Is Wing Chun illegal in MMA?

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Wing Chun as martial art itself is not illegal in MMA. However, some of the techniques that a Wing Chun practitioner might use are not allowed since they're considered too dangerous for a sports competition. Is it true or is it an excuse in order to avoid competition in UFC?

MMA Rules

First of all, we have to understand what is not allowed in MMA. Some of the most interesting limitations are:

  • Any kind of strike to the throat
  • Fingers outstretched towards opponent's face/eyes
  • Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh
  • Kicking and knee-striking the head of a grounded opponent
Is Wing Chun illegal in MMA

Wing Chun and MMA: The main difference

While there are many more rules, the four above are the main reasons why some Wing Chun techniques might not be suitable for a sports competition. In fact, there is a huge difference between a street fight and a combat sports competition.
A real situation requires the infliction of huge damage in the shortest time possible. There is no time for rules, judges, or any kind of ethical or moral limits to the fight. It's all about survival. Conversely, sports competitions have basic rules that everyone has to follow in order to limit as much as possible permanent damage to the competitors and try to safeguard their health as much as possible. Can you even imagine an MMA fight without rules? Indeed, no one will ever forget some episodes that will remain forever in the history of combat, such as Tyson's attack on poor Hollyfield's ear.

Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield

Is Wing Chun effective in MMA?

Conor McGregor

While Wing Chun is designed to face dangerous and unexpected real-life situations, the adaptation of this kung fu style to a competition is not as simple as you may imagine. Many real-life situations require often finishing the fight as soon as possible. Time is critical and there are no scheduled rounds with breaks in between in which you and your opponent can take some breath.


kung fu in UFC

Dealing with an opponent in a potential death-life situation requires deadly techniques which allow you to beat him. Moreover, other situations should be considered, such as multiple attackers, the use of tools or weapons, and space limitations. In such contexts, you'll probably need brutal and combat-designed techniques specifically tailored to inflict the greatest damage in the shortest time possible, without considering their morality.

Russia's real life Fight Club

To sum it up, we can only conclude that Wing Chun should be considered effective, if well applied, in real-life situations. However, we cannot conclude the same when part of the system is changed or limited, in order to comply with some rules. Despite these limitations of the system some MMA Athletes, such as Josh Kaldani and Anderson Silva, regularly use Wing Chun in such sports competitions. Just to cite an example we invite you to give a look at the following article.


Josh Kaldani: Wing Chun in MMA

Joe Rogan and Robert Downey Jr.

Did you know that Robert Downey Jr. has some real experience in Martial Arts, specifically in Wing Chun? In the following Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, they exchange their experiences and knowledge about Wing Chun and its application in UFC.


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