Wing Tsun Wisdom

Many scoff at TMA on this board -

Laugh and say how WC is useless, etc.

Here is a interesting insight into training philosophy that seems right in line with what we all should be striving for.....LEARNING THE BEST WAY TO FIGHT


        Recently an acquaintance gave me a copy of QiGong/KungFu Magazine, the March 1999 issue, which featured an article written by Master Ron Heimberger. My friend did not quite understand the principles that Master Heimberger was trying to elucidate. Because of my background as a private student of Yip Man, and my subsequent involvement in Wing Chun Kung Fu, he thought I might be able to throw some light on the subject. I ask the reader's indulgence for my attempt to explain what Yip Man taught me.

        Since my English is not very good, I read the article several times. I am glad that Master Heimberger is kind enough to take the time to educate the public. If all Wing Chun instructors possessed an open mind like him, amenable to reason, and were willing to go to the trouble of explaining their ideas and experiences to others, I am sure it would benefit everyone interested in the art. However, there are some parts in Master Heimberger's article with which I do not agree. Certain points that the author makes are somewhat obscure to me, particularly his references to Jacob Bronowski and Albert Einstein. For example, Master Heimberger mentions that Bronowski -- commenting on Newton's Second Law of Motion -- said that force equals mass times acceleration squared. This confuses me because, as I understand it, Newton's Second Law states that S F = ma, which does not square acceleration.

       Since Mr. Heimberger discusses speed in Wing Chun, I would like to take the liberty to share my interpretation of the principles and theories about speed based on what SiFu Yip Man taught me and on my own experience. Naturally, what I write here is filtered through my own perceptions and prejudices; I certainly do not claim to speak for the Wing Chun family, and would welcome any correction that is offered. That certainly would help me improve. It is my hope that many Wing Chun members will share their ideas with all of us, no matter who they have learned from. The experience of using the Wing Chun techniques in fighting is what counts. After all, no single fight is the same. We can always learn something new, or -- win or lose -- find out something from each encounter.

       What makes the Wing Chun style so interesting is that one does not have to rely on physical build, but on a logical sequence of economic movements. Certainly speed is extremely important in fighting. However, no matter how hard one trains, how long one works to improve, there are always physical limitations. You can always meet someone faster than you. Some people are simply born with more talent. Wing Chun allows one the possibility of overcoming an opponent's inherent superior speed by applying the principles of the art. Yip Man taught that in Wing Chun, there are several types of speed. If you cannot overcome your opponent with one type of speed, you can beat him with another. In other words, if you can apply the Wing Chun theory of speed, you can actually become faster. In this regard, there are four areas of concern:

       1. SPEED OF TRAVELING: This is the type of speed we normally refer to, that is, a punch or kick, a speed which speed can be calculated in feet per second. With consistent practice, one gradually improves the speed of the movement.

       2. SPEED OF DISTANCE: Wing Chun straight-line theory states simply that a straight line between two points is the shortest distance. Therefore, punching straight is shorter and quicker than a hook punch or a swing. To bring your foot with a roundhouse kick to the head covers a greater distance than a shorter and quicker punch to the head. It is the same as trying to punch to the shin; that is, it is much shorter and faster to kick to the shin. To use an analogy: if you and I both stand in front of a building and have a race to the back door and you go around the building while I go straight through the building from the front door to the back door, you may be the faster runner, but I may get there before you because I have less distance to cover.

        3. SPEED OF READINESS: From a resting standing position, when one tries to throw a heavy punch or tries to kick with power, it is typical to cock back the leg or arm before executing the movement. This not only telegraphs the move, but also wastes valuable time in the extra motion. In Wing Chun, the power is not generated just by the moving hand or leg, so there is no need to cock. One uses the other side of the body to pull back as he or she rotates to push out the punch or kick simultaneously. For example, if one is going to throw a left punch, one initiates power by pulling the right arm and shoulder back as fast as he or she can, while punching with the left hand at the same time.

        4. SPEED OF REACTION: In general, people spend most of their time practicing their techniques in their forms alone until they are very good with all the techniques, but in actual combat the application is ineffective. This is like learning to ride a bicycle by sitting in a chair moving the legs and arms simulating the bicycle experience. When that person actually tries to ride on the bicycle, he or she will surely fall. This is because the proper reflexes and feeling of balance have not been developed. Yip Man used to say if you want to learn to swim, go down to the water; don't just move your arms and legs and think that you are a swimmer. A fight requires at least two people. You can train and fight with yourself all day long, but unless you apply the techniques with another person, you will not get very far.

