Wing Chun Sparring

KPM

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This was something that came up in another thread, so it probably got missed by many people who weren't following that thread. But it seemed like a good topic for its own discussion, so I'm starting a new thread! :)

My viewpoint: Sparring should not be seen as a thing unto itself. It should be seen as a platform for training, just like Chi Sau is a platform for training. Everyone realizes that good technique goes to sh!t under pressure. Sparring is the opportunity to put a student under pressure and see what goes to sh!t. Then he knows what he needs to go back and work on. If you saw someone bobbing and weaving, breaking center, giving up their structure, etc in Chi Sau....wouldn't you point these things out as something to work on? Something that needs improvement? Why is it any different when it comes to sparring? Why does everyone get all offended if someone points out how they are losing their Wing Chun structure and technique when sparring? Are you training Wing Chun? Or are you training to be a good sparrer? Why do we have such a high standard for Wing Chun in our forms and drills and such a low standard for Wing Chun when it comes to sparring? Any good martial art should strive to train the way it fights and fight the way it trains. Sparring is a great environment to bring all those hours of training to the fight. But if you start being content with resorting to sloppy kickboxing, then you are wasting all those hours of training. Now, one might very well find adjustments and modifications to their Wing Chun that are more successful in sparring. That's great and how things progress and evolve! But if you aren't then going back and putting those modifications into your training, again you are wasting time and not training efficiently.

And I will assert that....yes....it should actually look somewhat like Wing Chun in action! I'm NOT saying it has to be "picture perfect" Wing Chun as trained in the forms and drills. But someone with even passing familiarity with Wing Chun should be able to recognize it....just like if they have even a passing familiarity with western boxing, kickboxing, or Muay Thai they would recognize those arts in the ring. I think that if you put a Wing Chun guy in a sparring situation with a kickboxer and neutral observer can't tell who is who...then the Wing Chun probably needs to work on his technique! ;)

So really, the key question to ask is this: Are you training Wing Chun? Or are you training to be good at sparring? (general question for everyone)
 

PiedmontChun

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I think I am inclined to agree with your thoughts, but with the caveat that if the sparring is of any real speed - I would think some of the movements become hard to recognize in practice, even to WC people. For example Bong Sau by nature is very transitional- when you "see" it, it is but a quick moment in time. No one throws out a Bong Sau and poses with it like a scene from IP Man 3 I would hope. Fine motor skills are much harder to pick up on than more exaggerated movements like you would see in other arts like Muay Thai.
But overall, I understand your viewpoint and do not disagree.
 

Danny T

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Im not certain I know just what a wc person is to look like or that I care.
I have a student who has become an instructor and is quite good. No actually he is very good.

Was in a discussion a few months back with some other students and instructors who described the above mentioned as not looking wing chun enough.
I asked, do you think that person is knowledgeable and someone you are able to learn from?
Everyone answered with an emphatic yes!
I continued with, do you think that person has good fighting skills derived from the training of wc?
Again, Yes!
My final question, would you want to have to fight that person in a real fight?"
All stated NO!

"we dont fight with our looks."
 
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KPM

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^^^But would you say the same thing about his Wing Chun if he consistently assumed a low horse stance when fighting? How about if he danced around on his toes? What would be your judgment of his Wing Chun?
 

drop bear

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You dont get punched in the face during forms or drills. So technique is judged on aesthetics.

Sparring is judged on face punching.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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"His fighting skill" is more important than "his WC".

You toolbox may contain many tools. Your tools can come from different hardware stores.
 

Phobius

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You improve fighting skills by making very clear movements in your drills and forms. There is however no resistance or opponent in forms or drills. To assume fighting would look the same would be similar to assume forms or drills teach you how to fight.

When we spell words we pronounce each letter separately dividing it and focusing on it for a moment before moving on. When we read out loud however the words come together and the sound they shape is altogether different from the spelling of the same word.

WC is a concept system, if you want fighting to look like the training of drills or forms that would not be much different to making WC a technique based art. Saying each technique needs to be done in a certain manner. Ironically assuming techniques needs to look a certain way would be to make WC technique based.
 
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KPM

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You dont get punched in the face during forms or drills. So technique is judged on aesthetics.

Sparring is judged on face punching.

