Have you sparred with others in your martial arts school and seem to be outclassed in in speed, kicking abilities, and sheer strength? It doesn’t have to be a contest in athleticism. Everybody has natural gifts. Some people are fast. Some have explosive speed. Some can jump higher than others. Some spend a great deal of time lifting weights.

It is often unrealistic to consider beating a gifted individual at their own game. Smart instructors will suggest that you do not “play their game.” Their game is usually a way to mesmerize you with techniques that always work for them. The solution is to play your own game. The question that arises then is, What IS your game?

Wing Tsun kungfu has a completely different approach. Legend says it was developed by a woman who was getting older and being outclassed in these areas. Being able to defend herself was getting increasingly important. Instead of hoping to get as strong as her potential attackers and just as fast, she sought to beat their game by shortening the distance of her own attacking strikes, punches, and kicks.

Instead of just fast hands or fast feet, the shorter distance is one of the solutions. The motto, “Start later, arrive first” is the descriptive wording for this. You can increase speed further by reducing the number of movements in defending which Wing Tsun does. The first step is to counter and strike at the SAME time. Instead of block, punch, and punch, (three movements) Wing Tsun defends and punches simultaneously, and the second technique is the second punch (two movements). Instead of greater strength, using explosive, shocking power, and striking to ever more delicate areas of the body is the solution. Instead of strength against strength, yielding in a way that uses an attacker’s strength against them is the solution for attacks by a stronger individual. Instead of concerns about getting hit with a kick to the head, move in close and punch the head! On offense, using your kicks to the legs of your attacker is just as effective and faster too! The rub is, some of these methods cannot be used in a typical school sparring match. Never fear, Wing Tsun has its own methods of controlling strikes and kicks in fighting practice but the targets are forever effective, painful, injurious, and will stop an attacker, period. The targets will seriously hurt or kill. Wing Tsun is self-defense, nothing less.

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg