Forms are organising patterns that have little if any genuine purpose apart from dexterity and proprioception.

This post is mainly for Richard, most of you do not him but he is one of us.

It never hurts to go over stuff we think we know.

All Forms are a way to organise our body along certain lines to fit certain agendas.

Forms are organising patterns that have little if any genuine purpose apart from dexterity and proprioception.

Added to this we are training our body to be in a specific and exact shape.

This is very important and frequently overlooked or at the very least misunderstood.

Creating an exact shape is a transferable skill, once we can accurately make one exact shape we can accurately make any exact shape.

Chum Kiu introduces us to contact and as such introduces us to force/power and how to deal with it, use it.

Force/power comes from Gravity, sinking or dropping. It comes from Momentum, moving in a straight line and it comes from Torque, rotation.

Instead of just taking all this as a given try to identify these IDEAS in the various FORMS.

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.  George S. Patton




This is how Wing Chun is usually taught, the way I was taught, the old way, perhaps the wrong way.

I have a small number of private students that train with me to achieve specific goals, not just the blanket IDEA of “I want to learn Wing Chun”.

This suits me fine as I position myself to fill the role of a coach a lot more than I position myself as a Sifu or whatever honorific we may use.

My job is to help the student get the most they can from the information I give them, to help them think, and hopefully to help them think in a different direction when thinking of Self-Defence in general and Wing Chun in particular.

I do this by understanding what the student wants but seeing it from the vantage point of what the student can do at this point and then try to carve a specific path for each student to achieve their aims in an acceptable timeframe.

I do not just turn my brain off and teach/mime the Sil Lim Tao.

This is how Wing Chun is usually taught, the way I was taught, the old way, perhaps the wrong way.

I still use Forms as a teaching aid, but that is all, they can help us traverse blockages and illuminate homework but they are not important, at least not to the extent that they were impressed upon me, and most certainly not in the numerical order they were presented to me.

6 should be 1.

The core of Wing Chun is an IDEA, that is what everyone that is anyone tells us.

I agree with this completely, as a result, this is how I approach the work, trying to teach the IDEA, only using Forms if words are falling short, which occasionally they do.

What is the Siu Nim Tao Form?

The Sil Lim Tao Form, {the whole Form that includes C.K. & B.G}. Is a way of organising all the relevant body movements that we would use to express our style in a way that is easy to store to and retrieve from memory.

It is not a sacred dance.

It is a hard drive.

The Sil Lim Tao Form is a vehicle that if we are simply honest with ourselves allows us to make a series of self-discoveries about how the human body works and how we can use it.

Or become aware of how we were misusing it previously.

Self-discoveries are personal, we may, indeed will all make different discoveries, they will still be Wing Chun despite their differences.

It should come as no surprise that I have an opinion of what the first section of the Sil Lim Tao Form {the bit that retains the name S.L.T} is all about and what it brings to the system on a fundamental level.

What is the IDEA behind the {first section of the} Siu Nim Tao Form?

The first section of the S.L.T. is about establishing and understanding the IDEA of NEUTRALITY.

Before we embark on any physical exploration I start by introducing this IDEA as something to get our head around and fill it out with sections of the cosmetic/physical movements that make up the Form.

What is the IDEA of the Chum Kiu Form?

The Chum Kiu introduces ideological and philosophical ideas that define the style like nothing else, it introduces the IDEA of ACTIVITY, as a Martial Art the activity this refers to is fighting.

How to – when to.

For whatever reasons these ideas were never seriously broached in my Sifu’s school, the Form was presented as just another rung on a long ladder.

Chum Kiu is not part of a progression, Wing Chun is a system, a whole, there are no parts.

Any grading system or standardised progression is nothing more than a financial/business-minded decision, not an effort to advance Wing Chun as genuine Martial Art, thankfully the immense value of Chum Kiu is self-evident.

What is the IDEA of the Biu Gee Form?

Biu Gee is often represented, quite disingenuously, as an advanced/secret information Form, this is the money path.

There is no Bigger, Better, Stronger in Wing Chun, but there is faster.

Biu Gee introduces variations on moves already introduced but delivered ballistically. Biu Gee introduces the IDEA of DYNAMISM.

Do their FORM movements spell out that IDEA?


For me, the answer is YES.
And it is spelt out clearly.

But as with all spelling, understanding is determined by how well we read.








Any held shape becomes an end of range calisthenic exercise.

Connecting to the K.Starr. Video I posted on our Whatsapp channel.

For visitors here is a link…

I cannot stress how important the information Kelly Starret passes on is to a Wing Chun Player.

If you cannot relate K.Starr’s input to our Wing Chun training it is a failing of understanding on your part and not a disassociation from K.Starr.