But face punching in any ole way? Are boxers taught to keep good form when fighting? Are they taught to keep a good guard? Are they taught good biomechanics for power generation? Are those things recognizable as "boxing" when in the ring? Is the boxing coach critical of good form in training and then just tells his fighter to do whatever the heck he wants in the ring? Or are boxers expected to adhere to the form and mechanics that their coach has been training them on in the gym? Does that form and those mechanics "look" a certain way that lets an observer know they are doing them as trained? Can you tell when a boxer is being "sloppy" and using poor technique just by watching?????
 
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KPM

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"His fighting skill" is more important than "his WC".

You toolbox may contain many tools. Your tools can come from different hardware stores.

That's fine if you are a professional fighter. But most Wing Chun guys are sparring for the fun of it and....at least many think...to improve their Wing Chun. So again....you have the ask the question....are you training to be good at Wing Chun, or to be good at sparring? Is your Wing Chun training a means to learn to spar well, or is your sparring a means to check your Wing Chun knowledge and ability? Because if the answer is the former....training Wing Chun to learn to spar well, then there are far better ways to train that! That person should just take up kickboxing! But if the answer is the later....doing some sparring as a way to improve Wing Chun, then why shouldn't the sparring be recognizable as Wing Chun???? Why shouldn't the person sparring be held to a similar standard as the person practicing forms and drills?
 

Phobius

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That's fine if you are a professional fighter. But most Wing Chun guys are sparring for the fun of it and....at least many think...to improve their Wing Chun. So again....you have the ask the question....are you training to be good at Wing Chun, or to be good at sparring? Is your Wing Chun training a means to learn to spar well, or is your sparring a means to check your Wing Chun knowledge and ability? Because if the answer is the former....training Wing Chun to learn to spar well, then there are far better ways to train that! That person should just take up kickboxing! But if the answer is the later....doing some sparring as a way to improve Wing Chun, then why shouldn't the sparring be recognizable as Wing Chun???? Why shouldn't the person sparring be held to a similar standard as the person practicing forms and drills?

You do not train to spar. Sparring is training. Same thing you do not train to do drills, you do drills as training. Drills do not look like forms, but in both forms and drills done in slower speed will be completed movements where an opponent does not resist. As soon as an opponent starts becoming offensive and resisting the way it looks to someone watching will be entirely different.

Quite frankly you can not finish a perfect technique or set of techniques (movements) because the fight changes characteristics very fast. Your opponent will not throw a dedicated punch in the air without pulling back, shifting stance or change path of strike.

Also when drilling you do not care about getting punched, the purpose is to practise the concepts. This in my view has caused people to forget that the important thing is still to secure your position and safety before punching. Movement of body is crucial.
(Not saying drills are not about learning not to get punched as well, they can very well be. But if you mess up you will still not get punched but can rather focus on your own techniques and movements.)

Being a short distance martial art it is funny that so many think it is about standing fairly still in good stance and fight your way through. Having an opponent that is larger than you and having a better reach means you need to constantly be moving your feet. How come then when WC has shorter reach that same logic should not apply?

Sadly concepts break down in sparring because many do it too rarely. Another problem is when doing sparring is if you do not fight someone that has a larger reach how can you understand the importance of that footwork? Or when two people sparring that neither thinks being quick on your feet is necessary, how can we not see this as giving us false confidence in our skill being sufficient?
 
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KPM

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You improve fighting skills by making very clear movements in your drills and forms. There is however no resistance or opponent in forms or drills. To assume fighting would look the same would be similar to assume forms or drills teach you how to fight.

----I didn't assume that. I said right from the start that I wouldn't expect sparring or fighting to look like "picture perfect" Wing Chun. Just that it should at least be recognizable as Wing Chun!


When we spell words we pronounce each letter separately dividing it and focusing on it for a moment before moving on. When we read out loud however the words come together and the sound they shape is altogether different from the spelling of the same word.

---But those words are still recognizable as English (or Dutch, or German, etc.). You don't go spelling words any way you want. You don't go changing the pronunciation so drastically that other people can't recognize what you are saying!


WC is a concept system,

----And those concepts include how to send and receive force well from a Wing Chun context, do they not? And that takes a certain biomechanic that makes it distinctly Wing Chun. When you abandon that biomechanic.....that Wing Chun specific way to send and receive force....are you still doing Wing Chun?


Ironically assuming techniques needs to look a certain way would be to make WC technique based.

