The Second Form of Wing Chun.
Chum Kiu (Cham Kiu), or “Seeking the Bridge” is Wing Chun’s second weaponless form. The Chum Kiu form builds upon the skills developed from the first form Siu Nim Tao.
It is important to continue practicing the first form for it is the foundation of your entire Wing Chun. Chum Kiu, although it has fewer sections as the Siu Nim Tao, its performance is longer and demands additional skills.
As in all Wing Chun lineages, there are different ways to perform the Chum Kiu. None of them are incorrect. All are different interpretations of the knowledge and experiences in the art of Wing Chun.
The Difference to Siu Nim Tao
In the Siu Nim Tao form, the Wing Chun practitioner learns to stand stable in his/her “Yee Ji Kim Yun Ma”, (Character two, goat clamping, horse stance), or IRAS (Inner Rotating Abduction Stance).
In the Chum Kiu form, the practitioner now moves his/her body. The Wing Chun practitioner shifts his body, rotates, turns, steps, kicks, and attacks at one angle while moving in another.
These skills are further supported in “Lat Sao” (fighting techniques) drills to learn the proper use of them.
Bridging the Gap
In the Chum Kiu, the student learns to “bridge the gap” between himself and the attacker. Use of the Lap Sao – Kuen, or Lap-Da, as well as the Bong Sao / Wu Sao, or Bong-Wu position come into play.
The student learns to defend and counter-attack in fluid movements while paying close attention to body mechanics.
The Lap Sao drills and use of Bong-Wu are further supported in the first section Chi Sao (Pon Sao) drill with the first attack and defense.
The 45-degree Angle
The important use of the 45-degree angle is first introduced in Chum Kiu and has to be closely paid attention to. Most students overestimate the size of the 45-degree angle. It is smaller than what most think.
This angle of attack and defense has proven time and again of its effectiveness and strength without one having to be strong physically.
This, along with the use of the triangle, is invaluable to your Wing Chun technique.
The 3 Main Kicks of Wing Chun
For the first time (until the Wooden Dummy form) are kicks of Wing Chun are introduced in the Chum Kiu form.
These kicks are; the front kick, the “Bong-Kick” (sidekick), and “Tan-kick”.
Note: Ip Man used only the front and “Tan-kick” in his Chum Kiu form. His student, Leung Ting added the “Bong-Kick”, into the form for the mere reason that otherwise, the kick would not appear until one learned the Wooden Dummy form.
Performing the Chum Kiu strengthens your stance, tests your balance, schools your coordination of simultaneous hand and body movements.
There are so many things to learn in the Chum Kiu that is a good reason why some much time (in the lineage I practice, from the 2nd through 12th student degrees) is spent learning and perfecting it.
As in the practice of all forms, it is necessary to perform them at first slow in sections. Then continue on paying close attention to alignment and body structure. Finally, power is applied.
The Chum Kiu form is an essential step toward understanding and improving one’s technique, skills, and understanding of the Art of Wing Chun.
Here is a video of the Chum Kiu form once performed by Grandmaster Leung Ting.
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.”