The System of WingTjun Kung Fu teaches the defence and attack movements known to practitioners of WingTjun, Wing Chun, Ving Tsun or Wing Tsun – all these names are only variations on the same style of Chinese Kung Fu.
The order in which the system is taught:
Siu Nim Tau Set Siu Nim Tau Set & applications
Chum Kiu Set Chum Kiu Set & applications
Chi Sau Chi Sau & applications of first 2 sets
Lat Sau Lat Sau
Biu Tze Set & applications Biu Tze Set & applications
Wooden Dummy & applications Wooden Dummy & applications
Long Pole & applications Long Pole & applications
Butterfly Knives & applications Butterfly Knives & applications
In the Siu Nim Tau set, the set of repetitious movements/techniques formed by the Tan Sau (Palm Up), Wu Sau (Protective Arm) and Fook Sau (Bridge-on-Arm) is the slowest but the most important.
In practical application, Tan Sau can be combined with any other technique for defensive purposes – that is why it is one of the three most important basic hand techniques (seeds) of the System.
THE SECOND SET: CHUM KIU (Arm Seeking):
The Chum Kiu Set, as its name implies, means techniques aiming at seeking the arms of the opponent.
This set is traditionally taught when the Siu Nim Tau set has been mastered. Then the study of how to use techniques for defence become crucial, otherwise two opponents will participate in alternately attacking each other without any notion of defence and one or both will be hurt, without learning any useful techniques in the process. Thus the art of defence, which is usually the purpose for studying Kung Fu in the first instance, lies in knowing the target of the opponent’s attack.
In WingTjun, in defending, we can uncover more variations of hand techniques than kicking techniques. If we can discover the motives of our opponent’s arm movements, we can be sure of the target of his attack. And this ‘discovering’ or ‘uncovering’ of our opponent’s attacks is the purpose for the Chum Kiu set – you may say its function is just like that of a radar.
Because the Chum Kiu set’s pupose is mainly for defence, its movements are light and firm. It includes techniques for the entire body, I.e. steps, stances, the legs and the elbows, where the most important are the Bong Sau techniques, which comprise seventy percent of the entire set of the Chum Kiu set, and which is also the most effective means to dissolve an opponent’s attack.
CHI SAU (Sticky Hands/Arm Clinging):
Chi Sau is the most important part of the WingTjun practitioner’s training.
Chi Sau techniques are practised in two’s and aim essentially (especially at the beginning) at developing the trainees’ quickest reflex action, in order to be applied in a set of sophisticated fighting techniques.
The purpose of training Chi Sau is to develop reactions which is much faster than that of others, and to apply it unconsciously and without pre-meditation to an opponent’s attack. The reflex action is in fact a subconscious reaction of the body as a result of a sudden and unexpected external stimulus.
Chi Sau techniques will teach what is possible in a more free-form way, differentiating it from the formality and regularity of other styles, including boxing. For example, to someone who has not learned any kung fu skills, fighting is an occasion where he/she has to stretch or swing their arms, to strike an opponent with both fists. This kind of fighting is exhausting and ineffective, but the actions are in fact subconscious.
However, when someone has learned a regular way to fight, incorporating both defence and attacking movements, they will (erroneously) usually apply the techniques as instilled in the neuro-paths in their brain, which came about through the repetitious study of their style. But if we waited for our brain to ‘remember’ what movements to use as a counter-attack on our opponent, we will be too slow. That is why Chi Sau training encompass a kind of attack and defence system which will help to train the nervous system to automatically produce the correct reaction for protection from any attack.
True fighting techniques are never bound by fixed patterns and are not controlled by rules. This is why, during Chi Sau training the emphasis is on getting our movements free from our conscious – to attack or defend simply by intuition and not by using our memory, which is what happens in more formal styles.
The most important part of Chi Sau training is the exercises for developing an acute sense of touch. The strength of an attack cannot be gauged visually. Thus an acute sense of touch enables the practitioner not only to detect the strength of the opponent, but also the direction in which the force is travelling. This will enable us to change our movements to cope with our opponents, to gain an advantage over him and finally defeat him.
