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Marc Campos
Marc Campos's picture
How to fight a Wing Chun practitioner

Hi,

I've been training shotokan four years. Recently I met some friends of different martial arts, to test our skills and exchange ideas. However, during the sparring, I feel very uncomfortable with the practitioner of wing chun. He is more skilled than me, but I steel feeling worse than I thought when fighting him. I want to ask for some advice on how to deal with wing chun, from karate techniques. My main problems are: -Countering his entries to my diagonals. -Cover me of the circular and non-stopping blows, from short distance.

Please share your experiences while sparring a wing chun practitioner. Thank you very much!

Tau
Tau's picture

Easy answer: don't. You've fallen into the strength of his art, that being defence. Wing Chun maintains tight, close and efficient defence that you'll find incredibly difficult to penetrate. To defeat them, you would need them to be on the attack which unless you're talking about pre-emption isn't something that non-sports Martial Arts do well.

Just accept that your different styles have different relative merits.

PASmith
PASmith's picture

It's been years since I sparred any WC dudes (many years ago my TKD club did spar-athons for charity) but from that I remember that circular techniques worked well.

They were so used to countering their own straight blasts that things coming in from the periphery (roundhouse, hooks, ridge hands) caught them out.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Marc,

Marc Campos wrote:
I want to ask for some advice on how to deal with wing chun, from karate techniques.

Training with other styles can be extremely beneficial … providing egos don’t arise and it becomes a “my style is better than your style” thing.

I’d suggest talking to your wing chun colleague about the strengths of his approach ask how he would address the issues you are experiencing (i.e. how would the expert in that method negate the same method). Ask him what you are doing that is making things easy for him? What could you do to make it harder? Maybe even learn a little yourself in order to add the same strengths to your skill set?

If he’s a good guy, then that will work well for you both. If he’s on a mission to prove how awesome he is, and how poor you are, then the whole thing is likely to be an exercise in futility. However, most people respond well to a genuine desire to learn.

I’d concrete on understanding the strengths of your colleague’s skills rather then fixating on trying to use your existing skill set to negate them. That way you learn something and broaden you combative knowledge. Having done so you’ll be in a better position to understand the strengths and weaknesses of what he does and how what you have sits with that.

Whenever I train with practitioners of other systems I want to learn from them (on their terms) not beat them with what I ready have. I find I get much more out of the experience that way.

It’s great you’ve got such an opportunity and I’d advise getting as much out of it as possible.

All the best,

Iain

Marc Campos
Marc Campos's picture

Thank you all for your answers.

Fortunately my friend is a good guy and he is agreeable to teach me some basics about wing chun if I ask. I will do next day :).

What I meant before, was not a fight between styles, one better than another. What I meant is: how can I counter Wing Chun without being a Wing Chun practicioner? I'll always be happy to learn and incorporate concepts from other martial arts, but I wanna try to counter Wing Chun somehow not playing his game: doing my karate. It would be difficult to fight an "advanced" student of Wing Chun with only the "basics" of Wing Chun, but maybe not if being an "advanced" karateka (I do not consider me that, I just speak like this to make understand sobre kind of "levels"), with some kind of training against Wing Chun, conserving the style.

Any advice at this?

Thank you again and excuse my english, I'm not very good at it.

Nate
Nate's picture

I have been interested in this topic since being introduced to Wing Chun.

My Tae Kwon Do instructor's best friend is a master of Wing Chun. My instructor is convinced that Wing Chun is, in fact, the "best" martial art.

Still, my Shaolin Kempo school had a guest instructor Professor Kimo, who maintained that throwing a rising elbow into the barrage of chain punches might damage the Wing Chun practitioner's hands. He said to follow up with a downward slap/rake, making a smooth combination.

I told his ideas to my Tae Kwon Do instructor. He disagreed, saying that while, in theory, Grandmaster Kimo's idea seems to work, Wing Chun is simply too fast and unpredictable to counter that way. The incredible speed of their techniques makes other styles seem slow.

Still, I would guess that their ideal range is close in, so perhaps staying back and using kicks might give you an edge.

Oh, yeah-and remember that the chances of fighting another martial artist on the street are small. 

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

This is another variation of "If he does this I can do this" thinking.

It's far more productive to step outside that mindset and make yourself their worst ever opponent.  Instead of wondering how to counter their strengths, make them worry about yours.

Gary

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Marc Campos wrote:
I wanna try to counter Wing Chun somehow not playing his game: doing my karate. It would be difficult to fight an "advanced" student of Wing Chun with only the "basics" of Wing Chun, but maybe not if being an "advanced" karateka

When I train with people of other disciplines my aim is always to learn about what they have and how that fits with what I do. I find this works best when I put what I have to one side and experience their art on their terms. For example, when I train with the judo guys I’m not looking to learn how I can use my striking skills against them, I want to learn how they do what they do. Later on I can look at how those skills fit (and how they don’t fit) with my bigger skill set. How I could beat them with what I have never really enters my mind though.

