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7 Starting Hand Positions from ‘Practical Wing Chun’

Updated: May 6, 2021

Imagine someone is attacking you from the side right now - what position are your hands in to intercept the attack? Are they up, down, arms folded?

In Practical Wing Chun we think a lot about how best to defend an attack from various hand positions. We then incorporate those positions into our forms so that we can train them regularly.

To start with we train these positions against our own ‘elbow in’ punch, so that we can use the same attack over and over as a default. Once we are comfortable with this we then move onto more common attacks such as straight punches and hooks.

The positions below are common hand positions from which we will directly go into a Wing Chun move. They are listed in order of the most likely to least likely you are to have your hands in these positions:

1 - Arms down by sides

Arms by sides

The most common place for your arms to be is down by your sides. That’s why in the ‘Practical Wing Chun’ forms we always start with our arms down by our sides when we are opening up our stance.

We also train a similar position during the first section of ‘Chum Kiu’, however here we slightly bend the elbow to 135° so that we can go straight into a ‘Low Bong Sao’ more directly if we are getting attacked low:

‘1st Section Chum Kiu’

If however you are defending against an upper body attack, make sure that you rebend the elbow to 90° before extending it again to 135° (e.g. for a ‘Bong Sao’). That way you will put pressure back onto your opponent’s balance rather than just hitting their attacking arm upwards.

2 - Hands up passively, forearms pointing at your opponent’s face

Hands up passively

A very common hand position when you are in a pre-fight situation is for your hands to be up trying to calm the situation down. However, you should make sure to have your forearms pointing to your target so that at any moment, if needed, you can launch into multiple attacks. Having your forearms firing in the same direction as your strikes will use a ‘battering ram effect’ to give you more power.

Before hitting, have your elbows at 90° so that they have enough extension to allow them to extend to 135°. As the punch comes do a ‘1 in, 1 out’ ‘Pak Da’, meaning that your ‘Pak’ is outside their punch, and your punch is inside their punch.