Tag Archives: Techniques

How to Win a Street Fight Using Wing Chun Techniques, Part 1

In the martial arts, one school of thought holds that you should change your game to match your opponent’s. Example: If you’re a stand-up fighter and you’re facing a grappler, you should immediately switch into grappling mode. Problem is, that requires you to train to such an extent that each subset of your skills is superior to the skills of a person who focuses on only that range of combat. Your grappling must be better than a grappler’s, your kicking must be better than a kicker’s and your punching must be better than a puncher’s. It’s a tough task, to be sure.

Another school of thought holds that you should never fight force with the same kind of force. In other words, don’t try to beat your opponent at what he does best. Instead, use a set of concepts and techniques that will enable you to nullify his attacks and nail him when he’s not expecting it. The best set of concepts I’ve found is called the science of wing chun, as taught by Black Belt Hall of Fame member William Cheung. It offers a strategic approach to combat that’s guaranteed to help any stand-up fighter prevail on the street.

Maintain a Balanced Stance
When you’re in a balanced wing chun stance, your opponent won’t be able to read your intentions because you’re not telegraphing the way you’ll fight. He can’t discern your commitment to any move or to any direction.

The stance requires a 50-50 weight distribution at all times. That enables you to move either foot in any direction at anytime. Having maximum mobility, at a moment’s notice, is essential for dealing with armed or multiple attackers. Being balanced also conserves energy, which allows you to channel it to other uses while under attack.

Once your opponent moves, wing chun teaches that you should immediately shift into a side-neutral stance based on the side of your body he attacks. If he comes from your right, you deal with him by using your right arm and right foot, and vice versa. Your stance is now similar to that of a boxer, except that you’re oriented at a 45-degree angle so you’re less open to his blows.

Attack Your Opponent’s Balance
In any kind of fighting, balance is everything. Strive to maintain yours while attacking your opponent’s. Often, that entails getting him to lean too far into his technique, overcommit to his movement or overextend his body. Without proper balance, he won’t be able to move, block or strike effectively.

In general, grapplers employ a strategy that involves an overzealous commitment to a move. They’ll lean, lunge or throw themselves forward in an effort to take you to the ground, which is their preferred environment. At that point, they’ll attempt to mount you and punch, or they’ll choke you unconscious. That’s all well and good as long as you don’t take advantage of their momentary lack of balance.

LEARN MORE WING CHUN TECHNIQUES FROM GRANDMASTER WILLIAM CHEUNG! A student of Yip Man and a longtime friend and training partner of Bruce Lee, William Cheung teaches you empty-hand forms, reflex training, chi sao drills and more in Wing Chun Kung Fu 5-DVD Set! Available now in our online store!

In wing chun, you control your opponent’s balance and then deflect his force primarily by controlling his elbow. As Cheung likes to say, if you control his elbow, you can control his balance.

With practice, you can incorporate the principles of wing chun into your self-defense system no matter what it is.

Stay tuned for the continuation of this Web post in “How to Win a Street Fight Using Wing Chun Techniques, Part 2.”

About the Author:
Lucy Haro has been a disciple of William Cheung for more than 10 years and holds a black sash in traditional wing chun kung fu. A 17-year veteran of the martial arts, she’s also an attorney and entrepreneur.

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Fight Smart in Close-Quarters Combat Using Wing Chun Techniques

Fight Smart in Close-Quarters Combat Using Wing Chun Techniques

In the martial arts, one school of thought holds that you should change your game to match your opponent’s. Example: If you’re a stand-up fighter and you’re facing a grappler, you should immediately switch into grappling mode. Problem is, that requires you to train to such an extent that each subset of your skills is superior to the skills of a person who focuses on only that range of combat. Your grappling must be better than a grappler’s, your kicking must be better than a kicker’s and your punching must be better than a puncher’s. It’s a tough task, to be sure.

Another school of thought holds that you should never fight force with the same kind of force. In other words, don’t try to beat your opponent at what he does best. Instead, use a set of concepts and techniques that will enable you to nullify his attacks and nail him when he’s not expecting it. The best set of concepts I’ve found is called the science of wing chun, as taught by Black Belt Hall of Fame member William Cheung. It offers a strategic approach to combat that’s guaranteed to help any stand-up fighter prevail on the street.

