How Many Moves Are In Wing Chun?

A question put to me from one of my students was as follows:

“Sifu, 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?


The first thing I will say is that everything is the system IS in the forms, and in fact in a strong way, everything in the system is 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 there can be.

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

Overcomplicating terminology is also an avoidable issue when it comes to kicks,

We hear lots of names for kicks;








And so on…

Let’s just keep it simple there are only two kicks we need in Wing Chun:

Front kick and Side kick

What you choose to do with them is up to you.

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.

We do not have, ‘Dragon whips its tail’ or ‘Monkey gets beers in’ (or whatever).

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 that something.

And keep it simple!

THAT is Wing Chun

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