just another Wing Chun blog

Consistency in Training

by Barry Lee

I sometimes think that trying to teach my students How to fight, is like pushing the proverbial camel through the eye of the proverbial needle.

To be a good ‘fighter’ is more difficult, but to learn How to fight, by applying the Principles and Techniques learned, understood and practised in class, should be somewhat easier.

I say ‘should be’ easier, because it seems that through the years students have come and gone, each with their own approach to training in Ving Tsun.

Some have been natural athletes, some, not so gifted, have simply employed dogged determination and effort, many have trained hard, with enthusiasm and dedication. A few have just wanted to look good, very few just wanted to put in an appearance and to tell their friends they practised a martial art. People in the last two categories don’t last long, so we will disregard these.

All the above, however, at some time in their training process have learned but not understood, have understood but not practised, have practised but not learned or understood the principles and techniques given to them by this time weary and battle worn Sifu.

Consistency is the key to good training in any discipline.

In order to be consistent there are certain things you must do always:

1. Always Listen – really listen to what you are being told, hear what is being said. Visualise it, try to see it happening and concentrate. Don’t wander off mentally. Don’t be an ‘empty-head-nodder.’

2. Always Watch – pay attention to every little detail being shown or demonstrated to you as an individual, or to the class as a whole. If you cannot see, move to where you can, you are not fixed in that position. I am certain the Instructor will be much happier if you can see what he is trying to show you, otherwise he is wasting his time. If you have not watched carefully, how can you practise correctly?, and when it comes time to practise with a fellow student you are disadvantaging him/her as well as yourself.

3. Always Learn – you can only learn if you fully understand what you are listening to, so ask questions, and if you have to, move your body and limbs with the Instructor (as he demonstrates), if this is the only way you can remember with accuracy. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are learning when really, you have not understood.

4. Always Understand – if you do not fully understand, again, ask questions. Believe me, there is always someone else who does not fully understand but is afraid to ask the question you are about to. Have the courage to face yourself and those around you, for this self-confidence and honesty is a vital ingredient to being able to fight and fight well, let alone, your ability to learn.

5. Always Practise – No amount of understanding, learning, watching, or listening, will make you a good martial artist, unless you are willing to practise and practise hard. Think about what you have been told, remember what you were shown, understand the principles behind the techniques and then practise until the moves become automatic, until you no longer have to think about what you are doing. You must know you are correct, as you do when you lift that knife and fork to your mouth or put that car in gear.

Feel the right movement, feel your body when it is wrong, in technique, in balance, in speed, in power, in accuracy etc, etc.

Don’t think … feel

And remember, if you practise a movement or series of movements incorrectly, you are laying the groundwork for everything that follows to be progressively wrong.

Your mistakes are too easily compounded and you will find it more and more difficult, as time goes on, to correct these mistakes…

`Why?’…because you have spent your precious time practising incorrect movements, when all you had to do in the beginning was to Listen, Watch, Learn and Understand before attempting your daily practice.

As I have said, consistency is the key to good training in any discipline and you must be disciplined in your approach to training.

If you don’t feel well or are tired, try to do at least your basic `Sets’ and ‘punches’. Temper your practice with common sense and don’t ignore what your body tells you, but don’t allow your body to always dictate terms to you. Be mentally strong and you will easily overcome tiredness and many other maladies including boredom and possibly a desire to simply be at the Pub instead of training.

If you want to learn how to fight and win (as my Sifu once said: `How can you defend yourself, unless you can fight and win?’.) then you must practise all your Ving Tsun movements. Not just those you like best or find easiest and you must practise all these movements all the time. This means at every training session, in class, or at home.

You must learn and understand the unique training aspects of Chi Sao and above all, develop the special `feeling’ that only Chi Sao can give you.

This, however, is another topic. Certainly too vast and complex to continue with at this time.

I will say here and now though, that if two men are good natural fighters of almost equal ability, one with Chi Sao experience and the other without. Then the fight will almost certainly go to the man with much Chi Sao practice.

Understand and practise all your Ving Tsun all of the time and you will `fight to win’ … `you will win’

In closing, I would like to thank all those who attended my Birthday gathering, thanks to those who signed my Card and all those who sent separate messages both for my Birthday and in the form of Get Well wishes.

I would like to say that it is not the physical battles of years past, the adrenalin rush, the crunch of bone. Not the sweat of personal achievement in long hard years of training or being able to overcome seeming impossible sickness and injury. None of these have given as much satisfaction as being able to pass my very hard won knowledge to my students through the years.

The battles of spirit and ego, of co-ordination, memory and determination. The battles of mind over pain and boredom, the argument and discussion.

The smiles of satisfaction and relief at having completed a difficult or repetitive series of movements.

Watching my students and friends progress and achievement in both knowledge and physical skill, year after year, gives me a real pride. And now after my recent trip with your Si-Gung (Wong Shun-Leung) to Europe, London, Hong Kong, I can honestly say we have one of the best standards in Ving Tsun that I have seen anywhere.

It is you people out there, who are the future of Ving Tsun … keep it strong, practise hard and in the correct way… Most of all,

Make Ving Tsun work for you!


The Ving Tsun Knives

by Dave Jardine

Baat Jaam Do, the Ving Tsun knives are excellent weapons and we use a traditional chopper design, wide blade, and same width all the way along. We have a good sized guard that allows us to change our grip on the knife by rotating the handle in our hand, thus turning the blade to be flat without compromising the strength in the wrist.

