|Focus Striking, Trapping||Country of origin China|
|Also known as Wing Cheun, Wing Tsun, Ving Tsun, Wing Tsung|
Creator Ng Mui of the Five Elders
Famous practitioners Donnie Yen, Robert Downey Jr., Leung Jan, Chan Wah-shun, Yuen Kay Shan, Sum Nung, Yip Man, Leung Sheung, Wong Shun Leung, Bruce Lee,Leung Ting, Kenneth Chung
Parenthood Fujian White Crane, Emei Snake
Wing Chun (traditional Chinese: 詠春; simplified Chinese: 咏春) is a concept-based Chinese martial art and form of self-defense utilising both striking and grappling while specializing in close range combat.
- Balance structure and stance
- Elbows and Knees
- Uncommitted techniques
- Trapping skills and sensitivity
- Close range
- Forms and San Sik
- Wooden dummy
- Chi Sau
- Chi Geuk
- Muk Waan
- Sash System
- Southern martial arts
- Global spread
- In popular culture
- Notable practitioners
The earliest known mentions of Wing Chun date to the period of Red Boat Opera (late 1800s).
The common legend as told by Yip Man involves the young woman named Yim Wing-chun during the period after the destruction by the Qing government of the Southern Shaolin and its associated temples.
Having rebuffed the local warlord's marriage offer, Yim Wing-Chun said she'd reconsider the proposal if he could beat her in a fight. She soon crossed paths with a Buddhist nun named Ng Mui, who was one of the Shaolin Sect survivors, and asked the nun to teach her to fight. According to legend, Ng Mui taught Yim Wing-Chun a new system of martial art that had been inspired by the nun's observations of a confrontation between a Snake and a Crane. This then-still nameless style enabled Yim Wing-Chun to beat the warlord in a one-on-one fight. Yim Wing-Chun thereafter married Leung Bok-Chau and taught him the style, which was later named after her.
Since the system was developed during the Shaolin and Ming resistance to the Qing Dynasty, many legends, including the story of Yim Wing-Chun, were spread regarding the creation of Wing Chun in order to confuse enemies. This is often given as a reason to explain the difficulty in accurately determining the creator or creators of Wing Chun.
Wing Chun is the most common romanization, from the Cantonese pronunciation (simplified Chinese: 咏春; traditional Chinese: 詠春; Cantonese Yale: Wing6 Cheun1; pinyin: Yǒng Chūn; literally: "Spring Chant"). It is also romanized as Ving Tsun or Wing Tsun, and sometimes the characters are substituted with a homonym 永春 (Cantonese Yale: Wing6 Cheun1; literally: "Eternal Spring"). Even though it could be considered a linguistically erroneous romanization at least from English-speaking countries perspective, especially in Finland, Germany and Turkey (and as a commonplace term in some other countries such as Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Slovakia).
The alternative characters 永春 "eternal spring" are also associated with some other southern Chinese martial arts, including Weng Chun Kung Fu and Yong Chun.
One who excels as a warrior does not appear formidable.
One who excels in fighting is never aroused in anger.
One who excels in defeating their enemy does not join issues.
One who excels in employing others humbles themself before them.
This is the virtue of non-contention and matching the sublimity of heaven.
Many Wing Chun lineages emphasize fighting on the outside of the opponent rather than facing them head on. Such a position could be described as standing at an angle where the Wing Chun practitioner can strike with both their arms, while their opponent can only strike with one of their own arms due to poor positioning. This is often referred to as "taking the blindside" or "fighting on the outside gate".
Balance, structure, and stance
Some Wing Chun practitioners believe that the person with better body structure will win. A correct Wing Chun stance is like a piece of bamboo, firm but flexible, rooted but yielding. This structure is used to either deflect external forces or redirect them.
Balance is related to structure because a well-balanced body recovers more quickly 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 improve proprioception. Wing Chun favours a high, narrow stance with the elbows kept close to the body. Within the stance, arms are generally positioned across the vitals of the centerline with hands in a vertical wu sau position to readily placed block fast moving blows to one's vital striking points down the centerline of the body--neck, chest, belly and groin. 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. As described more below, some Wing Chun styles discourage use high kicks which open one's groin to counter-attack to the groin. 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.
