Wing Chun Forms Explained by Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin

Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin explains in this article the Wing Chun forms and what he loves about Wing Chun.


The structure of Wing Chun Kung Fu is so scrupulous and precise that it fits into the logic of science. Viewing from any angle, I consider that Wing Chun is really a masterpiece in Martial Art. In fact, Wing Chun, which is so well organized, together with its nicely designed structure, has reached the acme of perfection. Starting from the basic training to the highest level, one will learn and discover more and more gradually if he can analyze and practice persistently. As time goes by, one will find that practicing Wing Chun is very interesting. I have practiced Wing Chun for over Forty years and I still have a lot of fun in it. It is really one of the greatest enjoyment in my life.

The characteristic of Wing Chun in relation to its structure and formation is that every one of the three forms has its own thought and theory. The different functions of the three Wing Chun forms will merge forming a perfect way in attack and defence. Together with the practice of the Wooden Dummy, it is considered that Wing Chun, being so perfect, has no need for improvement.

If one wishes to achieve to the higher level, there is no short cut and all he can do is to carry on thinking and practicing. In this lecture, I shall concentrate on demonstration and analysis of the theory. I shall expose the profoundness of Wing Chun in my own interpretation hoping that the precise can be shared with the practitioner of Wing Chun. I also expect that the Practitioner will enjoy their training. The following is my analysis on the theory of structure, and on the main functions of the following Wing Chun forms “Sui Nim Tau”, Chum Kiu”, “Bill Gee” and “Wooden Dummy”.

Wing Chun Lecture by Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin

Siu Nim Tau (Analysis and Demonstration for correct movement)

(1) The reason of why the practice of Siu Nim Tau can generate the “ Force of Idea” so as to enable every move in relaxing state to create energetic power.

Siu Nim Tau drives its name from “Idea” (sense from the Brain). This implies that the training relies mainly on idea. Accordingly, the creation of driving power from any moves is a result of the idea. If one practice correctly and persistently, and he can concentrate his mind during the training, he is able to feel that his whole body is filled with the “Force of Idea” after a period of training. At this moment, the limbs of the body can effectively tolerate any external force applied to them. However, it is hard to define the correct approach of the training because it varies with different persons.

For this reason, it is necessary for a learner to be supervised by a senior instructor. In order to be successful, one must be able to relax the muscle of the whole body, to infuse the spirit into the spine so that it is maintained straight, to contract the anus, and to concentrate the mind during the training. (It is not easy to tell if the learner is correct by just looking at the figure.) When one is getting towards successful, he begins to fell the existence of “Force of Idea”. If he has great belief that he possesses the “Force of Idea” and has really given up the exerting of force in his moves, He has achieved the state of complete relaxation.

(2) The advantage of “Two Adduction Stance” (Yee Chi Kim Yeung Ma) and its functions:

The “Two Adduction Stance” is the stance which is only seen in Wing Chun King Fu. On The face of it, one may feel that such a stance is unstable and difficult to move around. It is also thought that the lower part of such a stance is wide open for attack. However, if you look at it more carefully, you will find that the “Two Adduction Stance” consist of plenty of advantages including the invincible attack and effective defence. It will also enable you to suck in the opponent’s force for your own use when coming in contact with the opponent. This means that your own body weight will increase whilst the body weight of the opponent will decrease this special effect of increasing in body weight will therefore give you an enormous power in counter-attack.

On the other hand, the structural performance of the “Two Adduction Stance” completely fits into the logic of force. It can gather up the strength of the whole body onto a point of attack. In other words, whether you punch or kick, the attack will contain the strength of the whole body. It may take pager for me to explain how this is happening in black and white. I therefore decide to talk about the theory and structure of how to gather up the strength of the whole body during my demonstration.

(3) The structure and theory of Tan Sau, Bong Sau and Fook Sau, and the reasons why they can be used effectively without wasting much energy:

In analyzing the shape of Tan Sau, Bong Sau and Fook Sau, one will see that the way they turn away the opponent’s force and the way they compress the opponent during the attack actually come from the idea of an arch. If the movement of Tan Sau, Bong Sau of Fook Sau is carried out consecutively without stopping, it will take up the form of a running sphere. From the running sphere, it is not hard to understand that such an action can turn away strongly applied force easily.

In the meantime, it also contains magnificent force of compression. The heavier the sphere, the effect of such an action is greater. Hence, if we can reach the level in such a way that we can control our mind to fix the angle of our arms, and to move the arms in circular motion, we can then generate enormous power provide that the muscles are relaxed.

(4) The primary function of Siu Nim Tau is to use the mind to control the moves so that they can form the steady structure of an arch. It is also with this control over the mind that the straight attacks can be launched with the strength of the whole body centering at the point of attack.

