Wing Chun

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Wing Chun Kuen
Also known asVing Tsun, Wing Tsun, Ving Chun
FocusSelf-defense, striking, grappling, trapping
Country of originGuangdong, Foshan in China
Famous practitioners(see notable practitioners)
ParenthoodShaolin[2] / Ming-era Hongmen Nanquan
Descendant artsJeet Kune Do, Arnett Sport Kung Fu, German Jujutsu[a][4]
Wing Chun
Traditional Chinese詠春
Simplified Chinese
Hanyu PinyinYǒng Chūn
Cantonese YaleWihng Cheūn
Literal meaning"beautiful springtime"

Wing Chun Kuen (咏春 traditional Chinese: 詠春拳), usually called Wing Chun (詠春), as well as Ving Tsun, is a concept-based traditional Southern Chinese Kung fu (wushu) style and a form of self-defense, that requires quick arm movements and strong legs to defeat opponents.[5] Softness (via relaxation) and performance of techniques in a relaxed manner is fundamental to Wing Chun.

According to Ip Man, "Chi Sau in Wing Chun is to maintain one's feeling of opponent's movement by staying relaxed all the while keeping in the strength to fight back, much like the flexible nature of bamboo".[6][7]


Origins of Wing Chun remain unclear, as Wing Chun has been passed from teacher to student verbally rather than in writing, making it difficult to confirm (or clarify) differing accounts of the martial art's creation.

For a long time, Wing Chun's creation had been attributed to Ng Mui, one of the legendary Five Elders. According to a popular legend, after being inspired by witnessing a crane and a snake fighting,[b] Ng Mui incorporated their movements into her combat style to form a new, yet-unnamed martial art system. Later, Ng Mui would teach this art to a woman named Yim Wing-chun who used it to as a means to defend herself against unwanted advances and latter's name would also become the name of this style.[8][9]

Another, more concrete account is that Wing Chun was developed by people associated with the Red Boat Opera Company, a group of traveling Cantonese opera singers who toured China in the late 1800s and early 1900s who formed a popular uprising against the Qing Dynasty.[2][1] Nearly all extant lineages of Wing Chun (except the Pao Fa Lien and Hek Ki Boen branches) claim to descend from the members of the mid-19th-century Red Boat Opera Company.[citation needed]


Wing Chun favors a relatively high, narrow stance with the elbows close to the body. Within the stance, arms are generally positioned across the vitals of the centerline with hands in a vertical "wu sau" ("protecting hand" position).[10] This style positions the practitioner to make readily placed blocks and fast-moving blows to vital striking points down the center of the body; neck, chest, belly and groin. Shifting or turning within a stance is done on the heels, balls, or middle (K1 or Kidney 1 point) of the foot, depending on lineage. Some Wing Chun styles discourage the use of high kicks because this risks counter-attacks to the groin. The practice of "settling" one's opponent to brace them more effectively against the ground helps one deliver as much force as possible to them.[11][12]


Softness (via relaxation) and performance of techniques in a relaxed manner, and by training the physical, mental, breathing, energy and force in a relaxed manner to develop Chi "soft wholesome force",[13] is fundamental to Wing Chun. On "softness" in Wing Chun, Ip Man during an interview said:

Wing Chun is in some sense a "soft" school of martial arts. However, if one equates that work as weak or without strength, then they are dead wrong. Chi Sau in Wing Chun is to maintain one's flexibility and softness, all the while keeping in the strength to fight back, much like the flexible nature of bamboo".[6]


Most common forms[edit]

The most common system of forms in Wing Chun consists of three empty hand forms, two weapon forms, and a wooden dummy form.[14]

Empty hand[edit]

小念頭 Siu Nim Tau (Little Idea) The first and most important form in Wing Chun, Siu Nim Tau ("The little idea for beginning"), is to be practiced throughout the practitioner's lifetime.[15] It is the foundation or "seed" of the art, on which all succeeding forms and techniques depend.[16] Fundamental rules of balance and body structure are developed here. Using a car analogy; for some branches this would provide the chassis,[17] for others this is the engine.[18] It serves as the basic alphabet of the system. Some branches view the symmetrical stance as the fundamental fighting stance; others see it as a training stance used in developing technique.[19]
尋橋 Chum Kiu (Sinking Bridge) The second form, Chum Kiu, focuses on coordinated movement of body mass and entry techniques to "bridge the gap" between practitioner and opponent, and move in to disrupt their structure and balance.[20][21] Close-range attacks using the elbows and knees are also developed here. It also teaches methods of recovering position and centerline when in a compromised position where Siu Nim Tau structure has been lost. For some branches, bodyweight in striking is a central theme, either from pivoting (rotational) or stepping (translational). Likewise, for some branches, this form provides the engine to the car. For branches that use the "sinking bridge" interpretation, the form takes on more emphasis of an "uprooting" context, adding multi-dimensional movement and spiraling to the already developed engine.
標指 Biu Jee (Thrusting Fingers) The third form, and the last form Biu Jee, is composed of extreme short-range and extreme long-range techniques, low kicks and sweeps, and "emergency techniques" to counter-attack when structure and centerline have been seriously compromised, such as when the practitioner is seriously injured.[22] As well as pivoting and stepping developed in Chum Kiu, a third-degree of freedom involves more upper body and stretching is developed for more power. Such movements include close-range elbow strikes and finger thrusts to the throat. For some branches this is the turbo-charger of the car; for others it can be seen as a "pit stop" kit that should never come into play, recovering your "engine" when it has been lost. Still, other branches view this form as imparting deadly "killing" and maiming techniques that should never be used without good reason. A common Wing Chun saying is "Biu Jee doesn't go out the door". Some interpret this to mean the form should be kept secret; others interpret it as meaning it should never be used if you can help it.