Before beginning, a few words about wing chun are in order. Supposedly developed by a woman named Yim Wing Chun, the system is based on scientific principles that allow the practitioner to achieve peak performance in any combat situation, even against a larger opponent. It does so by teaching you how to fight smarter, not harder. The key to achieving that goal lies in the following seven principles.

When you’re in a balanced wing chun stance, your opponent won’t be able to read your intentions because you’re not telegraphing the way you’ll fight. He can’t discern your commitment to any move or to any direction.

The stance requires a 50-50 weight distribution at all times. That enables you to move either foot in any direction at any time. Having maximum mobility, at a moment’s notice, is essential for dealing with armed or multiple attackers. Being balanced also conserves energy, which allows you to channel it to other uses while under attack.

Once your opponent moves, wing chun teaches that you should immediately shift into a side neutral stance based on the side of your body he attacks. If he comes from your right, you deal with him by using your right arm and right foot, and vice versa. Your stance is now similar to that of a boxer, except that you’re oriented at a 45-degree angle so you’re less open to his blows.

William Cheung (left) faces his opponent, Eric Oram, in a side neutral stance (1). Oram throws a left jab toward Cheung’s right side, causing Cheung to counter with a right palm strike (2). The opponent then tries a roundhouse punch, which Cheung counters with a finger-thrust block (3). He tries to force his roundhouse punch but Cheung moves with the arm and maintains control of the elbow (4). The wing chun master then hits him with an elbow strike (5) before taking him down with a leg sweep (6-7). He finishes with a series of punches to the head (8).

In any kind of fighting, balance is everything. Strive to maintain yours while attacking your opponent’s. Often, that entails getting him to lean too far into his technique, overcommit to his movement or overextend his body. Without proper balance, he won’t be able to move, block or strike effectively.

In general, grapplers employ a strategy that involves an overzealous commitment to a move. They’ll lean, lunge or throw themselves forward in an effort to take you to the ground, which is their preferred environment. At that point, they’ll attempt to mount you and punch, or they’ll choke you unconscious. That’s all well and good as long as you don’t take advantage of their momentary lack of balance.

In wing chun, you control your opponent’s balance and then deflect his force primarily by controlling his elbow. As Cheung likes to say, if you control his elbow, you can control his balance.

The opponent (left) closes the distance and grabs William Cheung’s right arm (1-2). Cheung interrupts his balance with a palm-strike push aimed at the man’s elbow (3). He then pulls the trapped limb down to effect a standing armbar (4). Cheung pushes the opponent to the floor (5) and neutralizes him with punches (6).

Always watch your adversary’s lead elbow. Why the elbow? Because whenever a person’s arm moves to strike you, so does his elbow. The elbow, however, moves a shorter distance at a slower speed, which means it’s easier for you to track and react to.

Of course, you could watch his fist, but it moves very quickly, and it could wind up in your face before you figure out where it’s going. The elbow, being farther away than the fist, is easier to follow and easier to read. Examples: During the execution of a straight punch, the elbow moves two and a half times more slowly than the fist. When doing a round punch, the elbow moves almost four times more slowly.

Distance translates into time. The longer you can follow the path of his strike—by detecting it sooner—the more time you have to let your reflexes work for you.

To expand the usefulness of this principle, remember that the knee is to the leg as the elbow is to the arm. When you’re facing a grappler, watch his knees for a sign that he’s about to execute a takedown. If you’re facing a kicker, his knee will clue you in as to how he’ll kick.

In close-quarters combat, once you’re aware of which arm the enemy will use to attack, you must take control of his lead elbow. The best way to do that is to use one of your hands to palm-strike the elbow and perhaps pull the arm to disrupt his balance. Simultaneously punch him in the face or body with the other hand. That’s one of the core concepts of wing chun: Always strive to block and strike at the same time.

When you attack and defend simultaneously, you shift the pressure off yourself and onto your opponent. Rather than continuing his attempts to harm you, he must now defend himself or suffer the consequences. The best part is, he’ll be pretty much trapped because you’ll be in control of his elbow and you’ll be throwing a series of blows at the same time. The last thing on his mind will be shooting in on you or grabbing you.

Hundreds of years ago, Chinese martial artists figured out how to control an opponent’s balance. The key was sensing his energy. Using contact reflexes, they could predict what the other person was about to do with the rest of his body. It was so successful that it’s still a part of the Chinese martial arts.

