Wing Chun Kung Fu is commonly known as a complete self defence system invented, designed and developed for everyday people living everyday lives wishing to gain an understanding of self defence.
Unlike other Martial Arts, Wing Chun Kung Fu was never invented to become a sport, to be used in a competition arena or even compare itself to any other martial art. Wing Chun Kung Fu is a unique fighting system that can be learnt by all, regardless of athletic ability, age, or weight.
There is nothing wrong with any training method if it suits what you are looking for, however in Wing Chun the original idea which persists to this day is to learn to defend yourself without getting hurt in the process. This could be considered as one of the differences between a soft art and a hard art.
The 6 ranges of a confrontation and physical assault
There are many different ways that this can be explained and broken down for you, however the following will lay out a way for you to train, focus and understand the elements of your Wing Chun Class.
Self defence is NOT about who is better than the other, self defence is about educating yourself to stay safe, deal with a situation in the best way possible and resort to physical abilities when required.
Range 1: Out of physical contact range
Visual understanding and auditory awareness is the first stage of a confrontation, the challenge for most is that they do not see or hear the situation around them and before they are aware of it a physical confrontation has happened..
Learning to deal with this pre-fight distance awakens our fight-or-flight senses and is very much the first stage of self defence.
Range 2: Kicking Range
As the attacker comes closer the first human weapon that can be used are the legs, the longest tool that we have. In Wing Chun, although we have 8 Kicks, we should not be looking to kick but more so looking to deal with the problem of being kicked.
Range 3: Punching Range
As you come closer to your attacker they now have the ability to punch you, something that could not be done before unless you have closed the gap. An attacker will close the range to allow their fists to be used; don’t forget their legs can still be utilised at the same time.
Range 4: Elbows and Knees
The next range following from punching is the use of knees and elbows, these can only be used as the person steps in as they are at a shorter distance from one’s body. The knee and elbow bones are the hardest bones in the human body and are therefore the most devastating when used.
Range 5: Grappling and Throwing
Being grappled and thrown to the floor is becoming more and more understood with the commercialisation of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). If you travel back many years it was unconventional to take someone to the floor; a stand up fight was the norm and expected, a hand would even be put out to help the person back up. This is no longer the case as society becomes aware of the full range of fighting capabilities.
Range 6: Ground
Getting tripped, pushed, pulled, picked up, shoved, and losing your balance and landing on the floor is becoming more commonplace. Wing Chun students should have no interest being on the floor; if this happens you should be keen to get off the floor as quickly as you can. Learning to deal with the ground in reality is of great importance – you are unlikely to be in a competition ring with a padded base and net to soften your fall should you face a confrontation.
A student should look at researching all of the Martial Arts around the world as they mostly specialise in one or sometimes two of the above ranges. This will help you to develop an understanding of martial arts as a whole as well as the variety of opponents you may face. Over the years martial arts have been adapted to cater for the current necessity of the population in order to stay in existence.
Whilst doing your research remember that most arts are intended to be used in a sporting arena where you look to earn points against your opponent, compare techniques and show who is better at applying oneself, this is not Wing Chun and as soon as you try do this you are no longer applying your Wing Chun.
The adults Wing Chun program is broken down into student phases in order to learn about and define these ranges described above. The classes are there to build skills that are practical and realistic when applied to real life situations. We start with the most obvious and common attacks and move our students in and out of the ranges until their skill level develops.
Phase One Fighting Programs (Beginner)
In Phase One you as the student will begin to learn the core basic of Wing Chun System and the 1st form Siu Nim Tau (A little Idea). This form features every hand shape and basic hand position within Wing Chun and introduces you to one of your 1st theories which is called the Centre Line Theory which is the common Theory throughout the first four student programmes.
The Fighting Programs featured in this phase deal with the most common attacks, these being from the hands and include Straight Punch, Low Punch, Back Fist and finally Hook attacks. Whilst dealing with attacks from the hands you as a Wing Chun Student will also begin to deal with basic Kicking Problems, In the Wing Chun System we have 8 Kicks and you learn the defence for basic low Kick, Straight Kicks and High Kicks attacks.
As a beginner our Wing Chun Kicks are used as a standard reflex reaction as a non trained Wing Chun Applicator, Your front and side kicks (Bong gurk and Yup gurk) are your basic kick defences. As you progress through each module your Knowledge of Wing Chun will have grown so that when you start to spar with your fellow students and roll through each individual element of your training you will begin to understand how to attack and defend at the same time with your Kicks.
During this Phase you as the student will be introduced to the art of Dan Chi Sao (Basic Sticky hands)
Once you have successfully completed Phase One you then move onto:
Phase Two Fighting Programs (Intermediate)
Within this Phase your training moves in to close quarter training and you are introduced to the 2nd form of Wing Chun Chum Kiu (Seeking Bridge). Within this form the student begins to gain an understanding of full body mechanics and how keeping structure with hand shapes, footwork and body movement can improve power in attack and defend situations.
The Fighting programs covered within this phase are:
Knees and Elbows – Here you as a student will gain an understanding of how to deal with a situation in close quarters where only knees and elbows apply. This is Wing Chun students favorite area being able to deal with close quarter fighting.
Anti-Grappling – Dealing with the situation of being grabbed whether it’s leg, wrist, waist and neck
Anti-Throwing – Dealing with or countering the attempt at being thrown
Anti-Groundwork – Dealing with being on the ground.
The word Anti is put into these situations because as a Wing Chun Student your attacker will find it very hard to put you in these situations.
During this Phase the Student will also be introduced to Chi Sao (sticky Hands) and begin to gain an understanding of how to redirect your opponents force.
Again the same as with the first 4 fighting programs in phase One when you as a student are sparring in class you are looking to add all these techniques and gain a greater insight in to how they can be used.
Phase Three Fighting Programs (Specialised)
Within in Phase you as the student will cover four specialised areas within your Wing Chun training and these are as follows:
Counter Kicking – Being able to deal with pressure focus on the legs
Multiply Assailants – Dealing with more then one attacker whether you are surrounded, cornered or back against the wall.
Anti-Weapons – Dealing with attacks from close quarter weapons such as knives and mid range weapons such as an Escrima stick. These are the weapons you as a student are taught to deal. Regarding this area you as a student are always taught to look for your exit and if you don’t have to engage then don’t especially dealing with a bladed weapon
Control and Restraint – Gaining an understanding of joint manipulation and being able to control your attacker keeping both parties safe and holding them in such away as not to cause you harm themselves harm.
Again the same as with the last 8 fighting programs in phase One, Two, when you as a student are sparring in class you are looking to add all these techniques and gain a greater insight in to how they can be used.
Phase Four Fighting Programs (Advanced/Technician)