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Front and Center An Introduction to Wing Chun Kung Fu Part 2

by Daniel on September 12th, 2011

Chess Pains – Wing Chun Fighting Theory

Just as players of chess value dominating the center of the board, Wing Chun fighters seek to maintain control of their opponent’s centerline (imagine a line evenly dividing your body vertically). Good Wing Chun fighting emphasizes technique, timing, and sensitivity rather than brute force. There are no fancy set-ups or flowery, demonstrative movements. Students learn to firmly root themselves using a solid, yet mobile stance. Once combat is initiated, the practitioner drives forward and controls the centerline, neutralizing potential attacks, sticking to the opponent, and following closely when the opponent retreats.

This emphasis on centerline domination follows the observation that “the quickest way between two points is a straight line”. Only one body of matter can occupy any particular space at a given time. So if you strike from your centerline to your opponent’s, then you occupy the closest path between the two of you (and your opponent does not). Likewise, if your hand is occupying the centerline as your opponent punches (a straight punch), your opponent’s attack will fail. Like a basketball floating in water, if force comes to the fighter in one direction, he or she rotates in that same direction to negate the effect of the blow. However, if force it applied directly to the center the entire ball will move. It is this principle that allows Wing Chun practitioners to manipulate much larger opponents.

Training: Foundation, Sensitivity, and Reaction


There are many braches of Wing Chun, but all share the same basic fighting principles. Three empty hand forms usually comprise the style. These forms are called Sil Lim Tau, Chum Kiu and Bue Jee. The curriculum also includes a wooden dummy (Mok Jong) form.

Each empty hand form develops different competencies, with the separate forms eventually integrating for advanced practitioners. The first form, Sil Lim Tau, teaches a stable foundation through proper stance structure and footwork. Next, Chum Kiu emphases the ability to turn, position, and circle the body and still maintain total-body coordination.

The third form, Bue Jee, teaches the proper rotation of the wrist and elbow, footwork, and recapturing the centerline, plus overall coordination for combat. Weapons training varies by school, but traditionally includes the staff, double short staves, spear, or butterfly knives (Southern Chinese butterfly knives – resembling wide, single-edged short swords, not the pocket knife).

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