This is a breakdown of the Wing Tsun system overview.
Siu Nim Tao - "Little Idea/Small Thought": This is the first form of Wing Tsun, and arguably the most important. This form is like a condensed data dump of the entire system, and can be used as an index of movements and a reference for self-checks when training. This form is all about correct technique coordinates, and is where proper structure comes from. Even though it is the first form taught, it is widely accepted that it was the last form developed. Even the highest level practitioners find their way back to Siu Nim Tao, exploring it on a daily basis.
Chum Kiu - "Seeking/Sinking the Bridge": This is the second form, or set, and focuses on compound movements and shifts, turns, and steps. The practitioner have both arms serving different functions while stepping, kicking, and changing angles. Chum Kiu focuses on making contact with the opponent and controlling the flow of energy while maintaining your structure and finding a position of superior strategic advantage. There are seven sections of Chum Kiu Chi Sao techniques to accompany the form.
Biu Tze - "Thrusting/Darting Fingers": This is the most advanced empty hand form in the system, full of very complex movements, and it focuses both on very aggressive attacks and recovery techniques from what could be considered as a bad or losing position. For this reason, a lot of people refer to this form as the emergency form, or "oh shit" form. Biu Tze contains a lot of circular movements and attacks from odd angles, bending a lot of the rules and principles that were learned early on, and it employs its own unique footwork. The attacks from Biu Tze are generally very fast, efficient, and brutal, resulting in serious injury, permanent disability, or even death of the opponent.
In the early days of Wing Tsun, Biu Tze was a closely guarded secret, never publicly displayed and only taught to select students. There was a saying, "Biu Tze never leaves the house", meaning it was only taught to the most loyal disciples and family members behind closed doors. Legend has it that this form got its name from an old Chinese proverb: "The fingers thrust towards the moon, not what is nearby", meaning the goal is seeing victory in the end, even if the situation you are in looks hopeless. Biu Tze specializes in turning a losing situation into a victory. There are four sections of Biu Tze Chi Sao techniques to accompany the form.
Mook Yan Jong - "Wooden Man Post": This is the iconic wooden training dummy that is used in Wing Tsun. In the old days, the wooden dummy was reserved for higher level practitioners, however it is a great training tool right from the very beginning. It has its own form and applications to accompany it, but even beginner drills can be practiced on the dummy.
Luk Dim Boon Kwan - "Six and a Half Point Pole": Commonly referred to as the Long Pole or Dragon Pole, this weapon is generally a little over 8 feet long, and tapers from approximately an inch and a half in diameter at its base (handle end) to about an inch in diameter at its tip. The name Six and a Half Point Pole comes from the pole form, which consists of it's 6 techniques that can be applied in various directions, and the "half" technique, which is a rapid downward motion of the pole. Earlier development of the centerline plays a major role here. It is generally accepted that this weapon and form was a later addition to the system (circa the Red Boat Opera Troop era), and this is the only part of the Wing Tsun system that uses the wide "horse" stance and 50/50 weight distribution. Our 6 and a Half Point Long Pole form bears many striking similarities to the Baji Quan 6 Harmony Great Spear form, and the Shaolin spear form.
Baat Cham Dao - "Eight Slash Swords": Commonly mistranslated as "Butterfly Swords"; the Eight Slash Swords look very similar to the Butterfly Swords. Our Baat Cham Dao have a fatter machete type blade that is designed for slashing. The tang is flushed with the spine edge of the blades, to assist in the chopping action.
Both types of swords are generally wielded in pairs and feature a D-grip to protect the hand (or to strike with), and a quillon for trapping an opponents weapon for damage, disarm, and protection.
The Woo Dip Dao (Butterfly Swords) generally have a more slender and pointed blade, and the tang is centered on the blade, as its design is more for thrusting.
A lot of modern hybrids exist, and a lot of the cheaper Baat Cham Dao training blades seen today have the centered tang for whatever reason, but this totally throws off the balance and geometry of the weapon in relation to it's designated function.
The Baat Cham Dao form is closely related to Biu Tze in application and footwork. Some suggest that the Baat Cham Dao played a major part in the birth and development of Wing Tsun.
