Speed in Wing Chun
What makes the Wing Chun style so interesting is that you do not have to rely on body strength, but on a logical sequence of efficient movements. Certainly speed is extremely important in fighting. However, no matter how hard your train or how long you take to improve, there are always physical limitations. There is always someone faster than you. Some people are simply born with more talent. Wing Chun allows the possibility of overcoming an opponent's inherent superior speed by applying the principles of the art. Ip Man taught that in Wing Chun, there are several types of speed. If you cannot overcome your opponent with one type of speed, you can beat him with another. In other words, if you can apply the Wing Chun theory of speed, you can actually become faster. In this regard, there are four areas of concern:
- Speed of Travelling: This is the type of speed that is normally referred to, that is, a punch or kick, and the speed which is calculated in meters per second. With consistent practice, one gradually improves the speed of their movement.
- Speed of Distance: Wing Chun straight-line theory states simply that a straight line between two points is the shortest distance.
Therefore, punching straight will always be the shorter and quicker route than that of a hook punch or a swing.
To perform a roundhouse kick to the head covers a greater distance than a shorter and quicker punch to the head. You do not see people trying to punch each other in the shin! Therefore it would be far more efficient to kick to the shin. To use an analogy: if you and I both stand in front of a building and have a race to the back door, you go around the Building while I go straight through the Building from the front to the back door, you may be the faster runner, but I would probably get there before you because I have less distance to cover.
- Speed of Readiness: From a resting standing position, when you try to throw a heavy punch or you try to kick with power, it is typical to pull back the arm or cock back the leg before performing the movement, this additional movement is referred to as chambering. This not only telegraphs the move, but this extra movement also wastes valuable time. In Wing Chun, the power is not generated just by the moving hand or leg, so there is no need to chamber. You use the other side of the body to pull back as he or she rotates to push out the punch or kick simultaneously. For example, if one is going to throw a left punch, you initiate power by pulling the right arm and < shoulder back as fast as he or she can, while punching with the left hand simultaneously.
- Speed of Reaction: In general, people spend most of their time practising their techniques in their forms alone until they are very good with all the techniques, but in actual combat the application is ineffective. This is like learning to ride a bicycle by sitting in a chair moving the legs and arms simulating the bicycle experience. When that person actually tries to ride on the bicycle, he or she will surely fall. This is because the proper reflexes and feeling of balance have not been developed.
Ip Man used to say if you want to learn to swim, go down to the water; don't just move your arms and legs and think that you are a swimmer. A fight requires at least two people. You can train and fight with yourself all day long, but unless you apply the techniques with another person, you will not get very far.