Two things stood out from tonight's Wing Chun class:
1. Forget all notion of a martial art if you need to fight.
2. It is better to use an open palm to the head of an opponent than a punch.
Both concepts were things that I had already assumed, so it was quite satisfying to have them confirmed by someone with many more years of experience in martial arts. Through uneven numbers, I had the chance to train with the instructor (Sifu in Chinese, but we never use that term). Being told that he trusted my level of control enough for me to target his centre was high praise indeed.
The principle of forgetting knowledge of a martial art was something I overheard. One of the relatively new members was discussing sparring, to which the instructor replied that the movements of Wing Chun must be practised as often as possible, so they are an automatic response to a threat, but concentrating on correct form and rigidly sticking to Wing Chun will cause momentary brain freeze. It is true. It's one thing I have always believed. Worrying about correct technique will probably cost someone a fight, and the potential consequences of that are permanent injury or death. Anything which removes the threat is good.
It wasn't until the end of the class that I got to ask a question about the Wing Chun forms. I noticed that I have a tendency to strike with my palm if I am striking anything above the height of my own shoulder, and that particular idiosyncrasy seems to be unique in the class. My training regime, as far as Wing Chun is concerned, concentrates on the first two empty hand forms, and I had noticed that the forms tend to follow my tendency to hit low with the fist and high with an open hand. Apparently, my impression that all high strikes are open handed is correct, and that is by design. I will leave it to the reader to form their own opinion on why the forms are designed in such a way.
If you practise any other martial art, I hope this has been useful to you too.