“… The essence of Wing Chun lies in its five animal forms, the three awakenings, and the eight doors… and these three are all equally important: that if one of the three were missing, it could not be considered Wing Chun anymore… Wing Chun fundamentally is what is necessary and what is sufficient.”
Grandmaster Nguyen Te Cong
In keeping with these words of enlightenment, the teachings of Wing Chun at our school follows a traditional course of study, combining the three aspects of Kung Fu: external force, internal force, and fighting techniques.
The Path of Wing Chun Kung Fu is divided into three stages, which aims to unify the three bodies (the physical, the energetic, and the mental) of the human being into a harmonious whole; in order to be at one with the cosmos in its eternal evolution.
The hierarchical system at the School of Shaolin Wing Chun is composed of the three belts:
The Black Belt symbolizes darkness or “ignorance”. Attainment of the black belt demonstrates that the practitioner has integrated into the school with the Master’s approval. Successively, the three red bars (dan) that can be attained at this level symbolize the three degrees of learning and perseverance.
The Red Belt is the second colour attributed to continued determination and perseverance. Further comprised of white bars for the nine dan, each of these correspond to one of the nine skills and qualities required in the journey along the Long Path.
The White Belt is the ultimate in the Shaolin Wing Chun system and is synonymous with purity, wisdom, and enlightenment. It is the only one that can be attributed to oneself. Individuals who have attained this level do not possess interest in wearing it ostentatiously and would prefer to withdraw from society at large; dedicating themselves to a religious and ascetic way of life.
The Beginner level is the first stage where practice is emphasized on the physical body in order to fully develop one’s human potential; using the formula of “mind over matter”. At this level, Wing Chun’s aim is to prepare the body by performing basic relaxation and specific techniques that are geared towards simultaneously developing strength and flexibility, while improving breathing and concentration. Teaching is structured according to traditional methods, so that practice requires discipline and perseverance. In addition to physical training, classes are accompanied by theory lessons, which reveal the history of our school as well as its philosophical foundations. The training method that we employ is intended to ensure optimal progression, safety in practice, and better long-term effectiveness.
« Flexibility equates to youth. »
Effective techniques and harmonious movements will only emerge if proper posture is maintained. Shaolin Wing Chun possesses specific combat positions that, if adopted, provide practitioners with many benefits. Examples being; quick and efficient movement in all directions and situations, protection against an opponent’s attempts to probe for weaknesses, positions that leave little room for an opponent’s attacks and do not reveal the nature of your own intention to attack or counter attack.
– Master the various postures
– Development of striking power
– Displacements (advance, retreat, rotational movements)
The Little Idea (Tieu Hinhy)
The Little Idea is the name attributed to the synthesis of the five animal forms. This is the first form taught to new practitioners, instilling in them basic principles and rudimentary techniques. Composed of thirty-six basic strikes, they involve omni-directional movements and include simultaneous attacks and defenses, adhering to the Yin and Yang philosophy. Done from the hourglass position (converging feet, slight backward tilt), this uniquely Wing Chun posture allows the practitioner to focus their breathing, to awaken and stimulate the flow of vital energy, and thus to consolidate force in their strikes.
The Forms (Quyên)
The forms represent sets of movements and postures that have been studied and choreographed for the practice of combat techniques. They were designed as such in order to allow for the release of maximum force, the harnessing of vital energy, or a combination of both of these elements. They allow for the harmonization of all the external components (postures, techniques, and displacements) with the internal components (vital force, force of breathing, and mental strength). Although Wing Chun features forms based on the five Shaolin animals, the five forms of Wing Chun combat are not identical to their Shaolin counterparts. In particular, the School of Shaolin Wing Chun emphasizes the two most flexible forms: the Crane and the Snake.
Sticky Hands (Chi Sao)
Sticky Hands is not a specific form, but rather it is a specific technique for developing sensitivity to touch – the First Awakening – which is a highly effective working tool for combative techniques.
The Essence of Wing Chun
The essence of Wing Chun is in the practice of the five animal forms, using the three awakenings as moments of action to reach the highest efficiency through the eight doors.
“…receive a guest well when he visits and accompany him to the exit, then proceed forward when the path is clear….”
