Wing Chun is a system designed for fighting in confined spaces and at close range. There are no flamboyant acrobatics, flying kicks or fancy spinning moves. Wing Chun was designed to work as a fighting system and has never deviated from its original purpose, it has never developed into a sport and its pragmatic fighting origins have been retained over the years.
During the post war era Wing Chun evolved in the streets of Hong Kong and was popular amongst the street gangs in the walled city in Kowloon due to its effective techniques and ability to be used in confined spaces. For many years Wing Chun was known in Hong Kong simply as “Gangster Fist”.
Whilst Wing Chun kung fu has its origins in the distant past the system is so functional that it could have been designed in the modern age by scientists, engineers and psychologists. The simple body shapes that make up the Wing Chun system are designed perfectly to apply principles of physics and knowledge of human anatomy to avoid the need to rely upon physical strength. Applying principles of geometry and newtonian physics helps to explain how the system can be so effective whilst Wing Chun training methods are designed to develop autonomic responses based upon muscle memory that are produced on autopilot in stressful self defence situations , completely aligned with modern understanding of the psychology of high stress adrenalin fuelled confrontations.
Wing Chun has at its heart an underlying principle of economy of movement and is one of the only martial arts to truly practice simultaneous attack and defence turning the tables on an opponent in an instant.
To make it suitable for practitioners of smaller builds Wing Chun focuses on overwhelming an opponent with a flurry of fast, accurate strikes targeting vulnerable points on an attackers body rather than relying on delivering a single powerful knockout blow.
Unique to Wing Chun is an emphasis on developing tactile responses that utilise the practitioner’s sense of touch rather than relying upon eye sight. Similar to ring craft developed by seasoned boxers Wing Chun students develop automatic reactions in response to a heightened sense of feel, eliminating the need for conscious thought and making reactions far quicker.
Whilst Wing Chun is a highly effective fighting style it is also a traditional Chinese martial art and like many other Chinese martial arts the founders of Wing Chun kung fu recognised that fighting illness was as important as fighting assailants and so they built Qigong or internal health exercises into the system. Whilst Tai Chi is probably the best known of the Chinese martial arts for its internal health practices and other arts such as Hsing I and Ba Gua place much greater emphasis upon internal energy work than Wing Chun, this is often more a reflection of the interests of the students and teachers of these arts than a reflection on the arts themselves. There are many practitioners of Wing Chun who have taken a more internal approach to the art and developed levels of internal energy comparable to those found in the arts more traditionally thought of as internal arts. Wing Chun kung fu is quite possibly unique in the way that it combines the benefits of internal health training and effectiveness as a martial art.