八斬刀 Baat Jaam Dou (simplified Chinese: 八斩刀; traditional Chinese: 八斬刀; Cantonese Yale: Baat Jáam Dōu; pinyin: Bā Zhǎn Dāo; lit. 'Eight Way Chopping Knives'), also known as Yee Jee Seung Do (simplified Chinese: 二字双刀; traditional Chinese: 二字雙刀; Cantonese Yale: Yih Jih Sēung Dōu; pinyin: èr zì shuāng dāo; lit. 'Parallel Shape Double Knives'). A form involving a pair of large "butterfly knives", slightly smaller than short swords (dao), as their blade is usually between 11-15 inches. Historically the knives were also referred to as Dit Ming Do ('Life-taking knives').[citation needed] The Baat Jaam Do form and training methods teach advanced footwork and develop additional power and strength in both stance and technique. The Baat Jaam Do also help to cultivate a fighting spirit, as the techniques are designed to slaughter the enemy.
Modern hybrid-blade-style Wing Chun butterfly swords
六點半棍 Luk Dim Bun Gwan (simplified Chinese: 六点半棍; traditional Chinese: 六點半棍; Cantonese Yale: Luhk Dím Bun Gwan; pinyin: Liù Diǎn Bàn Gùn; lit. 'Six and A Half Point Pole') "Long Pole"— a tapered wooden pole ranging anywhere from 8 to 13 feet in length. Also referred to as "dragon pole" by some branches. For some branches that use "Six and A Half Point Pole", their 7 principles of Luk Dim Boon Gwun (Tai-uprooting, lan-to expand, dim-shock, kit-deflect, got-cut down, wan-circle, lau-flowing) are used throughout the unarmed combat as well. The name six and a half point pole comes from these 7 principles, with the last principle: Lau, or Flowing counting as half a point.

Wooden dummy[edit]

木人樁 Muk Yan Jong (Wooden Dummy) Muk Yan Jong is performed on a wooden dummy which serves as an intermediate tool that helps the student to use Wing Chun Kuen against another human opponent. [N/A 1] Muk Yan Jong is demonstrated by using a wooden Wing Chun dummy as an opponent. There are many versions of this form which come from a variety of Wing Chun Kung Fu lineages.

Other forms[edit]

Empty Hand[edit]

Both the Wai Yan (Weng Chun) and Nguyễn Tế-Công branches use different curricula of empty hand forms. The Tam Yeung and Fung Sang lineages both trace their origins to Leung Jan's retirement to his native village of Gu Lao, where he taught a curriculum of San Sik.

The Siu Lim Tau of Wing Chun is one long form that includes movements that are comparative to a combination of Siu Lim Tau, Chum Kiu, and Biu Ji of other families. The other major forms of the style are: Jeui Da (Chinese: 追打; lit. 'Chase Strike'), Fa Kyun (Chinese: 花拳; lit. 'Variegated Fist'), Jin Jeung (Chinese: 箭掌; lit. 'Arrow Palm'), Jin Kyun (Chinese: 箭拳; lit. 'Arrow Fist'), Jeui Kyun (Chinese: 醉拳; lit. 'Drunken Fist'), Sap Saam Sau (Chinese: 十三手; lit. 'Thirteen Hands'), and Chi Sau Lung (simplified Chinese: 黐手拢; traditional Chinese: 黐手攏; lit. 'Sticking Hands Set').

