Is Wing Chun Illegal in MMA? (Wing Chun MMA Effectiveness)

Are you wondering if wing chun is illegal in MMA?

In this article, we’ll examine whether wing chun is illegal in MMA, whether any UFC fighters use wing chun, and how effective wing chun is in MMA and more specifically in the UFC where the best fight the best.

Is Wing Chun Illegal in MMA/UFC?

Wing chun as a martial art isn’t illegal in MMA, but there are certain wing chun techniques such as throat-grabbing, eye pokes, and groin strikes that are illegal in MMA as per the Official Unified Rules of MMA.

These techniques are used by various martial arts and are illegal because of the dangers they present, rather than it being specifically wing chun.

Wing chun is a martial art focused on self-defense, designed to end attacks as quickly and efficiently as possible; which is why it utilizes techniques deemed dangerous in sport-based MMA.

Do Any MMA (UFC) Fighters Use Wing Chun?

As wing chun as a discipline is legal in MMA, many of the best fighters in the UFC have adopted various wing chun techniques and movements. This includes fighters like Anderson Silva, Tony Ferguson, and Jon Jones.

Tony Ferguson is well known for trapping hands, which is the practice of grabbing an opponent’s wrists or hands when standing to open a path for an attack, or to prevent them from striking or grabbing you. Tony Ferguson uses trapping hands to then strike his opponent over the top with elbows.

Conor McGregor was also another fighter who often trapped his opponent’s hands when standing to prevent being struck and to control the distance and set up his jab.

Jon Jones is also known to trap hands, which he uses effectively with his reach advantage to control the range of a fight. Jon Jones also often uses the oblique kick, which is a wing chun technique that aims to hyperextend an attacker’s kneecap by stomping or pushing their knee or just above it.

Anderson Silva trained wing chun as a way to improve his speed, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination; which is most evident when he’s boxing up close. He’s well known for practicing this on a wing chun dummy, also known as a wooden man post or mu ren zhuang in Chinese.

Is Wing Chun Effective in MMA/UFC?

Wing chun is effective in MMA/UFC when used to complement the essential base martial arts: wrestling, striking (kickboxing, boxing, muay Thai), and Bjj (ground grappling & submissions).

Wing chun is ineffective in MMA/UFC as a base martial art. The best MMA and UFC fighters in the past 30 years have kept their fighting style simple by using a combination of essential martial arts as their base, and a handful of them have incorporated wing chun techniques to complement this.

There hasn’t been a great MMA fighter with wing chun as their base striking martial art, simply because it pales in effectiveness compared to kickboxing, boxing, or muay Thai.

Wing chun is less effective in MMA/UFC than these essential martial arts for many reasons.

1. Wing chun focuses on self-defense
Wing chun focuses on self-defense, whereas kickboxing, boxing, and muay Thai are sport-based and therefore teach students how to be an aggressor and win a fight by attacking rather than defending.

2. Wing chun doesn’t have competition
Sport-based martial arts also have students practice relentlessly until they improve. This is judged by the ability to win competitive fights against trained martial artists – and wing chun just doesn’t have this competition.

Competition is healthy and without it, martial artists will find it hard to improve.

3. Wing chun doesn’t have pressure testing (sparring)
Furthermore, wing chun isn’t as effective in MMA as other striking martial arts because of its lack of pressure testing via sparring. Therefore, most students will freeze and be unable to use wing chun in a real fight (some wing chun schools include sparring but many don’t) – even against unskilled aggressors.

Wing chun is a syllabus-based martial art with many theoretical techniques that have little practicality; as opposed to sport-based martial arts that rely on sparring to train and that have actual fights where skills are tested. Because of this lack of competition, many schools don’t see sparring as essential.

Schools that don’t spar have a reputation as being safe and if students start getting injured via sparring, many schools fear losing students or getting sued as a result. This in turn leads to a loss of money, time, and reputation.

The last reason many wing chun schools don’t have sparring is instructors have learned without sparring and are now teaching what they know. These instructors may also fear losing or looking bad in front of their students or don’t know how to conduct a wing chun sparring session.

4. Wing chun doesn’t incorporate grappling
The last reason wing chun isn’t effective in MMA is that it doesn’t teach any grappling, which means it provides no knowledge or defense against wrestlers and other grappling-based martial arts.

Wing chun’s theory teaches students to close distance to an aggressor and shut them down with close-range striking. This means any opponent trained in Bjj, judo, wrestling, or other grappling-based martial arts will easily take down a wing-chun student because they’re in range and have no takedown defense.

Having said all this, wing chun can be effective in MMA for the following reason.

1. Wing chun is effective as a complementary martial art
Wing chun techniques are effective in MMA when used alongside fundamentals such as boxing, kickboxing, or muay Thai.

One of the most effective wing chun techniques is the oblique kick, which is essentially a diagonal push kick or side kick to the kneecap or just above it, with the aim of hyperextending an opponent’s knee.

Many have called for the oblique kick to be banned after Jon Jones popularized the technique by showing how dangerous yet effective it can be in ending fights but also leaving fighters injured for several months.

Oblique kicks are effective in breaking or tearing tendons and ligaments in and around the knee.

Most recently, Khalil Rountree shattered Modestas Bukauskas’ knee with an oblique kick, resulting in a KO victory.

Much like Anderson Silva, some MMA fighters train in wing chun because of its effectiveness in improving speed, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination – all essential skills in great standup strikers.

The most effective wing chun technique used in MMA is trapping hands. It can be used to block and prevent strikes, create openings for strikes, and unbalance an opponent for takedowns.

Wing chun is also effective in MMA in terms of hand fighting because it can be used effectively in clinch entries and dominating the clinch by controlling the positioning and opening paths for strikes – especially against the cage. Trapping hands can also be used to unbalance an opponent before taking them down.

Wing chun hand fighting works best as a compliment in standing grappling exchanges often seen in wrestling and muay Thai but is also effective on the ground, such as in full guard. Controlling the wrists here means an MMA fighter can throw offensive or defensive submissions, strikes, or start to scramble.

The Bottom Line

So, is wing chun illegal in MMA?

Wing chun isn’t illegal in MMA – only certain wing chun techniques are illegal because they’re deemed dangerous or unsportsmanlike as per the Unified Rules of MMA.

Some of the best martial artists and MMA fighters of all time use certain wing chun techniques because of their effectiveness in winning fights – such as trapping hands and oblique kicks.

However, wing chun techniques are always complimentary to a solid striking base of boxing, kickboxing, or muay Thai; without these, wing chun loses its effectiveness in mixed martial arts.

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