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Introduction to Sil Lim Tao

Introduction to Sil Lim Tao

From Wing Chun Journey

by Craig Sands


Sil Lim Tau is the first of the hand forms of Wing Chun Kung Fu.  All the basic hand movements used in Wing Chun are contained in Siu Nim Tao. There is minimal leg movement in the form; the feet only move to set up the stance in the initial movements.

Siu Lim Tao:

  • defines the centreline and teaches students where their hands should be relative to it
  • teaches students how to execute Wing Chun strikes correctly
  • reinforces the correct elbow position
  • instills correct breathing patterns
  • facilitates force generation in short range Wing Chun strikes

Great emphasis is put on relaxation while performing Siu Nim Tao. This facilitates efficiency of movement and hand speed

Grandmaster Ip Ching describes Sil Lim Tao:

“Since Sil Lim Tau is the first form, many people think that it is only a beginning course. This is partially true. I consider Sil Lim Tau the basic of Wing Chun. Many of the movements of Chum Kiu, Biu Gee, Muk Yan Jong (Wooden Dummy), even Bat Cham Dao come from Sil Lim Tau. So Sil Lim Tau is not just the beginning course, but an important foundation”  

Sil Lim Tao is divided into three sections, with a total of one hundred and eight movements. Each small section has its own aim in practice, and various meanings in application:

Section 1:

The first section is for training the basic strength of the wrist and elbow. The strength is in the formation of the major hand positions of Tan Sau, Fook Sau, and Wu Sau.  This section concentrates on developing good structure, relaxation and Gung Lik or “Elbow Energy.” It is performed slowly and without muscle tension.   This part is like a preparatory meditation, although for beginners it is taught without any coordination to breath, and the focus is simply on remaining mindful and “in the moment.”

Section 2:

The second section is the training of using the strength and power.  This section begins to develop Fajing, or the “release of power.” You begin to use both hands simultaneously while maintaining a solid stance. To release power efficiently you should stay completely relaxed and wait until the last moment of the movement.

Section 3:

The third section is for training correct position of the basic hand movement into your muscle memory. Movements include Pak Sau, Tan Sau, Gaun Sau, Huen Sau and Bong Sau. The practitioner must concentrate on executing each movement’s position correctly.

To effectively develop and use Wing Chun you must use the first sections of Sil Lim Tao to train the basic power and strength. There are no short cuts – once the movements of the form have been learned, they must be practised seriously to train the power and strength. When practising the first part of Sil Lim Tao it has to be slow – to train for the strength one has to be serious, and to be serious one must do it slowly.

Since economy of movement and energy are mainstays of Wing Chun Kung Fu, it is important that each action be smooth and effective. The body must respond without hesitation and be able to protect itself with a minimal amount of expression. It is for this reason that the “centerline” is such a vital factor.

Grandmaster Ip Man described that in “Sil Lim Tao or ‘little idea’, the ideas of daily matters, such as money, work, hate, love, etc…. ‘decrease to as little as possible, or even none’, so that the practitioner may ‘concentrate only upon practising’. “

Siu Lim Tao also provides the seed that begins the growth of certain attributes necessary in Wing Chun Kung Fu. An important development is the training of “internal power.” This energy is not mystical – just the ability to meet an opponent’s force with just the right amount of energy to stop it.  For this spring-like effect to occur the hands have to be emptied of tension.

Sil Lim Tao invokes the body and mind to stay relaxed and alert so that energy can be provided instantly to the hands. The hands must learn to move instinctively and respond naturally so that the overall effect is to economize every action to a useful end while conserving energy.


Source: https://wcjourney.wordpress.com/the-forms/introduction-to-sil-lim-tao/


The Mechanics of Wing Chun Empty Hand Forms

The Mechanics of Wing Chun Empty Hand Forms

by Chinatravel.com

Siu Nim Tao (“Little First Training” [小念頭]) – This is the basic, or fundamental, form on which all other forms in Wing Chun build. Not surprisingly, therefore, the focus in Siu Nim Tao (note that Tao is often written as Tau instead, just as any move, block, etc., whose name ends in –ao is as commonly written as –au)), which is also sometimes referred to as Siu Lim Tao, is on structure, posture and stance, the perhaps three most important aspects of WCKF and which rely on a knowledge of Rooting, as described above.

The stance is defensive, with the feet, slighlty pigeon-toed, barely far enough apart to prevent the WCKF fighter from falling over, with the legs very slighty bent, for the sake of elasticity, and the knees close together so as to protect the groin (the easiest way to come into this stance, called the horse stance, is to stand with the feet pressed against each other, then, with the weight on the heels and keeping the heels together, spread the feet at the toes to a 45 degree angle, then, shifting the weight to the balls of the feet, spread the heels until the position of the feet is very slightly pigeon-toed). The posture: the spine is held straight, the chin slightly lowered (to protect the throat), which has the effect of raising the crown of the head slightly, though some postures require the head to be held level. From this position, a number of hand moves, most involving only one hand at a time, will be performed, but keeping focus on the center line and the posture.

Siu Nim Tao does not involve turns, and thus one says that it does not involve footwork. It does, however, involve hand moves (both defensive and offensive) launched from the 4 “directions”: moving forward, moving backward, and with the opponent at a right angle to one’s own position, either on the right or on the left. Siu Nim Tao is divided into three stages, the first of which concentrates on performing the hand moves very slowly.

The first moves are naturally defensive, blocking moves involving one hand at a time – with power seated in the elbow and forearm only – but since the defensive and the offensive in Wing Chun are as intimately linked as the Yin and the Yang, every defensive move leads to a positioning where it can glide over into an attack with the other hand. Thus a typical block with the one hand is potentially followed up with a punch by the other hand, though in the first stage of Siu Nim Tao, the emphasis is on the defensive. Each of the moves are performed very slowly and deliberately, and with relaxed arms except for the slight tension in the relevant muscle (tricep or bicep), depending on whether the arm is being extended or retracted, and with focus on posture, structure and stance.

As the practitioner shifts his weight to the balls of the feet, the hips move slightly forward, and the reverse of this applies for a backward movement. This is a fundamental part of Rooting, and it helps to absorb strikes, meaning that it will reduce the chance that the practitioner will be knocked over or knocked down. For defensive purpoes, the practitioner should be aware of his inner gate (the area in between the arms) and outer gate (the area immediately outside the shoulders) at all times. The elbows are kept tucked close in to the sides, slightly in front, when the arms are not being extended or retracted.

In the second stage, both arms come into play, the tempo is increased, the hand moves of the first stage are repeated, but with greater precision, and new ones are added. This stage is a bit artificial in the sense that in a real-life, or sparring partner – or even Wooden Dummy – situation, only one arm would typically be used for a block; the point of performing them with both arms simultaneously is to demonstrate that the move can be performed with either arm, but, additionally, with the speed with which they are performed in the second stage, performing them with both arms gives a greater feeling of balance, and, should one ever be attacked by two assailants at the same time, one would know how to block two strikes simultaneously.

