Articles, Weekend Wonderland


analogies are at best only similar, they are never the same

I have mentioned in a previous article how I see Chum Kiu as an expansive set of movements and that I see Biu Gee as a compressive set of movements, this is a product of the type of rotation used in each Form, the most common type of rotation in Wing Chun is Eccentric Rotation, rotating on an axis that is not in the centre. Very few Wing Chun Instructors, myself included, have any real medical understanding of how the body works,  as a result we take some liberty with our explanations, we all mean well but often miss the mark.

In Wing Chun everything is powered by rotation, from the outset every time we connect with a partner / opponent the contact point, our wrist / bridge, is on the outer edge of a rotating spherical shape, hence the analogy of the Ball that gets used.  What takes some time to become fully aware of is that the vast majority of the rotations are coming from an axis point that is not in the centre of the sphere, the rotation is eccentric rotation, all of our arm movements are eccentric rotation due to the fact that our arm connects to our shoulder on part of the circumference of the imaginary ball not somewhere inside it, we do not rotate around our shoulder but from our shoulder, this point is important to be comfortable with.

When we engage in Chum Kiu we refer to moving from the hips, the hips are on the outside of the body, the rotation is anchored to the supporting leg that is also on the outside edge of the body, pivoting is moving in an arc from one supporting leg to another, the weight shift and lateral movement inherent in this type of action is one of our power generators, this is sometimes referred to as shifting our axis, I prefer to see this as moving to a new axis, either way it is not a fixed central axis, rotating on a fixed centre is spinning and does not increase power.  There is no need to over think this it is what our body does naturally, it is how we walk for one thing.

Biu Gee upper body movement {and it is only upper body movement that we study in Biu Gee, the waist is always Chum Kiu and the arms are always the first Form} is the only concentric rotation in Wing Chun, our complete shoulder girdle rotates around our central axis, our spine, which is firmly anchored on top of our pelvis which allows for rotation that is independent of the pelvis even though it is usually used in conjunction it is two actions working independently side by side and not two becoming one.

As I mentioned in the last post each Form has its own associated set of IDEAs that we ultimately need to resolve into the unified Form that is the Siu Lim Tao proper, this is why my reference of choice is the first Form most of the time instead of Siu Lim Tao Form.

words are just vehicles for painting pictures of IDEAs.

The most difficult part of teaching anything is in finding the correct way to describe the event we are involved in, Wing Chun is full of descriptions designed to create an image in our minds eye, we create analogies to aid understanding, balls, triangles and centre lines for example, analogies are at best only similar, they are never the same, when something is not the same we are to a very large extent talking about something that is not what we are involved in, it becomes misinformation to a degree, some of the analogies I use in my own teaching method are “Inflatable Skeleton and Overcoat Body”, very useful to create an image feeling but completely false when faced with the reality of what is happening.

Most of the standard explanations for Wing Chun rotation that I have heard are in the same vein, useful in painting mental pictures but completely false when faced with the reality of what is happening.

Something we all know instinctively but have difficulty understanding is that bones are not something that  move of their own accord, they need to be moved, and it is whatever is moving our bones that brings about rotation, not our hips, or shoulders and definitely not our spine. As someone that has undergone 6 spinal operations including spinal fusion and pinning I know intimately that vertebrae are not intended to move individually, at my Sifu’s school it was referred to in this way during Biu Gee instruction, the IDEA that you can rotate the vertebrae one at a time in an ascending order may help draw a picture but it is not how the spine works, when anything twists or winds it compresses becomes smaller and more dense, think of wringing a face cloth.

Unwinding has a very real and important part to play as well, although it is an integral part of Biu Gee it is often overlooked, to a certain extent all Chum Kiu rotation is unwinding, hence my describing it as expansive.  Another of my own analogies is that Chum Kiu opens the cupboard doors and Biu Gee closes them, a useful mental image that has nothing to do with what is occurring.

All rotation is the result of specific engagement of the core muscles, the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius.

Is it any wonder Wing Chun Instructors just say move your hips.

As understandable as it may be are we any better off taking this approach?

I think not, from a personal standpoint I can easily and readily feel my muscles even when relaxed, but though I live with constant back pain I am relatively unaware of my spine, and I am not even sure I have a shoulder girdle.

All rotation is muscular, all rotation is core winding, Chum Kiu rotates  a flat plate and Biu Gee a vertical pole, both rotate horizontally, Big Gee may traverse a helix but any chosen set point is rotating horizontally.

Chum Kiu rotation is a very complex arrangement of all of the deep abdominals, the engagement of which will vary at different positions in the weight shift, luckily for us our brain will take care of the details.

Biu Gee is controlled mainly by the Sacrospinalis and oblique abdominals, but is of course anchored and assisted by the deep abs and diaphragm.

Becoming consciously aware of and then actively using our core muscles may be a challenge at first, especially if we have spent years convincing ourselves that we are moving our bones, but the difference in stability and power are worth the effort. Never forget that deep down we all know we cannot move bones and as such we also know that we are pretending to do something that is not humanly possible.

