Watching a Wing Chun expert apply their art, you will never see a failed attempt to punch. Every strike hits the target. The reason for such consistent success is not size, strength, or natural talent, but strategy.
Wing Chun attack strategy is codified in the kuen kuit. These pithy sayings, which are transmitted informally from one generation to the next, are unquestionably clear on the subject of punching:
No forced strikes; no reckless strikes.
A punch is never wasted.
Punch when you can; do not punch when you cannot.
According to Wing Chun philosophy, a punch that fails to land effectively should never have been thrown in the first place. Thus, all Wing Chun punches are successful by definition. This is not just a truism, but an endorsement of a patient and disciplined approach to self-defense.
Seek From The Center of Danger
Experienced Wing Chun practitioners know that effective striking is not a matter of luck or chance; it is a matter of position. If the opponent’s arms are not in position to block, and their torso is not in position to evade, and their legs are not in position to retreat, then they are vulnerable to a strike. In Wing Chun, capturing a favorable position is always the first step.
A clear line to the opponent’s head or chest does not in itself constitute a favorable position. You must be close enough to strike powerfully, while denying your adversary the same opportunity. These dual requirements are difficult to satisfy, which explains why so many Wing Chun students (and even teachers) abandon the principles in favor of long-range pot shots and wild chain-punch blitzkriegs.
Tamm da jung seui da.
If you swing greedily, you will be struck yourself.
In close range combat, a Wing Chun exponent must cover not only the opponent’s hands, but also their elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, feet and head. Facing these seven stars requires great courage, or extreme foolishness. Either way, the willingness to take this risk—to enter the eye of the hurricane and remain there as long as necessary—is one of the hallmarks of Wing Chun kungfu.
Short Range Power
The time and space requirements of short-range combat require a special kind of striking skill. Wing Chun punches are initiated mere inches away from their intended target. The striking fist does not withdraw first; it shoots forward with an explosive full-body engagement.
As Bruce Lee famously demonstrated at the Long Beach International Karate Championships, the one-inch punch is a formidable weapon. The one-inch palm, elbow and shoulder are less well-known but equally deadly.
Measure Twice, Punch Once
Wing Chun follows an irreducible two-step plan of attack:
- Attain a striking position.
Used in isolation, the first step is useless and the second step is impossible. Combined, they result in punches that never miss.