Wing Chun … 2. Principles of Wing Chun Gung fu

PART 2. Principles of Wing Chun Gung fu

General Principles in Wing Chun
(from Personal Notes made in 1976)

The use of PHYSICS in Wing Chun, is very evident …


The ‘goat clamping stance’ of Wing Chun forms,
essentially, a triangular shape where the centre
of a practitioner’s gravity
is in the centre of the triangle.

This proper stance provides a near-perfect compromise
between stability, and the ability to move quickly.

This stance offers a lower centre of gravity
and, therefore, increased stability
when under attack.

Structure is carefully thought out:

The body remains vertical –

Do not lean to the side.
Do not lean forward.
Do not lean backward:
Do not tense the muscles.

The shoulders are lowered – never raised.
The elbows are ordinarily kept down.

Movement is by shuffling.
One shuffle brings both legs forward:
the centre of balance is never lost.

Never stand in an assailant’s centre-line: step aside,
divert the incoming strike, and strike the attacker.

The hips must be kept forward
in order to allow a step forward (if pushed),
or back, (if pulled).

The punch is delivered from the vertical:
there is no propelling one’s upper body ‘into’ a punch
as forward force will result in overbalance –
that is to say: if I miss, I will certainly fall forward.

The stance – rotated on the heels by 45 degrees,
provides exceptional stability
with the majority of weight on the rear-most foot,
and the body instantly ready to advance if required.


With leverage, a smaller fore can divert a larger one.

The force in Wing Chun is delivered
from the ground upwards:
through ankle, knee; the drive is with the hip
– then to shoulder, elbow … and wrist,
which delivers the actual ‘whip lash’ of power.

In Wing Chun, the movement of the body
works in harmony: the shoulder to hips;
elbow to knees; and wrists to ankles.

There is no ‘blocking’ in Wing Chun:
an assailant’s strikes are re-directed
which diverts the force away from the centre-line.

Any contact blow from an attacker
may be partially absorbed
by rotating the hip to lessen the shock;
the hip is then reapplied to deliver counter-thrust
and power a punch to the attacker’s centre line.

Diverting a strike, and an offensive counter,
are delivered simultaneously.

The hands will always strike or re-direct
towards one’s centreline.


Strike only when there is an opportunity:
Wing Chun does not ‘take a chance’.

The power in a Wing Chun punch
comes from proper stance, the waist, and Speed.
The entire body works together in unison.

In Wing Chun, the fist is held vertically.
This provides least antagonistic muscle resistance
while still delivering maximum force.

The body is positioned behind the arm,
the elbow maintains the centre line.

The punch is delivered at shoulder height
in order to leave no excessive ‘opening’
in the upper or lower gate.

The wrist will lead the shoulder:
the shoulder does NOT push the wrist.

Punch as to strike the central core of the attacker.
The wrist ‘screws’ the force into the attacker’s
central core.

The shoulders are never raised.

Power is launched at the beginning of a punch:
not at the point of impact.

The thrust of the punch occurs from shoulder to elbow.
Focus is on the elbow.

The elbow is a “hinge” and does not supply force.

It will be ordinarily positioned downward,
and no more than a hand-breadth from the centre-line.

( One will find illustration by picturing the bar
that dries the wheels on a steam locomotive:
forward, circles, and returns in a straight path underneath. )

The hand does not form a fist
until immediately before impact, upon which,
the hand is immediately relaxed once again.

To tighten the muscles into a fist restricts speed.

The nearer to the centre-line an attacker is struck,
the more force is delivered,
and the more he will endure.

The hips must face the centre-line of the attacker
if the punch is to deliver maximum power.

A successful punch will collapse the assailant.


In Wing Chun, one does Not withdraw the leg
after delivering a kick. The foot is placed down
and advance is made from there.

Jie Gerk – Front Kick

Wan Gerk – Side Kick

My Favoured Hands in Wing Chun

The Practical Philosophy of Wing Chun …

Vital and Vulnerable areas are on the centre-line:
If I occupy my centre-line,
an attacker’s aggression cannot.

The intent is to divert (defend) and strike (attack)
SIMULTANEOUSLY, in order to prevent
an assailant from potentially taking my life.

Tan Sao – Dispersing Hand

Spiralling outward whilst being raised,
the Tan Sao redirects an incoming strike
using the outside of the arm … as my arm lifts,
I rotate my wrist thumb side out,
which obliges the attacker’s force to travel
around my forearm …
whilst my forearm and wrist
travel over the assailant’s arm.

Wu Sao – Protecting Hand

is maintained in position to divert
any incoming punch or strike as needed.
A very good ‘general’ hand as it may be readily
moved and adapted to any situation.

Huen Sao – Circling Hand

to move around an assailant’s wrist
to the other side of his forearm
which will serve to release from an attacker’s grip.

The elbow will not move: Movement occurs
around the wrist: not the shoulder.

The forearm is part of the circular motion.

Pak Sao – Slapping Hand

Never to ‘push’ incoming strike away, rather,
to divert it out and past my body in order to
contact assailant’s upper forearm area.
Here, the body will be grounded, such as as when
pushing open a heavy door.

Bong Sao – Wing Arm …

is performed almost as if looking at a wrist-watch
… A Tan Sao, but rotating the wrist
and turning from the waist
to redirect an incoming strike.

Whilst not recommended to meet a strike,
the wrist ‘meets’ the primary force,
and the waist turn redirects it.

Man Sao – Asking Hand

This manoeuvre is used to counter
a downward strike delivered from at-or-above
the head level.

Fuk Sao – Covering Hand

sees the heel of my palm
contacting attacker’s forearm
and pressing down:
the elbow is kept in and down;
thumb will be at my centre-line;

the little finger will rotate up and inward,
which will redirect incoming strike
from my centreline.

The mechanics are in the wrist: not shoulder.

Gum Sao – Pressing Hand

is used to divert kicks
and low punches;
it is also effective in pinning an assailant’s hands;

Note: one must not linger as delay will leave one’s
mid- and upper-areas open to attack.

Lap Sao – Grasping Hand

uses a sloth grip … grab a door handle
and sharply pull –
turning my hand rolls it down the attacker’s forearm:
when my palm touches his hand, I grip
and move the hand downward:
this guides his punch.

Mechanics are in the wrist, not the shoulder.
When an attacker grips, one does not resist:
resistance gives his superior strength
a place to apply force and so, control me.

Gan Sao – Low Gate Sweeping Hand

is effective in protecting the ribs from
hooking punch strikes.
Employed as an ‘open scissors’ hinged at the elbow,
it will effectively absorb incoming kicks.

Jum Sao

uses the inside forearm to divert an incoming punch.

Jut Sao – Sinking Hand

to divert strikes from high centreline
if elbow is below level of wrist.
Similar to Pak Sao, but using inside wrist.

Biu Sao – Thrusting Hand [ Biu Tze – fingers ]

is used to divert or strike neck or at eyes.


Siu Lim Tao – Rudimentary methodology
– (“Little Thoughts”) – of Wing Chun.

Chum Kiu – Searching for opportunity, timing,
and coordination to bridge an assailant’s attack.

Biu Tze – Darting fingers; look beyond the immediate:
see the moon, not the finger.
One does not see a surprisal – (a grab, for instance) –
but the way out of it.

“Gong fu” … the term means proficiency
gained with persistence
over a prolonged period of time.

Wing Chun, for me, has been a most interesting
and healthy hobby,
which has enriched my daily life.

For those who may be curious about this
particular aspect of Chinese history,
I hope that the brief introduction provided here,
has been of interest to one or two folk.

P Livingstone