Any held shape becomes an end of range calisthenic exercise, the Chinese were well aware of this and a very large part of ANY FORM in ANY STYLE is acting as a conditioning tool for a specific action, one specific to that style.

Things are easier to examine, connect and interpret when we relate them to the movements of the ‘Magnificent 7‘ which are Squat, Hinge, Twist, Lunge, Push, Pull and Carry.

From this perspective every Stance becomes a variation of a Squat, if we are applying this thinking to Chum Kiu then we are in the territory of the ‘Pistol Squat’.

Approaching the Heun Mah, the turned stance, as a variant ‘Pistol Squat’ we see how the approach K.Starr. {Kelly Starret} was taking can be used to great benefit when dealing with our Huen Mah.

Points of interest that we already do…

Unloaded Single Leg Pistol exercises, upstream conective tissue reacts very differently in Huen Mah and in the kick even though they are almost the same shape and come from the same IDEA.

K.Starr talks about black holes in our functionality, they exist, we all know they do, the real work is not to seek out and find these ‘Functional Black Holes’ but rather to join the search and see what else we find.

As always… there is no RIGHT answer.

To keep inline with what we are doing physically in training at the moment…

… and hopefully to encourage some people to return to training and some other people to up your game and train with me more often…

… you all know who you are…

… here is a shortish presentation on how to fit your thinking into your striking.



The things we can learn from STANCES and FORMS are so deeply important that they are beyond value.

This post was only put up a few weeks ago but I would like us all to revisit it as I am planning on taking a deep dive into ‘FUNDAMENTALS’ in the very near future. It would be a good idea to revisit as well.

Anyone with fighting experience, especially ‘Street fighting’ experience, will tell you that there are ‘NO STANCES’ in a fight.

A stance is a perfect Idea, an ideal shape and position that we benefit from being as close to as we can be.

The reason for this is explained by the ‘THEORY OF THE CONSERVATION OF MOMENTUM’.

In practice, we only ever move into a stance or out of a stance, yet all the action happens in the space between these points.

STANCES and FORMS share the same confusion, we spend a great deal of time and energy training them but in the end, we will never use them.

This is a paradox of cosmic proportions.

This is why it is so difficult to get beginning students to engage in a meaningful way, even students with zero fighting experience know instinctively that STANCES and FORMS have no practical value.

The first confusion we come across is that although we train them statically they are in fact transitional shapes that we move into or out of.

The things we can learn from STANCES and FORMS are so deeply important that they are beyond value.

How we resolve this importance from a purely personal perspective will determine the quality of most if not all of our Martial Actions.

Stances should be looked as being still points in a progressive movement, and not specific shapes and locations.

If it was available back in 1860 Doctor Leung Jan would have simply used ‘Time Lapse Photography’ and completely ignored the path of STANCES and FORMS.

Despite Stances being static they are an exploration of Human Movement, allowing us to look in detail at how our body is set up at different points in a possible progression.

Most importantly starting points and finishing points, but they can also function as a fault-finding method if we are not hitting the end stance position correctly when we move through a certain sequence.

When we look at Stances in relation to Forms we see a suggestion of how we would/could connect a start point Stance to an endpoint Stance.


Adding otherworldly importance or abilities to STANCES and FORMS has definite entertainment value if someone is a ‘Hobbyist’, but being involved in any kind of thinking that is not ‘RIGHT HERE-RIGHT NOW’ can only be detrimental to an aspiring Martial Artist.

We can only become the Martial Artist that we hope to be in 2,3 or 5 years by understanding and being the Martial Artist that we are today.

And we can only become that person by understanding the training we are doing today.



Today’s Wing Chun is a Western Martial Art that may benefit from being looked at through Western thinking.


In Cantonese the Sil Lim Tao translates to ‘The Way Of The Little Idea’

It is a method for experiencing and exploring the ‘Little Idea’.

It is not the ‘Little Idea’.

Think about that for a moment.

It is not the ‘Little Idea’.

Eastern-thinking, philosophy, is very different from Western-thinking, philosophy.

When considering the Sil Lim Tao would we do well to consider the parable of “The finger pointing at the Moon”?

When speaking of the Sil Lim Tao would we do well to consider the Dao de Ching that states “The way that can be spoken of is not the true way“?

When practising Sil Lim Tao would we do well to consider “PU”, “the uncarved block,” a state of pure potential which is the primordial condition of the mind before the arising of experience?

This would be how to engage the Sil Lim Tao by way of Eastern thought.

In 2021, there are more Western-educated Wing Chun students than there are Eastern-educated Wing Chun students.

Today’s Wing Chun is a Western Martial Art that may benefit from being looked at through Western thinking.

I have always held the opinion that the Sil Lim Tao is a window and not a mirror, as with all windows, there are many ways of looking through it.

For example, look up, look down, look left, look right, look straight ahead.

