As most Wing Chun practitioners know, the art was created by a woman. The Buddhist nun, Ng Mui, who escaped the burning of the Shaolin Temple nearly 300 years ago. That being the case, many people might wonder what value a martial art designed by a woman would have for men.
It is said Wing Chun was developed based on the movements of a snake and a crane in order to develop a style of fighting that would allow her to win against a bigger, stronger attacker.
In her case, Ng Mui taught her new martial art style to a young woman named, Yim Wing Chun (hence the art is now called Wing Chun), who used it to protect herself against a local warlord whose interest she captured, leading to a forced marriage proposal.
I studied Wing Chun for a while when I was in university simultaneous to my Can-ryu Jiu-Jitsu training.
It had many of the same principles in common with what I learned in Jiu-jitsu. Principles that make it effective for self-defense, regardless of gender or physical size or strength.
These include simplicity, economy of motion, emphasis on attacking vulnerable areas (the center line in particular), simultaneous attack and defense, and synchronicity of movement in the body, to name a few.
It really doesn't matter that the foundations of the style were designed for a woman. All these principles can be learned and applied effectively by anyone to give themselves an advantage over their attacker.
More often than not, both men and women are attacked by assailants who are larger than them, mostly because of the natural perception that the attacker would more easily be able to overcome any defense their victim might mount.
It only makes good sense to learn a system of self-defense that takes this into account. Hence the practicality of Wing Chun.
As far as sound self-defense goes, in general, if the concepts behind a system are designed to overcome size and strength advantages, it is useful in that context for anyone regardless of gender. So if your goal is self-defense, Wing Chun is a great art.
The concepts of simplicity and economy of motion are two of the foundations behind the self-defense techniques in my new book, When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-jitsu Strategies & Tactics for Self-Defense.
The goal of the book is to provide a ground defense system that keeps the potential dangers of ground encounters on the street in mind, and is practical for use by both men and women of various sizes and strength levels. In this sense, it is like Wing Chun for the ground.
Lori O'Connell is a 5th degree black belt,
and the owner and head instructor of
Pacific Wave Jiu-jitsu, and the author of the book and accompanying DVD, When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-jitsu Strategies & Tactics for Self-Defense