The system is comprised of only three hand forms, one wooden dummy form and two weapon sets. Although the forms are few and easy to learn, to master them requires patience, perseverance and determination. This mastery is vital as the forms are considered the keys to the system.
The system can trace its roots back to the Siu Lum (Shaolin) temple, located at sung mountain in the Ho Nan Province of China. During the period known as the Ching Dynasty the temple became a place of refuge for rebel forces - Ming patriots sworn to overthrow the Ching regime. The Siu Lum Monastery offered a safe haven for the patriots. Manchu rulers eventually heard of the Siu Lum monastery's sympathy for and aid to the Ming patriots through the treachery of a monk named Ma Ling Yee, who knew of the temples week point and aided the Chings by setting fire to the temple. Many of the monks perished in the fire in approximately 1674 AD However among the survivors were the 'Five Elders', Jee Seen, Fung Do Tak, Pak Mei, Mui Heen, and the Buddhist Nun Ng Mui.
Ng Mui fled to a place called Bock Hock Gwoon - 'White Crane' temple that was located on Tai Leung Mountain. On one of her frequent visits to the village below, she met a beautiful young girl called Yim Wing Chun who with her father Yim Yee, sold been curd in the village. Ng Mui became a regular customer of Yim Wing Chun and her father. It was through their close relationship that Ng Mui learned of a landowner who had been attracted to the beauty of the young Yim Wing Chun, and was demanding her hand in marriage despite the fact that she had already been promised to another, and that she and her father refused to allow any breach of the betrothal.
The landowner had already threatened bodily harm to Yim Wing Chun and her father so Ng Mui decided to take Yim Wing Chun as her student and revealed to her the secret complex fighting system she had mastered at the Monastery - her own combination of techniques from the various styles of Kung Fu taught at Siu Lum. The techniques selected were those that relied more on speed and agility, rather than muscular strength
After learning Ng Mui's fighting system Yim Wing Chun returned to her village and using her new-found skill, challenged and soundly defeated the landowner. She then went on to marry her intended fiancée, Leung Bock Sau, and continued to practice and improve on the fighting system passed on to her by Ng Mui.
The earliest form of the Wooden Dummy was a simple stake stuck in the ground around which the Kung Fu practitioner would perform his Wing Chung skills. A pattern of 140 movements was originally practised using the Wooden Dummy. It takes the place of an imagined partner or opponent of the Kung Fu system. The Wooden Dummy is a man sized post with three arms (two upper and one middle arm) and one Dummy leg. The Dummy Leg was originally a short bent branch off a tree thicker than the three arms and located directly below the middle arm (Finding a naturally born branch of the correct dimensions was a task within itself) Grand Master Yip Man rearranged the original 140 movements into a more comprehensive 108 movements (The number 108 has specific significance in Chinese Lunar Mathematics, religion and superstition.) Later he added the 8 'families' of kicks as well as rearranging the original 108 movements to make it a much more comprehensive pattern. These 116 movements called Mook Yan Joang Fot Yut Ling Bot are divided into eight sections.
Much can be learnt with constant practice using the Mook Yan Joang. A diligent student will learn to direct power properly, keeping the body at the correct distance from the dummy and the correct angle in relation to the centreline. Chee Ging or Sticking Energy, body unity and Gan Jeep Gin or connecting energy is developed further while moving the stance in and out as the hands flow up and down from one side of the Dummy to the other. Ngon Ging or Eye focusing power, learned at Chum Kiu level (Second hand form) is put into play as the eyes remain constantly fixed on the centreline throughout the many subtle and radical changes that take place during the form.
Ten movements beginning from the left Prefighting posture, mainly consisting of the neck pulling hand, the left and right Tan-sau, Lower lying palm and Jaun-sau. In this section stress is placed on footwork.
Ten movements beginning from the right Prefighting posture.
