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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)
Practical Wing Chun Rectangle

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.

THE RECTANGLE

Here is the rectangle drawn in full:

Practical Wing Chun Rectangle
The Practical Wing Chun ‘Rectangle’

By drawing lines in this way we can map out the area in front of us we want to control.

1 – First we draw a rectangle around our fists, hanging down by our sides:

Practical Wing Chun Rectangle - Simple
Simple rectangle

To get the ideal Wing Chun range with our opponent, we must be able to put our hands on their shoulders with our arms outstretched at 180° and our torso vertical.

2 – Then we add a vertical line down the middle (the 1st centreline) and a horizontal line where the arms bend (the 2nd centreline):

Practical Wing Chun Rectangle - 1st and 2nd Centrelines
Rectangle with 1st and 2nd centrelines

1st Centreline:

Any incoming punch on or to the left of your 1st centreline will ideally be dealt with by your left hand.

Any incoming punch on or to the right of your 1st centreline will ideally be dealt with by your right hand.

2nd Centreline:

Any incoming punch on or above your 2nd centreline will ideally be dealt with by an upper move (e.g. Soeng Gaau Caa Sau).

Any incoming punch on or below your 2nd centreline will ideally be dealt with by a lower move (e.g. Haa Gaau Caa Sau).

3 – Then we draw lines in between the vertical and horizontal lines to make the ‘braces’ and 3rd centrelines:

Practical Wing Chun Rectangle - Braces and 3rd centrelines
Rectangle with ‘braces’ and 3rd centrelines

‘Braces’ Lines:

The ‘braces’ lines are the endpoint for your elbow when performing a diagonal move (e.g. Hoi).

They are also the endpoint for your elbows when performing some double-handed, frontal moves (e.g. SLT Fan Sau, SLT Biu, CK Tik Sau etc).

3rd Centrelines:

The 3rd centrelines are the ideal contact point either between your shoulder and your elbow, or between your elbow and the end of your fist.

This is because in the elbow to fist example, you split the difference between being able to punch or elbow when you have a touch.

In the shoulder to elbow example, you split the difference between being able to elbow or shoulder strike.

4 – Finally we can see the applications for the lines around the edge as well as a further application for the 2nd centreline:

Practical Wing Chun Rectangle - Side Lines and Mid line
Rectangle with side lines explained

2 Vertical Side Lines:

The 2 vertical side lines are the maximum you want to turn your 1st centreline towards on your opponent when doing a move with Zyun Maa (turning the body).

Any further and you risk being unable to deal with the hand of theirs that you’ve turned away from (e.g. with your right Bong Sau vs their left Punch, turn to face their right shoulder and no more).

3 Horizontal Lines:

The 3 Horizontal Lines are where you strike with the 3 Horizontal Palms from the 3rd Section Siu Nim Tao:

  1. Lower Horizontal LineDai Waang Zoeng (Lower Horizontal Palm) – ideally to the pelvis
  2. Middle Horizontal LinePeng Waang Zoeng (Middle Horizontal Palm) – ideally to under the ribs
  3. Upper Horizontal LineGou Waang Zoeng (High Horizontal Palm) – ideally to the chin

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 Circles in Practical Wing Chun are:

  1. Rotation of the forearm
  2. Circle as viewed from above
  3. Circle as viewed from the sidestraight (in line with your 1st centreline)
  4. Circle as viewed from the sidetilted (in line with your diagonal moves)

Why?

  • Helps you to visualise the correct execution of the moves
  • As in Tai Chi (太極拳), allows you to flow more easily from one move to another

Note:

  • For circles 3 and 4 your elbow is at the centre of the circle.

1st circle – forearm rotation

1st Circle Practical Wing Chun London

Example moves:

  • Rotating Gaau Caa Sau (Cross Hands) – palms facing down to palms facing up
  • Hoi (High to Low Diagonal Chop) – palms facing up to palms facing down

Why?

  • Allows you to deflect incoming force more
  • Allows you to apply more pressure onto your opponent

2nd circle – as viewed from above

2nd Circle Practical Wing Chun London

Example moves:

  • Zyun Maa (Turning) – here the 5th centreline is the centre of the circle
  • BJ Pek – horizontal chop – here the shoulder is the centre of the circle

Why?

  • Keeps your weight distribution symmetrical when turning
  • Keeps your arm at 135° when chopping – longer lever delivers more power

3rd circle – as viewed from the side – straight

3rd Circle Practical Wing Chun London

Example moves:

  • ‘Elbow In’ Punch
  • Taan Sau

Why?

  • Helps to open your elbow angle at the same rate that your shoulder hinges:
    • If the elbow angle opens faster than the shoulder hinges then the hand will end up too low
    • If the elbow angle opens slower than the shoulder hinges then the hand will end up too high

4th circle – as viewed from the side – tilted

4th Circle Practical Wing Chun London

Example moves:

  • Rotating Gaau Caa Sau (Cross Hands) – palms facing down to palms facing up
  • Hoi (High to Low Diagonal Chop) – palms facing up to palms facing down

Why?

  • Same reasons as 3rd Circle
Practical Wing Chun Fighting Stance - London

A note on Cantonese

I mostly 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 Jyut Ping, see Fluent Forever. For a dictionary see CantoDict or use the Hanping Cantonese App for Android.

Intro

There are 2 ways to make an object more stable:

  1. Lower the Centre of Gravity (close to your belly button if standing upright)
  2. Widen the Base (outwards evenly from the centre of gravity)

Some styles don’t have the centre of gravity midway between the feet (i.e. the base), however they are often optimising for other factors than just stability (e.g. more frontal protection for the groin).

