Here are some frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions you'd like answered, please let us know!
Q: Can training Wing Tsun give a smaller/older/more frail/non-athletic person the advantage if they are attacked by a larger, stronger opponent?
A: YES! Because of the practical and scientific way the system is designed, Training to proficiency in Wing Tsun will give you a very distinct advantage, effectively removing size and strength from the equation. To put it into perspective, Bruce Lee was a little guy (5'7", 140 lbs), and Grandmaster Yip Man was quite a bit smaller than him (5'3", 125 lbs). 'Nuff said.
Q: Can you learn Wing Tsun via online courses, YouTube, DVD's, books, self-teaching, Skype lessons, etc?
A: The politically correct answer is "Sure, you can do anything you set your mind to!", but the real answer is NO. Wing Tsun is a touch skill, not a memorization skill. The above mentioned resources are great companion material to supplement your training, but they are no substitute for a qualified instructor and real training in person. Reading books and watching instructional videos will only scratch the surface, not to mention the information you will be getting will probably be all over the place and probably just confuse you. Even attempting to learn the forms from videos, you are just mimicking movement with no real sense of understanding. The sensitivity developed in Wing Tsun can only be achieved through countless hours of dedicated training with a live person, and a knowledgeable and skilled teacher to make corrections. It's hard work, and it takes time. You wouldn't trust a self-taught lawyer with no real training or education to represent you, would you? You wouldn't trust the brain surgeon who never went to college but taught himself how to perform brain surgery via YouTube in between social media and video games, would you? So why would you trust yourself to attempt to defend your life with such silly training? Or worse... attempt to learn from someone who taught themselves to "master the system" from videos and books. Would you trust a pilot that's never flown a plane? Do you remember when you took Driver's Ed and memorized the whole book, all of the traffic laws, when to signal... you watched the videos and listened to the lectures, etc? They didn't just give you your license, you had to actually get in a car and learn to drive! Same concept. If you try to teach yourself this combat art, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Q: Martial Arts are about peace and harmony and health benefits, not fighting... I don't want to hit anyone/I don't want to get hit/I don't like violence/I don't like to train rough...
A: Usually when people feed me this, I cut them off before the question mark appears. This is a combat art, plain and simple. Any health and well being that comes from martial arts (this one, anyway), is only a secondary side benefit. They are there, but that is not the primary function. This is about how to defend yourself against an aggressive violent attacker. If this is too rough, then you might want to find a yoga class or something. But I promise you, when someone attacks you in a dark alley, that yoga isn't going to save your life.
Q: I heard you guys don't spar. Is that true?
A: No! My famous quote: "I am a firm believer that in order to learn to deal with an incoming punch, you first need an incoming punch." Some schools may not spar or pressure test what they learn, but we are not one of those schools. We do our best to train safely and prevent injury, but we also do our best to present reality based training that won't crumble under pressure. Students are eased into sparring in stages.
Q: Why don't I ever see Wing Tsun in the UFC/MMA?
A: Because you either aren't looking hard enough, or you don't know what you're looking at. UFC fighter Luke Cummo has trained JKD, and UFC fighter Anderson Silva has trained both Wing Tsun & JKD, for a couple examples. One of my Si-Hings teaches striking using Wing Tsun concepts at one of the largest MMA schools in Houston, Texas.
Q: My friend said that a Wing Tsun fighter can't beat a boxer/MMA fighter/Blackbelt, is that true? Or can Wing Tsun beat (insert style here)?
A: I will address both of these questions together, because the answer is basically the same. As far as the age old "style versus style" debate, it's not the style, but the practitioner that wins or loses. Yes, I feel that Wing Tsun gives you an advantage over many other styles... obviously I feel that way, because this is what I do, but the fact remains that it all boils down to the person in the fight. I've seen black belts get there ass kicked in bar fights by drunk untrained brawlers. That doesn't mean that their style sucks, it means that they weren't very good at applying it.