The quillon, the curved part coming out where the handle meets the blade is large and rounded, just the perfect size to catch a pole or staff and allow us to move in on the opponent while controlling their weapon. It can also catch an opponent’s edged blade and with a simple turn of our wrist trap their weapon and allow us to chop their wrist with our other knife. The same as with the arm break move in the Chum Kiu form, where we don’t train to go for an arm break but just do it if their arm happens to get in the right place, with regard to trapping an opponent’s weapon in the quillon it’s not something we aim to do, but it’s a possibility we like to be open to.. if their weapon happens to catch in the quillon we’ll turn their blade and chop their wrist off. With a large quillon, the opponent’s blade can be caught without our blade being turned much at all, so it’s much more likely to happen than with a small quillon. The larger quillon also works very well as an eye gouge if our blade were to slide next to the opponent’s head, even piercing the back of the eye socket. Also, the larger quillon serves well as a guard, while a smaller quillon will more easily allow an opponent’s blade to strike over ours and into our arm. Sometimes, bigger is better..
We get our training knives made by a local blacksmith, Wayne Saunders who operates Iron Lord Forge. You can see an image of the knives in his gallery here.  Click on the image in the gallery to get a clearer view. Contact Wayne via his website for further details or to order a set. He is a master knife maker and artisan.. his other work is well worth a browse!
The knife training is an important component of VT training, especially regarding specialised footwork and development of the understanding of the elbows, and to develop strength in the waist and the wrist snap for the punch.
One perspective on the knife training is that the knives are simply a piece of training equipment to develop aspects of the empty hand work. Of course weapons skill is also developed, but in reality when most fights occur there is not a weapon handy, unless it’s in the opponent’s hands!
The knife training skills can transfer easily and naturally to a broken pool cue, a couple of cricket stumps or even a rolled up magazine if we are lucky enough to have something such on hand at the time.

The real value is in what the knife training contributes to the rest of the system.

Because we are holding weapons, and programming in some of the moves to deal with an opponent’s heavy weapon, our use of the waist and feet is very different in these instances from the footwork elsewhere in the system. Yet, this footwork can be used to manipulate a much heavier opponent than our usual footwork would allow. It can also be used to deliver devastating strikes which approach the opponent from surprising positions and in situations where our usual movement or structures won’t work.
When we are training with our knives to fight an opponent with a long sword, our footwork is different again to effectively get us off the line of attack and to withdraw our leg to hide the femoral artery. This kind of stepping is valuable in getting off the line of an incoming punch or kick and moving in through the centre, and it delivers an extremely powerful and devastating punch.
Because we are moving a weight, the knives, held in the hands sometimes at almost arms length, the angular inertia from the weight forces us to develop strength in our shifting, in the waist, also in the ankles, knees, lower back, shoulders, wrists, elbows, and how to unify and/or coordinate these strengths. We train with 1.6mm steel blades which are quick and light but still give a solid chop. We also train with 3mm blades for extra strength training, and with steel pipes for power training.

The knife training develops a different mindset to the empty hand work, an extra viciousness, due to what we are visualising doing to the opponent with our chopping actions. This can obviously help if we get into a fight, but doesn’t make for a healthy attitude when relating to people in day to day life, which is one reason we are advised to not overtrain the knives. A little bit of a good thing is best, in this case.

Facing training partners attacking us with weapons conditions us so we can better relax when facing unarmed opponents. This is a positive outcome of the knife training mindset.

There is a more serious caution that comes with the knives. There is another reason that we should never overtrain them. In much of the knife training, our wrist is used much like the elbow is used in the empty hand training, especially with jum sau like actions, where our wrist effectively becomes the elbow for the action. When we overtrain the knives, our wrist can begin to act like an elbow in the empty hand training, so our chi sau and fighting gets ‘handsy’ and we work incorrectly using the wrist instead of the elbow. I’ve been advised this error once trained in is almost impossible to fix. So, no matter how senior one gets in Ving Tsun, the empty hand work always makes by far the bulk of the training. The weapons are there to complement the empty hand training.


Wing Chun’s Butterfly Knives

by Phillip Redmond

The butterfly knives are a weapon used primarily by martial artists of southern China. The blade length of the weapon is equal to the fist and the forearm, and a guard is fixed to its hilt to protect the hand. The special length of the blade is designed to allow for better maneuvering. For instance, if the blade is longer than the length of the fist and the arm, it could not be able to be rotated inside the arms. However, the shape of the butterfly knife and the way of its use differs in northern China.

With the northern Chinese butterfly knife, the footwork of the user in kicking is stressed; but the butterfly swords in southern China are used chiefly in close-quarter fighting because of their short length, with emphasis placed on precision and the coordination of both swords at the same time. One modern adept of hung gar style, Wong Fei Hung, was especially noted for his skill with this weapon.

Wing Chun eight slash butterfly knives are also called Wing Chun Baat Jaam Do. The name Baat Jaam Do was derived from the initial intention of the originator who designed the striking technique mainly aiming for the wrist, elbow, knee and ankle. The purpose was to main the opponent rather than to kill since the Wing Chun Baat Jaam Do was originated from the Shaolin temple and used by the monks and nuns of the temple in their travels.

They frequently carried sums of money donated by their worshipers. Often they would be met by bandits who intended to rob them. The monks were prepared for this, and they were equipped with butterfly swords hidden in the side of their boots. When they were confronted by the bandits, they would pull out the knives to defend themselves. Since their religion did not allow them to slaughter anyone, their initial target was to maim their opponents on the wrists, knees and ankles. In the Ching Dynasty (A.D. 1644-1911), China was ruled by the Manchu invaders. It was a time when 90 percent of the Chinese, the Hans, were ruled by the ten percent minority, the Manchus.

When all weapons were outlawed by the Manchu Government, the Manchus gained full control of China. They enforced many unjust laws on the Hans. For instance, all the female Han infants were made to bind their feet so that when they grew up they would be restricted in their movement and they would have to be dependent upon their parents or their husband. They restricted the work opportunity of the Han. The Hans were unable to hold office in the government higher than a certain level. They placed heavy tax burdens on the country so that they could have complete economic control of the Han people. Kung Fu training was also banned for the Hon people.

However, the Manchu Government adopted the Hon culture. They respected the Shaolin Temple as a Buddhist sanctuary. The Hons began training a revolutionary army in the art of Kung Fu, using the Shaolin temple as the secret training place. In the traditional Shaolin system it would take 15 to 20 years to train a Kung fu master. The need to develop a new and more effective style of Kung Fu became critical when some of the existing Kung F masters surrendered to work for the Manchu Government.