Only a fool would ignore this and use the window just to study their reflection.

Especially hour after hour, week after week, year in year out as is often the practice.

If we choose to engage some Western thinking to observe the Sil Lim Tao where should we start?

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Albert Einstein.

The Sil Lim Tao is a lesson, not a teacher.

“Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth”. Karl Ludwig Börne

Learn the Form, then forget the Form.

“Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have”.  Emile Chartier

Especially when it is a ‘Little Idea’.

But with the proliferation of so many Wing Chun Movies, yes there is another on the way and from what shorts I have seen it is even sadder and sillier than Ip Man 3, perhaps this bloke nailed it.

“Right now it’s only a notion, but I think I can get the money to make it into a concept, and later turn it into an idea.”  Woody Allen.




Our 200-kilo punch to the face of our attacker becomes a 200-kilo headbutt to our hand.

It is not possible to win a violent encounter by defence alone, somewhere-sometime we must hit the opponent and deliver as much Force as we can.

The combination of Wing Chun Body Mechanics and ‘Fist Logic’ can deliver astonishingly heavy blows with very little effort.

Force is a two -way street, as Sifu Issac pointed out…

…to every action, there is a reaction of the same magnitude in the opposite direction…

Our 200-kilo punch to the face of our attacker becomes a 200-kilo headbutt to our hand.

Understanding the correct mechanics of our strikes can not only allow us to impart devastating blows but can also save us from injury.

Even if we do not suffer an injury from our incorrect Form we will leak power at every link in the kinetic chain and fail to encourage the Bad Guy to “cease and desist”.

It is beneficial for all of us, irrespective of our experience to stay in touch with the absolute basics of how to make a fist, and what it takes to deliver force through a strike.

Training for power is dubious at best, the 200-kilo punch we drop on the pads every night at training may not even land on the opponent if we do not move effectively.

Should we be able to land our strike it must land plumb to achieve its weight exchange.

Landing the strike we want on the target we want is a very difficult task, usually because the Bad Guy has his own agenda of which we know nothing.

Let’s just focus on what we can influence in real time.

Below is some random footage from training, putting words into action.

Do not be deceived by the apparent lack of effort by George, this is a big, highly skilled man moving correctly and making big circles.

If you know what to look for there is no recoil, no return force after the strike, it was a complete transference of momentum.

The end product was tasty.

The end product was Wing Chun.




To survive an emergency we do not need special skills, we just need a plan and the courage to follow it.

To get the most from our training, for it to be fit for purpose so to say, we must have some IDEA of what ‘that purpose’ may be.

Unfortunately for anyone involved in Martial Art training violence does not come in a ‘One Size Fits All ‘ variant.

Different situations will throw up different problems and those different problems will need different solutions.

What type of situation do we think we will be in when we call upon our training?

If your environment is a large group environment such as being at school. serving in the military or even working in construction ‘pecking order fights’ could be your main concern.

If you play a full-contact sport it could be a boil over that erupts.

Will it be one on one, multiple attackers or surprise random violence.

Will it be a confined space or an open area?

We all have differing IDEAS as to where the danger lies, for instance living in the U.K. through the 1970s when Soccer Hooliganism was at its peak young people avoided going anywhere on their own if they could manage it.

As a result, when trouble happened it was often seen coming from some distance away and it was LARGE so understanding how to deal with multiple attackers was far more valuable than a great ground game.

Each of us understands our immediate environment and even if it is not at the forefront of our thinking we know where the Dragons are

Surviving an unexpected violent attack will be one of the most harrowing things we will ever endure, going in with no idea how to get out, or at least how to begin to get out, is a recipe for failure.

Having even the vaguest of Blueprints will give us a place to start from, a place to build from.

Although no two violent situations are ever the same, controlling the immediate environment and knowing our capabilities can bring them into the same Ball-park.

Do we attack our attacker?
Do we defend ourselves and wait for an opening.
Do we stand and fight?
Do we look for an opening and then retreat?

How we answer these questions will pretty much shape the purpose of our training.

All training will work if you know where and when to use it.

To survive an emergency we do not need special skills, we just need a plan and the courage to follow it.

Self Defence is only needed once Self Protection has Failed.




The old map has been shattered and the discomfort comes from the delay in the delivery of the new map.

I was working with William, one of my students, this evening, he has been with me for several years and his progress makes me think that I might just be a decent teacher.

He is at the Chum Kiu – Bill Gee cusp.

However, he finds himself frustrated, not making any significant progress, finding everything foggy, confusing.

The dreaded PLATEAU.

Not just a normal Plateau, but the ‘Beast’, the mother of all Plateaus that seems to stretch beyond every horizon.

In the fiercely formated Japanese Arts, this stage is called ‘Brown Belt’.

We have all been there.

Not everyone came home.

