The truth is that many would end this title with a “is irrelevant.” From my point of view, including combat practices in Wing Chun training is very interesting and essential if we want what we are practicing to be effective.
Let’s look at some of the arguments against its practice:
– The duel combat type is unreal since in a real situation of personal defense it develops in a very different way as it does in a ring.
Although I do not deny that it is true that sparring is not entirely realistic, it must be admitted that chi sao is not at all and yet it is a cornerstone in Wing Chun. So that the combat is not 100% realistic does not mean that it can not be useful.
-In traditional training there is no combat practice.
This is not true as Wing Chun practitioners sought other styles fighters to challenge. The problem is that today if the combat is not practiced in the classroom many students can spend months and years without the opportunity to practice it.
-The practice of chi sao and the training of techniques is enough.
In front of an adversary who does not occupy the center line, for example, the chi sao loses much of its usefulness. And in front of an opponent who will defend and counterattack, the programmed training of the technique is not enough.
For these reasons, I do not think the argument is that the combat should not be part of Wing Chun training. Its benefits are multiple, because although a duel is not exactly the same as a real situation the truth is that in it we can receive the attack from a long distance, in a lateral position, while walking etc. Situations that occur during combat. So, knowing your limits, incorporating its practice will be useful.
Of course, we must know how to train combat to be consistent with our system. Although the following is nothing more than a personal proposition, it may be of interest to many practitioners. The first thing to keep in mind is that the approach to combat must be progressive. In my school after a month of practice, the first step is to respond from a static guard to an attack of any kind and random. At three months we incorporated the combinations of two attacks. At four or five months we maintain the static waiting and stimulation of our partner’s combinations but now waiting without guard. Unguarded response training is important as far as the personal defense perspective is concerned. Obviously in a situation of danger we must always keep the distance and hands up but sometimes there is no warning prior to the aggression. Although in these cases responding becomes difficult, training in this way improves our chances of success. Simultaneously, this is after four or five months, we properly incorporate combat or sparring. In this case one of the two practitioners will use his Wing Chun while the partner will use any type of technique, whether or not of our style. In fact we emphasize the use of the circular line since in other styles it is usually used as much or more than the straight line. During the sparring it is also interesting that the partner tries to fight from a distance greater than the one we want in Wing Chun and to change the position with respect to us so that we are forced to work the mobility. It is also important not to be collaborative with us (we are talking about combat) but also not to exceed if it is technically superior so that we can progressively improve.
In my school when the student is at chum kiu level we modified the first exercise a bit and added a third type. The first exercise continues to work the same, being without guard, but at a somewhat shorter distance (in which we reach one shoulder advancing) and instead of launching two attacks the partner will launch a series of continuous attacks until we “solve” the situation.
The exercise we add consists of the Wing Chun duel against Wing Chun. This is the type of combat that is usually seen in all styles, but in our case is not a priority because certainly the goal of combat in the kwoon is not the combat itself but the acquisition of skills for self defense. Therefore, if we centered the combat in the duel in which both use their Wing Chun we would leave aside many techniques that we will find ourselves in front of any other type of aggressor. However, this second type of sparring is interesting and adds a new dimension, that of ego and pride. Here both the practitioners are actually facing and contrasting their abilities, whereas when one does free sparring for the other this is not so. Learning to control anger or vice versa, being able to generate aggressiveness, are key points for the good fighter.
Finally, let’s look at some important tips as to what we should not do when we fight with our Wing Chun:
-Avoid initiating the attack when we are not at a suitable distance, that means that on many occasions we will fight the counterattack. Although it is equally important not to miss the opportunity to attack.
-Avoid entering the game of long distance, ie avoid entering and exiting again automatically outside the striking distance. In Wing Chun we look for and wait for the moment to enter our distance, of which we do not want to leave again. Although it is equally important to recognize the moment when we need to do it to recover a correct position.
– Stay relaxed, monitor excessive body tension due to emotional pressure. Do not think about what you are going to do but respond to the opportunities that arise.
Combat, beating the hit, soft, medium or full contact has important benefits for the improvement of our Wing Chun. I hope in this article to have cleared doubts that some practitioners may have about it and have indicated a possible path to incorporate an effective combat practice.