A Big Picture of the Little Idea.



Forms allow us to develop the habit of paying attention to what we are doing so that we gain a deep and wide understanding of that action.


Only 25% of my students have returned after the lockdown, I imagine that this is average as the pandemic wreaks havoc with our old systems.

Despite this climate of social distancing, I have 2 new people just embarking on the journey, 2 new people to explain the “Big Picture” of Wing Chun.

A Big Picture of the Little Idea.


You could ask 10 different teachers and get at least 9 different answers to this question, and that in itself tells us what Forms are for.

Forms are for different things for different people.

Not only that, but our understanding of Forms will change as we progress through our training.

We find that we can use the same Form to explore very different topics using it in very different ways.

Forms are a consistent vehicle we use to measure the level of our understanding against.

Before we go on it is important to understand that there is no such thing as an “Internal” or “External” martial art.

There is only Internal or External training.

Any Martial Art is and can only ever be a Martial Art, a rose by any other name is still a rose.


People who engage in “Internal work” use the Forms as a distraction to help them focus more on moving their Chi, circulating their Chi, being in control of their Chi.

This is not my area of training and I have very limited knowledge of it.

Can it be used for fighting?

Anything can be used for fighting, it depends on the person, but the main aim of Internal training is to develop the Body-ability to meditate.


People that engage in “External work” use Forms to develop more effective movement.

There are many different types of effective movement, always doing a Form the same way will only deliver the same outcome.

Smoothness, connectedness, speed, power, mobility or stability all require a different approach to the same Form.

Westerners have difficulty understanding the Eastern IDEA of “Softness”, especially when we talk about powerful or strong softness.

Forms offer a way to explore this.

We should be balanced and ask the same question here…

Can it be used for fighting?

Anything can be used for fighting, it depends on the person, training the physical side will not guarantee fighting prowess.

Another very important aside that we must consider is that there is an element of “External” training that frequently gets confused as “Internal” training.

That is what today is referred to as being in a flow state, focusing on the moment, being in the zone.

Internal work is ultimately aiming at enlightenment through the teaching of the Buddha, through stillness and meditation.

To empty the mind.

Flow state is something that we can suddenly fall into while single-mindedly involved in an activity.

To be so consumed by we are doing it fills the mind.

Being in the zone, ‘flow state’ is spontaneous and not capable of being trained.

However, the better we are at something the higher the chance of falling into ‘flow state’, being in the moment.

Forms allow us to develop the habit of paying attention to what we are doing so that we gain a deep and wide understanding of that action.


Forms can be callisthenics that exist solely to prepare the body to move in a particular way.

A skilled and intelligent movement practice that allows us to work on the shapes that we are going to need to access in any of the diverse ways that we will call upon our body to use what we refer to as Wing Chun.

From warming up to flat out fighting to save our lives, the actions we may use and depend upon so we would do well to understand these moves.

Forms can also be remedial bodywork.

If we look at the “B” Section of Wing Chun’s First Form we have a set of exercises that are perfect for resolving impingement of the shoulders.

The opening of the Yi Chi Kim Yeung Ma is a suitable movement for resolving impingement of the hips.

The Chum Kiu and Biu Gee Forms develop balance through the stability of stances and mobility {the opposite of stability} through weight shifting and explore the whole gamut of perambulation.

But where are the steak knives?

Oh yes, doing the Forms provides maintenance of the soft tissue system to improve the overall health of essential joints, and eliminates the potential for motor control problems that happen when the wrong part is in the wrong place trying to do the wrong thing.


Why do we perform them so slowly and so often?

The main reason is not one of memory retention but rather an active survey to see if we have any holes in the movement, just like athletes and weight lifters any ‘holes’ in these movement sets will invariably lead to failure and by extension injury.

If we can look at all of the Forms collectively we see an integrated system where we modulate through all ranges of motion on all 3 planes with full extension and rotation options explored.

Forms can be looked at as very gentle Crossfit.

Getting bag for our buck.

Simplify what we think is important and what we need to do to support those things.

As always, deconstruct – reconstruct.

For example; extending to the Tan Sau position from the first Form while acting out a single rear step from the Chum Kiu, while rotating the torso from Biu Gee.

Reset and reverse, step forward, pose Tan Sau and rotate.

Rinse and repeat.

If you are a senior student you are more than likely thinking.. “but wait, that is just the Bart Cham Dao”, which of course it is.

