A fellow wing chun student said that he was impressed by the block. Fair enough. My instructor's reply set me thinking, however, as his replies often do. "Biu Gee, end section", he said. A lot of Bil/Biu Jee/Gee/Tze (however you want to romanise it) looks abstract and esoteric to us, and often we wonder how it can be put to use in actual combat. Many people who criticise wing chun do so because the forms look strange to them, they don't necessarily understand them, or they watch wing chun fighters who don't necessarily understand them.
It makes sense that a krav maga movement corresponds to our third form. The essence of third form is that we have made a mistake, from which we need to recover. Krav maga, so I have been told, assumes we are starting from a position of disadvantage. During my short time learning Filipino boxing, I've also seen techniques which correspond to our third form, including the elbow block featured in the video. When you consider that Filipino boxing is mainly a system of self protection, rather than a sport as such, you can see a pattern emerging.
How does any of this relate to self defence? No matter how good you think you are, you will often find yourself at a disadvantage in an encounter. It is said that Bruce Lee developed jeet kune do because he found himself facing larger opponents in the US. It is also said that Bruce never learned the third form of wing chun (accounts differ - one has him learning the third form in the last months of his life; if that is true, we will still never know how it would have affected his wing chun). Jeet kune do, and the arts Bruce learned to create his personal style, seem to be Bruce's way of substituting that missing knowledge. As it happens, this took him in another direction entirely, but one which still drew on the wing chun that he knew.
Watch a true master at work. Notice how those movements which were once large, wild movements have become more condensed and seemingly effortless. Wing chun starts at this level, and yet some of the movements of biu jee are suspiciously large by comparison. Why is this? Is it closer to the Shaolin roots of wing chun? Again, biu jee is about recovering from a vulnerable position, and such recklessness, by wing chun standards, may be justified. Some say biu jee further develops the power which we gain through practising the earlier forms. This would make sense too. Other arts going in the opposite direction does not mean there is a right or wrong: the focus is different, owing to the environment in which the art developed. Take the example of Filipino martial arts, which train weapons techniques first.
The embarrassment of videos posted on the internet haunts wing chun practitioners. In forums hosted all over the world, the art is parodied and ridiculed. Shouldn't we first question what we are watching? If you show me a professional fighter, to whom combat is a daily concern, pummelling someone who has not learned the full system, don't even talk to me about the wing chun you think you see in that exchange. The wing chun people who comment on the structure or footwork being wrong also miss the point. Does it look like wing chun? Are they using wing chun principles, no matter how shaky their practical skill? If so, they are doing wing chun, but have not reached a level where they are a challenge to the other fighter. Eventually, they may match, or even surpass, the skill of their opponent.
Geoff Thompson, who gets a lot of respect for injecting some realism into martial arts, mirrors my view that most encounters will be something akin to an ambush attack. He talks of training techniques until they are second nature. Again, we are singing from the same hymn sheet, as it were. I don't subscribe to the belief that traditional martial arts, as we call them, have no relevance to the modern world. You must learn them, though. Learn as much as you can, and practise, practise, practise!
If someone is going out to test their art against others, they deserve respect for that. Those who post videos of this with art versus art titles are deliberately misleading the greater martial arts community, however, because it may be an individual taking their first steps in testing their art against someone who has tested theirs many times over. Always question. Always.