In my teaching method I use a great many exercises that are not directly related to Wing Chun, exercises that derive from ballet, from sword play and of course ice hockey, these exercises greatly improve effective movement that in turn improves all Wing Chun practices, I no longer teach pivoting in any way my Sifu taught me, instead I have everyone focus on identifying and engaging all of the core muscles relative to the action, as a result my students pivot much better, much sooner with far less struggle, it helps that I do not teach anyone under 18 years of age, most are in their late 20’s to 40’s, so most students already have body skills associated with their work that engage the core on a regular basis, one of my guys is a Brick layer, he spends 8 hours a day engaged in what is essentially Biu Gee rotation laying bricks, I have plumbers and landscapers that use shovels for many hundreds of hours a year, once we tapped into this they took to pivoting like Traffic Cops take to Sunglasses.

This is too big a subject to do any credit to in a blog post, hopefully it will encourage you to do some independent study outside of the Wing Chun method, once you understand what your body needs to do to rotate effectively you can call it anything you want, describe it anyway you want, words only make true sense to the person that speaks or writes them, words are just vehicles for painting pictures of IDEAs.


Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday


Pivoting off line in Chum Kiu.
Pivoting off-line in Chum Kiu.


When I talk of Internal or External it is not in the usual Kung Fu / Chi Kung way, I am simply using the words to describe the difference between what we think and feel, Internal. And the motor mechanics of our Body, External, we need a different approach, different diagnostics when we are dealing with the Driver than we do when we are dealing with the Bus.

Bring everything you learned in the first Form onwards to the second Form

Only you will know how you interact with yourself during the first Form, there is no correct way, it is always personal, but you absolutely must do the second Form from this perspective, it is not just about attitude, it also Body awareness, how it feels, where you reside in it, in this way when you make changes, and Chum Kiu will bring about quite a few changes, your whole being will change, and not just the Chum Kiu Form.

From the Internal, thinking point of view the Chum Kiu is an extension of the Sil Lim Tao, it even opens up in he same way, and as such time should firstly be spent on setting up our “Body Being”,   “HEAD UP, BODY DOWN”.

It is easy to get confused and think that there is a great deal more going on in the Chum Kiu Form than in the S.L.T. Form but of course, at least Internally, this is not the case, it is in fact done in exactly the same way for exactly the same reasons. We are just introducing additional movement to challenge our ability at maintaining the “Body Being”,

The only additional or new movement we introduce is from the waist, it is understandable that students think that we are also introducing movement from the legs, but on close inspection it is clear that the legs are being moved by the waist, Chum Kiu is about moving the waist without destroying whatever we have learned through Sil Lim Tao.

The shape of our torso in S.L.T. remains unchanged in the C.K. the shoulders sit naturally, quietly above the hips, the head, due to the inflated spine, sits naturally and quietly above the pelvis, no matter what we do with our waist, our torso is totally engaged in the “Body Being” of S.L.T.  “HEAD UP, BODY DOWN”.

When the waist is moved only the waist is moved, our head, shoulders, hips and navel are not engaged, they stay exactly where they naturally reside; just like Yum Cha Dishes on a “Lazy Susan” all the dishes stay in the same position in relation to each other, even though they move through space, unless of course you spin it too quickly, one thing that you will soon discover is that this is equally a problem in Chum Kiu.

If our pelvis is a ball then the waist is the equator of that ball, keeping this in mind I talk about moving the waist to bring about movement as opposed to moving the hips, apart from giving us a far larger and easier to feel engine to move our body, it enables us to use the hips as a point of reference for our shape, they are no longer something that we are directly trying to control they move where our waist moves because our waist moves as a result it is easy to see that the hips and the shoulders do not move at all but just go along for the ride.

Another, and quite separate part of Chum Kiu is to observe and understand how our Centre of Gravity is moved by the actions we create. An inherent part of Wing Chun “Body Being” that we establish in the S.L.T. is to maintain a straight spine and to keep our weight situated in our pelvis, Head Up. Body Down  {maintaining the relationship between the hip and the shoulder is by far the easiest way to do this the hip – shoulder line is parallel to the spine, if one is maintained by default so is the other, having the idea, via the practice of ‘Overcoat Body”, that my shoulder is connected with my hip encourages the centre of gravity to sink into my pelvis}.

Despite Wing Chun centreline theory human beings are not built around a centric axis, when we feel that this is the case it is because our weight is evenly distributed between the two excentric axes that are our legs, when we pivot it is only these two axes that are available to pivot on, this is biology and not Wing Chun, if we maintain a straight spine as we turn our waist, if we avoid creating tension and destroying the “Body Being” our centre of gravity moves to settle over one of the supporting legs. to a very large extent we are now in situation similar to a one legged S.L.T.

Refer to the picture above to get a clearer idea of what I am saying.

Just like the S.L.T. if we are working on the Internal aspect, the thinking and feeling, there is no reason to be concerned about what the body is actually doing, Heads and Tails are after all part of the whole but not the same.



Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

W.C.W. 16-09-2015. CHUM KIU Pt.4




Although you can use Pivoting as an active answer to incoming force, it is also how you set up in the various “Fighting Stances” in Wing Chun . Our basic stance Y.C.K.Y.M. is a Training Stance that does not move and is of limited use in Violent Situations. Once you consider adopting a ready position you can see why developing the ability to move your pivot to a specific place and arriving there in balance and stable condition is important. If you did not know this then this information may help you correct the way that you pivot.

Chum Kiu does not step, it shifts. This is an important distinction.

Continue reading “W.C.W. 16-09-2015. CHUM KIU Pt.4”

Wing Chun Wednesday




A few associates contacted me about the last post, one of them who is actually quite advanced in Wing Chun particularly disagreed with my saying that all movement started at the Feet, he said he was surprised to hear me say this and that I of all people should understand that in Wing Chun all movement, especially Chum Kiu starts from our Hips, {or the mysterious Dan Tien}.

This is a complete misunderstanding of how the Human Body works, not just from a Wing Chun standpoint either.

A couple of things to understand are that the Dan Tiens {there are 3 Major Dantien} are not Physical Realities, they do not exist in any tangible way so it is not possible for them to move anything.  Also the Hip is a Joint, and as such it or they are not capable of independent movement, they are a joint on the side of the Pelvis, a Cradle of Bone that is also incapable of independent movement, to be specific about what actually moves our Hips is not what any Martial Art bothers itself with. It is the results we crave.

Anyhow the Law of Inertia states that nothing that is still will move unless something external moves it, so the Hip does not move until something moves the Hip so Wing Chun movements are not initiated by the Hip but by whatever it is that moves the Hip.

If we look at Chum Kiu shifting, as we are standing in a Balanced and Stable position our Body weight is compressing our Leg and pushing the Foot firmly into the Floor, this is activating Newtons Third Law, “Springy Force”, once we cause our Hip to move out of alignment with our Leg, we are now out of Balance and Unstable, we are pretty much in free fall even if only marginally, the weight that was compressing the Leg is removed and the “Springy Force’’ decompresses returning the Leg to its normal length and propels the Unstable, out of Balance Body forwards, it makes no difference where the force originated from, the movement began as the Foot returned the force acting upon it up from the Floor.

It is important to understand the Un-importance of where the Force originated, more often than not we use our opponents Force.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the second and third forms in Wing Chun is that they are Links in the Kinetic Chain that creates the instantaneous explosive Force that Wing Chun is known for, Chum Kiu and Bill Gee are not “Advanced Forms” they are just later segments in the same Essay that began with the Siu Nim Tao Form.

It is for this reason that I introduce my Students to the Body Movements usually associated with Chum Kiu and Bill Gee very early on in their training { the Knives and the Pole movements are just a farther development of the same moves in the Chum Kiu and Bill Gee}, it is my firmly held belief that if you are focusing mainly on the First Form, even if you become extremely competent at it you will never develop anything like the level of Force that someone with a basic working knowledge of the Second and Third forms will produce.

In many ways the movements of Chum Kiu and Bill Gee are just the two sides of the same coin, Chum Kiu tends to rotate outwards and Bill Gee tends to rotate inwards, with respect to understanding the Kinetic chain, Chum Kiu deals with the Lower half of the Body and Bill Gee deals with the upper half of the Body, in practice it allows us to co-ordinate the movement of the upper half of the Body with the movement of the lower half of the Body, it is a Chain, so the movements of Chum Kiu are performed prior to the movement of Bill Gee, they are not joined they stay independent Links. And the Final Link is of course one of the Arm Structures from the First Form, still independent.

It truly baffles me why so many Wing Chun practitioners do not spend more time working on the Second and Third Form movements, I have mentioned elsewhere on this blog that the Siu Nim Tao is not fully realised until you have all Six Forms active, no power is created in the First Form, and for those who confront me with…

“Well how about your Sifu Jim Fung’s One Inch Punch”?

All I can say is that you obviously were not watching Sifu Jim when he delivered one, as small and subtle as his movements were they involved his whole Body dropping and coiling, a drop of a single Centimetre is still a drop,and to a very large extent the move was identical to Jack Dempsy’s Drop Step.

Johnny Nguyen from Expert Boxing does a great Job in this video, if you look you can see that his step is the same as our Chum Kiu shift { the first part not the regaining of the Stance part}, the front Leg is not an active part of this move it is really just taken out-of-the-way  just as it is not an active part of Chum Kiu.



The Chum Kiu and Bill Gee movements are teaching us to co-ordinate our movements and manifest the Kinetic Chain, that is their sole purpose, why some Schools choose to not use these Forms in favour of spending all their time on a Form that does not create any power is a mystery to me.

To truly understand how our Wing Chun is a “Great Big Awesome Kinetic Link” we would do well to look outside of Wing Chun so that we are not blinded by our passion, or painted into a Corner by our previously stated positions.

Go online to a site that teaches people how to Ice Skate such as “” or how to Row a Skull and compare the instruction to the shifting in Chum Kiu, then go to a site that covers Javelin Throwing or Discus Throwing and compare the information from the perspective of Bill Gee, these disciplines may seem unrelated at first but they are utilising the same ideas as we do in Wing Chun.