A relative new kid on the block when it comes to kung fu, Wing Chun was developed around 300 years ago, according to the International Wing Chun Academy. The southern Chinese martial art style emphasizes efficiency and the elimination of unnecessary movements, and its effectiveness comes from technique rather than size and strength. Training in the Wing Chun style not only makes you a fierce opponent, it also strengthens your muscles, increases flexibility, burns fat and promotes relaxation.
Wing Chun training begins with conditioning your legs to be strong enough to execute Wing Chun techniques properly. Sil-Nim-Tao is a fundamental Wing Chun stance. Students are often trained to hold this stance for long periods of time, building strength and endurance.
Chi gerk, also called "sticky legs," is another fundamental Wing Chun exercise that strengthens your legs. Chi gerk is performed with a partner. The goal is to maintain contact with your partner's legs as you block and deflect his attacks.
The "horse stance" is also a common stance used for practicing punches, which trains your legs and improves your posture. Holding this stance is an intense workout for your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings.
Upper Body Strength
Wing Chun training focuses heavily on punching. You may spend several hours performing punching drills, throwing chain punches and punching wall bags. These exercises strengthen the muscles of the arms, shoulders, chest and back. They also develop muscular endurance, speed and power. Wing Chun wrist-circling exercises improve the strength of your forearms as they improve flexibility.
Considerable flexibility is needed to execute Wing Chun moves, and stretching is a major part of Wing Chun training. Wing Chun students stretch their bodies before and after every class, and stretching is built into many of the poses and exercises. For example, horse stance stretches the muscles of the groin, hips and hamstrings, and wrist circles stretch the forearms and improve mobility in the wrist joint.
The shoulders are an important joint to keep healthy when practicing Wing Chun. Much of the power of a punch comes from the shoulder girdle, yet the shoulders are some of the easiest joints to injure. Flexibility and mobility work included in training will protect these important joints
Wing Chun training can be intense and exhausting. Throwing repeated punches, kicks and combinations builds cardiovascular endurance and burns calories and fat. Training with a punching bag is an excellent cardiovascular exercise, and a 135-pound adult can burn between 350 and 450 calories during a 50-minute kickboxing workout.
The muscles you build in your legs and upper body also increase calorie burn because they improve your resting metabolism. Muscle mass is more metabolically active than fat mass; having more muscle takes more energy to maintain.
Martial arts are known for their ability to focus the mind and promote the mind-body connection. Meditation is a key aspect of Wing Chun training. Wing Chun masters teach their students how to calm their breathing and clear their minds, putting students in a relaxed state that gives them focus. Once you learn the meditation techniques, you can practice them anytime, anywhere to reduce stress and feel more relaxed.