Five Principles of Wing Chun

1. Hit the Shadow

There is a Wing Chun saying, "To hit the middle of the shadow." By shadow we mean the attacking object's profile. If a right hook punch comes, the middle of the shadow is at the inside of the elbow. If a right roundhouse kick comes, the middle of the shadow is at the opponent's knee. Sometimes you do not have time to identify the kind of attack since it is so quick that it looks like a blur or shadow. The above Wing Chun saying advises to just hit it as if swatting a fly. This is at least safer than letting the shadow hit you.

2. Don't Think - Think

Beginners are often given two seemingly contradictory pieces of advise. They are told not to think because thinking is too slow: Just react to the opponent's movements. At other times, they are told to think about what they are doing: Don't just do actions without a purpose. A beginner often makes two mistakes: he thinks too much and therefore his actions are always too slow, or he doesn't think at all and uses his techniques in a non-intelligent way.

During the learning process, you must always ask how and why the techniques work. When don't they work? When do you use them and when don't you use them? How do you perform them correctly? What happens if you don't? When you know the answers to these questions, then trust the technique and apply it without thinking. The slightest hesitation will make a technique fail against an experienced opponent.

3. Use Structural Breakdown

The concept of structural breakdown is one reason why Wing Chun adopts a square-on stance. Consider the Bong sau. It is a technique which is designed to withstand a maximum amount of force after which the technique breaks down in a planned way. The Bong sau is known as a weak but versatile hand because there are other techniques such as the Karate upper level block which can withstand a stronger amount of force but cannot be changed as easily to other techniques. What makes the Bong sau work is the angles of the bones in the arm and the weight distribution of the feet. If you use a left Bong sau, the weight is on the left foot. When you do this, an excessive amount of force will automatically cause your body to pivot out of the line of the force. If the weight were on the other leg, your whole stance would collapse under excessive force. The Bong sau must be held firm but supple at the wrist for this planned structural breakdown to occur. If the Bong sau sucks back or the weight is on the wrong foot, an injury could occur.

4. Simple - Variety

When you are doing sticking hands, keep your actions simple.

A beginner often tries to use movements for which he doesn't have the skill level to make them work effectively. This is also referred to as being too fancy in your movement. Fancy, complex actions are Iikely to fail unless they are performed precisely in the intended manner. Once you can get your basic WORDS to work in simple situations, you can attempt to apply them in more complex situations.

Don't just do the same movements over and over again, use variety, and the movements from all of the sets.

Against an advanced practitioner, the more you know, the better chance you will have. But if you have not mastered the basics, your advanced techniques will likely fail.

5. Make Only One Sound

There is a principle in Wing Chun stick-fighting which says, "The stick only makes one sound." What this principle means is that stick-fighting should not be performed in the clashing fashion as is done in the movies. The idea of the stick is to use smooth flowing and sticking actions. When the opponent's stick attacks, you meet the attack with an intercepting stick which clings or sticks to the opponent's weapon. Once contact is made your stick does not disengage from the opponent's stick until the oppo- nent is hit. When in contact you use feeling combined with the various techniques such as circling, off-centering, and jerking to hit the opponent. If the opponent disengages, you will have a good opportunity to hit. This same principle can also be applied to hand-to-hand combat. In tournament fighting, many opportunities are missed when the two opponents disengage. In Wing Chun, once you make contact, you stay with the opponent until he is hit.

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