Wing Chun Concepts Curriculum
The Wing Chun Concepts curriculum consists of three primary elements, Structural Development Forms, or simply Forms, Reflex Development Drills, or Drills, and Tactical Development Drills, or Tactics. There are also two supplementary elements, Weapon Training and Equipment Training.
All of the Wing Chun techniques are first learned from the Forms and Drills. These same Forms and Drills then provide a safe and effective way to practice and polish the skills. It is important to note that the intent, focus, content and sequence of movements for both Forms and Drills can change from lineage to lineage. The most common curriculum framework includes three empty hand forms, one wooden dummy form and two weapons forms. The Drill progression generally moves from basic blocks and strikes to single-arm Chi Sau, full Chi Sau and Chi Gerk.
Tactics are a modern evolution of traditional Gwoh Sau or Maai Saan Jong combat sparring. Tactical drills pair Wing Chun technique with Real World situations to create a laboratory for problem solving. Tactics are used to incrementally prepare students for sparring and to test the legitimacy of Wing Chun technique. Tactics may be trained against one or more attackers, with or without weapons present, and you may be defending from a standing position, be pinned against a wall, be seated, or be flat on the ground.
Below is a "crash course" overview of the entire Wing Chun Concepts curriculum. Do not worry about trying to completely understand all of the information presented here. During the course, each piece will be explained in full detail. Every completed step in the syllabus builds a foundation for the next, which creates an ever-growing comprehension of the principles and concepts. With regular and consistent practice, most students can complete this study in just over two years.
Empty Hand Forms
Forms are solo exercises which develop focus, balance, proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. The forms introduce the hand positions, techniques and defining movements of each progressive level of Wing Chun and provide a way to practice without a partner.
Students begin their Forms training by learning the gross mechanical movements, simply learning the "choreography" of the sequence. Once they have the pattern, they begin to carefully refine the structural precision of each movement. They gain a clear awareness of the chains of movement, their shifting balance, and the functional importance of each technique. As they progress, students will develop a sense of flow, control both tension and relaxation, and understand force generation.
Siu Nim Tao (小念頭): The Little Idea
The first and most important form in Wing Chun is Siu Nim Tao, or "The Little Idea." This is the foundation upon which all of the other forms and techniques are developed. In just this one form, the student is introduced to Centerline Theory, Wing Chun punching, the Yee Jee Kim Yung Ma training stance, the principles of Elbow Power, and a variety of hand techniques, including the three poison hands of Wing Chun: Tan, Bong, and Fook.
Chum Kiu (尋橋): Seeking the Bridge
The second form in Wing Chun is Chum Kiu, or "Seeking the Bridge." It is typically considered the most difficult of the three forms to learn, but is also the most popular. Chum Kiu focuses on controlled, coordinated movement of the entire body and generating power through rapid twisting motions. In Siu Nim Tao, the hands merely have to occupy the centerline. In Chum Kiu, you have to turn and move your centerline while maintaining your balance. Chum Kiu also introduces the first elbow and kicking techniques.
Biu Jee (鏢指); Standard Compass
The third form in Wing Chun is Biu Jee, or "Standard Compass." It is often considered a "closed door" form, taught only to students who mastered all of the previous material. Biu Jee is comprised of extreme short-range and extreme long-range techniques, low kicks and sweeps, and "emergency techniques" to recover and respond when structure has seriously compromised. Biu Jee was designed to train the hands to return to centerline and the body to recover to balance, even from extreme angles and awkward positions — just as the compass needle always returns to North after any movement.
Reflex Development Drills
Drills are often called San Sik (separate forms) or San Sau (separate hands) in traditional Wing Chun schools. Drills range from the repetitive practice of basic motions to simple bridging and countering techniques to free-flow sparring.