Softness (via relaxation) and performing techniques in a relaxed manner, is fundamental to Wing Chun.
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. Traditionally the centerline is considered to be the vertical axis from the top of a human's head to the groin. The human body's prime striking targets are considered to be on or near this line, including eyes, nose, throat, solar plexus, stomach, pelvis 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 Sau exercise emphasizes 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, as well as compromising the striker's position. Striking closer to the center transmits more force directly into the body.
Due to the emphasis on the centerline, the straight punch (straight left / straight right) is the most common strike in Wing Chun. However, the principle of simultaneous attack and defense (simplified Chinese: 连消带打; traditional Chinese: 連消帶打; Cantonese Yale: lìhn sīu daai dá; literally: "linking cancel and attack") suggests that all blocking movements should be accompanied with a simultaneous strike when possible. This allows for the opponent to be put on the defensive faster, and thus allowing the Wing Chun practitioner to defeat the opponent quicker by countering as soon as possible (ideally on the opponents first strike). Other explicit examples of punches can be found in the Chum Kiu and Biu Ji forms (both uppercut and hook punches), although these punches may appear to be superficially different they are simply the result of the punch beginning from a different origin position while following the same fundamental idea, to punch in a straight line following the shortest distance between the fist and the opponent.
The 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. Punches do not turn at the wrist as a primal directive is economy of motion and this would create two distinct motions for a single movement.
When executing the punch, one must relax and not use the shoulders or activate the trapezius muscles. The punch comes from the center, Kyun Yau Sam Faat (simplified Chinese: 拳由心发; traditional Chinese: 拳由心發; Cantonese Yale: kyùhn yàuh sām faat; literally: "punch starts from the heart"). This maxim (punching from the centre of the chest) is used primarily in training, however in application the punch can originate from any location.
Wing Chun primarily encourages using both "low elbow power" (power generated from thrusting the arm forward viciously at the target while keeping the elbows pointed down), along with "hip power" (power generated from a quick "rotation" of the hips). The combination of these two methods of power generation results in a powerful strike
Wing Chun favors the vertical punch for several reasons:
Kicks can be explicitly found in the Chum Kiu and Muk Jong forms, though some have made interpretations of small leg movements in the Siu Nim Tau and Biu Ji to contain information on kicking as well. Depending on lineage, a beginner is often introduced to basic kicking before learning the appropriate form. Traditionally, kicks are kept below the waist. This is characteristic of southern Chinese martial arts, in contrast to northern systems which utilize many high kicks.
Kicks in Wing Chun are mostly directed at the lower half of the body. Wing Chun kicks are designed to knock an opponent off balance, break their leg, or to bring an opponent on their knees; a smart strategy to level the playing field somewhat for a smaller person fighting off a larger, stronger attacker.
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 (Muk 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 (Muk Jong) for very close range and a sweep performed with the heel in a circular fashion.
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.
Types of Kicks include:
Front Kick, Side Kick, Roundhouse Kick (usually delivered to the ribs or thigh), Shovel Kick (A kick that targets the knee/shin), Spinning Back Kick, Sweep.
Elbows and Knees
Wing Chun relies heavily on elbow strikes at close range. Common targets for elbows include the chest, chin, head, and face. Elbow strikes are delivered in a manner similar to Muay Thai, using the whole body and turning of the hips to generate power.
Elbow strikes include: Rising elbow (6 to 12) Horizontal elbow Kneeling elbow (12 to 6) Reversing elbow Spinning elbow strikes
Knees are delivered also, usually in a clinching position, but some Sifus also teach entering with flying knee strikes to bridge the distance.
Wing Chun techniques are uncommitted. This means that if the technique fails to connect, the practitioner's position or balance is less affected. If the attack fails, the practitioner is able to "flow" easily into a follow-up attack. All Wing Chun techniques permit this. Any punches or kicks can be strung together to form a "chain" of attacks. According to Wing Chun theory, these attacks, in contrast to one big attack, break down the opponent gradually causing internal damage. Chained vertical punches are a common Wing Chun identifier.
Trapping skills and sensitivity
The Wing Chun practitioner develops reflexes within the searching of unsecured defenses through use of sensitivity. Training through Chi Sau with a training partner, one practices the trapping of hands. When an opponent is "trapped", he or she becomes immobile.