By using touch instead of sight, you can cut your reaction time from 0.2 seconds to 0.05 seconds. Once you’ve sensed his movement through contact, your eyes will be free to tackle other missions, such as making your strikes more accurate and monitoring your adversary’s free hand and his legs.

The traditional training method known as chi sao is wing chun’s preferred method for honing this skill. Because it helps you develop the required touch sensitivity and reflexes, it allows you to “read” what your opponent is doing and react to his movement more quickly than if you used your eyes only.

In chi sao drills, you and your partner stand with your hands touching to facilitate the detection of movement. You then have him run through various attacks to develop your ability to feel and predict. When you’re done, reverse roles.

In wing chun, your goal is to remain standing, but no one’s perfect. If you fall, be prepared to back off until you can scramble to your feet. Again, chi sao can help by enabling you to control your opponent’s elbow and then change the angle of leverage long enough to escape.]

Once you control his lead elbow, step to his blind side—to the outside of his lead arm—and counterattack from there. Being in that position is advantageous because it permits you to keep the maximum distance between his rear arm and your body, which means you’ll need to deal with only one arm at a time.

Again, distance equals time. If you achieve the blind-side position and your opponent tries to reach you with his rear hand, it’ll take him longer, which gives you more time to react. Also, he may cross his arms as he tries to do so, and that will render him susceptible to a trapping technique.

The objective is to ensure that you have free use of both arms while limiting him to one. Always avoid standing directly in front of him because he’ll be able to attack you with both arms and legs.

When the opponent (left) throws a roundhouse punch, William Cheung excutes a finger-thurst block to the elbow (1-2). That causes the man to shoot for Cheung’s legs (3). Cheung steps back and leans on his foe while placing his left hand on the man’s right knee (4). Pushing against the knee (5), Cheung takes him to the ground (6), where he finishes him with his fists (7).

When you make contact, quite often your opponent will attempt to oppose your force with more force by pulling away his arm. If he does, follow the elbow and trap it against his body.

If he opts to struggle violently against you, you can use an “exchange move.” That entails using one of the following:

Execute a push palm strike (pak sao) to control one of his elbows to dissipate the force. Make sure you’re still in position to strike simultaneously with your other arm.Execute a grabbing block (lap sao) to control his balance and move with his force. Again, you must be in position to strike with your other arm.

Using the time-tested strategies of wing chun, you can deflect your opponent’s force, control his balance, avoid his attacks by positioning yourself on the blind side and then disable him with strikes. Whether he’s a close-quarters striker or a grappler, you’ll nullify his attempts to take you to the ground. If he does shoot in for a takedown, he’ll have already sacrificed his balance. This presents you with your best opportunity to sidestep to avoid a collision and knock him to the ground when he misses you.

When you’re on your feet, if you gain control of his elbow on the blind side, you’ll be able to pin it against his body and finish him with his strikes. To ensure you have the absolute advantage, control his elbow even if he falls so you can unleash strikes at will without getting hit.

With practice, you can incorporate the principles of wing chun into your self-defense system no matter what it is. They will enable you to fight where you’re most comfortable—on your feet—and where it’s safest—on the blind side.

To hone his reflexes, William Cheung lies on his back and has Eric Oram assume the mount position (1). Using the same methods he’d use on his feet, Cheung stops a roundhouse punch with a finger-thrust technique (2), then controls the man’s wrist and elbow. His sensitivity enables him to maneuver the arm to his right (3-4), thus positioning himself on the opponent’s blind side. Cheung grabs the man’s right ankle and swings the leg overhead (5-6). Continuing his roll, Cheung attains the top position, from which he can counterattack or escape.

Hundreds of years ago, Chinese martial artists figured out how to control an opponent’s balance. The key was sensing his energy. Using contact reflexes, they could predict what the other person was about to do with the rest of his body. It was so successful that it’s still a part of the Chinese martial arts.

By using touch instead of sight, you can cut your reaction time from 0.2 seconds to 0.05 seconds. Once you’ve sensed his movement through contact, your eyes will be free to tackle other missions, such as making your strikes more accurate and monitoring your adversary’s free hand and his legs.

