Bruce Lee

1 – Power from Short Distance

Bruce Lee Punches Karate Grandmaster With The 1 Inch Punch! (New ...

The first way that Wing Chun looks to gain an advantage in self-defence is by generating power from a short distance, the most famous example being the one-inch punch.

If you you can deliver a good strike from a shorter distance than your opponent can, you will be able to hit them quicker as your strike has less far to travel.

In order to generate more power, firstly focus on staying soft (放鬆/Fong Sung) in order to allow your strike to continue through the target.

Secondly focus on developing good technique so that the physics of your strike generate as much power as possible (e.g. punching in a straight line, contact point has a small surface area etc).

As well as a punch, strikes can also consist of:

  • Palms
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Kicks

2 – Using Technique to defeat Strength

Instructor and Student - Wing Chun London

The second way to gain a competitive advantage in Wing Chun is to use technique to defeat strength in a stand-up fighting scenario. Other styles such as Jujutsu also use this approach but in a ground-fighting scenario.

In order to be effective in this way, you first need to get a touch so that you can leverage your Chi Sao (sticky hands) training. If you do not train getting in close and your opponent keeps us at a boxing or kicking range, then you will not be able to manipulate your opponent’s force against them using Wing Chun techniques.

Once we do have a touch however you can then combine attack and defence simultaneously to help beat someone stronger.

A NOTE ON CANTONESE

I use the ‘Jyut Ping’ (粵拼) Cantonese writing system as I have found it to be the most accurate.

For an excellent way to learn Cantonese pronunciation, see Fluent Forever. For a dictionary see CantoDict or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

INTRO

Pou Paai (抱排/Embrace Row) is a double strike using of 2 of the 5 palms in Siu Nim Tau.

THE 5 Palms are:

  1. Zing Zoeng (forearm diagonally upward, elbow out, fingers upward)
  2. Dai Waang Zoeng (forearm diagonally downward, elbow in, fingers sideways)
  3. Peng Waang Zoeng (forearm horizontal, elbow in, fingers sideways)
  4. Gou Waang Zoeng (forearm diagonally upward, elbow in, fingers sideways)
  5. Dai Zoeng (forearm diagonally downward, elbow in, fingers downward – used as a groin grab)

6 common Pou Paais are:

  1. Zing Zoeng + Peng Waang Zoeng
  2. Gou Waang Zoeng + Peng Waang Zoeng
  3. Double Zing Zoeng to the chest [Cam Kiu form]
  4. Double Gou Waang Zoeng
  5. Double Peng Waang Zoeng
  6. Double Dai Waang Zoeng

NOTES:

  • In our system Pou Paai is a ‘double strike’ rather than as a ‘double push’ as we want to hurt our attacker rather than just push them away
  • Hit with the heel of your palms to keep the surface area small, not with your whole hand
  • Some combinations are rarely used (e.g. Zing Zoeng or Gou Waang Zoeng + Dai Zoeng or Dai Waang Zoeng) due to the large distance between your hands
  • Use Hau Paak Sau first when using a Pou Paai with a high strike (1st 4 variations below)
  • Train to combine with a step so that you get your body behind the strike’s power

1 – Zing Zoeng + Peng Waang Zoeng

NOTES:

  • Your upper hand against their punch can be same side, inside (e.g. your left hand inside their right hand) or diagonal, outside (e.g. your right hand outside their right hand)
  • In Ci Sau only upper hand can also be same side, outside (e.g. your left hand outside their right hand)
  • Same side, inside is good here as your elbow out will help deflect their punch
  • Your front leg is the same side as your upper hand (e.g. left leg forward, left Zing Zoeng)

2 – Gou Waang Zoeng + Peng Waang Zoeng

NOTES:

  • Your upper hand against their punch can be same side, inside or diagonal, outside
  • In Ci Sau only your upper hand can also be same side, outside
  • Diagonal, outside is good here as your elbow in will help control their elbow
  • Your front leg is the same side as your upper hand (e.g. right leg forward, right Gou Waang Zoeng)

3 – Double Zing Zoeng to the chest [Cam Kiu form]

