Improving Close Range Fighting Skills: The practice of the third form
Within the martial arts systems there are many that focus on fighting at extreme close range. In fact, the majority of different cultures around the world have their own particular histories that relate to the practice of close quarter martial arts combat. Variations in close quater fighting include martial arts such as: Muay Thai, Wrestling, boxing, Jujitsu, and of course the infamous Wing Chun Kung Fu fighting system. Among the many different close quarter martial arts styles that do not include ground fighting in their arsenal, the Wing Chun martial arts system is perhaps the only system of fighting that specialises solely in fighting at close range.
The ideal fighting distance for a Wing Chun practitioner will always be at fist, elbow and knee distance. Although there is less emphasis on kicking within the system, kicks are often used in combination with hand attacks at close range. Wing Chun kicks are also used when the attacker is at a distance in order to shorten or close the distance between the practitioner and the attacker. A classic example is the use of the Dim Gerk (forward front kick) which can be considered a long range weapon, but is it is used to skilfully close the gap between the attacker and the Wing Chun fighter during a fight. One aspect of Wing Chun fighting is to concentrate on "Open Entry Techniques", in other words, simply getting past the attacker's defences at distance. Think of this as simply closing the distance in order to bring the Wing Chun fighter into close striking range where the most dangerous (and effective) weapons such as elbows and knees can be used with great effect.
Wing Chun students constantly train the skill of closing or jamming an attacker's long range technique in order to force the fight in to a range that favours the Wing Chun martial art. For example, a long martial arts kick can be jammed or intercepted before the leg has a chance to reach full extension, or even before it develops full power from range. Furthermore, a long range or high kick can also be exploited when the leg is being withdrawn. During this stage of kicking Wing Chun students are taught to rush in and jam the attacker, with quick footwork that often involves circling and change in leg stance. Hence, good footwork is important to the Wing Chun fighter! The most famous maxim of Wing Chun is "Greet what arrives, escort what leaves and rush upon loss of contact" this saying emphasises the close quarter fighting aspect (and stick-to-your-opponent approach) of Wing Chun close range to fighting.
The Wing Chun fighting system has an excellent reputation as a martial arts style suitable for smaller or shorter people because the disadvantage of reach as a result of height are negated. Put simply, at close range a smaller person can reach and strike just as effectively as a tall person. Although, if a stronger or taller person were to learn Wing Chun effectively they would be extremely dangerous at close range as well. All things being equal, for example speed and skill, then the natural advantages of the fighter will be the telling factor between two evenly matched Wing Chun fighters.
Despite this, the Wing Chun system is ideal for smaller persons because they will always have the ability to generate a great deal of power over a short distance (or range). Compared to a longer-limbed fighter who would struggle to strike effectively over at the same close distance if not trained in Wing Chun. Effectively, a long range fighter would be overcrowded and unable to extend their strikes and kicks fully in order to generate power.
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