There’s a good tale in “Zen in the Martial Arts” where the author is doing his best to overcome a difficult opponent through the use of trickery and tactics with little success. The master he is training under takes him to one side and asks him to draw a line on the floor in chalk. The master then explains that the line is his opponent’s skill level and asks him what he can do to make it shorter. He suggests things like cut it into pieces, smash the floor, etc. The master then takes the chalk and draws a bigger line next to it and says, “Look, the first line is now shorter”. The moral of the story being that we beat others by improving our skills; not through trying to undermine their skills.

If you really do want to beat your training partner, you need to understand what it is that he is doing. As it says in the art of war, “Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.” At the moment you don’t understand what he is doing. So you need to “know your enemy” and hence “lengthen your line”.

You don’t need to be able to “out Wing Chun” him. But you do need to understand the fundamentals of what he does so you can follow Gary’s advice and be “their worst opponent ever”.

The big picture here should not be beating your sparring partner though, but becoming a better martial artist. You may pick up a few tricks from the forum from those who spar with Wing Chun people. Those tricks may also have some success. I would however suggest that may not be the most productive way to go.

Your training partner obviously has some skills that are proving effective and I’d concentrate on gaining some of those skills for yourself (and as a by-product you’ll learn how to use your wider skill set to more effectively negate those skills). Being able out Karate a Wing Chun practitioner isn’t really a meaningful skill in my view (i.e. it has no wider value outside of your training sessions). However, there’s a good opportunity here to enhance your wider martial arts and your understanding of karate. So there is a great opportunity here.

Nate wrote:
Oh, yeah-and remember that the chances of fighting another martial artist on the street are small.

Very true, and even if you do the context is totally different and it’s nothing like a spar in the dojo. Fixating on who could beat who is a “street fight” is not a mature or meaningful discussion (not that’s what is going on here, I’m simply commenting in broader terms). The change of environment changes things radically. The video on the page below shows that even world level boxers don’t fight like boxers when they “mean it”: http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/trained-fighters-boxers-kicking

I love training with other martial artists as you can gain so much from doing so. I also think things are at their best when the aim is to learn and improve what we have rather than win. Just my two cents but I hope it’s of some use.

All the best,

Iain

Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture

I fought a wing chun guy(in kick boxing actually) and its great fun if you can learn from them. The one I had the play fight tended to come over the top of your arms when you close in and then leathered me if I stayed there and allowed them. He also loved the elbows as a blocking style motion that was similar to round elbow strike followed on with a flurry of strikes in quick succession.

Take away what you can from play fighting with them and mix it in with your Karate it can only make you better.

As for it being the best MA, its the level of the practioner not the MA that makes it good.

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:

This is another variation of "If he does this I can do this" thinking.

It's far more productive to step outside that mindset and make yourself their worst ever opponent.  Instead of wondering how to counter their strengths, make them worry about yours.

Gary

I sparred with a Wing Chun Practioner for a few years on and off when I attended another club we both went to, I always found that if I tried to "match" his fighting style it didn't work. If I sat back and waited using my Ashihara skills I was able to work around him and as Gary says be his worst opponent.

Sabaki works and its available in most arts especially Ashihara, Enshin, Wado Ryu. not too sure about the other styles.

Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXg0FFREzcg

Here's a kick boxer against wing chun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZ3-Hi-kMNo&feature=related

and this one is Karate against wing chun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob1EUZA24S8&feature=fvw

In the above clip watch how fast the WC guy closes the gap on the other guy  at the beginning which is the more interesting part

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQTBArJYRVE&feature=related

and the bits in this where the WC guy comes over the top of the other guys arms pretty much explain what was happening to me with the chain gun striking after your arms are out of the way.

evan.yeung
evan.yeung's picture

This is a great post, and I love some of the replies!

A few things I'd like to add...

When questions like this come up, it seems the underlying question is 'what can I do to beat X within the framework of my own style.'  The problem I find is that sometimes our 'style' becomes our box in which we try to fit all other martial arts experiences.  The problem is that sometimes that box becomes our prison.  Much like some people try to fit violence and self-defense in a catchall box and are woefully surprised when a real-life situation doesn't seem to conform to that box, we as particular stylists sometimes try to cram a different style into our own box.  Sometimes that just doesn't work.  Any martial arts style can serve as a jumping off point for further exploration into the field of martial arts, but if we continue to adhere rigidly to a particular way of doing things without being able to adapt to new ways of doing things, we may find our jumping off point has tied our feet to the ground.  If something from a particular style really works, then we need to find out why it works and alter our practice accordingly.  Otherwise, we're using 'artifical success criteria', to coin a term from Sensei Abernethy...

