Kung Fu: Wing Choon, martial art of Yim Wing Choon

Wing Choon (also Romanized as Wing Chun, Yong Chun, and Yong Wing Chun) is a fast, direct, and vicious style. It focuses on “narrow stances and short bridges,” referring to characteristically short stances such as the 4-6 and Goat stances and close range hand and foot movements. The teacher of its first patriarch, Yim Wing Choon, was the Buddhist nun Ng Mui, herself an expert at Shaolin Kung Fu who specialized in the Flower Set. Yim Wing Choon took principles from her training that created a distinct style that is excellent for small people, including elegant ladies such as herself and Ng Mui, to fight even large and powerful brutes.

Like other Southern styles, there is a great variety of hand movements, though there are also many subtle foot movements and kicks, hallmarks from the Flower Set. Low snap kicks, shadowless kicks, and Inside Skirt kicks hint at Yim Wing Choon’s station as a wealthy lady who often wore long robes and skirts which prevented high kicks to the body or groin such as those in Tantui. Patterns in Wing Choon stress economy of movement and quickly defeating a foe.

Training in Wing Choon is found in the style’s three fundamental sets: Siu lin Tou (Little Practice Beginning), Cham Kieuw (Seeking Bridges), and Phew Chee (Thrusting Fingers). While many practitioners nowadays practice the sets with isometric tension to develop external strength, the sets can also be practiced with flowing energy and exploding force to develop the internal force that enabled Yim Wing Choon to defeat large and powerful brutes. The three sets serve as an “alphabet and grammar book” for Wing Choon, teaching patterns and strategies as well as training force.

In addition to training the three sets, the two other famous arts of Wing Choon force training are Wooden Dummy and Sticking Hands. In Wooden Dummy, the practitioner stands before a wooden pole that has several bars sticking out at various levels representing an opponent’s attacking limbs. The practitioner delivers various blows to practice entering a foe’s space, to defeat their movements, and to toughen their arms and legs against the wood. Traditionally, such hard external training would not be considered complete without being complemented by the application of medicinal herbs and ointments to help cleanse away injuries sustained in training. Sticking Hands is a sensitivity and force training exercise where exponents sit in a stance (often Goat stance) before one another and systematically flow and knock their arms against one another. High level practitioners are said to be able to deflect incoming blows without looking at them.

My grandmaster (sigung), Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit of the Shaolin Wahnam Institute, demonstrates the Siu Lin Tou set below.

Below is a video of a Wing Choon exponent engaging in friendly sparring with a Muai Thai exponent. The Wing Choon exponent uses classic Wing Choon tactics: pressing attacks, close-quarters hand movements, and invading the opponent’s space.

I’m a fan of the longer reaching styles of kung fu like Tantui and Baguazhang. I’ll post further articles on those styles as time goes on.

Information from this blog post is summarized from the writings and teachings of Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit of the Shaolin Wahnam Institute.

Happy training!

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