Also, a few family styles of Wing-Chun (especially those coming from the Hung Syun Hei Baan (Chinese: 紅船戲班; Chinese: 红船戏班; lit. 'Red Boat Theatrical Troupe') have an advanced combination form called Saam Baai Fat (Chinese: 三拜佛; lit. 'Three Bows to Buddha') which includes many flow/leak techniques from all of the first 'standard' 7 forms. Old phonetics in Cantonese; Hung Sun Hay Ban Tong Red Boat Opera Organization/Troop has a branch in Girard, Ohio ran by Si-Fu Mark Lee Pringle. They are one of the few schools that teach the full 8-form curriculum including the Yoo-Choy( old phonetics ) family-style of 'Saam Baai Fut' 3 Bows to Buddha.

Wooden Dummy[edit]

The Star Dummy consists of three poles that are embedded into the ground in a triangle with each pole an arms span apart. The associated form consists of kicking the poles using the various kicks found in Wing Chun: front kick, front kick with the foot pointed out using the broad area of the foot and knee rotation to outside, and sidekick.


The Yuen Kay Shan / Sum Nung branch also historically trained to throw darts (Biu).

San Sik[edit]

San Sik (Chinese: 散式; Cantonese Yale: Sáan Sīk; pinyin: Sǎn Shì; literally: 'Casual Style') are compact in structure. They can be loosely grouped into three broad categories:

1. Focus on building body structure through basic punching, standing, turning, and stepping drills. 2. Fundamental arm cycles and changes, firmly ingraining the cardinal tools for interception and adaptation. 3. Sensitivity training and combination techniques.

Sensitivity training [edit]

Wing Chun includes several sensitivity drills designed to train and obtain specific responses. Although they can be practiced or expressed in a combat form, they should not be confused with actual sparring or fighting.

Chi Sau [edit]

Chi Sau (Chinese: 黐手; Cantonese Yale: Chī Sáu; pinyin: Chī Shǒu; lit. 'sticking hands') is a term for the principle and drills used for the development of automatic reflexes upon contact and the idea of "sticking" to the opponent (also known as "sensitivity training"). In reality, the intention is not to "stick" to your opponent at all costs, but rather to protect your centerline while simultaneously attacking your opponent's centerline.[23] In Wing Chun, this is practiced by two practitioners maintaining contact with each other's forearms while executing techniques, thereby training each other to sense changes in body mechanics, pressure, momentum and "feel". The increased sensitivity gained from this drill helps a practitioner attack and counter an opponent's movements precisely, quickly, and with appropriate techniques. The center-line principle is a core concept in Wing Chun Kung Fu. You want to protect your own center-line while controlling your opponent’s. You do this with footwork. Understanding the center-line will allow you to instinctively know where your opponent is.

Chi Sau additionally refers to methods of rolling hands drills (Chinese: 碌手; Cantonese Yale: Lūk Sáu; lit. 'rolling hands'). Luk Sau participants push and "roll" their forearms against each other in a single circle while trying to remain in a relaxed form. The aim is to feel the force, test resistance, and find defensive gaps. Other branches have a version of this practice where each arm rolls in small, separate circles. Luk Sau is most notably taught within the Pan Nam branch of Wing Chun where both the larger rolling drills as well as the smaller, separate-hand circle drills are taught.

Some lineages, such as Ip Man and Jiu Wan, begin Chi Sau drills with one-armed sets called Daan Chi Sau (Chinese: 单黐手; Cantonese Yale: Dāan Chī Sáu; lit. 'Single Sticking Hand') which help the novice student to get the feel of the exercise. In Daan Chi Sau each practitioner uses one hand from the same side as they face each other.

Chi Geuk[edit]

Chi Geuk (simplified Chinese: 黐脚; traditional Chinese: 黐腳; Cantonese Yale: Chī Geuk; pinyin: Chī Jiǎo; lit. 'sticking legs') is the lower-body equivalent of the upper body's Chi Sau training, aimed at developing awareness in the lower body and obtaining relaxation of the legs.

In popular culture[edit]

Donnie Yen played the role of Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man in the 2008 movie Ip Man, which was a box office success, and in its sequels Ip Man 2, Ip Man 3, and Ip Man 4.[24][25] Max Zhang (Zhang Jin) who played the role of Cheung Tin Chi in Ip Man 3 starred in a spin-off and direct sequel movie called Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy, which follows the events after the end of Ip Man 3.[26]

Tony Leung Chiu-wai played the role of Wing Chun Grandmaster Ip Man in the 2013 film The Grandmaster, which received 41 awards and nominations. The Grandmaster has earned HK$21,156,949 (US$2.7 million) at the Hong Kong box office, and grossed over 312 million yuan (US$50 million) at the mainland Chinese box office, $6,594,959 USD in North America, becoming the highest-grossing film for director Wong Kar-wai.