Five of the Shaolin grandmasters planned to develop a new form, one which would have a shorter training time and would be more effective than all the other systems developed before. The five teachers met to discuss the merits of each of their particular systems of Kung Fu and chose the most efficient training method from each system. They developed the principle and the training program of Wing Chun that would take only five years to master. They called this system Wing Chun, its name meaning “hope for the future.” However, before this new system could be put into practice, the Shaolin temple was raided and burned by the Manchus. Ng Mui, a nun, was the only survivor of the original group of five. She passed her knowledge onto a young orphan girl whom she named Wing Chun.

Along with the development of the Wing Chun system, the butterfly sword (Baat Jaam Do), was chosen as the only weapon in the Wing Chun system because the length of the Baat Jaam Do made it easy to conceal. It could be used as a extension of the arms, and they were the most deadly and effective weapons of all. This was because the Baat Jaam Do system emphasized the training of coordinating the two knives, the training of the eyes, wrist and footwork. The principle was based on the fact that every defense was accompanied by a counter attack, and every attack was accompanied by a trapping, parrying or immobilizing move of the other sword. Plus, it was designed to use the ingenuity of the Wing Chun footwork to its fullest extent, making it the champion of all weapons.


Eight cutting blades or Bart Cham Dao

Eight cutting blades or Bat Cham Dao

The Wing Chun Butterfly Knife Form

The Bat Cham Dao sometimes called Bat Jam Dao literally means eight cutting knives. Bat is the number 8, Cham is to cut or slash and Dao refers to a single edged blade like a knife or sword. This is usually the final form taught to a Wing Chun Student. Yip Man only taught a handful (probably seven) of students this form in his entire life. Yip Man is said to have learned the form off of Leung Bik.

History of the form

Shaolin monk theory

There are a number of theories about the origin of the form. The most common theory, but in my opinion least likely theory, is that the form originated with the Shaolin monks. The fable goes, that the monks would keep the knives in their boots and use them to defend themselves. They were allegedly used so monks could incapacitate not kill their attackers and therefore still uphold their moral integrity. Whilst this is plausible, there are two key problems. One, there is no evidence that any of the Shaolin sets use Wing Chun style Dao in the same way as Wing Chun students do during the Bat Cham Dao form, namely rotating the blade so the spine of the blade runs parallel to the forearm. In fact some people have suggested that, compressive research covering all the weapons used by the Shaolin styles, does not show any use of the Wing Chun style Dao. Secondly, a pair of large knives would not be a good choice for non lethal combat. A walking stick or plain metal baton would be cheaper and likely safer, non-lethal, self defense option.

Developed from Crane and other Kung Fu styles

An alternative theory is that the form was developed as an adaptation of other styles of Kung Fu that existed in southern China at the time, possibly Fujan White Crane. Fujan White Crane does use two Dao and rotates the blades during the form. However their form does not resemble the more modern Bat Cham Dao Form as done by students of Yip Man. Therefore, to me, it seems likely that the Wing Chun form was inspired by other Chinese martial arts that existed at the time, but it had the Wing Chun principles of economy of motion, non-commitment and directness applied. This theory is supported by the fact a number of other southern Chines martial arts like Choi Lee Fut and Hung Gar etc, also use a pair of dao. Although again, they use them differently. In addition there is a fair amount of evidence  to suggest Wing Chun’s hand forms are themselves and adaptation of Fujan Crane Style and Snake Style Kung Fu.

Everyday knives used for Wing Chun

Another possible theory is that the form is a way of using Wing Chun to fight with domestic knives, for instance Chinese cooking cleavers (which are sometimes used in pairs when cooking). Some people argue, the form can be seen as an extension of the hand techniques, just using a weapon. Whilst this is again a possibility, I feel this is an unlikely theory due to the nature of the form. In the final section of the Bat Cham Dao, the student is required to reverse the grip so the spine of the blade is parallel to the forearm. This is something that can only be done swiftly mid flow, by using the hooks on the back of the Dao, something which would not be present on a domestic knife of any sort. This last point leads nicely onto the evolution of the weapons themselves.

History of the weapon

Quite a bit of good research has been done into the history of the weapon. As you have hopefully noticed, I have simply been referring to the weapon as Dao (meaning single edged blade in Cantonese), however it goes by a multitude of other names. I shall explore this terminology before looking at the history of the weapon itself.

Naming: Butterfly Knives, Hudiedao, Hu Die Dao or Wu Dip Dao?

Calling Wing Chun dao, Butterfly Knives is often very confusing for people outside of Wing Chun as the term is commonly used to describe the Filipino flick knife or balisong. The knives used in Wing Chun are nothing like the Filipino knives with the blade concealed in the handle. However the term butterfly knives is very common within the Wing Chun community. It was likely coined as a reference to the way people tend to mount the knives when putting them on display. i.e. crossed and resembling the shape of a butterfly with their wings open. People also refer to Wing Chun Dao as butterfly swords, which is more helpful, but still says very little about the sword.

The Chinese term for this is Wu Dip Dao. This is simply the Chinese term for Butterfly Knives/Swords. The word Dao or sometimes just spelled Do, can describe a tool which in English we have separate names for. For instance, we have the word knife, machete and sword. In Cantonese these can all be called Dao. However you would say Jian if the sword has an edge both sides but Dao if it only has one cutting edge. In English we can call these two separate thing by one name, sword. This linguistic issue is one reason for different names.

Some people call Wing Chun Dao, broadswords. Historically they seem to have been referred to as double swords.

… a curious double sword, capable of being used as one, and having but one sheath.

As described above in 1839, some of the first accounts of them are documented in the west simply as double swords. For the purpose of this article I will call them Dao or Wing Chun Dao

Evolution of the Weapon


The above picture is a rough visualization of how the weapon evolved over time.

Like no 2) A set of mid. 19th century swords.

Like no 3) A pair of Yip Man style swords.

In order to look at when this type of weapon seems to have arrived in history, we must first define what makes this weapon unique and therefore should be counted as separate to its predecessor. In this instance there are two very unique features to Wing Chun style Dao. Firstly, the hook on the back of the blade that allows the student to reverse the grip quickly. Secondly, the D shaped hand guard on the front is reasonably unique in that most Chinese weapons don’t have that kind of guard. Given that we consider these two features to be what separates Wing Chun style Dao from regular knives and swords, we should next look at early references to these weapons and how they latter evolved.

