Some of my friends and I some times go onto websites like youtube to look at random things, as many people do. Our interests include martial arts. So, it's not too surprising that we watch a lot of videos related to that. One of my friends found and showed me several videos which were essentially bashing the martial art of "Wing Chun". Now, I'm a firm believer in the idea that no single martial art is perfect and has all the answers. But I also believe that every art (especially the ones that have been around for hundreds of years) has merit and a reason why it's lasted. There is some underlying concept in most every art that makes it work or at least made it work for someone at some time. Some people are too quick to forget that fact and spit in the face of those who came before them.
We are all conditioned to think that we are superior to our ancestors when it comes to a lot of things. Martial arts is no exception to this. And we do have potential to take martial arts to a higher intelectual level than our ancestors simply, because we have more access to the knowledge of other people and other parts of the world just by grabbing a mobile phone or computer. However, we have to remember that the people who came up with these arts which so many of us think we know better than and can just dismiss as useless, had to use their arts to survive. I'll say that part again... they had to use martial arts to survive. They fought for their lives, not for trophies, money, or fame. Though, some did fight for "honor of their school" and other such things, the originators fought, because they had to. Some were being bullied by their own governments. Some were victims of invading armies. Some were soldiers who needed something to use if their weapons broke or were taken from them. And some fought to be able to practice their religion without the constant fear of persecution. These were not "go to the gym three times a week" people. They new their arts like most of us know our pin numbers for our debit cards. They had to.
Now that my little rant is out of the way, I want to address what this article is mainly about. I have seen several people in videos or on forums, talking about the downside to Wing Chun. And there are some. They take it to another level and say that it is useless in a real fight and that you may be better off training for a month in an mma gym. I won't go into what I think about mma training as a means to self defense right now. What I will go into is something I saw some kid talking about in a video. He said that in Wing Chun, you have a straight punch which is supposed to be fast, but that it is too weak. He essentially said that it was useless in a real fight and that you'd be better off using an overhand punch from mma. He demonstrated this punch which was supposed to be from Wing Chun while seated at his computer desk by the way. The first thing that anyone analyzing any punch should know is that you don't start and stop at the fist. You start at the feet. Any good boxer will tell you that. He ignored the foot work and with that invalidated his own point. As for the overhand being a better punch, that's basically an improved, tighter version of a haymaker punch which any drunk in a bar might throw. It's slow, sloppy, predictable, and should be easily stopped by anyone not hit from behind or more drunk than the person throwing it. The overhand as done in mma is better than that, but still suffers the same drawbacks.
First of all, there is more than one type of punch in Wing Chun. So, you cannot judge an entire art on one punch (especially one which is not even done correctly). Second, most of Wing Chun's techniques are done at relatively close range and so Wing Chun practicioners spend a lot of time learning and training to generate more power in less space. So, for someone who doesn't practice the art to not get as much power from its techniques really is not surprising.
I'll move on to another complaint I see a lot about Wing Chun. People say that the trapping doesn't work in a real fight. They say that the training is unrealistic, because you usually have a training partner who gives you a reference point by putting his or her outer forearm or wrist against yours. Well, people are getting blinded by the fact that this is just that.... a reference point. They want you to get the movements down first before you worry about how you're getting into that position. You need to know both though. A lot of people say that you can't do the trapping unless something like someone grabbing your shirt happens. That's incorrect. There are so many different scenarios for how to get the type of contact that would facilitate a trap that I doubt I could list them all here. I'll give you a few examples though. First of all, a Wing Chun practicioner is not simply trying to trap you all the time. There is more to the art than that. They can throw a punch at you any time they want. Now if you block that punch or cover, they can use whatever arm you used to defend with in their trap. Also, if you have a standard guard such as in boxing, they can trap off of that. If you hold a strong guard and you resist the trap, they can use your resistance against you and attack a different angle before you can react, because it takes longer to move once you've tensed those muscles. Are these things always going to work? No. Of course not. But nothing in any art is always a hundred percent.
The bottom line is this: There is a reason that Wing Chun has been around for as long as it is and that it was as highly respected for as long as it was. There is also a reason that Bruce Lee said that it was the most effective martial art he'd seen for use on the street when he started out and that that was the art he chose to study when in China. That being said, it is not perfect and that is also why Bruce Lee decided to branch out and learn more about other arts as well. A lot of these people who are so quick to bash on Wing Chun either have never studied the art or at the very least have never understood it. This is something that happens a lot these days with many arts and schools. People are so quick to say their way is best and everybody else is stupid. They went through this in the east too. It's an arrogance which is a part of the human condition. And it's usually demonstrated by the people who are too blinded by the facade of their own "greatness" to ever explore anything outside their own comfort zone to ever reach their full potential. I'll end this article with a quote which has been said by many martial artists over the years, but which I first heard when told to me by one of my first martial arts teachers. And it applies to any art. "It's not the art. It's the person. The art doesn't win or lose the fight. You do."