Sliding from the one move to the other, but remaining stationary, is a central part of the second stage practice, since, in actual fighting, sparring, etc., situations, the practitioner glides from one move to the other in response to constantly changing contingencies.

The third stage involves focusing on directing one’s movement along the center line. That is, the lessons learned from the previous two stages, once trained to a level of proficiency, are made subsidiary to (become second nature to) the attack or retreat along the center line. In this stage, the arms, when at “rest” are held upright in front of the torso, bent at the elbow and with the palms of the hands facing inward. The elbows are held close in to the body to protect against a strike to the abdomen.

Combination moves are practiced in the third stage. These can be high defensive blocks that shift to a low defensive block with the same arm, or it may be a defensive block with one arm followed up by an offensive block with the other arm, including “escape” moves where the practitioner strikes an opponent who grabs one’s wrist; the contingency here is never to try and wriggle the trapped arm free first, but to strike the assailant with the free hand, thus making it easier to retrieve the trapped wrist if the assailant hasn’t already, in a reflexive response to the punch, released one’s trapped wrist. Parries and other defensive moves are said to take place in the inner gate, while a punch or a kick is said to take place in the outer gate.

These three stages make up the entirety of the Siu Nim Tao form, which demonstrates yet again that Wing Chun is essentially a very simple martial art with a simple – but entirely adequate – repertoire of moves.

Source:  https://www.chinatravel.com/facts/the-mechanics-of-wing-chun-empty-hand-forms.htm


The Wooden Man/Teacher Allegory”

The Mook Yan Jong 木人樁

“The Wooden Man/Teacher Allegory”

When the student has learned their 3 forms, they are soon introduced to their next life time teacher. He comes in many forms, but traditionally is rather stationary, and really never talks to the student either but rather “responds”. He always has his arms and leg(s) out stretched in the common positions of attack, from there, the world of options are open for the student to not discover, but understand. See it is not merely a tool, but rather as a teacher for correcting mistakes. You do not approach this teacher without proper understanding of the forms beforehand, and you are to approach him with respect; for if you misuse him then he will offer nothing of value to you.

He responds according to you, with each move it reacts. Hit too hard and you’ll hurt yourself and possibly break him, hit to soft and he will not respond or give you feedback. It will correct your positions and move in accordance to proper power distribution. You have no real reason to rush with this teacher either, take your time, this one has nowhere to really go. Do not feel the need to be rough either, he is not your enemy nor your sparring partner, he is there to only correct your mistakes and respond.

Though he is used among those of the system in Wing Chun, I like to think he awaits all from any system to approach, he’s not really a biased teacher to begin with. I’m sure he would welcome a Karate man to approach him and see how his techniques can be honed. He is a underestimated but effective teacher with many universal properties if you approach him wisely.

He is the Mook Yan Jong; the wooden man.


Siu Nim Tao

Siu Nim Tao

By Evan Tate


Siu Nim Tao
The first and most important form in the art of Wing Chun.

There are almost as many variations in the Siu Nim Tao from as there are different lineages of Wing Chun. Some masters wanted to keep everything “original”, others saw the need for improvements. Others wanted to emphasize a specific aspect over the other. Not one of these variations are “more authentic”, or “more correct” than the other.

The “Little Idea” (as Siu Nim Tao is often translated) conveys not only the most common techniques used in Wing Chun, but emphasizes certain skills to be learned.

Usually, the first 3 sections of the form are performed relatively slowly (with exception of the strikes). One may wonder why the third section, where the Tan Sau extends from the centerline, turns to a Wu Sau, withdraws, and then forms a Fuk Sau before extended forward once again? This occurs three times on each side.

In Chinese Martial Arts (Wu Su), repetition is often a way of encoding the importance of a certain skill. Yes, sometimes there were also religious meanings, but nonetheless it was important to convey the importance of a skill to the warrior.

One interpretation of this repeated movement is that the practitioner learns to relax his/her energy before dispersion within a short distance. As the hand moves outward along the centerline, the abdomen is pressed together, the back is arched slightly, as the hand comes forward to strike with the Wu Sau, the back is straightened. As the hand returns, the body is contracted once again.

Some lineages may not practice the Siu Nim Tao in this way, and as said above, that’s OK. May southern Kung Fu styles emphasize the importance of being able to strike with full power in short range distance. The idea of the “One-Inch Punch” does not only exist in Wing Chun, or Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. This is an older concept that also exists in Southern Mantis and other styles.

From the fourths section, the movements become faster and some sections having many movements. Each technique is demonstrated on either side of the body. Only in the last section do the arms work together displaying two different arm positions.

During the entire form one is standing in a stationary position. The “Yee Ji Kim Yuen Ma“, aka “Character two, goat-clamping stance”. The legs form a chinese character number 2, a short line (between the knees) and a long line (between the feet). From above this is also formed between the toes (short line) and between the heels (long line). The knees are put under tension toward each other as though one would hold a goat between the legs and trying to prevent it from running away.



This stance strengthens the legs and trains discipline. One would not always fight in this position, by all means no, but it is an important to understand the flexibility of this stance.

The Siu Nim Tao, just like many chinese kung fu forms, is NOT a fighting sequence but merely a “toolbox”. It displays various “ideas” of the art. Actually, one could decide to perform the sections of the SNT in a different sequence and it would not really matter. The purpose behind the form would not really change.

In later forms, Chum Kiu and Biu Tze, there are very few “new” techniques. There are only new “ideas” of using the techniques in those form. But more on those forms in future posts.

The Siu Nim Tao is so important to Wing Chun that it is said, if your “Siu Nim Tao is poor, your Wing Chun is poor.”


Source: https://wingchunsihing.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/siu-nim-tao/


The Siu Nim Tao Kung Fu Form, and Why we train it…

The Siu Nim Tao Kung Fu Form, and Why we train it…

by Warren Ash

Hi Everyone…

Now we are entering into our 6th Kung Fu week of 2016, I’d like to talk to you about a group of ancient exercises we practise every single class whatever level you are… The Forms.

In Wing Tsun there are three empty handed forms, one Wooden Dummy and two Weapon forms. The first three you learn being: The Siu Nim Tao that translates into ‘little idea’, then the Chum Kiu that means ‘bridge seeking’ and finally Biu Tze that translates into ‘thrusting fingers’. In this blog I’ll be focusing on the first form in the Wing Tsun system.

What is the Siu Nim Tao?

The Siu Nim Tao (SNT) is the first aspect of Wing Tsun that you will be introduced to in your first class at one of our schools. It is not like a kata that is a choreographed pattern of movements that are practised in Japanese and Okinawan martial arts such as karate, judo and aikido, where the student practises set techniques intended to be used in combat but the SNT teaches us how to move using the basic shapes and principles of the system.