Ten movements, which begin from the Pak-Sau movement - Slap blocks. Stress is laid on the variation sof the slap block from the inside and outside areas. This section also offers valuable palm exercises for both attacks and defense.
Nine movements which begin from the Lower Bong Sau. The importance of this section lies in the co-ordination of the side thrusting kick and the variations of the inquisitive arms. With practice, this section enables the Kung Fu student to defend against a powerful attack whilst freeing an arm or a leg for a counter attack.
Twenty one movements beginning from the double Tan Sau. The student learns how to use the required amount of force to sneak into the opponents defence line and attack the weak points.
Fifteen movements beginning from the Fook Sau. Consisting of Poh Pai Jyeung, Fook Sau, Gaun Sau, Kau Sau, Jut Sau, Bong Sau and Tan Sau. This series of movements gives training in the application of the Po Pai Jyeung (Double palms) technique.
Fifteen movements beginning with the high and low Gaun-sau. Stress is laid on the changing of the Bong Sau to the grappling hand and its application in co-ordination with other palm attacks. The most tactical kicking technique in the Wing Tsuen system appears in this section.
Twenty six movements, beginning from the left and right Lower Bong Sau, and ending at the withdrawal movement. Most of the kicking techniques are included in this section
Because the Wooden Dummy formally introduces the concept of making contact with a solid object during the execution of a technique, it is also important that the student learns the correct way to position the hands and arms to prepare them for contact with the hard surface of the Dummy arms and trunk. As in other phases of Gung Fu training, the proper formation of the fist and the position of the fingers and thumb when making arm contact with the dummy arms is vital to the prevention of injury.
When striking the Dummy arms with the wrist or forearm, the thumb of the striking hand should be tucked against the side of the hand with the first section of the thumb folded inward across the bottom of the last index knuckle. This puts the forearm muscles into the correct tonus to prevent injury during a block or strike and also helps direct the Chi to the wrist, rather than letting it escape outward through the fingers. The exception to this rule is the Boang Sau motion, in which the thumb and Fingers hang loosely with the wrist relaxed and bent to keep the Chi in the forearm.
When striking the Dummy trunk with an open palm, the thumb of the striking hand should be tucked against the side of the hand with the tip of the thumb on the outside bottom of the index finger. This position will protect the thumb from being accidentally hung up on part of the Dummy and will prepare the base of the palm for contact. Although punches to the Dummy trunk do not actually make contact with its wooden surface, the fist should always be properly formed according to the Structure of the punching motion. This teaches the trainee to instinctively form a proper fist on its way to the target area, clenching in the interim between blocking and coming to full extension with a last-moment squeeze of the fist that adds power to the strike. As a punch is executed, the hand should be closed to a flat fist, then the fingers rolled tightly down to form the fist with the thumb wrapped around the front. This seemingly simple movement must be mastered so that the split-second conversion from open-hand block to short range punch can be performed with no retraction of the punching hand.
Another important skill needed at Wooden Dummy level is the correct use of the Woo Sau Guarding Hand. Unlike the other forms of the system, in the Mook Yan Joang set, as in sparring or actual combat, any hand not in use is usually held in Origin Position to guard the Centerline with Woo Sau Structure forming the second line of defence. This prepares the student for Sticky Hands training with a live partner as the instinctive reaction to keep the guard up and protect the inner gate is developed.
Unlike practicing motions in the air, Wooden Dummy training provides the student with a mould against which the techniques can be fit and restructured to perfection. This not only involves correct spacing between the hands and reference to the Centerline but also correct extension of the individual motions. For example, if the trainee executes Dai Boang Sau and at the end of that motion finds that the low Dummy arm could shoot him in the stomach or hip if it were a gun, or would touch him if it were three feet longer, he knows that either his motion is under extended, his footwork is improperly referenced to the Centerline, or both. Since the two upper Dummy arms are not in use during this motion, they are therefore considered to be non-existent, and it is not important where they point.