This approach makes it so that we can understand what it is we are trying to learn/program in a couple of years as opposed to decades.

This is in no way a shortcut, understanding anything fully, our job or our Martial Art takes the best part of a lifetime, but we can understand all the components that make up our job or Martial Art in a surprisingly short time and then dig in at our leisure.

I ask again…















Hong Kong and Taiwan’s versions of Chinese history may not be quite as false as the C.C.Ps but they are just as far off the mark.


Over the past 50 years, I have read numerous books and article on how successive Chinese governments, in the wake of the disastrous ‘Boxer Rebellion’ 1899 – 1901 {so-called due to the fact that it expanded out from Kung Fu Schools}, began systematically changing China’s self-image, its belief systems and political ideologies.

Their favourite method was to re-write history.

Firstly with the nationalists, the K.M.T. and then later with the Chinese Communist Party.

Growing up in the west through the 60s the NEWS was constantly calling China out for the destruction of Temples, the burning of records, in short, the ‘re-education’ policies that essentially gave non-party members the choice of ‘Change or Die’.

Many did just that, and sadly so did historical truth.

Due to this, trying to gather accurate historic information about any style of Kung Fu is difficult bordering on possible.

I do realise that there is a lot of documented so-called historic information out there but we must take all of this with a pinch of salt.

Re-written means just that, re-written.

As Martial Artists we are well aware that the C.C.P. removed all of the ‘Fighting Aspects’ out of Kung Fu and replaced them with movement patterns from ballet and acrobatics and relabeled it Wushu, and then invented/reinvented the modern IDEA of Qigong, here is a link to an interesting article make of it what you wish.

Chairman Mao was well aware that the Tong system, something he saw as akin to a cult or at least a secret society, that allowed the Boxers {Kung Fu organisations as secret societies} to organise and combine to fight the Europeans would be a real threat to his hold on the people and banned all ‘Tongs’ and all meetings with regards to these organisations.

There are those in the M.A. community that claim this is why Hong Kong and Taiwan are the true centres of Kung Fu, but it was the Nationalists, the K.M.T. that began this transformation and re-writing of history and it was these same K.M.T. and Nationalists that fled to Hong Kong and Taiwan after the Civil War taking their ideas of the New China with them.

Hong Kong and Taiwan’s versions of Chinese history may not be quite as false as the C.C.Ps but they are just as far off the mark.

Where does leave us, westerners, when we wish to know where our style comes from and why it was created in the first place because it is only by knowing the answer to these two questions that we can truly understand what we do.

One thing we can look at is the history of China as recorded by the Europeans that traded with China, I am not saying for one minute that these are of any more accurate because to be expected they were observed through the lens of European agenda, and measured by European values.

The picture that those histories paint is relatively accurate when it comes to the general mood of the people and the way society interacted, the very thing we wish to know about as Martial Artists.

From 1600 up to 1960 there was an almost constant state of Militaristic conflict, province against province, village against village, ethnicity against ethnicity, religion against religion.

Violence was everywhere and every day, shortage of food was a constant cause of this violence, squabbles over the rightful ownership of fertile land escalated into full-blown conflicts so often that villages had their private militias, the problem was so widespread that temples had warrior monks and no one travelled without highly trained and armed caravan guards.

Politics aside hundreds of years of violence created a country where defending yourself and your property was as essential as breathing, every man in every village was armed to the teeth and ready to rumble at the first sign of trouble.

Except for that guy, the Kung Fu guy.

Why do we think this guy was fighting un-armed when even the monks used weapons?

As a thought exercise, this can be an interesting question.

Had he lost his weapon?

Had he been disarmed?

Was he caught out at a place that he considered safe and as such was unarmed?

As interesting as this is something that this line of thinking misses is that if Mr.K. Fu is unarmed his attacker is unlikely to be.

Empty hand styles did not materialise so that people could engage in a game of ‘fisty cuffs’, they came about as a way to deal with an armed assailant when you were for some reason unarmed.

If we look at how Kung Fu, and from my perspective Wing Chun, interacts with an attacker it makes more sense once we add a weapon to the scenario, Chi Sau looks more like a way of disarming or controlling a weapon arm than just a sensitivity exercise and it shines a fresh light on our stances, guards and footwork.

It also ends once and for all the Kung Fu v M.M.A. argument which I will go into later, but for now, these are just my musings, I have no way to prove any of this but it feels a great deal more “REAL” than most of the accepted history.