Functional Fitness for Wing Chun: Why press ups are important
Of course it is important to warm up properly for any training session at the gym. A Wing Chun class is no different, but should your warm up be specifically related to Wing Chun or should it be functional for self defence?
Although, we believe that a warm up for a Wing Chun class should be short, it should also be practical in order to build the basics of functional strength, fitness, and conditioning for self defence. A warm up in a typical martial arts or boxing class should be simple, lasting around 10 to 15 minute, but focused on developing functionality for combat.
The classes in our gym typically start with a brief agility exercise that encourages the student to think and move under pressure. This is typically followed by our favoured range of core exercises. However, the key exercise is the press up. The most important thing in performing a press up is that you are simulating the way that we move for punching in Wing Chun.
Why is the Press Up Important for Self Defence?
Most functional movement in a self defence confrontation will either rely on a pushing or pulling action. If you consider that punching is simply an extension of the arm, then the press up is an ideal exercise to improve your ability to extend your arm. This is especially true for the Wing Chun punch since it relies on a structure in which the wrist and elbow are aligned to the shoulder. This puts a greater emphasis on the triceps.
When we coach our athletes we try to develop their triceps along the same plane and movement of a centre line Wing Chun punch or a palm strike. We often vary the hand position to different angles and different locations (on the floor) because it promotes an unbalanced way of pushing the body. This is more functional and realistic for self defence.
If someone is attacking you, your hands are not likely to be in an even balance as in a bench press at you local gym. In fact, your arms are more like in an uneven position perhaps with one hand low and the other high. In our gym, our students and combat athletes train skills in which pressing is a natural movement and similar to defending yourself.
It is important to practice differing variations of a press up to develop stronger functional patterns of movement for Wing Chun. One useful variation is the 'Plyometric Push Up' which relies on fast explosive movement, while another is the slow movement press. Both variations encourage you to control your own body weight. This is essential if somebody is pushing or moving you around.
Press Ups are important for a Wing Chun because of the close quarter range of fighting required. Often in Wing Chun your arms will not be extended, and therefore there is some reliance on controlling a certain amount of weight through the triceps in your arms. In this sense you need to know how to control another person's body weight. So in essence, to control another person’s body weight, you need to control yours. Hence, the emphasis of moving slowly through different ranges of movement in the press up is to develop strength. Strength is very different to muscularity.
Overall, the warm up in a normal Wing Chun, kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Bjj), or Boxing class should be simple and not over work the athlete to the point that they cannot train or focus. The idea is to warm up very gently, and to encourage the athlete to think while physically distracted. Regardless of whether you practice Wing Chun, Kickboxing, or Bjj, there is a requirement in real combat to act under pressure. Make sure your physical training allows for this.
The London Wing Chun Academy is a martial arts and functional fitness gym based in North London. Open 7 days a week with gym and functional fitness equipment. Our gym provides group fitness and martial arts classes in Wing Chun, San Shou Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, WC4 Self Defence, Yoga, Functional Fitness, and non contact Fitness kick Boxing. Membership starts from £25 per month. Visit our gym today for a taster class. Get Started Now >>