The Wing Chun system is a Kung Fu art that has three empty hand forms: Siu Lim Tao, Chum Kiu and Bil Jee and two traditional weapons sets: Luk Dim Boon Kwun and Baat Cham Dao. While it may seem to be a very simple system in comparison to other styles of Kung Fu that may have more than twenty forms, the hand forms hold a rich legacy of knowledge and deep understanding.
The hand techniques taught in the three forms are practiced by taking various sections in isolation and developing repetitive drills which build reaction, speed and agility. Using them in simulated attack and defence scenarios enables understanding of proper stance and force control. This interactive play helps build a student’s deep understanding of function that underlines the Wing Chun forms.
The skills as they are learnt are often practiced in sparring games to pressure test the ideas and methods. The sparring runs from light choreographed practice to develop confidence, timing and personal creativity; building over time to full contact controlled Wing Chun free fighting. To help with the control needed in the free sparring we employ many methods such as pad work and the traditional time honoured sparring exercise called Chi Sao (sticking hands), which is a unique exercise practiced at close quarters (real fighting distance). Chi Sau exercise not only improves your reflexes, responses, positions, angles but also energy control of you and your opponent and hand techniques to achieve the best defence and counter attack position with high efficiency. Chi Sao is considered a game and a bridge between forms and fighting… It’s also a lot of fun! :-)
Finally there is an advanced form called Muk Yan Chong. This is practiced against a specialist wooden man and is an encapsulation of many ideas strategies as well as being a tireless training partner that forces you to be precise and true to form.
This is the first form of the Wing Chun system. The name translates as “way of the little idea” helping you to focus on the fundamental skills of the system and build a strong foundation in your stance. This form although simple in content is infinite in scope, a glass of water to the thirsty mind.
Wing Chun’s second form, Chum Kiu, translates as “searching for the bridge”. The bridge in this case means the contact made between you and your opponent. The form contains more coordinated arm movements with stepping. You also are introduced to kicks and pivoting stances in this form. Many of the teachings are beyond the scope of a simple paragraph or even book, but some aspects of the form teach the student how to respond while in physical contact with an opponent and to attack, bridge and shift energies to her/his advantage.
The third empty hand form translates as “thrusting fingers”. Some teachings call this Gow Gup Sao, “First aid hand”, suggesting its techniques are used to regain control of the centreline and recover from a mistake, missed attack or over committed technique. Bil Jee for our school represents further development of the body and mind by involving new methods of close quarter fighting. Bil Jee uses sophisticated fighting concepts using the elbows and thrusting fingers at grappling range.
The six and a half point long pole form is a simple but effective weapon form performed with the eight foot long dragon staff. Though it was not originally a Wing Chun weapon, it was adopted into the Wing Chun system in days of old when Wing Chun masters travelled around by boats that resemble punts. The long staffs used to push the boats along were an obvious weapon if trained. Today the pole still has a valid position in the system that is not just for historical completeness but also rather to build strength, work traditional Kung Fu methods and offer dexterity in weapons fighting and a confidence when faced with weapon attack.
The eight cutting broad swords or butterfly knives. This form dates back to the times when knives were used commonly throughout China as they are short and easily carried and concealed. The methods found in this form are efficient for the weapon and use Sam Bok Ma (Triangle stepping) footwork and classical Kung Fu stances. The use of the knives can be seen as extensions of some of the hand shapes found in the Wing Chun system. Close study of this form and the use of footwork can bring insight into new ways to use Wing Chun hand skills.
There are 116 movements in the wooden dummy form but in keeping with tradition and superstition it is often referred to as 108 movements, since the number 108 is considered to be very lucky by the Chinese. The wooden dummy is an invaluable aid and can be used free form to improve basic skills or through the form to further develop understanding, strength, stamina and coordination.