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

3 Ways for Instructors to Improve their Wing Chun

  1. Adopt an improving mindset – not content with remaining at an acceptable level
  2. Train with high-level practitioners you trust who push you slightly out of your comfort zone
  3. Spend time each day doing undistracted practice e.g. forms/pads/dummy/writing etc

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

1 – Adopt an improving mindset

Wing Chun London - Instructor Jesper

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 way to be 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 various groups rather than each one in isolation – similar to a chess grandmaster
  • Training on pads or a dummy so you can accurately visualise execution of the moves
  • Imagining your opponent attacking as you perform the form – thereby strengthening your understanding of the applications

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.

JM Wing Chun London - Coaching Students

Intro

I have used the acronym SAS to describe the concepts: Softness, Accuracy and Speed.

I have chosen it partly as a tribute to my first Wing Chun teacher Sifu Andrew Sofos and his school SAS Wing Chun, and also because it is easy to remember due to its association with the Special Air Service – a special forces unit of the British Army.

Notes:

  • Focus on Softness and Accuracy first, add Speed later
  • The Chinese phrases below were often used by my second Sifu, Wan Kam Leung, to cue these concepts in his students
  • Since realism and intensity increases with each step, SAS should be applied to the following in order:
    1. Forms
    2. Drills
    3. Chi Sao

1 – softness (放鬆啲/fong3 sung1 di1/ “softer!”)

JM Wing Chun - London

Why?

  • Allows you to better speed up the move later
  • Lessens the chance of injuries while training
  • Increases your sensitivity to what kind of pressure is incoming

How?

  • Slow the move right down and break it up into smaller parts if necessary
  • ‘Think’ soft and don’t worry if you feel weak – a good coach will manipulate your limbs and make sure your movements have the correct quality

2 – accuracy (正確啲/zing3 kok3 di1/ “more accurate!”)

Sifu James teaching - Wing Chun London

Why?

  • Will increase the effectiveness of a move, as it is being executed closer to its original design

How?

  • Again, slow the move right down and break it up into smaller parts if necessary
  • Know the information about the move e.g. how it relates to your rectangle
  • Imitate your coach
  • Use a mirror or camera phone (if allowed in class) to get feedback

3 – speed (快啲/faai3 di1/ “faster!”)

Instructor Tino - Wing Chun London

Why?

  • Along with a good stance and technique, speed is what gives you power
  • You can get in more strikes than your opponent
  • You can change quicker than your opponent to gain an advantage – either by striking and/or destroying their balance

How?

  • Make sure you can first do the technique slowly while constantly flowing (no pauses)
  • After that gradually increase the speed while maintaining softness and accuracy
  • Know that your speed will increase incrementally over weeks and months of training, so have the humility to let it come naturally rather than forcing it prematurely
Wing Chun Stamp

Intro

The 3 Kicks and 1 Knee are:

  1. Twisting Kick (Cam Kiu 2nd Section)
  2. Straight Kick (Cam Kiu 3rd Section)
  3. Stamp (Cam Kiu 3rd Section)
  1. Knee (Cam Kiu 3rd Section)

Reasons to Kick or Knee in Wing Chun:

  • Opponent is outside of Siu Nim Tao range (too far you kick, too near you knee)
  • There is a 2nd opponent
  • Opponent has a knife

1 – Twisting kick

Wing Chun London Twisting Kick

Possible striking points (viewed from above):

Notes:

  • Kick with front or back foot – back foot has more power but front foot is more direct
  • Striking height is anywhere between the knee and the head
  • Use heel or ball of the foot
  • Foot is always rising from the ground
  • Good against a 2nd opponent as can be applied to the side
  • You twist so that:
    • Your foot gains more momentum by going a longer route
    • Can jar their knee by coming in from the side
    • Go round their arms if aiming for the head

2 – Straight kick

Wing Chun London Straight Kick

Possible striking points (viewed from above):

Notes:

  • Kick with front or back foot – back foot has more power but front foot is more direct
  • Striking height is anywhere between the shin and the chin
  • Use heel, ball of the foot or ‘laces’ (groin only)
  • Foot is always rising from the ground
  • Ideally you kick in the direction your pelvis is facing – otherwise it’s difficult to get power
  • Good against someone with a knife as it has the most distance out of all the kicks

3 – Stamp

Wing Chun London Stamp

Possible striking points (viewed from above):

Notes:

  • Front or back foot – back foot has more power but front foot is more direct
  • Striking height is anywhere between the shin and the belly
  • Use heel or midpoint of the foot
  • Point toe upwards as you strike to expose the heel more
  • Foot goes up (to load the stamp) then down (to strike)
  • You sacrifice efficiency (foot going up then down) for more power
  • Good against an opponent behind you as it is the only kick that can go backwards

1 – knee

Wing Chun London Knee

Possible striking points (viewed from above):

Notes:

