MMA Training Program


Martial Arts Training

"If you want to understand the truth in martial arts, to see any opponent clearly, you must throw away the notion of styles or schools, prejudices, likes and dislikes, and so forth. Then, your mind will cease all conflict and come to rest. In this silence, you will see totally and freshly." - Bruce Lee


Fighting with the fists for sport and spectacle is probably as old as sport itself. Boxing contests are found throughout antiquity. Greek boxers would wear boxing gloves (not padded) and wrappings on their arms below the elbows, but were otherwise naked when competing. There is evidence to suggest that boxing was prevalent in North Africa during 4000 B.C.First accepted as an Olympic sport (ancient Greeks called it Pygmachia) in 688 B.C., participants in the ancient games trained on punch bags (called a korykos). Keeping their fingers free, boxers then wore leather straps (called himantes) on their hands, wrists and sometimes lower arms, to protect them from injury.

The word "boxing" first came into use in England in the 18th century to distinguish between fighting to settle disputes, and fighting under agreed rules for sport. It is now used to describe a sport in which two contestants (boxers) wearing padded gloves face each other in a "ring" and fight an agreed number of "rounds" under recognized rules. Although men have always been the most numerous participants, there are some references to fights between women during the 18th century, and women's boxing was organized again at the end of the 20th century.

In boxing defense and offense are achieved via the padded fists. Generally four types of punches exist. All other punches are basically variants of the below. If a boxer is right handed, his lead foot will be his left, and vice versa.

  • Jab - This is a quick forward punch thrown with the lead hand. The power comes from a quarter-rotation of the shoulders, while the position of the fist rotates through 180 degrees, bringing the lead shoulder up to guard the head. This is the most important punch in a boxer's arsenal as it is extremely quick and requires very little shift in stance compared to the other punches. It is the punch that has the longest reach. Thus, it is used as a tool to guage distances, because if the jab is thrown but does not connect with the opponent, then the target is too far away. As a tool to keep the opponent from moving in, the jab can be thrown repeatedly in front of the opponent so he or she cannot advance. As a tool to test the opponent's defenses, it can be thrown early on in a bout to measure the effectiveness, speed, and style of an opponent's defenses.
  • Hook - This punch is thrown in a side arc with a bent arm. It can be thrown with either hand but is typically a lead hand punch. The boxer shifts the weight into the back foot, while rotating the hips toward the back, causing the arm to swing with the body in a lead hand hook. The power in a hook comes from the explosive rotation of the hips and shoulders. The classic hook is thrown in a horizontal plane, but the punch can also be thrown at a 45 degree angle (a "Mexican hook" or "shovel hook"), blending into the uppercut. The hook is slower than the jab and has a shorter reach, so it must be thrown closer to the opponent. However, the impact from a hook usually is much greater than that of a jab, so there is no way to parry this punch. This is very useful when aimed for the head or for the ribs or solar plexus, as the force from the hook tends to travel through a blocked head better than a jab.
  • Uppercut - This punch is thrown upwards with either hand (although a rear hand uppercut is marginally more common). The uppercut travels vertically up the opponent's chest, underneath the guard and makes contact with the chin. The power in the uppercut comes from the legs and hips. The boxer needs to be very close to the opponent in order the land this punch, and it is easily avoided by stepping back from the punch. However, this can be a devastating punch because it tends to lift up the chin of the opponent, which opens up a bigger target and causes the opponent to be off balance for an a moment.
  • Cross ( a.k.a. "straight") - This is a straight punch (with the dominant hand). The rear hand crosses the body, the shoulders rotate toward the target and the rear foot makes a half-step forward, shifting the weight towards the lead foot, with the power coming from the push-off on the rear leg and the rotation of the shoulders. In close in-fighting, a "short cross" can be thrown without the half-step; this is more of an arm punch. The cross is slightly more powerful than the jab, and used when a bit closer to the opponent. It is often used to set up a hook, and it can be used as a counterpunch against an opponent's jab and the boxer slips inside. The cross can be thrown right after a jab, creating the classic "one-two punch."
  • A fifth category of punch, the "Bolo punch" is occasionally seen, more often in amateur boxing than professional, although it is used to great effect by some professional fighters. The bolo is an arm punch which owes its power to the shortening of a circular arc rather than to transference of body weight; it tends to have more of an effect due to the surprise of the odd angle it lands at rather than the actual power of the punch.
  • Bob and Weave - This movement attempts to avoid an opponent's punch by bending the legs (and, often, the waist) in order to bring the head into a position under the opponent's extending arm. The legs and waist are then extended to bring the body back to its upright position. As the boxer rises, the body his moved either to the boxer's left or right in order to avoid the (presumably) still extended arm. To move to a position on the outside of the opponent's extended arm is sometimes called "bobbing to the outside" and is, generally, the preferred method of defense. "Bobbing to the inside", or moving the body to a position on inside of the opponent's extended arm, is considered defensively weak because the boxer is then vulnerable to punches from the opponent's opposite fist.
  • Slip - The slip is a maneuver performed with the defending boxer's legs and hips in order to shift the position of the head. As a straight punch (such as a jab or straight/cross) comes toward the boxer's face, the defending boxer turns the hips and shoulders to one side which shifts the position of the chin sideways, allowing the punch to "slip" by. The less the boxer has to move his or her head or the vertical angle of the shoulders, the more skillful he or she is considered at this technique.
  • Parry - This action is rarely seen in professional boxing. Some coaches consider it too unreliable to be worth teaching. The parry is performed most often against a straight punch. As the opponent's arm is extended, the defending boxer moves the fist (most often of the dominant arm) towards the oncoming punch, usually rotating the wrist and elbow so that the palm is facing the opponent. As the opponent's punch makes contact with the extended glove, it is directed away from its initial target.
  • Clinch - The clinch, or grappling of the opponent while standing, is considered a defensive maneuver in modern boxing because it is most often employed to interfere with the opponent's offensive maneuvers. Since the distanced between the fighters is closed, the majority of boxing's offensive techniques (which mostly rely on hip/torso rotation and arm extension) cannot be employed. Since the clinch is broken up by the referee immediately, the clinch is often seen as a method for the disadvantaged fighter to gain a short reprieve and perhaps interfere with the dominant fighter's concentration.
    Stance and Movement

