everlasting springtime

Wing Chun Kung Fu

Wing Chun Kung Fu is a highly efficient and practical martial art that places a strong emphasis on simultaneous attack and defense. Renowned for its direct and straightforward approach, this unique style prioritizes economy of movement, allowing practitioners to execute rapid and precise techniques at close range. Characterized by its effective use of hand techniques and low kicks, Wing Chun is especially well-suited for self-defense situations and has gained popularity for its focus on practical application.

learning taolu / luk geng drill / lop sao range control
A harmony of yin & yang

The Art of Wing Chun Defined

Those who practice Wing Chun become effective and adaptable in fighting through applying core principles in a highly disciplined and repetitive manner. Applying a technique is looked at from an open-ended perspective. Wing Chun fighters do not practice responses to specific attacks, rather they train to safeguard areas of the body and can react to attacks on individual zones. This method permits a minimum amount of technique to be effective enough to cover a maximum amount of applications, thus giving the fighter an edge to illicit automatic or subconscious body responses.

 

A fundamental in Wing Chun is to not meet force with additional force. Practitioners will seek to use their challenger’s own force against them, thus allowing a weak fighter to overcome a stronger rival. A large amount of Wing Chun training is devoted to this notion with the ultimate goal to cultivate what is known as touch sensitivity or contact reflexes.

 

Sensitivity reflexes occur when a fighter makes contact with their opponent, in Wing Chun this is called, “Bridging.” When this happens, their body will automatically detects the direction, force, and intent of their challenger’s energy output. This cultivated reflex, paired with the concept of zoning, gives the Wing Chun fighter the ability to instinctively deal with an opponent’s attack.

founder Ng mui, one of five shaolin ancestors

A Brief History of Wing Chun kung fu

Developed in China, Wing Chun is a concept-based, aggressive martial art focusing on controlled grappling and striking while combating in close range. In comparison to other forms of Chinese martial arts, Wing Chun is relatively new, with most historians believing it originated in the south of China around 1650-1750.

 

While it has been difficult to pinpoint and identify the ones responsible for developing the art in the early days, it is widely believed the style of Wing Chun was formed by Buddhist nun, and master of many kung fu styles, Ng Mui. She was thought to be influenced by the styles of Crane and Snake as well as the movements of the animals themselves. By using her knowledge and training of martial arts as well as her personal experience, she was able to create a compact form of kung fu which would manipulate weaknesses in the styles of her opponents while giving her small frame an advantage over larger fighters. This new style, later referred to as Wing Chun allegedly named after Ng Mui’s first student, a woman named Yim Wing Chun, was kept protected and only taught to the most dedicated disciples.

 

Alternative stories mention a Siu Lum training hall known by the name of Wing Chun (Eternal Springtime Training Hall), where the art may also have potentially derived it’s name, inspired by the soft/responsive nature applied to the techniques in application.

path of simple intent – planting a humble seed

First Form of Wing Chun, Siu Nim Tao

Siu Nim Tao is considered the fundamental form in which all other forms are built upon. This is due to the fact that Siu Nim Tao focuses on structure, posture and stance, these are widely recognized as the three most important aspects of Wing Chun. Proper Siu Nim Tao stance is neutral, feet faintly pigeon-toed or squared, and spaced hip width apart to prevent imbalance Legs are slightly bent to retain elasticity (creating an arch in the qua), and the knees are kept slightly bent. In this position, many hand moves, most consisting of only one hand at a time, will be performed with a focus on the central line and structural posture. Once trained to a level of proficiency, it becomes second nature to attack or retreat along the central line. It is important to note that Siu Nim Tao does not involve turning or footwork and is often referred to as the dictionary of hands.

 

Anecdotally, the defensive and the offensive techniques in Wing Chun are as intimately linked as the Yin and the Yang of the Tao. Each move by one hand is connected structurally with the other. Therefore, a standard block with one hand is typically followed by or executed simultaneously with a strike by the other hand.

 

Important principles introduced in the Siu Nim Tao:

Bat Doan Jiang – the immovable elbow
Chor Kiu – the sinking bridge
Jung Seen – center line
Noi Mun – gate theory
Poon Sao/Kiu – rolling hands/bridges
Lat Sao Jik Chung – straight punch
Phon Sao – trapping hands

Seeking the Bridge – Sinking the Bridge

Second Form of Wing Chun, Chum Kiu

Once a martial artist has grasped the essentials of Siu Nim Tao, they will then train in the Chum Kiu form. This form builds upon Siu Nim Tao with more dynamic movements. The main priority of Chum Kiu is to control the opponent estabishing contact and manipulating the bridge.

 

Wing Chun has an advantage over other forms when it comes to close-range fighting and techniques. This is due to the fact that bridging and entry techniques are secondary to the act of fighting in close range. Chum Kiu’s close range work consists of turning or pivoting, as well as kicking making these moves the main features that differentiates Chum Kiu from Siu Nim Tao. In Chum Kiu, the practitioner’s stance is no longer stationary when compared with Siu Nim Tao, as this form teaches turning and shuffle stepping.