What stance do we practice in?

Although the Siu Nim Tao is practised with the lower body stationary and only the upper body moves, the first thing you do in the SNT is get into your practice stance, the IRAS. The internally rotating adductor stance, more commonly known as the IRAS is the practice stance used in the Wing Tsun system.

With the knees bent, heels facing outwards and the toes facing inwards, the stance engages the adductor muscles. The adductors are located on the inside of the upper leg and the provide the most power and stability for the hips and the femur (the longest and strongest bone in the body located in the upper leg).

The IRAS teaches us have our feet grounded strongly with the internal rotation of the knees engaging the adductors and the body weight sinking into the ground. The first seemingly strange angle of the feet in the iras teaches us where to place our feet and weight in the fighting stances.

Why do we learn the Siu Nim Tao?

The Siu Nim Tao is one of the best training methods to begin learning Wing Tsun because it most importantly (in my opinion) teaches us how to move! Where to place our hands, what shapes make, to work along our centreline with forward pressure and it also makes us more aware of where the parts of our body is in space in relation to the rest of our body. For example, close your eyes and reach your hand out in front of you and then touch your nose. Easy? Yes, that is because you know where your hand is in relation to your nose due to the sense is called proprioception.

What can I use to help me practise at home?

There are various youtube videos on the Siu Nim Tao but here is the link to the official EWTO (European Wing Tsun Organisation) video as there are many, many variations of the SNT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFuQdoXX_gg. Once you learn the sequence you can practise in front of the mirror to work on the details you are given in class as the mirror gives the perfect reflection of you!

I hope you enjoyed last week’s blog on why we exercise in class!

Remember if you don’t understand something don’t hesitate to ask one of the instructor team. Have a great week!

Source:  http://www.martialartssoutheast.co.uk/siu-nim-tao-kung-fu-form-train/


Misconceptions of Wing Chun

By Benny Meng and Steve Rudnicki

Modern day misconceptions about Wing Chun Kung Fu have led to numerous controversies and debates about its origins, its looks, its training methods, its applications, and even its combat employment. It is the intention of the Ving Tsun Museum to present some of these misconceptions to the reader, followed by the latest research the Museum has conducted. This research is by no means complete at this time, nor have any final conclusions been drawn. The Museum simply presents its most recent discoveries and leaves the practitioner free to draw his or her own conclusions.

1. The Burning of the Shaolin Temple

Legend: The Qing Dynasty overthrew the Ming Dynasty. The Qing were a minority group (the Manchu) which succeeded in ruling over the majority group, the Han (the Chinese), but not with out a struggle. The remnants of the Ming Dynasty, together with the Shaolin monks, continued to fight against the Qing. The Shaolin connection to and support of the Ming Rebels was eventually discovered, which resulted in the burning of the Northern Hunan Temple. It is from this destruction that the Five Elders escaped. This is the popular legend.

Latest Research: It is true that the Shaolin Monks were involved with the anti-Qing movements when the Ming Dynasty was overthrown. The Northern Temple was not burned during the Qing Dynasty, in fact it was expanded during this time. It was, however, surrounded by Qing forces – both military and political – to ensure that it could not openly participate in rebellion. It was the Southern Temple in Fujian that was burned to the ground because of its open support of the Ming revolutionaries.

2. The Five Elders

Legend: There are many Southern Shaolin Systems that trace their roots, via oral tradition, back to the Five Elders, one of the systems is Wing Chun, although it is not so named at this point. In the oral traditions, Ng Mui, a nun and one of the Five Elders, is credited with teaching Wing Chun to the girl.

Latest Research: Oral traditions often date the Five Elders back to the 1800’s, implying that Wing Chun is only about 200 years old, when in fact it is older, having existed in the 1600’s. However, there is no recorded proof of who the Five were or if they were even people. According to the records of the Hung Mun (Secret Societies), reference is made to the Five Elders, which is how the legends may have entered into Wing Chun. It is possible that the Five Elders may be a reference to the evolution of different branches of the Secret Societies that arose during the conflict between the Ming and the Qing Dynasties or it may be a historical metaphor for variations of other Shaolin Martial Art Systems. Secret Society references may also point to the five political elders (with little to no Kung Fu experience) referenced in the book Mastering Kung Fu Featuring Shaolin Wing Chun by Gee, Meng, and Loewenhagen, Human Kinetics Publishing, 2004.

“Yat Chum” is another oral tradition. According to legend, the historically extant Cheung Ng learned his martial arts skills from a Shaolin Abbot named Yat Chum Dai Si.

3. Yim Wing Chun, her father, and her husband

Legend: The popular legend contends that one of the Five Elders, Ng Mui, taught a girl, named Yim Wing Chun, kung fu so that she could defend herself against an unwanted marriage. Some others state that the girl’s father was a disciple of Shaolin and wanted her to learn from the Shaolin Masters as well. After learning and mastering the kung fu, she then modified it after she watched a crane and a snake fight and then taught it to her husband. Her husband then named the Kung Fu System after her, and brought it to the Red Boats.

Latest Research: Like the Five Elders, there are no written historical records of Yim Wing Chun, her husband or her father. The problem with this version is that if there are no Five Elders, then the nun, Ng Mui, did not exist. If the Five Elders were the Revolutionary Leaders of the time, then being so, they were also marked, on the most wanted list. If she came forward either as a woman disguised as a man or as a revolutionary merely to teach Kung Fu to a young girl, she would have jeopardized her life, as well as her fellow elders, along with the life of the girl. Likewise, since the Qing military’s practice of executing ‘Nine Ancestors in Crime’ meant the death of all of her relatives out nine generations if she was discovered, it would have been most illogical for such a person to come forward to teach the girl kung fu simply because she was being forced into a marriage.

Anyone who studies Wing Chun knows that it is an advanced and sophisticated martial art. It is highly unlikely that one person developed such a complex system alone. Another point is that Wing Chun is based on efficiency. For the efficiency to work, the system has to be based on the movements and structures of human beings, not on those of animals.

If the mythical Yim Wing Chun invented Wing Chun, and then later on passed it to her husband, who later took it to the Red Boats, this places the time frame again in the 1800’s, creating a problem with the time frame in question. The Red Boats were in existence in the 1800’s and the Southern Shaolin Temple was destroyed in the 1600’s.This is a rather long time to be alive, especially back then. There seems to be nearly 200 years missing if the legends are true.