Regarding the martial art in question, wing chun is a close in style that relies primarily on trapping, blocking, and rapid punches to the areas that are most likely to end the fight quickly.  While karate/TKD will often go for the 'knockout' punch, my experience is that wing chun practitioners rely on rapid striking, counting on the first strikes to 'soften up' the target and distract the assailant/degrade their performance while going in for the final strikes.  Wing chun also relies on tactile sensitivity that allows the practitioner to know where their assailant is in space and allows them to read the body movement of their opponent.  It's built up from years of sticky hands training.  While karate does seem to have some 'sticky hands' training in its repertoire, it's less advanced than the wing chun practitioners, and most schools don't seem to practice it.  There are some styles that can match or even exceed the tactile sensitivity that wing chun practitioners can achieve (some martially oriented tai chi practitioners can, and I've worked with some of the guys in the Guided Chaos Combatives system that are stunningly good), but most other styles can't.

The two shortcomings that are most obvious to me for wing chun stylists are 1) Wing chun is a close range martial art.  A wing chun practitioner must 'close the gap' to be most efficient.  Staying mobile and keeping one's distance until you are in a position to use your own weapons with maximal effectiveness will decrease a wing chun practitioner's efficiency.  2)  Many Wing chun schools don't have much of a ground game.  This is changing with the growing popularity of crosstraining, but applying sweeps to break their balance may distract them enough so you can close the gap and launch your strikes with less resistance.  Having said that, as a gross generalization, playing the close in game with a wing chun stylist can prove difficult... as that's just where he/she wants you to be...

OK.  I'm getting off my soapbox.  Hope it helps... and if anyone has differing opinions, I'd love to hear them!

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

evan.yeung wrote:
The problem I find is that sometimes our 'style' becomes our box in which we try to fit all other martial arts experiences. The problem is that sometimes that box becomes our prison … Any martial arts style can serve as a jumping off point for further exploration into the field of martial arts, but if we continue to adhere rigidly to a particular way of doing things without being able to adapt to new ways of doing things, we may find our jumping off point has tied our feet to the ground.

I like that a lot! Totally agree. We always need to look for the best solution to the problem. Too often we see martial artists looking to address all problems with a “universal solution” i.e. “I’ll drive this car into the lake because I use cars not boats”.

It’s still valid enough to see how the skills you have can be applied in various situations though in a “stone, scissors, paper” kind of way. I think that can lead to a better understanding of those skills i.e. my stone wins with scissors but gets beaten by paper. Which I feel is the main driver of this particular thread.

However, we need to remain focused on finding the best solution and we not being imprisoned by style and making do with the solution we have.

All the best,

Iain

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Gary Chamberlain wrote:

This is another variation of "If he does this I can do this" thinking.

It's far more productive to step outside that mindset and make yourself their worst ever opponent.  Instead of wondering how to counter their strengths, make them worry about yours.

Gary

 

Gary

Please confirm, is this Kancho Ninomiya when he was younger, fighting a WC fighter

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH13kYFzfFk&NR=1

 

evan.yeung
evan.yeung's picture
I think the above post is an example where the wing chun practitioner got sucked into playing someone else's game. It looks as though the full contact tournament didn't allow full contact punches to the head, robbing the wing chun practitioner of one of his primary targets for a quick shutdown. The wing chun practitioner was forced to chain punch the kyokushin guys torso, which plays to the strength of the karateka because of his superior body conditioning.
Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

That is Kancho Ninomiya.

The WC guy entered the tournament so he knew he was playing to different rules.  Having said that, although he could've dropped him earlier and played with him a bit, Ninomiya took him out with a body punch, something the WC guy surely must have encountered before and should've had some sort of credible defence for.

Gary

Gavin J Poffley
Gavin J Poffley's picture

Black Tiger.

Yes, that video is Ninomiya Joko vs a fighter from Hong Kong called Wong Cheun Min.

The kyokushin rules mean that the tactics of going for the head and gripping/ trapping the arms are forbidden, which clearly limits what Wong has trained himself to do and is another classic case of training for the wrong arena. His aggression is admirable but he has obviously not researched the best way to win a match under these rules. Judging by the kata sequence at the start he was nowhere near as well physically conditioned as Ninomiya either.

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

He failed to prepare.  For full contact (even with no face punches) you always need to be in the best shape possible.

Gary

Gavin Mulholland
Gavin Mulholland's picture

Of coures, it is very hard to measure style against style and all you can really do is measure person against person but in my limited contact with WC I found thigh kicks to be pretty effective.

