Wing Chun occasionally romanized as Ving Tsun or "Wing Tsun" (literally "春 咏" or "forever spring", or substituted with the character for "eternal springtime) is a Chinese martial art that specializes in aggressive close-range combat.
The characters (永春) "forever spring" are also associated with some other southern Chinese martial arts, including Jee Shim Weng Chun (Yong Chun) and White Crane Weng Chun (Yong Chun).
The common legend involves the young woman Yim Wing Chun (Wing Chun literally means beautiful springtime or everlasting spring). After she rebuffs the local warlord's marriage offer, he says he'll rescind his proposal if she can beat him in a fight. She asks a local Buddhist nun, Ng Mui, to teach her boxing, and the style they develop enables Yim Wing Chun to defeat the warlord. She thereafter marries her sweetheart and teaches him the style, which he names after her.
It should be noted that the system was developed during the Shaolin and Ming resistance movement against the Qing Dynasty, and thus many legends about the creator of Wing Chun were spread to confuse the enemy, including the story of Yim Wing Chun. This perhaps explains why no one has been able to accurately determine the creator or creators of Wing Chun.
San Sik (translated as Separate Forms) are compact in structure. They can be loosely grouped into three broad categories: 1) focus on building body structure through basic punching, standing, turning, and stepping drills; 2) fundamental arm cycles and changes, firmly ingraining the cardinal tools for interception and adaptation; and 3) sensitivity training and combination techniques.
It is from the forms and san sik that all Wing Chun techniques are derived. Depending on lineage, the focus, content and intent of each form can have distinct differences which can therefore have far reaching implications. This also means that there are a few different ideas concerning what constitutes progression in the curriculum from form to form, so only a general description of overlap between different schools of thought is possible here.
The most commonly seen Wing Chun generally comprises six forms: three empty hand forms, one "wooden dummy" form, and two weapons forms.
|小念頭||Siu Nim Tao (小念頭; pinyin: xiǎo niàn tóu; Yale Cantonese: síu nihm tàuh; "little idea" or "little imagination". Alternately romanized Siu Lim Tao, Sil Lum Tao)||The first and most important form in Wing Chun. Siu Nim Tao is the foundation or "seed" of the art from which all succeeding forms and techniques depend. Fundamental rules of balance and body structure are developed here. Using a car analogy: for some branches this would provide the chassis, for others this is the engine. Some branches view the symmetrical stance as the fundamental fighting stance, while others see it as more a training stance used in developing technique.|
|尋橋||Chum Kiu (尋橋; pinyin: xún qiáo; Yale Cantonese: cham4 kiu4; "seeking the bridge". Alternately "sinking bridge" pinyin: chen qiáo; Yale Cantonese: sám kìuh;)||The second form Chum Kiu focuses on coordinated movement of bodymass and entry techniques to "bridge the gap" between practitioner and opponent and move in to disrupt their structure and balance. Close-range attacks using the elbows and knees are also developed here. It also teaches methods of recovering position and centerline when in a compromised position where Siu Nim Tao structure has been lost. For some branches bodyweight in striking is a central theme, whether it be from pivoting (rotational) or stepping (translational). Likewise for some branches, this form provides the engine to the car. For branches who use the "sinking bridge" interpretation, the form takes on more emphasis of an "uprooting" context adding multi-dimensional movement and spiraling to the already developed engine.|
|鏢指||Bil Jee (鏢指; pinyin: biāo zhǐ; Yale Cantonese: bìu jí; "darting fingers")||The third form, Biu Jee, is comprised of extreme short-range and extreme long-range techniques, low kicks and sweeps, and "emergency techniques" to counter-attack when structure and centerline have been seriously compromised, such as when the practitioner is seriously injured. As well as pivoting and stepping, developed in Chum Kiu, a third degree of freedom involving more upper body and stretching is developed for more power. For some branches this is the turbo-charger of the car. For others it can be seen as a "pit stop" kit that should never come in to play, recovering your "engine" when it has been lost. Still other branches view this form as imparting deadly "killing" and maiming techniques that should never be used if you can help it. A common wing chun saying is "Biu Jee doesn't go out the door." Some interpret this to mean the form should be kept secret, others interpret it as meaning it should never be used if you can help it.|
|木人樁||Muk Yan Jong (木人樁; pinyin: mùrénzhuāng; Yale Cantonese: muhk yàhn jòng; "wooden dummy")||The Muk Yan Jong form is performed against a "wooden dummy", a thick wooden post with three arms and a leg mounted on a slightly springy frame representing a stationary human opponent. Although representative of a human opponent, the dummy is not a physical representation of a human, but an energetic one. Wooden dummy practice aims to refine a practitioner's understanding of angles, positions, and footwork, and to develop full body power. It is here that the open hand forms are pieced together and understood as a whole.|
The Siu Lien Tao (Little First Training) of Cho Ga Wing Chun is one long form that includes movements that are comparative to a combination of Siu Nim Tao, Chum Kiu, and Biu Jee of other families. The other major forms of the style are Sui Da ("Random Striking"), Chui Da ("Chase Striking"), Fa Kuen ("Variegated Fist"), Jin Jeung ("Arrow Palm"), Jin Kuen ("Arrow Fist"), Joy Kuen ("Drunken Fist"), Sup Saam Sao ("Thirteen Hands"), and Chi Sao Lung ("Sticking Hands Set").
