Why Wing Chun?
Wing Chun, also known as Wing Tsun, Wing Tzun, Ving Tsun, Ving Chun, Wing Tsung, and Young Shun, is a chinese martial art that first started to develop around 250 to 300 years ago. It’s founder (as legend has it) was a Buddhist nun by the name of Ng Mui (also known as Wu Mei, more on her in another article). Ng Mui was also a skilled martial artist having being borne out of a noble household. She had access to the finest education and finest Kung Fu teachers at the time. Ng Mui entered the White Crane convent. Ng Mui was one of Five Elders, survivors after the destruction of the Shaolin Temple during the Qing Dynasty. These five elders has been said to have been working on a style of Kung Fu that would exploit the weaknesses of the Shaolin styles due to suspicion that there may be traitors among the Shoalin Monks siding with the contemporary rulers.
Most Kung Fu styles requires up to 20 years of practice (daily!) in order to master them. This new style that was being developed had to be mastered in a much shorter period of time (it’s been said that Ng Mui intended that it should only take 5 years of daily practice).
After the destruction of the Shaolin Temple, Ng Mui went into hiding and lived unnoticed in various villages. She did not teach her art to anyone out of fear of being discovered until she overheard a conversation between a soy bean patty seller, a young girl by the name of Yim Wing Chun, and her mother. The girl was being bullied by a man, a criminal, who was intent on marrying her by force although she was already promised to another man, Leung Bok Chau. The criminal challenged her in that if she could defeat him in a fight, he’d leave. If the girl lost, she’d had to marry him.
The nun Ng Mui took young Yim Wing Chun aside and offered to help her by teaching her the basics of her fighting art in order to defend herself against the villain. It’s been said that Wing Chun trained with Ng Mui for about 2 years. As the criminal returned to challenge the young Wing Chun, she beat him easily. It’s been said that Yim Wing Chun was only 15 years old at the time. After the marriage of Wing Chun to her promised husband, Leung Bok Chau, she instructed her husband in the new fighting art. Afterwards, her husband offered to name the new art after Ng Mui’s first student, Wing Chun.
Wing Chun is based on physics, body mechanics and not brute strength. It is a “soft art”, but not in the way of Tai Chi Chuan. It is “soft” in the way that it does not pit brute force against brute force as in many other martial arts. You don’t have to be an athlete, nor in top physical condition to learn and practice Wing Chun.
Wing Chun has only 6 Forms (3 Weaponless, Wooden Dummy Form, Double Swords, 9 1/2 Point Pole), while many other martial arts have 1o, 12, 20 or more. Wing Chun has only 3 kicks, and a small quantity of hand techniques. Wing Chun has officially no ground-fighting techniques (the Wing Chun artist wants to avoid being on the ground) but when one understands the principles, one can use the art for the floor as well.
The legendary actor, philosopher and martial artist, Bruce Lee, used Wing Chun as the basis of his own fighting art Jeet Kune Do. The main objective is to use what is useful and discard all that is superficial, just as Ng Mui had done centuries ago.
Wing Chun can be practiced by young and old, male and female, learned and used quickly.
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.