The modern boxing stance is a reflection of the current system of rules employed by professional boxing (it differs in many ways from the typical boxing stances of the 19th and early 20th centuries). The boxer must stand with the legs approximately shoulder-width apart. The boxer places the lead foot (the left foot for a right-handed fighter, the right foot for a southpaw) slighty more forward than the back foot, twisting the body accordingly. The toes point straight forward, towards the opponent. The lead fist (the jabbing fist) is carried in front of the cheek. The back fist is carried near the chin to protect this sensitive area (many knockouts are scored with punches to the chin). Modern boxers can sometimes be seen "tapping" their cheeks or foreheads with their lead fist in order to remind themselves to kept their fists up in this defensive position (which becomes difficult during long bouts). The torso is kept straight and the chin is tucked into the lead shoulder (which is often kept tense to further protect the chin).

Modern boxers are taught to "push off" with their feet in order to move effectively. Forward motion involves lifting the lead leg and pushing with the rear leg. Rearward motion involves lifting the rear leg and pushing with the lead leg. During lateral motion the leg in the direction of the movement moves first while the opposite leg provides the force needed to move the body.

Brazilian Jiu - Jitsu (Gracie Jiu-Jitsu)

Japanese Jiu Jitsu master Mitsuo Maeda emigrated to Japan in the early part of the 20th century. Eventually he taught jiu jitsu to Carlos Gracie, who in turn spread it throughout the rest of his family. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu developed as a modified form of the Japanese style. It was honed through numerous street fights and the famous Gracie open door policy to challengers until it became the completely unique style we know today.

Characteristics: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a groundfighting art. As opposed to many arts that have some ground fighting in them, BJJ practitioners actually prefer going to the ground as opposed to standing and going down as a last resort. Another thing that is different about BJJ versus wrestling, is the comfort level that BJJ practitioners have while on their backs.

Basic Principles: The foundation techniques/positions in BJJ are known as the mount and the guard. A primary skill to learn is to pass someone's guard. This essentially means to get someones legs from around you and position yourself on their side (side control) so you can lock or choke someone at will. This is not a simple task, and is a very valuable skill to learn.

Most styles are attributed to the Gracie clan, however there are many variations. There is now a Machado style of BJJ, founded by a cousin of the Gracies. Also, many sons and nephews of the Gracie family have started their own schools and are each teaching their own variations. Overall however, the style as a whole still maintains the same principles and techniques.

Cyctema (Systema)

The Russian style of martial art dates back to the 10th century. Throughout the history of this huge country, Russia had to repel invaders from the north, south, east, and west. All attackers brought their distinct styles of combat and weaponry. The battles took place on different terrain, during freezing winters and sweltering summer heat alike, with the Russians often greatly outnumbered by the enemy forces. As a result of these factors, the Russian warriors acquired a style that combined strong spirit with extremely innovative and versatile tactics that were at the same time practical, deadly, and effective against any type of enemy under any circumstances. The style was natural and free while having no strict rules, rigid structure or limitations (except for moral ones). All tactics were based on instinctive reactions, individual strengths and characteristics, specifically designed for fast learning.

When the Communists came to power in 1917, they suppressed all national traditions. Those practicing the centuries-old style of martial art were severely punished. However, the authorities quickly realized the viability and potency of the Russian martial art and thus reserved it for the elite units of Spetsnaz.

Since the collapse of the Soviet system, many other Russian fighting styles have re-emerged through training, competition, and media publicity. Among others, the styles include: Sambo (a wrestling style), Slaviano-Goretskaya Borba (StormWarrior Style), military style of A. Kadochnikov, plus a variety of folk styles (e.g. Busa, Skobar, Forest Warrior, Kozachiy Sploch, fist fighting by Gruntovsky).