Wing Chun teaches practitioners to advance quickly and strike at close range. While the Wing Chun forward kick can be considered a long range technique, many Wing Chun practitioners practice "entry techniques"—getting past an opponent's kicks and punches to bring them within range of Wing Chun's close range repertoire. This means that theoretically, if the correct techniques are applied, a shorter person with a shorter range can defeat a larger person by getting inside their range and attacking them close to their body.
Forms and San Sik
Forms are meditative, solitary exercises which develop self-awareness, balance, relaxation and sensitivity. Forms also train the practitioner in the fundamental movement and the correct force generation of Wing Chun.
San Sik (Chinese: 散式; Cantonese Yale: Sáan Sīk; pinyin: Sǎn Shì; literally: "Casual Style") 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.
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.
What's commonly seen are six Wing Chun forms: three empty hand forms, one "wooden dummy" form, and two weapons forms.
|Star Dummy is also a Wing Chun training tool. It consists of three poles that are embedded into the ground such as to be strong enough for kicking each an arms span apart in a triangle. The form consists of Wing Chun kicking patterns: front kick, front kick with foot pointed out using broad area of foot and knee rotation to outside, and side kick.
Both the Wai Yan (Weng Chun) and Nguyễn Tế-Công branches use different curricula of empty hand forms. The Tam Yeung and Fung Sang lineages both trace their origins to Leung Jan's retirement to his native village of Gu Lao, where he taught a curriculum of San Sik.
The Siu Lim Tau of Wing Chun is one long form that includes movements that are comparative to a combination of Siu Lim Tau, Chum Kiu, and Biu Ji of other families. The other major forms of the style are Cheui Da (simplified Chinese: 随打; traditional Chinese: 隨打; Cantonese Yale: Chèuih Dá; literally: "Chase Strike"), Jeui Da (Chinese: 追打; Cantonese Yale: Jēui Dá; literally: "Chase Strike"), Fa Kyun (Chinese: 花拳; Cantonese Yale: Fā Kyùhn; literally: "Variegated Fist"), Jin Jeung (Chinese: 箭掌; Cantonese Yale: Jin Jéung; literally: "Arrow Palm"), Jin Kyun (Chinese: 箭拳; Cantonese Yale: Jin Kyùhn; literally: "Arrow Fist"), Jeui Kyun (Chinese: 醉拳; Cantonese Yale: Jeui Kyùhn; literally: "Drunken Fist"), Sap Saam Sau (Chinese: 十三手; Cantonese Yale: Sahp Sāam Sáu; literally: "Thirteen Hands"), and Chi Sau Lung (simplified Chinese: 黐手拢; traditional Chinese: 黐手攏; Cantonese Yale: Chī Sáu Lùhng; literally: "Sticking Hands Set").
Also, a few family styles of Wing-Chun (especially those coming from the Hung Syun Hei Baan (Chinese: 紅船戲班; Chinese: 红船戏班; Cantonese Yale: HùhngSyùhn Heibāan; literally: "Red Boat Theatrical Troupe") have a combination advanced form called Saam Baai Fat (Chinese: 三拜佛; Cantonese Yale: Sāam Baai Faht; literally: "Three Bows to Buddha") which includes many flow/leak techniques from all of the first 'standard' 7 forms.
Once correct force generation in the open-handed forms is achieved, the student is ready to progress to weapons. With the open hand forms delivering force to the end of the finger tips, the idea is to be able to extend that force further to the end of a weapon as an extension of the body, using the same principles. Also, these weapons forms can be used as an exercise to strengthen the forearms and wrists even further.
The Yuen Kay Shan / Sum Nung branch also historically trained throwing darts (Biu). According to Sum Nung, his skill with them was not comparable enough to Yuen Kay Shan's for him to include them in the current curriculum.
Chi Sau (Chinese: 黐手; Cantonese Yale: Chī Sáu; pinyin: Chī Shǒu; literally: "sticking hands") is a term for the principle and drills used for the development of automatic reflexes upon contact and the idea of "sticking" to the opponent (also known as "sensitivity training"). In reality, the intention is not to "stick" to your opponent at all costs, but rather to protect your centerline while simultaneously attacking your opponent's centerline. In Wing Chun, this is practiced by two practitioners maintaining contact with each other's forearms while executing techniques, thereby training each other to sense changes in body mechanics, pressure, momentum and "feel". The increased sensitivity gained from this drill helps a practitioner attack and counter an opponent's movements precisely, quickly, and with appropriate techniques.