NOTES:

  • Hit to the chest as the space between the heels of your palms is larger than Double Gou Waang Zoeng (see below) and therefore can miss if aimed to their face
  • Good if you are unable to hit their face (e.g. they are wearing a motorbike helmet or much taller than you)

4 – Double Gou Waang Zoeng

NOTES:

  • Used on the double outside, or double inside if their punch is very ‘elbow in’

5 – Double Peng Waang Zoeng

NOTES:

  • Can combine with Siu Nim Tau Got Sau (after Cin Paak Sau in form) if your forearms are above theirs
  • Can be used if being grabbed round the neck to be pulled in for a knee – hit them in the torso so that you create some distance from their knee

6 – Double Dai Waang Zoeng

NOTES:

  • As above combine with Siu Nim Tau Got Sau
  • Used if your opponent is shorter than you and you want to hit them under the ribs

A NOTE ON CANTONESE

I use the ‘Jyut Ping’ (粵拼) Cantonese writing system as I have found it to be the most accurate.

For an excellent way to learn Cantonese pronunciation, see Fluent Forever. For a dictionary see CantoDict or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

INTRO

The 2 Positions of ‘Rolling’ are:

  1. Fuk Sau (straight forearm)/Taan Sau (straight forearm)
  2. Fuk Sau (straight forearm)/Bong Sau (diagonal forearm)
Chi Sao Taan Sau
Fuk Sau/Taan Sau
Chi Sao Bong Sau
Fuk Sau/Bong Sau

NOTES:

  • ‘Rolling’ is a way of starting to spar that:
    1. is fair (excluding arm length differences)
    2. has a touch
    3. has momentum
  • To change between the 2 positions, ‘spring-load’ the angle of both elbows to 90° before going to the new positions at 135°. This will help give you more pressure forward rather than just going in a circle.

The ‘Braces’ Lines

Braces Line

Notes:

  • The ‘braces’ lines are halfway between the 1st centreline (middle line) and the elbow out position (where the arms are in the photo)
  • By keeping our elbows on these lines and therefore in front of the body, we can exert more pressure forwards.

1 – Fuk Sau/Taan Sau

Chi Sao Taan Sau
Chi Sao Taan Sau

Notes:

  • The Taan Sau hand is under the Fuk Sau hand
  • Both forearms face straight forwards
  • They also face diagonally upwards (viewed from the side) in order to cover a larger area
  • Elbows are as low as possible in order to better connect to your stance

2 – Fuk Sau/Bong Sau

Chi Sao Bong Sau
Chi Sao Bong Sau

Notes:

  • The Bong Sau hand is above the Fuk Sau hand
  • The Bong Sau forearm is diagonal like 1-Handed ‘Cross Hands’
  • The 3rd Centreline is in line with the 1st Centreline
  • Elbows are as low as possible (as above)

A NOTE ON CANTONESE

I use the ‘Jyut Ping’ (粵拼) Cantonese writing system as I have found it to be the most accurate.

For an excellent way to learn Cantonese pronunciation, see Fluent Forever. For a dictionary see CantoDict or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

INTRO

THE 4 WRIST POSITIONS OF PRACTICAL WING CHUN ARE:

  1. Neutral Position (e.g. SNT Taan Sau)
  2. Wrist Flexion (e.g. SNT Fuk Sau)
  3. Wrist Extension (e.g. SNT Wu Sau)
  4. Ulnar Deviation (e.g. BZ Teoi Wun)

Notes:

  • Every move will end on one of these 4 wrist positions
  • Only bend your wrist as far as is natural for you
  • Over time the range of motion in your wrist will slowly increase

1 – Neutral Position

Wing Chun Tan Sau

Example Moves:

  • SNT Taan Sau (Dispersing Hand)
  • SNT Maai Zaang Ceot Kyun (Elbow In Punch)

NOTES:

  • Often used if you want your arm to go in the same direction that your forearm is pointing to

2 – Wrist Flexion

Example Moves:

  • SNT Fuk Sau (Covering Hand)
  • SNT Hyun Sau (Circle Hand)

NOTES:

  • Often used to keep their wrist under your hand
  • There are no strikes that end in this position

3 – Wrist Extension

Example Moves:

  • SNT Wu Sau (Protecting Hand)
  • CK Fei Zaang Ceot Kyun (Elbow Out Punch)

NOTES:

  • Often used to trap their back hand

4 – Ulnar Deviation

Example Moves:

  • BZ Teoi Wun (Wide Pushing Wrist)
  • [No Form] Deng Kyun (Hammer Punch)

NOTES:

  • Often used to defend with the wrist or attack with the fingers
  • Also can be used to hook their arm downwards (SNT/BZ Got Sau)
Wing Chun Hoi

A NOTE ON CANTONESE

I use the ‘Jyut Ping’ (粵拼) Cantonese writing system as I have found it to be the most accurate.

For an excellent way to learn Cantonese pronunciation, see Fluent Forever. For a dictionary see CantoDict or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

INTRO

THE 4 CHOPS OF PRACTICAL WING CHUN ARE:

  1. Siu Nim Tau Hoi (Diagonal Chop to the Neck)
  2. Biu Zi Doek – Outwards (Low Chop Behind You)
  3. Biu Zi Pek (Horizontal Chop to the Neck)
  4. Biu Zi Doek – Inwards (Low Chop in Front of You)

NOTES:

1 – Siu Nim Tau Hoi

(Diagonal Chop to the Neck)

Wing Chun Hoi

WHERE IN THE FORM?

  • Siu Nim Tau 2nd Section
  • After Gaau Caa Sau (2nd Section, not 1st)
  • Before Hap 

NOTES:

  • Goes diagonally up to down
  • First go to 175° elbow angle, palm up
  • Then rotate the forearm (1st circle) and sink the elbow to get to 135°, palm down
  • Can be done frontally or to the side

2 – Biu Zi Doek – outwards

(Low Chop Behind You)

Wing Chun Doek

WHERE IN THE FORM?

  • Biu Zi 2nd Section
  • After Laap Caap (Lap with Finger Strike)
  • Before Zong Sau

NOTES:

  • Used if your arms are up and someone is trying to strike you below your 2nd centreline from behind
  • Chop down to a low Gaau Caa Sau position behind you
  • Make sure to keep your elbow down so that someone can’t lock it (e.g. with CK Laap)

3 – Biu Zi Pek

(Horizontal Chop to the Neck)

Wing Chun Pek

WHERE IN THE FORM?

  • Biu Zi 2nd Section
  • After Pai Sau, Zaam Sau
  • Before Doek – Inwards

NOTES:

  • Do to the side rather than frontally so that you fully hinge from the shoulder (not just from the elbow joint)
  • Go from palm up to palm down so that you get a rotation in the forearm (1st circle)

4 – Biu Zi Doek – Inwards

(Low Chop in Front of You)

Wing Chun Doek

WHERE IN THE FORM?

  • Biu Zi 2nd Section
  • After Pek
  • Before Cyun Wun (threading wrist)

NOTES:

  • Used if your arms are up and someone is trying to strike below your 2nd centreline from the front
  • Chop down to a low Gaau Caa Sau position in front of you
Muk Yan Jong Sweep

A NOTE ON CANTONESE

I use the ‘Jyut Ping’ (粵拼) Cantonese writing system as I have found it to be the most accurate.

For an excellent way to learn Cantonese pronunciation, see Fluent Forever. For a dictionary see CantoDict or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

INTRO

THE 3 SWEEPS OF PRACTICAL WING CHUN ARE:

  1. Inside of the Foot (Siu Nim Tau)
  2. Heel (Biu Zi)
  3. Outside of the Foot (Muk Jan Zong)

NOTES:

  • You can simply destabilise your opponent rather than having to take them to the ground
  • When you sweep push or pull them slightly off balance to ensure that their leg is sweepable
  • While training don’t take your partner all the way to the ground unless you have mats and have been coached how to land safely (e.g. via Judo)

1 – Inside of the foot (siu nim tau)

Siu Lim Tao Sweep

NOTES:

  • Diagonal, inside (i.e. right foot to right foot/left foot to left foot)
  • Take a step away from your opponent, then turn your toe inwards as you sweep
  • Used if moving away from your opponent
  • Can go into a leg stamp (CK 3rd Section) to the swept leg

2 – heel (biu zi)

Biu Jee Sweep

NOTES:

  • Diagonal, outside (i.e. right foot to right foot/left foot to left foot)
  • Keep the ball of your foot touching the ground (to keep you stable) and your heel raised (so that it isn’t slowed down by the ground)
  • Used if staying close to your opponent
  • Can go into a knee (CK 3rd Section) to their back as they fall

3 – outside of the foot (muk jan zong)

Muk Yan Jong

NOTES:

  • Diagonal, outside (i.e. right foot to right foot/left foot to left foot)
  • Pick up their foot slightly with your foot to take them off balance
  • Used if staying close to your opponent
  • Can go into a twisting kick (CK 2nd Section) to the unswept leg
Wide Chi Sau Students

A NOTE ON CANTONESE

I use the Jyut Ping (粵拼) Cantonese writing system as I have found it to be the most accurate.

For an excellent way to learn Cantonese pronunciation, see Fluent Forever. For a dictionary see CantoDict or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

INTRO

As mentioned in a previous article, Free Ci Sau is a balance between:

  1. Hitting your opponent while not getting hit yourself
  2. Disrupting your opponent’s balance while strengthening your own

3 Common Mistakes I see in Free Ci Sau are:

  1. Arms get too wide
  2. Arms don’t affect your opponent’s balance
  3. Too stiff

1 – arms get too wide

Wide arms Chi Sau/Chi Sao

Problem:

Your arms get too wide and therefore always stay ‘same side’ – i.e. left arm to right arm/right arm to left arm.

It is therefore often difficult to trap 2 hands of theirs with 1 of yours, and so you need to get on the ‘diagonal, outside’ i.e. left arm to left arm/right arm to right arm.

Potential Cues:

  • “Get on the diagonal”
  • “Elbows in front of your body more” (to keep your arms closer)
  • “Punch down the middle” (to make them defend by bringing their hand in)
  • “Come under your own arm” (to get on the diagonal – good if opponent is taller)
  • “Come over your own arm” (to get on the diagonal – good if opponent is shorter)

2 – arms don’t affect your opponent’s balance

Bad stance - Chi Sau/Chi Sao

Problem:

You opponent is too comfortable in their stance and therefore more of a threat.

If they are constantly trying to regain their balance, it is much easier for you to find opportunities to hit them without getting hit yourself.

Potential Cues:

  • “Sink more to disrupt their stance”
  • “Get power from the ground, not from your shoulders”
  • “Elbows low and by your side, connected to the ground”
  • “‘Feel’ their stability via your arms”
  • “Use different 3D Lines” (e.g. diagonal, up, to the left – Left Tiu Sau or Right Zam Sau)

3 – Too stiff

Problem:

Your arms are too stiff when changing which means:

  • Your arms can’t move as quickly
  • You are less sensitive to what your opponent is doing
  • You are more at risk of injury
  • You are more susceptible to losing control of your emotions
  • You tire more quickly as you are using more effort than needed
  • Your strikes will have less forward momentum

Don’t worry if at first you sometimes ‘lose’ in Free Ci Sau whilst staying soft.

It is better than being stiff and winning with force, but never training how to redirect a stronger opponent’s force.

Potential Cues:

  • “Go slower while staying soft” (people often tense up as the speed increases)
  • “Don’t fight force with force” (my Sifu often used to say: “Fong3 Sung1″/放鬆/”Relax” or “Mou5 Zong6″/冇撞/”Don’t clash”)
  • “Think: ‘Softer’ – don’t worry if you feel weak” (you can’t actively ‘do’ softer like you can ‘do’ a move – just think: ‘softer’ and accept that you might feel weak for a while until it becomes a habit)
Wing Chun London

intro

  1. Adopt an improving mindset – not content with remaining at an acceptable level
  2. Train with high-level practitioners you trust
  3. Spend time each day doing undistracted practice

Much of this article is inspired by the 2016 book Peak by Anders Ericsson, a researcher into peak performance.