It looks like the first appearance of these weapons was in the early to mind 19th Century (1800’s). However the weapons from that time as seen in drawings, photos and historical collections show a blade that is far too long, far too thin and therefore too optimized for stabbing to be the kind of weapon used in Wing Chun’s Bat Cham Dao. The stabbing aspect in the form is only found at the start of the second section, This means it makes up about 6-10% of the form. However there are numerous slashes in the form that cut through 8 angles (hence the name of the form). Therefore as the from encourages slashing, it seems reasonable that the early Dao were not created for Wing Chun rather, Wing Chun adapted the weapons that already existed. This idea supports the theory that the form is likely the evolution of an existing style in southern China at the time.

Evidence, suggests the the shorter blades, that are more optimized for slashing evolved at the very end of the 19th Century or start of the 20th Century. This suggested that the Bat Cham Dao forms appearance in Wing Chun is reasonably recent, perhaps only 50-120 years ago.

The forms structure

The form has 8 sections. Many people mistakenly believe this is where the forms name comes from. However the eight actually refers to the number of different angles the blade cuts through whilst performing the techniques in the form. Hence the name “eight cutting blade”.

Obviously the form teaches the Wing Chun student how to use a pair of Wing Chun Dao (knives/swords). Butterfly knives are often confused with Bulls Ears swords. They look very similar however the difference in the handle of the weapon will dramatically reduce the functionality of a Bulls Ear sword compared to a pair Butterfly Knives.

Initially a student may ask “Although it may be fun to learn, and nice from traditional perspective, why should I learn the Bart Cham Dao in this day and age? I am never going to use it in the practical sense.” So what else does learning the Bat Cham Dao help with?

Perhaps most importantly it reinforces the underlying Wing Chun principles seen in the other hand forms, for instance economy of motion, deflection etc. It will also teach the practitioner a new type of stepping that can be used in certain situations. Furthermore as an added bonus learning the Bart Cham Dao will drastically improve wrist strength if trained properly and regularly.

Furthermore because the knives used in the form are not as big as traditional Chinese swords the techniques translate well into improvised weapons you may find in a modern lifestyle.

Before the Bat Cham Dao can be learned it is very important to have a solid grasp of all the other hand forms first. This is because, amongst other things, the stepping in the Bat Cham Dao is not effective without the stepping from the second and third hand forms (Chum Kiu and Biu Gee). The system is designed to grow from the Siu Nim Tao  to Bat Cham Dao and it is not wise to try and miss sections or rush through.




Don’t give the enemy any chance

Interview with Ko Kin


Ko Kin is one of the late great Wong Shun Leung`s early students, this interview was taken during the author`s visit to Hong Kong, back in 1998, not long after the untimely passing of Wong Sifu. Ko Kin runs a small, but very busy  school in the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong. This interview gives an insight as to how one man believes Ving Tsun (Wing Chun) to be performed.

John Smith    Tell me how you got involved with Wong Shun Leung, Ving Tsun.
Ko Kin            I was introduced to Sifu Wong Shun Leung by another student called Wan Kam Leung  more than thirty (30) years ago.  Wong Sifu was just starting to teach then and his hand techniques were devastating, as he was constantly testing them against other martial artists in many of his Bei Mo (Challenge fights) where he was never defeated.  Wong Sifu authorised me many years ago to teach at the Ving Tsun Athletic Association, but now I teach in Wan Chai.  I used not to teach Ving Tsun so openly but some friends of mine who are teachers in other martial arts, think that it is a pity that I was not teaching to the public as they all agreed that my hand technique was very effective.

John Smith    What attracted you to Ving Tsun?
Ko Kin            As compared to other styles of Kung Fu it is more effective in a shorter period of time by the very nature of the use of Chi Sau (sticking hands). When trained properly this drill enables one to automatically flow on from one technique into another with out any interruption to the sequence of attack.

John Smith    It has long been known that Wong Sifu was never defeated in any of the “no-holds” barred versions of challenge matches.  Did you ever witness any of these events?
Ko Kin            Yes, of course many times I viewed these events but these bouts were always extremely short.  His hand technique was very effective and there was never any wasted motion in what he used to defeat his opponents. Many times he would only use only a couple of techniques and the bout would be over very quickly with himself always as the victor.

John Smith    It has long been known that Wong Sifu was also a teacher to the late great movie star, Bruce Lee.  Did you ever have any contact with Bruce Lee or did you ever Chi Sau with him?
Ko Kin            Yes, I remembered him well.  But as to myself actually physically training with him, I can’t recall it.

John Smith    Did you ever meet the late great master, Yip Man?
Ko Kin            Yes, I did.  He was a very old man who used to come in to visit and to talk at Wong Sifu’s school.  At that time, Wong Sifu was teaching at Yaumati, Nathan Road.

John Smith    What do you consider to be the main principles of Ving Tsun?
Ko Kin            There are actually two (2) main principles that I consider to be most important.  One is the punch, it is the most direct method to hit an opponent and the attack is paramount to prevent him from countering you.  Next is the stance, as you need to chase aggressively, so it is difficult for your opponent to maintain balance and composure.  Do not give the opponent any opportunity to attack you.  There is no need to just block and then hit, it needs to be done at the same time.  These movements are very direct and do not resemble what is seen in the movies.  Ving Tsun is a real style for fighting and is not used for any flashy demonstration.

John Smith    What is the main importance of Chi Sau?
Ko Kin            There are many variations and thus it is an important drill to be used for real life fighting.  It also promotes a habit to develop instinctive reactions to your opponent’s force.  Some people in other countries I have heard practise Ving Tsun and place little or no importance on Chi Sau and instead use set routines, maybe they do not really understand Ving Tsun and they should really be doing something else.  Chi Sau is not used for planned attacks and defences.  It is used in a situation where anything and everything can happen.  You should not need to think about what you are going to do, but to merely feel your opponent’s force, deflect it and penetrate through to your opponent.  Do not follow your opponent’s hands, but follow your opponent with your punches.

