Can you really learn Wing Chun online? In 2020 my Wing Chun classes were closed by the government due to Covid-19. I couldn’t offer any more in-person classes, so I decided to run weekly Zoom classes for my existing students who wanted to continue their education.
After a few months we reopened classes before the next lockdown. What struck me was that those who had continued their training online had continued to improve, while those who hadn’t were falling behind. The gap was obvious and perhaps it should have been obvious. While those who did nothing would not retain their skills (but would slowly lose their dexterity), those who participated in the Zoom calls actively improved.
However, all of the members who join me online on the Zoom calls have had some prior partner training. The question is, can someone with no prior experience gain anything from training videos online? Partially I’d like to say yes, of course they can, but it boils down to what they can actually learn from videos without a training partner and a qualified instructor to correct them.
What online videos are especially useful for is learning basic hand patterns. Without an experienced teacher (and training partner), it is much more difficult to learn and understand partner exercises that create the reflex system and hand sensitivity that Wing Chun is built upon.
Having multiple Wing Chun training partners in a classroom offers something you cannot even simulate with a single training “buddy.” When your training partner isn’t training, it’s all the more difficult to generate proper form and response. Each training partner in the classroom offers something different than the last. One student can react completely differently to another. Some students will be more aggressive than others, some will have a long range.
It is that part of a martial art that cannot be replicated through online training, no matter how complicated a particular training video may be. After all, Wing Chun relies on touch and hand feeling instead of just copying. A true Sifu who has been in the art for decades still needs to lead a class and build students with a series of forms, exercises and partner activities to recreate real life situations. Even in a classroom, safety is a factor that can take away some realism. So learning from videos seems pointless, some might say.
Since my class closed in 2020, the Zoom classes I’ve taught have held students accountable, and they’ve continued their education when they might otherwise have stopped. In a time of lockdown in the UK, it was a source of purpose and even physical activity alone met the need for exercise and good mental health.
A student had just entered my class when we were locked up. But he persevered with the course and learned the entire system (in terms of forms) just from videos! When we returned to physical education class, this became obvious and he couldn’t do the exercises and Chi Sau was very tense. However, the training of the forms had brought him further and that would not have been possible without any training. He knew Siu Lim Tao, Chun Kiu, Biu Gee, Dummy, Knife and Pole Form (at least superficially).
When I started learning Wing Chun in 1993, I used a book to study the first form (Siu Lim Tao) in addition to class. Videos are way better than pictures in a book. They add another dimension to learning that is not possible through a book and photos. Before the lockdown I didn’t believe you could learn Wing Chun online. I still don’t think you can learn Wing Chun online with any level of competency. However, you can learn the basic hand patterns that can give you a head start if you plan to take a class in the future.
Hand patterns (shapes) are one of the best things you can learn online as a Wing Chun student. But to get the most out of online training, you need to put a good attitude and mindset into your training. It is much more difficult to have the discipline to train alone than when you have a school and a qualified teacher.
So if you don’t currently have access to a school and still want to learn Wing Chun, you can learn the basic hand patterns of the system. These give you a structure to build on. Start with Siu Lim Tao and practice every day.
Learn this pattern first and make it a habit out of daily practice. Once you have established this habit, start with the second form (chum kiu). Of course, you’re missing out on some of the finer elements of the forms. But continue with your practice and find a teacher who can explain what you have learned.
Train hard and practice every day!
Thanks to Tim Halloran | #Learn #Wing #Chun #Online #Learn #Kung #Online