Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.
George S. Patton
My Sifu once said to me, “In Wing Chun, attacking the head is my obsession.”
I have found this to be the fundamental difference between the other lineages I studied and the ideas passed down to us from Ip Man as refined and modified by Wong Shun Leung, then modified and refined again by Gary Lam, and now as refined and passed to me by Greg LeBlanc.
Wing Chun becomes very simple when you look at it through this lens.
Its about hitting the head.
Everything else is secondary.
We have three free forms plus three equipment forms with a great deal of technique for every occasion. We have trapping, kicking, standing grappling, pulling and pushing but fundamentally we are a striking style. To become proficient at Wing Chun, you must learn how to align your body to produce structure (to gain ground power), you must learn how to hit with your body (taking position) and you must learn to chain your attack to a single point (chain punching).
Then you have a weapon. Its like carrying a knife.
If your opponent just stands there, you can use your weapon to chain a series of punches (or palm strikes) into their head.
If they throw up their arms, then this is where the second half of our system comes in. Changing hands are what we use to get past obstructions.
Bong Da. Pak Da. Tan Da. Gan Da. Kwan and hit. Fook Da.
We have a line of attack – a straight line from our center to their center, typically their head. Our idea is to chain our attack into their head. The head takes the force of the first punch and the neck (and perhaps the body) falls away from the punch, diminishing its power. The second hit follows on the first, landing on a head with nowhere further to go. It must absorb all the power.
This is our idea.
If we encounter a defensive hand or an incoming attack, say a punch, our line of attack has been compromised. We need to change our angle and create a new line of attack or clear that arm from our path (or both at the same time).
This is the meaning of line of attack. It is sometimes discussed as “angle.”
In Escrima, they flow with their knife from angle to angle, seeking a clear entry.
In Wing Chun, sometimes we flow past and around the arm. Sometimes we get a good grip on the bones of the arm and pull the whole person into a position of weakness. Sometimes we smack that arm out the way (Pak) with a helping hand with the punch coming in just behind, like an offensive tackle and a running back. The tackle clears the defenders as the running back comes through with the ball. In Wing Chun, the helping hand often clears the line of attack for the fist coming close behind it.
So the job of each of these helping hands (bong, tan, fook) is to clear the line of attack so you can get back to hitting the head. Your intent is to hit the head. You run into an obstruction. You clear the obstruction and get back to hitting. They respond by throwing another hand up, you clear that hand and get back to hitting. You are always getting back to hitting as soon as possible.
The fallacy of some approaches to Wing Chun is an idea of controlling the opponent, using hands like Gan or Kwan. These are also helping hands that should lead quickly to hitting, taking position, knocking the opponent out.
Keep your eye on this prize in your training.