Close Range Combat

In the About section, you discovered that Wing Chun originated in and was developed for crowded urban environments such as the cities most people live in today. This simple shift in context completely redefined both the principles and techniques of Kung Fu combat. Before this, most styles of Kung Fu — and all martial arts in general — were designed for the battlefield, where you most often had wide-open space in which to fight. The techniques of Northern Shaolin Long Fist, for instance, are designed for an environment where there is plenty of room to move.

By contrast, Wing Chun was never intended for military combat against soldiers on an open battlefield. It evolved as a response to two very specialized needs: (1) to defeat military forces in urban environments using asymmetrical, guerrilla tactics; and (2) to defend yourself against bandits when caught in their favorite traps: tight alleyways, isolated stairwells and any other nook and cranny that limited your means of escape.

As you may recall from the chapter on Wing Chun history, this style was born during a period of turmoil and rebellion. The Qing military was bigger, better armed and better supplied than the fighters of the Ming resistance. However, it would be centuries before army chiefs would begin to formulate doctrine for Military Operations for Urban Terrain (MOUT). The Qing soldiers were trained for traditional, open combat. The Ming rebels decided to cheat. They changed the terms of the conflict with new tactics that Qing fighters were both unprepared for and ineffective at countering.

This same mindset of changing the rules also applied when dealing with bullies, bandits and other forms of violent assault. Predators like to isolate their prey so they can neither get away nor summon help. In cities, human predators preferred cramped alleys and similar spots that cut off the victim’s escape route. By the way, what was true back then is still true today.

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