wing tsun demo at ellis island


My name is Paul Matthews. I have studied numerous martial arts systems and styles over the years, including Wrestling, Karate, Bak Mei, Balintawak, Muay Thai, Tae Kwan Do, Bagua, Hung Gar and Wing Chun.  Since 2005, I have mainly concentrated on Wing Chun kung fu training.

Wing Chun is a rich martial arts system of combat and is much more than just throwing chain punches, and comes in different different lineages or versions, of which I have studied three and have been qualified as a Sifu in one.

I am a semi retired attorney. Although I have been practicing for many years, I am not interested in starting a  Wing Chun school.  I do occasionally take on a private student who has some Wing Chun experience and am presently  looking for a new student to train. You must have learned up to double arm chi sao, and must also be fully vaccinated. There is no charge for the training.

Anyone with Wing Chun experience is welcome, regardless of lineage. If you feel that your progress has stopped, so that you haven’t been able to reach your goals, or if you are interested in learning different applications or movements, this may be just right for you.

As I have studied, learned, and trained, I have become interested in understanding which  martial arts systems are best for real world self-defense combat, and why. This website and blog is intended to focus on the arts that I believe are the most practical self defense systems, which I believe are Wing Chun Kung Fu, Bak Mei, Western Boxing, Kick Boxing and Muay Thai.

Aside from these, I believe that many other martial arts have a lot to offer the student, in the way of certain techniques and training methods, who wants to be able to defend himself and survive real world street encounters with bigger and stronger attackers, multiple attackers, or attackers armed with weapons.

Please keep in mind that my opinions about the effectiveness of various martial arts are just that, opinions.

You will notice that all of the arts that I mention are considered to be striking arts, although both Wing Chun Kung Fu,  Bak Mei, and Muay Thai do have a stand up grappling component, and also use some throws.

The reason I do not consider grappling arts as best for self defense combat is not because they are bad arts. Many are awesome arts. However, if you are attacked on the street, most of the time it will be by multiple attackers, and with multiple attackers you want to be as mobile as possible. Therefore, martial arts like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and the various forms of Wrestling,  often will not work on the street.

That being said, if you have the time and the inclination it would be a very good idea to learn and practice some of these grappling arts, for two reasons. First, if you are in a one on one situation, you may end up being grappled or even taking to the ground and will have to deal with it. Second, it is very hard to take either a good wrestler or a good judoka to the ground so these arts can help you stay on your feet in dangerous situations.

The ability to stay on your feet during a street encounter is of great importance, and can give you additional confidence that your training will work when it has to.

This page will focus on Wing Chun Kung Fu  (also spelled Ving Tsun), which I believe is one of the best arts for self defense, however I no longer believe that Wing Chun is the be-all and end all martial arts for self defense. I do believe it is one of the best arts for self defense, and is also the most fun to learn and train. It is also easy on the body and promotes health without causing debilitating injuries.

Ip Man style Sifu demonstrates practical Wing Chun for self defense

Wing Chun (Ving Tsun)  by another Sifu in the Ip Man lineage

Wing Chun (variously spelled Wing Tsun, or  Ving Tsun) is a Chinese martial art combat system which is said to have been invented by a Buddhist nun in southern China around 300 years ago and incorporates Taoist principles and philosophy.

Wing Chun was designed to train fighters in a much quicker time than it took in the traditional Shaolin Kung Fu styles. Practicing kung fu movements can build physical fitness which has benefits both for self defense and for health and long life.  Because this art has an emphasis on concepts, principles, and skill, rather than on strength and brute force, it can be practical for people of any sex, age, or size.

In Hong Kong, where grand master Ip Man had his school, Wing Chun used to be called “gangster fist” because criminals trained in it to be able to learn how to fight in a relatively short period of time.  Nowadays, the “good guys”, including many special commando police units and swat teams around the world, train Wing Chun.

Train realistic Kung Fu  in Queens NY

Wing Chun, if trained diligently from a good instructor for a certain period of time, can be extremely effective for real world self defense. Wing Chun emphasizes efficiency and uses simple but effective straight punches, palm strikes,  elbow and knee strikes, joint locks and throws. Kicks are thrown no more than waist high so that they work in regular street clothes without having to stretch or warm up beforehand.

While the beginner will have to spend time practicing  form, stances,  how to deliver force at close range, and how to use relaxation to deal with incoming energy,  this practice will ultimately pay off in the ability to respond fluidly and instinctively to an attack.

Wing Chun uses touch sensitivity to train reflexes that make it possible to react at top speed to the opponent without having to think.  Experts develop this touch sensitivity up to the point where they can beat their opponents blind folded.

Bruce Lee was the most famous disciple of  Grand Master Ip Man and used Wing Chun as the seed art for his Jeet Kune Do.  Prominent Sifus of Wing Tsun include the famous Ip Man, and his top students Moy Yat, Wong Shun Leung, Leung Ting, and others.

While Wing Chun has had periods of great popularity following the release of the Yip Man movies, there have also been numerous criticisms of the style, largely due to some Wing Chun fighters being annihilated in the UFC.

In almost all videos of Wing Chun fighters competing against other styles, there is actually very little Wing Chun visible except for the chain punch and the front kick. It is actually quite hard to find any video on the net where a Wing Chun fighter going against boxing, Muay Thai, or MMA, looks half way respectable or uses anything other than the chain punch.

Haters have  claimed that the chain punch lacks enough power to even work in the street, and that Wing Chun fighters can be easily taken to the ground where the Wing Chun fighter is helpless against any thug, street fighter, or other opponent who is either bigger, stronger, or has ground fighting training.

My own opinion, after having studied martial arts for many years, and watching thousands of videos of fights in UFC, Pride, K1, Glory, etc, is that Wing Chun can be a very good style for real world self defense, if learned from  a good teacher in a good Wing Chun school, and the Wing Chun training is modified to be more realistic, which involves training more intensively for power, and training to fight against other common styles like boxing and wrestling.

Unfortunately few Wing Chun schools teach it that way.

Boxing for Self Defense

In addition to Wing Chun, Western Boxing is one of the best arts for real world self defense. Boxing has perhaps the best footwork of any martial arts, with the possible exception of Jeet Kune Do, which combines boxing footwork with fencing footwork. Boxing punches can have 1 punch knockout power. If you want to learn how to defend yourself quickly, you can do so in only 3 months of serious training and sparring.

Because boxing has both excellent footwork for mobility and one punch knockout power, it is an excellent art to use against multiple attackers.

Muay Thai for Self Defense

Muay Thai was neither popular nor even well known in the US until the UFC. Today all MMA fans have seen how effective it is. The Muay Thai roundhouse kick is one of the deadliest kicks on the planet. Because it uses the shin, to strike and the shin is one of the strongest bones in the body, it is possible to harden the shinbone to the point where it can be as almost as destructive as a baseball bat. Outside of people who have fought in Muay Thai or MMMA matches, no one knows how to defend against a low thai roundhouse kick or has conditioned their legs to take the devastating impact of one.

Kicking techniques for practical self defense

Although I love Chinese martial arts in general,  and Wing Chun in particular, kicking techniques from other arts, including Karate, Tae Kwan Do, Savate, and Muay Thai can helpful for self defense because they complement the hand techniques and low kicks of Wing Chun very well.

With proper training, kicks can be up to three times as powerful as hand strikes, have much greater reach, and once mastered can be used effectively by smaller people and females.

For more information about instruction about private lessons in New York , please feel free to call me at (347) 461-0760.

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