Philosophy aspects of Systema

There is a reason why Russian Martial Art is called THE SYSTEM (the Russian word is Systema). It is a complete set of concepts and training components that enhance one’s life. In this case, acquiring the martial art skill is a way to improve the function of all seven physiological systems of the body and all three levels of human abilities the physical, the psychological and the spiritual.
The key principle of the Russian System is non-destruction. The goal is to make sure that your training and your attitudes do no damage to the body or the psyche of you or your partners. The System is designed to create, build and strengthen your body, your psyche, your family and your country.

The System has another name “poznai sebia” or “Know Yourself”. What does it really mean to Understand Yourself? It is not just to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, that is good but fairly superficial. Training in Russian Martial Art is one of the sure ways to see the full extent of our limitations – to see how proud and weak we really are. The System allows us to gain the true strength of spirit that comes from humility and clarity in seeing the purpose of our life.

As the roots of the Russian System are in the Russian Orthodox Christian faith, the belief is that everything that happens to us, good or bad, has only one ultimate purpose. That is to create the best possible conditions for each person to understand himself. Proper training in the Russian System carries the same objective – to put every participant into the best possible setting for him to realize as much about himself as he is able to handle at any given moment.

One of Mikhail Ryabko’s words to the beginners is “Be a good person and everything else will come to you.” In a simple, yet comprehensive way The System helps you choose and follow the right path.

Vladimir Vasiliev
Director and Chief Instructor of the Toronto School of Russian Martial Art.

Born in Russia, Vladimir received intense training from the top Special Operations Units instructors and is the top student of Mikhail Ryabko. Vladimir's work spans across 10 years of extensive military service with the Special Operations Unit of SPETSNAZ, including regular high-risk covert assignments and missions.He also served as trainer for paratroopers, SWAT teams, and elite bodyguards. Vladimir moved to Canada, and in 1993 founded the first school of Russian Martial Art outside Russia. He has since personally trained and certified over 100 qualified Russian Martial Art instructors in 13 countries, and has provided an outstanding instructional film collection.

Mikhail Ryabko
Colonel of the Special Operations Unit with the Russian Military, Chief Instructor of tactical training for the Emergency Response Team, Advisor to the Minister of Justice of Russia of MVD.

Trained since the age of five by one of Stalin's personal bodyguards, Mikhail was enlisted to the ranks of Spetsnaz at the age of 15. Currently, his role is that of a tactical commander of hostage-rescue teams, counter-terrorist operations, and armed criminal neutralization. Mikhail resides in Moscow where he is Chief Instructor and host of our annual Russian Martial Arts Camp Program in Moscow. He is also the author of a textbook on Tactics of Spets Operations. For films including Mikhail click here.

Escrima / Arnis / Kali

Escrima, Arnis, Kali are just a few name used to describe the martial art brought to the United States by Filipinos.

Whatever name it goes under, the art has had a long and savage history, dating back to 1521 when Spanish rule first came to the Philippine Islands. Before colonization by Spain, Escrima was taught as a recreational activity, along with reading, writing, religion and Sanskrit.

The Spaniards had a hard time imposing their rule on the inhabitants, who wielded their bolos, daggers and sticks with fierce and deadly effectiveness. Not until they brought in reinforcements and firearms could they affect any semblance of order.

In the seventeen hundreds, when Spanish rule was firmly secured, the teaching and study of Escrima was banned (in the same way as the Japanese overlords banned the ownership of weapons on Okinawa). The carrying of a bolo (a long bladed weapon similar to a machete) or dagger was also forbidden. These orders were imposed in an attempt to "civilize" the spirited Filipinos.

Escrima then became a clandestine art (as did the art of Karate on Okinawa) and was practiced in secret. When it re-emerged it went unnoticed by the Spaniards. It had been set to native music and performed as it was, without weapons, the movements resembled only a harmless dance. This "dancing" even became popular with the rulers and demonstrations were given in public at fiesta time.

The real Escrima had not died though, as the Spanish soldiers found out every time there was a revolt. From generation to generation, the many different regional styles, collectively termed Escrima, were kept alive, being handed down from father to son over the centuries.

When Spanish rule ended and the Americans took over in 1898, the ban on the art was lifted. Friendly competitions were then conducted in public at fiesta's but the teachers never "opened their doors", so to speak and Escrima remained a semi-secretive activity.

The country was to see a lot more martial arts action in the ensuing years. When the war came, the Japanese invaded the Philippines and a lot of Filipinos worked alongside the Americans in guerilla units. Many of these owed their lives, in countless close-quarter engagements, to their Escrima training--the custom issued machete closely resembled their native bolo. This is an art that has been well and truly tested, over a long period of time in actual combat.

After the war, many Filipinos had emigrated to the USA--needless to add, Escrima went with them. Most of the immigrants went to Hawaii and California. Of these that went to California the majority settled in Stockton and it is from there that Arnis / Escrima has surfaced onto the American martial arts scene.

