Commercialisation and the death of Wing Chun
1. Wing Chun: the huge gold mine
Ever since Bruce Lee introduced Wing Chun to the world, the popularity of this martial art has spread like fire. Spreading from the central of Wing Chun, Hong Kong, to Vietnam, Russia, Germany and all the way to the US, people around the globe cannot just stop crazy for this practical and effective fighting "style". Wing Chun has huge advantage in terms of commercialisation, and there are three reasons for this.
Firstly, it is fast to learn, and sifu can easily blind the students with simple and instant fighting formula. In Hong Kong and mainland China, it is not hard to find an intensive and short Wing Chun course. Tourists coming to these places just love to try the experience, and most of the time, they are fascinated by this practical and seen-to-be simple martial art.
Secondly, Wing Chun techniques are cool. Almost everyone is hooked by the performance of a Wing Chun sifu doing the eye-covered chi sao. Additionally, the unique concept of fighting by feeling, instead of focusing on eyesight, is interesting. In fact, it is not hard to practise in order to show off these skills. (To show off to people who know nothing about martial art is easy, to apply it to real fighting is difficult. That's why they call it "kung fu"- a skill that is achieved only by hard work and practice.)
Finally, Wing Chun masters can make easy money, because 99.9% don't know what authentic Wing Chun is and how it should be. Practising a martial art is very similar to practising a religion. It is vague, and there is no absolute right or wrong way to do it. People say we can settle it by fighting, but I don't think it can solve any problems. Today, this Wing Chun style won and claimed they were the authentic ones. But tomorrow, another Wing Chun style will win and try to claim they must be the true disciples. It is hard to determine which one is the "authentic" as there are no standard, no measures nor evidence. One Wing Chun master can easily posted in front of his house "Authentic Wing Chun" to recruit practitioners.
2. Commercialisation = practicality
In the Western world, where logical thinking rules, Eastern culture can be very challenging to understand. Westerners prefer directness and practicality, thus boxing and mixed martial arts are born. When the Europeans came to China, they did not understand why martial art practitioners must stand for hours (horse stance) to practise what they call "kung fu". Why just don't learn how to punch in the face in the first martial art lessons?
Wing Chun has this "punch in the face" value, that is blindly pursued by those who want practicality. Over time, somehow, this "practical" value has become the Unique Selling Point of Wing Chun, luring huge fans. However, to any real Wing Chun practitioners who are lucky to know what real Wing Chun is, practicality in Wing Chun should not be the ultimate goal to pursue, and that those advertised Wing Chun classes are completely bullshit. Seriously, if anyone needs an instant self-defence class within 4 weeks, learn boxing, which is a hundred times much more effective to practise in a short period.
True Wing Chun master aims at art. Bad Wing Chun master teaches you how to fight. Learning true Wing Chun, self-defence will be a piece of cake for you (but note that it can't be fast). Learning bad Wing Chun, self-defence to you becomes an imaginative movie-like illusion, which you can never use to fight.
3. 90% Wing Chun practitioners cannot fight
What a contradict to what I just said above, isn't it? Yes, it is true. Despite true Wing Chun not focusing ultimately on fighting, fight-ability should be an important measure. I have seen many practitioners practising for years the Siu Lim Tao or Biu Tze or even chi sao. They have mastered those techniques and exercise to a completely robot-like level. However, when put in the fighting context, they become confusing. All the forms are gone. All chi sao is lost. What left is the center line punches, which quickly deform into street-fighting punches of those who have not practised martial arts. I believe to achieve the ultimate art of Wing Chun, fighting skill is a must. Without fight-ability, the art level cannot be achieved.
The 90% figure that Wing Chun practitioners cannot fight is a unsupported claim. It is true, I admit. By saying "cannot fight", I refer to the confidence and ability to solve a brawling situation one-on-one. While some classes over-estimate the practicality of some "instant fighting formulas", others completely forget there is a huge difference between practising and fighting. This is true from the practice curriculum and exercise across Wing Chun classes all over the world.
Do you agree with the statement "90% of Wing Chun practitioners cannot fight"?
4. Wing Chun is dying
As the commercialisation of Wing Chun grows, this art has come to a near ending day. The pursuit of money and many other lucrative thingies have made Wing Chun obsolete in this world. Now, Wing Chun has become more of a sport and an instant self-defence style. The value of being a true "martial art" or kung fu is being forgotten and unknown among the current generation. Now, people know Wing Chun from movies or the bragging kung fu masters who claim to know all.
By the way, who needs to fight bare-handed effectively these days anyway? We already have everything to defend ourselves, from pepper spray to taser guns and real guns. People have lost the motives to practise a true art seriously, so no wonder why the essence of Wing Chun skills will be dead over the next generations.
Martial arts have now become a sport, where people compete with each other under rules and referees. As a result, sophisticated art like Wing Chun will become sport-oriented. That's why we see many Wing Chun schools now promote to be "practical in the octagon cage". No wonder why the death of this real kung fu is coming very soon.