Most Drills are loosely grouped into three broad categories: (1) developing basic structure and mechanics through punching, blocking, shifting and stepping; (2) building timing skill through fundamental arm cycles and interceptions; and (3) cultivating sensitivity and kinesthetic "listening" skills. The core Drills from Wing Chun Concepts include:
- Pak Sau – Slap Block Drill
- Pak Dar – Slap Block and Punch Drill
- Lap Sau – Grasp and Punch Drill
- Dan Chi Sau – Single Sticking Hands
- Luk Sau – Rolling Hands
- Jip Sau Jow Sau – Running and Catching Hands
- Lat Sau Jik Chung – Hand Loss Thrust Forward
- Tsui Ma – Pushing Horse Drill
- Chi Sau – Double Sticking Hands
- Doc Sau – Discussion Hands (Cooperative Sticking Hands Drills)
- Gor Sau – Fighting Hands (High Energy Sticking Hands)
- Cheung Kiu Chi Sau – Long Bridge Sticking Hands
- Biu Jee Chi Sau – Short Bridge Sticking Hands
- Luk Gerk – Rolling Legs Drill
- Chi Gerk – Sticking Legs
- Gwoh Sau – Sparring from Bridge Contact
- Maai Saan Jong – Off-Hand Sparring, Full Fight Simulation
Mook Yan Jong (木人樁); Wooden Dummy
The most famous and most easily recognized piece of Kung Fu training equipment in the world is the Mook Yan Jong, or Wooden Dummy. Made from a man-sized wooden log with three arms and a single leg, the Wooden Dummy acts as a "mold" for the student's techniques. Practicing with the wooden dummy refines the student's understanding of angles, positions and footwork, and helps to develop full body power. It is here on the Mook Yan Jong that the open hand techniques are pieced together and understood as a flowing, integrated whole.
Mook Wan; Wooden Ring
The Mook Wan, or Wooden Ring, is a less-famous piece of Wing Chun training equipment used by some traditional lineages. The ten-inch to fourteen-inch ring is most often made of bamboo or rattan, and is used for training the student to seamlessly flow from one technique to another while maintaining a very precise structure.
Sau Bao; Wall Bag
Many Wing Chun schools make extensive use of the Sau Bao, or Wall Bag, to teach how to deliver force with a strike. The bags are usually canvas and filled with dried beans, but other construction and filler materials are also common today. The training is incremental, teaching first how to hit without injuring the hand, then advancing to ways to fajing or release force into the bag. The methodical training process is simultaneously conditioning the hands for the work of Kung Fu.
Gerk Jong; Kicking Dummy
The Gerk Jong, or Kicking Dummy, is one of the least-known pieces of Wing Chun training equipment. It is most often constructed of wooden posts sunk into the ground, although some schools have built posts on a frame for indoor training. The training consists of kicking, checking and moving around the posts at various angles and in specific patterns.
Once the student has mastered the ability to generate and utilize Jing or force in the open hand forms, they can progress to the Wing Chun weapons training. The three empty-hand forms train to deliver force to the end of the finger tips. With weapons training, the student is taught to extend that force through the weapon as an extension of the body. The weapon forms are also considered as an advanced form of conditioning training for the hands, wrists and forearms.
Baat Jaam Do (八斬刀); Eight Slashing Knives
The Baat Jaam Do knife form utilizes a pair of large "Butterfly Knives." The knives are shorter that the common Chinese short sword (Dao), but larger than the Willow Leaf knife used by the drummer in Chinese lion dancing. Historically the knives were also referred to as Dit Ming Do, or "Life-Taking Knives." There are two stories about where Baat Jaam Do got its name: one from the knife form having eight sections, another from there being eight slashing cuts in the first section of the form.
Luk Dim Boon Kwan (六點半棍); Six and A Half Point Pole
The Luk Dim Boon Kwan is a tapered wooden pole ranging anywhere from eight to thirteen feet in length. The pole trains seven key principles: Tai (uprooting), Lan (expansion), Dim (shock), Kit (deflect), Got (cut down), Wan (circle), and Lau (flowing). These same principles are used throughout the unarmed forms of Wing Chun as well. The name six and a half point pole comes from these seven principles, with the last principle – Flowing – counting as half a point.