Chi Sau additionally refers to methods of rolling hands drills (Chinese: 碌手; Cantonese Yale: Lūk Sáu; literally: "rolling hands"). Luk Sau participants push and "roll" their forearms against each other in a single circle while trying to remain in relaxed form. The aim is to feel force, test resistance, and find defensive gaps. Other branches have a version of this practice where each arm rolls in small, separate circles. Luk Sau is most notably taught within the Pan Nam branch of Wing Chun where both the larger rolling drills as well as the smaller, separate-hand circle drills are taught.
In some lineages (such as the Yip Man and Jiu Wan branches), Chi Sau drills begin with one-armed sets called Daan Chi Sau (Chinese: 单黐手; Cantonese Yale: Dāan Chī Sáu; literally: "Single Sticking Hand"), 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 Sau is a sensitivity drill to train and obtain specific responses and should not be confused with actual sparring or fighting though it can be practiced or expressed in a combat form.
Chi Geuk (simplified Chinese: 黐脚; traditional Chinese: 黐腳; Cantonese Yale: Chī Geuk; pinyin: Chī Jiǎo; literally: "sticking legs") is the lower-body equivalent of the upper body's Chi Sau training, aimed on developing awareness in the lower body and obtaining relaxation of the legs.
Muk Waan (simplified Chinese: 木环; traditional Chinese: 木環; Cantonese Yale: Muhk Wàahn; pinyin: Mù Huán; literally: "Wooden Ring"), or Juk Waan (simplified Chinese: 竹环; traditional Chinese: 竹環; Cantonese Yale: Jūk Wàahn; pinyin: Zhú Huán; literally: "Bamboo Ring") is another, somewhat rare training-tool in some families of Wing Chun. An approximately 10 inch to 14 inch ring made of bamboo or rattan (some schools use a metal ring), the Juk Wan is used for training the wrists and forearms, and to instruct the student in "flow" from technique to technique. Some schools set up a form for this technique, while other schools train techniques and strategies without a formulated pattern.
Although historically uncommon during the era of Yip Man and Prior, there has been a trend of many schools and lineages adopting their own sash ranking system. Examples are as follows:
William Cheung Lineage: White, Light Blue, Blue, Dark Blue, Light Brown, Dark Brown, Black, Grey, Green, Gold, Gold plus one logo, Gold plus two logos, Gold plus three logos, Gold plus four logos, Gold plus 5 logos, Red Sash
Sunny Tang Lineage: No Sash, Red, Green, Blue, Black, Gold
Austin Goh Lineage: Yellow, Green, Blue, Red, Brown, Black, Gold
In most lineages, Black Sash indicates that the practitioner has learnt and is highly knowledgeable in all three hand forms and the wooden dummy, and can apply Wing Chun techniques at a high rate of success in sparring. Gold Sash usually indicates that the practitioner is highly competent in not only the forms and sparring, but also in use of weapons (staff and swords).
Apart from a Sash system, the popular "wing tsun" system under Leung Ting uses a number system to explain rank. In this particular system, there are 12 student grades covering the first two forms, chi sao, and sparring. At completion of the 12th student grade (usually after 3-4 years) the student then progresses to instructor ranks (1-12). Instructors with grades 1-4 are referred to as technicians. Instructors with grades 5-8 are referred to as practitioners. Instructor grades 9-12 are usually honorary in rank. By instructor grade 3 the instructor is usually competent in all three forms, the wooden dummy, chi sao and sparring, as well as weapon use and is considered a Sifu.
Southern martial arts
Wing Chun, together with Hung Gar and Choi Lei Fut, is named as one of "The Three Great Martial Art Schools of the South", which originated and became popular in Southern China.
Wing Chun is practiced globally in over 64 countries. It is the world's most popular form of Southern Kung Fu.
In popular culture
Donnie Yen has caused impact in the martial arts world through his various films. Donnie Yen played the role of Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man in the 2008 movie Ip Man, which was a box office success; and its sequels Ip Man 2 and Ip Man 3.