If we are to examine Wing Chun’s roots scientifically, then we must understand the etymology and logic of the phrase “Yim Wing Chun”. Weng Chun, as it was originally called, had a different meaning. The word ‘Weng’ means everlasting. Within the Shaolin Temple, the Weng Chun Tong is where the art was developed and practiced. After the destruction of the Southern Temple, the word changed from ‘Weng’ to ‘Wing’. ‘Wing’ means praising. This meant to pass on the art orally so that its details could not fall into enemy hands; this method of teaching is also consistent with Chan oral teaching. Shaolin teaching required one on one, Master to Student teaching for a more complete experience. ‘Yim’ was also added for the sum of ‘Yim Wing Chun’. ‘Yim’ means to be secretive. Now, the intent was to pass on the art both secretly and orally. The original intent was to return the name to Weng Chun upon the successful rebirth of the Ming Dynasty. Since such a rebirth never happened, the name remains Wing Chun today.

The burning of the Temple happened, but it was the Southern Temple. The Five Elders could be a metaphor that represents the combined effort of the Shaolin Temple and the Secret Societies. The Five Elders could also be different martial arts and/or secret society branches that came from the struggle to restore the Ming Dynasty. Yim Wing Chun represents the advanced system that was developed within the Shaolin Temple and passed on secretly to current times. The Wing Chun system remained hidden until it went public during the Red Boat Era. It was very convenient to have some cover story to hide the system’s true identity, thus preventing spies from obtaining any useful information due to skillful subterfuge.

4. Weng Chun is not related to Wing Chun

Misconception: Chi Sim Weng Chun looks very different than modern day Wing Chun that contains the Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu and Biu Ji forms, ergo the two are not related.

Latest Research: Within the Southern Shaolin Temple, there was a place called the Weng Chun Dim, the Everlasting Spring Great-Room. The style that was taught in this hall, called (Chi Sim) Weng Chun Kuen (Everlasting Spring Fist), represented one of the highest levels of Shaolin Kung Fu. This system is a Chan expression of martial arts meaning that it is complete; it deals with Chan Buddhism, all ranges of combat and, it also has complete Chi Gung training. It’s a system of fighting that is based on the concepts of Time/Space, Energy, and Gravity (Heaven, Man &, Earth).

A related system that also came out of the Southern Shaolin Temple was directly connected to the revolutionary societies, or the Hung Mun. (Hung Fa Yi) Wing Chun Kuen (Praising Spring Fist). It was developed in the Wing Chun Tong, or Praising Spring Hall, and is also based on Chan and the concepts of Time, Space and, Energy. However, the focus of Wing Chun is on the Economy of Motion, which created different sets of body structures than those found in Weng Chun. However, both systems share the same roots in Chan Buddhism and come from the Southern Shaolin Temple. They are considered sister arts. It is most probable that Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun gave rise to modern day Wing Chun, while Chi Sim Weng Chun most likely gave rise to modern day Hung Ga.

In summary, both systems came from the Southern Shaolin Temple, but from different places within the Temple. Both share the same roots and Chan tradition; however Wing Chun focused on the Sap Ming Dim (Formula), radically changing its appearance as compared to Weng Chun.

5. Wing Chun has no Chan Roots or connections

Legend: Most modern day Wing Chun lineages trace their roots through the Red Boat Opera, an organization that existed around the time of 1820-1850. This was about 200 years after the art left the Southern Shaolin temple. Many of the lineages of Wing Chun stemming from the Red Boat were taught without the inclusions of Chan Buddhism. Fighting ability is not dependent on knowledge of Chan Buddhism.

Latest Research: To the monks, martial arts were methods to cultivate their hearts and nourish their nature. In Chinese, the heart is equivalent to what the West refers to as the mind. In the Shaolin context, the mind spoken of is the Universal Mind. Nourishing its nature refers to the Buddha nature. This is the path used to seek enlightenment. When Wing Chun left the Temple, most of the people learning it were not doing so for the purpose of cultivating the heart or nourishing their nature. For students or teachers that placed an emphasis on self-defense or health, the Chan aspects of the art were left out of some lineages over time. Some lineages today carry on Chan traditions, maintaining a strong link to the origins of the art in the Shaolin Temple. A phrase often quoted by practitioners is, “Ming Sum Gim Sing (Understanding the heart, see the true nature).”

Today, there are at least two lineages of Wing Chun that maintain the Chan tradition, Chi Sim and Hung Fa Yi.

6. Wing Chun originates within the Red Boat

Legend: The Red Boat period was a sort of melting pot for many southern martial arts; numerous systems of today’s Wing Chun began to develop differently due to its environment and personal experiences. The ancestors of today’s well-known Wing Chun lineages, such as Yim Man, Yuen Kay San, Gu Lao, etc., originate from the Red Boats. For example, Yip Man’s lineage is from Chu Wa Shun, who learned it from Dr. Leung Jan, and Leung Jan was one of the first non-opera people to learn Wing Chun. According to oral tradition, he learned it from two opera members, Wong Wa Bo and Leung Yi Dai. So in this sense, Yip Man’s lineage did come from the Red Boats.

Latest Research: The point of the above discussions is that the Red Boat Opera members did not create the Wing Chun. Wing Chun was created in the Southern Shaolin Temple where it filtered to the Red Boat Opera through the Secret Societies, more than a century after it left the Southern Shaolin Temple.

7. Yi Ji Kim Yeung Mah

Legend: In Chinese, there are many words that sound alike, but which have different characters. Today, there are many people who translate YJKYM as “Two Adducting Goat Stance”, which means you use your legs and knees to adduct towards the center, as though you are capturing a goat between your legs. Due to this translation, the focus went to the placing of the knees on the center, which in turn led to very narrow spacing of the knees and feet.

Latest Research: Another translation of YJKYM is “Two Adducting Energy Stance”, meaning that you focus on joining the upper and lower body via the Daan Tien energy. Due to the misinterpretation of the word Yeung, it created two different meanings and structures.

8. Wing Chun dummies and weapons are taught only at the end of the system

Misconception: In modern day Wing Chun, you have to be an advanced student in order to qualify to learn the dummy and the weapons.

Latest Research: Wing Chun was a highly advanced system within the Shaolin Temple. Those students who were exposed to it were not beginner students, they had already been through previous martial arts training. In the Shaolin Wing Chun, such as Chi Sim and Hung Fa Yi, the weapons are taught right after the student demonstrates basic foundations and proficiencies in Wing Chun. Both systems focus on their core principles and concepts, which can apply to both weapons training as well as empty handed training. In the past, martial artists who were learning the Wing Chun system needed to learn the weapons immediately in order to survive. Learning the weapons at the beginning or end of the system is only a method, it is not a specified, set order. It depends on the master, the student and, the environment.

9. Wing Chun is an art that only deals with Trapping Range in that it does not have long kicks, strikes, or any grappling.

Misconception: Modern day martial artists at times need to learn two or three martial arts to learn the full ranges of combat. This is referred to as mixed martial arts. Some look at Wing Chun as one of the styles that specializes only in trapping.

