TAGS: Chinese Martial Arts, MARTIAL, Standup Fighting
Exploring Wing Chun.
This page has some notes I've taken about Wing Chun. My interest in it comes from two main directions: One, shared concepts between rapier and Wing Chun including the rapier cavazione and the Wing Chun circling hand (huen sao), and centerline theory. Two, the Wing Chun influence on many martial arts including Ip Man, Bruce Lee, and Filipino Martial Arts (FMA).
Wing Chun (also romanized as Ving Tsun, Wing Tsun, Wing Tzun, etc.) is either 詠春 ("spring chant") or 永春 ("eternal springtime").
The history of Wing Chun is not well documented but the lore is often used in discussing concepts and it is traditional to honor your predecessors by retelling their tales.
The core of the common lore is that a young woman named Ying, Wing Chun was compelled to marry a warlord unless she could beat him in combat. So she went to a buddhist nun Ng, Mui to learn boxing. Ng had survived the destruction of the Shaolin temples by the Qing (ca 1600s), and is considered to be one of the traditional "Five Elders" in Chinese Martial Arts (CMA). Ying then beat the warlord and later married Leung, Bac Chou whom she taught the style. Leung then named the style after his wife.
The most reknown proponent of Wing Chun was Yip, Man (葉問, or Ip, Man) (1893-10-01/1972-12-02). Yip's Wing Chun lineage extended back to Ng, and he is the source of the common Wing Chun lore. Yip's most famous student was Bruce Lee.
Part of the Wing Chun lore is that although Ng was versed in the Shaolin school, she wanted a new style that was simpler and did not rely on strength. This sparseness is part of the large appeal of Wing Chun. For example, one of Bruce Lee's goals with the Jeet Kune Do concept was to further simplify by minimizing form and focusing on function or princples. The FMAs also like taking principles and applying them to multiple forms, i.e. apply the same concepts to different weapons and ranges.
Wing Chun has contributed valuable concepts and terminology to the martial arts conversation and continues as a vibrant martial art.
In a very simplified summary, here are key characteristics of Wing Chun:
Balance and structure. Wing Chun is largely vertical and economical. The forms emphasize this.
Line (sin) and center line (jung sin). This is evident in the path of blows/blocks, especially the vertical fist (elbow down). The forms emphasize this.
Tactical areas. Four gates (moon): [upper, lower] x [inner, outer]. Also forward and rear, although this can be refined to wrist, elbow, shoulder, and behind.
Relaxation, flow, and sensitivity. Especially because of the range. The sticky hands (chi sao) emphasizes this.
Limbs-crossing range. Especially because of the emphasis on closing lines.
Trapping. Lines are closed by crossing, pressing, redirecting, jerking, etc. Almost all attacks are combined with trapping.
Simultaneous defense and attack (lin sil die dar).
The shortest distance between point A and B is a straight line.
It is very helpful to know the following basic terms:
In a very simplified summary, here are key tools of Wing Chun:
3 key forms:
siu nim tao (小念頭, "little idea", sil lim tao) or siu lim tao (小練頭, "little practice"). The first and most important form of Wing Chun. One pigeon-toed stance (yee jee kim yang mah) throughout. How the moves are counted vary from school to school, EG: Wing Chun Kung-Fu (1972) by James Yimm Lee has it as 159 moves. Usually the last half (92-156) are done more briskly. The form has ten symmetrical sets, each of which ends in the siu nim tao position (except for the last). Here are the sets with mnemonics on each set's key features.
8-12. Cross blocks (cha jee sau). Defines gates (moon) and center line (jung sin).