Only when actual contact is made with any of the Dummy's arms or its leg are those limbs, considered a factor in the trainee's body positioning. For example, when executing the Toy Ma Gahng/Jom Sau motion as in Movement 6 of the Dummy form, the Light Leg must not step past the Dummy leg, or both the Gahng Sau and the Jom Sau will be improperly referenced, both pointing directly at the trainee. But in the Toy Ma Gum Sau of Movement 62, the stance is stepped further to the right. This is structurally acceptable because the upper left Dummy arm that was being blocked by Jom Sau in Movement 6 is no longer a factor, and the low Dummy arm is being blocked by the trainee 's left hand rather than his right, which was used against that same arm in the Gahng/Jom movement. This implies that the Centerline in the two motions is not the same; in Movement 6, the line is unchanged from that created by the Seep Ma footwork of Movement 5, angled 45 degrees off the Original Centerline. In Movement 62, the line is the same as it would be if the trainee were in "Yee" Tee Keem Yeung Ma position - the Original Centerline itself. Again, this is because in Movement 62, the two upper arms are, for all intents and purposes, "non-existent". Likewise, when the trainee executes a Complex Motion that contacts two arms, the third arm is treated as non-existent, unless it is simultaneously being used in a kicking or leg blocking technique.
Certain Complex Motions, such as Loy Kwun Sau, violate this principle only because of the inflexible nature of the Dummy arms, as the trainee can only simulate moving one or the other off the line. But in any case, the trainee should always make sure that the Dummy's "guns" do not point at his Motherline at any time. This structural consideration results in many subtle variations in the execution of techniques and Moving Stances that at first appear to be identical. In many cases, those differences are nearly undetectable to the untrained eye.
Mook Yan Joang training clearly illustrates applications of the three hand forms under perfect conditions. This is due to the structure of the Dummy itself. Because of the perfect Angle Structure built into the Dummy, the trainee is naturally drawn to execute his techniques with equally perfect Angle Structure. Any structural defect in the trainee's motion tends to be magnified by the Dummy and can therefore be easily identified and corrected. In addition, if a technique is performed improperly, it will usually cause some excessive pain to the trainee, signaling that the angle of contact or the striking surface of the hand, arm or leg is incorrect.
Another advantage of training with the Wooden Dummy is the toughening of the skin and bone of the hand, arm shoulder, foot and leg. This is accomplished through "Tapping", also called "Energy Packing". The Dummy should not be hit with full force initially but instead should only be tapped. Tapping the Dummy's wooden surface in this way, combined with the use of Leen Goang Jau (herbal liniment) will eventually "pack" Chi into the bone cavities, preventing bone brittleness in old age. Although at first the trainee may experience a small degree of pain and bruising, after a short time he will be able to execute all movements sharply and crisply without any more discomfort, having developed an "Iron Bridge Hand", or Teet Kiu Sau. Once the trainee has a toughened arm, not only can he block an opponent's punch or kick but can also damage the arm or leg he is blocking. This is a part of the Simultaneous Attack and Defense principle of Wing Chun (Leen Siu Dai Da). A toughened arm is less likely to be injured in combat and can withstand more impact if necessary to block a heavy weapon. A student with an arm toughened by Wooden Dummy training can also train for longer periods with harder contact in drills with a live partner without suffering pain or bruising. Toughening skin and bones does not mean callusing or deforming the hand, nor does it mean bruising the bones. This conditioning must be performed gradually; the conditioning becomes a little longer and harder with each training session until the desired result is attained.