Latest Research: Chi Sim Weng Chun is a complete system where it deals with all ranges of combat through its concepts of Heaven, Man and Earth. This concept addresses both where an attack is height and width wise as well as how long an attack is. Earth can be used to describe the lower area of the body (below the Daan Tien) as well as a body to body, close contact situation. Human can be used to describe a mid range attack with trapping and short striking. It can also be used to describe the middle area of the body. Heaven can be used to describe the upper portion of the body, from the solar plexus up, as well as a long-range combat situation involving kicking and long striking.

In Hung Fa Yi, the paradigm shifted due to its focus on the economy of motion. The efficiency of Hung Fa Yi is based on human structures utilized in human to human combat. It can effectively deal with all ranges of combat using these structures. These configurations allow the practitioner to make the most of time, space and energy in a combat situation. Only when the practitioner’s space is threatened, at his six-gate range, will his tools turn on. He will not go out of his way to hurt anyone. Once in this six-gate mode, all options are available to the defender; kicks, punches, traps and, throws, as well as being mobile or balanced and stable. This is one of the most versatile and dangerous postures for human combat. It is not due to personal style or the artistic desire to do something, it is a hard fact of combat.


A Note About the Author: Sifu Benny Meng is the principle founder and Curator of the Ving Tsun Museum. He has traveled extensively throughout the world researching the roots of the art, and studying the training methods and applications employed in virtually every lineage of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Benny Meng can be reached at the Ving Tsun Museum, 5715 Brandt Pike, Dayton, Oh, 45424, phone (937) 236-6485 and emailed at bennymeng@vtmuseum.org. Steve Rudnicki is an assistant instructor under Sifu Meng.


Interview with Wong Shun Leung and Barry Lee

by Earl Montaigue

Wing Chun Master , Sifu Wong Shun Leung says : „Any Martial Artist who says he doesn´t get hit is lying to himself!“

Sifu Wong Shun Leung´s Martial Arts ability is “legendary” ,and well documented in Hong Kong ,with his having fought and won many real fights in his younger years (And also in his older years , as will soon be found …) Sifu Wong is probably one of relatively few chinese Martial Artists still living who is able to claim real challenge match experience, keeping in mind that he lived in an era when Kung Fu was still unknown in the west and protective equipment was virtually unheard of.

In those days, it was accepted practice for students from other schools to visit the various “rival“ styles in Hong Kong and “try out their style”. If a student was able to beat the main teacher of a particular school, the school would invariably have to close down. Sifu Wong Shun Leung reputedly “closed down” quite a number of schools in that way.

I must say that, when reading this article, you should keep in mind that this sort of challenge was the accepted thing in those days in Hong Kong. These days it cannot – and should not – be done. However, Sifu Wong feels that, although one is able to have a more-or-less realistic sparring match, nothing beats “the real thing”, and that perhaps serious instructors and students are losing a little with the passing of that era. He regards modern tournaments as nothing more than “games”.

He said he believes all Martial Arts styles can be just as good as each other; it just depends upon how diligently one practices. He does not claim Wing Chun is the only Martial Art. Nor does he claim that it is the best system for everyone – only that it is a basic , straightforward system with no frills and works very well in most situations.

Sifu Wong believes that everyone must learn and teach their own arts their own way, and that every art art has something to offer. When I asked him about other styles he said he did not know very much about this or that style, and so he would not comment. Quite apart from Sifu Wong Shun Leung´s obvious Martial arts ability, I found him to be, quite simply, a lovely man …

The following is a transcript of my interview with Sifu Wong Shun Leung, which has been edited in line with the publisher´s note in Vol. 10/3 , regarding the two Readers` Forum letters which closed the subject of the ongoing “Wing Chun Controversy”. The interview includes several additional comments from Wong Shun Leung´s sister Wendy Lee, who acted as interpreter, and brother-in-law Barry Lee, both of whom live in Sydney. (Wong Shun Leung has no representative in Australia, but would like Barry Lee – who has been teaching privately for over 10 years – to represent Wong´s Wing Chun in Australia.)

Erle: Sifu Wong, were you the first student of Yip Man?

Wong Shun Leung: No, but I learned in the early years when my Sifu was still teaching. Kung Fu is not like an inheritance. It doesn´t matter how senior you are, but how good you are. You need to study hard. It doesn´t matter if you are the son of a grandmaster, only how hard you practice.

Erle: Yes, we hear so many stories about how a certain master taught his son from the age of four, etc. and so some naturally assume that that son must be quote good …

Wendy Lee: My brother has two sons, but they aren´t interested in Kung Fu, although his daughter is quite interested. You can´t force the children to practice something that they don´t particularly want to.

Erle: Was Wing Chun your first Martial Art, Sifu ?

Wong Shun Leung: No, I learned a couple of other styles before Wing Chun. I started Wing Chun at around 17 or 18 years of age.

Barry Lee: He wasn´t the first student of Yip Man, but was one of four students that were taught around the same time and are now recognized as the main students of Yip Man. Wong Shun Leung, Choy Sun Ting, Lok Yiu and Leung Seung were the major students of Yip Man at that time. Wong Shun Leung was the only one who really went out and proved his style for the old master (Yip Man). He is the one the old master (Yip Man) used to rely upon and used to send out to fight the various other styles, so in that way he distinguished himself in a way that no other teacher, or no other student of Yip Man, really had to the same degree. They all went out and fought, but never anywhere near the amount of fights this man (Wong) has had; and proven fights against the best of nearly every style. Many were documented in newspapers; there were films taken etc.. As Sifu became more famous, the challenges came to him. Wong Shun Leung was 5ft. 4ins., approximately 104 lbs. and was never beaten.

Erle: It must have been greatly different in those days. The west hardly even knew about Kung Fu then …

Wong Shun Leung: Nowadays you just can´t do the things that we did then, and I think people miss out on some of the real aspects of fighting because of this.

Erle: What do you feel about the Buce Lee era? His style and ideas etc.? (Wong Shun Leung was one of the senior instructors who taught Wing Chun to Bruce Lee … )

Wong Shun Leung: We had all known Bruce for many years. My sister used to know him when she was a little girl. When Bruce started to become famous he came back to Hong Kong and still came to ask me to practice with him. Bruce would ask me what I thought of his new style, or rather “way” (Jeet Kune Do has no “style” ). On one occasion I discussed and practiced with Bruce from midday until midnight behind closed doors (The two men went into a closed room while the two wives sat in the other room and talked. Another thing that could only happen in those days – Erle) Some of this time in the closed room was spent just talking, sometimes we would Chi Sau (sticky hands training); sometimes we would fight.
Bruce was a very hard-working man; he trained very hard. A lot of Jeet Kune Do obviously came from Wing Chun. But with a lot of things… just because Bruce could do it doesn´t mean that his students could do it. Because Bruce had a firm background, with much Chi Sau, which teaches you instinctive reaction. It enables you to follow your opponent. (Sifu Wong was mainly referring to the students of Bruce Lee who had no other Martial Arts training. People like Dan Inosanto already had a solid background in other arts, so the concepts of Jeet Kune Do were easily picked up by him – Erle).
You can´t teach people from the top. You must teach them as you learnt, from basics to a higher level. Jeet Kune Do is not a bad way. In fact, it´s quite good. But one thing that one must remember is that not many men are like Bruce Lee. He had a gift and so probably would have been good at any style.