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

Putting the individuals to oneside and making some general 'style' comments - karateka vs wing chun, heres my basic advise (for sparring).

1. use your footwork and hit and run, keep out of range, do not enter to close 2. low kicks, round and side to keep them away 3. if you attack, use combinations 4. if they attack cover up and move out of range, don't try and counter 5. try to tie them up if your footwork doesn't get you away otherwise you will be overwhelmed

I did a few years wing chun, and also alot of sparring good wing chun people when I was just doing karate, and got my donkey kicked! But the above tactics changed that somewhat.

Andrew Carr-Locke
Andrew Carr-Locke's picture

Use MMA....lol

Look at what happens when the grapplers don't want to get punched anymore, they close the distance and throw the opponent to the ground and play to their strengths.

I would look at how to take away all the space so punches and striking is ineffective. If he closes the distance, then close it more, don't just get close, hug him. Look at the 6 throws of Funakoshi's early books and see how you can use them. Or study 6 months of Judo to incorporate into your karate.

Ryan Danks
Ryan Danks's picture

I realize that this is a little late, but I think I can help here if anyone is still having trouble with Wing Chun partners. Although I train with anything I can get my hands on (that successfully makes it through my BS filter, that is), my official style (meaning the only one I received certification/ranking in) is Jeet Kune Do. Most JKD practitioners are obsessed with one of two things (or both): trapping and Bruce Lee. I'd like to say that I'm not one of them, but I have to admit that one of those is the reason I started in JKD a decade ago.

When sparring a trapper (what I'm used to calling a Wing Chun practitioner) you MUST avoid the "boxing" range. The only exception is if you stay back like Mayweather and use (quick) long-range attacks that come primarily after feints or as counters. But if you fight like De la Hoya and wade in with punches, a good trapper will take you apart. And don't get caught up in controlling limbs, that's his forte, and he's got the sensitivity training and 90% of his training hours to back it up.

If kicking is allowed, and especially kicks to the legs, take advantage and get fast with anything above the waist. A dedicated trapper doesn't train that range, and a nice and long low-kick wind up will give them tons of trouble. If you kick high, do it when you're in close, as they'll be "feeling" your upper-body limbs and often neglect anything on the low-line except for thrusting kicks the the legs (again, leg kicks will work well here).

When you get caught in that "Murphy Moment," and you will at some point, when the trapper is taking you apart in close range, clinch with him; trapping and grappling are two very different things, and while they'll have decent close-range attacks to employ, they won't be anything that you haven't seen and can't employ yourself.

Lastly, a word on psychology. Don't give your opponent credit for something that he hasn't accomplished yet. Being known as a practitioner of one of the best close-range skills can be intimidating, but he hasn't beaten you yet - and if he has, failure is an event, not a person, get back up and try something new. Most trappers, and I'm talking about the really good ones, have horrible skills at any other range of fighting.

I hope this helps,

- Ryan

Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture

Going to spar a WC guy over the next few weeks for a couple of hours so I  will try some of what you guys have stated above. Is taking him to the ground a good option as if it is I will give it a bash early on and see what happens.

My mate who has sparred him told me to watch out for his low kicks to my knees

Should be interesting.

michael rosenbaum
michael rosenbaum's picture

Have you tried grabbing him by the hair and punching him in the face several times?

Shin kicks to the knee?

Groin Kicks?

Grabbing his fingers and twisting?

Stomping his feet?

Ryan Danks
Ryan Danks's picture

michael rosenbaum wrote:

Have you tried grabbing him by the hair and punching him in the face several times?

Shin kicks to the knee?

Groin Kicks?

Grabbing his fingers and twisting?

Stomping his feet?

Gold! :)

diadicic
diadicic's picture

Can anyone find a WC fighter in the UFC or Pride?  I've looked all over the tube.

Dom

Kyoshi
Kyoshi's picture

shoshinkanuk wrote:

Putting the individuals to oneside and making some general 'style' comments - karateka vs wing chun, heres my basic advise (for sparring).

1. use your footwork and hit and run, keep out of range, do not enter to close 2. low kicks, round and side to keep them away 3. if you attack, use combinations 4. if they attack cover up and move out of range, don't try and counter 5. try to tie them up if your footwork doesn't get you away otherwise you will be overwhelmed

I did a few years wing chun, and also alot of sparring good wing chun people when I was just doing karate, and got my donkey kicked! But the above tactics changed that somewhat.

I can definately only agree with what the other guys posted. I have myself both trained shotokan and wingchun finding myself in the same position as the topic starter...

I would if he gets to close, also engange if you got some clinching skills-  very hard for wing chun people.

Did you fight him again ? what was the result? :)