What ALL wing chung styles do wrong

Look at the following picture.

What would you do in that situation?

Your wing chung style: What would you do?

This picture is taken from the book “When violence is the answer” by Tim Larkin.

Whatever your answer to the question was – when you identified with the person on the right rather than the person on the left, you have a problem.

Because you empathize and identify with the victim.

See, the question was not “How would you act if you were choked?”. It was “What would you do in that situation?”.

If you put that picture in front of a violent offender, a real predator, they will always identify with the person on the left.

It does not even cross their mind to be the victim.

And this is where all wing chung styles have it fundamentally wrong.

They teach first how to defend yourself.

And only later will you learn – at least that’s what they claim – to attack.

Namely, when you learn the third form – Biu Tze.

And that’s – sorry if I have to say it that bluntly – total baloney.

The first thing you should ever learn in wing chun is how to be the perpetrator and how to act with intent to – as Tim Larkin likes to put it – cause trauma to the human body.

Or in other words: how to use the tool of violence.

How to give in to pressure or circumventing an obstacle to get where you want to go, as you learn it in Chi Sao, is, at the end of the day, a sort of optimization.

For example, when you’re trying to hit the throat with your forearm using your whole body weight and your victim tries to block – then your Chi Sao may help to quickly adapt to that new situation.

But the first thing you should ever learn is how to get there in the first place, and not worry about the unlikely event that you can’t.

So what is it that the wing chung styles do wrong?

They teach you how to be defensive instead of how to attack and cause serious harm.

That’s why the most artful martial artist will lose against a totally untrained, maybe even pot-bellied attacker: it’s simply because some people tackle such a situation with the necessary intent. Meaning to cause serious harm – even death.

That’s what you don’t learn in your wing chung class.

In my opinion, that should be the first thing you learn. Then you can start to be more artful and train Chi Sao – wooden dummy and all.

Not the other way around.

Was Yip Man a superhero?

Yip Man – by the latest since the “Ip Man” movie-series – has always been depicted as a kind of superhero with incredible abilities.

But what do we actually know about the historic figure “Yip Man”?

You see, the Chinese have a great tradition of telling stories.


I hope you don’t believe in the story of Yim Wing Tsun observing two fighting cranes and then developing a sophisticated martial art out of nowhere.

Really, this is a fairy tale. It’s beyond ridiculous.

I am very much convinced that the founders of wing chun were a team of people with some profound knowledge of human physiology.

It is probably hard-wired into the human brain to listen to stories and memorize them well. Before we developed scripture, knowledge and myths had to be transmitted orally. In story-form it was easy to remember.

But of course orally transmitted stories would change after a while – just like in the telephone game. Suddenly an average Jane might turn into a superhero.

The Chinese understood very well the impact of telling a story – it’s no accident that nowadays storytelling is among the most hyped marketing tactics.

So what if all the stories about Yip Man are stories made up (or sometimes exaggerated with a tiny spark of truth in them). Just to sell the wing chun product better. To intimidate other styles and make the stories more memorable.

Yip Man as superhero – what’s the evidence?

If we take the actual evidence about Yip Man all at least I can see is an average person with hardly any understanding of Siu Nim Tao – at least no understanding that goes beyond what other “masters” do and show.

I am pretty sure that if you put Yip Man among other men in Hongkong’s Kungfu-Corner, let him practice Siu Nim Tao, and you didn’t know it’s Yip Man you wouldn’t recognize him as some the superhuman fighter he’s always depicted.

Yip Man in Kungfu Corner - not quite!

Just look at the videos of Yip Man practicing Siu Nim Tao. You could now argue that he was quite old and sick at this point. I get that. But I bet it would have not looked any different 30 years before.

Yip Man shows that he had not understood what Siu Nim Tao is about.

Just to set the record straight: I am not trying to belittle Yip Man or any of the other protagonists. All I am saying is that if we want to advance, we can’t believe made-up stories or just copy and do what has been handed down through the decades or even centuries.

We have to think for ourselves with the knowledge and the tools we have.

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Picture Credits: Udo Butschinek, Creative Commons BY-ND 4.0

Wing Chun techniques – wing chun forms

wing chung

Wing Chun is a powerful martial art – if you train it in a way the founders intended it.

