Wing Chun Vs Other Styles

So, which is the BEST martial art in all the world?

Why has this question never been answered successfully?

Of course it’s much more about the practitioner than the system, especially when you look at two guys who have studied the same system for, say 10 years, where one practices twice a week for a 1 hour class and the other studies 5 days a week, 5 hours a day! Obviously it will always be about the practitioner more than about the system.

But… were it possible to factor out that one glaring issue, which many have tried to do for the purposes of pure speculation, there seems to be another issue: It’s what I call the rock, paper, scissor effect of martial arts. Meaning every martial art not only can dominate another but can be dominated by another. Imagine, if you will the scenario of a ‘tournament of martial arts’ where style B beats style C, and enters the ‘final match’ against style A, where he is finally defeated by style A and style A wins the tournament. But what nobody realizes is that if style A had gone against style C, style C would have destroyed style A. This is actually quite common in most sports. Even team based sports. So that if A beats B and B beats C it does NOT mean A is better than C.

It would seem at first blush that this shouldn’t be the case, but there could be a reason that explains all of this. It is, in my experience, due to a flaw that is shared by most martial arts systems and practitioners:

If you don’t train outside your own system you never get to experience the things other people do.


How Do You Fight?


If we look at 3 basic themes of fighting, (you could pick any 3) each martial art is missing at least one of them and this missing piece becomes the weakness of the system until it is introduced to the practitioners for study. Just for discussion, let examine these 3:

1. Fast flying explosive high kicks and double kicks, replete throughout the Korean styles, Hopkido, Hwarang – Do, Tae Kwon Do and the like.

2. In-fighting ‘sciences’, sensitivity based, highly technical hand-ranged techniques commonly seen in chinese southern short hand styles, Fukien White Crane, White eyebrow, Southern Praying Mantis, Wing Chun / Wing Tsun, Southern Dragon, Tai Chi and so on.

3. Single, double leg takedowns, submission holds, and ground fighting as seen in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA/UFC and such.

Most martial art systems and martial artists have this flaw and Wing Chun / Wing Tsun  is no different. So let’s start with Wing Chun.

Wing Chun / Wing Tsun has a powerful lineage-maintained curriculum structure which has held the integrity of the style over many years keeping it relatively ‘pure’. The advantages of this are obvious, but there are disadvantages. I have always thought of Wing Chun as the ‘anti-martial art’ but only if it bends to meet current trends in the ‘mainstream’ combat consciousness.


Chuck In Yo Face!


In the late 70s, early 80s, around the time Chuck Norris dazzled everyone with his signature spinning back kick, the combat ‘trend’ to beat was high explosive kicks, which, of course is not part of the Wing Chun / Wing Tsun curriculum. And it’s not that Wing Chun doesn’t have an answer to high combination kicks, but the Sifu (Kung Fu teacher) must have the foresight to introduce the high kick as a question to his/her students. Which means the students must master the attack technique (high kicks) over time so they can present the attack as a question to their training partner even though it is not part of the curriculum. Over the past 10 years or so, due to the growing popularity of MMA, ground fighting techniques have moved into the spotlight. Again, this is not part of the pure Wing Chun /Wing Tsun curriculum. How many youtube videos are there, however,  where a self-proclaimed ‘Wing Chun’ guy enters a rule-based MMA ring and watches as his opponent executes a single leg take down. He can only watch it happen because he has never experienced it before. If your Sifu is not integrating the single leg takedown into class, he is doing you a great disservice (at least from a reality-in-combat standpoint). Just like the high kicks, there IS a wing chun answer to the single. You should not have to look outside the curriculum for the answer to these questions. It’s only when these questions are never dealt with in class that a ‘Wing Chun / Wing Tsun weakness’ is exposed.

As another example, the long-ranged Korean based kicking systems suffer a similar weakness: Once an opponent from another style who has been studying high kicks makes it to inside kicking range a problem can emerge. Again, this is only if the instructor ignores these realities.

So, who seems to have it all? Is it mixed martial arts? The name certainly seems to suggest it, but here’s the problem:

“…introduce any rule into a fight and it is no longer a fight.”


Should I Protect My Testicles?


Sadly, some view MMA competitors as being at the top of the martial food chain but in reality, it is actually quite the opposite, but only because it is a rule based system. Try this little experiment. Go to youtube and bring up any – and I mean ANY MMA/UFC fight. Try to find one with some reputable guys – real champions of the sport. Watch the fight and when something interesting happens like a cool submission hold, hit pause to freeze the action. Take a look at the ‘victim’. You will notice that there is always a free hand usually holding onto the submissing limb of the opponent – essentially doing nothing useful to help the situation. You will also notice that 9 times out of 10 that free hand is in range of a vital area of the opponent, ie. the ears, eyes, throat, groin to name a few. So why doesn’t the victim reach back, grab the aggressor’s testicles and rip them off? Why doesn’t he reach up grab the ear and tear it off? Why didn’t he grab the opponent’s throat on the way in which was completely exposed and remove a few inches of the esophagus with a tiger claw or eagle claw or some other pincer type grip? Why didn’t he use the same grip with the opponent’s face right in front of him, as some other limb was in a submission hold, to grab the eyeball within the socket and remove the eye? The answer to all these questions is the same: Ha ha, nany nany po po, you can’t do that ‘cause it’s NOT ALLOWED!


…Seriously?! This is definitely NOT a real fight. Sorry guys. Yet all these things are the very things that REAL Kung Fu guys do, especially the southern short hand guys, Wing Chun / Wing Tsun among them. So I question the integrity of ANY self-proclaimed Wing Chun guy who gets into a ‘rule-based’ MMA ring; an environment which renders almost everything a REAL Wing Chun guy can do as illegal, while simultaneously allowing the MMA guy to do absolutely everything he/she has learned. What wing chun guy (in his right mind) would go for such a raw deal??? Answer, probably not a real Wing Chun / Wing Tsun guy.

Can Anderson Silva Kick my Ass?


Now, hold on a second and let’s give credit where it is due. MMA competitors are professional fighters, where training 8-10 hours a day is not uncommon. Plus we just had a discussion about it being more about the practitioner rather than the style. So, on athleticism alone these guys should be able to hold their own with a respectable presence in most all combat scenarios. But no style is immune to the effects of ignoring certain combat realities, in this case, the destruction of vital areas that are deemed illegal in the ring.

So, how would individual styles evolve if the practitioners were to put away their pride and accept the fact that there may be themes of combat which their style does not deal with? For example, how would MMA change if suddenly all rules were lifted? Would there be critical hit counters to vital areas in response to certain holds or maneuvers that expose these vital areas? I think not. More likely, those holds or maneuvers that expose vital areas would not have been executed in the first place!

In other words, the techniques of the style itself would completely change. Were we to follow this trend of thought, we can guess how the martial art world would evolve if the practitioners of every style were to do the same thing, addressing the shortcomings of their respective systems. In my opinion we would likely find that the resultant evolution of martial arts would have styles end up being more alike than different.


What do you think?


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22 Responses to Wing Chun Vs Other Styles

  1. mike pekor September 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

    Excellent, well thought out article!!! Great job!!! One point I would like to bring out is that most people who choose to study martial arts do it for reasons beyond fighting. Exercise,balance, meditation, confidence, being “a part of”… These are just some of the many reasons why people choose to study martial arts. So while an MMA school might be best for someone interested in ring fighting, it might not be good for the person interested in balance and focus. While Tai Chi might be good for someone looking for balance and meditation, it might not be good for the person looking for a serious wrk out and street defense techniques. So… Again, great article. Just wanted to make sure all motivations for training are considered. Mike

  2. john crescione September 12, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    outstanding article

  3. rere September 24, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    Honest article. I recently took up Wing Chun after several years break. I had my doubts about it to be honest. However I had a fight in a club and I beat the guy into a pulp. I remember giving him a fak Sao to the throat and he was coughing violently this allowed me to kick him in the knee and finish the fight quick. I personally think Wing Chun does not belong in any ring at all. Nice if I fak Sao someone in the throat in the ring id be disqualified . In the street it happened naturally. Its how I think Wing Chin should be performed. Peace.