---No it wouldn't! It seems many people misunderstand what it means to be a "concept-based" system. Having concepts guides your application. It provides tactics and strategies. It does not mean you can abandon good form and biomechanics and do whatever you want and still call it "Wing Chun"! Those concepts include biomechanical guidelines. That is how the forms can embody many of the concepts!
 
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KPM

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Drills do not look like forms, but in both forms and drills done in slower speed will be completed movements where an opponent does not resist. As soon as an opponent starts becoming offensive and resisting the way it looks to someone watching will be entirely different.

---Why? As I said before, why is our standard for good execution so much different between forms/drills and sparring? Shouldn't the goal in sparring to be to develop technique and application that is at least approaching what we can do in other training? Otherwise, why are we spending all that time on the training???


Quite frankly you can not finish a perfect technique or set of techniques (movements) because the fight changes characteristics very fast. Your opponent will not throw a dedicated punch in the air without pulling back, shifting stance or change path of strike.

---No doubt! But why would that suddenly make your Wing Chun look unrecognizable???? Why should that suddenly make your Wing Chun look like sloppy kickboxing??? Why should that make your Wing Chun structure fall completely apart???
 

Phobius

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-I didn't assume that. I said right from the start that I wouldn't expect sparring or fighting to look like "picture perfect" Wing Chun. Just that it should at least be recognizable as Wing Chun!

A vague statement. Can neither agree nor disagree. Without examples I would say that definition of what is Wing Chun can not be agreed between lineages or even people within same lineage. Take any single video of WC sparring I am pretty sure at least some people will say it is not WC.

-But those words are still recognizable as English (or Dutch, or German, etc.). You don't go spelling words any way you want. You don't go changing the pronunciation so drastically that other people can't recognize what you are saying!

Actually this is irrelevant but words are not recognizable at all times. Many words are spelled the same in different languages but pronounced very differently. And changing pronounciation was not what I was saying, all I am saying is that pronounciation and spelling will differ even if it is the same exact word. Reason being that one is a drill and the other is 'application'. Still it is irrelevant, no need to argue because you are free to disagree and I can not argue against you. That is my problem with saying it is similar to a completely unrelated scenario.

WC is a concept system,

-And those concepts include how to send and receive force well from a Wing Chun context, do they not? And that takes a certain biomechanic that makes it distinctly Wing Chun. When you abandon that biomechanic.....that Wing Chun specific way to send and receive force....are you still doing Wing Chun?

That is similar to people saying there is no dedicated long range punch in WC. And yet it is there in the forms. Concepts are up for interpretation and may differ in meaning from person to person. This is where experience and training make some people better than others in WC. Who is most correct does not change the fact that it is a concept based system and as such does not work with dedicated techniques for specific situations.

-No it wouldn't! It seems many people misunderstand what it means to be a "concept-based" system. Having concepts guides your application. It provides tactics and strategies. It does not mean you can abandon good form and biomechanics and do whatever you want and still call it "Wing Chun"! Those concepts include biomechanical guidelines. That is how the forms can embody many of the concepts!

Noone can abandon good form. But are you saying that for instance bob and weave is bad form? Moving body is bad form? As for biomechanics I find it sometimes hard to judge because if the fighter has history in other arts besides WC he may very well have a different movement for long range punching. This is because he same as you and everyone else, we are not Wing Chunners, we are martial artists that train a specific or multiple systems. These systems merge together to create a style.

For some more technique based systems it teaches that a technique is used to counter a movement. As such you can pick which techniques you use and which ones you neglect for other techniques. With WC being concept based it means you adhere to the concepts when it suits you and understand the purpose of those concepts when you are not following them.

Just like the concepts are there to counter weakness in other movements, they also have weakness of their own. Being a "Wing Chunner" means two things, either A. you follow the concepts. or B. you know the concepts and make sure your movements do not contain flaws that WC can use. Both are valid ways to learn a system, reason being that you as a martial artist is not the system, you improve your style by studying the system.

Problem however is that you if teaching need to not only get your style but learn the system as well. Making you able to pass the system along to new generations.
 

Phobius

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-Why? As I said before, why is our standard for good execution so much different between forms/drills and sparring? Shouldn't the goal in sparring to be to develop technique and application that is at least approaching what we can do in other training? Otherwise, why are we spending all that time on the training???

You might miss a point here. Your execution maybe should look like it does when sparring, not like it does when doing the drills.

