Does Wing Chun Compare to Mixed Martial Arts?

Wing Chun and Mixed Martial Arts

Wing Chun is not a combat sport style of martial art. Wing Chun is a simple style of Self Defence for the ordinary person against the ordinary person.

Wing Chun is not a sport based style of martial art. Wing Chun is a simple style of Self Defence for the ordinary person against the ordinary person. It is a fighting art based around a strategy of combat that relies on the concept of efficiency. The idea is to train direct and efficient actions that work on the majority of people in the majority of situations. Although, this strategy could be applied to any style of fighting, it just so happens to be a Kung Fu style of martial art that focuses on solely this approach.

In theory certain aspects of this strategy could be applied in an MMA arena. However, Wing Chun is bound by concepts that exhibit characteristics that may not translate well against a mobile or athletic individual in a boxing ring or MMA cage. One characteristic of Wing Chun that appears to suffer is mobility and evasiveness. Traditionally, in self defence the mindset of Wing Chun practitioners is to hold ground in order to attack directly with forward intention. While this is ideal for self defence confrontations, it does not translate well to the game of timing and candence required for combat sports such as Mixed Martial Arts.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a modern sporting phenomena that is fast replacing boxing as a spectator sport. It comprises of a number of different martial arts: Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In this light, people often neglect any other martial art style that is not one of these component styles assuming that it is not functional for real fighting or self defence. Understandably, this criticism often includes Wing Chun. Perhaps, this misconception is attributed to the characteristics of Wing Chun or its esoteric training techniques? Nevertheless, this criticism can easily be addressed and overcome.

Here at the London Wing Chun Academy we believe that some of the concepts of Wing Chun can cross over to live fighting situations where ‘aliveness’ is necessary (e.g. San Da Kickboxing). This is why we have produced a number of short clips on YouTube to address which aspects of Wing Chun could be adapted to a live sparring situation. These clips have been met with a mixed reaction, but remain very popular with viewers. One clip titled ‘Wing Chun vs Boxing’ has over one million views.

Our videos are not about pitting Wing Chun against boxing to see which is the ultimate. Instead the idea is based on the notion that boxing is a good bench mark to measure Wing Chun or any other martial art. That is, Wing Chun should compare to a certain extent. However, the comparison should be in the state of natural aliveness, which reflects timing and cadence of movement, and not martial arts techniques (see example below).

In this view, we have adopted the term ‘aliveness’ because it refers to the ability to move quite fluidly, with timing in an alert manner. We reject stiffness for the sake of martial arts style, but instead embrace the notion of natural, alert and responsive movement in a clear efficient manner according to the core principles of Wing Chun. Other styles of martial arts have a sense of alertness and aliveness that we believe should be used as a benchmark to examine and re-examine your own art of fighting. The point of drawing the comparisons is not to say “our art is better” but to say “How do we improve how we move and fight against an extra-ordinary person”. All styles of martial arts, fighting, boxing and mixed martial arts rely on timing, so why should Wing Chun be any different?

People are attracted to MMA because of the immediacy of it. A punch is a punch, a kick is a kick, and a choke is a choke. In Wing Chun, though the end result may be similar, there is a whole thought process and philosophy behind a specific action or movement. For us as Wing Chun practitioners, it comes back to the concepts of controlling space, moving efficiently and direct action. Yet, Wing Chun is not intended nor designed for Mixed Martial Arts or competitive fighting, it is simply the science of close quater fighting. However, at a high level of practice, all martial arts have more similarities than dissimilarities, and this includes Wing Chun.



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 ChunSan Shou KickboxingBrazilian Jiu JitsuWC4 Self DefenceYogaFunctional Fitness, and non contact Fitness kick BoxingMembership starts from £25 per month. Visit our gym today for a taster class. Get Started Now >>

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