Attention Wing Chun teachers...how to save wing chun
Fighting is interesting. The thing is you have to do it to get good at it.
I know a small handful of great wing chun fighters. Fucking tough guys. But they were tough guys before they trained wing chun...and they would be tough guys if they never trained wing chun, and instead trained karate, or some other martial art. Or didn't train anything at all. They are just tough.
Generally speaking, in my experiences, wing chun does not produce tough guys out of nothing. You can have the best technique in the world, but if you are not tough, and only training hard can make you tough, you have a really good chance of getting your ass kicked.
Getting slapped on the forearm or banged on the shin doesn't really make you tough. It can make you hard, but tough is mental as much as it is physical.
For the past 13 months, I've been training at a Royce Gracie BJJ school w/ an MMA team. I've trained with a lot of guys who are tough. The art of BJJ (or MT) doesn't necessarily make them tough, the way they train makes them tough. They train to fight. They know they are going to fight, they know people are going to try to beat them, and they train for it. They come in on their days off to fight. When class is over, they stay and fight. When one of their training partners is getting ready for a fight, the rest of them line up to train him to fight. See the trend?
I disagree w/ the idea that training striking drills in wing chun is (in regards to "reality" of training) the same as rolling or wrestling up to submitting. Two people can "fight" at 100% strength and speed in bjj, up until submission. In striking, you can't throw a punch as hard or fast as you can in drills, or with feints and misdirection...that's just not how most drills work.
If you trained bjj at 3/4's speed for one year, and then went to a tournament, you would get crushed because your ass is moving too slow.
Same with wing chun. The vast majority of the time it is trained at 3/4'rs speed, thus, when you have to use it in a fight, you're fucked. The way it is trained by the VAST majority of people who train it is unrealistic, and not functional against a trained or really tough opponent.
Wing Chun striking drills are not random, are often predictable and follow set patterns, and are very rarely done at full speed. Sparring in wing chun is typically reserved for "senior students," and even then is rarely at 100% effort.
In order to make a striking art work, you have to train it at full speed, to develop the power and reflexes to work at full speed (see boxing for reference).
For this reason, I would like to propose that all wing chun schools devote the last 1/2 hour of class to full contact sparring.
Spend whatever class time you think necessary for forms, power training, techniques, and drills, but make sure that every day you allow 1/2 hour at the end for sparring. If you are worried about losing students, make it optional. Let people who don't want to get kicked and punched leave. They will pay your rent, but will never be able to fight.
If you ever want wing chun to be taken seriously, then stop propagating some bullshit idea of training and force people to train to fight. Train people to be tough.
Those of you who are students, don't settle for half-ass training. If you like your school, even though they don't spar much, go find other ways outside of your school to practice fighting. Get together w/ your buddies and beat the **** out of each other. Learn how to take a punch. Learn that getting punched sucks (but still sometimes feels good). Learn what it means to keep fighting when you are hurt and want to quit.
Just learn how to fucking fight.