The traditional training method known as chi sao is wing chun’s preferred method for honing this skill. Because it helps you develop the required touch sensitivity and reflexes, it allows you to “read” what your opponent is doing and react to his movement more quickly than if you used your eyes only.

In chi sao drills, you and your partner stand with your hands touching to facilitate the detection of movement. You then have him run through various attacks to develop your ability to feel and predict. When you’re done, reverse roles.

In wing chun, your goal is to remain standing, but no one’s perfect. If you fall, be prepared to back off until you can scramble to your feet. Again, chi sao can help by enabling you to control your opponent’s elbow and then change the angle of leverage long enough to escape.

(Lucy Haro has been a disciple of William Cheung for 10 years and holds a black sash in traditional wing chun kung fu. A 17-year veteran of the martial arts, she’s also an attorney and entrepreneur. For more on heung and wing chun kung fu, check out Street Fighting Applications of Wing Chun.)

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Wing Chun Techniques: The Secret Weapon Against Leg Attacks

In 1966, karate legend Joe Lewis rocketed to stardom by winning Jhoon Rhee’s U.S. Nationals in Washington, D.C. Incredibly, it was his first tournament, and he won every single point with only one technique — the side kick.

For six years, Chuck Norris ruled the karate world with his spinning kicks. He won virtually every major title between 1965 and 1970, including six grand championships. He retired, undefeated, in 1970.

From 1974 to 1981, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace dominated the full-contact karate circuit. His lightning-fast left roundhouse and hook kicks rose to legendary status as he stunned one opponent after another. He retired 21-0, with 11 knockouts. Superfoot, indeed.

Those champions and many more have demonstrated their awesome kicking abilities in and out of the ring. In fact, the martial arts in general are best-known for their kicks. Even Bruce Lee is remembered more for his dynamic on-screen kicking than for the intricate trapping and striking techniques of jeet kune do.

If kicking is the hallmark of the martial arts, it follows logically that to become a superior fighter, you have to learn how to deal with those seemingly indefensible lower-limb assaults. How do you stop a technique that, once mastered, appears to be unstoppable? One answer can be found within William Cheung’s traditional wing chun fighting system.

Mechanics of Kicking
The laws of physics hold that a force can have only one direction at a time. The longer a movement is committed to a certain direction, the longer it will take for it to change its direction. It has to run its course before it can move on to another path. When an opponent attacks with a kick as opposed to a punch, his foot must follow a longer path to reach you. Distance equals time, so the greater distance gives you more time to react. In dealing with kicks, then, the first step is to properly train your eyes, or visual reflexes, so you can readily determine how your opponent is attacking and which part of your body he is targeting.

Traditional wing chun teaches you to watch your opponent’s elbow to identify an upper-body strike — punch, palm strike, elbow and so on — because the movement of the elbow indicates the movement of the entire arm. The arm cannot move without the elbow going with it. The knee is to the leg as the elbow is to the arm. Thus, if you train yourself to watch the knee of your opponent’s attacking leg the instant he kicks, you will have the best chance of identifying the kick’s path and target.

If the opponent attempts to bridge the gap with a kick, he must commit himself to that direction of force. As a defense, you can do anything. You have not committed; therefore, as long as you are balanced and have mobile footwork, you are free to move in any direction. Your response should put you in the best position not only to defend yourself but also to counterattack.

Contingency Case
If your opponent executes a kick and it does not make contact — and it is your job to ensure that it doesn’t — he will leave you several openings to exploit:

Balance: When he kicks, he must balance on one leg — if only for a moment — and that means he is presenting an opening. In general, a person in a two-legged stance should be able to knock a person in a one-legged stance off-balance. Without a good base, it is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible for him to launch an effective blow.The groin: In most cases, executing a kick will leave his groin open to attack. The vulnerability may exist only for a moment, but if your eyes are well-trained, you will see the kick from its inception and you will be ready to pounce.The supporting leg: Because a force can have only one direction at a time, an opponent who commits to a non-jumping kick leaves his supporting leg virtually defenseless while his other leg is completing its motion. The knee and shin are the most common targets on the supporting leg.The kicking leg: Whenever a kick is in motion, several pressure points on the underside of the leg are exposed. They are small targets, but you can train yourself to attack them with a counter-kick.