1 – Adopt an improving mindset

Sifu James teaching - Wing Chun London

Research has suggested that experience alone does not guarantee an improvement in performance.

When doctors who had practiced for 20 years were compared with doctors who had only trained for 5 years, no improvement in performance was seen. In fact in some cases the more experienced doctors actually got worse.

Instead what mattered was that the practitioner adopted a mindset that wanted to keep on improving.

2 – Train with high-level practitioners you trust

Instructor and Student - Wing Chun London

By training regularly with high level practitioners you trust you will get:

  1. an outside feedback of your performance
  2. an opportunity to engage in creative play
  3. a place where you are pushed slightly out of your comfort zone

3 – Spend time each day doing undistracted practice

Instructor Tino - Wing Chun London

The final concept needed for improvement is undistracted time alone engaged in what Anders Ericsson calls ‘deliberate practice’.

In addition to applying the 3 concepts above when training with high-level practitioners, deliberate practice also gives you time alone to build on the mental representations you have acquired since the start of your martial arts training.

Examples of mental representations are:

  • Seeing related moves in groups rather than each one in isolation – similar to a chess grandmaster
  • Training the form/pads/dummy etc so you can accurately visualise your execution of the moves
  • Imagining your opponent attacking as you perform the form – thereby strengthening your understanding of each application

A note on Cantonese

I use the ‘Jyut Ping’ (粵拼) Cantonese writing system as I have found it to be the most accurate.

For an excellent way to learn Cantonese pronunciation, see Fluent Forever. For a dictionary see CantoDict or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

INTRO

The 6 Finger Strikes of Practical Wing Chun are:

  1. Palm up (hand turned out 45°)
  2. Palm down (hand turned in 45°)
  3. Palm down – Siu Nim Tao (hand turned in 90°)
  4. Palm down – to the body (hand turned in 90°)
  5. Palm to the side (hand at 0°/wrist bent)
  6. Palm down (hand turned in 90°/wrist bent)

Notes:

  • wrist angle = if you were holding a vertical pole
  • All strikes are from Biu Zi, apart from number 3 which is from Siu Nim Tao
  • All strikes are to the eyes or throat, apart from number 4 which is to the body
  • 1 – 4 use a neutral wrist (鏢指/Biu1 Zi2/Darting Fingers)
  • 5 + 6 use a bent wrist (插/Caap3/Stab)
  • All finger strikes can be combined with same side, outside Gam, Zat, Mang etc

1 – Palm up

Biu Zi - Wing Chun London
鏢指/Biu Zi/Darting Fingers

Where in the Form?

  • Biu Zi 1st Section
  • After Cyun Ging (Inch Punch)
  • Before Cam Zaang (Sinking Elbow)

Notes:

  • Best for diagonal, outside (e.g. right hand to right hand) as you can use the ‘blade’ of your forearm (ulna) to control their arm

2 – PALM down

Biu Zi - Wing Chun London
鏢指/Biu Zi/Darting Fingers

Where in the Form?

  • Biu Zi 1st Section
  • After Waang Zaang (Horizontal Elbow)
  • Before Straight Mang Sau

Notes:

  • Also best for diagonal, outside, however your elbow is slightly wider than ‘palm up’ so make sure their arm is out of the way more so you can successfully pierce through

3 – PALM DOWN – Siu Nim tao

Siu Nim Tao Biu
鏢指/Biu Zi/Darting Fingers

Where in the Form?

  • Siu Nim Tao 2nd Section
  • After Fan Sau
  • Before Zat Sau

Notes:

  • Best for inside, same side (e.g. right hand to left hand) as your elbow is even wider than ‘palm up’ and ‘palm down’ so it can be used to deflect their punch

4 – Palm down – to the body

Biu to the body - Wing Chun London
鏢指/Biu Zi/Darting Fingers

Where in the Form?

