salesman and has his eye on the mighty dollar and wants control/power over things. This is my impression, just from what you have posted here, over time. So you are, in some ways, a product of his cynicism and his example. You can see through it, but on some level it still clouds your outlook ...take care of your own training. If you teach, do so to the best of your capabilities and keep the bar high. Dont worry about what others are doing.
Crane - Thanks for your thoughtful and honest response. Your advice is right on the mark.

Interesting fact - TBH I myself was never a "fighter". I first came to martial arts in my late teens with very unrealistic expectations based on reading books and magazines, and watching movies and TV. I had done some wrestling and enjoyed it, but didn't like getting punched. Looking back, how I expected to really fight without getting hit ...a lot ...is a mystery to me now. To a certain degree I guess I was "looking for magic" too.

My first experience in Asian martial arts was with a complicated "five-animal" system that purported to be "true Shaolin kung-fu" but was in fact just re-branded kempo seeking to ride the Bruce Lee inspired kung-fu craze of the mid 70s. The instructor also threw in a hodge-podge of new age and so-called "internal" exercises. Magic. And I was pretty well sucked into it. I did learn a few decent kicks, punches and combinations, but 90% of what we trained was pretty useless and far too complicated to assimilate and apply.

Then I moved back to Arizona and found Wing Chun, and eventually I ended up training with my old Sifu. Unlike the stuff I learned before, I found his Wing Chun (Wing Tsun) relatively simple and direct, and I could make it work pretty well against my friends who were training other systems like TKD and Kempo.

So I got some validation. As long as I worked against friends, I did pretty well. I did not seek out people who really fought hard like boxers and kickboxers. Remember, this was before MMA. Muay Thai was rare, and BJJ was unknown. But deep down, I knew my limitations and tried to be honest about them.

In later years, as I started teaching, I was upfront with students about my limitations. If I had younger students that wanted to go harder than we did, I had a good friend who coached MMA, and besides that, we were training at space sub-let at a boxing gym. The head coach was a real stand-up guy.

Anyway, It's been a long journey, after putting a lot of time into WC, I'd like to see it continue ...but both as traditional Southern Chinese Boxing and as a real, evolving fighting art, not phony baloney magical BS. Of course I don't expect most practitioners will be "fighters" any more than I was. Heck most people at MMA and boxing gyms are not hard core fighters. I would just like to see WC work to stay an authentic and effective art.
 
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