What is Wing Chun?
Wing Chun is a martial art made famous by Bruce Lee and his master Yip Man. The training builds internal energy and power, emphasizing softness, yielding techniques and counterattack strategies.
Wing Chun Kung Fu is a close-range combat martial art that focuses on being direct and efficient. The close-range nature makes it ideal for urban environments and other small, confined spaces. Wing Chun Kung Fu techniques allow one to defend themselves from assault, regardless of body size, gender, or athletic ability. Those who want to learn Wing Chun should know that physical strength is not the primary factor in a Wing Chun fight. Balance, focus, relaxation, and proper grounding are some of the key aspects of Wing Chun effectiveness.
Wing Chun History
The origin of Wing Chun martial arts is a topic of dispute. Its history has been passed down verbally from generation to generation and is different depending on who tells it. Most stories center around a woman named Yim Wing Chun, who lived in Southern China around 300 years ago. Having learned a form of Shaolin Kung Fu to defend herself, she developed new techniques into what became known as Wing Chun. She taught her husband Leung Bok-Chao, who became a master of Wing Chun and passed it on to others after her death. He passed it on to 6 members of the Red Boat Opera Company, from whom all Wing Chun schools can be traced back.
Different Branches of Wing Chun
There are several branches of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Perhaps the most famous is the Ip Man branch. Also known as Yip Man, or Yip Kai-Man, he was the first master of Wing Chun to teach large classes for a fee. Before him, Wing Chun classes were not available to the general public. Because of this, most practitioners today can trace their roots back to his teachings. Ip Man had many notable students, including Bruce Lee. There is also a successful series of Ip Man movies starring Donnie Yen
Wing Chun Techniques
Wing Chun Kung Fu techniques are close to the body, so that balance and protection of central body can be maintained. The most important part of any Wing Chun fight is having a well-balanced body, relaxed, and rooted to the ground. Wing Chun effectiveness relies on the practitioner’s ability to maintain the structure of the stance at all times. This basic, centered structure of the body must not be compromised, as it will open the person up to attack. Attack and defense are both based from the center line of the body, allowing for greater efficiency.
Wing Chun Basics
There are 6 Wing Chun forms, which are exercises designed to train in balance, relaxation, and mental focus. They are the foundation of Wing Chun martial arts. While the names remain the same, the exact techniques differ among the various Wing Chun schools. The first 3 forms are open-hand. The fourth is practicing against a dummy model. Once these forms are mastered, the student may move on to the final 2 forms, which make use of different weapons.
- Siu Lim Tau (Little Idea) – The foundation for all Wing Chun techniques. Meant to be practiced throughout one’s lifetime, even if they are a long-time Wing Chun master.
- Chum Kiu (Seeking the Bridge) – Building off of Siu Lim Tau to learn Wing Chun techniques for fighting an opponent.
- Biu Jee (Thrusting Fingers) – The third of the open-hand Wing Chun forms. Developing powerful short and long-range techniques that can bring a Wing Chun fight to a deadly conclusion.
- Muk Yan Jong (Wooden Dummy) – Training against a dummy made of wood, metal, or PVC that’s meant as a stand-in for a real person. The dummy has 3 arms and a single leg,
used to refine the student’s techniques.
- Baat Jam Dao (Butterfly Swords) – Incorporating butterfly swords into your Wing Chun training, along with advanced footwork and fighting techniques.
- Look Dim Boon Grun (Dragon Pole) – Fighting with a large stick, anywhere from 5-13 feet long.
When learning Wing Chun basics, the student will quickly learn that punches and kicks don’t always connect with the opponent. Balance must still be maintained, and the missed attack should flow immediately into a follow-up move.
Punches follow the basic guideline of following the straightest path between the fist and the opponent. Straight right and left punches are the most common, but sometimes uppercuts and hook punches are utilized. The arm should be relaxed through the punch, and not activating the shoulder or back muscles. These punches are designed to be able to attack and defend at the same time.
Kicks are focused below the waste. High kicks create a vulnerability, whereas low kicks can knock the opponent off-balance. Like punches, kicks should be used as both attack and defense.
Students practice various drills with each other to develop reflexes and sensitivity. Depending on the branch, these may include:
- Touching forearms together while going through moves. This helps the opponents get a better feel for the other’s movements.
