Developing a strong centreline and quick, powerful chain punching is not enough. To overwhelm in this way may work on opponents of equivalent size. Against larger, skilled opponents, the path to success is not to meet their force head on, but to dissipate and redirect their force.

All things being equal, aggressive Wing Chun chain punches backed up with a strong centreline, will win many encounters. But things are rarely equal in a real situation. When your opponent has similar skills but has greater size and strength, you will find yourself hitting a brick wall. To make matters worse, they may be able to absorb some of your attacks and produce a single telling blow in return.

Wing Chun practitioners often forget where the ‘soft’ techniques need to come in

Barry Pang

In this 2-minute excerpt from a recent lecture, Sifu Barry Pang explains that meeting a stronger opponent head on is a bad idea. When training in Hong Kong in the 1970s, he recalls the locals in the group being very aware and concerned about western fighters often being extremely large and powerful. They knew that dominating with aggressive, core Wing Chun techniques was not a catch-all solution. Consider the boxing world at that time. Mohammad Ali was 1.91m tall and 107kg. This is an enormous advantage over martial artists of Bruce Lee’s size.

Soft techniques

Barry also explained that Grandmaster Ip Man was not a large man (around 1.63m or 5’4” tall), yet he was untouchable in his fighting prowess. This indicates that he must have been doing something other than charging straight at his opponents. He must have been drawing upon the ‘soft’ techniques within Wing Chun. For example, the pivot in Chum Kil, which he trained for 3 years. Or the simple wrist rotation that appears early in the wooden dummy form.

Small movements

Applied in fighting, these rotational movements are heavily abbreviated. Paired with Chi Sao arm sensitivity they become subtle, rotational movements that can throw stronger opponents off balance and use their force against them. A 180 degree pivot during practice becomes a 10 degree movement.

In Wing Chun’s sister style, Lung Ying, there are similar forearm and wrist movements. Subtle, curling techniques, backed up with deep but flexible stance work extract great power whilst unbalancing opponents.

Size matters

In summary, size does matter. Aggressive centreline chain punching works up to a point. The ability to dissipate and redirect is essential. Wing Chun and Lung Ying offer the tools to do this. Practice them and develop your arm sensitivity through Chi Sao, Tui Sao and other methods.

See also