This site is dedicated to the first form of wing chun. This wing chun form is not called “Little idea form” by accident. You should get a little idea of …. yeah, of what, exactly?

Are you practicing basic “techniques”? My answer to this is – no you don’t.

Are you practicing strikes or defenses? No you don’t.

I really have shocking news.

Shocking news for wing chung practitioners

The exact movements you are training in Siu Nim Tao are totally irrelevant. Let me explain.

The very core of the first wing chun form is something that is called the “tremor response” (also read my leading article on this site).

The “tremor repsonse” is a natural way of the body to release itself from trauma and stress. It is – as I believe today – the very core of Siu Nim Tao.
It usually starts somewhere in the pelvic reason. This is when your body starts to release the M. Psoas.
Practicing further, this “wobbling”, as I call it, will extend to other regions of the body – including your arms and legs.
This releases stress and trauma, releases fascial tissue and thus improves body structure and helps to remain the body pain free. I call this releasing “unwinding”.

Wing Chun and the tremor response

This response we have in common with all vertebrates – but somehow our way of living makes us unlearn this. Here is a video of a polar bear who has been hunted and shot with a tranquilizer gun which starts the tremor response to release trauma from it’s body upon waking up:

Without the tremor response trauma will be “saved” in our fascial network and will build up movement restrictions and can even lead to mental illnesses e.g. depression.

The movements in SNT are especially designed to provoke the tremor response.
In principal you could do ANY movement – as long as you do it correctly.
The purpose of the predefined movements in the first wing chun form is:
  1. relieve the student from being “creative” and thus keeps him from doing the same stuff all the time.
  2. help the occurence of the tremor response. SNT contains every possible movement you can possibly do with your arms.
Again, shocking news: In principal the movements you do are totally irrelevant – as long as you do them correctly!
Weren’t the founders of wing chun some clever chaps?

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Picture Credits: Jon Seb Barber, IMG_7626, flickr.com, Creative Commons BY 2.0

2 things to NEVER do in Siu Nim Tao

When you practice Siu Nim Tao, you are certainly NOT practicing any fighting-techniques.

Siu Nim Tao is about shaping the body in a way that it is suited for stability and economy.

In order to achieve that, there are 2 things that you should avoid like the plague when practicing Siu Nim Tao.

Siu Nim Tao Error 1: Shifting your pelvis to the front

This is an error which is very common in the world of wing chun. I also call this “tucking your tail under”.

If you have your pelvis tilted like this, this is what will happen:

You automatically shorten your front line. Think of your pelvis being connected to your chest by a rope. By tilting your pelvis forward, you will shorten that rope. This inevitably leads to a rounded back and forward-head posture.

Consequently, this whole structure lacks stability.

You may have experienced this before. You practiced the form with your pelvis tilted forward. Maybe your teacher came along and pushed your arms and you lost balance. Well, you HAVE to lose balance when your pelvis is tilted forward. It would be much easier if it were tilted back. It is elementary anatomy.

To illustrate this, look at the following picture. You can see here no less than Bruce Lee himself in IRAS with a forwards tilted pelvis. Look especially at the front line from pelvis up to the chest. See that it is concave, i.e. shortened. Look how his back is rounded, and his head comes forward (his master is no better example – same there). This is the effect of a forward-tilted pelvis. It is a piece of cake to pull at their arms with only forefinger and thumb and break their balance.

Bruce Lee and Yip Man - Siu Nim Tao IRAS

Siu Nim Tao Error 2: Pressing your adductors together

A second commonly seen error in Siu Nim Tao is pressing the adductors towards each other like crazy.

The purpose of Siu Nim Tao in general is to reduce tension in the body. By contracting the adductors, you are doing the exact opposite.

Although we call this stance IRAS (Internally rotated adduction stance) this does not mean that we contract anything. It just says that something is internally rotated.

Sometimes we are told that the IRAS is a pre-stance. This is absolute nonsense. Especially if you contract your adductors.

You see: Movement is only possible in relaxation. Don’t believe it? Then try this: Stand up, contract your leg muscles as hard as you can. Also contract your gluts. Keep it for a few seconds. And now walk.

You will notice that – in order to walk – you have to let go.

So, if this is the case, then IRAS in this way cannot be a fight pre-stance.

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