Wing Chun Guiding Principle

Clinton Shaffer

Yellow Belt
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
33
Reaction score
12
I've researched this topic a fair bit and every source of information seems to have a different answer (maybe because of the different iterations of this art). So, I'd like to hear it from some of you fine practitioners: What is the guiding principle(s) to Wing Chun and how would you describe it (them)?

Some have told me it is to have a centrally rotating axis. Others have said it is the presence and use of Chi Sao. Others have dodged the question entirely ("Wing Chun is everything to all practitioners.")

As always, thoughts and insights are greatly appreciated.
 

wckf92

Master of Arts
Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Messages
1,512
Reaction score
492
Are you referring to the kuen kuit of wing chun?
 
OP
C

Clinton Shaffer

Yellow Belt
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
33
Reaction score
12
Are you referring to the kuen kuit of wing chun?
No, sir, but I can see where my question would sound like that. In fact, I can see where my question sounds open ended at least. I think I'm just trying to answer a hundred questions before they're even asked lol.
 

wckf92

Master of Arts
Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Messages
1,512
Reaction score
492
No, sir, but I can see where my question would sound like that. In fact, I can see where my question sounds open ended at least. I think I'm just trying to answer a hundred questions before they're even asked lol.
Perhaps you should start off the group discussion with your own thought(s) on what the main principle is? Maybe that would dial us in a bit. Just my opinion. Thanks!
 
OP
C

Clinton Shaffer

Yellow Belt
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
33
Reaction score
12
Perhaps you should start off the group discussion with your own thought(s) on what the main principle is? Maybe that would dial us in a bit. Just my opinion. Thanks!
I think that's a good idea.

Let me begin by stating that I'm not familiar enough with the different iterations and lineages of Wing Chun to say where one difference begins and another ends. That being said...

In my limited study of Wing Chun, I have made these primary observations regarding the style:

1) It is a style that addresses the punching and trapping range almost exclusively.
2) Its defensive moves are better described as deflections rather than blocks.
3) Its defensive moves deflect an in-coming strike no more than the minimum distance necessary.
4) The practice of Chi Sao teaches to make use of the fact that tactile perception is about 10x faster than visual perception.
5) It teaches to read the flow of the incoming attack to seamlessly transition to the next available counter with maximum efficiency (derived from #4).

Those are my impressions of Wing Chun thus far. I'm not sure if I've represented my observations well with my choice of words or if I've missed some major concepts. I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on these and any additional observations you've made.
 

wckf92

Master of Arts
Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Messages
1,512
Reaction score
492
1) It is a style that addresses the punching and trapping range almost exclusively.

I'll somewhat agree with this in that WC is primarily a striking art. However I think the masses of WC practitioners out there have a big misconception about the so-called "trapping" part of WC. IMO most think they'll be able to pull off some sort of limb crossing that befuddles the adversary to such a degree that they'll be able to beat them to a bloody pulp while they stand there with the devious limb trap...

As for range: while I agree that WC may be primarily designed for up-close...it also contains training for long range. When you think about it...it must be able to deal with long range since that distance must be handled before close range can happen.

2) Its defensive moves are better described as deflections rather than blocks.

In my training, nothing about WC was / is 'defensive'. WC as I learned it is about attacking. Attack attack attack. We did not learn blocks.
That being said, even the basic structure of the WC punch 'deflects' as it travels towards its intended target.

3) Its defensive moves deflect an in-coming strike no more than the minimum distance necessary.

Agree that it makes no sense to deflect more than is necessary. WC is about using or expending the least amount of energy.

4) The practice of Chi Sao teaches to make use of the fact that tactile perception is about 10x faster than visual perception.

Hadn't heard that before (about the 10x faster). Interesting.
As far as chi sau's purpose...this one is open to heated debate among the majority of WC folks. IMO the majority fail to understand that it is just a drill, one among many, that WC has that attempts to instill and hone specific attributes.

5) It teaches to read the flow of the incoming attack to seamlessly transition to the next available counter with maximum efficiency (derived from #4).

Not sure about the reading part...but generally yes, WC training drills and conditions the body to move in a certain way, with limbs that move and/or respond in a certain way...all with as much efficiency as possible.


IMO wing chun was intentionally built and designed to be learned and applied in the simplest and most direct path possible. There is much to be said for the KISS principle. Some attempt to complicate WC, others never learn its alphabet and thus end up trying to add to their WC to they can "be complete". It is and has been quite a journey though! Good post Clinton!
 
OP
C

Clinton Shaffer

Yellow Belt
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
33
Reaction score
12
I'll somewhat agree with this in that WC is primarily a striking art. However I think the masses of WC practitioners out there have a big misconception about the so-called "trapping" part of WC. IMO most think they'll be able to pull off some sort of limb crossing that befuddles the adversary to such a degree that they'll be able to beat them to a bloody pulp while they stand there with the devious limb trap...

