In Wing Chun, health is important (even though, you probably study it to learn how to take away someone else’s health). There are at least seven areas where Wing Chun has a positive affect on your mental, emotional or physical well being.
What’s more, results from a study in the International Journal of Sports Medicinesuggests that Wing Chun offers a more robust cardio workout than Tai Chi. And a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that a group of middle aged martial artists (40 - 60 year olds) had more muscle endurance and strength, and less body fat than the control group matched for the same age and sex!
These studies are great for geeky scientists in laboratories… but how about in real life for people like you and me?
1. Fitness: At my school one student quit smoking, another lost almost 100 pounds (45 kilos) in the year he trained with us, and I lost weight and lowered my blood pressure by practicing Wing Chun.
Naturally, the level of fitness you achieve depends on your motivation and goals. The student who lost almost 100 pounds (45 kilos) worked out after kung fu class and watched his diet carefully. All of this added together with Wing Chun led to his amazing results.
When asked about our transformation, each one of us admit that it's thanks to Wing Chun that we decided to take action and make positive changes to our health.
2. Better Coordination: One of the great things about Wing Chun is that we train both sides of our bodies (the left and right sides). Better still is the fact that Wing Chun, and kung fu in general, trains you to use fine motor skill to fight (this is especially true at the advanced Wing Chun stages). For example, it takes a lot of coordination to attack using a finger jab or simultaneously block, strike and kick at the same time.
3. Builds Internal Energy and Wellness: Most people have heard how Tai Chi and its slow forms are good for your health and helps develop internal “Qi” power. There are dozens of medical studies that support this.
Well, if you do your Wing Chun forms slowly and deliberately, like Tai Chi forms, you’ll get many of the same benefits. I get a similar workout doing my Wing Chun forms, slowly, as I do when I practice Tai Chi. What’s nice about using Wing Chun forms is you can workout in a small area, like a corner of your bedroom or hotel room if you’re traveling.
In addition some Wing Chun schools teach basic Chinese medicine to the very advanced or “Provisional Sifus”. This way they have some ability to help heal minor injuries and ailments. See how to use Dit Da Jow to heal bruises.
4. Relieves Stress: Getting a good workout, especially a cardio workout helps purge the stress. And it’s good for the heart too. Plus, training Wing Chun forces you to focus on the here and now, not on your problems.
For instance, if someone is throwing a kick or punch at you, you don’t have time to worry about the parking ticket you just got or the pile of paper work sitting on your desk at work.
Getting rid of stress has really helped me clear my mind and allows me to do better work in my job.
And I’m not alone… the Oscar-nominated actor Robert Downy Jr. credits Wing Chun to helping him relaunch his career, break his drug habit and get his life back together.
5. Better Reflexes: In Wing Chun we train both contact (chi sau) reflexes and visual reflexes. This training also improves our muscle memory. Which is when your body makes the right moves on it’s own. It’s almost like Spider-Man’s spider-sense.
I’ve had many experiences where I’ve caught something falling off a table or counter, in mid-fall, without even thinking about it. And on more than one occasion I’ve ducked my head just before smacking it on a low hanging ledge or shelf, you know, one of those low ledges that everyone else walks into. My body just “knew” it was there and “knew” what to do.
6. Improves eye focusing: When you’re not in contact range you have to rely on visual reflexes (your eyes) to keep you safe and a threat to your opponent.
In the West we pay little attention to eye health. In Chinese schools, on the other hand, exercising the eyes during school is part of the daily routine. In my kwoon we exercise the eyes during our warm up.
I’ve noticed that the eye exercises are beneficial to me especially since I work on a computer most of the day.
7. Improves speed and power: Wing Chun is well known for its speed. And when you train correctly you learn to back up the speed with explosive power.
This is good for your overall health because you want to have ”reserves” available in an instant.
In other words, you don’t want to be so well tuned that you’re always cruising around at maximum efficiency. Think of it like your car.
You’re cruising down the highway when a car crash happens next to you. In a case like this you need to hit the gas pedal and jump out of harm’s way. If your car doesn’t have “spare capacity”, or extra power in reserve, you’re going to sit there and get crushed.
Your health works in the same way. You need extra capacity to deal with physical, emotional or mental shocks. There are too many stories where someone suffered a heart attack because of emotional or mental distress, not a physical one.
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