And keep in mind now that there is such a thing as terrible sparring as well. People that can not handle the speed when sparring and instead of slowing down rather throw all concepts out the window and just go at it with arms swinging. Same you see when people do chain punching when sparring without even having a way to hit.

If I say it might need to look more like it does when sparring I do not say it should, because in drills you can exagerate (spell?) movements to make sure your body learns them.

-No doubt! But why would that suddenly make your Wing Chun look unrecognizable???? Why should that suddenly make your Wing Chun look like sloppy kickboxing??? Why should that make your Wing Chun structure fall completely apart???

It does not, being similar to boxing does not make your structure fall apart. It also does not make your Wing Chun look unrecognizable unless you expect it to look a way it does not. To be honest all systems have a tendency to look the same when fighting for real. Reason being that we need to move naturally and as such there is an efficient way to move when fighting. This does not mean there are not different ways to train it for different purposes. Nor that the way we generate power or use our stance may not differ.

I can do punches like a boxer and a punch looking very similar but adhering to biomechanics known from WC. Reason of course being that both have same centerline theory for jab and cross while having same stance as we learn in SLT, at least the core of it.

EDIT: Also to clarify, I am not dictating a single truth that you must all believe. I am simply raising philosophical points to discuss.

My personal belief is that if someone punches me, my main goal is to not get punched. I make sure to get out of the way. Using just one defensive move to not get punched means I will lose because if that move fails I may get knocked out. My way of applying WC is my own style. That style is constantly evolving by the different arts I have studied in my life.
 
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Danny T

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^^^But would you say the same thing about his Wing Chun if he consistently assumed a low horse stance when fighting? How about if he danced around on his toes? What would be your judgment of his Wing Chun?
Depends on when and what he is doing with his low horse. We train the low horse in the pole work but that doesn't mean it is only utilized with the pole.
I don't care if he is dancing on his toes if he isn't engaged. It is what he does with his footwork, structure, and positioning when engaged that is important. Said engagement may only be a moment in time.
We use Wing Chun as a training system to train our bodies for fighting. It is a training system not a style of fighting.
 
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[ It is what he does with his footwork, structure, and positioning when engaged that is important. Said engagement may only be a moment in time.

---But would not that footwork, structure and positioning resemble what you have been training in your forms, drills, and Chi Sau??
 
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You might miss a point here. Your execution maybe should look like it does when sparring, not like it does when doing the drills.

----No, I think you are missing my point. You should train the way you fight and fight the way you train. Otherwise you are wasting a lot of time and being inefficient. Why are you spending hours on drills that don't show up in your sparring, if being good at sparring is your goal??? And don't say that the drills are developing attributes that are used in sparring! Because if that is the case, then the drills should be restructured to more closely resemble the actual sparring rather than looking nothing like the sparring. Otherwise....again....you are being inefficient in your training.


And keep in mind now that there is such a thing as terrible sparring as well. People that can not handle the speed when sparring and instead of slowing down rather throw all concepts out the window and just go at it with arms swinging. Same you see when people do chain punching when sparring without even having a way to hit.

---I don't disagree with that point at all! But why would you NOT expect that person who is doing good sparring to actually have good recognizable Wing Chun??



If I say it might need to look more like it does when sparring I do not say it should, because in drills you can exagerate (spell?) movements to make sure your body learns them.

---Exaggerating a motion is not at all the same thing as doing forms and drills that are completely different than what you do in sparring.



It does not, being similar to boxing does not make your structure fall apart.

----If someone abandons good Wing Chun structure when sparring, what do you call it???


It also does not make your Wing Chun look unrecognizable unless you expect it to look a way it does not.

---I expect it to look somewhat like Wing Chun and not like kickboxing. That just seems like common sense to me!!


To be honest all systems have a tendency to look the same when fighting for real. Reason being that we need to move naturally and as such there is an efficient way to move when fighting.

---So if your training is not to the point that Wing Chun is a natural and efficient way to move for you, possibly something is wrong with your training! Why do people feel like they need to resort to some version of kickboxing in order to win fights?? Is that not a pretty damning statement about Wing Chun?? If some version of kickboxing is the most natural and efficient way to move, then shouldn't we be training a version of kickboxing rather than formal Wing Chun??? Wouldn't training JKD serve us better since it is essentially a version of kickboxing with some Wing Chun concepts and principles?



I can do punches like a boxer and a punch looking very similar but adhering to biomechanics known from WC. Reason of course being that both have same centerline theory for jab and cross while having same stance as we learn in SLT, at least the core of it.

