Why Wing Chun Works

While a book cannot teach you a martial art it can explain concepts that sometimes could be lost or not necessarily explained in lessons.  Putting in writing certain concepts will force the author to think them through and be very specific about them: this is a typical example.

Why Wing Chun Works

Why Wing Chun Works

If you move across styles and train various styles of Kickboxing, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Tang So Do and Kung fu you will realize that, more or less, kicks are kicks, punches are punches and stances are stances.  More emphasis here or there but you can see a common line of evolution and many commonalities.  When you talk Wing Chun you hear concepts like sensitivity, touch reflexes and central line and that can be a bit disorientating.  That’s why when I found this book and read the introduction in a local book shop I bought it and read it in a short time.

The book

Why Wing Chun Works had a great influence on my martial art experience and I like to go back to it and read a few paragraphs every so often.  I was so intrigued by the reading it that at the end I decided to send an Email to the author, Alan Gibson, and invite him over for a seminar that I organized.  That was the beginning of a fruitful collaboration and friendship.  This book was entirely written by Alan and based on his personal experience and discovery of this art of which he is a prominent representative in the UK and internationally.  This was the first experience of Alan Gibson writer: he wrote and produced himself this first edition in 1998: it is spiral-bound and with hand made drawings.  The book had several editions after this one and recently Alan released “Beginning Wing Chun” that is an improved version with some extra material.


The basic style described here describes the Ip Chun lineage and it is based around the principles of pivoting around the central line.  Wing Chun is not about learning systematically and rehearsing situations like: if this happens do this, if that happens do that and so on. It’s about absorbing, at subconscious level, subtle movements that allow to react, attack and defend in a continuous action.  All “techniques” are described as “concepts”: each concept applies to various situations.  The book also describes how Wing Chun principles such as straight line attack and economy or motion can be applied to problem solving and other aspect of life, not necessarily related to martial arts or to fighting.

What I like of this book

If you are a total beginner of Wing Chun or you don’t know what it is this is a great guide to discover the art and its many principles.  If you are already practicing it can be a great help to understand the various concepts at a deeper level, having time to think about them while away from your usual practicing venue.


Why Wing Chun Works should be in every martial artist’s library: no matter whether you are a Wing Chun practitioner, a curious or simply passionate about martial arts. Don’t expect to learn Wing Chun by reading it but you can definitely improve your thinking around various techniques and, ultimately, refine them.

If you would like to buy this book, or other interesting ones, please have a look at our book store that contain a little collection of the books I read so far.

Training special moves?

Adam recently left a comment to the About This Blog page that can and should be answered publicly:

Hi Massimo

Are “SPECIAL MOVES” purely the realm of video games…or is there a real life application for them?

And, I’m not talking throwing bolts of lightening and fireballs, or electrifying your skin…although if those are possible, I wouldn’t mind knowing.

But, is it advantageous to practise specific sequences, that suit my style and play to my strengths, with the aim to execute them in a real situation.

Or, are such sequences always too clumsy to implement, and make you vulnerable to good opponents who pick up the sequence, then predict your moves…and naturally counter attack?

It would be useful to have more details about your concept of SPECIAL MOVES but I elaborate of what I understand of your question.  Martial arts can range between the striking kind or throwing and grappling one, bare handed or weapon based they are all meant to use one’s body as a weapon or master the use of a weapon itself.

Ultimately a well trained and experienced martial artist will use one or the other move and select (automatically) them among a usually vast repertoire of techniques that he/she has been learning over a long period of time.

To some extend I believe that a number of different techniques  should be trained in order to:

  • assimilate, at subconcious level, many different moves from different positions and different angles
  • train and broad range of muscle groups in order to be a fit and well round fighter that can fight in different ways
  • understand and be aware of what works or doesn’t work for you in various situations: e.g. it’s no point basing your fight on multiple kicks with one leg if you are not very flexible and fast.  Understanding your self and truly know your limits will be a good way to accept and challenge yourself to improve what should be improved.
While bearing the above point is mind you should remember that every technique trained should have a meaning and a purpose and being applicable to real experience not to a theoretical principle that will never work.
I hope it answers the question but I am happy to continue the conversation further.

The role of forms in martial arts

I have just read this great post on Ikigaiway and started writing a comment: when it became too long I though it was a good idea to write my own post.

Most striking martial arts, being them bare handed like Karate, Wing Chun or Tae Kwon Do or weapon based like Iai Jitsu, Iai Do and Kobudo, use forms (Kata in Japanese) as a way or classifying various groups of techniques.  Forms are usually increasingly difficult and they can be part of grading.

Forms, in any martial art, is meant to be a way of collecting a number of techniques, arranged in logical sequences, with to 4 main purposes in mind:

  1. solo practice, to allow the practitioner to keep training without an opponent;
  2. having a kind of comparable scale among different practitioner at similar level;
  3. practicing and rehearsing logical sequences of techniques that eventually should be applied to real right
  4. collecting techniques that otherwise might be lost in teaching over various generations of students: let’s not forget that until a few decades ago video recording or filming was not as practical and affordable as it is today and a book has lots of limitation is showing dynamic 3D actions.

In the first video shown in Ikigaiway post the young lady moves a lot, she is very acrobatic but most of what she does is not useful, if not dangerous,  in a fight.  The second video is more realistic: question here is: “if you push somebody away with a powerful yoko geri (side kick) what it the probability that his face will be there to be hit with an elbow?”

I am convinced that a form is (supposed to be) a fight against imaginary opponents that the practitioner attacks or defends against.  Somebody practicing a form should always ask herself:

  • “what is this (particular technique) for?”
  • “would it really work?”
  • “what about if a real opponent appeared now in that position?”

If the answer to any of these question doesn’t make too much sense than what you are practicing is not a practical form and, while it can help working out fitness, balance and flexibility, it will not ultimately help your fighting skills.