Wooden Dummy training simultaneously develops the student's ability to transfer power into a stationary object while avoiding choppiness between motions and drills many of the motions of the system with the added element of contact. As the techniques are executed in a more realistic manner than in the first two hand forms, flowing smoothly from one to the next, up and down, left to right, while completely releasing the power of each into the "core" of the Dummy the trainee will develop the ability to continually strike from any combination of angle and level while maintaining good balance and posture. This also enables the practitioner to flow directly from one movement into another without interruption of power, momentum and speed. Although it may appear that the movements blend into each other, in actuality each motion is completed and its power totally released into the Dummy before the next motion is begun. This will be apparent in the rhythmic sound produced by the correct flow of motion. In fact, a true master of Wing Chun can actually detect faults in the Structure of a student's Dummy form simply by listening to sound of the wood, without actually watching
1) Don't hit the Dummy too hard; overemphasis of strength will lead to choppiness and restricted flow of power. Gradually build up to more powerful techniques without injury or loss of relaxation.
2) Move in a semicircle around the Dummy; either foot can step forward from the Semicircle toward the center, but the leading step should always move along the circular path.
3) Stick to the Dummy arms; try not to lose contact with the arms between motions. When moving around the Dummy while moving the hands from one Dummy arm to another, stay as close to the arms as possible; snake around the Dummy arms, clinging to them with forward, inward pressure from the forearms.
4) Direct your power to the center of the Dummy; even those movements which appear to sweep the Dummy arms sideways are actually focused inward to the core of the Dummy trunk.
5) Always look at the Dummy; no matter what angle you face or technique you use, keep your eyes focused inward on the Centerline.
6) Adjust your movements to the size of the Dummy; be able to adapt to an opponent of any size. Learn to make alterations in the arms for a high Dummy and in the stance for a low Dummy. When sticking on the Wooden Dummy, stance mobility becomes very critical. Since the Dummy arm will not roll or flex like that of a live partner (unless you use the patented spring arms), you have to compensate by shifting your weight at just the right time to enable you to stay balanced, in control and in perfect structure at all points of the cycle. Once this ability to flow around a stationary object is mastered, it becomes much easier to roll arms with a live partner whose arms "give", or to manipulate the opponent's arm and move it off the Centerline, thus opening the body or head for striking.
7) Stay within 45 degrees from the front of the Dummy; never expose your back or
too much of your Dead Side to the Centerline. Stay within striking or kicking range
at all times.
8) Maintain "Body Unity" while moving; keep the waist and stance moving as one. This will maximize the power obtained through stepping and/or turning.
9) Learn to execute inside a Centerline; understand the Centerline Theory and its relationship to the principles behind each of the 108 movements. Be conscious of the Centerline and how it comes into play as Centerline advantage is created, lost and regained repeatedly in the form.
By the time the student has reached a substantial mastery of the first two hand forms, he or she is ready to begin formal training on the Mook Yan Joang - the "Wooden Dummy", which he or she has by now already been using to train basic blocking and kicking motions as well as to toughen the limbs to prepare them for contact with another person in the two-man drills.
The Wooden Dummy is a man-sized post with three arms and one leg set at strategic angles. Training on the Mook Yan Joang develops an ability to release one's power smoothly into a stationary object. Some other areas developed during this phase are; Line Structure, ability to close, flowing from one motion to the next and a more realistic application of hand and leg motions. Due to the perfect angle of the Wooden Dummy's Structure, even the slightest error in one's own Structure tends to be magnified and can therefore be immediately recognized and corrected.
The entire form of Wooden Dummy motions, called ''Mook Yan Joang Fot Yut Ling Bot "contains 108 techniques as do all Wing Chun sets. The first 60 motions are taught to the student whilst also introducing the movements found in Siu Leem Tau or Chum Kiu.. Only after completion of the next phase (Biu Jee) can the remaining 48 motions of the Dummy be learned. This is because Part II of the form is made up of motions which have not yet been introduced. Many kicking techniques that do not appear in the second or third form are found in this half of the Wooden Dummy form. For examples Sweeping Kick, Hooking Foot, Wing Leg, Raising Knee Strike and other leg manoeuvres. Much is learned by constant practice with the Mook Yan Joang. Students learn to direct power properly, keeping the body at the proper distance from the Dummy and the correct angle in relation to the Centeriine. Sticking Energy, or Chee Ging, is developed further as is Body Unity and Connecting Energy (Gan Jeep Ging) while moving the stance in and out as the hands flow up and down from one side of the Dummy to the other. Eye Focusing Power, called ''Ngon Ging", learned at Chum Kiu level is put into play as the eyes remain constantly fixed on the Centeriine throughout the many subtle and radical changes of the line that take place during the form.
