The straight line punch is one of the basic and primary strikes in Wing Chun and it has a few applications up its sleeves. Though it’s mainly used for striking, it can also be used for defence too which I can explore in my next blog post.
The straight line punch is simple in nature but it incorporates several of Wing Chun’s key principles – economy of motion, conservation of energy, triangular alignments, just to name a few.
Wing Chun strikes do not require winding back the arms and the straight line punch, in particular, is thrown in front of our chest area hence the saying “the punch starts from the heart” – load the fist in the centre of your chest and blast your fist forward like your life depends on it, but only attack when you must, to conserve energy whilst keeping yourself free from tension.
In Cantonese, the straight line punch is called “character sun blast punch”. Essentially using just the bottom 3 knuckles (that looks like the Chinese word “sun”), it generates force through the power of alignment – not to be confused with brute force. It just goes without saying that learning the fundamentals behind the Wing Chun’s body mechanics and energies will greatly improve punching speed and power.
Traditional martial arts in China such as Shaolin kung fu generally have a low stance but Wing Chun adopts a high stance for mobility and the economy of motion.
Fundamentally, Wing Chun is a passive martial art. Being agile on a high stance, we can pivot our bodies effortlessly to evade oncoming attacks. Also, the transition from a standing or walking posture to a fighting one can be a matter of life and death, so a fast response is key.
How could one achieve such agility? That’s what the training stances are for. The training stance in SNT is called a “goat clamping stance”. It literally means to use your legs to clamp on to a goat. In practice, you are actually clamping an imaginary movable object into the ground to increase stability and overall strength of your body structure.
The training stance is not necessarily used in actual fighting and it may look unusual to the untrained eye, but its sole purpose is to help instill the power of “Triangle Theory” through our legs, body and hand movements.
Here’s a good web link for everything you may wish to explore about the power of the triangle in Wing Chun.
The Power of the Triangle
So how would one translate the training stance to the fighting one for combat? We shall explore this in the future posts.
I began my Wing Chun training in 2013 and in the first two years I trained regularly. In 2015, my priority changed when I became a father.
Though I lost the time or energy to attend every class, I practised the forms (choreographed sequence of movements) on a weekly basis.
There are three empty hand forms and all three are equally important. Think of them as a pyramid and the first form is “Sil Nim Tao” (SNT) is the foundation of this pyramid, on which Wing Chun is built upon.
I’ve mentioned the intrinsic nature of SNT in my previous posts. In perspective, SNT has simple ideas but the concepts go a long way. Even today I have only scraped the surface.
Practising SNT might appear pointless at first but you need to establish a good level of SNT before progressing to the next two forms. Otherwise, you will fall apart like a pile of wobbly bricks, both mentally and physically.
In my experience, new Wing Chun practitioners who dedicate resource training in SNT are better in “Chi Sau” or in sparring as they progress compared to practitioners who rush through all the forms in a short amount of time.
In the forthcoming posts, I will share some of my personal insights of all three empty hand forms. I will also share my learnings of the wooden dummy form.
Watch this space.
The hand-replacement exercise is one of the first Wing Chun principles taught to beginners. It’s an introduction to the concept of “centre line”, using simple body mechanics whilst maintaining forward pressure.
How does it work? Imagine you have your leading hand on someone’s face and he/she tries to block or grab your hand. You basically retract your leading hand and replace it with your rear guarding hand spontaneously.
Practising this simple repetitive chain movement of the arms and hands may appear harmless at first, but it actually helps to establish your foundation in Wing Chun’s simultaneous defence and attack. The hand being replaced could also have been engaged in palm strike, fingers stab, elbow jab, kick, and even grappling.
This hand-replacement technique can be seen at the last section of the first form “Sil Nim Tao” and also at the first section of the second form “Chum Kiu” (which translates as the ‘Seeking Bridge’ form). As you progress through to forms, you will be using body-pivoting and foot-work to increase reach and power.
I previously mentioned Wing Chun was invented by a legendary little lady in my earlier post. Regardless of what the history books (or the lack thereof) actually say, Wing Chun’s conception, characteristics, and core principle all alluded to the legend.
Conception and core principle: Wing Chun was conceived as a self-defence that can be learned reasonably quickly using simple natural body movements with mechanical efficiency, borrowing the energy from the opponent, deflecting their force and avoiding clashing strength with strength. To master it, however, will take a lifetime.
Characteristics: the goat clamping stance, sensitivity, close range combat, the economy of motion and centre-line theory. At no point was any emphasis placed on muscle power or brute force. They all point to Wing Chun’s feminine core, it makes sense to train to fight like a girl.
Since Wing Chun is a concept-based martial art, its interpretation is not prescriptive. As a Wing Chun practitioner, you will have a unique experience by adapting it to your own anatomy and mindset, regardless of gender, age, and body types.
Wing Chun is primarily an internal martial art, using subtle body movements to overcome physical force and strength. One of its core mechanics is sinking and standing which borrows the reaction force of gravity. This allows you to attack with greater force and to hold your position under pressure.
Here’s an example: if you were to push someone with just your palms, elbow pointed sideways, using just your upper body strength, how far can you push that person away? Alternatively, tuck your elbows in, close to your torso, and try to connect your whole body – from your heel, to the torso, elbow and ultimately to your palm. Can you see that path linking the ground to your palm? Now rise and attack. How far can you strike this time?
That’s why in the first form ‘Siu Lim Tau’, which translates to ‘the little idea’, usually practiced to focus the body and mind on stillness, relaxation and body structure. You need to be in this state of mind to connect to the ground effectively. Practise lifting your body slightly upwards for each outward motion, followed by sinking back to the ground and gripping the floor with your stance for each inward movement. This sequence can help you deliver more torque and power in your application.
Recently I gave up my Friday evenings to continue my Krav Maga training. The instructor at Institute Krav Maga UK, Tibor, has a Wing Chun background and it’s fascinating to see how he incorporates Wing Chun. My eyes lit up when I saw Huen Sau (circling hand), Bong Sau (wing arm) and even Kwan Sau (rotating hands).
Though, Wing Chun is my main art. I try to cross train western boxing, muay thai and krav maga. I’m not an expert by any means but just knowing the foundation of MMA gives me some ideas on how to apply my Wing Chun.
What is Wing Chun (and the little lady?)
Wing Chun is a self-defence martial arts believed to have been invented by a Shaolin Nun called NG Mui around 300+ years ago in Southern China.
Essentially, Wing Chun is an assimilation of Shaolin Kung Fu. Instead of flowery and exaggerated movement, Wing Chun emphasises on body mechanics, relaxation and sensitivity. Most of the moves involved getting in close and striking with the fist, palm, fingers, elbow and heel to the vulnerable part of the body such as the eyes, nose, throat, groin, knees, etc. With these moves, Wing Chun enables smaller people, often with shorter stature, to defend themselves against much bigger and stronger enemies. Not emphasising on strength or power also makes Wing Chun more versatile for people of different ages, genders and body types.
Hello, and welcome to my blog, dedicated to my personal journey of learning Wing Chun.
The objective of this blog site is to record my own experience and thoughts openly. Each blog post will be simple and quick to the point, giving ideas for anyone to go and explore for themselves.
Although some of the posts may provide Wing Chun tips from my own experience, this blog is not meant to be a systematic tutorial. I hope you’ll find something inspiring from my memory dump.
Thanks for visiting!