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Wing Chun

Mastering the B.O.E.C. Strategy in Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu

Strategy is more important than technique in fighting.

Let me explain.

When I was younger I had a friend who would go looking for fights. He loved to fight all of the time. I grew up in Hawaii, so this was not uncommon. There is a culture of fighting in Hawaii where young males have to prove themselves through combat. I know this seems really weird for those people who did not grow up in Hawaii, but it's true.

Anyway, my friend would pick fights with grown men. Keep in mind that we were just 16 years old at the time.

My friend had never trained martial arts a day in his life but would drop people and knock them unconscious all the time.

I asked him one time how he would do it and his response to me was to always hit first. Hitting first would leave the guy stunned and unable to fight back with any type of reasonable ability.

However, in my martial arts class I never tell any of my students to follow this strategy because of the legal ramifications. When you hit first and you were the on instigating the fight you will go to jail.

So how then can we use strategy and legitimate martial arts technique to win fights?

How do we make sure we stay safe while protecting our families and loved ones?

In Wing Chun, we use the BOEC strategy.

What is The B.O.E.C. Strategy?

Wing Chun Kung Fu is widely known for its emphasis on simplicity. Wing Chun is both direct and efficient.

One of the reasons why is called the B.O.E.C. strategy (Balance, Opening, Elbow, and Arms Crossed). BOEC is a concept embraced and taught by Grandmaster William Cheung. William Chueng is considered one of the great masters of Wing Chun.

Here is the breakdown of this strategy and what is means:

  • Balance: Balance is a fundamental principle in ALL martial arts. If your opponent is off-balance, they're vulnerable. If you're off-balance, your techniques won't work. The importance of maintaining your balance in fighting and then going on to exploit your opponent's lack of balance cannot be overstated.
  • Opening: One of your main jobs when defending yourself is to observe and identify gaps in your opponent's defense. An 'opening' could be a tiny lapse in their guard, a predictable pattern, or maybe even a momentary distraction.
  • Elbow: The elbow serves multiple functions. It can be a potent striking tool, but in the context of B.O.E.C., it pertains to controlling the opponent's elbow. If you can control their elbow, you control their movements and striking ability.
  • Arms Crossed: In Wing Chun you need to recognize when an opponent's arms are crossed or compromised, So you can trap. Trapping is when you use one of your arms to control both of their arms

The Role of Observation

Before you can apply the B.O.E.C strategy effectively you must develop a sense of observation. The eyes should be trained to quickly assess where your opponents balance could be upset. Thin about  drawing an imaginary line between your opponents feet.

Now draw a second imaginary line perpendicular to the mine between their feet. This is the direction in which you should attack. Get them on their heels and they will not be able to mount any type of effective defense.

At the same exact time, you should also be assessing what opening you will take advantage of. Maybe a leg kick? Maybe they have their left hand held low? Maybe they extend their arm to point their finger in your face?

Next, start thinking of attacking their elbow first. If you attack with Pak Sau (slapping palm block) you can use your block to immobilize their punch and throw them temporarily off balance at the same time. 

Lastly, you will look for opportunities to cross their arms and bind them from launching any type of punch. Usually, you would do this after the initial attack.

This process becomes intuitive over time, but it begins with conscious attention and study.

Wing Chun

Traditional Wing Chun Footwork and the Blind Side Strategy

The footwork in Traditional Wing Chun is unique. It is designed for mobility, stability, and positioning.

To make the BOEC strategy actually work in real life, your footwork is key.

Use the Wing Chun footwork to get to the opponent's blind side. The blindside is explained in the video but essentially is is getting to a position where the secondary attack is nullified by their attacking hand is too far away from you to be useful. Getting to their side or back will reduce their offensive capabilities, giving you a very large advantage.

Defense Is as Crucial as Offense

While the B.O.E.C. strategy is an excellent offensive tool, one should never neglect defense.

You should always be ready for a wild punch from your opponent. Remember, if they are untrained they could still get lucky. Never underestimate your opponents ability to land a punch.

Learn to recognize these same vulnerabilities that you want to exploit within yourself. This ensures that you will not be susceptible to the same tactics that you are doing yourself.

The synergy between B.O.E.C., and the footwork in Traditional Wing Chun as taught by GM William Cheung creates a holistic fighting system.

It's not just about strikes and blocks; it's about understanding, adapting, and strategizing in real-time. Wing Chun practitioners are taught to react instantly and without thinking.

B.O.E.C. is not only physical skills but also the mental acuity. Both are required in actual martial combat.

As with all martial arts training, your consistent practice and dedication will result in mastery.

Remember this quote "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." ~ Bruce Lee