Wing Chun – The Art of Efficiency

wing chun the art of efficiency

Why everything Wing Chun does is meant to help the practitioner become more efficient

I realize most people don’t get it. When it comes to Wing Chun, what most martial artists have seen, or maybe even experienced, often doesn’t do the art justice… at least not the art of Wing Chun as I know it.

It’s taken me close-to 24 years since I began practicing the art to put to paper what I’m about to say in this article. My objective here is to help people to look at Wing Chun through my eyes and see how it can help you become more efficient in not only your physical movements, but also your overall mindset.

Let’s start with why I am calling Wing Chun the art of efficiency. Isn’t efficiency another word for effectiveness? Aren’t there more effective martial arts than Wing Chun? These are the questions we’ll attempt to answer in this article.

First, let’s define what efficiency means. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word efficient is defined as “productive of desired effects, especially capable of producing desired results with little or no waste of time or energy.”

The Purpose of Wing Chun

Although there are many concepts within the art of Wing Chun and different types of practices, the main purpose of Wing Chun is to help its practitioners become increasingly more efficient. In fact, you could argue that efficiency is the number one concept of Wing Chun and that every single other concept either derives from or revolves around the goal of becoming more and more efficient.

Ip Man’s Written History of Wing Chun

This purpose is seen in Wing Chun history as passed down from Ip Man. Ip Man wrote that the art was originally taught by a Shaolin nun to a teenage girl in order to take on a larger stronger man who threatened and bullied her in an attempt to marry him. He tried to use “force” on her, but the girl was able to defend herself against the much larger man by being more efficient in her movements. This meant that her responses to his force did not take his pressure head on. As a smaller and weaker girl, she couldn’t stand up to him head to head. So instead, she used his force against him. She used yielding and deflection coupled with direct, precise attacks to beat his power. She employed simultaneous attack and defense to beat his speed. And she immediately closed the gap into close-quarters and moved inside the arch of his force where her shorter arms could attack. Yet all of her movements were simple. Nothing fancy, just efficient.

You see? Everything she did to beat him was based upon efficiency. Not speed. Not power. She wasn’t trying to compete with him in some sporting match. She had nothing to prove. This was pure self-defense. All she was doing was trying to defend herself and make him leave her alone!

This story is the epitome of Wing Chun. The entire art is aimed at giving the smaller, weaker person the ability to legitimately defend themselves against bigger stronger people.

Wing Chun Skeptics

So why do some people lack faith in the effectiveness of Wing Chun? Because for the most part, Wing Chun is not used in competition or MMA. Those few that have tried Wing Chun in competition, naturally aren’t as effective as other competition-based martial arts.

This is because the purpose of Wing Chun is self-defense… simple, direct and practical self-defense. Its purpose is not meant, nor was it designed for, sports competition. Incorrectly, many MMA and UFC enthusiasts judge Wing Chun and other self-defense specific martial arts by their effectiveness within competition. This is like judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree. Self-defense and combat sports are like apples and oranges.

In fact, Wing Chun teaches you how to NOT go head to head. It teaches you how to become less competitive, less aggressive and calmer. This is why participating in competitions such as MMA or other sports matches is completely contrary to the purpose of Wing Chun and would therefore warp the entire premise of the art. Instead, Wing Chun shows you how to flow and harmonize with your opponent instead of aggressively, competing with them. It teaches you how to calm your nerves under pressure and focus solely upon being in the moment.

It teaches you to question the entire premise of competition. Why compete in someone else’s struggle when you can learn how to not compete and learn to transcend the need to compete at all?  

So back to one of the original questions… are there more effective martial arts than Wing Chun? It really comes down to the goal we are looking to achieve. Since the goal of Wing Chun is self-defense, rather than a sports competition, I honestly can’t think of any other martial arts more effective at that job. Everything Wing Chun does is geared toward improving your ability to be as efficient as possible during a conflict.

And to those MMA and UFC fans who still wish to put Wing Chun down? Here’s some facts about the efficiency of Wing Chun in contrast to other martial arts which you can’t ignore. Wing Chun integrates striking and grappling much more efficiently than Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It pressurizes and fosters a constant forward pressure and attack-based mentality light years beyond Muay Thai. It flows in between movements more fluidly and effortlessly than boxing. And it moves smaller than most other types of kung fu and other martial arts.  

Wing Chun teaches you simplicity. In fact, simplicity is the foundation of efficiency. It teaches you to appreciate the noble art of getting things done. But also to equally appreciate the noble art of leaving things undone. The true wisdom of Wing Chun is in the elimination of the non-essentials.

Take Bruce Lee for example. Even after creating his own martial art of Jeet Kune Do, the nuts and bolts of which were all Wing Chun principles. One could easily make a substantial argument that Bruce Lee never strayed from Wing Chun nor its principles. It could be said that he simply took Wing Chun beyond perceived limitations and called in Jeet Kune Do.

So, from my experience, this is how I see Wing Chun and how I know it can help you become more efficient. And this is why I call Wing Chun the art of efficiency.