If you do a search for Wing Chun on YouTube, you will see countless videos of Wing Chun "experts" pitted against other combat arts in a full contact environment. Often, you will see the Wing Chun practitioner easily defeated by someone who practises another fighting system. It would seem to indicate that Wing Chun is useless as a fighting art, but let's consider what you are actually watching on YouTube.
Like many martial arts, Wing Chun has its fair share of charlatans. I'm not going to tell you which branches of Wing Chun belong under that description, but you will have to trust me that some Wing Chun is more genuine than others. The unfortunate thing is that those who feel they have something to prove are the ones who choose to do it on YouTube.
Let's also consider the relative experience of each fighter. I was angered by a series of videos I found on YouTube, where "Moy Yat Wing Chun" was pitted against other fighting arts in the environment of a boxing ring. Genuine Moy Yat Wing Chun is, I can inform you, one of the better examples of the art. Even with the disadvantages brought by fighting in a sporting environment (which I will come to later), I would expect the Moy Yat fighters to have won a fair proportion of the fights featured. What I saw, however, was Moy Yat fighters totally outclassed by various other martial arts.
The fighters who were said to represent Moy Yat Wing Chun seemed woefully uncoordinated, their Wing Chun was sloppy. Actually, their Wing Chun looked suspiciously like that of someone who had only learnt it by watching DVDs, not actually attended formal training in the style. I draw the conclusion that someone just has some problem with Moy Yat, or Wing Chun. It was rather telling that the ability to post comments on the videos had been blocked.
As I'm on the subject of comments, we have to consider these too. Obviously, videos showing Wing Chun being defeated cause quite a stir, and provoke a lot of negative comments about the style. More disturbingly, some of the great masters of Wing Chun have posted videos demonstrating how to perform the training correctly, and these have also attracted negative comments. There is no doubt that a lot of these comments come from spotty teenagers, who have only seen martial arts on Hollywood films or video games, who are fed on a diet of junk food and fizzy drinks. To them, the UFC is where it all begins and ends. Anything outside of their experience is to be regarded as a target for ridicule. They are unlikely to ever attend a martial arts class.
I laugh when I see comparisons between Wing Chun and the mixed martial arts in the UFC. Are they even comparable? No. I learn martial arts because I don't like the thought of ending a night in an ambulance because of some idiot taking a dislike to me; I have no interest in fighting to win trophies or other prizes. For those reasons, I chose Wing Chun. As soon as I step into a ring or an octagon, or put on a pair of gloves, I am at a disadvantage. A large percentage of what I have trained is no longer allowable, and it is understandable. Cage fighting is a sport, and the object is not to permanently damage an opponent. Certainly, the crowd want to get value for money, so a quick incapacitation is also not ideal. Wing Chun is a style which came from the field of battle, so to speak, and imposing rules upon it takes away a lot of its effectiveness. It is not safe and predictable; it is not a sport; it is, put simply, a deadly weapon. With the rules of competition in place, it is no longer Wing Chun; it is a diluted version of Wing Chun.
The YouTube videos of Wing Chun, if not in a ring or octagon, are of friendly sparring matches. Even if the Wing Chun guy is experienced enough to give a good account of his style, the environment limits him to what is safe.
What about bringing the mixed martial arts of the octagon to the street? To be fair, it might work, certainly against untrained fighters. A seasoned street fighter? Hmm. A practitioner of a traditional art or something like Jeet Kune Do or Krav Maga? Hmm. Someone with a knife? Hmm. I have obviously never witnessed a cage fighter dealing with those issues but, from my own perspective, I would trust an art geared towards self defence over one geared towards gaining a submission to win a prize.
A final thought on this: Wing Chun has proved effective for a period of more than five hundred years. If it was not effective, it would not have survived. Will YouTube survive for that amount of time? Will the UFC survive for that amount of time? I'm happy that the brainless morons on YouTube and the wholly biased MMA forums think it is useless, because the last thing we need is them taking an interest in Wing Chun - that would be bad for Wing Chun, and bad for the world in general.