Erle: What do you think about many people who have changed the basic Wing Chun with respect to footwork, to cause it to be better in their eyes?

Barry Lee: Some people say there is not enough footwork. But in fact those are the people who haven´t really analysed the style and don´t understand the kicks and the footwork that is involved.

Wong Shun Leung: Someone who is looking at Wing Chun and hasn´t trained the full system, or hasn´t really gone for enough time with a teacher, probably won´t know enough footwork. They won´t understand the mobility involved in Wing Chun – the angles of attack, the advance and retreat. They won´t understand the full use of kicks in all situations. Therefore they will want to add something else that they think is better, for the sake of not knowing.

Barry Lee: It´s the ability of the man and the understanding of what he´s doing that´s important. In an actual fighting situation you will very rarely need to use your legs. And when you do, you use them in such a way as to maintain your centre of balance so that you can use your hands.

Wong Shun Leung: I think the kicks in Wing Chun are enough. It´s much easier to use your hands than to use your feet. Your hand is able to reach your opponent long before your foot. Why take the long way to attack (circle), when there is a much more direct method of attack? If you are using your hands, then your opponent can´t see a kick coming if you have to use it. When you teach Kung Fu, you can fool a lot of people, but not yourself. You can make like a movie and do many complicated movements and kicks, but you only fool yourself as to whether that would work in a real situation of life and death.

Barry Lee: If you are training for the purpose of knocking your opponent down, you only need a small number of techniques. So it comes back to the ability of the man. In all of Sifu´s fights he very rarely had to use his kicks; so that answers the question.

Erle: Regarding basic Wing Chun training methods: What does one learn first with the legs?

Wong Shun Leung: You must learn, from the beginning, balance and stability, and then mobility. Mobility is such that you change your angle to the opponent, very often you´re stepping very fast. It´s a very aggressive style in many ways. Very rarely will you step back but you will step back if you have to. In fact, we learn to step backwards before learning to step forwards. But for every step back, you will try to take two steps forward. The mobility that you´re talking about is in the angle to your opponent. We use a lot of twisting; a lot of shifting using the hips to shift; using your body to change your direction with regard to your opponent.

Erle: How effective is Wing Chun against multiple attacks?

Wong Shun Leung: Wing Chun is better against one opponent (as is any art ), but if you face three people then you´d better be sure that you are better than them… (At this point, Barry and Wendy related – with Wong´s okay – an incident which happened to Wong, who is now 52 years old, in Hong Kong about a year ago)…

Barry Lee: Sifu has a good friend who has trained in some Wing Chun, but normally doesn´t train in Wing Chun. He´s just a good friend who comes to talk to Sifu. This friend is an habitual gambler and has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time, and in this instance he owed a lot of money in gambling debts. Sifu and this person were in a restaurant minding their own business in the evening and more than 13 men came in, all with weapons of some kind in order to get this man. They were going to finish him and Sifu was forced to defend him. Normally Sifu would let them come to him but, because they were after the other man, he stepped between him and them and stepped into them. In his whole life, maybe more than 30 years of fighting, it was the first mistake of stepping in rather than doing the Wing Chun practice of allowing the fight to come to him. But he had to save his friend; otherwise he would have isolated a number of them and taken them out that way. Sifu fought them and knocked four or more of them down. He went to punch one of them and his sleeve – because he was wearing the long Min Lap (Chinese jacket with rolled up sleeves) at the time – the Min Lap unravelled and the man grabbed the jacket and came up with a knife. As the knife came up Sifu had the reflex action to move and the knife just caught him between the eyes (There is a scar on Wong´s forehead, between his eyes). The man grabbed his arm and as he pulled Sifu in, Sifu finished him with one punch. The rest of them ran away as the police came.
But Sifu never advocates fighting a man with a weapon unless it is absolutely necessary. In a group fight, you angle yourself so that you are facing one man and the group has to come from behind him to get to you. So you isolate them by taking the man at an angle.

Erle: Sifu, I know why I use the last three knuckles to punch, but what is your reasoning for using these three knuckles, which most hard stylists would think are the least strong ones and would be likely to be hurt?

(At this point Wong stood up and demonstrated with Barry Lee. He showed the more “natural” punch, with the palm held horizontal to the ground, demonstrated how the power theoretically goes straight back to the shoulder and stops. Then he demonstrated the opposing theory of how, when you use the vertical fist with the last three knuckles, the power is transmitted right back through the hip, the leg and to the rear foot. This makes for much more power for the least amount of energy used.
A Karate friend of mine pointed out to me that some Karate styles also use the vertical fist, but use the top two knuckles. This can mostly be used when attacking the chin, so that the last two knuckles don´t even come in contact.)

Wong Shun Leung: In Wing Chun (and Tai Chi) we hit the larger part of the face, usually at an angle, so the butt of the chin is avoided. In Wing Chun, the main target area is from the mouth upward, although this is only general.

Erle: Is there any time when you would punch with the weight placed on the front foot?

Barry Lee: Never.

Erle: Do you use a “natural “ punch – i.e. when the left foot is forward, and punching with the left fist?

Barry Lee: Oh yes, of course. It depends entirely upon the situation. When you´re fighting you can´t afford to change your stance midstream.

Wong Shun Leung: Even with the natural punch (same hand, same foot )the power still goes back to the rear foot and ground.

Barry Lee: When you`re practicing your “twist” in Wing Chun (twist developed from the hips for mobility and power) your weight is evenly distributed across both feet. When you are developing that power in the punch the force is transmitted back into this leg (the rear one), but in fact the weight is evenly distributed across both feet.

Erle: That answers another question: Some people think that the power for the Wing Chun punch only comes from the triceps?

Wong Shun Leung: No! From the whole body. And many people think the power in Wing Chun comes from the snap of the wrist and that’s wrong, too. When you see Bruce Lee´s one-inch punch – it´s still from the whole body and not just the wrist!

Barry Lee: In Wing Chun you think in terms of your elbow driving the fist forward, rather then the fist pulling the rest of the arm forward. It´s coordination and technique; everything beginning together and finishing together. That´s far more important than even speed and power; and that will give you power.

Erle: Barry, I watched as you performed a punch and I would think that I would receive a nice bit of the old tennis elbow if I punched like that, locking the elbow upwards. Do you ever get a sore elbow?

Wong Shun Leung: In the beginning you do, but it stretches the ligaments in the back of the elbow and if you train hard in the correct way your whole body becomes conditioned and you no longer have problems.

