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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

MMA vs Wing Tsun Kung Fu

I’m sure many of you have seen this clip already. It’s a great video clip and I think it should be a wake up call for many us that train in the martial arts – especially those that do not incorporate the mentality of really fighting against a resisting or attacking opponent.

First off, let me say whoever this WT guy was – he has balls. Mad props for him to go out there, try his thing against a MMA fighter and on camera…and wearing the WT shirt. I don’t know what he was trying to prove, maybe to be the next Emin Boztepe and propel the art back into the lime light? But this guy is a student level, according to the colour of shirt. And i gotta give him credit too - he's text book WT. You can tell, stance, the intention of the front kick... But text book is only theory...

I wonder how he feels now – is he going to stick with WT or try his hand at the typical muay thai/bjj combo?

Some have mentioned that his loss was a result of him not knowing or ever experiencing a real hit. It’s a common criticism of wing tsun/chun/aikido/hapkido/etc as many of the arts train simulated hitting, or stopping the hit or simply tapping the opponent and counting that as a hit. But it’s pretty evident in the clip, that taking a hit has nothing to do with this. He ate a perfectly executed one-two punch combination. It’s that simple.

So what can we learn from this? For starters, let’s remove the technical aspects of tan sao, bong sao, weighting of his stance, knee pressure, etc. None of that EVEN started, before the fight was over – the missing element is even more basic than this. It also has nothing to do with whether he’s strong, fast, short or tall, whether he’s got a punch or a fast kick, etc. Again, these factors didn’t even play into the fight.

What was missing was aggressiveness – that killer instinct – that commitment to the cause. I’ve posted about this before – training with that killer instinct, that unadulterated thirst to destroy the guy in front of you – none of this was there. I believe the WT fighter lives and dies by this commitment. We are pressure fighters, if we do not pressure, we are not fighting our way. We go in and don’t care what happens, and if we get taken down, so what? At least we have no regrets, I say.

But as you can see, that thirst to hit was never there. instead he was waiting. He sat there, waiting…as if waiting to tan-sao punch or something. Unfortunately, I can see why – he’s a product of the training. Many of the drills encourages being reactive, rather than pro-active. The training drills are required to be performed in this format to instill the wide array of reflexes, but it always comes down to the basics. If you can’t step and punch, there’s no chance in hell you’ll be able to rely on your cool reflex/sticky hand skills.

Another element that is possibly missing is sparring with skilled and resistant fighters. WT is an amazing system, but it’s easy to get caught up in the comfort zone of predictable attacks, cooperative partners and a lazy instructor that wants to show off all the cool moves without challenge. Over time, a false sense of security of skills develops and next is a false expectations of how dangerous or fast a wide circling punch can be (especially since WT teaches that the shortest point between 2 points is a straight line – but it’s not necessarily the fastest!).

But this can easily be trained – sparring with or even drilling with a partner that can throw a good punch – preferably someone who does not go to your training school. Just drilling intensely will demonstrate how dangerous a resisting opponent can be, let alone sparring altogether. The intensity of the punch - the speed and power - can then gradually increase and this allows the WT practitioner to adjust his structure, timing, strength, response accordingly.

You can’t expect that training with your regular class partners is going to make a fighter out of you. Chances are he’s just some guy working his nine-to-five, has kids, trains 3-5 hours/week and probably just had dinner before coming to class. How can you expect to go from that to a MMA fighter?

I don’t care how good your chi-sao is. If you can’t step and punch, if you can’t close the distance with step and punch, there’s no chance of you being able to use your chi-sao skills.


Admin said...

Let's be honest - he fought like a total amateur martial artist - you fight how you train so you should train how you fight. He obviously trained that way and was totally out of his depth. Well done for having the balls to get in their - if more peopel started then they'd be more experience of what does and doesn't work - not just theory.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how WT can beat MMA in the ring (given equal ability) as many of the WT moves are obviously prohibited i.e. elbows, hits to the nuts etc. Also the gloves make it tough to grab ala blitz defence. I agree this guys looks completely unaware though. The boxer clearly gets his distance with his right before swinging the left. The WT guy should have seen this and gone in straight way or at least got his arms up higher to deflect the incoming hit. Easy to say i guess...and he's either brave or stupid! :) Take the gloves of and the rules away and I think WT will stand a better chance. As far as I can see (i'm a beginner only) WT just isn't for going toe to toe.

Anonymous said...

After reading this piece, I was discouraged from practicing Wing Tsun. Let me give you a bit of information about myself. I'm 40 but in good shape (no belly), well-conditioned (swimming, running, working-out), typical 9-to-5er, married with a kid, I have never dealt with any other martial arts/boxing/wrestling in the past and I have been practicing Wing Tsun for 3 months now. I obviously have no desire for the ring. All I want is to develop a good level of self-defence capability that would enable me to counter offenses out in the street. Note that I attend WT lessons 2 times a week and there is no actual sparring in the program! My question is: What should I do? Quit WT and start with Muay Thai? Thanks in advance for your reply.

pete said...

Dear "Anonymous"
you only have three months under your belt. I cannot tell you how many times it has saved me in real life situations on the street!
Your must believe in your art and not be daunted by what you saw in that fight. I suspect that you are like alot of people who I've seen over the years, who have never really experiened the art. don't give up so easily, you must have faith in your art or else it won't work. DON'T GIVE UP; BELIEVE!!!

pete said...

Anonymous,I failed to tell you that you need to do more research on wing chun before you make any hasty decision to drop this beautiful art. I cannot tell you how many times I've had street fights with boxers who I've found to be very weak in low line defence
and who are shocked out of their minds when you deliver a low kick to their shins, groin,or knees!
so I say again to you don't gi up.

Wing Chun Berlin said...

This has nothing with wing chun to do, exepting MANSAO and WUSAO position. Guys, that posting this videos, think, that wing chun is nothing against MMA, Boxing and... But whatever you see at the ring, has nothing with wing chun to do, because wing chun has NO RULES. With rules it is not wing chun!

Anonymous said...

Just watched the video and it can seem quite discouraging for WT practitioners.

One point: I've seen clips on YouTube of bareknuckle boxers. Take away the gloves (& tape / fist wraps underneath the gloves) and the situation changes. Maybe not entirely, but it changes. Faced with a do-or-die situation, the one who moves aggressively the least would most likely suffer defeat, regardless of the training background.

Also, given that WT is meant for self-defense and MMA / muay thai / boxing has some self-defense application while is also meant for competition (where the attack is known when to happen & therefore allows a warm-up; involves consent, rules, protective gear, weight & experience categories, & a referee), this video doesn't disprove WT's usefulness.

It proves the value of being proactive.

Also, from a purely self-defense perspective, with all the space involved in the ring, the best way not to get hurt in the ring would be to run around or get out of it. Or just not enter it to begin with.

I would still gladly do WT over getting hit in the head repeatedly in a more sport-based martial arts system.

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