Is there a reason why Wing Chun is uncommon in MMA?

An expert in Wing Chun might do really well as opponents would have a hard time finding training partners (like Lyoto Machida and Karate). perhaps a non-expert could cherry pick a few moves that would surprise an opponent.


2 Answers 2


Wing Chun is uncommon in MMA for three major reasons. First, its practitioners generally shun sparring. Second, its practitioners generally shun realistic wrestling, throwing, and groundwork practice. Third, the skill Wing Chun focuses the most time on – hand trapping – is a small part of fighting in general, and is easily overshadowed by boxing or clinch work (that is, wrestling in any of its many forms) unless the WC stylist has extensive experience applying WC to rulesets more open than sticking hands.

The results of trying to apply just Wing Chun sticking-hands experience to MMA are consistently poor: they get taken down and smashed or choked. To be effective in MMA one needs to train effectively in all the aspects of fighting, not just the hand-trapping range so popular in Wing Chun. Wing Chun's singular strategy of closing the distance while neglecting takedowns is simply not going to work, whether in the cage or in a street fight, against an aggressive, athletic opponent who closes the distance even further, to a clinch.

Shawn Obasi explicitly represented Wing Chun in MMA. He did OK on the amateur circuit, but his pro debut was not so effective. Watching his amateur fights, I do not see Wing Chun in action. For example, in this fight, he does very well against what appears to be a grappling specialist, but that seems due to his sprawl, athleticism, and guard (from some BJJ he's done). His striking seems, to me, singularly unimpressive (though probably better than mine!).

  • Interestingly, Tony Ferguson practices wing chun and has successfully implemented techniques at the highest level. However, he is a very well rounded fighter and far from a representative of wing chun.
    – slizice
    Dec 20, 2018 at 5:34

I agree with this very comprehensive explanation that I recommend to read. In resume:

  1. Wing Chun was not designed for ring fighting.
  2. In order for an art to be “represented” in the UFC, you have to have a gifted young athlete start in your style and then get the UFC bug.
  3. Conditioning is not the strong point of most Wing Chun fighters.
  4. Wing Chun was historically practiced by Chinese aristocrats, until the 1950s.
  5. Most UFC Fighters come from a competitive sports background.
  • 5
    That author makes a lot of the classic "it's too deadly and realistic for MMA" excuses that are common in ineffective martial arts. He claims there's too much circling, sizing up, and stalling in MMA. There doesn't have to be. Go do your Wing Chun blitz thing and see what happens. There's a reason why MMA fighters are intelligent and methodical about the way they fight. Because one wrong move could end the fight. Being overly aggressive in a fight (street or ring/cage) could lose you the fight.
    – coinbird
    Dec 28, 2017 at 15:56
  • 2
    Neglecting conditioning is not as a good a reason to boast as the author seems to think it is. Also, the barrier to entry for MMA is much, much lower than for the top-tier promotion the UFC. You can essentially walk off the street and take an amateur fight if you think you have the stuff. Apr 21, 2020 at 19:10

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