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WT Groundfighting


Wing Tsun... on the ground?

    Wing Tsun is not a ground fighting or submission grappling art, and it isn't designed for sport. I think at this point, we should all understand this. To be clear, grappling is a term that is not exclusive to the ground though, and yes, there is plenty of grappling in Wing Tsun. "Ground & Pound" was also a thing in Wing Tsun long before the UFC came into existence. As basic as it sounds, it's a very efficient and effective logical tactic.

    Now, what seems to go over the heads of most is that yes, Wing Tsun has very effective grappling (Chin Na - holds, joint locks and manipulation), trapping, clinch work, takedowns, takedown defense, throws, ground defense, and anti-grappling built in (something our lineage in particular specializes in). 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. The ground is a very dangerous place to be in a real fight for many reasons... 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 neutralize the threat and 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. People have died from blunt force trauma to the head in a street fight just from being slammed on the ground. 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.

    However, the tools are already there to deal with grapplers; it's not something that needs to be borrowed from another system. It's all in the forms, in the concepts and principles that govern our combat. It's just a matter of training and application. Forward intent means just that: forward. Nowhere does it say that you have to be standing up to make it work. I'm not saying that Wing Tsun is designed to roll around looking for arm bars (although it can save you from them!). It's clearly not BJJ and it's not wrestling. But lets not act like you're dead in the water should a grappler shoot on you, or for whatever reason you find yourself tussling on the ground.

    The problem is most practitioners have no experience whatsoever in this range. They don't train it. They weren't taught it, so they don't teach it. Those that do train for the ground usually train multiple arts; they train Wing Tsun for stand up striking, and BJJ, Judo, or wrestling for the ground, MMA style. The reality is that the tools you need to defend yourself are already in the system. There's no need for a supplemental art or borrowing techniques from another system. All of your techniques will work on the ground. Chi Sao works excellent on the ground, and will leave most wrestlers and BJJ players with headaches and hassle. But in order to make your Wing Tsun functional there, you must train it. You have to cross train with people with grappling experience. You'll never be able to fend off a BJJ player if you don't have an understanding of what they do. Grapplers constantly train against strikers, so they tend to have the advantage. I call this the "Southpaw Advantage". What I mean by that is, in boxing most pugilists are right handed, so they often train and fight against other right handed boxers. This is the natural stance and position for them. Left handed boxers, however, also train and fight mostly against right handed boxers, so they have the advantage of having quite a bit of experience fighting someone with an opposing lead. They are also very good at fighting left handed boxers, because this is the natural position for them. Most can also switch between southpaw and orthodox positions, causing a lot of problems for boxers who aren't used to  fighting left handed boxers. Same concept applies here.

    If you want to compete with submission grapplers or fight in the UFC, then you might want to look into additional training for that specific platform and rule set. But to defend yourself in a real life attack against a takedown or joint lock or to get a grappler off of you so you can get back on your feet, you have what you need already, you just need to train it. Remember, the grass is greener where you water it. If you put the time and effort into training the ground defense like you do your striking, you will be a very versatile and well rounded fighter, ready for whatever. If you neglect to train a certain range, be it grappling, striking, kicking, etc, then you will be lacking and your performance will suffer when faced with these challenges.

    Ever notice that a lot of "Chunners" have the same problems with boxers and kickboxers that they do with grapplers? It's because all they do is "Wing Chun incest" and never train with anyone from outside of their Kwoon (school). They generally don't spar at all, and their Chi Sao is just pushing each other around. Wing Chun against Wing Chun with no real live pressure. This is an issue with faulty training, not with the system itself. This is why Chunners generally get beat up when they step into the cage with an MMA fighter, plus the fact that they go to class once or twice a week for a couple hours and aren't in any kind of athletic shape. That MMA fighter is an ATHLETE. He's in peak physical condition. He trains 10x as much and 10x as hard as the "hobbyist Chunner" to be a FIGHTER. That's his JOB. He constantly spars. He competes. He lives and breathes for the fight. He has a lifetime of experience of fighting in all ranges. Every single techniques he has is constantly pressure tested and fine tuned to perfection. The vast majority of traditional martial artists are dry land swimmers and bench racers, or more accurately in this modern day and age, keyboard warriors... not fighters. If you never pressure test your skills, never spar, never cross train, never fight, and you're being taught by someone who never spars, never cross trained, and never fought, then you will never be prepared to face a real fighter, especially a versatile one that is proficient in a range you have zero experience in.  

    It's all about how you train, how well you understand the system and can apply it in any range, under and circumstances. If you choose to believe differently and neglect to train this range, then that is your prerogative. But when you fail, that failure is on your shoulders and not the system. If you are not learning the grappling aspects of the system, how to defend yourself on the ground, and how to apply your skill set against a grappler, then you are severely limiting yourself and missing out on all that this beautifully scientific art has to offer. Explore, experiment, and think outside the box.

"The 'WC' Wing Chun men are so confident that no one would survive the lightning hands of Wing Chun that there was no need for fighting on the ground. That's why in my WT system, I have groundfighting!" -GGM Leung Ting, 1986




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