Recorded by Augustine Fong
Introduction by Curt James
Wing Chun Kuen Kuit are "Words of Wisdom" which capture in poetic terms the finer attributes of Wing Chun Kung Fu. "Kuen Kuit" is Cantonese for "martial sayings" or "fighting songs." Chinese martial arts employ Kuen Kuit as concise, rhythmic verses which present a method or philosophy of a style. Even among competing Wing Chun traditions, many sayings are recognized and shared. One significant proverb cites, "Loy Lau Hoi Sung, Lut Sau Jik Chung." This means: "Retain what's coming in; Send off what's retreating; Rush in upon loss of hand contact." Regardless of the Wing Chun tradition, this advice bridges many differences and defines one of the most important strategies of the art.
Wing Chun proverbs have been reaching the public for years thanks to the efforts of masters Moy Yat, Wang Kiu, sifu Augustine Fong and others. The original Wing Chun Kuen Kuit are believed to decend from an ancient, oral tradition, and reportedly were connected to southern Chinese secret societies of the nineteenth century. Moy Yat wrote, "It was during the Ch'ing dynasty that many of the proverbs were part of secret codes and rituals developed by the rebels dedicated to overthrowing the Manchus." Over the passing years, unrelated or inapplicable sayings were eventually discarded, the remaining few are described as being "truly intrinsic" to Wing Chun Kung Fu.2
"Wing Chun Chuen Jing Tung" is an important proverb usually displayed in the traditional Wing Chun school. This refers to the genuineness of the martial art and reads, "Wing Chun authentically passing down." This means passing on the true system of Wing Chun "unchanged by your own ideas."3 Other well known proverbs cite: Kuen Yau Sum Faat (The punch starts from the heart); Ying Da Juck Da, But Ying Da, But Ho Da ... (Strike when you should, Do not strike when you should not ...); Chew Ying Joi Ying (Face toward and chase the opponent); Chum Jong Sau Jone (Sink the elbow, protect the center)4; Guan Mo Leung Heung (The staff doesn't make two sounds), etc.
In the following pages the quality and quantity of proverbs recorded is striking! Wing Chun's Traditional Rules of Conduct and the popular sayings above may be easily recognized. Others have been preserved based upon the discretion of Augustine Fong. There are maxims, training proverbs and sayings for all Wing Chun forms. The majority of these are genunine, artistic commentaries on Wing Chun boxing. It may be noticed some verses are similar to training proverbs presented in the Chinese Internal Arts. Thus, "People do not know the extent of my skills, but I know their abilities," has been attributed to Yang Lew-Shan: "The theory of Tai-Chi is that nobody knows you, only you know them."5 This is a popular saying, as are those which mention invisible techniques such as the famed Mo Ying Gerk (No Shadow kick).
While masters of self-defense declare that real experience is the best teacher, Wing Chun proverbs do excel as wonderful reminders and clues to the mastery of the martial art. These poetic stanzas preserve a secret Kung Fu tradition, a legacy which can be rendered in beautiful Chinese calligraphy. Wing Chun Kuen Kuit are treasures waiting to be discovered; they remain an outstanding contribution to the world of Chinese martial arts.
- Fong, Augustine. "The Complete System of Wing Chun Gung Fu. Wing Chun: theories and concepts." p.42-63. English translations by author and Pak Chan, this version edited with an introduction by Curt James.
- Moy Yat and C.N. Kwong. "Ving Tsun Kuen Kuit." p.vi.
- Maier, Herbert. "Wang Kiu: Theory of Wing Chun." Internet site.
- Jou Tsung Hwa. "The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan." p.40.
Traditional Wing Chun Rules of Conduct
- Remain disciplined - Conduct yourself ethically as a martial artist.
- Practice courtesy and righteousness - Serve the society and respect your elders.
- Love your fellow students - Be united and avoid conflicts.
- Limit your desires and pursuit of bodily pleasures - Preserve the proper spirit.
- Train diligently - Maintain your skills.
- Learn to develop spiritual tranquility - Abstain from arguments and fights.
- Participate in society - Be moderate and gentle in your manners.
- Help the weak and the very young - Use martial skills for the good of humanity.
- Pass on the tradition - Preserve this Chinese art and rules of conduct.
Maxims of Wing Chun
- Retain what comes in, send off what retreats. Rush in on loss of hand contact.
- Do not be lax when your opponent is not advancing.
- Once your opponent moves, his center of gravity changes.
- Make the first move to have control. Attack according to timing.
- Timing is achieved through practice.
- A strong attitude and posture gives an advantage over your opponent.
- Being alert and adapting to the situation allows maximum results for minimum effort.
- The body follows the movement of the hands. The waist and the stance move together.
- Complement the hands with posture to make good use of the centerline.
- The eyes and the mind travel together, paying attention to leading edge of attack.
- Charge into the opponent. Execute three moves together.
- Strike any presented posture if it is there. Otherwise strike where you see motion. Beware of sneak attacks, leakage attacks and invisible centerline attacks.