Another training implement is introduced to the student at Mook Yan Joang level. Called the "Mui Fa Joang", or "Plum Flower Posts", it is a set of six 5" to 8" diameter rounded stakes anchored in the ground and set in a perfect pentagonal pattern with one stake dead centre. The height of the posts can be anywhere from 1' to 6', depending on the intended application. Various types of footwork can be practiced and perfected both on the top of the level horizontal surfaces of the posts and on the ground between the posts. The vertical surfaces of the posts can also be hit or kicked as well.
The first form, called Siu Leem Tau, or The Little Idea teaches the student the basic motions as well as many of the concepts, or ideas of the system. The concept of Centre line which is the backbone of the system is introduced in its basic form at this stage. The trainee simultaneously learns the basic stance together with how to relax in motion, sink the weight, remain calm and use power correctly as well as the principles behind each of the attacking and defending motions from the form.
Once these qualities are developed, the student then begins learning the five basic footwork patterns, called Moving Stances (Ma Boh) and a series of drills to build better Technique, Power, Timing and Angle Structure. He or she continues practicing the Siu Leei Tau form and will begin developing the internal skills of mind clearing, quietness, weight and energy sinking and softness, which in Wing Chun means flexible strength. At this level, the student also begins training in Chee Sau, or Sticky Hands, called this because of the way two persons arms cling together with forward reciprocal energy flowing between them. The trainee's first Sticky Hands drill is known as Chee Don Sau, or Single Sticky Hand. This gives the student a good foundation in basic Wing Chun reaction and sensitivity called Gum Gock Ging.
In the Chum Kiu form, the student is formally introduced to the concept of stance turning and a variety of combination stance work exercises based on the five Moving Stances taught at the previous level. He or she is also instructed in greater detail about the Centre line Theory as pertains to the horizontal Elbow-Level Mother line, Blocking and attacking Lines. The eyes are trained in Chum Kiu to focus quickly and there is more emphasis on the development of power, both externally in the form of torque as well as internally through learning to flow the Chi, or Internal Energy, smoothly to various parts of the body.
At this level, training in important drills such as Lop Sau, Mun Sau and Syeung Chee Sau - Double Sticky Hands begins. The concept of timing one's movements in relation to an opponents studied in detail. Trapping Hands of many types are drilled and sharpened by Chum Kiu-level practitioners in the "Slow Attack" exercises. Pyramid concepts and Yum/Yeung (Yin/Yang) theories are analyzed and discussed in a classroom atmosphere, with the instructor serving as lecturer,assuring that all students have a thorough intellectual understanding of the logic behind these and other Wing Chun concepts. During such discussions, the instructor will use a blackboard to explain some of the theory, but might also use objects as varied as a ball of cotton, a tack or nail, a serving dish, an opening and closing door or other such unlikely items to help illustrate different points. This is no coincidence. By Chum Kiu level, the Wing Chun student is able to see that all the workings of the system are clearly based on logical, tangible facts and principles which apply equally to many everyday objects, occurrences and situations.
The student at Chum Kiu level is also trained in some of the kicking techniques of the system, which are characterized by their shortness and speed. Wing Chun kicks rarely go above waist-level and never above chest-level. This is due to the economical structure of the system and the inherent danger of raising the foot during combat, an action which automatically temporarily immobilizes the kicker. Wing Chun kicks can be executed with a block, strike or trap, or a combination of any two. To develop this skill, the student is instructed to practice some of the drills taught earlier with kicks inserted at strategic points in the repetitive drilling cycle.