Chum Kui (Analysis and Demonstration for correct movement)

(1) The reason of generating enormous driving power.:

An object with a weight, whether it is left on the floor or suspended, can generate energy as long as it is moving of rotating. The heavier the object is, the greater the energy is generated. Similarly, the faster the object is also generated. Hence, the body weight together with its forwarding and rotating movement forms the source of driving force in Chum Kiu.

(2) The function achieved when the moves of Siu Nim Tau are incorporated with Chum Kiu:

The structure of Siu Nim Tau, which has no initiation for attack but just helps to create the “Force of Idea” to increase the stability of the body framework, is mainly used to withstand pressure of force. Consequently, in order to attack the opponent with the greatest power, it is necessary to adopt the steps of Chum Kiu and its turning or spinning movement to achieve the maximum effect in attack and defence.

(3) The practical value and the theory regarding the structure of the two-way force:

The forwarding step and turning stance of Chum Kiu together with the moves of Siu Nim Tau, if manoeuvring at the same time, can create driving forces of at least two directions. For this reason, it is called the two-way force. The main function of the two-way force is to off –balance the opponent. When the opponent is toppling over, he is unable to maintain the move or force in the way he intend to. At this critical moment, the opponent can be defeated easily.

Chum Kiu means literally the method to search and touch the wrist of the opponent. It is the Two-way force of Chum Kiu making the opponent toppling over. When the opponent’s organization in defence and attack is destroyed, the chance of winning is enhanced. Every move of Chum Kiu contains the two-way force. As a result of this two-way force, the opponent, once in contact, cannot stand firmly thus exposing the weak points for attack.

The reason of why the two-way force is difficult to be dealt with is very simple. Supposing two forces, one at the front and one from the side, are coming towards you while you are unable to escape but to take them up directly, you will find that it is very difficult to withstand the strike of those forces because the two-way force comprises irregular forces of more than two different directions.

(4) The relationship between the turning stance and the theory of force:

The turning stance of Chum Kiu is to utilize the rotation of the body to generate the driving force as well as to turn away the force applied by the opponent. Anything which is to generate power by way of rotation must have an axle situated at the centre of rotation so that it can be rotated steadily without falling over. Hence, the best effect of rotation can be achieved. The practice of Chum Kiu is to find out the centre of gravity of the moves so as to obtain the best result of the rotation.

On the other hand, rotation comprises a structure which can release huge amount of energy whilst wasting least energy. Furthermore, This kind of moving structure is most lasting when in motion. In our daily life, it is found that most of the powerful tools, which produce efficient speed, are actually applying the theory of circular motion. This proves that the theory of Chum Kiu is founded in accordance with the principle of science.

Therefore, the basic idea of Chum kiu is to utilize the forward and backward movement, and speedy rotation of the body to provide the driving force as well as force of attraction.

Bill Gee (Analysis and Demonstration for correct movement)

(1) How to achieve the state of “striking out a fully concentrated force with a finger-tip” and also “directing at will any external force to the centre of a vortex”

In practicing Bill Gee, one must pay special attention to the joints of the arms. In this connection, the state of tenderness of the elbow joints and shoulder joints should be controlled by the mind. As a result, one must deliver the centrifugal force derived from rotation of the body into the whole length of the arms. Together with the appropriate movement of the forearm into the correct position, one can then transmit the power generated from rotation of the body to the palm and fingers. The above description is termed as “ striking out a fully concentrated force with a finger-tip ( Bill Gee). It accounts for why it is called Bill Gee.

“Directing at will any external force to the centre of a vortex” is also to utilize the rotation of the body, coping with the natural stretch of the elbow joints, to form the effect of a whirlpool. The net effect of the above action will then direct the external force into the centre of the vortex.

(2) The principal function of having a lot of elbow moves in Bill Gee.

In the three sets of Wing Chun Kung Fu forms, the moves which are repeated many times in a form must be the significant component of that form. In Bill Gee, the elbow moves are repeated many times because they are important in the sense that the practice of them may enable the person, who is familiar with Chum Kiu’s rotation on the horizontal plane with an axle, to rotate three- dimensionally like a sphere having the centre of rotation at the centre point of the body.

As both elbows are rotated on a slant and once getting used to it, one can, at discretion, rotate the elbows to any direction at any angle. If you have achieved this level, you can always demonstrate the attacking way of :striking out a fully concentrated force with a finger-tip and the whirling way of “directing at will any external force to the centre of a vortex” to the best effect whenever you wrists are in contact with the wrists of the opponent.

(3) The fundamental basis as a means of attacking skills of the Wing Chun Martial Art.

Obviously, all practitioner of Wing Chun will agree that Bill Gee is the most powerful form among the three with regard to attacking skills. There is also a rumour that Bill Gee will not be taught to a person who is not a member of the Wing Chun Martial art(i.e the practitioner who are not up to the standard to learn Bill Gee are not really regarded as members of the Wing Chun Martial Art). And this thus increases the mystery of Bill Gee.

Of the three sets of Wing Chum forms Bill Gee is, indeed, the most powerful one. Every move of Bill Gee consists of the functions of both defence and attack with tremendous power of destruction. Hence, Bill Gee contains the highest level of skill in Wing Chun.

In any kind of sport, there are advantages and disadvantages. For example getting hurt is one of the disadvantages. There is also no exception for Bill Gee. In order to have the best effect of Bill Gee. In order to have the best effect of Bill Gee, one must move about at high speed. If his basic skill derived from Siu Nim Tau and Chum Kiu is not good enough, it is very easy for him to make mistakes or get hurt when he tries to use Bill Gee in fighting. This is why the junior learners of Wing Chun will not be taught Bill Gee.

Bill Gee explained

Looking at another way, supposing a cylinder, whose size and weight is similar to that of a person, is equipped with two hand- shaped wooden sticks on both sides. If the cylinder is rotated at the suitable angle with high speed right at the centre of the cylinder, the two sticks can generate tremendous power of destruction when in contact with something. On the other hand, if the rotation is not carried out properly, the two protruding sticks will become a burden and enhance the damage to the cylinder.

For the same reason, if a person who has not ye grasped the manoeuvring skill in exerting force from the practice of Siu Nim Tau and Chum Kiu and tries to use Bill Gee to attack the opponent, his joints of the arms are most vulnerable for damage because his two arms can easily become the useful tools usable by the opponent.

The main idea of Bill Gee is to transmit the power, which is generated from rotation, to the palms and fingers. It is also intended to use the attraction force, originated from the whirl during rotation, together with the appropriate movement of the arms and legs to achieve the state of “directing at will any external force to the centre of a vortex”.

WOODEN DUMMY (analysis and Demonstration for correct movement)

(1) The attacking theory of the Wooden Dummy:

The principal theory of the Wooden Dummy is to combine together the essential elements of the three forms of Wing Chun (i.e the idea, moves and structure from Sui Nim Tau, the turning stance and foot works from Chum Kiu, as well as the “striking out a fully concentrated force with a finger-tip” and “directing at will any external force to the centre of a vortex” from Bill Gee). Then attack the wooden dummy as if it was the opponent.

In practicing the wooden dummy, any one move is to contain the exertion of force at different directions. The training is to attack the dummy with the body weight as a driving force in conjunction with the attraction force derived from the rotation of the body, This kind of attack is therefore indefensible.

The theory of Wing Chun is to confront the opponent face to face when in direct contact. The same principle applies to training of wooden Dummy. The practice is to use the right hand to block the left stick or the left hand to block the right stick of dummy. The use of right Bong Sau to confront the right stick or the use of left bon Sau to confront the left stick of the dummy is termed as “Bong Sau used inappropriately” This indicates that there is something wrong to use the left hand to block the opponent’s left hand or the right hand to block the opponent’s right hand. In the whole process of the Wooden Dummy, there are only two or three so called “ inappropriate Bong Sau”, and this proves that using the inappropriate Bong Sau to confront the opponent is not recommended.

Wooden Dummy Training

Practicing the wooden dummy is actually the training for fighting. It is assumed that every move is an attack to the opponent. A series of attack during the practice is just the presumption on how your opponent will react after your first attack. In real fighting., it is of course impossible to follow the whole process step by step. Because the adoption of which moves requires a very rapid response and depends very much on what the situation is.

In order to achieve the best effect of the wooden dummy, one needs to be very skilful. Usually, a learner is particularly interested in practicing the wooden dummy because the sound of hitting the dummy is very loud and this gives him satisfaction. It is because of this satisfaction, he feels that he has already mastered the technique of it. Gradually, he will concentrated on producing the loud sound. He, then, forgets the correct way of the hands and feet movement in the training. Once he gets used to it, he may find it hard to have it rectified.

Wooden Dummy Technique

The technique of the Wooden Dummy is to stress the use of both hands: one for attack and one for defence. As both hands apply the two-way force at the same time, there will be various forces applying to different directions from both hands. The result of this is like the formation of two spheres rotating at different angles towards the opponent and this kind of attack is almost indefensible. When a learner has achieved this level, he will naturally fell the kind of power derived from his attack. In addition, he will also possess the advantage of having the sensitive response that he will react simultaneously without thinking once his hands are in contact with the opponent. This kind of prompt response without getting the signal from the brain is the natural characteristic of muscle.

Thus, if one works very hard persistently but incorrectly, his muscle will accustom to his incorrect movement. In a situation where a natural response is required, the muscle will automatically repeat such incorrect movement. At this point of time, it will be difficult for him to have the incorrect movement rectified.