  4. Duran October 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

    Thanks for the honest article. I have done TKD, Sombo/Cambo, and lots of FMA. All styles work depending on the situation and how intentional the training has been. I have even worked Wing Chun drills in with my students’ ground games. I tell them it’s OK to have a lot of tools in the tool kit.

  5. Sifu Gregory October 20, 2012 at 3:25 am #

    Great article. I have been in martial arts since I was three. Started with Boxing, ( Father was a Heavy Weight) and wrestling, went to kikboxing, in my teens, Then to Wing Chun. Spent years as a Bouncer in Vegas. I talk to MMA guys all the time have worlds of respect for the sport. And this topic comes up alot. My answer to the question is. I pull out my knife and say lets go a couple of rounds. They say your going to use a knife. I say, ya my swords are too hard to carry all the time. They get the point. (No pun intended) Every style has its weekness. Again great job on the article. Sifu G

  6. Anthony Iglesias October 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Great article. Thanks for giving props to athletes. A very easily overlooked attribute of a fighter.

  7. Kraven Karroll October 25, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Good Article. I actually had the “leg takedown” done on me my an MMA friend of mine and was taken to the ground because i had not been shown a defense for such a low attack. Better believe i went and asked for the defense from my Sihings and now i train it on a regular!

  8. Bez February 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Some good things to think about. There’s always the debate about Bruce Lee – He was a great martial artist, but was he a great fighter? There’s a world of difference between cage fighting/MMA and real street fights. I’ve practised martial arts including Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do and Westernised Chinese Boxing, and I never want to have to use them in a real fight, because of the damage I could do.

  9. Bogdan July 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    good article, but I wouldn’t agree that a MMA fighter would not gauge their opponent’s eye out or try ripping their balls off on the street. I mean it’s natural reaction. They won’t be like: ‘oh! I haven’t trained this yet,so I’m not going to do it, I’ll just get my ass kicked’.

    so, what would really happen if all rules were off? I think we need to take advantage of these challenges and make Wing Chun a complete system for this time and age.

  10. WingChun42 July 13, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

    Excellent article, I have seen this type of article so many times, I read so many comments on Wing Chun videos by MMA trolls it is nauseating. You hit the ONLY point that matters in the third line…”It is more about the practitioner than the system”. I don’t care what system or how long you have been studying, if being a fighter is not inside you, you will get pounded in the streets. When someone actually confronts you and maybe hits you and your adrenaline goes through the roof, so does everything you learned. I’ve met a few guys along my path in life that just know how to fight, mentally they are not scared and are natural “Bad Asses”, that’s not to say that someone with any Martial Arts training could expose their weaknesses, I’m just saying that the first time someone sees their own blood after they get cracked in the face, they could be the baddest MMA or Wing Chun dude in their class and then Doh! the mental and realness of a street fight made them crumble like a little school girl. I have so much love for Wing Chun and I respect MMA, unfortunately it seems the mentality of many MMA thugs is to constantly bash Wing Chun and troll Wing Chun videos and make fun or our system. What they don’t realize is the majority of MMA guys respect all Martial Arts, it’s like anything, it only takes a few jerks to make a whole system seem disrespectful when it is not. And one final point is how un-educated and immature an MMA troll will make fun of Wing Chun or any other art other than what they are studying, let me break it down for them… M = Mixed, M = Martial, A = Arts….let me break that down for ya…Mixed Martial Arts = Judo, Kung Fu, Taekwon Do, Jui-Jitsu, Karate, Muay Thai. We are all Martial Arts Brothers. Now learn and enjoy what ever you practice, respect everyone because their is always someone in every system that can whoop your @ss. Enough said.

    ~ Jon

    • Nathan December 31, 2013 at 3:16 am #

      While it sounds fine and dandy to respect all martial arts you must agree that frauds and tricksters must be exposed no? If someone is teaching how to defend against a knife and one of their students is killed by an attacker with a knife because of their false knowledge, doesnt that mean that those martial arts must be stopped as they are putting mostley youth at risk? The reason its called mma is because it originated a way to exposed false martial arts and expo the power of jiujitsu. Now we know the real martial arts are: Boxing, Muay Thai, Jiujitsu, Judo, WRESTLING, and tae kwon doe ( that one not nearly as much). Find me one example were this was not so. The stuff that works against trained KILLERS is the best stuff.

