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Wing Chun (Chinese: ??; pinyin: Yong chun; literally “Spring Chant”), occasionally romanized as Ving Tsun or “Wing Tsun” (and sometimes substituted with the characters for “eternal springtime”) is a Chinese martial art that specializes in aggressive close-range combat.
The characters (??) “forever spring” are also associated with some other southern Chinese martial arts, including Jee Shim Weng Chun (Yong Chun) and White Crane Weng Chun (Yong Chun).
Wing Chun was originally passed down from teacher to student orally rather than through written documentation, making it difficult to confirm or clarify the differing accounts of its creation. Some have sought to apply the methods of higher criticism to the oral histories of Wing Chun and other Chinese martial arts. Others have attempted to discern the origins of Wing Chun by determining the specific purpose of its techniques. Mentions of the art start to appear in independent third-party documentation during the era of the Wing Chun master Leung Jan, making its subsequent history and divergence into various branches more amenable to documentary verification.
The common legend involves the young woman Yim Wing Chun (Wing Chun literally means beautiful springtime or everlasting spring). After she rebuffs the local warlord’s marriage offer, he says he’ll rescind his proposal if she can beat him in a fight. She asks a local Buddhist nun, Ng Mui, to teach her boxing, and the style they develop enables Yim Wing Chun to defeat the warlord. She thereafter marries her sweetheart and teaches him the style, which he names after her.
It should be noted that the system was developed during the Shaolin and Ming resistance movement against the Qing Dynasty, and thus many legends about the creator of Wing Chun were spread to confuse the enemy, including the story of Yim Wing Chun. This perhaps explains why no one has been able to accurately determine the creator or creators of Wing Chun.
Tenets of Wing Chun include practicality, efficiency and economy of movement. Practitioners are sometimes encouraged to sense the energy behind their movements. The core philosophy becomes a useful guide to practitioners when modifying or refining the art.
Wing Chun techniques emphasize practicality and efficiency to maintain its ideals on effectiveness. Strikes are intended to injure or disrupt the target. Efficiency in Wing Chun is based on the concept that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Likewise its primary targets all lie along the “centerline” of one’s opponent.
Wing Chun believes in using the least amount of required force in any fighting situation. It believes properly timed positioning and movements can and should be used to defeat an opponent. This is achieved through balance, body structure and relaxation. The Chinese saying “4 taels to move 1000 catties” (referring to an old Chinese measurement system) is appropriate here in describing how a small amount of force, correctly applied, can deflect a powerful attack.
Wing Chun uses deflection and counter-attack in the same motion or will intercept the opponent to nullify an attack, rather than blocking then attacking in two separate motions. Further on interception the punch can act as a block as a consequence of the structure and the position of the arm traveling along its triangular “power-line” pathway to the opponent’s “Core”. This means that the opponent’s attack is automatically deflected by the arm-structure of the Wing Chun practitioner as the counter-punch is delivered.
The “structure” permitting this deflection to occur is controlled through the correct focus of energy from the “core” to the “elbow”. If the structure is not in place, the counter-attack/interception is likely to break down losing the “forwarding” power which may result in the deflection failing and allowing the attacking punch to make its target.
In addition to efficiency being understood as the “shortest distance to the opponent’s core” (which relates specifically to the speed of attack/counter-attack), it is also important to understand the importance of energy efficiency within Wing Chun. A person using Wing Chun is said to be able to defeat a stronger person because they are able to use their structure effectively. Given this, it is essential in ensuring that the Wing Chun practitioner has a full understanding of structure which enables them to use the correct use of energy required – deviation from the structure results in having to use the muscles more and your Wing Chun will not as effectively counter the strength of a stronger opponent. The structure deflects the energy in the enemy’s attacks and opens for counter attacks, if used properly it will also weaken the opponents blocks resulting in strikes that hit.