John Smith    Many people have borrowed on or seen Ving Tsun hand techniques, but can you comment on Ving Tsun footwork?
Ko Kin            Footwork should only be used for controlling the enemy and disrupting his balance and then attack with the hands.  Never give your enemy any chance.


Chum Kiu

Chum Kiu,

By Shaun Rawcliffe, in “Simply Wing Chun kung fu”

“Chum Kiu” are cantonese terms: “Chum” meaning “to seek” or “obtain” and “Kiu” meaning bridge; to connect or “reduce the distance between”.


Chum kiu, known as “seeking the bridge form” is Wing Chun’s second or intermediate form, and is the natural progression from learning Siu Nim Tao. Chum Kiu is, in reality, far more advanced and complex than Siu Nim Tao, primarily because it incorporates Siu Nim Tao and then comprehensively adds to it. All the basic hand techniques, energies and the use of those energies that are developed in Siu Nim Tao, are used within Chum Kiu, which teaches the practitioner how to gain complete control of the fighting environement. Chum Kiu training increases the power developed within Siu Nim Tao, so it is vital than sufficient level of understanding and proficiency has been developed in Siu Nim Tao, before Chum Kiu training commences.

The principal concept behind Chum Kiu is, as the name suggests, “to seek” or “to search for the bridge”. The “bridge” refers to the forearm, or any phisical contact point, either arms or legs, on the opponent. This contact enables the practitioner to utilize the sensitivity  and energy developed through Chi Sau to control and dominate his opponent by reading his movements and intentions. Through contact it is possible to respond immediately with the appropriate defensive technique, to parry and trap or counter-attack.

In order to avoid being hit, as well as to increase the power of Wing Chun’s techniques, Chum Kiu practises and develops powerful stepping and turning footwork, whilst simultaneously offering forward hand techniques to safely intercept and receive a strike , or to create a point of contact. Though the primary aim of Chum Kiu is to seek out the opponent, it also incorpotates a multitude of other concepts: it utilizes all the basic concepts, hand techniques and structures practised within Siu Nim Tao, and adds functionality to them through the correct usage of stepping and turning footwork.

Kicking techniques are introduced and practised within Chum Kiu, both defensively to intercept an attaker’s kicks or to bridge the gap at a lower level; and offensively to attak an opponent’s legs and stance.

Chum Kiu also contains several tools and mouvements to recover the centreline; however, unlike Biu Tze that aggressively recovers the centreline when an opponent takes advantage of a mistake, Chum Kiu recovers the centreline as soon as the mistake is felt by the Wing Chun practitioner, and before the opponent has the opportunity to capitalize upon it.

Chum Kiu practice unifies and coordinates the upper and lower body. This harneses the power and energy available through correct turnung and stepping, and continues the development of structure and efficient body mechanics begun in Siu Nim Tao. The legs and footwork must be trained to function as part of the whole body, not as a separate structure from the upper body. In application, footwork involves stepping forwoards, backwards, to the side and at an angle, as well as turning on the spot. Stepping must be fast and powerful to close in on the attaker, driving towards him, jamming his attacks, and counter-attaking.

There are obvious differences between Siu Nim Tao and Chum Kiu, in addition to the use of kicks: first, Siu Nim Tao is the fundamental training method of Wing Chun; it is performed from a fixed, static stance using only one hand at a time. Each arm is trained independently; even within the second section when two hands are used together, they are actually performing exactly the same techniques and mouvments simultaneously.

Chum Kiu is much more complex and demanding, in that both hands are simultaneously practising different mouvments, working together in unison and coordinated with powerful stepping and turning footwork, to change direction and position. Through diligent Chum Kiu practice, the body becomes hightly coordinated, allowing multiple and simultaneous responses, with both arms and with kicks.

Source: https://books.google.ro/books?id=Z70tBgAAQBAJ&pg=PT169&lpg=PT169&dq=about+chum+kiu&source=bl&ots=ZoiaGMom5d&sig=eQFYg6oSIkIFIY0siMx7k5O_jQc&hl=ro&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjs3IifqpzbAhXRJlAKHdMJD4o4HhDoAQg_MAQ#v=onepage&q=about%20chum%20kiu&f=false


Chum Kiu | Basic Understanding Of Closed Bridge To Open Bridge

Chum Kiu | Basic Understanding Of Closed Bridge To Open Bridge

By Sifu Larry Rivera

Maybe you are already a member of Enter Shaolin or you are just searching around the web looking for more Wing Chun training, either way you came to the right place. Wing Chun is known for its close quarter fighting ability. Because of teachers like Ip Man who taught the late Bruce Lee, this amazing martial art has managed to captivate a generation. People from around the world have the ability to learn the Wing Chun training system thanks to pioneers and now the internet.

Chum Kiu which is the second form in Wing Chun taught after Sil Lum Tao. It unlocks a practitioners ability to fight close quarter by using closed and open bridges to close the distance between you and your opponent. While Wing Chun has many offensive and defensive techniques the style really shines as a counter offensive system of fighting.

Another thing Wing Chun is known for is it’s quick attacks by utilizing the center line theory. In the following video, Sifu Phu teaches a basic understanding of using bridges. Bridges are just a fancy way of saying forearms. 😉 Bridges are best used as intercepting tools to close the distance when someone is attacking you. Because you have mobility at your elbow, it makes it easier to deflect as well as draw in your opponent because you can bend at your elbow.

Because much of Wing Chun training deals with close quarter situations bridging your opponent brings them into the ideal range for a counter attack. If you use your bridges effectively you don’t have to chase your opponents arms. This is a good thing because often times when a person starts chasing arms, they begin to lose their own stability and balance thus creating an opening for their opponent to attack them.

Once a student starts learning the Chum Kiu form is when they usually start learning Chi Sao too.

Chi Sao is sensitivity training. Sensitivity training helps the student know where, when and how an opponent is going to attack.