(2) The technique in the use of hand moves in conjunction with the foot stance:

The importance of the foot stance stance is to enable the body weight concentrating on both hands. Then, attack the wooden dummy at the best position and angle so that the dummy will take up all the force applied to it. Hence, the foot stance becomes a very important part in practicing the wooden dummy for attack and defence.

In order to attain the best effect, one must pay particular attention to the correctness of the foot stance, because it is only with the correct foot stance that the whole of the body weight can be carried to the point of attack.

CONCLUSION (Analysis and Demonstration for correct movement)

To account for why the practice of Wing Chun Martial Arts can be free of strength, and the relationship between the forms and the Wooden Dummy.

The use and practice of Wing Chun Martial Arts is free of any strength even in confrontation with the opponent. However, when I discuss this theory with some elders of great experience in Martial Arts, I have been told off by them. They reckon that it may be able to do so when practicing on your own, but it is impossible when you are confronting the opponent. As a result, they consider that my theory is highly absurd. One of them suggests that it needs to exert force even if a hand is raised up. If his argument is correct, it means that you need to exert force event if you pick up a feather. I shall let you make your own conclusion.

Two main reasons of why the use or practice of Wing Chun Kung Fu is Free of strength

(A) Using the principle of circular structure

The shape of a circle is a structure of great strength. It is not collapsed easily even if a heavy force is applied to it. An object in circular shape can with stand more pressure or beating force than an object in other shape. Likewise, a circular object can also turn away or transfer force more easily.

Let us analyze the Wing Chun Martial Art in detail. The important moves such as Tan Sau, Bong Sau and Fook Sau consist of an angle which is greater that 90 degree. If the Tan Sau, Bong Sau or Fook Sau are extended or continued in similar sections with connecting angles equal to that of the Tan Sau, Bong Sau or Fook Sau, they will eventually form circles. In the circle formed by a Tan Sau, the inner side of the circle will receive the opponent’s force, Whilst in the circle formed by a Bong Sau or Fook Sau, the external side of the circle will receive the opponent’s force.

Hence, the movement of Tan Sau, Bong Sau and Fook Sau is just like the turning of a circle. Apart from the fact that they can withstand heavy force from the opponent, they also possess strong driving force and can turn away the opponent’s applied force with easy.

(B) The Characteristic Of Muscle

Abbess Ng Mui discovered, long time ago the characteristic of muscle. She realized that the muscle, in relaxing state, could tolerate huge force. This has been confirmed in recent scientific experiments. A fully qualified doctor, who graduated from the University of Hong Kong, has shown me a Textbook which clearly states that muscle in relaxing state can tolerate a heavier load or greater force that the muscle in the state of contraction.

From the above two facts as well as the results of the experiments, it can be concluded that practicing Wing Chun Kung Fu is really free of any strength.

Simply from the above explanation, people will still be in doubt regarding how the attacking and destructive power is created when one is free of strength. This has to go Back to the theory of “Chum Kiu” and “Bill Gee”. “Chum Kiu” can generate strong and stable force whilst “ Bill Gee” Can generate the explosive power. As long as you practice correctly and systematically, the power can increase gradually. At that moment, you can then taste the magnificent power of the Wing Chun Martial Art.

Moves Of The Wooden Dummy

The moves of the Wooden Dummy are made up from the moves of the three Wing Chun forms, and are particularly practical and useful in attack. Since the wooden dummy cannot counter-attack, by just practicing the wooden Dummy, one may not be able to react in the way he should be when he is being attacked. It is therefore important to practice Sticking Hands (Chi Sao) which can enable one to react adequately when being attacked. In this connection, Sticking Hands play an important role in the training of Wing Chun Kung Fu.

The practice of the Wooden Dummy is to utilize the hand moves together with foot stance to attack the dummy at the most appropriate angle in such a way, that every move is a most effective blow hitting the dummy’s weakest point. The purpose of this training is for a person to get used to the habit of attacking the most vulnerable part of the opponent with a severe strike. It also helps to find out what your next move should be after your attack.

In fact, it can be concluded that, the more proficient of the three forms, the better the result will be obtained from the practicing of the Wooden Dummy. In other words, in order to achieve the best effect of the wooden dummy, it is necessary to master the moves of the three forms.

Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin

Read also:

Siu Nim Tao Explained by Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin

About The Author

Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin
Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin

Chu Shong Tin trained in Ip Man’s school for 14 years and was the main teacher there, teaching for up to 12 hours on some days. The major focus in the early years of his training was the practice of “Siu Nim Tao” (meaning “Tiny Idea”). Which is the first empty-hand form and the essence of Wing Chun. This is because Ip Man used to say: “When well-versed in Siu Nim Tao, the other parts of Wing Chun training will all be well grasped and performed too.”

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