- Pushing forearms together while rolling them in a circle. The goal is to maintain relaxation while feeling resistance.
- Trapping techniques, designed to immobilize the opponent.
- Slap, block, and punch drills.
- Grasp and punch drills.
- General sparring, while using protective gear such as a mouth guard.
Principles of Wing Chun.
This martial art system is based on the following logical and comprehensive set of principles:
The emphasis on flowing relaxation is especially useful for softening muscular tension due to stress or other strenuous activities throughout our daily lives. The softening of the muscles is the very foundation for internal energy flow which allows the proper power generation required for correct body movements without muscular force. This eventually leads to a deep level of relaxation, awareness and control of the entire body.
The technique used sensitises the mind, making it alive and calm. When practiced correctly and sufficiently, this technique leads to an expansion of the mind so that it can link to the body that will allow you to feel the flow of internal energy throughout your body with great clarity. Constant awareness of the movements and will sharpen your mind on a deeper level, which in turn increases your concentration.
Correct biomechanics is not only the key to energy efficiency but for power generation. Students are instructed to be very attentive in the precise execution of the forms and movements used.
This Wing Chun is simple and straightforward. Based on natural movements of the body, therefore it is easy to learn and to apply. Because the technique does not involve complex or contorted movements, it is suitable for an individual of any age, size, gender or body type
Movements are not meant to be flashy or spectacular, (such as jumping or 360 spins etc), they are not limited by the environment or restrictive clothing.
Wing Chun Training
If you’re ready to learn Wing Chun, first you should decide how you want to learn. You can study Wing Chun online, train at a local Wing Chun Academy, use DVDs, and supplement any of these with Wing Chun books. If you wish to train in-person, you can find a local martial arts academy, and see if they offer Wing Chun classes. You may also have a Wing Chun Academy in your area that specializes in nothing but Wing Chun martial arts. You may wish to speak with the Sifu (teacher) first, and see if their methods will be a good fit for you and your goals.
The Wing Chun Master Wong System offers a variety of training methods. You can study Wing Chun online, purchase DVD videos, and go to his Wing Chun training retreats in Vietnam. His community has reached over a million people.
Internal Wing Chun training
The internal aspect of Wing Chun does not involve exercises, forms of psychotherapy, or spiritual healing techniques. Sifu Wan guides the student through Sil lum tao (first form) and movement, observing and working with whole patterns of bio mechanics, which include tension and postural patterns, how a student thinks about moving, and the active movement itself. The student actively participates in this fascinating process, learning to apply his/her own intelligence to effectively change habits.
The internal training of wing Chun is rarely taught. Most often, the wing chun schools focus on the fighting aspect rather than the internal energy work. This internal energy practice in wing chun was taught to Sifu Wan by Sigung Chu Shong Tin. Sigung Chu passed on knowledge on how to incorporate the internal energy practices into Wing Chun, thus making this Wing Chun style not only for ‘fighting’ purposes but to make the mind/body connection for total well being.
Sil lum tao (First form)
The Sil lum tao form movements relax and regulate the central nervous system, releasing physical and emotional stress, and promoting mental and emotional well-being. It gives the practitioner a great physical sense of how chi gets embodied into movement and enables the practitioner to experience and work with energy in a very subtle, complex manner.
Often when first learning the Wing Chun form you must spend many days or weeks simply learning the external movements. At some point, once you have learned the external movements so that you don’t have to ‘think’ about doing them, you can then start to focus more on sensing the chi flow.
once you have the external movements and are starting to feel and sense the internal chi, new possibilities open up to use Wing Chun for meditation (moving meditation).
Wing Chun is a potent internal martial art that builds internal energy and power.
It is an art-form that can be practiced alongside many other martial art forms, building greater sensitivity and strength for self-defense.
The advantages of practicing Wing Chun go far beyond than learning to effectively defend yourself and getting in shape.
This learning process can have many benefits, including freer and more comfortable movement, relief from strain, chronic pain, and excess tension, more comfortable and erect posture, easier and healthier breathing, increased vitality and strength, and most importantly, the development of skills that can be used to change habits that interfere with optimal functioning.