I started my Martial Arts journey with Boxing and after several years changed to Judo, in both of these arts competition is a fundamental aspect of the art. No one takes up boxing for some spiritual purpose, no one gets on the Judo mat to practice mindfulness or for health, it is about contact, about fighting. In both of these disciplines sparring is a real necessity if you wish to improve, and sometimes sparring is about learning how to take a beating and get back up, sparring is very rarely play fighting, it is purposeful and usually based around what you do badly and not what you do well, learning how to hang in there, not to lose as opposed to learning how to win. If you are in a good boxing gym or judo dojo with a good trainer or sensei most of your sparring matches are against fitter, faster, stronger more skilful opponents, how else can you expect to learn?

In my 26 years of Wing Chun I have never made meaningful contact with a fellow Wing Chun student, there is nothing radically wrong with this, not to spar is part of what Wing Chun believes in, proper sparring at any rate, and I understand why but it is also not very helpful in the long run so over my Wing Chun years I have touched hands with quite a few people from other arts, usually decent black belts, 2nd or 3rd Dan, quite serious people. The majority of these guys I would touch hands with many times, most were also Chefs so we could spar in our break time {frequently in the fridge so we did not get too sweaty, Chefs are very practical people}, over many sessions with the same guys there were times when I won easily, times when I struggled and times when I quite literally got my arse handed to me, when I later debriefed myself to understand what had gone right or what had gone wrong it, was very rarely my Wing Chun, that remained a constant, it was something else.

In all martial arts there is a lot of chatter about Mind / Body connection, but in times of crisis or stress the body simply over rules the mind, the body makes decisions before the mind even knows that there is a decision to make.  If we take a good hit our body thinks it is in danger and registers fear, anxiety, its response is to give us a shot of adrenalin, this makes us faster, stronger and makes our blood clot quicker, it is a survival response that has nothing to do with the Mind Intelligence, it is all Body Intelligence, it cannot be out thought, it cannot be trained away.

The most obvious effect of adrenalin is nervous energy that makes us move, if for some reason we do not move, our body thinks it under dosed us and gives us another shot, if unneeded this second shot usually brings on a total freeze. 

For Wing Chun students this is really important.


Some Wing Chun schools claim that Wing Chun trains our nervous system, they go on about how doing something over and over brings about perfection, 10,000 hours practice hard wires it into place, this is not true, in fact it is completely false, we cannot train our nervous system because all training is the domain of the Mind Intelligence, the nervous system is Body Intelligence, yes you can thicken and enlarge the neural pathways, lay down more myelin so the information passes more rapidly from brain to body, but in times of stress the body is not listening to the mind, it is too busy saving our ass.

The 10,00 hours rule is a complete pile of something we would rather not step in.

In my sparring experiences no one was seriously trying to hurt anyone but every now and then someone lands a cracker, when it happened to me all of my strategy flew straight out of the window, no matter what I thought I should be doing my body was trying to get out of town on the first available flight.  When I landed a bomb I would instinctively notice the glitch in my partner as his body took control away from his mind and of course I would press in to take advantage of the situation and take a position my partner could not come back from. Our sparring matches usually ended when one person had a position that in a real fight would lead to a beating, that is what happens in the street and it is good to stay aware of it, one wrong step, you get done in.

Some days when I knew I was going to touch hands with a mate I would be excited and looking forwards to it, I would feel light on my feet and radiant, to be expected they were good days, other times I would not really be up for it, my feet would be like plant pots, my hands heavy and lifeless, a head with no thoughts, I would just be going through the motions, they were usually bad days.

The difference between the good days and the bad days was never my Wing Chun as such, or my friends Karate, Muay Thai or B.J.J, it was usually about who had the better attitude and most importantly the better movement, if we move well we quickly get into better positions to use our martial style and of course get out of bad positions that suit our sparring partner equally quickly.

In fighting there is only one bad move, and that is not moving.

Mental attitude is important but movement is the something else that wins the day, there is plenty of movement in Wing Chun if you look for it, but how many people look?




Understanding the aspect of the IDEA represented in the first three Forms.