  • Front or back knee – back knee has more power but front knee is more direct
  • Striking height is anywhere from the groin to the belly
  • Help the knee go forward by pointing the toe downwards as you strike
  • Combine with a clinch round their neck (e.g. double Tik Sau)
  • Good against someone trying to grapple you
Chi Sao London

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 Ci Sau Openings are:

  1. Left hand directly
  2. Left hand coming round their arm
  3. Left hand ‘diagonal, outside’ (over or under your own arm) – i.e. LH to LH
  4. Right hand directly
  5. Right hand coming round their arm
  6. Right hand ‘diagonal, outside’ (over or under your own arm) i.e. RH to RH
Wing Chun Chi Sao
Ci Sau aka Luk Sau Pun Sau

Notes:

  • These openings only refer to moves that go forwards (rather than backwards e.g. Hau Paak Sau)
  • All examples can be reversed if using Left Hand Bong Ci Sau
  • LH = Left Hand
  • RH = Right Hand

1 – left hand directly

Chi Sao London
Left Hand Directly

Example move:

Notes:

  • Be sure to turn them so that their LH is less of a threat

2 – left hand coming round their arm

Wing Chun Chi Sao London
Left Hand coming round their Arm

Example move:

Notes:

  • Be aware that they can hit you first as you Hyun under their arm – be quicker than them and follow up with Hau Paak Sau if they do punch

3 – LEFT hand ‘diagonal, outside’ (over or under your own arm)

Wing Chun Chi Sao London
Left Hand ‘diagonal, outside’

Example move:

  • ‘Diagonal, outside’ LH Punch (over or under your other arm) – attacking their LH Fuk Sau

Notes:

  • Go over your own arm if:
    • you are both facing each other
    • their arm is low (often when your opponent is shorter than you)
  • Go under your own arm if:
    • they are turned
    • their arm is high (often when your opponent is taller than you)
  • In order to turn them you can first use RH Bong Sau (with Zyun Maa)

4 – Right hand directly

Wing Chun Chi Sao London
Right Hand Directly

Example move:

  • LH Gwaat Daa – attacking their RH Taan Sau

Note:

5 – right hand coming round their arm

Right Hand round their Arm

Example move:

  • RH Hyun Sau (anti-clockwise for RH) into RH Zam Daa

Note:

  • Only use this move if their LH is pushing down and their elbow is in – if not they can hit you very easily with their LH

6 – Right hand ‘diagonal, outside’ (OVER OR UNDER YOUR OWN ARM)

Wing Chun Chi Sao London
Right Hand ‘diagonal, outside’

Example move:

  • ‘Diagonal, outside’ RH Punch

Note:

  • Go over or under your own arm according to the notes in no.3 above
  • To make him turn you can first use LH Hap (‘same side, outside’)

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.

anatomy of the fist

Neutral Wrist:

Wing Chun Fist - Neutral

Right Hand ‘Elbow In’ Punch – Fist Angle:

Right Hand Uppercut – Fist Angle:

Extended Wrist:

Wing Chun Fist - Extended

Both Hands ‘Elbow Out’ Punch – Fist Angle:

Right Hand Upward Bin Kyun – Fist Angles:

Right Hand Downward Bin Kyun – Fist Angle:

Ulnar Deviation in Wrist:

Wing Chun Fist - Ulnar Deviation

Right Hand ‘Hammer’ Punch – Fist Angle:

Practical Wing Chun Palm

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.

anatomy of the palm

Practical Wing Chun Palm

Side of the Palm:

1 SLT Chop – hinge at the shoulder to maintain a full 135° in the elbow:

  1. 2nd Section HoiDiagonal High to Low strike

3 BJ Chops – same as above:

  1. 2nd Section Doek (away from body) – Diagonal High to Low strike
  2. 2nd Section Pek Horizontal strike
  3. 2nd Section Doek (across body) – Diagonal High to Low strike

Heel of the Palm:

5 SLT Palms – forearm in line with direction of the strike:

  1. 1st Section Zing ZoengDiagonal, up strike, fingers pointing upwards
  2. 3rd Section Dai ZoengDiagonal, down strike (except in form), fingers pointing downwards
  3. 3rd Section Gou Waang ZoengDiagonal, up strike, fingers pointing sideways
  4. 3rd Section Peng Waang ZoengHorizontal strike, fingers pointing sideways
  5. 3rd Section Dai Waang ZoengDiagonal, down strike, fingers pointing sideways

2 SLT Pok Zoengs – ‘elbow out’ to generate ‘whipping’ power/wrist goes from flexed to extended:

  1. 2nd Section Hau Pok ZoengStraight, backward strike
  2. 2nd Section Haa Pok ZoengStraight, downward strike

1 CK Pok Zoeng – same as above:

  • 1st Section Pok Zoeng Diagonal, down strike

2 BJ Pok Zoengs – same as above:

  1. 1st Section Waang ZoengHoriztonal strike from the side
  2. 2nd Section Haa Waang ZoengDiagonal, down strike from the side