Even though the system was named after the woman who devised it, the number of female students attending a class is always much less than the male contingency. Wing Chun, the art, has developed since its first conception. The main two people that could be attributed to that would be Dr Leung Jan and Yip Man: Both male.
The philosophy, despite the fact that men have carried the mantle for the art since the demise of the lady herself, remains the same, of not using strength to defeat your opponent.
People are not keen on the idea of getting hurt whilst training, women are even less keen especially knowing that their training partner will more likely be a man. This though should be seen as positive since you are more likely to be in a confrontation with a man, that is where, if you are not used to dealing with some one bigger, stronger than you, it can be very intimidating. However, control is an important aspect in training and trust in the person facing you. Trust in that person not to let ego get in the way of technique, i.e you have executed a technique and it worked; now your partner will react harder if necessary. It happens, but very rarely.
Maybe if Wing Chun as an art was trying to appeal to women they should highlight the physical effect it has on the body. Through the constant use of your arms, deflecting, blocking, throwing and the fact that your arms are never down means they strengthen and tone (No bat wings!). Then there is the footwork, 60/40 and 50/50 which means nothing to you unless you do it, but in short 60/40 means 60% body weight on the back foot and 40 on the front. Knees are bent and you do a series of footwork that works the entire leg but mainly the inner and outer thighs. Whereas 50/50 you’re sitting in a squat position for all the footwork giving the buttocks, quadriceps and hamstrings (front and back of the thigh) an excellent work out.
The pad work and free fighting works your cardiovascular, burning of fat and strengthening of heart, muscle and lungs.
Strength as mentioned is not a perquisite of Wing Chun so the ability to perform 30 presses and run for miles is not a must but none of those will do any harm if total fitness is the plan. Then there is flexibility. Having watched the movies you would be convinced that you must, or at least do the splits. NO. Most of the kicks are no higher than the waist.
I have been practising Wing Chun since 1994. I love the art that constantly challenges me. Requiring mind and body to move as one (my eternal pursuit).
However there was a time that I was no longer feeling her (Wing Chun), just before my 5th rank grading. It included breaking wood using both 1 inch and 3 inch punches. Whilst training for the grade, my technique was bad that my attempts to break the wood resulted in my knuckles being swollen and cut and the wood staying intact. This reflected how I was feeling in that nothing was going right considering I had been training for a while by then I wanted to be better. When the grading was over I reflected on whether I wished to continue training. Whilst I was training I fond that it was still but I took it for granted. To keep a level you have to train at least twice a week. To attain higher heights you need to rain no less than three times a week.
Women at the best of times will not beat a man on strength alone. If she uses the science of the art, trusts the art that takes the power away from the big and is used by little, comes to terms with bodyweight, angles, balance and intuition through the senses, then WING CHUN is the Dom Perignon.
By Judith Jacobs