Wing Chun Instructor KO’s Agressor with a powerful punch

about WING CHUN

Wing Chun also romanised as Ving Tsun or Wing Tsun, (and sometimes substituted with the characters 永春 “eternal springtime”); is a concept-based Chinese martial art and form of self-defense utilising both striking and grappling while specialising close-rangecombat.

The alternative characters 永春 “eternal spring” are also associated with some other southern Chinese martial arts, including Weng Chun Kung Fu and Yong Chun .

Wing Chun Punches

Due to the emphasis on the center line, the straight punch is the most common strike in Wing Chun. However, the principle of simultaneous attack and defense (Lin Sil Die Dar) suggests that all movements in the Siu Nim Tau with a forward execution flow into a strike if no effective resistance is met, without need for recomposure. Other explicit examples of punches can be found in the Chum Kiu and Bil Jee forms, although these punches may appear to be superficially different they are simply the result of the punch beginning from a different origin position while following the same fundamental idea, to punch in a straight line following the shortest distance between the fist and the opponent.

The punch is the most basic and fundamental in Wing Chun and is usually thrown with the elbow down and in front of the body. Depending on the lineage, the fist is held anywhere from vertical to horizontal (palm side up). The contact points also vary from the top two knuckles, to the middle two knuckles, to the bottom three knuckles. In some lineages of Wing Chun, the fist is swiveled at the wrist on point of impact so that the bottom three knuckles are thrust forward adding power to the punch while it is at maximum extension.

The punches may be thrown in quick succession in a “straight blast” or “chain punching”. When executed correctly, it can be used as a disorienting finisher.

When executing the punch, you must relax and use your shoulders. The punch comes from the body and not the arm. Like most other punches in martial arts, Wing Chun punches with the body.

Wing Chun is often criticized for encouraging weaker punches that do not utilize the whole body. However, as per the formal name of the punch, which is translated as “The Sun-character Rushing Punch (or Hammer in Cantonese)”, a practitioner typically would thrust their full body weight towards their opponent with the fist as the “nail” and their body as the “hammer”. With each successive punch, the practitioner would step in closer and closer to the opponent, driving the fists forward as a hammer drives a nail.

Wing Chun favors the vertical punch for several reasons:

  • Directness. The punch is not “loaded” by pulling the elbow behind the body. The punch travels straight towards the target from the guard position (hands are held in front of the chest).
  • Protection. The elbow is kept low to cover the front midsection of the body. It is more difficult for an opponent to execute an elbow lock/break when the elbow occupies this position. This aids in generating power by use of the entire body structure rather than only the arm to strike. Also with the elbow down, it offers less opening for the body to be attacked while the forearm and punch intercept space towards the head and upper body.
  • Strength and Impact. Wing Chun practitioners believe that because the elbow is behind the fist during the strike, it is thereby supported by the strength of the entire body rather than just a swinging fist, and therefore has more impact. A common analogy is a baseball bat being swung at someone’s head (a round-house punch), as opposed to the butt end of the bat being thrust forward into the opponent’s face (wing chun punch), which would cause far more damage than a glancing hit and is not as easy to evade. Many skilled practitioners pride themselves on being able to generate “short power” or large amount of power in a short space. A common demonstration of this is the “one-inch punch”, a punch that starts only an inch away from the target yet delivers an explosive amount of force.
  • Alignment & Structure. Because of Wing Chun’s usage of stance, the vertical punch is thus more suitable. The limb directly in front of the chest, elbow down, vertical nature of the punch allows a practitioner to absorb the rebound of the punch by directing it through the elbows and into the stance. This is a desirable trait to a Wing Chun practitioner because it promotes use of the entire body structure to generate power. Whereas, the rebound of a horizontal punch uses only the arm to strike. In this elbow-out position the hinge-structure directs force outwards along the limb producing torque in the puncher’s body.

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