Wing Chun is a southern fist Chinese boxing martial art developed by a Buddhist nun and made popular by Bruce Lee. Traditional Wing Chun uses scientifically tested and proven drills and techniques based on human movement. It is one of the most sought after and popularly practiced self defence systems to emerge from China in the 21st Century. It is perfectly suited to children and people of smaller stature as it does not place emphasis on size, strength or athletic ability.
The skill is based on the principle of using an opponent’s energy in order to control and overcome them. It does not require strength or power, instead using sensitivity and footwork in order to be effective. It is suitable for both women and men whatever their natural build and energy. It is one of the only systems to use scientific principles such as: simultaneous intercept/deflect and strike, offline and blindside positioning, Chi Sao, acupressure striking to sensitive areas and not fighting force with force. These all basics have been tested on the mat and on the street, and have stood the test of time for over 500 years.
Historically, Wing Chun is said to have been developed during the reign of Emperor K’anghsi (1662 – 1722) by a Nun called Ng Mui on the Tai Leung mountain in Southern China, after she fled the burning of the ShaolinTemple in the Honan province. Ng Mui realised the martial arts practiced in the temple were more for training and aesthetic purposes than practicality and so she developed a system purely for practical effectiveness. Whether true or not, what is known is that Wing Chun was passed down over the years to only family members or close friends, the art being continually refined through fighting experience. Grandmaster Yip Man was taught in this manner until 1949 when he fled Fatshan in China to settle in Hong Kong and was forced to teach Wing Chun for the first time to earn a living. Yip Man taught from 1949 until his death in 1972, during which time he taught many students, including his own two sons, Ip Chun and Yip Ching and the late Bruce Lee.
The best time to strike is when there is an open line, access to the “mother line,” or the central axis of the opponent. The strike can be a simple straight punch. But wing chun is a fairly conservative system, which minimizes danger even when attacking. So one maximizes control of the opponent in the process with both hands working together to create a triangular controlling and dynamic formation. To the untrained observer, the Wing Chun practitioner may appear to be vulnerable on his punching side from the opponent’s free hand. While a single devastating counter strike can occur, Wing Chun practice develops additional insurance with flow and continuous attacks and changing motions. A real strike in Wing Chun never comes from a static posture.
The same Wing Chun basic punch (chair kuen) can be used as a defensive manoeuvre for closing the line or path of an incoming punch, while simultaneously opening a line to the opponent’s centre. The intention to defend can also be accomplishes conservatively with the addition of a pak sau (slapping hand) with the other hand and a little footstep forward, a little turn or both. The opponent’s punch will be derailed, and again with control and timing, there won’t be any viable energy path for the opponent’s other hand or feet because of the trapping of the energy.
Wing Chun control has other manifestations besides striking and deflecting. The details of cavity strikes, chin na, and kum la are beyond the scope of this article. But joint control and breaking are part of the skill building that makes Wing Chun a complete art. When an opponent attempts a strike or grab, the Wing Chun stylist can again attack and defend simultaneously — using a joint break, for example — with a punch directed at the joint. Although a fist is formed, the landing point of the punch need not be the fist. The motion can slide into contacting with the “bridge” past the fist and wrist. Again, this illustrates the multiple use of Wing Chun motions. The punch is just a motion.
The importance of timing and footwork in Wing Chun and implementing the four functions cannot be overestimated. Timing and footwork patterns are sharpened in various two-person drills and a variety of chi sau or sticky hands applications. Proper timing will produce the right speed and power for the appropriate action. Timing is not the same as speed or power, although wing chun training also develops speed and explosive power. Without proper timing, speed and power can be controlled by a skillful or strong opponent. Timing includes specific mixes of appropriate speed and power with an accompanying knowledge of an open line; a line that can be opened; or an open line that can be closed. This can include moving, turning, and changing techniques as necessary. There is a rich body of footwork in wing chun — a separate subject in itself.
Wing Chun training is a whole body and conditioning exercise program utilising ancient Eastern training methodologies with Western sports science. It is a low to moderately intense program and with regular participation can assist in improving and maintaining a healthy body as well as improving aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Wing Chun classes also improves coordination, flexibility, reflexes and strength which will assist with other sports.
Are you interested in improving your health, fitness and flexibility while training in a fun, friendly and safe environment? Or perhaps you are looking for a simple and effective self defence system suitable for your child. Then Wing Chun Classes may be the activity you are looking for. Our current program is tailor made to address teaching children from the age of 6 through to 12 years of age. Students practice and progress at their own pace. We also have separate adult classes from ages 8 and up.
The Wing Chun student gets equipped with non-aggressive self-defence abilities and can also bring physical as well as mental well-being. While self-defence techniques can be acquired within only a few months of training, most students go on to immerse themselves in this fascinating system – and those studies can last a lifetime. The system is taught using a well-formulated syllabus, where each step builds upon the previous and which provides the student with logical and clear explanations for all techniques.
Our Wing Chun classes takes a holistic approach to training. There are no difficult acrobatic movements required as in other martial art forms (such as high kicks in Taekwondo) and sudden twisting of the spine (such as in BJJ or Judo); hence the style can be safely practiced by any average person from mature age.
Because Wing Chun is a scientific system of self-defence, a thorough understanding of the art is necessary before students can execute the movements properly and remember them long-term. Our Wing Chun classes are aimed at sharpening mental as well as physical skills; concentration, relaxation and awareness form an important element of the system, which can additionally benefit relaxation and stress control. Train smart! Get fit and Have fun!