But the ultimate aim of Chi Sau training is to integrate the sense of touch with the fighting techniques mastered during the form training, so that they all blend together and become reflex actions which can be automatically applied, with no conscious thought whatsoever.
GWOH SAU: FIGHTING PRACTICE & LAT SAU: FREE-HAND FIGHTING PRACTICE
There is very little information available through magazines or book on Gwoh Sau and Lat Sau, except perhaps ‘Wing Tsun Kuen.’
Gwoh Sau training allows students, properly guided by an instructor, to free themselves from the usual three-step procedure of fighting practice, which consists of perception, thought and action, to the two-step procedure of perception and action. Gwoh Sau practice, therefore, is fundamental in bridging the gap between techniques being controlled by thought and memory, to being made by mechanical reactions.
Again, the sensitivity learned in Chi Sau comes into play during the Gwoh Sau practice, as the same principle of ‘stay with what comes, follow through as it retreats, and thrust forward as our hand is freed,’ applies.
However, it has to be remembered that the ‘thrusting forward’ would happen as a reflex and not from a conscious decision. In fact, the action can be compared to a rattan cane, which whilst bent, retains its flexibility, which you can clearly feel as it bend, and when you let go of it, will ‘thrust forward’ to its original position.
At such a stage, two WingTjun practitioners face each other in pre-fighting stance, standing at a distance and not touching the opponent’s hand. Then the attacker charges to his training partner, and the fight is started.
The best way to learn Lat Sau in the first place is through Chi Sau practice, because not only does it teach the necessary sensitivity, but also gives a clear indication that when an opponent attacks you, you need only Chi Sau techniques to deal with their attacker. This is not a technique that can be learnt thought any other method of fighting.
Gwoh Sau training requires usually at least two years’ training with an excellent instructor. And in this, I have been lucky to have been taught by both my Si-Bak and Si-Fu, who are not only excellent and famous instructors themselves, but men I utterly respect for the long hours of intense training they gave me.
THE THIRD SET: BIU TZE (Thrusting Fingers):
The Biu Tze set, which is comprised mostly of techniques of the palm and fingers, is mainly for attacking. In this set, the four fingers of the hand are straightened before being thrust forward towards the target with a flexible force.
A practitioner will be able to drive his force through his fingertips, with which he will successfully defeat his opponent, and is known as ‘drawing one’s force through the fingers.’
Excellence in this set, which is traditionally only taught one the Chum Kiu set has been mastered, will enable the practitioner to shatter objects just by giving it a slight touch with the fingertips when the arm is fully extended. This force is actually a kind of strong flexibility of the vibratory force created as the arm is forcefully extended, and is totally different from that of the thrusting fingers.
The Biu Tze set includes techniques for steps, grappling, and hand releasing and elbow and waist movements.
A skilful practitioner of the Biu Tze set will present the techniques in an elegant and dignified way with a flexible but deadly force.
MOK YAN CHONG: THE WOODEN DUMMY
The Wooden Dummy techniques are the most advanced in the System and consists of 116 movements, of which 16 are kicking movements; 8 for each foot.
The use of these complicated movements as defence, will simplify the movements of the counter attack, which is the reason that some Wooden Dummy movements are set deliberately to cope with certain basic techniques of the other sets.
A practitioner, who reacts more slowly and is weaker than his opponent, will very often defeat stronger opponents, if they have achieved some technical skill of the Wooden Dummy techniques.
LOK DIM BOON KWAN: THE LONG POLE
The pole, called the single-headed pole, is about eight-and-a-half feet. Great skill is required from a practitioner in order to learn the long pole techniques, with much emphasis on the quadrilateral level stance, the front stance and the half-hanging stance.
BAAK JAM DO: THE EIGHT-CUTTING BROADSWORD
The technique for the eight-cutting broadswords are derived form the System’s other fighting techniques. The stances are similar, but with more variation in the footwork, which ensures agility for forward and backward movements.
Two broadswords are used simultaneously in close relationship to each other, making for a formidable weapon, and whilst the swords are the same, they are used quite differently from the butterfly broadswords popular in other Southern Chinese styles and which are often confused with the eight-cutting broadsword.