The Chain Punch (also known as a Battle Punch) is a common characteristic of the Wing Chun martial arts system. Yet, the question remains as to how effective this style of punching is for self defence.
A common saying in Wing Chun is to “hit from where the hands lie”. This literally directs a Wing Chun practitioner to punch in a direct manner without withdrawing the fist. In this sense, the punch moves directly while efficiently and this is consistent with the theory of economy of motion in Wing Chun. Yet the drawback of this type of movement is that you have to accelerate the fist over a short distance to engage power. This differs from situations when ordinary people punch. In these instances, the unskilled fighter tends to drop their hand, swing their fist, while rotating the body to make a haymaker punch. In comparison this may appear more powerful, but there is a risk or exposure to a counter punch or your personal space being compromised.
Chain Punch is Used to Preserve Personal Space
Hand movements in Wing Chun often function to fill the void between an attacker and the Wing Chun practitioner (e.g. see the end of the first form). This is also a vital concept that shapes the circular characteristic of the Chain Punch in Wing Chun. In practice, the punching arm retracts, drops slightly, and is replaced by another punch. Since the replacement is derived from Wu Sao the punch is not fully retracting, but filling the space between the two arms. When this action is repeated it becomes a cyclone motion making it difficult for an attacker to close the distance, thereby protecting your personal space in self defence.
As mentioned earlier, the cyclic motion of replacing one hand with another hand protects the space between you and the attacker. Protecting your personal space in this manner is perfect for self defence. To do so you must simultaneously pull one hand back and replace it with another hand without exposing your personal space. At no point do you pull the hand back to expose the space as when a boxer, kick boxer or mixed martial artist throws a jab.
How Chain Punches Differ From Boxing
When a boxer throws a jab, the punch retracts very quickly back to a guard, allowing the space for a cross to follow. In a similar fashion, the chain punch replaces, but in a quicker more direct manner. However, Wing Chun punches are never over extended, because overextension leads to reaching across a long distance. Wing Chun is meant for close quarter combat or conversational range, as found in a street, its design is meant for this situation unlike a jab which is used to cover distance of a boxing ring as the fighter moves forward.
Overall, an important aspect of Chain Punching is that it is infinitive. It continues until you deem it necessary to stop. There is no specific rhythm such as jab, jab, cross or jab, jab, cross, uppercut. It is simply a continuous rain of punches that is ideal for self defence. Hence, why the London Wing Chun Academy favour practicing punches in odd numbers rather than even numbers because it is less predictable. We train our students to punch well, hard, and effectively in self defence.
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