      • Scott October 6, 2014 at 11:52 pm #

        Very true, but thats just not the purpose of this blog. Our goal isn’t to point out who is wrong, but rather but great information in one place.

  11. LV December 13, 2013 at 12:47 am #

    Clean, well written article.
    Much appreciated (from a Wing Tsun brother)

  12. Nathan December 31, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    Your assumptions about attacking vital areas, while they sound logical, are very wrong. If you have someone in an armbar, and they go to grab your balls, while that would be painful momentarily, wont last long due to the fact that you just broke their arm and are now stomping their face in. Former UFC Champ Bas Rutten talks about this on the Joe Rogan Expirience Podcast. The video on youtube is called “joe rogan, fake martial arts”.
    So while your origional Thesis sound correct, it is in fact a bad idea to try to annoy someone who has a dominant position.

  13. Tom January 22, 2014 at 7:48 am #

    I practicedd wrestling first, then wing chun, then BJJ, then boxing and Muay Thai. After training full contact ring sports my Wing Chun became effective because I know had a wing chun answer to the other styles which train more aggressively of which I was previously ignorant. The point is that you must have exposure to the intensity and objectives of harder contact arts to make the more complex sensitivity based arts work.

  14. Tom January 22, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    After all boxing, wrestling and judo/Bjj all attempt to dominate the center or inside but do not conceptualize it like WC. They all compliment each other despite their differences. As for foul techniques, any system can use them but none can train with live eye gouges including the pure street arts like WC

  15. Tom Pappas February 4, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    I believe that I commented on this insightful blog but I cannot find it. My point was that my Wing Chun became way more effective when I learned to box. I believe that boxing, JJ, wrestling and a multitude of other arts utilize the center line as a positional reference point but Wing Chun really helps the student to zero in on its importance for positional dominance. I just think that learning other systems and what they do, will only help with the practical application of the art

  16. Tom Pappas February 4, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    It’s not about the art as much as it is about the fighter and how he trains. I ha e spent more time grappling and boxing than training wing chun but wing chun is not bullshit if the practitioner does a lot of live sparring and adapts the footwork and chin position. Although I am more of an MMA trainer than a traditional martial artist, I promise you that there are plenty of traditional guys that have a great deal to offer if the tough guy wannabes would stop arguing over style and keep an openmind. As an advanced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu player I come across lots of guys who rip traditional arts and extoll the virtues of Muay Thai and Boxing, two great sports, but have never sparred stand up or even trained.

    Guys like that should shut up and explore some approaches to combat that were never intended for the Octagon.

  17. Briain April 19, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Very well written and valid article. I teach wing chun, but I also have a 2nd degree black belt in TKD, and studied a little bit of Judo. My Judo skills are not anywhere near the level of my other two martial arts, but its enough to have a healthy respect for it and have learned how not to be taken down easily, utilize my center of balance while using my WC. I also been in law enforcement for almost 14 years, so my opinion is right in line with your article. Good job, and thank you.

  18. Jason July 2, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Nice article. I was obssessed in martial arts, and I personally favour Wing Chun. Reason was, I want a self defence skill, not fighting with rules. A friend of mine wants to challenge me with MMA wrestling, and I did tried to hit his face. He wasn’t so happy because it wasn’t the rule of wrestling. But survival is survival, there are no rules, isn’t it? You would had died if you stick on the rules.

  19. nh September 9, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    I believe an open mindedness towards all styles and respect for practitioners of varying styles will create the purity of form and intention in any martial artist. Consistent evolution under new stresses for the art and the artist is essential to shed ego and ignorance. I practice mma ( in the sense of training for cage matches with rules) and I personally see a need to include forms of kung fu ( specifically arts and techniques that include strikes to throat eyes groin etc and gouges rips tears etc) if you expect to engage in a true nhb scenario.


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