- Soft and relaxed strength will put your opponent in jeopardy.
- Coordinate the hands and feet. Movement is together.
- Do not take risks and you will always connect to the target.
- Have confidence and your calmness will dominate the situation.
- Occupy the inner gate to strike deep into the defense.
- To win in an instant is a superior achievement.
- The Yin Yang principle should be thoroughly understood.
- The theory of Wing Chun has no limit in it applications.
- Be humble to request your teacher for guidance.
- Understand the principles for your training.
- Upon achieving the highest level of proficiency, the application of techniques will vary according to the opponent.
Wing Chun Training Proverbs
- There are not many sets of training exercises in Wing Chun. They are easy to learn but to master them requires determination.
- Learning the usual ways will allow later variations.
- Short arm bridges and fast steps requires practicing the stance first.
- Siu Lim Tau mainly trains internal power.
- Lon Sau in Chum Kiu is a forceful technique.
- Bui Jee contains life saving emergency techniques.
- The Wooden Man develops use of power.
- Fancy techniques should not be used in sticky hand practice.
- Sticky leg practice is inseparable from the single leg stance.
- The steps follow turning of the body like a cat.
- The posture complements the hands to eject the opponent.
- The Six and a Half Point Staff does not make more than one sound.
- The Eight Cut Sword techniques have no match.
- The thrusting and fast attacks are well suited for closing in.
- Eyes beaming with courage can neutralize the situation.
- Unknown techniques are not suitable for training practice.
- Those who completely master the system are among the very few.
Seventeen Keys to Wing Chun
- Be ferocious when clashing.
- Be fast with your fist.
- Be forceful when applying power.
- Be accurate with timing.
- Be continuous when applying Fan Sau.
- Do not use all your strength.
- Protect your own posture.
- Be alert with your eyes.
- Unite your waist and stance.
- Coordinate your hands and feet.
- Movements must be agile.
- Comprehend the principles of Yin and Yang.
- Remain calm.
- Be steady with your breathing and strength.
- Sink your inner Ch'i.
- Be commanding with your fighting demeanor.
- Be quick to end the fight.
Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma
- Pull in the chest, push out the upper back, and bring in the tail bone.
- Fill the Tan Tien with Ch'i and distribute the strength to all parts of the body.
- Point the knees and toes inward.
- Form a pyramid with the center of gravity in the center.
- Fists are placed by the side of the ribs but not touching the body.
- Sink the elbows, the shoulders, and the waist.
- Hold the head and neck straight and keep the spirit alert.
- Eyes are level, looking straight ahead, and watching all directions.
- The mind is free of distractions and the mood is bright.
- There is no fear when facing the opponent.
- Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma is the main stance.
- Develop a good foundation for advanced techniques.
Siu Lim Tau
- Siu Lim Tau comes first; Do not force progress in training.
- A weak body must start with strength improvement.
- Do not keep any bad habit.
- Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma - Train the Ch'i by controlling the Tan Tien.
- To maintain good balance of strength, grip the ground with the toes.
- To release Ch'i from the Tan Tien, will enable proper release of power.
- Sink the elbow and drop the shoulders; Guarding the centerline to protect both flanks.
- There are one hundred and eight moves, all practical and real; Thousands of variations can be used, aiming for practical use and not beauty.
- Internally develop the Ch'i; externally train the tendons, bones and muscles.
- Taun Sau, Bong Sau, Fok Sau, Wu Sau, and Huen Sau; their wonder grows with practice.
- Each movement must be clear and crisp. Timing must be observed.
- Practice once a day, more will cause no harm.
- Chum Kiu trains the stance and the waist; the arm bridge is short and the step is narrow.
- Eyes are trained to be alert; the Ch'i flows in a perpetual motion.
- Strive to remain calm in the midst of motion; loosen up the muscles and relax the mind.
- Turning the stance with a circular movement, will allow superior generation of power.
- When the opponent's arm bridge enters my arm bridge, use the escaping hand to turn around the situation.
- Pass by the opponent's incoming arm bridge from above, without stopping when the countering move has started.
- Lon Sau and Jip Sau put an opponent in danger.
- Do not collide with a strong opponent; with a weak opponent use a direct frontal assault.
- A quick fight should be ended quickly; no delay can be allowed.
- Use the three joints of the arm to prevent entry by the opponent's bridge; jam the opponent's bridge to restrict his movement.
- Create a bridge if the opponent's bridge is not present; nullify the bridge according to how it is presented.
- The arm bridge tracks the movement of the opponent's body; when the hands cannot prevail, use body position to save the situation.
- Using short range power to jam the opponent's bridge, the three joints are nicely controlled.
- Where is the opponent's bridge to be found? Chum Kiu guides the way.
- The Biu Jee hand contains emergency techniques.
- Iron fingers can strike a vital point at once.
- The stepping in elbow strike has sufficient threatening power.
- The phoenix eye punch has no compassion.
- Fak Sau, Ginger Fist, and Guide Bridge; their movements are closely coordinated and hard to defend and nullify.