As for range: while I agree that WC may be primarily designed for up-close...it also contains training for long range. When you think about it...it must be able to deal with long range since that distance must be handled before close range can happen.



In my training, nothing about WC was / is 'defensive'. WC as I learned it is about attacking. Attack attack attack. We did not learn blocks.
That being said, even the basic structure of the WC punch 'deflects' as it travels towards its intended target.



Agree that it makes no sense to deflect more than is necessary. WC is about using or expending the least amount of energy.



Hadn't heard that before (about the 10x faster). Interesting.
As far as chi sau's purpose...this one is open to heated debate among the majority of WC folks. IMO the majority fail to understand that it is just a drill, one among many, that WC has that attempts to instill and hone specific attributes.



Not sure about the reading part...but generally yes, WC training drills and conditions the body to move in a certain way, with limbs that move and/or respond in a certain way...all with as much efficiency as possible.


IMO wing chun was intentionally built and designed to be learned and applied in the simplest and most direct path possible. There is much to be said for the KISS principle. Some attempt to complicate WC, others never learn its alphabet and thus end up trying to add to their WC to they can "be complete". It is and has been quite a journey though! Good post Clinton!
Thank you!

Now, you mentioned the WC alphabet. Would you mind expanding on that a little? I must admit that I, too, have been neglectful about learning it.
 

wckf92

Master of Arts
Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Messages
1,512
Reaction score
492
Thank you!

Now, you mentioned the WC alphabet. Would you mind expanding on that a little? I must admit that I, too, have been neglectful about learning it.

You're welcome.

IMO the forms of WC are just letters of the combat alphabet. Most WC people think it's just the first form of WC that is the alphabet or 'building blocks'. I think it is all the forms. As children we are taught our ABC's, then taught to form simple words like dog, cat, ball, etc. Eventually longer more complex words are made, then sentences, then grammar, syntax. WC is much the same way with one exception: your job as a WC practitioner is to form the most succinct 'word' you can.
When an opponent attacks or even presents a threat, he is essentially posing a question to the WC man. "Whatcha gonna do if I do XYZ"?
Your job as a WC man is to respond to that question with the shortest "word" possible. Using the least amount of the WC alphabet letters as possible. K.I.S.S.
 

Oily Dragon

Senior Master
Joined
May 2, 2020
Messages
2,405
Reaction score
1,183
I like open ended questions, but I try to be as brief as possible.

Wing Chun is a very distilled art comprised of several different older martial arts. If you compared it to any of the Five Family southern styles, you can see which elements made it into Wing Chun (animals, elements, weapons) and which didn't.

I believe I'm in a minority of people who train several Chinese styles and can now understand that Wing Chun's grappling potential is in the process of being completely forgotten, because people are learning a distant derivative of Yongchuan Quan, not the underlying Snake, Crane, and Dragon styles at its core, each of which could take up a whole thread by themselves.

I try not to be critical of others, but most Wing Chun students do not train hard enough. Not remotely close to some of the Hung Kuen, Choy Li Fut, or Xingyi Quan fighters out there that can be seen in San Shou and other events where people actually must have some sort of combat resiliency.

And to be totally honest, Bruce Lee shares a lot of responsibility for this. I mean sure, he totally helped martial arts out, but he also sort of set up Wing Chun to fail hard, and I think he saw it coming. He had to distance himself from its rigidity (something I believe formed over a long period of time, not all at once), and that's why Jeet Kune Do has that "let's save kung fu!" mentality, whereas Wing Chun is all about "being a Wing Chun Man".
 

wckf92

Master of Arts
Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Messages
1,512
Reaction score
492
Now this would make for an interesting discussion topic!!!!

If you compared it to any of the Five Family southern styles, you can see which elements made it into Wing Chun (animals, elements, weapons) and which didn't.

the underlying Snake, Crane, and Dragon styles at its core, each of which could take up a whole thread by themselves.
 

Oily Dragon

Senior Master
Joined
May 2, 2020
Messages
2,405
Reaction score
1,183
Basically Wing Chun is Five Animal Five Element Twelve Bridge Hung Ga Kuen minus Leopard (Metal) and Tiger (Fire) styles.

So what remains is Snake (Water), Crane (Wood), and Dragon (Earth). From there you get the various Snake shaped fists, Water and Earth element smashing fists, the Crane wing techniques, the Wood Squeezing techniques, and then the theoretically infinite variations of the Dragon, which is not unlike the "Void" or "Mu" element mentioned in other styles. Total abstraction, and to quote The Last Dragon, the final level where you end up back where you started, but better (the goal of kung fu, self improvement).

It's really not as complicated as it sounds. More like an instruction manual on how to mix ingredients. Snake and Dragon go together because they are similar, Crane and Snake because they are in opposition, Crane and Dragon because (per the kuen kuit) only the Immortals can teach you...