Chan Wah Shun had a maxim on the wall of his school, “STRUCTURE NEUTRALISES, FOOTWORK DISSOLVES” this clearly indicates the transition from S.L.T. though to Chum Kiu in application.

The physical movement of the Forms are to a very large extent unimportant, they are simply a vehicle to explore the IDEA, ultimately any movement set can be performed with the IDEA of any of the Forms, even though Chum Kiu and Biu Gee are preparing us for the nasty reality they are both basically Chi Kung just as the First Form is and not Kung Fu, they are more about how we move us and very little is about what we would do to someone else, in this respect they all cover the same ground so we could and indeed should do the movements of the First Form {S.L.T.} with the attitude and attributes of Biu Gee, and of course we could and should  do the movements of the Biu Gee with the attitude and attributes of the First Form, this will help us make connections and see that Wing Chun is a total system and much more than the sum of its parts.

What are these attributes that we are exploring?

Abstract IDEAs are difficult to find a common explanation to, they are governed by language and imagination and all of us use these two tools very differently. This is why there are so many analogies in Wing Chun, analogies are not real, frequently it is the best we can do.

If we looked at these attributes as a gear box they would be neutral, reverse and forward, this is pretty much their role in application, the First Form builds the body, creates awareness and understanding of how that body works but does nothing else, it does not interact with the outside world, the Chum Kiu shows how that S.L.T. Body receives and redirects FORCE and the Biu Gee shows how that S.L.T. Body creates and releases POWER.

The only significant difference between the Forms is not the shape and variety of the movements but the placement of the active body mass axis, or line of gravity.

In the First Form line of gravity is central, equal weight in each leg, neutral, it is like a Prayer Wheel, when you push it the Wheel rotates but does not diminish or increase the force of contact, it redirects it but otherwise does not affect it.

Chum Kiu Form is a movement originating from a neutral body position, when the neutral body  receives force it shifts the line of gravity  into the rear of the body, the weight is shifted into the rear leg, away from the attackers intended line of action, the incoming force is extended and weakened, just like throwing a rock into a lake, the initial splash makes small tight ripples or waveforms that hold the energy of the rock, the ripples spread out with equal force but they get wider, slower, the energy is released over a longer period of time and as a result becomes weaker.

Biu Gee Form is a movement originating from a neutral body position in the Form itself but in application more often from a Chum Kiu body position, the line of gravity is shifted from the rear of the body into the front of the body, the weight is in the front leg, the FORCE of the weight shift moving into the opponent compresses and increases, it is like a bullwhip, the force created at the stock is transferred into the body of the whip, this creates a large ripple or waveform that gets progressively smaller, the initial energy is released over ever decreasing periods of time and it becomes much, much stronger.

The video below is from a Saturday morning senior class, like most of our training it is not about techniques or particularly about Forms more it is about the underlying IDEAS presented through the Forms, if we have effective, dynamic movement and good thinking the correct technique will simply present itself.  As for the shapes we deliberately make the motions over large so that we can more easily see the idea, as I always say “A circle is a shape not a size”.



Chan Wah Shun had a maxim on the wall of his school, “STRUCTURE NEUTRALISES, FOOTWORK DISSOLVES” this clearly indicates the transition from S.L.T. though  to  Chum Kiu in application, but it does not tell us how to turn the tide on our attacker, Biu Gee does, if anything this aspect is the secret that was not meant to leave through the front door of the school.





Articles, Food for Thought


Learning all of our Forms is the second most important thing we will ever do in our training, the most important thing for us to do is to learn how to forget them.

Of all the Wing Chun Forms Biu Gee is by far the most complex and far reaching, I am not trying to imply that it is difficult or advanced, just very, very deep, and a great deal of this is because through Biu Gee we are forced to reexamine everything we thought we knew from a more profound and dynamic perspective.

Above all else Biu Gee is closest to the manner in which we will make contact with an opponent in real time, as paradoxical as it sounds Biu Gee is the way we should use Chum Kiu, but we should not really be surprised by this, after all Chum Kiu is essentially Biu Gee inverted.

Question.   How deep is Biu Gee?

