Another hallmark of Hong Kong Wing Chun (read: Yip Man derivatives) is that ubiquitous “chain punch” made even more popular by Donny Yen’s recent “Yip Man” movies. In fact, this way of throwing a flurry of centreline punches has become a favourite subject for a number of parodies:
As I was converting from my previous Hong Kong Wing Chun mindset to Yuen Kay San Wing Chun, I found it most interesting to discover that this chain punching is regarded as a misinterpretation of lien wan kuen (continuous flow of attacks). Sure, it could be effective if the opponent is with his back against a wall, or already lying on the ground with no way of escaping.
However…. a simple demonstration in class by Sifu Yun Hoi shows that the opponent’s head moves the instant the first strike connects. Moves away, that is. Subsequent chain punches are practically useless if one doesn’t quickly adjust the distance by closing in. But as one steps closer the flurry of strikes hardly connect, not with knockout power, anyway.
How is this lien wan kuen applied in Yuen Kay San Wing Chun? One of our fist sayings states that one must strike no less than three times, with each strike carrying knockout power, because we don’t want to risk the chance of one strike missing its target. The three strikes can however be different attacks, such as a punch followed by two different palm strikes to different targets on the head which is completely determined in the heat of the moment as the opponent’s head moves in response to the attacks.