Wing Tsun is unique among martial arts in that it is not so much a system of “movements” or even techniques as it is one of concepts. In order to make those concepts come alive, however, we need structure. Structure starts with movements. The first form, called the Little Idea Form, is known as Siu Nim Tau in the Chinese – Cantonese language from which it came. Wing Tsun aims to build the effectiveness of its system by correctly defining the reasons for its choices of techniques. Ideas like the shortest distance between two points is a straight-line and the shortest straight-line is the centerline help give life to the system.

As a new student, you must learn the structure first, which allows both experienced and novice martial artists to defend without pre-thinking. Real attacks are in real time. There is no artificiality to a real attack. There is no time to think it through or think about it as it is happening. The time it takes to do any of that is when you will

be hit, badly injured or worse. In the well-proven practice of repetition, the techniques must be practiced often so they will be inserted into your body as automatic reactions. Wing Tsun is economical in movement. That means that there are no large movements outside the limits of the body’s dimensions. Once your arm moves too far away, it just must come back that far again to defend – too late!

If you are interested in defending yourself, the ability to relax must come first. The first form of Wing Tsun teaches this idea.

Techniques are all executed as simultaneous defense with offense. The block-then-punch concept is not used. This means that right hand-left hand coordination is part of your training.

The concept of simplicity is central to Wing Tsun’s design. This is not a statement of how easy or difficult it will be for you to learn. It does mean that complicated movements are subject to more mistakes and take longer to accomplish. The simpler we can accomplish are defense, the more effective it can be. This idea also goes back to the original ideas behind most martial arts. The idea was defending yourself. If it takes too long to defend, you are in danger of losing. Many martial arts advocated the “one-punch-kill.” It is an aspirational notion, However, in the Wing Tsun way of thinking, this is much too impractical.

This leads us to the practical ideas of Wing Tsun. Practical can mean handy or useful. Techniques that have immediate usefulness are the most prized. These are the one’s that you will learn first.

The center-line concept goes together with the straight-line concept discussed earlier. If you line yourself up with another person and draw a line between your breastbone and your partner, this is the approximate way to describe the center-line to you. This puts the width of your body toward your potential opponent. However, it also allows both hands to be used interchangeably as duel weapons. You now have both eyes to perceive threats in front of you for maximum depth perception. The shortest distance to your opponent is the center-line. If you defend the center-line, your opponent cannot enter. He will be forced to take a longer way around, allowing you the shortest distance. Attackers from behind can be addressed with a 180 degree turn. Wing Tsun’s versatile footwork can be engaged with more than one attacker.

Wing Tsun is a Yip Man lineage martial art with a slightly different spelling through Grandmaster Leung Ting. As such you will learn sticky hands, better known as chi sau. This concept allows a defender to feel the intent, direction, power, and precise angle of his attack. It also allows you to use his force to your advantage with enough training. Although chi sau is an effective self-defense tool, it can also be a fun way to interact with fellow students and colleagues in fun sessions of sticky hands fighting. The “sticking” to your fellow student’s arms keeps hard contact to a minimum. -Sifu Keith Sonnenberg