|八斬刀||Also known as Yee Jee Seung Do ("Parallel Shape Double Knives") and Baat Jaam Do (Eight Chopping/Slashing Knives").||A form involving a pair of large "Butterfly Knives", slightly smaller than short swords (Dao). Historically the knives were also referred to as Dit Ming Do ("Life-Taking Knives").|
|六點半桿||Luk Dim Boon Kwun, or "Six and A Half Point Pole".||"Long Pole" — a tapered wooden pole ranging anywhere from 8 to 13 feet in length. Also referred to as "Dragon Pole" by some branches. For some branches that use "Six and A Half Point Pole", their 7 principles of Luk Dim Boon Kwun(Tai-uprooting, lan-to expand, dim-shock, kit-deflect, got-cut down, wan-circle, lau-flowing) are used throughout the unarmed combat as well. The name six and a half point pole comes from these 7 principles, with the last principle:Lau, or Flowing counting as half a point.|
Chi Sao additionally refers to methods of rolling hands drills (Luk Sao). Luk Sao participants push and "roll" their forearms against each other in a single circle while trying to remain relaxed. The aim is to feel forces, test resistances and find defensive gaps. Other branches do a version of this where each of the arms roll in small separate circles. Luk Sao is most notably taught within the Pan Nam branches where both the larger rolling drills and the method where each of the arms roll in small separate circles are taught.
In some lineages (such as the Yip Man and Jiu Wan branches), Chi Sao drills begin with one-armed sets called Dan Chi Sao which help the novice student to get the feel of the exercise, each practitioner uses one hand from the same side as they face each other. Chi Sao is a sensitivity drill to obtain specific responses, it should not be confused with sparring/fighting, though it can be practiced or expressed in a combat form.
Wing Chun uses deflection and counter-attack in the same motion or will intercept the opponent to nulify an attack, rather than blocking then attacking in two separate motions. Further on interception the punch can act as a block as a consequence of the structure and the position of the arm travelling along its triangular "power-line" pathway to the opponent's "Core". This means that the opponent's attack is automatically deflected by the arm-structure of the Wing Chun practitioner as the counter-punch is delivered.
The "structure" permits this deflection to occur is controlled through the correct focus of energy from the "core" to the "elbow". If the structure is not in place, the counter-attack/interception is likely to break down losing the "forwarding" power which may result in the deflection failing and allowing the attacking punch to make its target.
In addition to efficiency being understood as the "shortest distance to the opponent's core" (which relates specifically to the speed of attack/counter-attack), it is also important to understand the importance of energy efficiency within Wing Chun. A person using Wing Chun is said to be able to defeat a stronger person because they are able to use their structure effectively. Given this, it is essential in ensuring that the Wing Chun practitioner has a full understanding of structure which enables them to use the correct use of energy required - any deviation from their "structure" resulting in using muscles in the shoulders will cause injury to the practitioner and also result in fatigue very quickly. This deviation removes the Wing Chun practitioners advantage since their "structure" will no longer support the defence/attack and vice versa. So the conclusion of the fight between two Wing Chun practitioners will be determined by the opponent with the stronger arms, shoulders and chin. However, certain techniques can allow a weaker person to win even if the said person is at a big disadvantage. Strikes that are surprising (for example: a variation in high and low attacks) can throw the stronger opponent off-balance and expose gaps in defense.
