Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday




Position in any martial art is all about getting off line, but which line?


The standard scenario envisioned by Wing Chun is that if we are set upon we reply to this attack with simultaneous attack and defence, followed by unrelenting attacks immediately finishing off the threat, job done in what we could call the “first phase” of the fight.

This is at the heart of most Wing Chun thinking, and the main reason we do not train dynamic movement or consider a need to study positioning, in the standard scenario they would never be needed.

What happens if we do not finish things in the “first phase”?

The standard follow up scenario is “Face the Shadow / Chase the Shadow” then rinse and repeat our earlier efforts, and again if this did happen it would work.

This may be acceptable from the point of view of Mind Logic or Body Logic, but not for Fist Logic.

There is no doubt at all that our biggest weapon in Wing Chun is surprise, fights can be over before the our opponent knows it has started, but even the best get things wrong, and when it happens do we really think that the Bad Guy would choose to repeat the same thing that had just failed  in the first phase?

If the Bad Guy goes to plan “B” what do we do?

When it does not work “Face the Shadow / Chase the Shadow” leaves us stranded like a Bunny in the headlights.

If the Bad Guy is a Judo player, or a Ju Jitsu player or just a very basic grappler we will never stop them taking us if we just stand there as in the standard scenario, where is our plan “B”?

Despite the fact that none of our Forms are about fighting, Chum Kiu and Biu Gee do contain some really clever footwork that readily converts into useable applications to gain strong positions for attack and defence, to really appreciate this footwork I get my guys to do the Forms without using any arm moves at all, just the footwork.

It is often said that of all our Forms the Dummy Form is full of fighting applications, but I think this is drawing a very long bow, at least half of the moves in the Dummy Form are flat out wrong due to the fact that the Dummy does not move and its frame prevents us from taking the side position correctly.

It does however offer some really good positioning concepts that really should be introduced much earlier.

Every move on the Dummy puts us on the outside of an attackers arm and teaches us how to take up the side position where the attackers other Arm {other than the one we intercepted} cannot strike us properly, this is very sound positioning theory and consistent with every other martial art.

A great deal of the footwork in the Dummy Form is at its heart evasive footwork, a hybrid of Chum Kiu and Biu Gee, that allows us to shift and rotate, there is nothing in the Dummy Form that goes hey diddle diddle, again this is very sound positional theory, it is interesting that there is not anything in the Dummy Form that reflects “Face the Shadow / Chase the Shadow”.

If we can combine the movement of both Chum Kiu and Biu Gee we end up with something very, very close to how Western Boxers move, once we recognise this there is a wealth of information on the net that we can learn from.



Position in any martial art is all about getting off line, but which line?


Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday



In Wing Chun nothing causes disagreement quite as much as talking about our Stance and Guard.

It is quite amusing when you think that Stance and Guard are concepts not practices, concepts of themselves are not real, they are abstractions and generalisations, they are the raw material that we build with, just like the cup you drink Tea out of was once simply Clay.


A Stance is a shape or position, it is static and unchanging, it is a strange thought that something that does not move or change can be of such importance in the dynamic flow of a fight.

In Wing Chun we have 5 widely accepted Stances.  6 if you include the Wu Ji stance before the beginning of Form.  The Goat Grabbing Stance from the S.L.T. Form, the Turned Stance, the Front Stance, the Cat Stance from the Chum Kiu and the Horse Riding Stance from the Knives.

The 5 Stances are really 5 components that can be mixed and matched as needed by the unfolding situation, no matter what your philosophy is about interpersonal violence deep down you know you will not be standing still.     As a result of Stances being Static Constructions there are no genuine Stances in a fight, all Stances have certain benefit and all have definite weakness none are complete and none are useable.

Stances are stable platforms from where we can explore the relationship between our Body and the Governing Concepts presented in each Form.      All of Wing Chun’s Stances are training Stances that introduce us to ways of staying Stable or regaining lost Stability.  The shifting and pivoting from Chum Kiu, are examples of regaining lost Stability.

I have heard Instructors talk of there being  “Moving Stances”, but that is incorrect and shows a stunning lack of understanding.   Think about it, if you can be deemed to be in a Stance while moving it means there is no correct place or incorrect place to be in a Stance, no right way to stand or wrong way to stand, no good shape or bad shape, the Stance simply stops existing.

When discussing this topic with friends they have said that I am just playing word games and trying to be clever.  W.T.F.  Communication IS a word game, if someone is using the wrong words what are the chances of other people understanding them.   If people are using the wrong words what are the chances they know what they are talking about?

One can move out of a Stance, move into a Stance but movement is always and only movement.  The most important lesson to learn is how to  regain or move into a Stance as it will be the Bad Guy that either breaks our Stance or causes us to break it.


What is a Guard?

A Guard is a neutral position from where in defence we can cover all the vulnerable angles of access equally, while in attack we can launch our weapons, Hands, Feet, Elbows even Head to all of the opponents accessible targets equally.