Grandmaster Nam Anh
This verbal principle advocates freeing oneself from preconceived patterns to allow for the neutralization of opposing forces. All the while, it is important to emphasize that the basic forms that were first conceived not be undone during this process. What this leads to then is unpredictability, which outweighs premeditated and patterned strikes and deflections. It is often the misunderstanding of these key principles that has led some to ignore or even deny the efficacy of the five forms of combat in Wing Chun.
Kicks taught at the beginner level form the basis of a complete set of Wing Chun’s foot techniques. Contrary to popular belief, these include strikes above the waist and are composed of ground and jump-based kicks.- The 12 Basic Kicks
With the advent of modern weaponry, the practice of using traditional weapons has shifted focus to one of maintaining cultural heritage. The first weapon that is taught is the six-and-a-half-point staff. It is considered the safest weapon; the “mother” of all subsequent weapons; was the preferred weapon for Yim Wing Chun’s husband; and was a non-lethal weapon of choice used by Shaolin monks and nuns to disarm any would-be adversary. The name comes from the six points targeted with the staff (head, neck, temples, sternum, ankles, and wrists), while the “half” indicates the length of the staff, which is between the longer and shorter staffs. The median length adapted by Shaolin respects the traditional notion of the “Middle Path”.
– Six-and-a-half-point Staff (Luc Diem Ban Con)
– Butterfly Knives (Bat tram Dao)
– Sabre (Vu Hoa Dao)
– Halberd (Kwan Dao)
These are not choreographed like the aforementioned forms. This practice aims to make the practitioner able to cope with any eventuality, under any potential real-life scenario. It puts into practice the verbal principle of: “if there is no bridge, you have to ask for it. Once established, cross the bridge.”
– The sequences of the Five Fighting Forms
– The Search for the Bridge (Tam Kiêu)
Detailed Curriculum to attain the Red Belt:
“Belly” (no belt)
Basic relaxation (muscles, tendons, joints, breathing)
The Wing Chun Base Position
The Little Idea
“ABC” using Hands
Eight attacks of the Crane and Tiger
Basic Defensive Blocks (hands and feet)
Applications of the Small Idea
Black Belt 1st Dan
Partnered Semi-Free Techniques (Hands and Feet)
Applications of Tiger form
Black Belt 2nd Dan
Partnered Free Techniques (Hands and Feet)
Searching for the Bridge
Applications of the Staff
Butterfly Knives techniques
Punching bag – 3 principles
Black Belt 3rd Dan
Hand Techniques (Tiger/Crane/Dragon forms)
Synthesis of the Five Animal Forms
Brick Breaking (preparation)
The second level focuses on the energetic body. During this period of training, every effort is devoted to cultivating the potential of human energy, which is unburdened by the laws of physics, in order to transcend the various techniques and reach an art without art.
The School of Shaolin Wing Chun applies the principle of the shortest path. The control of internal energy is required as the efficiency of the technique is attributed to this principle. Being more direct and quicker, it cannot depend on the exclusive use of physical force and the extensions of the body and limbs as in the Long Path. The persevering work of internal energy allows the practitioner to release greater power and absorb blows that might otherwise cause him harm.
– The Diamond Process (Kim Cuong Noi Cong)
System of 108 Techniques, Composed of the 9 Forms
– 108 Bare Hand movements (solo)
– 108 Sticky Hand movements (dual)
– 108 Ying Yang movements
– 108 movements in Four Directions
– 108 Pa Qua movements
– 108 Tai Chi movements
– 108 Wooden Dummy movements
– 108 movements in Permutations
– 108 Free Combat movements
– Twelve additional kicks
– Tai Chi Sword
– Spear- Iron Fan
– Nunchuks (Two-Section Staff)
– Wooden Dummy
– The Hand of Thunder (Loi Oanh Chuong)
– I Chin Ching (Muscle/Tendon Change Classic)
– The Qigong of the 5 Animals (Ngu Hinh Khi Cong)
– The 8 Section Brocade
– The Oppressive Attack
– The Three Awakenings
– The Eight Doors
At this level, respecting everyone’s Karma, teachings are personalized. The aim is to train specialists in each separate area of Kung Fu.
“…The first three years, it’s you who chooses me; three years later it’s me who chooses you. For the remaining years, it’s Karma that leads and guides you…”
Grandmaster Nam Anh
It is most certain that the mastery of fighting techniques and the philosophy of Kung Fu is necessary and indispensable to the practitioner’s journey, as well as that of Oriental Medicine and other spiritual practices:
– Chinese Astrology
– Feng Shui
– Pana Mental Strength