Martial arts workouts vary with the style or system. Some use calisthenics such as push-ups, running in place, jumping jacks and so on, which are not, strictly speaking, martial arts. Others use rope skipping, bag hitting or use ancient martial arts implements. Martial arts workouts in Wing Tsun classes usually begin immediately with a session of Siu Nim Tau which is Wing Tsun’s first set of movements or a form. Most martial arts have ‘forms’ which are the dictionary of the style or system. Some styles have 9 or more forms. Some sophisticated Chinese styles with histories dating back several hundreds of years have up to fifty forms. Wing Tsun has three forms. The emphasis is on skill building for self- defense and so each movement in the forms have multiple applications.

A number of minutes and up to half an hour can be dedicated to the Siu Nim Tau form in some schools. A fine sweat develops, particularly if deep chi kung breathing is involved. Legs can become shaky. A surprising amount of energy is used for a set of movement where only the arms move. In Wing Tsun classes, the arms get good martial arts workouts, stretching the upper body muscles thoroughly in Siu Nim Tau practice or in air punching and focus mitt practices.

After Siu Nim Tau, air chain punches are practiced, usually 500-1000 as a warm up. Often, advancing steps are practice rapidly in three one-minute rounds. This sounds easy but can be quite a workout if you are not in shape. Paired punching drills are another often used exercise.

Advancing step or turning stance exercise with hand technique is another favored exercise by Wing Tsun instructors along with advancing step with kick and chain punch follow-up.

Pair-ups for rolling arms exercise is often the next step. Ten to twenty minutes is often the duration. Building the shoulder endurance for the sticky hands practice is the purpose. Sticky hand practice turns to fighting practice for those students that are qualified.

Some instructors choose to wait until the end to do a ‘burn-out’ which is a few hundred chain punches, maybe with some type of advancing steps, either straight or at right angles.

If you want fitness, you can find it at Wing Tsun classes.

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg