Hi Rob what are your feelings about Wing Chun and pressure testing or sparring?

The reason I ask is that I’d love to start training a martial art and Wing Chun has caught my interest among others.

I’ve visited a few martial arts schools (non-wing chun) that drill and do forms but don’t spar.

When I asked them to try their moves on me they couldn’t pull them off. So I think it’s important to do at least some form of contact or pressure testing.

None of the Wing Chun schools I’ve visited yet spar. They feel chi-sao is enough. What are your feelings on the matter?

P.S. I enjoy your website. I think it;s great that you have a Fun/POP section. Thanks!
Reply: Thanks for the question. I think you have to spar and train more realistically.

This is something I’ve been putting more time into myself and will into the future.

Chi sau is great, it’s something each Wing Chun’er must practice and perfect. But after you’re comfortable with the basic moves, you ought to use it in more random (sparring) cases.

The dynamics change when the other guy is trying to knock your head off and stick his entire arm into your gut.

If your deflection and simultaneous counter isn’t done well, you’re going to get hurt.

The dynamics change when you’re trying to knock the other guy’s head off and he’s backing away, retreating, hitting you back, or not standing still (like in a drill).

The dynamic changes when you have the wrong distance or body support. Sometimes in drills or chi sau you may be able to reach your partner and touch him/her.

But there’s no power or force behind it. It’s essentially meaningless (especially for the more intermediate/advanced practitioners).

It’s not until you start sparring and hitting others for real (or as real and safe as possible) that you can start to distinguish between reaching out and touching someone and actually causing an injury (or a pathological injury in the case against a sociopath).

Along with getting to more sparring classes myself, I’m thinking of ways to train the deadly stuff, as realistically as possible, without injuring my partners… Not easy to do.

Do you have any proven suggestions?

One more thing along the same lines. I’ve been trying to figure out ways for more realistic training against grappling/grapplers.

The trouble I find is that they can technically go 90% to 99% with their moves (100% would be like a broken arm).

But to deal with them we can’t really go 90% – 99% with our striking.

That would cause too much damage. i.e. elbow into the spine, thumbs into the eyes, etc… at 90% force? I don’t think that’s a good idea.

But unless we can get close to using a real/realistic elbow strike to the base of the skull, for instance, there’s always that question of does that move really work, or is it just Hollywood make believe?

What do you all do to make your training more realistic and street ready?