Is WingTsun only good for telephone boxes?
Most martial artists think that WT is only good for close combat. They believe we can ONLY fight in a telephone box. Even many WC, VT or not very well informed WT people share this incorrect opinion. But they are wrong. This is also why no less a martial artist than Bruce Lee, who was originally a student of the late Great Grandmaster Yip Man, believed that he needed to borrow kicks from other styles to prevail at longer range.
But let's look at the matter logically: if the opponent wants to fight with us, he must approach us, and if he has approached closely enough to strike us, we can also strike him.
The problem only lies in the fact that specific WT footwork (often but wrongly referred to as one of the secret techniques in WT) is required to deal with a moving attacker who is manoeuvring around us. If the WingTsun man merely stands there
and waits he risks being struck.
I am not referring to ritualised combat, where the aggressor has already "talked himself" into close range, where we are standing body-to-body and it is still not certain whether he will attack anyway. It is for this situation that I created the "Blitzdefence" strategy, but that is not under discussion here.
Instead I am talking about a confrontation which will certainly become physical and cannot be defused by verbal techniques. It might be a challenge or a sporting competition.
In cases where the fight is likely to begin at longer range, i.e. when the opponent is still some distance away from us, it is better (particularly for advanced WT people) to adopt the so-called neutral Siu-Nim-Tau stance, the Yee Chi Kim Yeung Ma.
This makes us less predictable and our actions are not telegraphed by any necessary shifts in bodyweight.
If we have one foot forward:
1. We are predictable and our freedom of movement is limited owing to
the need to shift our bodyweight
2. The front knee is exposed to attack by the opponent, e.g. using a side-kick,
without the opponent needing to come too close to strike us
If we adopt the neutral stance we compel the opponent to come very close to us, therefore he must come into our range to represent a danger.
In WingTsun we use so-called "pressing" or "chasing" steps in conjunction with the nose-to-nose principle to keep the opponent under constant pressure (Bik-Bo-Tip-Da) and prevent him from gathering his wits and organising a further attack.
As soon as the opponent comes closer the WT-fighter must move towards him to the right distance – and without the slightest hesitation – so that he has no space to launch his techniques and loses his balance. Moving towards him is of vital importance – if you stand still you must not be surprised if you are struck by a kick.
In this connection we refer to the "magnetic principle" according to which we launch ourselves at the opponent as if attracted by a magnetic force, though naturally while maintaining our emotional and physical balance at all times.
Incidentally, when pursuing you should avoid changing the front leg if at all possible.
Please don't misunderstand me. Under no circumstances must you stand there with your feet wide apart if the opponent has come close enough to kick you between the legs. This is the biggest misunderstanding even among advanced WT-people.
The opponent must never encounter you with your legs wide apart.
For this reason, and in the interests of the student's safety, we in the EWTO initially go against this absolutely correct approach by also getting students to practice the pre-fight stance with one (weightless) foot forward during the first few months. This is because experience has shown that paralysed with fear, beginners often stand waiting for the attacker like sitting ducks and are caught by the first kick between the legs.
This is also one of the aspects that led to the simplified Blitzdefence programme in WingTsun, which I specifically developed for ritualised territorial defence combat that begins with looks and aggressive language, then becomes physical at a certain distance.
We are not talking about this specific situation, which begins at close range, but rather about the so-called challenge or duel situation. My advice to have one foot forward right from the start only applies to a threat by an aggressor who stands immediately in front of us, when we cannot be certain that an attack will occur at all.
However, this does not contradict the golden rule that the classic pre-fight stance should be the neutral stance, and that the neutral stance is the ideal starting position for a challenge fight or duel starting from longer range.
Dim Dim Ching? Each point clear?