Barry Lee: But if you´re fighting it´s rapid and you don´t always fully extend the elbow. You try to hit the opponent with a slightly bent arm, leaving room for penetration or reaction to his movement.

Erle: Can´t you easily damage these (the last three) knuckles?

Wong Shun Leung: In 35 years of fighting I have never broken a knuckle.

Erle: What are the main striking areas in Wing Chun?

Barry Lee: Wing Chun is a complete system. If you have the opportunity you´re going to hit somebody here, here and here (indicating various different parts of the body, including solar plexus and ribs etc.) but your main target is here (indicating the face). The centre line contains most of the vital points of the body, the areas that are most easily damaged . Whenever we can, the main punch in Wing Chun is centred here (the mouth and the nose) with a slight upward angle, but obviously, like any other style, of course we strike the body when we have to. If someone is 6ft.8ins., of course, you would have to go for the body because punching to the head would bring you in too close and leave you too open.

Erle: What are your ideas on Chi?

Wong Shun Leung: I don´t know anything about the Chi. That´s as honest as I can be. If someone practices any Martial Art, then that person must become stronger and more durable than someone who hasn´t practiced. So if you are punched you are able to take a lot more punishment than a normal person. I have been hit many times, as have all of the great Martial Artists that I know of. So we are not supermen, but we can take a lot more . Any Martial Artist who says that he doesn´t get hit is lying to himself!

Erle: What do you say about the “old master“ who stands up and says that no-one can push him over etc.?

Wong Shun Leung: What for! So if your student pushes your arm and can´t push you down, then many students can´t push you down… that means a truck can´t push you down? What are you – Superman? Eventually there is somebody who will knock you down; there is always someone better. An “old master” might not be pushed down, but he will still be hurt if his nose is broken. There are too many magician´s tricks in Martial Arts today. They would be better off learning how to fight.

Erle: Tell me about Bil Jee (Thrusting fingers, he third and advanced form of Wing Chun… )

Wong Shun Leung: Barry can explain it better in English.

Barry Lee: Bil Jee is like standing outside your style and fighting, or knowing how to use your technique and not be bound by what you have learned in Sil Lim Tao or Chum Kiu (the first two forms), where you are bound by certain principles. In Bil Jee you are standing outside looking at it. You have achieved a certain level that enables you to perhaps defend yourself, if you have to, against more than one person; to defend yourself if one arm is cut.
It teaches you to be able to use a specific technique to be able to still protect yourself. It´s all defence, more than anything else. So you are using weapons – the elbow, the fingers – to areas that will damage quite drastically when you hit them. So you have to do that, because you´re fighting more than one person, or you have a cut arm, you´re disabled in some way. So in other words, it teaches you to apply your Wing Chun techniques more naturally and not be bound by what you have learnt previously.

Erle: So it doesn´t teach new, specialised techniques, does it? For instance, the so-called Dim Mak, or Death Touch?

Wong Shun Leung: No. (And jokingly…) You might kill yourself if you touch yourself? Besides, if a person is moving very fast, it´s almost impossible to touch small areas with such precision. In Bil Jee we do strike the more vulnerable areas of the body and these are things that are not taught in the first two forms. One must, however know the first two forms. You can´t just learn Bil Jee. In fact, most of our fighting is done in the first two forms. It´s only when life is threatened, or there are more than one opponent, that we use Bil Jee.

Erle: How do you train in Bil Jee, when these techniques are quite dangerous?

Wong Shun Leung: Training the set is enough. Because if you have learnt Wing Chun from Sil Lim Tao, Chum Kiu, Chi Sau etc. – learning the system step-by-step – once you come to Bil Jee you´re at a standard where you perform those techniques correctly and you will, through simply practicing the set, be able to use it in those situations. Because Wing Chun teaches, above all, instinctive reaction.

Erle: What about the future of Wing Chun?

Wong Shun Leung: Wing Chun has a very good future, because it´s spreading around the world. I have been asked to go to a South American country to teach their Police Force, although I´ve not made a decision regarding that yet. The future of Wing Chun depends on the teacher. If he teaches the right thing, the future will be bright.


Siu Lim Tao – 小念頭

Siu Lim Tao (Siu Nim Tao)- Little Idea

by West Coast Wing Chun

Siu Lim Tao 小念頭 is most often translated as “little idea”.  If we look at the Chinese characters we can understand a more in depth meaning.

小 is understood as meaning “little”.
念 is understood as meaning “think, study”.
頭 is often translated as “head”, but may also mean “first or start”.
The Siu Lim Tao Form  is the first open hand form of Wing Chun. There are 108 movements in the form, presented in three parts. The form is conceptual, presenting the concepts of energy, motion and position in a fixed context.

The Stance

The Siu Lim Tao form is comprised entirely of the Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma Stance (Character Two  二  Frontal Adduction Stance).  Stepping and turning is not introduced until the second form of Wing Chun, the Chum Kiu form.   Attention must be given to correct foot, leg and hip positioning so the stance optimizes its stability, mobility and ability to lever power from the earth. Additional focus must be given to earth points on the bottom of the feet, as well as the hui yum point on the underside of the pelvis to facilitate proper chi flow.

Siu Lim Tao is a single-handed movement; even in the second part you are using both hands symmetrically, so it is still single-handed. ~Ip Chun

The First Section

The first section of the Siu lim Tao form introduces us to two of the seeds or family motions of the Wing Chun Kuen, the tan sau and fook sau. Proper breathing, stance integrity, and relaxation are heavily emphasized to facilitate the development of internal power. However, direct focus and intent must be placed on the underside of the elbow to build jahn dai lik (force/tension beneath the elbow). Careful attention must be given to practicing the motions slowly to facilitate muscle memory.

The motions are as follows:
Seung Guan Sau
Seung Tan Sau
Lop Sau
Sam Pai Fut or Praying Thrice to the Buddha (Slow) Section:
Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Wu Sa
Fook Sau, Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Wu Sau (Repeat 3x)
Pak Sau, Jek Cheung

The Second Section

The second section of the Siu Lim Tao Form, often referred to as the Long Bridge section, teaches us to use the energy that is built in section one, in a combined soft and hard capacity. Here, we start to develop the first aspects of Fa Ging or whipping power. The arm is like a whip; it remains soft and relaxed until the moment of impact when we add last minute energy to the motion, and then become relaxed immediately after. The strike becomes like the crack of the whip only through the use of the soft/hard combination of energies.

The motions are:
Left Side Gum Sau, Right Side Gum Sau,
Rear Gum Sau, Frontal Gum Sau
Lan Sau, Fak Sau, Lan Sau
Jum Sau, Tan Sau, Jut Sau
Bui Sau, Gum Sau, Tai Sau
Ji Si Sau, Lop Sau

The Third Section


In the last third, you are applying the techniques. ~Ip Chun

The third section of the Siu Lim Tao form shows us correct flow and positioning of motions. For example, after practicing the Bong Sau, the third seed of the Wing Chun Kuen, the student drops his elbow into Tan Sau. This sequence reveals the vulnerability of the Wing Arm position. Careful consideration must be given to hand positions while understanding that when an opponent is present hands may need to be adjusted based on the height of the opponent. The movement must be slow and deliberate.