Defending against a kick is all about timing. While the opponent’s leg is committed, the above-mentioned targets are most vulnerable. From a balanced and neutral position, you can time your response so you act during this fleeting but critical moment. If you move too soon, he may change course and adapt. If you move too late, you may miss the opening and get kicked.

Step by Step
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Because distance equals time, you should protect yourself against the most immediate threat — a linear attack — by controlling the centerline (the path that connects the center of your body with the center of your opponent’s body). You have now created a shield covering the shortest attack route; your opponent must try to charge through it or find a way around it.

Say your guard covers your center but your opponent still attacks with a kick. You use your eyes to determine the path of the strike (linear or circular) and the target (the upper, middle or lower part of your body). Once you have identified the strike’s commitment, step off the path of the attack. Again, proper footwork is crucial for ensuring that you will move to the right place at the right time.
You then must block or deflect the kick on or near the knee. Whenever possible, you should strive to deflect the attack, bumping it slightly off its intended course, and not stop it. If you stop it, you will have ended the kick’s commitment and your opponent can now attack again. Obviously, it is important to keep the leg in motion for as long as possible to give yourself time to exploit the opening.

If, however, you do need to stop it, you must then attack the opponent’s balance by controlling his knee. Even though the kick’s commitment has ended, he will still have a difficult time initiating another strike right away because his balance is committed downward. Plus, the muscles that lift the leg are weaker than the muscles that lower the leg, so you have gravity and anatomy on your side.

Once the kick is controlled and the initial opening has been exploited, your objective is to close the distance (get inside kicking range) and position yourself to the outside of the opponent’s leading elbow to continue your counter. This combination of position and counterattack serves multiple purposes:

By stepping off the path of the kick — to one side or the other but not straight back — you are in an excellent position to counter immediately. The lack of hesitation before your counter puts him on the defensive, thereby taking him off the offensive.Your position to the outside of his lead arm keeps you away from his rear arm because you are using his lead arm as a shield. Therefore, you are forced to deal with only one limb at a time.Your control of his lead elbow enables you to manipulate his balance, making it difficult for him to attack again.

Precision Blocking
Once you have identified the nature of the kick, you must decide which block to use. Traditional wing chun teaches two relevant rules:

If the kick is aimed at the middle or upper part of your body, you should use your arms to block. The specific block is determined by whether the kick is straight or circular.If the kick is aimed at the lower middle or lower part of your body, you should generally use your legs to block.

These principles require you to devote minimal motion to defense. That, in turn, allows for minimal commitment on your part to do the block, leaving you neutral and ready to instantly launch a counterattack rather than committing your balance forward as you reach down to block a low kick with your arm. In traditional wing chun, the principle of “seizing the critical moment” depends on your ability to identify an opening the instant it becomes an opening. Then you must be able to move into the best position to block and counter. The opening could be anywhere, so you must be prepared to go anywhere at anytime. It is essential to train the right and left sides of your body equally. If you have a dominant side, you will have an imbalance — one that might not mesh with the opening.

Furthermore, when your eyes develop the ability to see a kick forming before it is launched, you may be able to employ a wing chun leg attack or jam as a pre-emptive block. They are the quickest ways to put your opponent on the defensive without committing yourself first.

User Beware
Wing chun rarely advocates the use of kicks as a purely offensive weapon to begin an encounter. If your opponent has not yet committed to his attack, using your leg first leaves you committed and vulnerable. Therefore, you should concentrate on employing kicks as a counterattack immediately after a block. Once he has committed to his punch or kick, he will not be able to exploit your openings as readily as you can exploit his. In addition, you should aim your kicks at or below waist level. That means your leg will be committed to the attack for as short a time as possible and serving as a component of your balance for the maximum amount of time.

Traditional wing chun instructors often use a simple metaphor to further drive home the essence of their art’s kick-killing methods: If a hammer is aligned with the head of a nail and moved with sufficient force, it will drive the nail all the way into the board. However, if you learn how to recognize the impending blow before it begins and develop the reflexes to respond instantly, you not only can prevent the nail from being pounded flat but can also ensure that the toolbox remains locked and the hammer never even sees the light of day.

About the Author
Eric Oram has taught traditional wing chun for more than 20 years and is an actor, fight choreographer and freelance writer based in Los Angeles. To contact him, visit lawingchun.com.

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