Stephen Amell on the CW show Arrow has incorporated Wing Chun into his fighting style; his character practices on a Muk Yan Jong (wooden dummy).[27]

In December 2019, a new Wing Chun using fighter named Leroy Smith was introduced to the fighting game Tekken 7 roster as downloadable content. When creating characters to represent real-world martial arts, the developers wanted to introduce a new fighter utilizing Wing Chun. The developers consulted Ip Man's nephew, who provided motion capture for the character. [28]

Notable practitioners[edit]

Some notable practitioners of Wing Chun are Ip Man and his sons Ip Chun and Ip Ching, the martial artist actors Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen, and Dan Inosanto, and the actor Robert Downey Jr.[29][30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wing Chun techniques were added to German Jujutsu curriculum in year 2000. Prior to that German Jujutsu did not contain Wing Chun techniques.
  2. ^ Apocryphally, Wing Chun is also known as the "Snake-Crane" style - as in fusion of Snake Kung Fu and White Crane Style.


  1. ^ a b "Cantonese Popular Culture and the Creation of Wing Chun's "Opera Rebels."". Kung fu tea. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Ye, Guo (4 July 2019). "Canton Kung Fu: The Culture of Guangdong Martial Arts". Sage Jurnals (Online). SAGE Publications Inc. Sage open. doi:10.1177/2158244019861459. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Braun, Christian (2004). Ju-Jutsu - Effektives Training. Das Prüfungsprogramm vom Gelb- und Orangegurt. Aachen, Germany: Meyer & Meyer Verlag. ISBN 3-89899-011-7.
  5. ^ Concepts, Steve Creel, Wing Chun. "About Wing Chun Kung Fu". Wing Chun Concepts. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  6. ^ a b "An Interview With Grandmaster Yip Man from 1972". My Way of Wing Chun. 2013-07-11. Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  7. ^ "Wing Chun and Bruce Lee". Post Magazine. 17 February 2019. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  8. ^ Chu, R., Ritchie, R., & Wu, Y. (1998): Complete Wing Chun: The definitive guide to Wing Chun's history and traditions. Boston, MA: Tuttle Publishing. (ISBN 978-0-8048-3141-3)
  9. ^ Stanford Wing Chun: History and principles of Wing Chun Kung Fu (c. 2001). Retrieved on 9 May 2010.
  10. ^ "How to Wu Sau Correctly - Technique is Everything | Sifu Och Wing Chun". Sifu Och Wing Chun. 2016-09-07. Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  11. ^ "Rediscovering the Roots of Wing Chun". Kung Fu Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  12. ^ McKnight, David; Kwok Chow, Sifu Chung. "Integrative Wing Chun". Kung Fu Magazine. Archived from the original on 2013-03-14. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  13. ^ Roselando, Jim (2011-01-28). "One Wing Chun Kung Fu Family – W1NG : » Coaching From The Ancestors". Archived from the original on 2011-01-28. Retrieved 2019-01-19.
  14. ^ "Wing Chun Forms".
  15. ^ "WING CHUN CONCEPTS: Siu Nim Tao". Wing Chun Concepts. 2017-09-23. Archived from the original on 2017-09-23. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  16. ^ Michel Boulet. "The Simple Basics of a Complex Art". the Wing Chun Archive. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  17. ^ Jim Fung (2009-02-23). "Wing Chun Stance". International wing Chun academy. Archived from the original on 2014-03-19. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  18. ^ "The Hidden Power of Siu Nim Tau by Tsui Sheung Tin". 2017-05-22. Archived from the original on 2017-05-22. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  19. ^ Sifu Cogar. "An Overview of Wing Chun". Archived from the original on 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2007-05-04.
  20. ^ "The Forms of Wing Chun Kuen Kung Fu | Reading Academy Wing Chun & Kali". Archived from the original on 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  21. ^ "Ving Tsun Martial Arts Studio – Training". Archived from the original on 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  22. ^ City Wing Chun – Training Notes Archived April 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Chi Sau: What's Behind Sticky Hand Training". Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  24. ^ "2008 Chinese Box Office records". Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  25. ^ "IP Man 4 Teaser Trailer Pits Donnie Yen Against Scott Adkins". Movies. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  26. ^ Shaw Theatres (December 3, 2018), "Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy Official Trailer", YouTube, retrieved 2019-01-19
  27. ^ "Arrow's stunt coordinator teaches us how to fight like Oliver Queen". Youtube. December 19, 2014.
  28. ^ "TEKKEN 7 - Dev Diary: Leroy Smith & Fahkumram". YouTube. January 27, 2020. Retrieved 2020-01-29.
  29. ^ "Robert Downey Jr.: "He Was Skinny"". 16 December 2011. Archived from the original on July 10, 2016. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
  30. ^ "Robert Downey Jr.'s Cosmic Punishment". Archived from the original on June 30, 2016. Retrieved July 9, 2016.

External links[edit]