  • Biu Zi 1st Section
  • After Waang Mang Sau
  • Before 2nd Waang Mang Sau

Notes:

  • Use straight after same side Wang Mang Sau to make sure their attacking arm is safely under your Biu arm

5 – Palm to the side – wrist bent

Biu Zi Caap
插/Caap/Stab

Where in the Form?

  • Beginning of Biu Zi 2nd Section – Laap Caap
  • Before Doek Sau (behind your body)

Notes:

  • More power than Biu as the loose wrist means you can throw the fingers more. However since your forearm goes higher than Biu, you often can’t use it to control their arm – you therefore need to combine it with your other hand (Gam, Zat, Mang etc)

6 – Palm down – wrist bent

Biu Zi Caap
插/Caap/Stab

Where in the Form?

  • Biu Zi 1st Section
  • After Kap Zaang (High Elbow)
  • Before single-hand Laap Sau

Notes:

  • Same as ‘palm to the side’, however as this Caap moves to the side it is easier to get round their attacking arm

A note on Cantonese

I use the ‘Jyut Ping’ (粵拼) Cantonese writing system as I have found it to be the most accurate.

For an excellent way to learn Cantonese pronunciation, see Fluent Forever. For a dictionary see CantoDict or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

intro

These are 5 examples where I saw Master Wan Kam Leung (“WKL”), my teacher of 8 years, change moves in the form.

Sometimes the reasons overlap but in general they are distinct from each other.

5 reasons to change a move in the form are to:

  1. Make it more effective in practice
  2. Make it better better at deflecting force
  3. Make it make sense sequentially within the form
  4. Make it easier for students to execute correctly
  5. Introduce a new move because the current move is repeated elsewhere

1 – make it more effective in practice

Zyun Bei Soek Sau - JM Wing Chun London
Zyun Bei Soek Sau – Siu Nim Tao 3rd Section

If you are being grabbed diagonally (e.g. right hand to right hand), instead of only using your other forearm to ‘scrape off their grip’, WKL decided it was better to rotate your wrist so that your palm faces upwards and their elbow goes up as they grab you.

After that you can push into their raised elbow with your other arm to help break the hold.

2 – make it better at deflecting force

Hap - JM Wing Chun London
Hap – Siu Nim Tao 2nd Section

Previously, Hap used to have the palm down the whole time.

However as the 4 circles became more prominent WKL changed the Hap to rotate the forearm from palm down to palm up. It then lessens the clash between you and your opponent’s arms as it connects.

3 – Make it make more sense sequentially within the form

Waang Pok Zoeng - JM Wing Chun London
Waang Pok Zoeng – Biu Zi 1st Section

After BZ Dai Zaang (low elbow) we used to bring our elbowing hand over the arm we’ve attacked to place it on their back hand. However this merely prepared us for a move to follow rather than being a move itself.

Therefore WKL decided to make the follow-up to the Dai Zaang a proper Laap, and then added Waang Pok Zoeng (side palm), since a palm from that angle didn’t exist yet.

4 – Make it easier for students to execute correctly

Double Zat Sau - Siu Nim Tao - Wing Chun London
Double Zat Sau – Siu Nim Tao 2nd Section

As with most styles of Siu Nim Tao, we used to train Double Zat with both arms side-by-side.

However after a UK seminar in 2014, WKL saw that students were flaring out their elbows when executing the Zat. This makes the move less effective in bringing down your opponent’s arm, as you exert less downward pressure.

He therefore decided to cross the forearms to help keep the elbows in. This also meant that the Double Zat position was now related to Gaau Caa Sau (cross hands) but with the palms down.

5 – Introduce a new move because the current move is repeated elsewhere

Pok Zoeng - JM Wing Chun London
Pok Zoeng – Cam Kiu 1st Section

In the traditional Cam Kiu form, practitioners usually do 3 palms in the first section (both sides).
However as long as I’ve been training Practical Wing Chun, the 3 palms in our forms have always differed from the SNT 1st Section palms.

This is because WKL saw no sense in repeating a move done elsewhere. Instead he changed the palms from going diagonally upwards (as in Siu Nim Tao) to now go diagonally downwards (CK Pok Zoengs).

This meant that another line was covered in the event that your back hand is up and needs to strike directly downwards.