Recently I was send an email regarding Wing Chun training and it asked the question had it been adapted to the modern age?
A snippet of the question was as follows: “It’s just my research on wing chun has given me some reluctance. The reasons being it is a traditional form and I’m not sure whether in this day and age it holds up against a common street fight or knife attack?”
At first I almost past the question off as a none question, but then I got to thinking, if looking from the outside of any martial art, not just Wing Chun, and you have some preconceived ideas of what a Martial art or Martial skill is, then you do some additional research via Bing, Google or YouTube (which will always throw up some random results in my opinion and should never be taken on face value) what would the conclusion be?
If you do a quick search on Wing Chun web sites like Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia will come up with lots of information on the history of Wing Chun, the Characteristics, Curriculum, Empty hand training, the Wooden dummy, the Wing Chun forms, relaxation, centre line, trapping skills, sensitivity and Weapons training.
So on face value you could look at all that is written and decide, either way, whether or not Wing Chun is right for you, but just by doing this research you may get more questions than answers.
Wing Chun Lineage – Ip Man
If you look deeper in to the history of Wing Chun and go back all the way to 1662 – 1722 you will read as follows regarding the Ip Man Lineage:
The oral history of the Ip Man branch of Wing Chun dates its creation to the reign of the Emperor Kangxi (1662–1722).
After escaping the destruction of the Fujian Shaolin Monastery by Qing forces, the Abbess Ng Mui fled to the distant Daliang mountains on the border between Yunnan and Sichuan. One day, she came upon a fight between a snake and a crane (or other animal). She took the lessons she learned from observing the fight between the two animals and combined them with her own knowledge of Shaolin kung fu to create a new style.
Ng Mui often bought her bean curd at the tofu shop of Yim Yee. Yim Yee had a daughter named Yim Wing Chun, whom a local warlord was trying to force into marriage.
Ng Mui taught her new fighting style to Yim Wing Chun, who used it to fend off the warlord once and for all. Yim Wing Chun eventually married a man she loved, Leung Bok-Chao, to whom she taught the fighting techniques that Ng Mui had passed on to her. Husband and wife in turn passed the new style on to others.
Yiu Kai Wing Chun
The oral history of the Yiu Kai lineage dates the creation of Wing Chun roughly a century later, to the early 19th century, and names Yim Wing Chun’s father as Yim Sei, a disciple at the Fujian Shaolin Temple who avoids persecution by fleeing with his daughter to Guangxi. Yim Wing Chun learned the Fujian Shaolin arts from her father and, from their raw material, created a new style after being inspired by a fight between a snake and a crane. She eventually married Leung Bok-Chao a Shaolin disciple just like Yim Wing Chun’s father – and taught her fighting style to her new husband. The young couple began teaching Wing Chun’s fighting style to others after moving to Guangdong Province in 1815, settling in the city of Zhaoqing.
All that being said, and after looking at the history of Wing Chun you will then probably have more questions than answers. As looking at the history and then the linage can almost have you split in two minds as to which linage / teacher (Sifu) you should look for, I am not saying that you should not do any research on Wing Chun or any other martial art, but unless you really have the time to delve in to what is a very deep subject you are probably better giving the local martial art schools a call in your area and seeing if it “feels” right for you.
Should I learn Wing Chun?
Should you then decide on going along to a class you would will be able to use the knowledge you have gained from your research to see if what is being taught is correct.
In answer to the question of Wing Chun training and had it been adapted to the modern age, the answer was kept very simple:
“Wing Chun as a martial art is a set of principles not set move or routine, you will never hear ‘if you get attacked like this you do this move / technique’. You will drill moves and techniques over and over to learn them but principle of getting off the line of attack and attacking a new “open” centre line is the core of wing chun. Wing chun does not need to be adapted to the modern age as the principles cove this, only by learning the system will this make sense.”
Sifu Alan Bagley
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