What the West has to say about
Wing Tsun Kung Fu
By Marie Elizabeth Finamore, MS, ATC, CSCS, LMT
with WingTsun technical assistance by Sifu Keith Sonnenberg
Wing Tsun challenges the physical body in many ways, and exercises and improves concentration, visual acuity, balance, core stability, and breath control, as well as a full body muscular exertion. Speed, agility, power are developed, and keys to the technique. Really the only movements NOT challenged in this system are those involved in overhead reaching.
Core stability is challenged in the basic stance, which a semi-squat with all lower extremity joints rotated inward achieved after alternately rotating the joints externally and internally. Isometrically this also challenges balance and all lower extremity muscles, as this is a very unusual position to most Westerners. Of course, and movement of the arms or legs away from the core challenges your stability, especially at the speeds demanded in Wing Tsun. In actual combat, of course, any blow landed or blocked also challenges the core.
The circular stepping motions work the hip rotators and squat musculature in ways similar to Pilates training, as no weight is born on the moving leg, so the standing leg and stability are working REALLY hard while the circling leg creates the challenging perturbation. Forward stepping and crab walking add increased balance and proprioceptive challenges…agility, really.
Almost all of the arm drills, including chain punching and blocking, work the rotators and stabilization of all upper extremity joints, including all the joints of the hands! Gum Sau and Tae Sau, because of the light pressure used, work the stabilizers of the shoulders, including the rotator cuff muscles, almost exclusively. (We know that lighter resistance works the stabilizers better than heavier resistance, which recruits the prime movers and may override the stabilizers.)
To be most effective, force must be applied in a straight line, so kicks and punches require not only core stability to maximize effectiveness, but also stability of all of the joints between the core and the point of contact with your opponent. If your wrist or foot is not in neutral position at the moment of contact, or your core is not stable, you are not delivering the maximum force possible.
1) Huen Bo (circle steps): hip rotators, core stability, balance, proprioception.
2) Huen Bo moving forward: all of the above, plus obliques.
3) Single punches: upper extremity rotators, biceps, triceps, pecs
4) Chain punches: all of the above, plus deltoids
5) Turning Stance: foot, kinetic chain coordination, core
6) Yee Chi Kim Yeung Ma: control of lower extremity, balance, posture
7) Crab steps: Entire lower kinetic chain, core
8) Advancing Steps (see intro)
9) Front kick: hip flexor and quad on kicking leg; core, balance, and entire lower extremity on standing leg.
10) Pak Dar: wrist extensors, elbow flexors, pecs
11) Siu Nim Tau + breathing: core and diaphragm
12) Gaun Dar: triceps; wrist flexors and extensors must work simultaneously to maintain neutral wrist.
13) Advancing steps from Character 2 stance: see intro
14) Huen Sau: wrist and finger flexors and extensors; wrist rotators. Again, flexors and extensors must work together to stabilize the neutral wrist position.
15) Turning stance drills: adds a little plyo/unweighting to initiate the move, again a challenge to the core and balance
16) Second section SNT drills: rotator cuff, awareness: peripheral vision. Also need to stabilize position of skull over shoulders.
17) SG self defense techniques: concentration, core, upper extremity rotators and prime movers.