The "discovery" of Escrima, along with the widespread use of the Nunchaku weapon, must be credited to the late Bruce Lee. His portrayal of the use of the "double sticks" in the movie "Enter the Dragon" and the unfinished "Game of Death" brought the art of Filipino Stick Fighting out into the open. Bruce Lee was taught Escrima by his student and friend, Danny Inosanto who had in turn been trained by a distinguished Escrimador (the title given to practitioners of the art) in Stockton, California.

The Filipino Martial Arts is virtually unknown to the general public because of it’s late entry into the mainstream martial arts world. What hasn’t helped the popularity growth of Escrima is the stigma attached to how it is taught. Escrima is noted for using weapons, usually sticks, as the primary tool to learn the basic concepts of the art, with the secondary focus being the empty hands. The idea of just picking up a stick or any weapon is a scary thought, and avoiding rather than exploring the beauty of the art seems safer and is less time consuming.

Jeet Kune Do

"Jeet Kune Do does not beat around the bush. It does not take winding detours. It follows a straight line to the objective. Simplicity is the shortest distance between two point." - Bruce Lee

As explained earlier, this web page is designed to highlight the final stages of JKD as practiced by Bruce Lee himself. I do not wish to denounce any other martial arts practitioner in any way. My goal is to educate any who wish to learn about Jeet Kune Do as it was designed by Bruce Lee.

JKD is based on three main principles, simplicity, directness, and being non classical. With these ideals in mind it is easy to comprehend how effective JKD can be.

Simplicity is not a new concept. Anyone that knows anything about mechanics, realizes that simplicity is what makes things work. Mechanically, the more complicated the machine, the more moving parts it has. With more moving parts, the odds of failure become greater. The human body is no different. Accumulation of techniques only adds complications. Excess movement leaves a greater possibility for inaccuracy. Being simple in structure, JKD only has approximately five punches and four kicks. These few tools, as we call them, are broken down and practiced to the point in which they are extremely efficient. Centering oneself on these few techniques best utilizes the short amount of time a normal human being has in which to perfect them. A person with a great propensity towards athletic performance, may be able to adequately perform a technique in a short amount of time. Even though their performance may be adequate it is far from perfection. Perfection is execution without a single flaw. To reach this stage of development takes a life time, no matter how much natural ability one has. If Bruce were alive today, he would be the first to tell you that even he, himself, was far from perfection. That is one of the many things that made him so incredible. He never settled for mere adequacy Adding excessive techniques to ones arsenal only adds to the amount of time to reach that perfection. If it takes a life time to perfect one punch, how long will it take to perfect a barrage of techniques borrowed from Silat, Thai boxing, Jui- Juitsu etc? It is obviously a complete impossibility in one life time. How many lives do we have?

Directness goes hand in hand with simplicity. A direct approach to self improvement is an approach that is exact, concise, and straight forward. Keeping this in mind, we can appreciate the techniques in JKD. JKD is based on a straight line. A line, being the shortest distance between two points, is the most logical path due to its speed and efficiency. A hooking attack generates power through momentum. A straight attack is power because it arrives there first, nullifying any other attack. In being direct, no excess motion is exerted. For example, If an assailant grabs your wrist, some forms of martial arts may teach you to stomp on their foot, grasp their hand, take them down to the ground with a wrist lock, subdue them with an arm bar, and then finish them with a strike to the throat. This seems brutal and may appease the misinformed. In reality, it is complicated, indirect, and a complete waste of energy. The direct solution would be to strike them in the throat right off the bat. No need for theatrics.

JKD is not a classical system. By this I mean, practitioners do not wear uniforms, they do not practice forms, and they don't waste time with techniques simply because of tradition. Many martial artist attest that their system is effective because it is hundreds of years old. Age and tradition have absolutely nothing to do with efficiency. Hundreds of years ago people were bled with leaches to cure the flu. Does this mean we should do the same?

Bruce, being a philosopher as well as a martial artist made many statements such as the one above that related to his thoughts on JKD. It is unfortunate that many of his writings have been misinterpreted since his death. Some have so badly been misconstrued that the opposite meaning has been accepted as the truth.

JKD does not rely on one specific technique or another to counter an opponent. You should be able to adapt to the situation at hand. As an attack approaches, you are ready with the appropriate response. The opponents attack becomes your attack, as you fit into the opening created. He states that JKD can "fit in with any style". This does not mean that JKD can be added to any style to make it more efficient, or vice versa. What it does mean is that JKD can counter an adversary regardless of their style or system. It fits in, filling the gaps left by their commitment to attack. JKD uses any means necessary to accomplish this task. If grabbed you may bite, scratch, or pull hair. If kicked you may kick back, punch, eye jab, or what ever best fits the situation. JKD is not limited to only punching, or only kicking. It is fighting with any ability you may have.

JKD does not need to borrow or adapt techniques from other styles to achieve its means. Along with the philosophy, Bruce developed extremely effective ways of attacking, moving, and defending yourself. Without knowledge of his methods, the practice of true JKD is impossible. He spent his lifetime researching, through trial and error, the most efficient ways a human body can perform.


