When we think about Martial Arts, especially Kung Fu styles like Wing Chun, we often think of a lot of flash and flourish, grand movements clearly difficult to obtain which we relegate to “art”, almost more dance than practicality.
Wing Chun is an art and it does incorporate some of these seemingly obscure forms and ideas, though it is inappropriate to consider it dance-like and useless. The core of Wing Chun is defense and combat.
The intricate movements, which you might assign to the art side, are tools to improve the practitioner’s proper responses. A form or complex drill involving five or more sequenced movements is not a blueprint for a battle. It is a tool to develop a base structure and responses for each individual portion of the drill. The opponent may execute a punch, which may be the third movement in a drill, but may be the initial move in an altercation. Each moment in a drill is an isolated moment. If you find yourself in position X when the opponent executes Y, here is a good response.
Drills and forms allow for repetition. Repetition locks in the movement and structures. It removes thought from the process, turning it into response without thought. Repetition creates efficiency and economy of motion. You do not trace steps; you simply go where you need to go.
There is a trend to drop the art in many Martial Arts, to do away with forms and little drill patterns. The idea is to go directly to the combative practice. It seems logical, though it presents a difficulty. With the lack of form and drill repetition, the practitioner does not easily have the ability to position their hips, to sink their weight, to feel how and when to turn, etc. Their countermove has no weight; the practitioner ends up off balance or at a poor angle or distance. This creates difficulty in generating a follow up, or leaves them open to counter-attack. The technique is sloppy. Sloppy techniques may work, and they may not. Even when they work, they are less effective, prolonging the altercation. The result is a lack of efficiency, a lack of economy of motion.
There is value in the Art within Wing Chun. The complex art, such as the study of forms, is a tool to create responses that are more efficient.
Train your body, spirit, and mind.