Balance is related to structure because a well-balanced body recovers quicker from stalled attacks and structure is maintained. Wing Chun trains the awareness of one's own body movement derived from muscular, tendon, and articular sources. Performing Wing Chun's forms such as Chum Kiu or the Wooden Dummy form greatly increase proprioception. Wing Chun favours a high, narrow stance with the elbows kept close to the body. Within the stance, arms are positioned across the vitals of the centerline. Shifting or turning within a stance is carried out variantly on the heels, balls, or middle (K1 or Kidney 1 point) of the foot depending on lineage. All attacks and counter-attacks are initiated from this firm, stable base. Wing Chun rarely compromises structure for more powerful attacks because this is believed to create defensive openings which may be exploited.
Structure is viewed as important, not only for reasons of defense, but also for attack. When the practitioner is effectively 'rooted', or aligned so as to be braced against the ground, the force of the hit is believed to be far more devastating. Additionally, the practice of 'settling' one's opponent to brace them more effectively against the ground aids in delivering as much force as possible to them.
While the existence of a "central axis" concept is unified in Wing Chun, the interpretation of the centerline concept itself is not. Many variations exist, with some lineages defining anywhere from a single "centerline" to multiple lines of interaction and definition. The most commonly seen interpretation emphasizes attack and defense along an imaginary vertical line drawn from the center of the practitioner's chest to the center of the enemy's chest. The human body's prime striking targets are considered to be on or near this line, including eyes, nose, throat, solar plexus and groin.
Wing Chun techniques are generally "closed", with the limbs drawn in to protect the central area and also to maintain balance. In most circumstances, the hands do not move beyond the vertical circle that is described by swinging the arms in front, with the hands crossed at the wrists. To reach outside this area, footwork is used. A large emphasis and time investment in training Chi Sao exercise emphasises positioning to dominate this centerline. The stance and guard all point at or through the center to concentrate physical and mental intent of the entire body to the one target.
Wing Chun practitioners attack within this central area to transmit force more effectively, since it targets the "core center" (or "mother line", another center defined in some lineages and referring to the vertical axis of the human body where the center of gravity lies). For example, striking an opponent's shoulder will twist the body, dispelling some of the force and weakening the strike. Striking closer to the center transmits more force directly into the body.
The vertical punch is the most basic and fundamental in Wing Chun and is usually thrown with the elbow down and in front of the body. Depending on the lineage, the fist is held anywhere from vertical to horizontal (palm side up). The contact points also vary from the top two knuckles, to the middle two knuckles, to the bottom three knuckles. In some lineages of Wing Chun, the fist is swivelled at the wrist on point of impact so that the bottom three knuckles are thrust forward adding power to the punch while it is at maximum extension.
The punches may be thrown in quick succession in a 'straight blast' or 'chain punching'. When executed correctly, it can be used as a disorienting finisher but is often criticised for encouraging weaker punches that don't utilise the whole body. Wing Chun favours the vertical punch for several reasons:
Variations on a front kick are performed striking with the heel. The body may be square and the knee and foot are vertical on contact (Chum Kiu), or a pivot may be involved with the foot and knee on a plane at an angle (Mook Jong). At short distances this can become a knee. A roundhouse kick is performed striking with the shin in a similar manner to the Muay Thai version with most of the power coming from the body pivot. This kick is usually used as a finisher at closer range, targeting anywhere between the ribs and the back of the knee, this kick can also become a knee at close range. Other kicks include a stamping kick (Mook Jong) for very close range and a sweep performed with the heel in a circular fashion (Bil Jee).
Every kick is both an attack and defence, with legs being used to check incoming kicks or to take the initiative in striking through before a more circular kick can land. Kicks are delivered in one movement directly from the stance without chambering/cocking.