Dr. Jigoro Kano, founder of modern Judo, was born in Mikage, in the Hyogo Prefecture, on October 28, 1860. Shihan Kano never viewed martial arts as a means to display physical prowess or superiority. A pacifist, he studied them to find harmony in his dealings with others. In his youth Kano studied Ju-jutsu under Sensei Teinosuke Yagi, Sensei Hachinosuke Fukuda (Tenshin-Shinyo ryu), and after graduating from Tokyo University, under Sensei Iikubo (Kito ryu). His search for a unifying principle for the techniques he learned led Kano to Seiryoku Zenyo (maximum efficiency in mental and physical energy). To him, only techniques that saved physical and mental energy should be incorporated into a Do. The idea was to use the energy of one's opponent to defeat his or her aggression. He called his system Judo, and to propagate it he founded the Kodokan (the "school to learn the way") at the Eishoji temple in 1882.

Kano's system was built around three major arts: throwing (nage waza), groundwork (katame waza) and striking (atemi waza). Throwing techniques, drawn from the Kito ryu, were further divided into standing (tachi waza) and sacrifice (sutemi waza) techniques. Standing techniques included hand (te waza), hip (koshi waza) and foot (ashi waza) throws. Sacrifice techniques include full (ma sutemi waza) and side sacrifice (yoko sutemi waza) projections.

Groundwork and striking techniques were drawn more heavily from the Tenshin-Shinyo ryu. Groundwork was organized into groundholds (osaekomi waza), strangulations (shime waza) and joint locks (kansetsu waza). While Kano taught groundholds earlier to his students, shime and kansetsu waza were saved for those who had attained a higher ranking. High ranking students were also expected to know the art of resuscitation (kappo), so as to conduct their training in a safe and responsible manner.

Judo's striking techniques included upper (ude ate) and lower (ashi ate) limb blows. Among the techniques used were those fists, elbows, hand-edges, fingers, knees and feet strikes. Because of its lethal nature, Atemi waza was also taught exclusively to high ranking Judokas at the Kodokan.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) is the Thai name for a indigenous form of martial art practiced in several southeast Asian countries including Cambodia (where it is known as Pradal Serey).

Traditional Muay Thai has a long history in Thailand as a martial art used by the military. The military style of Muay Thai is called Lerdrit, while today's "Sport Muay Thai" slightly varies from the original art and uses kicks and punches in a ring and with gloves similar to those used in boxing. Muay Thai is referred to as "The Science of Eight Limbs", as the hands, feet, elbows, and knees are all used extensively in this art.

The basic offensive techniques in Muay Thai use fists, elbows, shins, feet, and knees to strike the opponent. To bind the opponent for both offensive and defensive purposes, small amounts of stand-up grappling are used: the clinch. The clinch is applied by holding the opponent either around the neck or around the body. In Western Boxing, the two fighters are separated when they clinch. Defensively, the concept of "wall of defense" is used, in which shoulders, arms and legs are used to hinder the attacker from successfully executing his techniques. Because of the power involved with Muay Thai techniques, fighters do not often block strikes like in other martial arts. Fighters prefer to evade attacks by stepping out of range or moving toward their opponent in order to buffer techniques such as kicks.

Though the high kicks to the head appear spectacular during a competition, the most destructive blows tend to be elbow and knee strikes. When Muay Thai boxers fight against other stylists (and if they are permitted to use the entire Muay Thai arsenal), they almost invariably emphasize elbow (sok) and knee (kao) techniques to gain a distinct advantage.

Two Muay Thai techniques were adopted by fighters from other martial arts: The Thai low kick and the Thai roundhouse kick. They are actually variations of the same kick, but hit at different heights. The low kick uses a rotational movement of the entire body to hit the opponent's outer thigh or side of knee with the shin. When not properly defended against, this technique often leads to the end of the fight, as the opponent has great difficulty standing after a few powerful low-kicks. The Thai roundhouse kick is also unique and was adapted for its efficiency. The kick is carried out with a straight leg and the entire body rotating from the hip, which is "locked" right before the leg makes contact to the opponent. At close ranges, Thai boxers strike with the shin; at longer ranges, the foot makes contact.

Almost all techniques in Muay Thai use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, and block. The rotation of the hips in Muay Thai techniques, and intensive focus on "core muscles" (such as abdominal muscles and surrounding muscles) is very distinctive and is what sets Muay Thai apart from other styles of martial arts.

During a competition, the participants perform a lengthy ritual and ceremony before the fight (wai khru ram muay). The ritual is both for religious reasons and as a stretching warm-up.

Wing Chun

Wing Chun is the name of a system of martial arts developed in southern China approximately 300 years ago. Its originator, the Buddhist nun Ng Mui, was a master of Shaolin Kung Fu and used this knowledge to invent a way to take advantage of the weaknesses inherent in the other Shaolin systems. This new system was well-guarded and passed on to only a few, very dedicated students. Later, the style became known as Wing Chun, after Ng Mui's first student, a woman named Yim Wing Chun.