For many, a Plateau is where ‘that thing they love’ starts to lose its magic and within a year or so they have walked away.

This stinks of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

A Plateau, as uncomfortable as they are, is an indication of an incoming paradigm shift.

A lightbulb moment.

The old map has been shattered and the discomfort comes from the delay in the delivery of the new map.

Sometimes, only sometimes, but for sure this time, the best course of action is inaction.

 Settle in, settle down, be still and let the universe change around you.

Instead of thinking that somehow we can change the universe.

You all know my love of cheesy maxims…

“You cannot push the river”.

During the course of the evening, the training prompted William to ask…

“Do you think that my mindset is attack influenced or defence influenced, which one works best”?

This is a great question that we should all address.

But address it just like Frank, in our own way.

There are always and only personal answers to these type of questions.

My ‘two bobs’ worth was that the appropriate answer will present itself if we treat our opponent with respect.

If we respect our opponents’ ability to hurt us then it is a no-brainer that we initially adopt a defence influenced mindset.

If it turns out that we have overestimated our opponent, perhaps paid them too much respect, we can simply change our opinion and fix the problem.

If we have no respect for our opponent it becomes a game of chance, 50/50, this is and never has been the Wing Chun Way.

The challenge that I see a great many Wing Chun people struggling with is understanding exactly what a ‘Counter-Attacking’ mindset IS.

If we do not understand it how can we be expected to adopt it?

Who we are never changes through our whole life time.

Who we think we are changes every Day!



‘if we are initiating the action we are attacking if we are responding to an opponent’s action then we are defending’…

Having the ability to transfer the training into a way of doing the work is frustratingly completely different and separate from both the training and the work!

This is a task that can be easy to overlook as there is a tendency to think that the training is the work.

The majority of the training we do is focused on defence, for very good reasons.

Reasons that have a great deal more to do more to do with developing confidence than developing capability.

This is the best reason.

‘Without the confidence of thinking we can defend against a hit we will hesitate to engage the Bad Guy’.

Construct – examine – deconstruct – examine – reconstruct – examine.

Rinse and repeat.

Below are a couple of Video take-aways from recent training sessions, they are a little long winded as is the way with live training, it is more important that the information gets accross than it is that it sounds cool and crisp, this is ‘fly on the wall’ video.

There are some important ideas here if you can grasp them.

This is just everyday training, no one is trying to show off or even do their best, it is just a normal evening, before thinking poorly of anyone be aware that you would look just like this.

One important aspect to spend some time thinking about is…

‘if we are initiating the action we are attacking if we are responding to an opponent’s action then we are defending’…

What does this mean?

Does it change your approach?

As with all of our training how we relate to what we are being shown and how we can connect that to the work is the main difference between being capable and effective or not being capable and effective.

Context is so important.

Try to view everything that we are doing in these Vids as an aspect of Chi Sau or as an expression of our FORMS, in this way we are at least attempting to connect the training to the work.

We will be working on this approach for at least the next 6 weeks, if anything is being shown here that you want me to expand upon mention it when you come in for training.



‘Know that life is not fair, and you will fail often’.

Admiral William H. McRaven

April is focusing on punching.

Let’s get started.

How many punches are there in the Wing Chun System?

If you answered anything other than one, you are mistaking the training for the work.

Something we must align ourselves with is that punching is not physical, it is emotional, it is a desire.

In Wing Chun, the punch comes from the heart’ says the Kuen Kuit, this is not a G.P.S. thing, not a location, position or physical place.

This is being – Body Being.

 Think it – feel it – be it.

If a punch fails it was not because of positioning or technique but because of a lack of emotional commitment.

Understanding this…

…and understanding that this is also true for the ‘Bad Guy’ and that is why when we attack we attack their thinking and not their body, but this is for another post…

…understanding this takes our actions off of the dance floor and into reality.

The ONLY requirement of a punch is that it lands on the target flush in a direct line from where it came from to where it lands.

Which of course is the ‘Textbook’ explanation of the Wing Chun Punch.

Everything else, the footwork, the arm shape, the positioning even the strategies are just how we navigate the environment we find our selves in.

 Think it – feel it – be it.

When we arrive at that place in our training where we see and truly understand that all and any movement is about free access to the target we see how simple Wing Chun is.

I watched an amazing presentation by a U.S.Navy Sea, Admiral William H. McRaven talking to a new crop of Navy Seals, one truly amazing IDEa was that the first, and most important thing you do is make the bed.

Never leave the house if your bed is not made up, tidy and ready to use on your return.

Think about that and what it means to you.

Before you decide that I am having a Seniors moment watch it now from the link.

Know that life is not fair, and you will fail often’… Admiral William H. McRaven.

How do we describe our punch to ourselves?

What do we want this punch to do?

This is an Is our bed made? type of question.

This should be the departure point for all of our training.