Defending with Elbows (Part 2)


When is a fist not a fist?


I once had a question put to me from one of my students:  


“Do the Forms contain all of the hand, elbow, and kicking techniques of Wing Chun?  

How many hand, elbow, and kicks total are there in Wing Chun?   Thanks”


The first thing I will say is that everything in the system is to be found in the Forms, and in fact in a strong way, everything in the system can be found in Siu Lim Tau ‘if’ you know where to find it.



Ip Man said,  

“Anyone can add onto a system, the secret is to try and take away but still keep it pure”


The idea here is that we are not trying to see how MANY techniques there are, but how FEW.


Here’s another clip on elbows, which may help to give an example of this idea.



This is the issue with terminology too, and the adding on of extra moves.  


To me it’s like the old saying:

‘One mans Jut is another mans Jum’

Okay, so maybe I made that one up, but you get the idea right?


To better understand this, try to imagine terminology the other way around, a non English speaking person wanting to learn boxing and being told that…  


A clenched hand is called – A Fist

But if we hit with it, it’s called – A Punch

And if we hit with it from the front hand, it’s called – A Straight

And if we hit with it and this is done quickly and pulled back, it’s called – A Jab

And if we hit with it from the back hand, it’s called – A Cross

Unless it’s around the side when it’s – A Hook 

But upwards, well this would be – An Upper Cut

Now have you understood all that?  




It may well be that he’s only remembered how to pronounce the first thing he was told, and now believes that he must ‘Fist’ his attacker before they ‘Fist’ him!  


‘I beg your pardon!’


The same is also said for spelling or interpretation, I like to spell hand/arm ‘Sau’, you may like to spell it ‘Sao’.

It does not matter!

I also interpret Chum Kiu as ‘Bridging the gap‘.

Whereas you may wish to interoperate it as ‘Seeking the bridge‘.

Again, it does not matter.  


Anyway, the point is this, unless you are Chinese, you WILL get a few things wrong when it comes to translation, it’s fine, it’s all part of learning.  


Most Westerners find it difficult to understand all of the terminology in Wing Chun and to be fair, I would agree, purely for the fact that it is all made up.  


AND you are NOT Chinese.


None of the techniques in Wing Chun have names, they are all just descriptions of what either IS happening or has JUST happened.   Tan Sau translates as Palm Up because that is what it is showing, just as in ‘Pulling hand’ or ‘Slapping hand’.


Now of course we will refer to these moves often and no one will dispute what they mean.  




Imagine explaining something to a student, in English, describing the application as you see fit, someone else may describe that same application slightly differently, therefore using different wording, now translate those two conversations into Chinese and we hear two completely different names.  


Hey presto, two new terminology names for us to try to remember.  

So don’t get too bogged down on the name of something, just make sure you know how to use it.  


And keep it simple!

THAT is Wing Chun


Watch out for Part 3

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