In 1949, Yip Man, who was considered to be the grandmaster of modern Wing Chun, brought the style out of China into Hong Kong and eventually to the rest of the world.

Wing Chun has managed to retain its focus as a practical fighting art. It has avoided being modified into a competitive (rule based) point-scored sport or demonstration art. Wing Chun tournaments are rare or unknown.

The more effective Wing Chun strikes (eyes, throat, knee) are too dangerous even for freestyle competitions. Wing Chun is therefore rarely seen in competition.

Wing Chun is not just a collection of unrelated techniques. It has a core set of guiding principles which allows practitioners to decide what is correct or incorrect Wing Chun. This keeps the art a pure and integrated fighting system, while allowing direction for refinement that is consistent with its principles.

These guiding principles are strictly practical and is part of the reason for Wing Chun's uniquely scientific and logical approach to fighting. It is likely that Bruce Lee managed to develop Jeet Kune Do from Wing Chun because Wing Chun trained him to think about fighting in a scientific way.

All Wing Chun techniques have a practical purpose. There are no flowery moves or graceful techniques that mimic animal movements. To the uninitiated, Wing Chun can appear less effective when compared with more dramatic styles. Like Hsing Yi, another linear style, Wing Chun practitioners pride themselves on plain-looking but effective techniques. The crowd-pleasing elaborate moves used by Bruce Lee in his movies are not real Wing Chun or Jeet Kune Do. Bruce Lee consciously choreographed more flamboyant moves to entertain his fans. His actual fighting style was simple, direct and effective.

Following this utilitarian approach, the names of Wing Chun techniques are purely descriptive. For example - spreading hand (tan sau), wing arm (bong sau), slapping hand (pak sau). Wing Chun terminology is traditionally rendered in the Cantonese dialect of Chinese.

External versus Internal Style

Whether Wing Chun is an external style (relies on body mechanics), or an internal style (nei chia) that makes use of Qi (internal energy) is disputed. This is possibly due to different interpretations of the meaning of the terms internal (also known as soft) and external (also known as hard).

However, Wing Chun is not as well known for its use of internal energy as are T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Baguazhang or Hsing Yi.

In practice, the concepts of Wing Chun may be explained and understood either in terms of body mechanics or in terms of Qi. Wing Chun does differ from most internal styles in that Wing Chun training is generally vigorous, fast and forceful and often works with partners.

This is not to say that Wing Chun relies on brute strength. On the contrary, softness (via relaxation) is fundamental to the style, and essential to deflect, negate, and use an opponent's power against him.

While some say that, even tense, it is possible to use Wing Chun, such an unsophisticated approach is easily defeated by a skilled Wing Chun practitioner.

Even Chi Sao training can be misused if too much force is used. Yip Man did not lose to his young students in Chi Sao even during his later years, when he was weaker. He used his superior sensitivity and body structure to control their power.

Such skill does not come automatically. The difference in the application of techniques can be subtle. Proper instruction is crucial.

Close Range

Wing Chun is one of the few styles that emphasizes non-grappling close range fighting. Ideal Wing Chun fighting distance is fist range. "Emergency" techniques also permit Wing Chun practitioners to fight at closer ranges using elbows. While the Wing Chun forward kick can be considered a long range technique, Wing Chun practitioners concentrate on "entry techniques" - getting past an opponent's kicks and punches to bring him within range of Wing Chun's rich close range repertoire.

Other styles reason that you should aim to strike at maximum range - which means kicking. This is because if you do not, your opponent will be able to hit you before you can hit him.

Wing Chun teaches that it is always possible to get past an opponent's long range technique and close in to fight on Wing Chun's terms. A kick can be jammed before full extension, before it develops full power. A kick can also be jammed when it is being withdrawn, as all kicks inevitably have to be. A Wing Chun practitioner will rush in during these times, using quick footwork to close the distance.

A favorite Wing Chun saying is "He comes I remain, he leaves I pursue, he disengages I attack" to emphasize its close range and stick-to-your-opponent approach to fighting.

Wing Chun's reputation as a style suitable for smaller sized people arises partly from the advantages close range fighting gives to the smaller person. At close range, a smaller person will still be able to develop full power in punches and kicks, as long as there is sufficient space to fully extend his limbs. A longer-limbed opponent at the same distance may be crowded, unable to extend fully and develop full power, though techniques are available to overcome this difficulty.


Wing Chun values speed over power. A weak fast punch that is too fast to be avoided is better than a powerful slow punch that can be dodged or deflected.

Striking inevitably opens up part of your own body to attack. A fast strike reduces the exposure time.

A punch is faster than a kick, so punches are emphasized over kicks. Punches are also safer as they do not disrupt the body's centre of gravity as much as kicks do. Kicks are kept low, below or slightly above the waist, so as to not to be grabbed by your opponent's faster hands.