The motions are:
Pak Sau, Tsang Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Left Side)
Pak Sau, Tsang Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Right Side)
Tan Sau, Guan Sau, Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Wang Wa Cheung, Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Left Side)
Tan Sau, Guan Sau, Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Wang Wa Cheung, Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Right Side)
Bong Sau, Tan Sau, Tok Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Left Side)
Bong Sau, Tan Sau, Tok Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Right Side)
Left Tut Sau, Right Tut Sau, Left Tut Sau
3 Lin Wan Kuen,
Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau

Source:  http://westcoastwingchun.com/training/forms/siu-lim-tao-2/


Sashes in Wing Chun Kuen?

Traditionally, Chinese martial arts (of which Wing Chun Kuen is one) do not use “sashes” to denote student level, rank, or instructor experience. They don’t use anything.

Judo began the practice of using colored belts (initially a few, later more) to designate experience levels for competition. Philosophically, Judo was trying to move away from the older practice of Jujitsu and into a modern, sport-based structure. In martial arts, you know something or you don’t; you can use it or you can’t.

But the Judo idea quickly spread to Karate and other Japanese arts, and into Tae Kwon Do, American Kenpo, and other arts. Instructors realized that belts were a motivator for students (status being desirable) and a financial incentive for themselves (desire creating demand). White, brown, black became White, yellow, orange, blue, green, brown, black, became purples and reds and half-colors and stripes and all sorts of other ways to increase the steps, increase the motivation, and (for those who instituted belt fees, testing fees, association fees, and other surcharges) increase the profits.

When Chinese teachers came west and saw commercial Japanese and Korean schools with belt-ranking systems, some decided to implement a China-cized version, substituting sashes for belts. Others who had backgrounds in TKD or Karate and then learned a traditional, rank-less Chinese art, integrated sashes in as well.

In the best of cases (some would argue Judo still and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu now both represents this), belts reflect skill level, aid students in improving, and cost next to nothing aside from the cloth. They can also be handy when schools become widespread, multi-state or multi-national organizations with set standards and high-mobility of students between locations. (Leung Ting’s WT and William Cheung’s TWC would be examples of this).

In the worst cases (some would argue McDojos are in part defined by this), the belts become something bought instead of skill earned (pay the fee, get the belt, actually knowledge and ability be damned), confuse students, and gouge them financially. (Plenty examples of this too, unfortunately).

I had or have colored belts in judo, karate, and BJJ, and did Wing Chun Kuen longer than any of those without any strip of cloth to denote it (traditional mainland sifu — never heard of the practice).

But that’s just it. Sometimes the practice of ranks and sashes can become so widespread, people actually refer to them without realizing how modern, and in some cases anachronistic, they are. The modern and commercial becomes seen as the traditional.

We gain the benefits of stability and interoperability, of scaling and fitting in, but what do we lose?

The small classes where the sifu knew every student and their individual level, replaced by the gigantic class with sub-teacher of the moment looking at colored strips of cloth before deciding which generic drill to begin.

Like most things, there are benefits and risks, and knowing both helps maximize the former and minimize the latter.

(Personally, I’m wearing a black belt right now — leather with a metal buckle from the mall)


Chum Kiu – Seeking/Sinking The Bridge


Chum-Kiu – the Wing-Chun intermediate level form: Chum (search/seek), Kiu (bridge/gap). Literally means “seeking the bridge.” Chum-Kiu also means ‘sinking the bridge’. A bridge is created when one of your arms makes contact with the arm of the opponent. After a proficient level is attained in the Siu-Lim-Tao, Chum-Kiu is taught to the students at this level to bridge the gap to your opponent, developing arm and leg movements from the Siu-Lim-Tao into a coherent fighting system, consists of techniques to destroy your opponent’s structure and balance, leaving him open to attack. This 2nd form encloses advanced footwork, such as Chuen-Ma, Hau-Ma, Tor-Ma, Thoi Ma are incorporated using Yiu-Ma (Waist Power), to generate force in the strikes and block movements. New hand positions, kicks and movement are also introduced. Close-range attacks using elbows and knees are also streesed. Chum-Kiu can also be looked on as the ‘bridge’ between the hand motions of the first form, and the emergency motions of the third form.

Since Siu-Lim-Tao develops proper structure, stance, centerline, hand-eye coordination, qi development, body unity and the power of proper intent, Chum-Kiu adds and develops three more energies. These are forward momentum, pulling momentum and turning momentum. These energies add significant power to all Wing-Chun techniques though coordinated movement of the body along both linear and circular paths. Practicing Chum-Kiu will lead to a heightened awareness and understanding of the ways in which these movements enhance and magnify natural body power ‘chi’. The nature of this form is to train your body balance by playing the form. The more you practice this form the better your balance will be. Chum-Kiu is a bridge to a greater understanding of the Wing-Chun system.

• Hands positions are Lan-Sao, Fak-Sao, Biu-Sao, Dai-Bong-Sao, Lin-Wan-Cheung (chain palm strikes), Sup-Gee-Chang (crossed palms) and arms break.

• The heart of the Chum-Kiu “Yiu-Ma-Hap-Lap”, latterly translates as “waist power co-operation”, either in deflecting or returning force using Chuen-Ma/Yee-Chi-Kim-Yeung Ma.

• Kicks are Dim-Gerk (front kicks) and Jeet-Gerk/Waang-Gerk (low side kicks).

• The techniques in Chum-Kiu are more apparent as well as the footwork required. This form stresses the importance of mobility and the coordination of movements to achieve maximum effect using Yin-Yang power art.

This form is divided into three sections. In the first section we train several crucial concepts that will enhance your Kung-Fu. These movements train the body to move in coordinated unison to fully maximize efficient use of the body’s qi in implementing hand techniques while maintaining balance as the centerline is changed. These movements train our timing as well as develop flawless hand replacement; as one hand retreats from the centerline to the guard position, the other hand replaces on the advance position on the centerline. This ensures that control of the centerline is never given away. Our “dead horse” stance from Siu-Lim-Tao now becomes alive in the practice of Chum-Kiu.

In the second section, Dim-Gerk kicking is introduced in the form. This practice allows the student to deliver powerful, economical and efficient kicks while maintaining optimal balance while communicating little visual intent with the upper body. The student learns to shift his/her weight to the back leg to help deliver power to the kicks while maintaining balance and sensitivity along the centerline with the leg/feet.

The third section focuses the student to develop unity of the horse stance and hand techniques to better develop body power through kicking, stepping and changing the centerline.