It is not a shape it is an IDEA, a Concept.

What is often spoken about as being THE Wing Chun Guard is in fact just the proximal and distal limitations for our Arms on a line towards our opponent, if we place our Front Hand further forward or our Rear Hand further back towards us they are no longer capable of fulfilling their role as a Guard, the Front Hand begins to tense and fails at absorbing incoming force, the Rear Hand is too close to prevent a punch landing on us when we connect to the opponents wrist.  There are other problems but these are enough for us to not overstep the Boundaries of the Guard position.

The Hands could be anywhere on this line and still function effectively, the most natural position would be both Hands level at two thirds extension.  This line is of course a plane, the Sagittal Plane when moving forward and backward and the Transverse plane when our Guard Hands slide up or down to cover more area, think Garn Sau / Dai Sau.

The first distinctly Chum Kiu movement, the Arms extending down the Shoulder line, is also a Guard Position Concept, these are the outer limits where our Arms can still absorb and transfer force, if we turn our thumbs inwards, palms forwards from this position we find ourselves in or around the natural two thirds extension position.  If we rotate this unit we are almost doing Chi Sau, which is how the Guard is meant to operate and why we practice Chi Sau in the first place.

And of course the shoulder line is a plane, the Frontal Plane, when seen from this perspective we have created a Box in front of our chest, this is the basis of the Gate Theory.

The Wing Chun Guard is not an Arm shape as much as an indication of the Functional Parameters that the system works under.  Your Arms will work perfectly anywhere inside these boundaries.

Every Guard position has inherent weakness, Hands in the Centre leave us open to round house attacks, Hands on the Shoulder line leave us open to down the middle attacks, knowing this can be used to our advantage, leading the opponent into our strongest defence.

Myself I prefer a wider Guard Position  encouraging Hey Diddle Diddle attacks, it also looks way more passive not letting your attacker think you have a skill set, and can be a counter measure to adrenalin induced tunnel vision.


Set up & Positioning from WC INCa’s on Vimeo.



Positioning is not a concept it is a practice, it is fluid and changeable, its shapes and movement are dictated by the situation at hand.   In training we stand square to our partner, this gives us access to all of our Tools for both attack and defence.

This is a great strategy.

But our training partner also does Wing Chun so they stand square to us, even when trying to be the Bad Guy.   We have now allowed the Bad Guy access to all of his tools.

This is a terrible strategy.

This is repeated and reinforced in Chi Sau, stay square, keep all tools in play, but again so is our partner, our ersatz opponent, we are setting up the situation to give the Bad Guy the best possible chance of beating us.

I have had Guys say to me “Yeah but if I did get in a fight I would not do this though, I would ….. Blah, Blah, Blah”  and I say to them “So you would deliberately choose to not use something you have worked at for all this time, on this day of all days you would step outside the box and try something new”?

Wherever possible as the opponent moves, or even in a stand off type of situation where the Bad Guy is trying to get in our face and intimidate us, eating up our space,  we would slide, shift or turn to be more to one side of our opponent than staying central, this is one of the Chum Kiu Concepts, depending on the situation we may of  pressed in as we shifted to the side taking out his near sides tools, in a stand off situation we could be already be pressing his Arm in towards his centre because the Bad Guy stepped into us, creating a situation where the opponent would need to try to make space to strike or be forced to hit across his body and leave him open for a trap and control, or perhaps we shifted back as we slid sideways forcing him to overextend his strike sacrificing his balance and make it easier for us to turn him and take all of his tools off line.
We would remain square to our opponent all through this exchange but at no time do we want our opponent to remain square to us, this action can be grooved mentally and physically in Chi Sau, wether you turn your partner or turn yourself is of no importance, if it ends with your partner loosing access to half his tools and you do not it is all good.

How we train is how we will fight, after all that is why we are training!!!

Articles, Wing Chun Wednesday

WING CHUN WEDNESDAY 04 – 11 – 2015



Being the subject of a Street Attack is like being in the Ocean, waiting for a wave, like Surfing, the sooner you can become aware of the movement of the Wave the sooner you can choose to go with it or let it pass, you can choose to jump up, drop in and rip it but if you do not move with the wave, if you try to force it…….


A Martial Art is Fear Management and not  Danger Management, to think otherwise is foolish and leads us astray.

To differentiate, Fear Management is when you are training for “IF” you get attacked, whereas Danger Management is when your lifestyle dictates that you will get attacked and you are training for that specific event.

Many people can understand this on an intellectual level if you are sitting chatting but it all goes to shit once they begin training and the Ego takes control.

There is nothing wrong with training for “IF” and hoping you never need to use your training, it is in fact my own position and has been for the last 20 years.  All the same in that time there have been five occasions that my training made the difference , but of far greater significance there have been numerous occasions that the Intention behind my training helped me to not get involved. Continue reading “WING CHUN WEDNESDAY 04 – 11 – 2015”

Articles, My Own Opinion



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