Wing Chun's emphasis on speed arises naturally from its close range fighting focus. At close range, a punch has less distance to travel and so will arrive more quickly. At close range, hand positions can be difficult to see because of this heightened speed. This is why Chi Sao is used to train a Wing Chun practitioner to sense his opponent's hand position and probe for holes in his defense, from touch alone.

The Wing Chun stance is also designed for speed. The feet are kept about a shoulder's width apart, forming a good balance between speed and stability. A wider stance would be more stable but would slow down kicks and footwork.

A highly trained Wing Chun practitioner achieves maximum speed by acting reflexively and instinctively to his opponent's moves. Chi Sao training will help in this. He does not think "if my opponent does this I will counter with that". Instead, he just reacts.

Because the range in Wing Chun is typically so close, there is generally no time to react to visual stimuli. The art is essentially tactile, and the practitioner learns the "feel" of correct technique only through extensive partner drills with skilled partners.

The speed at which Bruce Lee fought in his later movies is not an accurate representation of the speed at which Wing Chun or Jeet Kune Do is conducted, except for the scene in Enter the Dragon where he and Bob Wall start out with crossed wrists, which is a highly accurate representation of Wing Chun. Bruce Lee slowed down to make his movements easier to see. His earlier movies such as Chinese Connection are more realistic in this regard.

Vertical Punch

Punches are thrown with the elbow down and in front of the body. The fist is held vertical and the contact points are the bottom three knuckles. The fist is swiveled on point of impact so that the bottom three knuckles are thrust forward adding power to the punch while it is at maximum extension.

The advantages of the vertical punch are speed, protection, hand strength and force redirection. The vertical punch provides a more stable and natural position than the twisting horizontal fisted punches found in many other styles of martial arts which can lead to wrist/hand injuries. This is why many practitioners of horizontal fisted styles tape their wrists.


Because the elbow is not swung back behind the body, the vertical punch is faster than a conventional roundhouse punch. This does mean that the vertical punch is somewhat less powerful. Power is traded off for speed. The waist is twisted to add power to the vertical punch, but this is not possible in the chain punch (see below) as it would be too slow.
Protection. Keeping the elbow low and forward protects the front of the body whereas swinging the elbow back would open up the front of the body to attack.

Hand strength

The vertical fist places the knuckles forward, allowing them to take the impact of the punch and transmit the force down the back of the hand. A horizontal fist, in contrast, puts the finger joints in front of the knuckles so the impact must be taken there, making it easier to break the fingers. This can be tested by punching a wall with a vertical and then a horizontal fist. Note that the vertical fist can be used to strike a hard wall without causing pain at medium levels of force. This is not possible with a horizontal fist.

Force redirection

The vertical punch redirects the force from the punch downwards into the puncher's legs and into the ground. In contrast the horizontal punch redirects the force from the punch sideways into the puncher's waist. This gives the vertical punch a more solid foundation.

The last item above can be easily tested. Hold your fist vertically in front of you, your elbow down, one foot behind the other. Ask someone to push against your fist and you will feel his force being redirected into the ground. Repeat, but with your fist horizontal and your elbow at shoulder height and to the side. You will feel his force twisting you sideways, leaving you with nothing to push back against.

The vertical punch is so effective that Bruce Lee kept it unchanged, in Jeet Kune Do.

The vertical punch is the basis for the Wing Chun chain punch - alternate left and right vertical punches thrown in quick succession, resulting in a fast flurry of punches of a few punches per second. The chain punch is simple, effective and difficult to counter.

Wing Chun students are taught that when in doubt as to which technique to use, they should attack with the chain punch. This avoids the "analysis paralysis" that can occur when an overly-trained martial artist gets into an unstructured street fight.


Wing Chun emphasizes attack and defense along an imaginary vertical line drawn along the nose, throat, navel and groin. The human body's prime striking targets are considered to be on or near this line.

A Wing Chun practitioner will strive to protect his centerline and attack his opponent's. Footwork is used to move your centerline away from an opponent's attack and to position your hands and feet to attack his centerline.

Wing Chun techniques are "closed", the limbs drawn in to protect the centerline and also to maintain balance. The hands should not move beyond the vertical circle that is described by swinging the arms in front, with the hands crossed at the wrists. To reach outside this area, footwork is used.

One subtle advantage of attacking the centerline is force redirection, or rather the lack of it. Hitting someone on the side (for example the shoulder) will cause the recipient's body to twist, absorbing some of the force. Hitting someone in the center causes more of the shock of the punch to be transmitted to the body.

Linear Movement

Strikes are linear. This is in the belief that the fastest path between two points is a straight line. Some blocking movements however, can be circular.

Note that the vertical punch is linear - only straight line movements are used.

Simultaneous Attack and Defense

Whenever possible, both arms will be used to block and strike in one movement. This allows for fast counter attacks, compared to the conventional block with one hand followed by a counterpunch with the other.

Independent Movement of Limbs

A Wing Chun practitioner should be able to punch and kick at the same time, thereby confusing his opponent. Any combination of punches and kicks can be used, so that his attack will be difficult to predict. His opponent cannot hope that punch A will always be thrown together with kick X as any punch can be used with any kick.