The 3 Practical Wing Chun Stances are:

  1. Natural Stance (Related to standing naturally)
  2. Training Stance (So that you train both arms equally)
  3. Fighting Stance (So that you exert more pressure forwards)

1 – natural stance (馬步/maa bou/ma bo/stance step)

Natural Stance in Practical Wing Chun - London
Natural Stance

Angles:

  • Toes in only enough to create 2 straight lines forward from the outsides of your feet.
  • Outsides of the feet roughly in line with the sides of your pelvis.
  • Naturally straight arms and knees.

Applications:

  • If you turn 1 foot outwards 45°, this is a common way for people to naturally stand.
  • You can then launch directly into your fighting stance from either foot, as the distance between your heels is the same as your fighting stance (see below).

2 – training stance (平馬/peng maa/peng ma/level stance)

Level Stance - Practical Wing Chun London
Training Stance

Angles:

  • Toes in only enough to create 2 straight lines forward from the outsides of your feet.
  • Insides of your feet roughly in line with the sides of your pelvis.
  • Knee angle at 135°.
  • We don’t call it ‘the character 2 step’ (Yi Jee Kim Yeung Ma) as our toes are not turned in enough to mimic the character ‘二’ when seen from above.

Applications:

  • Used to keep your shoulders square with your opponent when training which means you can better attack and defend simultaneously.
  • Means you don’t train to favour one foot forward over the other since you’ll likely be swapping your feet anyway during a fight.

3 – fighting stance (前後馬/cin hau maa/chin hao ma/forward backward stance)

Practical Wing Chun fighting stance
Fighting Stance (Front)
Fighting Stance - Practical Wing Chun London
Fighting Stance (Side)

Angles:

  • Same as the ‘Training Stance’ but your 1st centreline and 1 foot are turned outwards 45°.
  • As with the other 2 stances, keep your 5th centreline (see article) at the midpoint between your heels.
  • To make sure your back knee doesn’t collapse inwards, push it out slightly over your toe.
  • Keep your shoulders square with your opponent, even if they tend to turn in the direction of your back leg.
  • From the front your heels are the same width as the ‘Natural Stance’.
  • From the side your heels are the same width as in the ‘Training Stance’.

Applications:

  • The 2 reasons we want one foot in front of the other are:
  1. More ability to deliver pressure forwards and receive pressure backwards.
  2. More power from the back leg punch (e.g. right rear leg, right ‘elbow in’ punch).
Braces Lines - Wing Chun London

Intro

These lines are where the elbow ends when finishing a move. In the 3 vertical lines (not the horizontal line) the elbow should be as low as possible on that line to maintain the 2nd centreline (see article).

1st Centreline

Example moves:

  • Mai Jarn Punch (‘Elbow In’)
  • Tan Sao
  • Jum Sao (combined with Juen Ma – Turning)

Mostly used for striking when staying frontal (i.e. shoulders square) with your opponent. If turning (Juen Ma) then this elbow line can be used to divert the attack (e.g. using Jum Da).

If defending frontally (e.g. Fuk Sau), the elbow will be slightly lower than when attacking as the fist doesn’t need to be at the height of your opponent’s nose.

‘Braces’ Lines

Example moves:

  • Frontal Hoi
  • Gao Cha Sao (Cross Hands)
  • Wu Sao – when applied in practice (different in the form)

Mostly used for defending when staying frontal with your opponent. Your move will usually create a diagonal line with your forearm when viewed from the front.

However when using 2 arms forward together then your forearms can be straight (e.g. with Fun Sao, CK Seung Fuk Sao) – these moves are good for controlling your opponent’s balance.

‘Elbow Out’ Position

Example moves:

  • Fei Jarn Punch (‘Elbow Out’) – on the inside
  • Gum Sao
  • Lap Sao (with Juen Ma/Turning)

Used for moves that aim to control your opponent’s arms instead of hitting them. This is because unlike the ‘braces’ line your elbows are not in front of your torso and are therefore less able to quickly transition into a strike.

Shoulder Level

All moves:

  • Biu Ji Wang Jarn (Horizontal Elbow Strike)
  • Biu Ji Pek Sao (Horizontal Chop)

Only used in the above 2 high-risk strikes. The risk comes from the threat of losing your 2nd centreline by having someone put upwards pressure on your high elbow, resulting in the loss of balance. However the potential gain is high due to the strikes possessing good power.

1st Centreline - Wing Chun London

1st Centreline

1st Centreline - Wing Chun London

What does it mean to lose this line?

  • not having a hand, 3rd centreline or elbow on this line.

Why is this bad?

  • you are more open to being hit in fleshy parts of the body when facing a single opponent at close range.

2nd Centreline

2nd Centreline - Wing Chun London

What does it mean to lose this line?

  • not having an elbow as close as possible to this line when your arm(s) is on top of theirs.

Why is this bad?

  • your balance is compromised at close range if your elbows are high and they are pushing up into you from below.

3rd Centreline

3rd Centreline

What does it mean to lose this line?

  • trying to use your low wrist/hand to push up against their 3rd centreline. Also trying to use your high elbow to push down against their 3rd centreline.

Why is this bad?

  • they can exert more pressure on your wrist or elbow by using their 3rd centreline. It also means their hand is free to better deal with your next strike.

4th Centreline

4th Centreline

What does it mean to lose this line?

  • the line is closer to you than to your opponent.

Why is this bad?

  • your opponent now has an angle of 135 degrees whereas your arms are collapsed. They have a much greater chance of hitting you and protecting themselves at the same time.

5th Centreline

5th Centreline

What does it mean to lose this line?

  • your upper body is significantly backward or forward of this line when it is in line with the midfoot (middle of the whole foot).  

Why is this bad?

  • your weight will now tend to fall forward or backwards meaning a greater chance of you losing your balance.