The same thing with a Wing Tsun (or any other style) practitioner beating a boxer or MMA fighter. Those guys are professional athletes. Fighting is life. They are in top physical conditioning, they train twice a day, every day, for hours at a time. They clock more sparring hours in a month than most people do in ten years. They have more fights in a year than most people have in a lifetime. If you sit behind a desk all day, eat junk food, and go to your martial arts class 2 or 3 times a week for 2 hours, rarely spar and never fight, you probably shouldn't pick a fight with a professional fighter because your chances of winning are terribly slim. *HOWEVER*, if you train hard like an athlete, constantly spar and pressure test, go to every class, practice even when you're not in class, well then you kind of even out the playing field. It's not that (insert style here) can't beat a boxer or MMA fighter, it's that the average person isn't up to the task. The fault is not with the art. Boxers and UFC/MMA fighters are professional athletes and professional fighters, *most* people who casually train martial arts are not. If you aspire to get on that level, then we will help you get there.
Q: I heard Wing Tsun doesn't have any ground fighting/grappling. What if I fight someone who trains Brazilian Ju Jitsu? Should I study a grappling art too, or a more "complete" style like MMA?
A: First off, Wing Tsun DOES have ground defense and anti-grappling. Our WT lineage in particular is one of the few lineages that thoroughly explores and embraces grappling and ground fighting solutions. You will often hear us speak of "Forward Intent" when talking about technique application. Forward is just that, forward. It doesn't matter if you're standing up, laying on your back, or hanging upside down. Wing Tsun covers all 4 ranges of combat (kicking, punching, trapping, and grappling). We begin ground defense and anti-grappling right from the beginning. Being an experienced grappler and cross training with high level BJJ practitioners, I assure you that your techniques will work on the ground if you train for it. Since Wing Tsun is more geared towards real world self defense and street combat, ground grappling is not encouraged because in a street fight, that's where you die. If you're attacked in the street and you're rolling around on the ground trying to sink an armbar, you are wide open for the guys friends to stomp you into oblivion or pull a weapon, and there's not much you can do about it from down there, so the idea is to recover your footing and strategic position as quickly as possible. Also, takedowns on concrete or other hard surfaces pose their own set of problems and risks. When there is no ref, no rules, no mats, and the possibility of multiple and/or armed attackers, you never want to risk fighting on the ground if at all possible. Being a concept and principle based art, the only limitations on Wing Tsun are the practitioners ability to understand and correctly apply it. Some schools don't train this range because they simply do not have the skill or understanding to do so. We train for modern, real world scenarios, and ground fighting and takedowns are highly probable threats in a real attack. If you wish to train for MMA or sport combat, we can most definitely show you how to apply your Wing Tsun effectively on the ground. If you plan on joining the UFC, then you might want to explore other options as well since you are training for a specific platform, but in the real world you do not need any other style to make your Wing Tsun complete.
Q: Can you guys really fight blindfolded?
A: Yes we can. That comes from the sensitivity that we develop from Chi Sao, or "Sticky Hands", and the way we deal with incoming force. Once we have made contact, we "stick" and control the opponent, responding to their pressure, movement, and energy. We feel rather than see. This also takes the brain out of the equation; when you think, you hesitate. When you anticipate a move, you can respond incorrectly. When you respond to pressure, your reflexive reactions are instant and always appropriate to the situation.
Q: I just watched the Ip Man movies or (insert favorite Bruce Lee movie here), can you teach me to fight like that?
A: In a sense, yes. But please understand that what you see in the movies, although they do incorporate real Wing Tsun, is cinematic choreography. It's designed to look good and flashy on film, and it's not a real fight. Real Kung Fu can look rough, ugly, and brutal. But this is not a dance competition or a wushu forms demonstration, we are teaching you to protect your life.
Q: I heard all you guys do is square up, chain punch, and go forward in a straight line. Is that really effective?
A: First of all, that is simply not true. Whoever told you that probably heard it from someone or read it online from someone who went to 3 or 4 classes and then got beat up and decided it doesn't work. Remember that Wing Tsun was designed so the rebels and common folk could defend against the well trained and armed Manchurian soldiers of the Qing dynasty. It was life and death combat. It if wasn't effective, it would not have stood the test of time. Like any other style, you will not become a super ninja assassin overnight. You actually have to put the work in.
Q: I trained under (insert lineage of Wing Chun/Ving Tsun) and we did things quite a bit different. Is there a right and wrong way? Is one more authentic?
