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Style descriptions: W

Some styles of martial arts that begin with the letter W.

Wado-Ryu (Japan)

Hironori Otsuka, the founder of wado ryu karate, was born in 1892 in Shimodate City, Ibaraji, Japan. His mother's uncle, Chojiro Ebashi, was a samurai warrior who kept young Otsuka spellbound with his true tales of exciting samurai adventures.

At six years old, Hironori began practicing shindo yoshin ryu jiujitsu under the tutelage of his father. Whereas most jiujitsu styles specialized in throwing and ground techniques, shindo yoshin ryu jiujitsu stressed striking and kicking. As a teenager, Otsuka began studying Shindo yoshin ryu jiujitsu under Tatsusaburo Nakayama, who was also a skilled kendo instructor. Otsuka also trained in kempo and in other jujitsu styles.

In 1922, while the 30-year-old Otsuka was working as a bank clerk, he saw a newspaper article on Crown Prince Hirohito’s visit to Okinawa, where he had been entertained with a demonstration of shuri-te style tode (not yet known as karate). The article mentioned that an Okinawan named Gichin Funakoshi had arrived in Japan and was planning to teach the martial art in Tokyo. Otsuka promptly went to Tokyo and began intensive training in karate under Funakoshi.

White eyebrow (China)

This is a medium range defensive fighting system. The white eyebrow practitioner will wait for the opponent to strike first and then retaliate using relaxed arms (until impact) and waist rotation for power. There are five external forms (eyes, mind, hands, waist, and stance) and five internal forms (spirit, purpose, courage, power [chi], and power [ging]). The only fist used is a phoenix eye strike.

Wing-chun (China)

Wing-chun was an obscure and little-known art until the mid-twentieth century. Thanks to the late Bruce Lee, it is one of the most popular external Chinese styles. Lee's first formal training came in wing-chun in Hong Kong, under the late master, Yip Man. It is the only kung-fu style created by a woman, founded over 260 years ago by a Buddhist nun called Ng Mui.

About 260 years ago, the Southern Shaolin temple was a sanctuary to the Chinese revolution that was trying to overthrow the ruling Manchu. A classical martial arts system was taught in the temple that took 15-20 years to produce an efficient fighter. Realizing they needed to produce efficient fighters at a faster pace, five of China's grandmasters met to discuss the merits of each of the various forms of kung-fu. They chose the most efficient techniques, theories, and principles from the various styles and developed a training program that would produce an efficient fighter in 5-7 years.

Before the program was put into practice, the southern temple was raided and destroyed. A lone nun, Ng Mui, was the only survivor who knew the full system. She wandered the countryside, finally taking in a young orphan girl and training her in the system. She named the girl Yimm Wing-chun (which has been translated to mean beautiful springtime or hope for the future), and the two women set out refining the system.

The system was passed down through the years, and eventually became known as wing-chun, in honor of the founder. The veil of secrecy around the art was finally broken in the early 1950s when Grandmaster Yip Man began teaching publicly in Hong Kong, and his students began gaining notoriety for besting many systems and experienced opponents in street fights and "friendly" competitions.

It is an explosive linear art that uses low kicks and fast hand techniques and teaches the concept of simultaneous attack and defense. It specializes in in-fighting using close multiple short attacks using the body to project power. Often users grab or pin an opponent's limb with one hand while attacking with the rest of the body.

The primary principle is not to use force against force, which allows a weak fighter to overcome stronger opponents. Generally, a wing-chun practitioner will seek to use the opponent's own force against him. A great deal of training is put into this area as well as is the cultivation of concepts called contact reflexes and economy of motion.

Wing-chun is often referred to as "the thinking man's art" because of its scientific approach to training. It uses "feminine qualities" such as softness, passivity, and sensitivity. It teaches that force should not be met with force. Redirection also plays an important role in the art's defensive moves, as does protecting the body's centerline.

Compared to other traditional Chinese combat systems, wing-chun may be learned relatively quickly. The way the art produces efficient and adaptable fighters in a relatively short time is by sticking to several core principles and constantly drilling them into the student, as well as taking a very generic approach to techniques. Instead of training a response to a specific technique, the student practices guarding various zones about the body and dealing generically with whatever happens to be in that zone. This allows for a minimum of technique for a maximum force.

The "mother line" is an imaginary pole running vertically through the center of your body. From it emanates the "center line,” a vertical three-dimensional grid that divides the body into a right and left half. Most of the vital points of the body are along the centerline, and it is this area that wing-chun students learn to protect as well as work from while using their own offensive techniques. Also emanating from the mother line is the central line. It is seen as the shortest path between you and your opponent, which is generally where most of the exchange is going to take place. Because of this linear concept, most of the techniques seek to occupy one of the two lines and usually take on a linear nature.

Much training time is spent cultivating "contact reflexes." The idea is that when you touch your opponent, your body automatically reads the direction, force, and often intent of the part of the opponent's body you are contacting, and subconsciously deals with it. This leads to the generic concept of zoning.

Contact reflexes and the concept of not using force against force are cultivated through unique two-man sensitivity drills called chi sao. The concepts of guarding and working off of these lines and zones are learned through the practice of the three patterns wing-chun students learn, which contain the basic techniques of the system; shil-lum-tao, chum-kil, and bil-jee.

Another unique aspect of the system is the use of the mook jong, or wooden dummy, a wood log on a frame that has three "arms" and a "leg" to simulate various possible positions of an opponent's limbs. A wooden dummy pattern is taught that consists of 108 movements. The pattern is meant to introduce students to various applications of the system. It also serves to help students perfect their own skills.

Only two weapons are taught in the system (only to advanced students), the dragon pole and the butterfly swords. Weapons training drills use the same generic ideas and concepts as the open hand system (including the use of contact reflexes). Many of the weapon movements are built off of, or mimic, the open hand moves, which is the reverse process of kali/escrima/arnis, where weapon movements come first, and then open hand movements mimic them.

Wrestling (Europe)

Wrestling is a combative sport that probably originated in ancient Greece and Rome. It is practiced in various forms in most cultures of the world (sumo in Japan, ssirum in Korea, khok in Armenia, sambo in Russia, etc.). It formed the basis for the Japanese martial sport of shootfighting, and many of its techniques are like those of judo.

Wushu (China)

Wushu means "martial skill." In the West, it is the term used to identify the modern Chinese martial art that emphasizes flashy techniques and acrobatics. In China, it is the official term used to refer to what Westerners call kung-fu or chuan-fat. Training includes numerous empty hand techniques and practically every imaginable weapon. Patterns are performed solo or with a partner.

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