Answer.      As deep as we can make it.

Biu Gee introduces the universal physical IDEAs that are in play whenever we are using Wing Chun, but these IDEAs are not found in the movements of the Form itself  but in the way Biu Gee creates the moves, the way it employs applied kinesiology, and of course the more we each understand the facets of applied kinesiology the more we will take away from Biu Gee, it is simply not enough to turn up to class and ask Sifu we must hit the books, engage in serious research or at the very least ask Google.

Understanding the Conservation of Momentum Principal will revolutionise everything we know about striking. Understanding how Torquing increases force will change the way we pivot for ever. Understanding the Kinetic Linking Principle will have us creating power instead of using force. Kinetic linking expresses force as a wave and as such understanding the Doppler Effect will make us more effective in both defence and attack.

When we take our new knowledge back into our Forms the aim should be to see how all of the laws of natural science exist in their own right the Forms simply allow us to see these laws from the singular perspective of Wing Chun, but it is the science that is the real magic.

Learning all of our Forms is the second most important thing we will ever do in our training, the most important thing for us to do is to learn how to forget them.

Learn the form, but seek the formless, learn it all, then forget it all, learn  “The Way”  {Dao}, then find your own way.


Articles, Video's



When I was a schoolboy I really liked and enjoyed Track and Field Sports,   at my school if it was summer in was Pentathlon {Decathlon in the final two years}, I would train hard, ask a lot of questions and get help from anyone, student, teacher, coach or rag and bone man that I thought knew something valuable, sadly eagerness and amassed knowledge can never compete with natural ability so in the end I became a Chef and not a Decathlete.  I did however learn how to learn and how to source good information and recognise blind alleys, flights of fancy or wishful thinking.  When I first began training Biu Gee it was at the hands of senior students, my Sifu would oversee the training but only got involved if you asked him to get involved, some of the claims made for Biu Gee by my seniors would immediately set of my B.S. radar but when I questioned the validity of the claims I would get treated as some kind of heretic, so I did what I have always done and started my own research.

I have always been heavily involved in sports, right up until my late 40’s I was still playing club level competition tennis and golf, I would not go so far as to say I was a stand out player but I was definitely a serious player, over the years I sought out professional level coaching in every sport I was engaged in, at their root all sports are more alike than different so understandably I found it easier to approach Biu Gee from the direction of other sports and then work back, it allowed me to see the simplicity of everything we do in Wing Chun, which after all is supposed to be based in normal human body movement, and allow my body to make its own choices based on my own previous experience.

Things that I have a personal knowledge of that really helped when it came to Chum Kiu and Biu Gee were the Discus, Shot Putting, Speed Skating, Tennis, Golf and Rugby, when we understand what we are looking for they are all doing the same thing, as I keep saying in this Blog, we are not so much trying to learn Wing Chun as remembering how to move effectively and then using it for Wing Chun.  If we look at the ready position to throw a discus, put a shot or start a speed skating race it is the same as the Chum Kiu Huen Ma.  Coincidence? I do not think so, and once they move it is laterally.


Things I recommend getting a better of idea of are what is referred to as stacking and unseating, both are introduced in Chum Kiu but easy to overlook.












Without intending any disrespect to masters past or present a great deal of the theory still followed in Wing Chun is decades if not centuries out of date


Question   When we are striking an opponent do we wish to create force or do we wish to create power?

Force and power are not the same, once we understand this we realise that it is incorrect of us as Instructors to talk about F = ma in relation to punching, this is force, what we should be addressing is how to create power so that when the punch lands it lands with greater force. If we look close enough Biu Gee does just this.

A force is created when one object interacts on another object by either moving it {causing acceleration, in physics fast and slow are both acceleration} or changing its shape  {causing it to deform}, the force only comes into existence on contact with another object, force cannot be created by one object acting alone.  

