Forms and Solo Training
Unlike Karate and most other Kung Fu Styles, which have dozens, or even hundreds of empty hand forms, there are only three empty hand forms in Wing Tsun.
The first form is called Siu Nim Tao, which translates to “little idea”. This form lays out the basic principles of wing tsun, demonstrates many of the techniques, and also trains certain attributes. There is no footwork in the Siu Nim Tao form, which can be done at “regular” speed, or very slow. It can also be performed on one leg.
The Second Form is called Chum Kiu, which means “searching for the bridge”. The Second Form has also been called the “footwork form” because it contains the basic steps and stance turning. It also contains kicks and the use of uppercuts and elbows. However the Chum Kiu form emphasizes defensive movements, in particular the “Bong Wu” which is a combination of the Bong Sao (wing arm) and the Wu Sao (guarding hand).
The final empty hand form is called Biu Tze (translated to “flying fingers”). This is an advanced form formerly taught in secret to only the most trusted of disciples, but today is taught to black belt level trainees, most of whom are instructors or apprentice instructors. The form concentrates on brutal attacking techniques, most of which are open hand strikes or elbow strikes (along with the Wing Tsun version of the hook punch) and is meant to be performed with great speed and power. Biu Tze also contains emergency techniques which allow the trainee to recover from bad positions.
Other Solo Training
Besides the solo forms, it is important for the trainee (and even for the instructor) to practice the punches, strikes, kicks, and footwork regularly. Stance training, done on one leg, must also be practiced regularly to build up and maintain the strength of the legs and of the stance. Wing Tsun also has its own form of shadow boxing.
Besides the usual heavy bags, Wing Tsun has its own unique training equipment. The Wallbag is a canvas or leather bag which is mounted on the wall and usually filled with rice or sand. It is used to practice the wing tsun punch, as well as many open hand strikes and the Wing Tsun kicks. Regular practice with the wall bag conditions the hands and wrists and improves the strength of the stance, thereby increasing power.
The wooden dummy (pictured above) is perhaps the most famous Wing Tsun equipment. In many lineages the dummy is considered the most advanced or one of the most advanced training methods and it taught to the student only after years of training and mastery of the basic techniques, forms, and chi sao. The dummy trains footwork and the coordination of hands and feet, can be used to train fa jing (short range explosive power), and it contains virtually all of the wing tsun techniques including all the variations of the basic kicks.
The long pole is made out of dense flexible wood is between 8 and 10 feet long and weighs around 5 or 6 pounds. It looks like a giant pool cue. In olden times it was used as a weapon but today it is used mainly to train power, especially strength in the wrists and forearms.
Chi Sao Training
Chi Sao translates as “sticking hands” or more literally “clinging arms”. Wing Tsun is different from almost all other Martial Arts because it emphasizes keeping constant contact between your arms and your opponent’s arms, allowing you to react much more quickly based upon tactile (touch) reactions. There are various types of chi sao. Single hand chi sao involves training one hand at a time. Poon Sao or “rolling hands” uses two hands but trains only the basic positions without attacking movements. Gor Sao or “free style” incorporates attacking and defending movements and can be practiced with one hand or two hands.
Lat Sao Training
Lat Sao translates to “free hands” and refers to training for fighting that starts at a longer range than Chi Sao range, because contact between your arms and your opponent’s arms has not yet been established. It also includes follow up techniques. Lat Sao training is somewhat similar to sparring in other styles. In the Wing Tsun lineages lat sao is used to practice Wing Tsun techniques against non wing tsun fighters.
The first video below is a classic clip from 1999 and features Sifu Chris Collins, at that time ranked Technician Grade 2, performing classic Leung Ting Hong Kong style chi sao. The second is advanced chi sao sparring between instructor and student at about half speed. The third video illustrates free style chi sao beteen a master and an advanced student at explosive speed. The fourth video features Master Patrik Gavilan and his top students and includes defense against multiple attackers and free style wooden dummy. The last video showases the skills of Estonian Master Dimitri Staschewith, doing chi sao with one of his top students.
If you are interested in learning this amazing martial art, call today at (347) 461-0760.