Lat Sao - "Free Hand": Lat Sao is often used to refer to sparring (along with San Da and Gwoh/Gor Sao). In our lineage, the EWTO Lat Sao program is a proprietary training platform created by GM Kernspecht to train techniques and build one level to the next throughout the student grades. This platform interchanges with other levels throughout the curriculum, and you can flow in and out of the programs, allowing high and low level students to train together effectively. Lat Sao is a safe way to drill techniques and responses, and timing and distance. One bonus of this platform is that it is generally initiated from no contact, so the practitioner can learn to bridge the gap and intercept and counter incoming attacks.
Dan Chi Sao - "Single Sticking Hands": This is a beginners for energy, flow, and sensitivity, learning proper execution of the techniques under pressure and how they interact with each other. This performed with one arm of each practitioner, so they can concentrate on the action being performed. This is the precursor to Chi Sao.
Jut Chuen - "Sinking/Shocking & Threading": Sometimes called Laap Kuen or Laap Da (pull/fist or pull/strike), this is similar to the Laap Sao/Bong Laap drill done by other Wing Chun lineages, but mechanically different in function. This is a training platform used to practice free flow of techniques and counters, to learn to control the floating center and apply forward intent to your movements, bridging the gap between Lat Sao and Chi Sao. Jut Chuen is the primary training platform used by the Hong Kong/IWTA side of the WT lineage, as opposed to the Lat Sao program used by the EWTO.
Chi Sao - "Sticky Hands": Chi Sao is an impulse response training platform that generally begins from contact (Poon Sao) and focuses on applying techniques under pressure and developing flow and sensitivity while practicing the application of the Wing Tsun fighting and energy principles. You are looking for holes in your opponents defense to attack, while not allowing your opponent a chance to attack you. Chi Sao can vary in degree from a choreographed drill of preset patterns called sections (like the Lat Sao program), to freestyle Chi Sao between practitioners which resembles a safe way of sparring training without injuring each other. Chi Sao has even become a competitive sport among some practitioners. Chi Sao is a chess game where you simultaneously attack and defend, while trying to control the structure of your opponent. This is a great training system used to make your techniques natural reflex responses.
Gwoh Sao - "Cross Hands": (Sometimes spelled Gor Sao) Originally a competitive form of sparring that began from contact on the outside of the wrist (hence the name Cross Hands), the term has been used for quite some time throughout different branches and lineages to refer to sparring. Our system has a leveled Gwoh Sao program, which starts from slow and controlled turn based applications, to full contact sparring (which can technically also be called Lat Sao). The main difference between Chi Sao and Gwoh Sao is that Gwoh Sao does not generally start from the Poon Sao position, generally involves more kicks and takedowns that classic Chi Sao, and disengaging and reengaging the opponent.
In our Wing Tsun system, we have a standardized grading system that is recognized worldwide within other WT schools. We have a set curriculum that we teach to make sure that all students are presented with the same information and nothing is left out, skipped, missed, or neglected, similar to grades in a regular school.
There are 12 student grades. Grades 1-4 (white shirt) are the beginner grades. Grades 5-8 (grey shirt) are the intermediate grades. Grades 9-12 (black shirt) are the advanced grades. To put things into perspective that most people will understand, student grade 9 is about the equivalent of a black belt (we do not use a belt ranking/Dan system; that is a Western modified Japanese thing). If a student wishes to become a certified instructor, they must be at least student grade 10.
After the student grades, there are 4 Technician levels, and a 5th level which is Master Practitioner. The Technician levels are very highly advanced. These would be equivalent to the "Dan/Degrees" a master would have on their black belt in other styles. To Earn the official title of Sifu (and a red shirt), one must be at least a 2nd Technician Grade. Technician grade practitioners can often be recognized by the red stripes on their black training pants. Once you achieve the 5th level Master Practitioner, you have shown mastery over the complete Wing Tsun system from start to finish. Master Practitioners can often be recognized by their yellow shirts, and yellow stripes on their training pants.
Disclaimer: The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in this site are that of Texas Wing Tsun and its Chief Instructor, Jason Malik, who independently researched and compiled the information that is presented in his personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the official views of our WTA or RJKD affiliates. Allowance is made for fair use of copyrighted photos and other media material compiled and presented from outside sources and is protected under the federal Fair Use Act of 1976 (17 USC Section 107) for reporting/editorial, research, and educational/teaching purposes.
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