Wing Chun self defense is based on blocking and out-maneuvering the opponent, and there are many techniques available to accomplish this aim. In fact, many new and intermediate students have a hard time keeping track of all of them.
It is useful to remember the four basic concepts of good Wing Chun self defense: ambidexterity, deflection, the centerline and the gates. In this article we’re going to look at these concepts, describe where they apply and elaborate on several of the techniques which spring from each one.
Ambidexterity is the cornerstone of Wing Chun, and many new students find it difficult to master it at first. When training begins, students practice blocking without anyone attacking, one hand at a time. Shortly after this initial practice, students progress to using both hands to defend.
As coordination builds, more techniques are added into the mix. The pak sau is the staple technique for beginners, and advanced students can combine pak sau with punches, lap saus, movement and kicks.
Blocking in Wing Chun depends on body position. The most effective blocks and counter-attacks occur when you move properly in relation to the attack. Strength has nothing to do with the outcome in this case.
Many new students will place emphasis on their arms when blocking, which is due to the fact that correct arm positioning and shape is difficult. To help along with the process of perfecting arm technique, students practice moves such as bong sao, chun sao, and lap sao. These moves will help students get acquainted and even comfortable with the relatively unnatural positions required to block and attack effectively.
Once the student has mastery over his or her arm shape and positioning, they move on to the next components of defense: footwork, body position and body structure. In Wing Chun, the focus is not on stopping the attack, but on glancing it off, altering its direction and letting it glide past.
The centerline is one of the most important concepts in Wing Chun, as it relates to both offense and defense. When attacking, the centerline represents the shortest distance between your hand and your target. Being the shortest route, it’s also the fastest, and speed is essential in combat.
In defense, the centerline needs to be controlled, either with a guard or an attack. Once this is mastered, opponents will have to attack along outside lines, which makes attacks slower and easier to deflect.
There are three gates when blocking: the upper gate, which refers to the space above the shoulders, the middle gate, which refers to the space between the shoulders and the solar plexus, and the lower gate, which represents the space between the solar plexus and the groin area.
All blocks in Wing Chun are designed to protect a specific gate, with some blocks being open for use in different gates. For example, you have the bong sao, which is a middle gate blocker, but which has a low and high variation for the other two gates.
Leg blocks are also a part of the defensive arsenal of Wing Chun, but they do not fit in the category of gates, because you do not use your hands to defend attacks to the legs. Leg attacks are either blocked with the legs, or dodged.
All Wing Chung self defense techniques stem from concepts and basics. If you master the basics and understand the concepts, you will be able to perform techniques flawlessly at the right time.