This article is a small part of a far larger effort by The MMA UnderGround to understand what works in martial arts. The focus is not looking at what happens in competitions in the arena, but rather, by looking at what happens on the street. If you enjoyed it, check out more stories on:
•Martial Arts on The Street
•Chinese Martial Arts
Wing Chun and other Chinese martial arts have always been a bit of a mystery in the combat arts world. Upon first glance, they don't seem to have the most effective training and the techniques don't seem to evolve. Occasionally though, some evidence surfaces that makes you think again about the effectiveness of old-world martial arts.
The following video is an example of that kind of evidence. In the footage, Sifu Li was teaching his students outdoors one evening, when a drunk 22-year-old street punk approached, challenged him, and then jumped the old fella.
It is unable to confirm the description as to how the conflict began, because when the video starts, the physical confrontation is already in progress. What's clear is that the altercation is more along the lines of attitude adjustment than a full-blown, life-threatening, self-defense situation. The sifu was using grappling and open hand strikes. If he had chosen to, he could have used closed fist attacks, or even eye attacks.
Sifu slaps the far younger opponent a few times, then throws him to the ground where he attempts to restrain him, first by grabbing his throat, and then by trying to pin him down with his foot. Obviously, neither of these techniques are effective; the troublemaker is able to get back to his feet easily.
It looks as if the confrontation is over, and one of sifu's students attempts to hand him back his glasses, but it starts back up again. The old man once again smacks the punk open handed a few more times then grabs his arm in a throw attempt that turns into an arm lock, then kicks him over like he's nothing. It's pretty amazing to watch the Chinese AARP member completely control the much younger man with martial arts training.
One of the benefits of Chinese martial arts is they are typically much easier on the body compared to Muay Thai or jiu-jitsu. For older people, it might be a better avenue to train in kung fu as a means of softer self-defense training.
That said, the video illustrates both the depth and the shortcomings of most Chinese martial arts. One aspect of CMA that is not widely appreciated is the degree to which throwing can be a central, or even the central element of the art. For example, this is demonstration of Shuai Jiao, an ancient jacketed wrestling style.
And Shuai Jiao is not some anomaly. Other Chinese wrestling arts include Baoding, Manchu Buku, Shanxi, Tianjin, and Zhili, among many others. And of course the modern Chinese Martial Arts competition Sanda has a massively developed throwing component. Among MMA enthusiasts, it's probably the least appreciated martial art.
What's less developed in most Chinese Martial Arts systems is the ground fighting, and the lack of pinning ability was evident. However, the appropriate focus for a mixed martial arts devotee is not to ask which martial arts is best (and therefore which are worst). Instead, the useful question is to ask is what is good about any given martial art. That fosters growth and respect, two qualities the world always needs.