People take up martial arts for many reasons. Some to improve their health & fitness, some to learn how to defend themselves, some for increased sense of confidence and others simply for a pastime to immerse themselves in.
There are many martial art classes available in the UK. A lot of people think that these are only for the thought guys and require natural strength and power in order to be good at these arts. Classes tend to be dominated by men and it can be uncomfortable for ladies to join in such a group.
Wing Chun, as traditionally taught by Grandmaster Ip Man and his son Grandmaster Ip Chun, does not require any natural level of strength or power to be effective. In fact both of these masters are of small physical build and you would not know that they were high level martial artists by just looking at them.
An ordinary person, both male and female, can learn the Wing Chun skill and learn good techniques that are effective for self defense. Some people say that they only want to learn self defense techniques and not a martial art. One thing to bear in mind is that for self defense techniques to work they need to be practiced over a period of time to become automatic reactions. The Wing Chun system provides the framework to learn and “embed” specific techniques which can then be used for self defense should there ever be a need for it.
For ladies, studying Wing Chun does not only provide a very realistic prospect of learning an effective skill, but it is also very good to develop one’s self confidence. Everybody is faced with conflict and stress in their everyday life. It can be the kids pushing the boundaries and seeing what they can get away with, elderly or sick relatives that are struggling and need a lot of support, or colleagues or bosses at work that are pushy and encroach on work and career development. In all these situations, being prepared and having a strategy for dealing with the situation is an advantage in terms of one’s health and well being.
Wing Chun teaches how to remain calm when under pressure. This is done by practicing the first form of the system, Siu Lim Tao, which develops the strength in the legs. This in turn supports the kidneys and develops inner strength. Wing Chun also teaches how to avoid somebody else’s strength and eventually use it against themselves. This is invaluable in situations where someone has “a go at you” or “gets on your nerves”. The situation can be handled much more calmly, avoiding the “taking it personally” syndrome, helping to find a good outcome and reducing stress levels significantly.
A Wing Chun class typically starts with a set of warm up exercises, which loosen the waist, stretch the legs and release tension in the upper body. Next the whole class practices the first form Siu Lim Tao, followed by stepping exercises. After that the class is split into groups depending on what form each person is learning. Next the whole class practices applications, which are Wing Chun techniques to use in a range of different situations. The class finishes with the friendly partner’s game of “sticking hand” (Chi Sau), where the skills learnt so far are put in practice.
There is no need for physical training like punching bags or doing pushups. There is contact with others during Chi Sau, but that is low impact with “pretend attack” moves in order to develop defense techniques.
The system is not extensive or complicated to learn. There are three main forms, Siu Lim Tao, Tsum Kiu, and Biu Ji; two weapon forms Baat Jam Dao (Wing Chun short sword) and wooden pole; and several ways to practice on the wooden dummy (wooden structure representing an opponent). There are also a range of applications for use in both self defense situations and during Chi Sau. Learning the detail of the movements and doing these exercises well and accurately is what makes Wing Chun effective.
Ladies are very welcome to join the Hexham class, taught by a lady, to find out more about this special skill.