One thing we can do on our own is create torque, it is often stated that torquing creates power, this is a misunderstanding, torque is a measure of power, it is certain that a punch that utilises torquing can be more powerful than one that does not but that is because torquing compresses the body in on itself and makes it more unified, compact and solid, it would be more accurate to say that torquing prevents the loss of power that can be seen in a disconnected lose body structure, and as mentioned earlier in this line of posts it can create an increase in velocity due to the addition of forces.  If we intend to bring physics into our training we should use it to better understand our own body, what it is doing, why it is doing it and not try to use it to explain our training.     We are Martial Artists not physicists we would do well to stick to lay terms.

Without intending any disrespect to masters past or present a great deal of the theory still followed in Wing Chun is decades if not centuries out of date, by this I mean how the Forms are explained, the Forms themselves can never be wrong just misrepresented, even if we only go back to the time of Ip Man the world has moved on a very long way, although Biomechanics, Kinesiology and Kinetics have been around since Aristotle’s De Motu Animalium it was not until money became involved, namely professional sport, that this information become readily available, heavily researched, deliberately advanced and widely used, it is important to understand that for a long time this information was not public knowledge it tended to stay in universities and national sports academies, not the local library, we now have far better knowledge and thanks to the internet it is only a google away.

In todays global geo political world winning a gold medal at the olympics is as much a political statement as it is a sporting achievement, countries hold great sporting prowess in high regard thinking that it reflects their society just as centuries ago fighting ability was highly regarded, when China decided it wanted to get involved in the olympics did it send its athletes to the Shaolin Monastery or to Mount Ermei,  in the mens gymnastics do we see Chinese athletes wu-shu moves in the floor routines?  In order to compete and eventually dominate what they did was employ western coaches and embrace western sports science’s approach of applied kinesiology.

In the previous posts I talked about the hierarchy of movements, of adding forces and of kinetic linking, none of these are about power, they are about creating the environment for the effective transmission of power once we have created it.

In Wing Chun our power is our body mass, we give our weight to the opponent, without meaning to contradict what I said about lay terms or trying to get all geeky weight is a measure of the effect of gravitational acceleration on our body mass, I mention this to highlight that all movement begins by our mass being pulled downwards by gravity into the floor and then returning back into us via reaction force.  It is our own weight that is the source of our power, and through Biu Gee we can learn how to direct that weight, that reaction force wherever we wish it to go, even to the ends of our fingers.  We may genuinely believe that we move from our centre, but we do not, we move from the floor, it is Newton’s third law in action.

All of our power originates in weight shifting, but not just random shifting, our weight must be shifted accurately in the direction that we wish to do the work, in striking our weight must move in the same direction and to the same point as our hand or fist, even when the motion is mostly rotary or using just the upper body we must find a way to shift our body down the intended path of action.  Biu Gee helps us understand this.

For some reason a great many Wing Chun students are stuck in the notion that our body only moves around our central axis, the CentreLine, the thing is that to shift our weight we need to shift from one side of the body to the other side of the body, even with a rotation we need to discover how to move our weight from the right axis into the left axis, when we do this our weight stays within our body but our body moves through our immediate space, we move all of our body and all of our weight, this work was already introduced in Chum Kiu, but for defensive, receptive purposes and as such we shifted our weight into the rear foot or the rear side, in Biu Gee we are looking at issuing force and through close attention it becomes plain to see that the majority of the movements shift the weight from one position to another position forwards into the front foot or the front side.

As I mentioned times change, thinking changes and we must change with them, for some time now I have been reading  Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise  by Peter McGinnis, to be honest it is still a bit of a challenge to grasp, but even at my inadequate level of understanding it is a real head spin and  eye opener, it is intended for undergraduate students of sports and exercise biomechanics, the type of people that in time will revolutionise our favourite sports, most of it I need to read and reread but I already realise that a lot of what I know from my own sports training in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s is already out dated, a lot of what I used to hold as good information has now been proven functionally deficient or simply superseded, this has a positive side to though, it has led me to research what is presently being taught to aspiring athletes, of particular interest to any student wishing to improve their Biu Gee is modern discus or shot putting, this post is getting a bit long so I will follow this aspect up next week.

If we are genuine Martial Artists we should ask our selves can we really expect the information from a 400 year old Martial Art to still be relevant? Perhaps as a hobby or cultural exercise this may be interesting even exciting but there could come a time when we stake our life on it.