"Wing Chun suits people who cant fight to save their lives, and never want to get better at fighting. Its for lazy cowards and pretend, wannabe fighters."
It's hard to be entirely sure, with someone who so carefully guards their online anonymity, but I'm pretty sure there are no videos of them fighting a wing chun practitioner. This is important, because their profile picture states that they are exposing wing chun. It seems to be more than a little disingenuous to claim they are personally exposing an art, when all they are doing is sharing videos from the relative comfort of where they sit.
I can understand why their anonymity is important. Traditional martial artists tend to be reasonable people, but the danger is that you may stumble across the one who slipped through the net. Replying to every comment on the thread marks this person out as a troll, and a brief scroll through their profile reveals that they have also attacked aikido and krav maga. Of course, they champion MMA, as is usually the case, but I question whether this person has ever stepped inside the octagon or taken any other lessons in combat arts.
Still, the internet trolls will never change. Where I've spoken to people who actually compete in a ring or octagon, some give traditional martial arts a lot of respect but, I have to say, some have no respect for anything other than what they practise. A criticism I've heard, again and again, is that wing chun, and other arts, have been proven ineffective through many losses in the octagon.
What is a fight in the cage?
I'll tell you that I could no sooner win a fight in the octagon than run a hundred metres in less time than a professional sprinter. Would losing the race mean that I can't run at all? Obviously not. By the arguments I see repeatedly about cage fighters versus traditional martial artists, however, losing to a professional, or semi-professional athlete, in their preferred environment, under their preferred rules, means you can't fight, or your art is ineffective. Your experience, relative to that of the cage fighter, does not matter. If you lose, so does your chosen art.
The ring, octagon or cage is an environment where a sporting contest is taking place. I'll accept the argument that MMA provides an environment that is close to a street fight but, when I see claims that it is essentially the same as a street fight, I believe that someone is suffering from a dangerous and irresponsible delusion.
I'm not here to disrespect any art, unlike the trolls that litter YouTube. Let's not forget that the arts which are used in the mix of cage fighting are descended from arts which were proven in battle. The question is, for what environment are you training?
Where does a competition fight, in the ring, cage or octagon, begin? Are the fighters one metre, two metres or three metres apart? Do they have to close the distance? Is the distance closed for them?
If you're attacked on the street, the answer is clear. With few exceptions, the attack will come from within a metre. Arts like wing chun do not focus on close quarters combat for no reason. A competition fight will start from a distance; a street ambush may start with both fighters within an arm's length of each other. Already, we can see that they aren't the same.
I've heard it said that it takes courage to step into a ring, a cage, or an octagon. I agree. Both fighters know that a fight is taking place, and voluntarily take part in the encounter, knowing they may be badly injured. I'm not a fan of those fights, as regular readers will know, but I have to respect the courage that is displayed by choosing to fight in that environment. Here, I will highlight that it is a choice, however.
Unless you are the aggressor, or have fundamental flaws in your character, you will not choose to fight on the street. This links to the point about distance. You will be an unwilling participant in a fight. Your attacker does not want you to be prepared for the attack, so it will happen at a range where you have a greatly reduced chance of reacting in time.
Ring, cage or octagon canvas? Quite forgiving. Concrete and tarmac? Hard and unyielding. I can't make it any clearer than that. Walls, lampposts, parked cars and other objects are similarly unyielding. How about rolling around in broken glass, dog faeces and other nasty things? No?
What if they're carrying a weapon? Even if they didn't come equipped, there may be items lying around that could easily be used for the purpose. In this case, you don't want to swing your arms wildly, but you want to gain control of that weapon. It sounds like something that has been taught in martial arts classes since long before cage fighting arrived on the scene.
I'll ask the question again: are you training for a competition, or training to survive? They are two very different things.
The rules of responding to a street attack are the laws of a country, which the attacker has chosen to break, but within which you may or may not choose to remain. Each country has laws governing the use of reasonable force. These will vary from place to place. One which is particularly relevant here is the issue of fighting on the ground. In most places, choosing to fight on the ground, when escape was a possibility, is not considered to be reasonable. Actually, if any opportunity to escape is not taken, and you choose to continue fighting instead, this is not considered reasonable.
Ending a fight quickly, and escaping, is the aim. If escape is possible without a blow being landed, that is preferable. The highest aim is to prevent an attack without needing to fight. If the attacker draws a weapon, a more brutal response may be easier to justify, within limits.
Competitive fights prohibit a large amount of the arsenal of traditional martial arts. It is not reasonable, in that environment, to deliberately cause permanent injury to an opponent. Accidents happen, but the rules are there to lessen the likelihood of these kinds of accidents.
Do I really need to cover this one in more depth? The rules of competition severely limit arts which were developed for dealing with life threatening situations.
The use of gloves in competitive fighting is quite a recent innovation, and it has fundamentally changed the nature of the competitions. To be clear about this, gloves protect the hands. When I look at the forms of wing chun, for example, and see no punches to the head, I know that the art was not developed with any consideration to gloves being worn.
The first thing I noticed, wearing gloves while sparring in wing chun, was how they restricted the motion of the wrist. Palm strikes suddenly became impossible, meaning I had to go against the basic nature of the art and punch to the face. It would be possible to land a fak sau or use a jum sau as a strike, but those are more than a little dangerous for using in a friendly sparring session. I should point out that they're also outlawed in competition.
I'm uncomfortable with sparring, because it reduces wing chun to competition rules. Elbows? Well, the way they are implemented in wing chun, it wouldn't be a good idea. Essentially, we find ourselves limited to straight line punches, and it's amazing how quickly those with experience of boxing or other martial arts revert to what they knew before. I would argue that, as soon as you put on a pair of gloves, wing chun becomes something other than wing chun.
The skull is designed to protect the more delicate matter within. The bones of the hand are designed to be more flexible, so they don't have the same structural integrity. Arts like baguazhang focus on open hand strikes, maybe realising that maintaining the flexible nature of the hand minimises the possibility of injury, whereas compacting those delicate joints into a ball makes them vulnerable. Punches to soft targets are fine, however, and the wing chun forms seem to hint at this.
Can you tell that I'm getting bored with this now? I think it's laughable that I have to explain these things. Wing chun is not a sport. Judging it within that environment is wrong.
I'm not saying that traditional arts can't be used in competitions, nor am I saying that competition arts can't be used for self-protection. If I suggested either of those things, I would be no better than the trolls on YouTube and Bullshido. What I'm saying is that your success will depend on your training. If you only train for sporting competition, your relative strength and fitness may be enough to see you surviving a street attack. The arts you practice were once battlefield arts. You should expect, however, that you may have to step outside the rules of the competitive environment and improvise. Do not, under and circumstances, underestimate your attacker.
If you are learning a combat art that is focused on self protection, then competing is probably not your aim. You will find yourself up against fighters who are probably better adapted to that environment, just as your own art is adapted to dealing with an ambush attack. If you're not training to deal with an ambush, you're doing your art a disservice. You are limiting your art, and that also happens as soon as you put on a pair of gloves.
It saddens me that some are not so open minded. I believe that we can learn from each other. If competition fighters were to train alongside traditional martial artists, both might benefit from the experience. Unfortunately, the exchange is being derailed by teenagers who have watched a few videos of fights, and feel they are experts in every aspect of combat known to man.