---But why do you feel the need to do a jab and cross? Is there something wrong with your Wing Chun? Shouldn't Wing Chun work as designed? I don't think Ip Man did jabs and crosses! ;)



EDIT: Also to clarify, I am not dictating a single truth that you must all believe. I am simply raising philosophical points to discuss.

---And I am doing the same. I am hoping that people will question what they are doing. Are you training Wing Chun? Or are you training to be good at sparring? Are you using your training time efficiently? If Wing Chun is a good fighting system, then why do people feel the need to resort to some version of Kickboxing when sparring? If all of your Wing Chun seems to disappear under pressure, then how good is your Wing Chun in actuality? All good philosophical points that people should be thinking about! ;)
 

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---But would not that footwork, structure and positioning resemble what you have been training in your forms, drills, and Chi Sau??[/QUOTE]

Not always.. when you train forms and drills there is no foward intent coming at you. Don't you think that might change things?
 
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Jake104

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Not always.. when you train forms and drills there is no foward intent coming at you. Don't you think that might change things?
Boxing and wrestling look like they train in the ring, because they mostly train under pressure. In WC a good percentage of the training isn't under pressure ..Why because most don't train in that way cause they don't want to get hit..A boxer uses certain drills that they don't use in the ring. Like a speed bag or jump rope.
 

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You might miss a point here. Your execution maybe should look like it does when sparring, not like it does when doing the drills.

----No, I think you are missing my point. You should train the way you fight and fight the way you train. Otherwise you are wasting a lot of time and being inefficient. Why are you spending hours on drills that don't show up in your sparring, if being good at sparring is your goal??? And don't say that the drills are developing attributes that are used in sparring! Because if that is the case, then the drills should be restructured to more closely resemble the actual sparring rather than looking nothing like the sparring. Otherwise....again....you are being inefficient in your training.


And keep in mind now that there is such a thing as terrible sparring as well. People that can not handle the speed when sparring and instead of slowing down rather throw all concepts out the window and just go at it with arms swinging. Same you see when people do chain punching when sparring without even having a way to hit.

---I don't disagree with that point at all! But why would you NOT expect that person who is doing good sparring to actually have good recognizable Wing Chun??



If I say it might need to look more like it does when sparring I do not say it should, because in drills you can exagerate (spell?) movements to make sure your body learns them.

---Exaggerating a motion is not at all the same thing as doing forms and drills that are completely different than what you do in sparring.



It does not, being similar to boxing does not make your structure fall apart.

----If someone abandons good Wing Chun structure when sparring, what do you call it???


It also does not make your Wing Chun look unrecognizable unless you expect it to look a way it does not.

---I expect it to look somewhat like Wing Chun and not like kickboxing. That just seems like common sense to me!!


To be honest all systems have a tendency to look the same when fighting for real. Reason being that we need to move naturally and as such there is an efficient way to move when fighting.

---So if your training is not to the point that Wing Chun is a natural and efficient way to move for you, possibly something is wrong with your training! Why do people feel like they need to resort to some version of kickboxing in order to win fights?? Is that not a pretty damning statement about Wing Chun?? If some version of kickboxing is the most natural and efficient way to move, then shouldn't we be training a version of kickboxing rather than formal Wing Chun??? Wouldn't training JKD serve us better since it is essentially a version of kickboxing with some Wing Chun concepts and principles?



I can do punches like a boxer and a punch looking very similar but adhering to biomechanics known from WC. Reason of course being that both have same centerline theory for jab and cross while having same stance as we learn in SLT, at least the core of it.

---But why do you feel the need to do a jab and cross? Is there something wrong with your Wing Chun? Shouldn't Wing Chun work as designed? I don't think Ip Man did jabs and crosses! ;)



EDIT: Also to clarify, I am not dictating a single truth that you must all believe. I am simply raising philosophical points to discuss.

---And I am doing the same. I am hoping that people will question what they are doing. Are you training Wing Chun? Or are you training to be good at sparring? Are you using your training time efficiently? If Wing Chun is a good fighting system, then why do people feel the need to resort to some version of Kickboxing when sparring? If all of your Wing Chun seems to disappear under pressure, then how good is your Wing Chun in actuality? All good philosophical points that people should be thinking about! ;)
Who's Wing Chun disappears under pressure? Can you be more specific? Alan's Guys? Me? Who are you talking about?
 
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