 

Short-range systems need solid entry level techniques to be able to get close to their opponents while disabling and destabilizing the balance of an opponent. The aim is to swiftly breach whatever defensive or offensive tactics an opponent uses; including trapping the opponent’s arms. Once in close range, Wing Chun becomes especially effective. When Wing Chun techniques are used properly, a practitioner can clash with and evade oncoming attacks, consistently shifting position to sustain pressure while seeking the opening, and rapidly exploiting once it appears.

 

Some of the principles practiced in Chum Kiu:

  • Establishing the bridge contact point
  • Training the bridge to feel the opponents movements
  • Using bridge contact point to control the opponent
  • Responding from different angles
Be direct and intercept – Thrusting Fingers

Third Form of Wing Chun, Biu Jee

The third and final empty hand form of modern Wing Chun, Biu Jee is broken up into short range and long-range emergency contingencies. As one of the three Empty Hand forms (Siu Nim Tao, Chum Kiu), Biu Jee is the shortest and said to only be used in extreme circumstances. In general sparring situations, a person should not need to use Biu Jee applications. These technques may seem to bend proper Wing Chun structure and principles.

 

Long-range Biu Jee methods include low kicks and sweeps as well as recovery procedures in the incident that one has lost balance or has received a weakening blow. Close-range Biu Jee practices contain use of the elbows in the face or throat, a knee to the groin, the knuckles of a clenched fist jabbed into the solar plexus, and finger thrusts into the throat, hence the name “Thrusting Fingers.”

 

Some of the principles practiced in Biu Jee:

  • Elevate the level of responses
  • Interrupting the opponent
  • Recovering from a mistake
  • Contingency to exit a bad situation
twelve methods of Wing chun

Wing Chun Sup Yee Fat

Chum - To Sink

Involves bringing down or sinking through the natural weight while staying on top of the bridge and maintaining the center-line. By sinking and turning the core during jeun (a turning movement), the practitioner can pivot away from an attacker’s force while staying centered.

Chit - To Cut

Refers to cutting down the center-line to disrupt an opponent’s structure lacking stability. For instance, an outstretched arm or a bent elbow lan sau (a specific hand technique) can be cut down due to the absence of a stable muscular-skeletal structure to support it against the force on top of the bridge.

Darp - To Connect or Join

Involves seeking and joining the incoming bridge, allowing the practitioner to redirect or deflect an opponent’s attack. If there is no existing bridge on the center-line, this method can also be applied with a strike.

Dong - To Swing

Utilizes rotational movements to control an opponent’s center of gravity. Ideally, this technique is executed with a bridge or control point connection, often initiated through the horse stance (a fundamental stance in Wing Chun). Elbow strikes and various takedown movements also embody the Dong energy.

Tun - To Swallow

Represents the deflective energy in Wing Chun, often manifested through techniques like Tan Sau (palm-up block) and Jum Sau (sinking arm block). By skillfully deflecting an opponent’s straight attack off the center-line, the practitioner creates centrifugal force, drawing the opponent in, enhancing their own position.

Lao - To Leak

This method involves waiting for an opening to strike, rather than forcefully creating one. As Wing Chun practitioners maintain constant contact and stay on top of the bridge, they focus on deflecting and redirecting until a vulnerability in the opponent’s defense emerges, akin to water finding its way through a weak structure.

Tao - To Steal (To Chain)

The practitioner must always occupy the center-line with their bridge. When the bridge is pushed off-center due to energies, deflections, or forces, the practitioner rotates in a chain-like fashion to continue pressing forward, testing the center-line and “stealing” the opponent’s attacks away from the center-line. The “chain punch” exercise trains this concept as a relentless assault and continuous contact on the opponent’s bridge and targets.

Mo - To Touch or Feel

In Wing Chun, contact is soft and responsive. The hands are not rigid but rather sensory, constantly feeling their way along the bridge toward the target. This soft and sensory touch, from the hands down to the elbow, is likened to a snake coiling around a tree branch or a cloth being pulled around a pole.

Jeet - To Intercept

This principle involves cutting off or intercepting an opponent’s attack. When redirecting an attack, the practitioner momentarily pins or blocks the opponent’s path back to the center-line once the opponent has been led into emptiness. In this moment, the focus points (e.g., the elbow on the core) are pinned through structural force, creating an opportunity for a counterstrike.

Tong - To Press

Refers to the contact pressure applied from above on the bridge. This pressure helps flow the opponent off the center-line and “into emptiness.” By feeling the direction of force through the opponent’s pressure on your bridge, you can redirect their energy accordingly. The Tong is also utilized during moments of control from above.

Biu - To Shoot or To Dart

Similar to the Chit method of cutting down the center-line, Biu involves shooting up the center-line above one’s head. When an opponent’s techniques drive you upwards, this method guides them upwards, creating openings for attacks below.

Chi - To Stick

An essential concept in Wing Chun, often underutilized. To stick means to maintain forearm contact with your opponent’s bridge. By sensing and feeling their energy, momentum, and forces, you can counter and be guided by their force, while also using this contact and their force to guide them away “into emptiness.” The Keun Kuit phrase, “stick to the bridge of the enemy,” emphasizes this principle of continuous contact and sensitivity.

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