A: Different lineages, schools, and Sifu's may have different ways of application, forms, footwork, training methods, and things of that nature. It's not to say that one is right or wrong, or one is authentic or not; they are just different. Different paths up the same mountain. What I do know for a fact is that our way is very effective and it works under pressure. It's not the only way by any means, but if you come from a different lineage, we ask you to come with your cup empty and be receptive to what we are teaching. We always love to compare note and see new perspective to this art, so we ask that you do the same. When you learn different approaches, you can then customize your art to whatever works best for you.
Q: People say you shouldn't lift weights when training a soft/internal art, as this can hinder development, slow you down, adversely affect sensitivity, create tension, lose flexibility, etc. Is this true?
A: No, absolutely not. While physical strength and rigorous conditioning is not necessary to make Wing Tsun effective as opposed to harder styles like Muay Thai, Karate, boxing, etc, it sure doesn't hurt either. The better your physical condition is, the better your chances of success if you have to defend yourself, especially if your opponent is larger, stronger, and more athletic. The better your chances of not running out of gas in the middle of the fight. This is one of the main reasons a lot of "skilled" traditional martial artists fail against even amateur sport fighters. This is also the reason professional fighters train non stop like maniacs to prepare for a fight. The only people that advocate against physical fitness are people that don't work out, and they have no credible reference to modern medical science to back their claims. These are the guys that you only see doing static drills with low level students or unrealistic demonstrations with compliant partners, but no actual sparring under pressure or real fighting. No one has ever gotten into a fight and said "man, I sure wish I was a little bit weaker and slower," or "I really need to ease up on my cardio, that was way too easy". Again, don't think you have to commit to boot camp or become a Shaolin Warrior Monk to learn Wing Tsun, but be realistic about your goals.
Q: Should I mix Wing Tsun with (insert style here)?
A: You can do as you please, however I would suggest becoming proficient in something before trying to fill in perceived holes that really aren't there in the first place. Like the old saying "Jack of all trades, master of none". It's better to master something than be mediocre at a whole bunch of different beginner and intermediate stuff from all over the place. Some peoples progress really slows down when they attempt to learn and mix multiple things that don't really go together in the first place. MMA is a science all to itself. If MMA is what you think you want, I would suggest finding a qualified MMA instructor.
Q: Why don't you use any of the fancy cool looking moves, like spinning roundhouse kicks to the head?
A: While it does take a tremendous amount of skill to learn and properly execute these types of techniques, they are very inefficient and very risky. We train to easily defeat these types of techniques. Not to say that they don't or can't work, but the success rate is not very high and you are putting yourself in serious danger by compromising your centerline, your balance and structure, and you are wide open to a variety of very nasty counterattacks that you won't be able to defend. The last place you want to get caught in a life or death situation is on one leg, off balance, with your back turned and groin exposed, overcommitted into a movement that was telegraphed. We tend to stick with things that we know for a fact are going to be effective. If someone is trying to rob you or kidnap you, now is not the time to be showing off and doing back flips like a ninja turtle or something you saw in a Karate Kid movie. When analyzing a technique, ask yourself if it violates any of the Principles of Wing Tsun. If you attempt a move that exceeds these parameters, understand that you assume the great risk of failure associated with it.
Q: I heard Wing Tsun only has one punch, the straight vertical punch. Is this true?
A: Absolutely not. While our main punch is the vertical punch, we utilize many punching methods. Uppercut, hook, overhand cross, backfist, horizontal punch, it's all there, and it's all in the forms. A Wing Tsun practitioner should be able to punch anywhere, from anywhere, A---->B. We are not limited to one punch. Once again, this is something you hear from a beginner who didn't make it through the first month. I love the quote that is attributed to Leung Bik (one of Yip Man's Sifu's)... when executing a technique during a friendly sparring session, a young Yip Man remarked, "Hey, that's not Wing Tsun!", to which Leung Bik replied: "If it comes from my fist, it's Wing Tsun, kid".
Disclaimer: The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in this site are that of Texas Wing Tsun and its Chief Instructor, Jason Malik, who independently researched and compiled the information that is presented in his personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the official views of our WTA or RJKD affiliates. Allowance is made for fair use of copyrighted photos and other media material compiled and presented from outside sources and is protected under the federal Fair Use Act of 1976 (17 USC Section 107) for reporting/editorial, research, and educational/teaching purposes.
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