Source:  https://www.entershaolin.com/wing-chun-training-online-chum-kiu-basic-understanding-of-closed-bridge-to-open-bridge/


Chum Kiu Interview

Chum Kiu Interview,

By Sifu Greg Lebanc


For one reason or an other I managed to speak to a handful of Gary Lam students recently. One of his students, Sifu Greg LeBlanc, completed the system under Gary Lam and I decided to ask him a few questions about Chum Kiu.

Lets see what he had to say:

EWC: How did you get involved with Gary Lam/ WSL Wing Chun?

Sifu  LeBlanc: I was introduced to Sifu Lam by a friend and student of his; he invited me to check out Sifu Lam’s class in Monterey Park. To be perfectly honest I was not interested in Wing Chun, but I had a friend who I thought might be, so I

went along to check it out. I had been at that time looking for a martial art teacher who understood structure; which I did not expect to find in Wing Chun. To my surprise, after watching Sifu Lam talk and teach for half an hour, I realized that I had found what I was looking for. I signed up and never looked back.

EWC: Compared to other arts, do you consider Chum Kiu to be some what high level? For example, I’ve HEARD Bruce Lee studied Wing Chun for around 5 years, and under Ip Man never surpassed the level of Chum Kium.

Sifu  LeBlanc: Chum Kiu is taking the shapes and concepts of Siu Nim Tao and putting them in motion; it introduces footwork, changing angles and moving the entire body as a unit. It develops the connection of the lower body to the ground and the hip and elbow connection, making a bridge, finding the new centerline of a moving target and controlling multiple targets. Chum Kiu’s most important section, like the Siu Nim Tao, is in the beginning. Training the balanced rotation of the hip for power and making a new angle is critical to putting Wing Chun into practice.

EWC: If someone is new to Wing Chun, what can they expect to learn from Chum Kiu? 

Sifu  LeBlanc: Chum Kiu is the development of the alphabet of Siu Nim Tao into combined and moving shapes and ideas. Chum Kiu is the integrated expression of the theory found in the Siu Nim Tao. Each section is an extension of the blueprint found in Siu Nim Tao; without this cohesion, the meaning of the form is lost. Chum Kiu is divided into three sections; each section features a different use of the Bong Sau shape. The form teaches the application of Jaam as an attack, the use of the elbow to disturb, damage and to cover on an inside wrong Paak Sau. Fook Sau, Dai Jeung, Jaat Sau, Paak Sau, Faak Sau, low punching and Laan Sau are all developed. The Daan Gerk and Wang Gerk kicks are trained (stepping into a hand attack range); as are reflexes for hitting a new centerline and bringing the arms back to the centerline from low, pulled or extended positions. The Gaam Sau (aka Soh Sau) is also trained as a control for disrupting or diverting a kick. This is a brief outline, with many other ideas and variations possible as one goes deeper into the form.

EWC: According to the WSL/Gary Lam perspective, what is the most important concept to learn in Chum Kiu? 

Sifu  LeBlanc: One of the most important concepts in Chun Kiu is related to the lower body being the engine or motor for the actions of Wing Chun. The turning done in the beginning of the form can be trained as an isolated drill. Mastering this solidifies the lower and upper body connections for all actions in the system and develops the balance and precision needed to rapidly change angles to make the opponent wrong, putting your triangle on them and their triangle away from you.

EWC: If someone “truly” understands Chum Kiu, how will it change their Wing Chun? 

Sifu  LeBlanc: To truly understand Chum Kiu is to have a solid foundation in Siu Nim Tao; Siu Nim Tao is the letters of the Wing Chun alphabet, Chum Kiu is the beginning of making words. Wing Chun is not a technique based system; it is the study of logical ideas and concepts that will improve you’re fighting ability. The more you understand about the system of Wing Chun, the more the system itself begins to teach you. In the end, the best teacher is not what you think (or what someone else thinks), but rather what you experience and can test. Fancy ideas about what is possible under pressure are quickly dashed on the rocks of Chi Sau; it is this reality check that proves what is and isn’t creditable when your training partner (or opponent) is not compliant. In Wing Chun we must at the earliest moment of a fight move to take position and attack the center of mass of our opponent; without these principles guiding how we train, misleading ideas crop up in our practice.

EWC: When one advances beyond the level of Chum Kiu, what is the most common “Chum Kiu” mistake they make or forget? For example, is there one characteristic or concept Wing Chun people assume they understand from Chum Kiu, but never apply it? 

Sifu  LeBlanc: I would say that with the exception of the Baat Jaam Do, the entire Wing Chun system is working on developing and reinforcing common skills, concepts and structure. That means that all elements of training are working to harness that same direction in development. No one part should be trained more than another and all training should be seen as not only making your own Wing Chun better, but also actively trying to help your training partner improve as well.

EWC: Is there anything you feel is rarely discussed about Chum Kiu? Perhaps something most people misunderstand?

Sifu  LeBlanc: See the Siu Nim Tao as the root for the entire system; and regard Chum Kiu as an extension of the ideas and principles found there. Practice both every day and look to them as references and guides as you train other elements of the system. All should be in agreement and interrelated to one degree or another. Never see one aspect of training as more important than another and look for the commonality and relationships to the diverse aspects of development in the system as a whole. Keep things logical, grounded in reality and as Sigung Wong Shun Leung said: simple, direct and efficient.

EWC: Do you have any final thoughts about Chum Kiu?

Sifu  LeBlanc: In the beginning Wing Chun may appear to be a somewhat large system, with many drills and an array of actions and responses to a threat. Each generation and teacher brings to it their own contributions to the tradition and each teacher lends their own particular strengths to how it gets past on. Ironically the longer you study Wing Chun, the smaller the system will appear. At the most advanced levels Wing Chun becomes a vertical fist punch; relying on CouragePower and lastly Skill for implementation. The complexity and sophistication of the system are housed in simple and powerful actions, delivered directly and decisively to the head or neck of your opponent.

I’d like to thank Sifu Leblanc for interviewing with us! It is always interesting to hear from a high level Wing Chun practitioner.

