To chain punch or not chain punch that is the question

The chain punch is the technique most associated with Wing Chun. It is also the favorite target of Wing Chun “haters” who claim that it is lacking in power and ineffectual. But even Sifus disagree about the effectiveness of the technique. Some Sifus think of the chain punch as a technique which is suitable mostly for beginners. On the other hand Leung Ting, a well known student of yip Man called the chain punch the “attacking masterpiece” of Wing Tsun. So which is it, weak and ineffectual, good for beginners, or a powerful and deadly technique?

The chain punch has certain advantages. Because the punches are all on the center line and are absolutely straight, the chain punch has speed, economy of motion, and occupies the center line, all very good things. While some experts can punch up to 10 strikes a second (some exponents claim even more), it is possible to execute five punches a second with significant power, but only after considerable training. Beginners can learn the basic technique in a few hours, and it is possible to develop significant power after six months of intense training. Beginners sometimes misuse the chain punch by trying to enter with the technique, but starting to throw the punches even when out of range. The chain punch is probably not a good entry technique because it lacks range. In Europe the EWTO used to teach (and may still teach) something called the “Universal Solution” which was an entry made by a straight front kick, followed up by chain punches. It is also possible to use a long range boxing jab to enter into a chain punch attack, if you don’t mind borrowing a technique from another style.

The enemy of the chain punch is the boxer’s hook punch. A good boxer with react to a chain punch attack by stepping to the side slipping or ducking while coming around with one or more hook punches. If the Wing Tsun fighter keeps blasting in a straight line after his opponent is no longer there, he will almost certainly be caught with a hook punch and probably be knocked out. The wing tsun fighter must use his chain punch in a flexible way so that it adapts to what his opponent is doing. If the opponent ducks or moves, the Wing Tsun man must track the opponent, preferably the opponent’s head.

For beginners and intermediate Wing Tsun students/ fighters, it is a good idea to train them to default to a chain punch when they can’t think of anything else to do. Advanced fighters don’t have to think, but they may choose to use the chain punch as a finishing technique rather than as an opener.

personally, i like to use the technique for “bursts” of 3 punches. One way to train for speed in punching is to throw punches in groups of threes, with each three punches being one “count”. The goal is to throw three punches almost as fast as your opponent can throw one punch. If you come close to this goal you can get in three punches before the opponent has time to figure you out and come up with a counter move

The chain punch is normally applied with all of the punches aimed to strike the same spot on the opponent’s body The idea is that, like a battering ram taking down a door, the successive punches will eventually destroy whatever they hit. However, in the video above, Sifu Vik uses the punches in a more flexible manner, which I believe is more practical against more skilled opponents.

Paul matthews

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