I KNOW YOU FEEL IT. YOU FEEL IT BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT LIKE THEM. UNLIKE THEM, YOU KNOW THERE’S MORE. EVERYTHING TELLS YOU THIS ENTIRE THING IS MEANT TO BE MORE. EVERY DRILL, EVERY PRACTICE, AND EVERY SITUATION YOU’VE BEEN IN AND EVERY CONCEPT HAS LED YOU HERE.
This is Wing Chun. The art that means so many different things to so many different people. And still, although its full definition will always remain elusive, it makes no apologies for being different… for being the round peg in the square hole… for attracting the rebels and those who see things differently.
While the conformists and small-minded label this art as traditional or classical, we see Wing Chun as anything but classical. Whether traditionalists or contemporary martial artists are placing these labels upon us, is irrelevant. The result remains the same. We aren’t fond of being bound by labels. To us, labels are just other people’s ideas placed upon us to divide us, to hold us back and deny all that Wing Chun was meant to be and what it can achieve within us.
Now make no mistake. The issue isn’t with tradition itself. In fact, tradition has no limitations. Tradition makes us stronger and gives us a foundation on which to build. This is why it must always be valued, respected and appreciated. But tradition which holds us back? That is the issue.
The reality is it isn’t a lack of respect in tradition that is killing Wing Chun—it is a lack of trust in natural evolution.
The Objective of Wing Chun
The general objective of Wing Chun should remain the same. Simplicity, directness and efficiency can’t go by the wayside in favour of something else. We always have to remember that the most direct and most efficient action is to simply attack the centre. This can’t change. Dominating their centreline cannot ever be forgotten. These are the delineating factors, which help keep the art definitively Wing Chun.
This is the foundation, but there’s more. The foundation can’t limit us. The foundation must be the most prioritised focus, but it’s only a third of the equation.
Limiting Beliefs of Traditionalists
However, there are several limiting beliefs, which traditionalists hold that can’t be just glossed over. Many traditionalists obsess over unrealistic perfection. If you focus so much of your attention upon trying to get things perfect, you will miss obvious things right in front of you. Following the rules to “do it exactly right” can make you miss the entire point of what the rules, principles and concepts were designed to accomplish.
Right in line with this obsession with perfection, is the overthinking that comes with it. Traditionalists over-analyse things to the point of getting stuck inside the box. Because perfect will never come, moving outside the box is never an option. And to avoid possible failure, there is a collective avoidance of taking on challenges, which help them grow outside their comfort zone. This avoidance shows in a general lack of alive pressure testing within traditional martial arts. The fear of failure alive sparring creates is simply too uncomfortable to take on.
Wing Chun was designed for limitless evolution. It was never meant to create limitations. Wing Chun was never meant to be packaged fully in a box and preserved for safekeeping. Its contents were meant to be overflowing with possibilities and opportunities, which simply don’t fit neatly into the box.
Rules? Rules develop the foundations required to become proficient. They are very much needed when you’re trying to learn how to colour inside the lines perfectly. However, if greatness is the goal, at some point rules, must be broken, bent, and looked beyond.
Wing Chun is not about dead patterns or preserving history. It’s about seeking more. In fact, we believe this entire art is about freeing ourselves from our limiting beliefs and seeking more, venturing outside of our personal comfort zones.
Limiting Beliefs of Uneducated Modern Martial Artists
Beliefs of many contemporary martial artists that have written off Wing Chun as too traditional to deal with modern threats are both right and wrong. On the one hand, when Wing Chun practitioners cannot publicly dominate others when paired up against other martial artists, natural questions about the art will arise. Although the art was designed for self-defence, the ability to dominate other martial arts is an uncompromising requirement of Wing Chun practitioners.
On the other hand, the idea that Wing Chun is an antiquated art, which has no place in the modern world of fighting, is silly. This belief is very popular and is held by a good majority of martial artists today, some even high level in their respective arts.
The purpose of Wing Chun is effectiveness, first and foremost. Make no mistake, Wing Chun works against everyone. Its effectiveness isn’t debatable.
It works when the traditional rules of “inside the box” training are integrated with the natural evolution of “outside the box” thinking.
It works when rules are followed so well that freedom becomes possible.
It works when people understand there is no quick fix for developing honest skill. When people accept that there’s no way around hard work. And when we don’t simply innovate for innovation’s sake.
It works when we stay true to Wing Chun’s purpose while not being afraid to look outside the rules for possibilities.
It works when an immediate application for today becomes just as important as investing time-developing tools to better handle things in the future.
It works when this balance becomes a reality. It is this skill that masterful Wing Chun practitioners must have, which is nothing short of amazing. This is the Yin and Yang of investing in development for perfection in the future and immediate function for application in the present. There’s nothing easy about walking a line of tradition and application. It’s much easier to be one or the other.
It works when you understand that the path to no limitations lies within balance. No limitations in any aspect of our lives. Living life without fear, without hesitation, with the full confidence we can both protect our families and ourselves. That we can approach life knowing that we have limitless potential.
Wing Chun works when broken free of the labels both traditionalists and “modern-day” martial artists place on the art. It is when practitioners are given the freedom to develop their skill “outside of the box” when they can work with both the Yin and Yang, that Wing Chun becomes truly limitless.