Source: http://www.shopwingchun.com/greg-lebanc-chum-kiu-interview/


Wing Chun’s Kicking Secrets


By Si-Fu Scott Baker

As with most of the fighting arts Wing Chun employees kicking techniques as an important part of it’s weapons arsenal. However, there are some important and significant differences between the kicking method of Wing Chun and the many other arts. These differences set Wing Chun’s kicking skills apart, making them a distinct tool within the system. We will list and discuss five key aspects of Wing Chun’s kicking methodology in order to generate a deeper understanding into this unique fighting system.

1. Kicking Seeds

It has been said by some that Wing Chun only has one punch and three kicks. Although this is not completely accurate it is easy to understand how some people may have developed such an opinion. Wing Chun does rely heavily upon the Sun punch, but it also possesses other punching techniques like the lifting punch and the hooking punch found in the second and third boxing forms. The perception that Wing Chun only has three kicks is also inaccurate; it comes from a limited understanding of the three foundation or “seed” kicking techniques within the system. These three kicks are NOT the only kicks Wing Chun employees, but rather are the basis upon which all of the Wing Chun kicking motions are built. These three seed kicks are: front kick, side kick, and round kick. Each of these techniques are basic to any martial system that employees kicking. They are not unique by any means. However, Wing Chun uses the distinct body alignment and motions of these three kicks as building blocks from which to create an unlimited variety of potential kicking techniques. Let me illustrate.

The basic front kick requires that you face your opponent, lift your kicking leg at the knee, and thrust the ball or sole of your foot straight out striking your target with a straight front kick. There is nothing special about that. Now let us look at the round kick. The round or hooking kick can be thrown from any body alignment with your opponent. You can be facing him, standing sideways to him, or even have your back to him and you can still deliver an effective round kick. Depending on what part of the foot you are using to strike with a round kick may look like a different technique each time. A spinning heal kick is a round kick, it comes in a curved line of attack rather than a straight line like a front kick. A crescent kick is also a round kick, in fact all kicks are either straight or round in their line of attack. In Wing Chun all kicks that arc or curve into the target are considered round kicks. Now if you combine the round kick principle of arcing in with the simple front kick we get some interesting, and somewhat unique kicking techniques. One example of this is the Wing Chun “facade” kick often seen towards the end of the Chum Ku boxing form. The facade kick is a front kick that arcs to the outside as the body turns to face the target. You strike with the sole of the foot with a straight thrusting motion, but the line of attack is definitely an arc. So by combining the three simple kicking seeds Wing Chun can create many possible kicking techniques.

2. Kicking Principles

In combining the three seeds Wing Chun takes the principles of alignment, motion, and striking area represented by the three seed kicks and recombines them to create any number of different kicking techniques. Remember Wing Chun is a principle based system, not a technique based system. Therefore, we have an endless variety of techniques we can use, so long as they conform to correct kicking principles. Those correct kicking principles are represented within the three kicking seeds. These principles include lifting, thrusting, stomping, straight line and circular motions. The alignment principles of facing and standing sideways to your opponent, or turning towards or away from your opponent are also represented. The weapons or striking areas of the sole, heel, and top of the foot are clearly illustrated. But the seeds also include the side of the foot, the toes, the ball, back of the heel, inside of the foot, the shin, the knee etc. The striking area used depends upon you alignment with your target and the principles of motion used to get your foot onto that target. Once those have been determined it is simple logic that determines which striking area or weapon will be used to make contact with the target. Other general Wing Chun principles also apply to correct kicking. Principles of economy in motion or closest weapon to closest target will often be illustrated in the kicks used. Also principles of continuous attacking will show up as Wing Chun fires off multiple kicks instead of only one or two.

3. Soft, Internal Kicking Power

Principles of sticking, and using motion are also heavily relied upon to help the Wing Chun practitioner determine which seed principles will best respond to the current situation. To be able to utilize the characteristic Wing Chun sticking skills one will need to learn to kick with a very relaxed leg. The principle of relaxation is inseparable from the skills of flowing and feeling. Here Wing Chun is different from many kicking systems in that most systems use strength and tension in the leg to generate great power. Wing Chun however, must remain soft and relaxed while kicking so as to feel and flow effectively. Therefore the Wing Chun kick releases soft internal power through the leg rather than kicking with physical strength. The power of Wing Chun kicks come from the correct releasing of chi through the limb, just as the power of the hand strikes use the release of energy through the hand to damage the opponent internally. It would be incongruent for Wing Chun to emphasize soft-relaxed motions with the hands and arm strikes, but then employ hard, tense motions with the legs and feet! That does not make sense, and does not work. As an internal system the whole of Wing Chun is soft and filled with energy. That includes the kicks. When practiced correctly the soft, fast kicking motions of Wing Chun are extremely powerful. The student must learn how to relax and release energy through the legs, just as he did with his arms. However, with the legs there is a great deal more mass to relax, so to some it is easier to just kick the tense, hard way. This is a grave mistake as it will not only result in damage to the kickers legs in time, but effectively isolates him from the important rooting energy skills that give stability and power to the rest of his art. A tense Wing Chun kicker essential stops doing Wing Chun when he kicks. He is employing two completely different systems of attacking and generating power. In doing so he will use neither of them fully or effectively.

4. Kicking Targets

Wing Chun utilizes the principle of economy in motion. With kicking the application of this principle guides the student to attack lower targets with his kicks while using his hands to strike at the higher targets. To put it simply we attack the open target with the weapon that is closest to that target. It is seldom that the head of your opponent is closer to your feet than to your hands. Unless of course he has already been knocked down. To raise your foot from the ground up the approximate 6 feet to your opponents head makes little sense when your hands were only two or three feet from his head! It would be unthinkable for most martial artists to bend down and punch their opponent in the foot, rather they would simply stomp on that foot with the heel. That is sensible. Well the same logic applies to hitting him in the head with the hands instead of your feet. Wing Chun seldom will kick above the abdominal cavity. Most high kicking systems developed high kicking techniques around a set of rules that forbade someone from kicking them “below the belt”. This rule makes it safer to kick high, until you get into a real fight where there are NO rules!

