Wing Chun Academy of Thailand



Spring is a powerful time of the year. Massive ice and snow melt under her gentle rule. Flowers bloom, animals enliven, and birds return from the south. This is the time of the year when many life forms begin. It is considered the most beautiful of the four seasons.

Spring Recital, "Wing Chun" was the name that was bestowed upon a frail and beautiful girl in China, by her father, about three hundred fifty years ago. Little did he know that she would ironically live up to everything her name represented. Even more, her name would live on to this day. If you have not heard of Wing Chun, it is because she was the best kept secret until recently. Probably, it is also because you are not a martial arts enthusiast. If you are one and have not heard her name before, then you have not reached this high level of artistry. You have not searched and found the ultimate "Truth".

Before you pass this off as so much nonsense, just consider this: Would you bother learning martial arts or self-defense forms in order to combat someone you know you can defeat, someone who is smaller, weaker and handicapped? Of course not! Why bother with the time and effort. You would only want to learn it to combat someone who you feel you are handicapped against because of his size, physical strength, and/or his skills at some form of pugilism. In other words, you would want to use scientific and technical means to overcome the physical disadvantage you have against your opponent. What could be better than learning a combat form, proven effective, and developed by a woman, the "weaker" sex.

Men with a macho attitude discard the thought of learning a woman's form of fighting. They go to the school of hard knocks and end up where they started, being bounced around by bigger guys. In return, they get their ego boosted by pounding the smaller guys.

In the study of Chinese medicine and Taoism, it is the female form (Yin) that is the stronger of the two. Water puts out Fire. Dark colors overcome light ones. Women triumph over men (a controversial debate). Wing Chun takes into account that you are smaller than your opponent. You learn to apply his force, weight, and attack against himself. You learn to utilize nature's force, your weight, and strength to the maximum. You immobilize him knowing all his anatomical weak points. You take control of the combative situation by becoming him. You will thus know all his moves, like a female ballroom dancer and disrupt his lead at anytime, according to your whim.

Chinese history dates back to 5000 BC. It tells the story of a very learned, yet warring society. For its own security, it created a very secretive society. Wing Chun was kept secret amongst a tightly knitted family and shared only with a handful of non-family members. It went public only after the Second World War. Even so, it was limited to the Chinese. In the 70's, it became known that Bruce Lee, the famous martial artist and movie star, had come from a Wing Chun school. It was the one and only formal martial art training he had taken. (He learned pieces of other styles from his friends and research, and developed a style he named, Jeet Kune Do.) Only the super enthusiastic (and fanatic) martial arts students know this. There was a big stir about Wing Chun amongst these enthusiasts. Frantic searches for Wing Chun schools for many came to a dead end when none were found in their cities. Many who found and joined them dropped out when they saw something quite different from Bruce Lee's spectacular, made-for-movie performance. When the hype settled, it was the hardcore, deep searching martial artists who discovered the truth about Wing Chun.

In this decade, there is a resurgence of martial arts popularity. With Chinese Martial Arts movies populating the American silver screen, people have started joining pugilistic schools again. Brandon Lee, the late son of Bruce Lee, displayed his Jeet Kune Do/Wing Chun skills beautifully in the movie, Rapid Fire. The movie, Dragon, based on the story of Bruce Lee, exposed Wing Chun to the public. Jackie Chan's movie, Gorgeous, showed his moves on the Wing Chun wooden dummy. With all the exposure Wing Chun got from these movies, there came about an influx of students to the Wing Chun schools. Unfortunately, just as many unqualified Wing Chun schools popped up to take advantage of the trend.

Wing Chun is an easy form of martial art to learn to enable practical use in a short time, but a hard one to master. The English language is a good analogy. One can learn it quickly and use it to converse but it is difficult to master. You can go anywhere in the world and find vendors who speak English ... broken it may be, but communicable and comprehensible, although they have never taken a formal course. On the other hand, you will have those born with English as their first language, who have graduated from Universities, who are unable to master the English language. One would have to major in it to come close to mastering.

There are only a few masters of Wing Chun. There are too many wannabes. This is evident in the martial arts books and magazines out there. In the early years, there were hardly any articles on Wing Chun. Today, it is filled with them. Not only articles, but advertisements galore!

Although I don't have all the answers to Wing Chun, I have decided to write about it so those searching for the truth can see Wing Chun in the light I have come to discover. Truth is relative. What makes sense to your honest self (mind and soul) is what truth is for you. If it works for you, then it is your truth.

Who is best suited to learn Wing Chun? Although ideally suited for women and children, men, however, outnumber them when it comes to Wing Chun membership. Women and children learn it quickly because of their gentleness, softness, and yielding way. Men find it hard to shed their brute strength and aggressiveness. Men learn it because they are fond of pugilism. Women do not because of their dislike for violence. Often men learn it wrongly. They use their brawn instead of brain. Instead of adapting to the form, they adapt the form to them. Ironically, the form is closest to nature. Men move away from it when they go into adolescence. Women and children do not need to adapt, as they are closest to nature. In actuality, men do not need to "adapt" either, but need to shed away the shell that is covering their true nature. Although children are the best learners (as with learning languages), they lack the patience and understanding of the complexities of the Wing Chun principles. The training methods are too mundane and non-physical for them. I would recommend youths over 13 to commence Wing Chun training. Girls and women over this age are the best learners and performers of Wing Chun, particularly those who have taken up another form of martial arts; they would appreciate the complexity and superiority of this form. Adult men find it most to difficult to learn and master Wing Chun, especially those who have taken a hard form of pugilism previously. Although they would appreciate and marvel at the superiority of Wing Chun, they would find it hard to deprogram their past training. It is not impossible though; I was one of them. Adults who have no past experiences in martial arts have the advantage of learning Wing Chun from a clean start. The drawback is that they have no practical experience as the converts do and do not appreciate the subtleties and beauty of Wing Chun. All said ... to answer the first question, my experience tells me that whoever, whatever sex or age, desiring to learn, is suited for Wing Chun and can be master of it when he or she puts his/her mind, heart and time into it.

Read more about Wing Chun's history, go to my blog at Tracing Wing Chun's Origin.

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Copyright © Daniel Y. Xuan

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