Touch Over Time

Timing may not be as critical in a fight as many believe it to be.

Sparring and ring matches are consensual and devised to last for a period. In many ways, the rules are engineered to help prolong the contest. There is the occasional first punch knockout. However, cage and sparring matches last for minutes, even a measurable portion of an hour, while street fights last only seconds. If we discount the faceoff and name calling, a one or two minute street fight is as rare as the ten-second cage match is.

Given the rules of a structured fight, timing becomes critical. How fast is his jab? What is his reach? What is his telegraph signal? When do I time my cover and return?

As discussed in many earlier posts but most specifically “Pressure”, one of Wing Chun’s primary concepts is to connect to the opponent’s gambit and press inward. The goal is to attach to the attacker, and once connected not let go. One advantage is shutting down the opponent.

Yet there is another, even more important quality in this concept – sensitivity. It is one of the harder aspects of Wing Chun to teach. Frankly, it is critical in all martial arts, though Wing Chun and related styles of Kung Fu along with any grappling or wrestling approaches rely heavily on opponent sensitivity.

Sensitivity reduces the importance of timing. Instead of calculating when, you go with the flow. If the opponent wants to move in a given direction, a direction they may be inclined to move due to the pressure placed upon them, you use a technique designed for just such a move. You allow the opponent to walk into the trap. You more than allow it. You welcome it. At the higher levels, it was your plan in the first place.

This does mean having a variety of options available to you. There is no guarantee which way the attacker will move. If you have trained well, you will have many traps open and waiting. Sensitivity to movement will tell you which trap to use.

The timing is unimportant. Which wire the opponent trips, and when they trip it, is totally up to them. All you have to do is be ready and spring the appropriate trap when they enter. Again, that should be a matter of touch. Much like an old-style rabbit box trap, when the carrot is touched the lid should close. When is up the opponent. You should not have to calculate the timing.

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About Sifu

I teach Wing Chun, both traditional and practical, at KDA Karate Academy. I have a Bachelor of Media Arts degree from USC. I have been an Audio Producer / Engineer, a Law Office Manager. In addition to being a Martial Arts Instructor, I am an author. My new book, "Astro Boy, Sensei, and Me" is available now, as is my Sci-Fi joy ride, "On a Sphere's Edge".

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