The most vulnerable target on a high kicker is his supporting leg. It is wide open, he can’t move it while his other leg is waving around in the air, and his knee is the most commonly, and easily injured joint in his body. A short fast snapping kick to this target will finish the fight instantly! Wing Chun works to both attack and defend the lower gates with the legs. We stand on the rear leg leaving the front leg to float, freeing it to attack and defend the lower areas with the same ease as the hands have to attack and defend the higher gates. By skillful application of the sticking principles learned within the chi gerk practice the student can flow with and defeat the kicking techniques of his attacker. There are many effective targets to strike on the legs, and because many fighters put weight on the forward leg they are unable to move to defend these open targets. Wing Chun employees the one legged stance so that our forward leg is free to attack and defend with comparable speed to that of the hands. Some may feel that using the closest weapon to attack a target sounds fine with regards to being economical, but sacrifices the devastating power that kicks can generate. This criticism is valid for those using tension weight, and strength to generate power. But Wing Chun does not generate power in this way. Wing Chun’s short power has been well illustrated in the one-inch punch. The same explosive short power can be generated with the Wing Chun kicks. We do not sacrifice power for seed and economy.

The defense of the lower gates also employee the principles in the three kicking seeds. The chamber positions for the front and side kicks make up the basis of the Wing Chun leg defense techniques. These blocking or parrying skills with the lead leg are learned in the chi gerk training. By keeping either the foot or knee on the centerline the Wing Chun kicker learns to control his attackers legs and can devastate them with repeated chain kicking techniques.

5. Kicking as Stepping

A final significant distinction between most kicking arts and the kicking methodology of Wing Chun is that Wing Chun uses the kick as a step. This is well illustrated in the Chum Ku boxing form and on the Wooden dummy. In Wing Chun you do not kick then retract your leg, rather you kick then step down and advance forward. The kick is part of the step. We seldom will stand in one place and throw kicks. Wing Chun prefers to press in on the opponent, and when kicking that means advancing with each kick. To do this the foot is put down on the ground where it strikes the target. It is not retracted and put back where it started from. In advanced kicking skills one can step after the kick without putting the leg down, thus enabling them to chain kick while still stepping forward. This skill requires strong presencing and use of energy in both the kicking and standing legs.


The kicking skills of Wing Chun are often understated and under utilized. Most students work so long and hard at developing the intricate feeling skills with the hands that when they get to kicking they gloss over this training. The truth is the kicking skills of Wing Chun are as equally complex and sophisticated as the hand skills. If students would devote equal time and effort to training the legs as they do to their hands Wing Chun would probably become better known for its devastating leg skills! But the truth is that the legs tire easily, they are heavy and difficult to work with, and we have not learned to feel as well with them as we do with our arms. Because of these reasons most students do not give the legs the training time needed to truly develop the deep kicking skills of Wing Chun.


Chum Kiu

Chum Kiu

by Chu Shong Tin

Literally, Chum Kiu when translated is the method of how to deal with the opponent�s wrists once in contact. In other words, Chum Kiu is the form applicable to fighting. If the theory of Chum Kiu is analysed carefully, it is found that it has reached the acme of perfection.

Chum Kiu is to utilize the body weight of a person as the source of energy and combining the moves of Siu Nim Tau to create a skill that can apply force in different directions. As a result, the opponent will find it difficult to tackle these kind of moves because his centre of gravity has been affected and will be easily toppled over. Hence, your chance to win in fighting is increased.

The theory of Chum Kiu can be grouped as follows: 1. The application of �two-way� force; 2. Using the centre of the body as the source of energy; 3. Using the mind to control the movement of the body; 4. Using the simultaneous attack and defence movements.


The majority of the moves in Chum Kiu is to apply the force moving in two different directions to contact with the wrists of the opponent. Although it is called the �two-way force�, yet, if analysed in more detail, it is found that it consists of skill of applying the force pointing from more than two directions.

The turning stance of Chum Kiu is a two-dimensional turning, i.e. turning on a surface. When the turning stance is combined with use of Tau Sau, Bong Sau and Fook Sau of Siu Nim Tau at the same time, every move of Chum Kiu will comprise the effect of having a force pointing from two different directions. Thus, the opponent will find it difficult in dealing with these kind of moves.

I was invited to organise a seminar in Holland in 1994 in which I demonstrated the �two-way force� of Chum Kiu. During the demonstration, I wrestled with a young and huge Negro who could easily lift up 250 kg. At that time, I weighed only 60 kg. As the body weights vary so greatly, my winning with the use of Chum Kiu obtained the shouts of triumph from everybody present on that occasion.

The reason why the �two-way force� is difficult to be deal with is very simple. Assume that one can easily raise up an object of 50 kg, but if a person pushes you with a force of 20 kg from the side while you are lifting an object of 30 kg then you will find it very difficult to resist the pushing and will even lose your balance and fall over.

2. Using the centre of the body as the source of energy

In practising Chum Kiu, one must use the centre of the body as the source of energy. The purpose is to maintain the body weight as an unity and then every move will contain the weight of the whole body. When the opponent is in contact with any part of your body, he will then have to suffer an attack from your whole body weight.

3. Using the mind to control the movement of the body

The purpose of using the mind to control the movement of the body is to generate the whole body weight without using any unnecessary muscular force. Thus, every move you are using will contain the weight of the whole body.

4. Using the simultaneous attack and defence movements

Practising Chum Kiu has entered into the stage of body contact with the opponent. This means that Chum Kiu is the form which will comprise of the combating skill. Hence, every simple move of Chum Kiu contains a common structure which is fit for attack or defence. Apart from having the speciality of Wing Chun (i.e. not to waste energy), every move will contain the scientific structure for combat, allowing the fighting skill to show up when facing the opponent.

It is of my opinion the fighting skill of Chum Kiu is difficult to describe in writing. The best way is to understand it is through demonstration and practice. If I have to put down all the Chum Kiu skills in writing, the article will be so profound that the person who reads it will find it hard to understand and will be confused.

Source: http://wingchunpedia.org/pmwiki.php/WCP/ChumKiuByChuShongTin