What is Wing Chun Kung Fu?
Wing Chun Kung Fu is a very practical, powerful and devastatingly effective close range Shaolin combat / self defence system developed in Southern China (Foshan) over 400 years ago by Ng Mui (ung moy) – ‘Five Plums Nun’ Buddhist Nun, said to have invented the style to overcome larger, stronger opponents. Yim Wing Chun – ‘ Always/Praise Spring’ 1st disciple of Ng Mui .. said to be why style is named as such.
Wing Chun is not a sport based martial art. Wing Chun utilises the aggressors force against them, it does not use strength against strength, rather it re-directs the incoming energy of attacks and uses this energy against the attacker. Hence being suitable for the smaller framed person where physical size and strength are not of paramount importance.
Wing Chun has recently been popularised in the Ip Man films. Great Grandmaster Ip Man – Pivotal in Wing Chun’s development. Our Association has direct lineage to Ip Man. Ip Mans son, Ip Chun taught the Head of our Association Sifu Kwok Cheung. In Turn Sifu Kwok Cheung has taught Sifu Rick Bass.
Bruce Lee studied Wing Chun under Ip Man, Wing Chun is the baseline for Bruce Lees martial art techniques shown in his films, and is also the foundation for the style of Jeet Kune Do that Bruce Lee created.
PRINCIPLES, CONCEPTS AND SAYINGS OF WING CHUN
CENTRELINE THEORY: This we section into 3 parts for ease of learning. The centreline is a constant focus throughout your Wing Chun practice and is the main guide to all areas relating to combat and self-defence. The teaching is simple but the depth is profound.
1/ Attack and defend the centreline: refers to the line central from head to toe of the body where many of the vital/vulnerable areas of the body lie (e.g. eyes, nose, throat, sternum, solar plexus, bladder and groin)
Also any attack gained along this line can only be absorbed whereas an attack slightly off centre can be deflected and therefore not as simple and efficient.
2/ Simultaneous attack and defence: also referred to as ‘linking defence to bring in offence’ refers to the ideal of attacking and defending in one motion as many Martial Arts work on the ‘block then strike’ approach, making the Wing Chun response 50% more effective.
Traditionally summed up in the phrase ‘the hand that hits also blocks’
3/ Economy of motion: Takes into account that by using small, compact, direct movements wastes less energy and time when defending and attacking with the idea of reserving energy like you were saving money, the more you save, the more you have for when you need to use it.
A typical example is the way in Wing Chun we train to relax and contract when punching, by relaxing when the punch is released our muscles do not hinder the travel or speed of the punch leaving us with the explosive contraction as the punch completes…if we are tense during release of the punch we lose the speed and sudden contraction hence losing the power and explosiveness whilst wasting our energy.
This gives you a basic understanding although it is worthy of note that the centreline does and can change dependant upon the situation and positioning when in motion and phrases such as ‘losing the centreline’ and ‘regaining the centreline’ are common at higher levels.
GUNG LIK: ‘Working energy’ This term is often heard and quite often difficult to explain and understand. Gung lik is a term used for a development of skilful use of energy e.g. a chef who can cut vegetables quickly and precisely due to hard work and practice over time.
In Wing Chun it is used for the development of ‘elbow energy’ and must be felt to be fully understood, in this case it mainly refers to the slow 1st section of Siu Nim Tau where we aim to drive the shapes from and using a flowing energy in the elbow.
It can be better understood by flowing water through a hosepipe to create a constant forward pressure…this in Wing Chun terms develops a springy, relaxed forward energy mainly used in chi sau.
OTHER PRINCIPLES AND SAYINGS
‘Don’t use strength against strength’ – the stronger always wins
‘Beginners must not use strength’ – at an early stage by staying relaxed you are free to learn
‘Facing the centreline’ – used to dominate the opponents area and cut down their options
‘Glass head, bean-curd body & iron bridges’ – your head and body are precious to you so you must strive to defend them.. iron bridges relates to the correct structure and alignment of your bridges (arms) to do so.
‘Keep what comes, escort what leaves, hand free thrust forward’ – absorb attacks, follow up on defence, on losing contact thrust forward along the centreline.
‘Use soft to overcome hard’ – practical use of the Yin/Yang theory
‘Hands and feet defend accordingly, there are no secret unstoppable manoeuvres’ – generally speaking hands defend hands and feet defend feet and there is a counter method to all.
‘Fist comes from the heart’ – describes how a Wing Chun practitioner should put their sprit into everything they do thus becoming the art and using the principles in everyday life.
A sample of our Wing Chun Syllabus (please note this is just a small sample of what we do)
1/ Siu Nim Tau ( seeoo nim tauw) – Little Idea/Small Thought
2/ Chum Kiu (tsum kiew) – Seeking/Sinking the Bridge
3/ Biu Tze (biew tsee) – Thrusting fingers
Muk Yan Jong (mook yan chong) – Wooden man post/dummy
Luk Dim Boon Gwun (luk deem boon gwun) – six and a half point pole
Baat Cham Do (bart cham doe) – Eight Chopping knives
Lok Sau (luck so or sow) – Rolling hands (also term for a rolling motion single arm defence)
Dahn Chi Sau (darn tsee so) – Single sticking hands
Poon Sau – also meaning to roll and refers to the basic framework of chi sau in basic stance
Seung Chi Sau – Double sticking hands
Chi Gurk – Sticking legs
Gor Sau – ‘to apply freely’ or applications, usually whilst in chi sau
Gurk Fa’t (gerk fa) – way of the feet or footwork