Wing Chun Kuen, usually called Wing Chun, is a concept-based traditional Southern Chinese Kung fu and a form of self-defense, that requires quick arm movements and strong legs to defeat opponents. Softness (via relaxation) and performance of techniques in a relaxed manner is fundamental to Wing Chun.
Regarding the History of Wing Chun, it’s said to have been created by the legend of Ng Mui, an abbess who taught it to her student Yim Wing-chun as a means to defend herself against unwanted advances. The martial art is named after her. A more recent and reliable account is that Wing Chun was developed by the Red Boat Opera Company cohort. According to Ip Man, “Chi Sau in Wing Chun is to maintain one’s feeling of opponent’s movement by staying relaxed all the while keeping in the strength to fight back, much like the flexible nature of bamboo”.
The most famous notable practitioners of Wing Chun include Wong Wah-bo, Leung Bik, Leung Jan, Ip Man, Wong Shun Leung, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Robert Downey Jr, Anderson Silva, and Donnie Yen.
Wing Chun favors a relatively high, narrow stance with the elbows close to the body. Within the stance, arms are generally positioned across the vitals of the centerline with hands in a vertical “wu sau” (“protecting hand” position). This style positions the practitioner to make readily placed blocks and fast-moving blows to vital striking points down the center of the body; neck, chest, belly and groin. Shifting or turning within a stance is done on the heels, balls, or middle of the foot, depending on lineage. Some Wing Chun styles discourage the use of high kicks because this risks counter-attacks to the groin. The practice of “settling” one’s opponent to brace them more effectively against the ground helps one deliver as much force as possible to them.
Softness (via relaxation) and performance of techniques in a relaxed manner, and by training the physical, mental, breathing, energy and force in a relaxed manner to develop Chi “soft wholesome force”, is fundamental to Wing Chun. On “softness” in Wing Chun, Ip Man during an interview said:
Wing Chun is in some sense a “soft” school of martial arts. However, if one equates that work as weak or without strength, then they are dead wrong. Chi Sau in Wing Chun is to maintain one’s flexibility and softness, all the while keeping in the strength to fight back, much like the flexible nature of bamboo”.
Wing Chun includes several sensitivity drills designed to train and obtain specific responses. Although they can be practiced or expressed in a combat form, they should not be confused with actual sparring or fighting.
Chi Sau is a term for the principle and drills used for the development of automatic reflexes upon contact and the idea of “sticking” to the opponent (also known as “sensitivity training”). In reality, the intention is not to “stick” to your opponent at all costs, but rather to protect your centerline while simultaneously attacking your opponent’s centerline. In Wing Chun, this is practiced by two practitioners maintaining contact with each other’s forearms while executing techniques, thereby training each other to sense changes in body mechanics, pressure, momentum and “feel”. The increased sensitivity gained from this drill helps a practitioner attack and counter an opponent’s movements precisely, quickly, and with appropriate techniques.
Chi Sau additionally refers to methods of rolling hands drills. Luk Sau participants push and “roll” their forearms against each other in a single circle while trying to remain in relaxed form. The aim is to feel force, test resistance, and find defensive gaps. Other branches have a version of this practice where each arm rolls in small, separate circles. Luk Sau is most notably taught within the Pan Nam branch of Wing Chun where both the larger rolling drills as well as the smaller, separate-hand circle drills are taught.
Some lineages, such as Ip Man and Jiu Wan, begin Chi Sau drills with one-armed sets called Daan Chi Sau which help the novice student to get the feel of the exercise. In Daan Chi Sau each practitioner uses one hand from the same side as they face each other.
Karate is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom. It developed from the indigenous Ryukyuan martial arts under the influence of Kung Fu, particularly Fujian White Crane. Karate is now predominantly a striking art using punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open-hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands and palm-heel strikes. Historically, and in some modern styles, grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints and vital-point strikes are also taught. A karate practitioner is called a karateka.
The Empire of Japan annexed the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879. Karate came to the Japanese in the early 20th century during a time of migration as Ryukyuans, especially from Okinawa, looked for work in the main islands of Japan. It was systematically taught in Japan after the Taishō era of 1912–1926. In 1922 the Japanese Ministry of Education invited Gichin Funakoshi to Tokyo to give a karate demonstration. In 1924 Keio University established the first university karate club in mainland Japan, and by 1932 major Japanese universities had karate clubs. In this era of escalating Japanese militarism, the name was changed from Chinese hand empty hand, both of which are pronounced karate in Japanese – to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form in Japanese style. After World War II, Okinawa became (1945) an important United States military site and karate became popular among servicemen stationed there.
The martial-arts movies of the 1960s and 1970s served to greatly increase the popularity of martial arts around the world, and English-speakers began to use the word karate in a generic way to refer to all striking-based Asian martial arts. Karate schools began appearing across the world, catering to those with casual interest as well as those seeking a deeper study of the art.
Shigeru Egami, Chief Instructor of the Shotokan dōjō, opined that “the majority of followers of karate in overseas countries pursue karate only for its fighting techniques … Movies and television … depict karate as a mysterious way of fighting capable of causing death or injury with a single blow … the mass media present a pseudo art far from the real thing.” Shōshin Nagamine said: “Karate may be considered as the conflict within oneself or as a life-long marathon which can be won only through self-discipline, hard training and one’s own creative efforts.”
Karate can be practiced as an art, self defense, or as a combat sport. Traditional karate places emphasis on self-development. Modern Japanese style training emphasizes the psychological elements incorporated into a proper attitude such as perseverance, fearlessness, virtue, and leadership skills. Sport karate places emphasis on exercise and competition. Weapons are an important training activity in some styles of karate.
Karate training is commonly divided into kihon (basics or fundamentals), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring).
Kihon means basics and these form the base for everything else in the style including stances, strikes, punches, kicks and blocks. Karate styles place varying importance on kihon. Typically this is training in unison of a technique or a combination of techniques by a group of karateka. Kihon may also be prearranged drills in smaller groups or in pairs.
Kata means literally “shape” or “model.” Kata is a formalized sequence of movements which represent various offensive and defensive postures. These postures are based on idealized combat applications. The applications when applied in a demonstration with real opponents is referred to as a Bunkai. The Bunkai shows how every stance and movement is used. Bunkai is a useful tool to understand a kata.
To attain a formal rank the karateka must demonstrate competent performance of specific required kata for that level. The Japanese terminology for grades or ranks is commonly used. Requirements for examinations vary among schools.
Sparring in Karate is called kumite. It literally means “meeting of hands.” Kumite is practiced both as a sport and as self-defense training.
In Karate, Funakoshi quoted from the Heart Sutra, which is prominent in Buddhism: “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form itself”. He interpreted the “kara” of Karate to mean “to purge oneself of selfish and evil thoughts … for only with a clear mind and conscience can the practitioner understand the knowledge which he receives.” Funakoshi believed that one should be “inwardly humble and outwardly gentle.” Only by behaving humbly can one be open to Karate’s many lessons. This is done by listening and being receptive to criticism. He considered courtesy of prime importance. He said that “Karate is properly applied only in those rare situations in which one really must either down another or be downed by him.” Funakoshi did not consider it unusual for a devotee to use Karate in a real physical confrontation no more than perhaps once in a lifetime. He stated that Karate practitioners must “never be easily drawn into a fight.” It is understood that one blow from a real expert could mean death. It is clear that those who misuse what they have learned bring dishonor upon themselves. He promoted the character trait of personal conviction. In “time of grave public crisis, one must have the courage … to face a million and one opponents.” He taught that indecisiveness is a weakness.
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