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The 4 Circles in Practical Wing Chun

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

The 4 Circles help you to visualise how to more accurately execute your 'Practical Wing Chun' moves.

Inspired by other styles such as Tai Chi (太極拳) and Choi Lei Fat (蔡李佛), circles also teach you to flow continuously from one move to the next, complementing the straight lines of traditional Wing Chun.


1st Circle – Forearm Rotation

The first circle consists of a rotation of the forearm in either direction - either from palm up to down, or vice versa.

The purpose is to allow your forearm to deflect an incoming strike whilst minimising the clash between the arms. It is done by producing a 'rolling' effect when your forearm makes contact with theirs.

By rotating your forearm as you pin their arm (e.g. with 'Hoi'), you can collapse their elbow angle even further, since the rotation will 'roll' their arm closer to their body.

Some example moves are:

  1. Rotating 'Gao Cha Sao' (Cross Hands) – palms facing down to palms facing up.

  2. 'Hoi' (High to Low Diagonal Chop) – palms facing up to palms facing down.


2nd Circle – Circle Viewed from Above

2nd Circle Practical Wing Chun London

The 2nd circle is any circle viewed from above - the most common being with the centre of the body ('5th centreline') at the centre.

It is often visualised when performing 'Juen Ma' ('Turning Body'), since in our style you pivot your vertical torso around this line.

By not having any 'sway' with your upper body when we turn, you are then able to put more pressure onto our opponent's balance as you are not leaning away from them.

Example moves:

  1. 'Juen Ma' (Turning) – 5th centreline at the centre of the circle.

  2. 'Biu Ji Pek' (Horizontal Chop) – shoulder at the centre of the circle.


3rd Circle – Straight Circle Viewed from the Side

3rd Circle Practical Wing Chun London

The 3rd circle is viewed from the side and ends up in line with your nose ('1st centreline') when the 'elbow in' punch is fully extended.

Its purpose is to ensure that once the forearm of the punch is pointing diagonally upwards, the forearm extends along that line without deviating. It does this by opening up the elbow angle in sync with the hinging at the shoulder, which therefore ensures a straight, diagonal punch.

If the elbow angle of the punch opens up along the circle too quickly, the punch will come out too low - too slowly and the punch will end up too high.

Example moves:

  1. ‘Elbow In’ Punch

  2. 'Tan Sao' ('Vendor's Hand')


4th Circle – Tilted Circle Viewed from the Side

4th Circle Practical Wing Chun London

This circle has the same application as the '3rd circle', however it instead applies to diagonal moves rather than straight ones, thus the elbow is tilted outwards slightly.

When you've finished the 'Gao Cha Sao' ('Cross Hands'), imagine two large diagonal discs criss-crossing each other, with your elbow in the centre of each. By thinking of these 'discs' it will then get you thinking more about how you open up your elbow angles so that your hands finish at the correct height.

Example moves:

  1. Rotating 'Gao Cha Sao' (Cross Hands)

  2. 'Hoi' (High to Low Diagonal Chop)

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