- Springy power and the extended arm are applied to close range.
- The situation is different when preventing from defeat in an emergency.
- The Biu Jee is not taught to outsiders.
- How many Sifu pass on the proper heritage?
The Wooden Man
- There are 108 movements for the Wooden Man; repeated practice brings proper use of power.
- Steps vary and always maintain close contact with the Wooden Man.
- Power starts from the heart and shoots towards the centerline of the Mok Yan Jong.
- Up, down, back and forth, the movements are continuous.
- Power improvement cannot be predicted.
- The arm bridge sticks to the hands of the Wooden Man while moving; adhesion power when achieved will be a threatening force.
- Power can be released in the intended manner; use of the line and position will be proper and hard to defeat.
- There is no difference in who started to study first; the one who achieves accomplishment is first.
- Students from the same teacher will differ in their skills.
- Touching the opponent's arm bridge makes the situation more favorable.
- When facing multiple opponents, it is easy to manage the situation.
- When chasing the opponent's arm bridge, beware of being led.
- When pushing the opponent's elbow, beware of being pulled.
- Learning the techniques without developing the skills will never bring any accomplishment.
- The ideal in Martial Arts is humanitarianism. Accomplishment uses diligence as a goal.
- When the opponent passes your arm bridge, avert the danger by turning the stance and facing with the appropriate posture.
- Strike when you should. Do not strike when you should not.
- Do not be too eager to strike. Do not be afraid to strike. One who is afraid of getting hit will finally be hit.
- Persistent attacks will surely gain you entry. Staying on the defensive too long will surely get you into trouble.
- The punch starts from the heart. The staff does not make two sounds. A kick does not miss.
- Power is generated from the joints. Strength originates from the heels.
- Store mental energy with the mind. Move Ch'i with mental energy. Exert strength with Ch'i. Generate power with strength.
- No harm will come if Ch'i is nurtured naturally. Power can be stored but with enough to spare.
- Ch'i comes out of the Tan Tien, and travels along the waist, the thighs, and the back.
- Know yourself and your opponent, and you will always win.
- People do not know the extent of my skills, but I know their abilities.
- Go along with your opponent's failing posture in order to take advantage of it.
- Glass-like head, cotton-like belly, and iron-like arm bridge.
- You can strike anywhere when your arm bridge has passed beyond your opponent's three joints.
- Pass by the opponent's incoming arm bridge from above. Jam the opponent's bridge to restrict his movement.
- Create a bridge if the opponent's bridge is not present. Nullify the bridge according to how it is presented.
- Know the difference between Yin and Yang, real and feigned. Take advantage of any available opportunity.
- Sticking to the opponent while shifting hand position shows good control of the situation.
- Being stuck to by the opponent while attempting to shift your own hand position cannot produce the intended result.
- Bong Sau must not remain. Faan Sau should be closely paced.
- Know your own limit in the use of power. Releasing all out is 90% of the way to defeat.
- The knees lead the stance. The waist links the body. Where the mind goes, the eyes go, and the hands and feet follow.
- Strive to remain calm in the midst of motion. Loosen up the muscles and relax the mind.
- The three terrors of Wing Chun are Taun Sau, Bong Sau, and Fok Sau.
- Feet and hands work together, and the threat comes to an end.
- Beware of brute strength when facing someone from the same style. Beware of the situation in a confrontation.
- In uniting the waist with the stance, power can be generated.
- In a match do not expect any compassion.
- Grasping the throat is a ruthless technique. Once commenced, it cannot be stopped.
- Storing energy resembless pulling a bow. Releasing power is like shooting an arrow.
- Circular and straight accompany each other. Bent and straight complement one another.
- Extreme softness enables one to be hard. Being extremely natural enables one to be agile.
- Direct the mind to store spirit, not Ch'i, in the body. Otherwise it leads to sluggishness. No power is obtained when occupied with Ch'i.
- Use alterations in stepping forward and backward. Hands and feet should be closely coordinated.
- Invisible posture. Invisible kick.
- As long as you are sticking to your opponent, you are unlikely to lose. A well trained waist can prevent loss of balance.
- Hand techniques must follow the Yin Yang principle. Strength must be applied with inner power. There is a counteraction to every attack.
- Rapid moves are hard to guard against. Go in when the opponent slows down.
- Kicks lose nine times out of ten.
- The feet are like wheels, and the hands like arrows.
- A hand used for attack serves also to parry.
- Do not collide with a strong arm bridge. Get out of the way and take initiative to attack.
- During sticky hand practice, the hand which has entered beyond the elbow will win nine times out of ten.
- Do not follow, force, or butt against the opponent's hands.
- Destroying the opponent's center line will control his bridge.
- In Bong Sau the forearm inclines, the wrist is on the center line, and the fingers droop. A raised elbow weakens the force.
- The elbow must be strong. Then you can take on any attack.
- If the opponent grasps your arm bridge, do not oppose him with brute force. Go with the opponent's force and change into rolling hands. Turn around the situation to control him.
Maintained by Curt James
Last updated Oct. 1997