What did Wing Chun give up with Tiger and Leopard? The range of the Long Fist styles.
 

wckf92

Master of Arts
Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Messages
1,512
Reaction score
492
Basically Wing Chun is Five Animal Five Element Twelve Bridge Hung Ga Kuen minus Leopard (Metal) and Tiger (Fire) styles.

So what remains is Snake (Water), Crane (Wood), and Dragon (Earth). From there you get the various Snake shaped fists, Water and Earth element smashing fists, the Crane wing techniques, the Wood Squeezing techniques, and then the theoretically infinite variations of the Dragon, which is not unlike the "Void" or "Mu" element mentioned in other styles. Total abstraction, and to quote The Last Dragon, the final level where you end up back where you started, but better (the goal of kung fu, self improvement).

It's really not as complicated as it sounds. More like an instruction manual on how to mix ingredients. Snake and Dragon go together because they are similar, Crane and Snake because they are in opposition, Crane and Dragon because (per the kuen kuit) only the Immortals can teach you...

What did Wing Chun give up with Tiger and Leopard? The range of the Long Fist styles.

Well I guess I meant that you could start another thread topic so as to keep this one on topic...but what you posted is interesting. I'd heard "legends" and other stories about WC coming from snake and crane but had never heard about the dragon aspect before. Interesting stuff. Would you say that this refers to the empty hand aspect of WC or also applies to the weapons? Thanks in advance!
 

Oily Dragon

Senior Master
Joined
May 2, 2020
Messages
2,405
Reaction score
1,183
Well I guess I meant that you could start another thread topic so as to keep this one on topic...but what you posted is interesting. I'd heard "legends" and other stories about WC coming from snake and crane but had never heard about the dragon aspect before. Interesting stuff. Would you say that this refers to the empty hand aspect of WC or also applies to the weapons? Thanks in advance!
Sounds like a plan. In the history of Chinese fighting methods, first came empty handed wrestling, then came weapons, then came gymnastics, then came empty handed forms, not too long ago. Ancient Chinese exercise science refined to its peak by the Ming Dynasty or so.

The Dragon aspects are pretty clear if you train in the Family styles...all of the Wing Chun forms combined contain a lot of stuff learned both at beginner and advanced levels in Choy Li Fut, Hung Ga, Five Ancestor Fist. A lot of the twisting coiling in Wing Chun is from Dragon style, compared to the fast hand movements of the Snake in movements like Biu Jee, or the beak/wing movements of Crane. Dragon is sort of the "hidden" part of Wing Chun compared to the Snake and Crane. But if you know Tiger Crane style, which contains very similar movements as the core Wing Chun forms at the beginning, you see where Wing Chun kind of sticks with short range Snake, Crane, and Dragon characteristics, and leaves out Leopard, Tiger.

Southern Mantis and Wing Chun share some similarities, they share some overlap, and it so happens South Mantis is similar to other Hakka arts, Lion's Roar, and Southern Dragon too.

The open secret is to fight like this...you kind of need to be built for it first. You will not get that from just doing the forms, martial qi gong is essential. That's the real "hard work" part, sweating to the oldies. Muscle, bone, and sinew need to be built, washed, and rebuilt again.
 

Highlander

Green Belt
Joined
Aug 4, 2010
Messages
179
Reaction score
73
Location
Kentucky
Wing Tsun has 8 principles that guide the whole system. You should look at these as laws. You never want to break these (though sometimes you have to... just don't get caught!)

4 Fighting principles
1. If the way is free, go forward
2. If contact is made, stick
3. If greater force is met, yield
4. If your opponent retreats, follow

4 Force principles
1. Get rid of your own force
2. Get rid of your opponents force
3. Use your opponents force against them
4. Add your force back
 

geezer

Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Oct 20, 2007
Messages
7,138
Reaction score
3,241
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Wing Tsun has 8 principles that guide the whole system. You should look at these as laws. You never want to break these (though sometimes you have to... just don't get caught!)

4 Fighting principles
1. If the way is free, go forward
2. If contact is made, stick
3. If greater force is met, yield
4. If your opponent retreats, follow

4 Force principles
1. Get rid of your own force
2. Get rid of your opponents force
3. Use your opponents force against them
4. Add your force back
Yeah, that's the core of WT.

I also like the "chase center, not hands" thing that the WSL WC people often quote.
 

Callen

Blue Belt
Joined
Oct 15, 2014
Messages
280
Reaction score
212
Yeah, that's the core of WT.

I also like the "chase center, not hands" thing that the WSL WC people often quote.
Yeah, that's found in the Hoi Sung part of Loi Lau, Hoi Sung; Lat Sau Jik Chung ( 靘駁,拇渲 ) maxim.
 
Last edited:
Top