Even the arms are trained to move independently of each other. This is one of the purposes of the Siu Nim Tao.

Risk Aversion

A life-or-death combat situation is no time to take unnecessary risks. Wing Chun is conservative in this regard. Equal emphasis is placed on offensive and defensive measures.

Most hand techniques place one hand close to the chest, to ward off punches that manage to get past the lead hand. The elbows are kept low, to protect the body. The head is tilted forward and down to protect the throat with the chin.

Proper balance is always maintained. Wing Chun practitioners will not risk their balance by over-reaching to attack an opponent. Strikes should be launched from a solid base. All-or-nothing gambles are not worth the risk.

Feints are discouraged as these are seen as opening up your body to attack, with no possibility of hitting your opponent in return.

Balance and Body Structure

Overall body balance is emphasized as this affects speed. A well balanced body can move more quickly. The trunk is always kept upright for this purpose.

A Wing Chun practitioner will not lean sideways in order to throw a high kick to an opponent's head. Changing your body's center of gravity so radically brings grave speed penalties, aside from opening your groin to attack and your foot to grabbing.

Bobbing and weaving is not used to dodge punches. Footwork is considered faster for dodging, and does not endanger stability or body structure.

Wing Chun practitioners believe that the person with the better body structure will win.

Proper body structure is used to redirect horizontal force from a punch, vertically into the ground. This allows more powerful punches to be thrown.

Proper positioning of arms will close holes in your defense, allowing no avenue for your opponent to strike.

For example, the forearm in the bong sau should be kept high so as to deflect punches upwards. The bong sau forearm is also kept forward because having it too far back weakens the leverage of the triceps and allows the forearm to be pushed back.

Wing Chun students are taught how to test each technique against specific attacks so that they can assume the correct positions from actual feedback and not from blindly following their instructor. Proper stances are checked by having someone push against you to check your stability.

The importance of balance in Wing Chun can be seen in this alternate description of the Wing Chun forms:

Chum Kiu, the second form, consists of techniques to destroy your opponent's structure and balance, leaving him open to attack.

Biu Tze, the third form, consists of techniques to counter attack when you are in a disadvantageous situation, when your structure and balance have been compromised.


Wing Chun techniques are performed in a relaxed manner, during both training and in actual combat.

Muscles act in pairs in opposition to each other (e.g. biceps and triceps). If the arm is tensed, maximum punching speed cannot be achieved as the biceps will be opposing the extension of the arm. In essence, a tensed arm must first relax then begin the punching motion. When relaxed at the onset the punch may begin at any time. One motion is always faster than two.
Unnecessary tension wastes energy, causing fatigue. This can be critical in an extended engagement.

Tension stiffens the arms, making them less sensitive in Chi Sao and reduces your ability to sense and react to your opponent's intentions.

A stiff limb provides an easy handle for an opponent to push or pull you with, where a relaxed limb allows you to release their energy.

The mind should also be relaxed when fighting. The gritted teeth, bulging neck muscles attitude of The Incredible Hulk is not the correct Wing Chun fighting attitude.

This relaxed approach is extended into the training itself. It would be difficult to teach students to relax if the training atmosphere itself was tense. Wing Chun classes are commonly relaxed and light hearted affairs. Sifus are friendly and open, far from the Hollywood (and Hong Kong) caricature of sadistic inscrutable taskmasters.

Trapping Skills and Sensitivity

Wing Chun is famous for its trapping hands. Control over an opponent is maintained by making contact, either through a block or a strike, and sensing the opponent’s intentions. Whatever energy the opponent may supply at the moment of contact is sensed and controlled. At the moment a punch is deflected, rather than letting go, contact is maintained, so when the opponent attempts to withdraw or redirect the hand, this is sensed and the motion is used to either facilitate a trap or a strike. If the opponent again reacts, this reaction is sensed and the energy is again used to facilitate another trap or strike. A good Wing Chun practitioner can trap a strong opponent and continue to use the opponent’s energetic attempts to defend or counter to add strength and power to his own close range attacks.


"Learn the principle, abide by the principle, and dissolve the principle. In short, enter a mold without being caged in it. Obey the principle without being bound by it. LEARN, MASTER AND ACHIEVE!!!" - Bruce Lee

"Knowledge in martial arts actually means self-knowledge. A martial artist has to take responsibility for himself and accept the consequences of his own doing. The understanding of JKD is through personal feeling from movement to movement in the mirror of the relationship and not through a process of isolation. To be is to be related. To isolate is death. To me, ultimately, martial arts means honestly expressing yourself. Now, it is very difficult to do. It has always been very easy for me to put on a show and be cocky, and be flooded with a cocky feeling and feel pretty cool and all that. I can make all kinds of phoney things. Blinded by it. Or I can show some really fancy movement. But to experience oneself honestly, not lying to oneself, and to express myself honestly, now that is very hard to do." - Bruce Lee

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