       Wing Chun has only three forms. After learning and understanding the first form, one trains with Chi Sau, which requires two people, and from which one develops the feeling of contact and reflex. Then there are the technique drills which also takes two people. When you work with the drills over and over, month in and month out, they become habit, second nature. When an attack comes you will react to it without thinking. Fighting happens so very fast and you may be upset, angry, unprepared or even scared. There is no time to think.

        Such are the Wing Chun Theories of Speed that I learned from Yip Man.

                                              SiFu Duncan Leung

(SiFu Duncan Leung is a disciple of the Wing Chun Grand Master Yip Man, and a former classmate of Bruce Lee)

I think he might have gotten the unit for acceleration mixed up with the formula for force. Force does equal mass times acceleration; thus, the unit of force is translated as such: kilogram times meter per second-squared (also known as a "Newton"). Regardless, he's made his point.

Now, regarding the point about the theories, they are good theories that could and should be applied to other forms of combat. However, that's just the problem many TMA's have in regards to theory. If one looks outside of the 'style' as such, and disregard the origin of where the theory comes from, then they do become applicable to everyone.

If, on the other hand, one tries associating theory as an exclusive development from the style itself, then one ultimately limits oneself from expanding outside the scope of that particular style.

I think that's where a lot of TMA's falter. The theory is sound (for the most), but the training that follows does not necessarily reflect the theory proposed. They might be on the right track, but the training suggests that they might be taking the long way to reach their goal.

rapid -

this guy specifically talks about effectiveness in combat - and not in hanging in the dojo doing kata

seems like this guy (as did yip) - is seeking truth in combat - and like all truths, they are universal

they have found being able to deliver strikes first and fast to be a key to sucessful combat -

That's a good article.

I'm lucky enough that I have a buddy who is a long term student of Moy Yat, and we actually just finished playing chi sao.

I think the principles only become "universal" when you actually train in other arts, and see those principles applied.

For example, my buddy was constantly able to occupy my centreline, then enter. I didn't figure it out until he explained that I was coming too far forward, and basically "uprooting" myself.

The guard is my favorite BJJ position, and this concept of "uprooting" in wing chun is something I found in my own guard application. All I need is for my opponent to commit to me a little bit, so that his base is off the ground. The little difference between having a base and not having a base can only be an inch or two, if you're playing at a high level.

Having the sensitivity to discern when my opponent has relinquished his base to pressure me forward gives me the ability to sweep him.

I found that in doing chi sao with my buddy, his emphasis is less on "chasing hands" but rather maintaining his base (as in bjj). When he has his base, he can "pass" my hands, to occupy centreline.

Really beautiful stuff, and a fun exercise. But you won't see the "universal" applications of these principles found in wing chun unless you have another art where you have the opportunity to see those principles work in a different context.

Good article, sreiter.

4 -

i hae a buddy from france wh is one of the only guys i've ever seen who can make WC work in a fight -

he got his bjj brown belt in like 4 years -

he said he use WC concepts all the time and applied them to BJJ


the SAME wing chun buddy I have says the same thing about HIS bjj! He hasn't had as much success with his BJJ though, when he's rolling with me. I know Sifu Francis Fong showed me a couple of his modified wing chun concepts that he applies to his bjj and they work fine for me.

I'd love to find a more substantial link for my personal practice, but I've yet to find one. :(

But that's awesome for your friend though. Could you go more into detail about how he blends his wing chun and bjj?

he told me he specically takes center line, and intercepts people -

it helps when people are trying to pass, instead of hip escaping, etc., he he angles into them in such a way that prevents them from passing (taking his center line)

also, his base is incredible as well as his sensitivity

"I found that in doing chi sao with my buddy, his emphasis is less on "chasing hands" but rather maintaining his base (as in bjj). When he has his base, he can "pass" my hands, to occupy centreline."

That's a good lesson 4 Ranges, because a lot of wing chun guys don't even understand this. Keep working with that guy; Moy Yat's guys have great fundamentals.

Thanks for the article sreiter.


4 Ranges,

Was that buddy of yours the same guy who attended your birthday bash?


no, it was the thai guy who came to train once. About 150lbs., and was just sharpening up his jits.

I used what I learned from his chi sao today in bjj, and things worked very well. The "dissolving" concept came in VERY handy.

Thanks Calbert! I intend to train with him more and do the exchange; I'll give him BJJ tips and he'll give me chi sao tips.