Introduction to Chum Kiu

by Craig Sands

Introduction to Chum Kiu

Chum Kiu is the second of the three open-hand forms of Wing Chun Kung Fu. It builds upon many of the basic principles and techniques learnt in Siu Lim Tao to create a coherent fighting system.

Chum Kiu introduces and develops fundamental rules of footwork and body unity while moving.   Whilst Sil Lim Tao develops proper structure, stance, center-line hand eye co-ordination, energy, body unity and the power of focused intent (developing the necessary ability for strength and focus from a static position), Chum Kiu enhances these and develops the use of structure under dynamic conditions, and is performed with speed of movement.

Chum Kiu adds and develops three more energies: forward momentum, pulling momentum and turning momentum. These energies add significant power to the techniques through unified movement of the body along both linear and circular paths.  Chum Kiu develops a heightened awareness and understanding of the ways in which these movements magnify the potential of natural body power.

Chum Kiu involves moving and apply the structure developed within Sil Lim Tao – which can be seen in four key areas:

  • Moving into the opponenet
  • Turning
  • Kicking
  • Body Unity / Connectivity to the ground

These four areas are explored in more detail below.

Moving into the opponent

Chum Kiu consists of a variety of techniques and movements designed to move structurally into an opponent, referred to as bridging the gap.  One of the main translation meanings of Chum Kiu is “searching for the bridge.”   Importantly, ‘searching’ implies active motion which is a key function of learning chum kiu.  The ‘bridge’ refers to the path to the opponent, finding a contact point on the forearm.  Where this contact does not existing the Wing Chun practitioner activity seeks to make one – hence searching for a bridge.


Chum Kiu develops an understanding of how to turn and move efficiently which helps to develop weight transfer, weight distribution, and increased balance and structure.   By learning how turn correctly and efficiently this helps detect the slightest opening in which to compromise an opponent’s position by disrupting their center.

While Sil Lim Tao develops an understanding of structure and deliver attacks along the center line, Chum Kiu teaches how to control the center line whilst turning the body to deal with incoming forces off the center line, how to use feet to control and turn your opponent, how to shift to redirect incoming forces, deliver elbow strikes, and how to neutralize the opponent’s attacking hand and deliver a combination of attacks.


Chum Kiu also introduces the Wing Chun practitioner to three different kicks.  The Wing Chun kicks like the hand techniques are non committal, with the weight balanced on the back leg.  This ensures that the balance is not compromised.  It also allows the front leg to be used for blocking and kicking.

The kick in the third section of Chum Kiu opens with a turn followed by a crescent kick.  This, as with all the kicks, highlights that there may be a distance between you and an opponent.  Kicks can be used to warn off opponents, to step in and bridge the gap or to attack and gain contact with your opponent.  Distance is the key when ever using kicking techniques.

The final kick out to the side whilst turning square can be used to correct your center or apply a kick to attack an opponent who is slightly off center.

Body Unity and Connection to the Ground

The aim of the Chum Kiu form in Wing Chun kung fu is to add very strong vectors of rotating force, using the entire body mass, to the movements learned in Sil Lim Tao.

Sil Lim Tao introduces and develops the importance of unifying the lower and upper body together to make a singular unit.  In Chum Kiu this is tested and power is put into the system -’re-learning’ and ‘refining’ the understanding and experience.

With simultaneous hand and foot movements, the Chum Kiu form further develops to link between the upper and lower body using the Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma stance which was learned in Sil Lim Tao.  Specifically, the Chum Kiu form begins to introduce the concept that “power comes from ground”.

When this is done correctly, the force created is multiplied by the mass of the body and seems to come from a number of directions at once. The superior result of this is to create movements which are very difficult to oppose, as the force is no longer a simple straight line, but is now rather a balanced, rotating force which is aimed directly at the opponent’s centreline.

Additionally, the stepping within Chum Kiu develops the timing between hand and feet techniques – learning how to move as a single unit.  Moving as a single unit you are then able to root to the ground, have a good structure and maintain your balance.

It is this integration of all elements of the body, accomplished by correct pivoting and stepping, which teaches you to generate maximum force with minimum effort – allowing a small person to overcome the brute strength of a much larger opponent.

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