Beginners in WingTsun learn a basic form called Siu Nim Tau which is translated as “little idea form.” It is unlike forms from other martial arts because it does not move from one spot. Instead it focuses on hand technique. It is not choreography for eye appeal and demonstrations but rather a sequence that is designed for the student’s beneficial practice.
For a student to progress from form to application, drills such as lead arm defenses teach how to respond to punching-range attacks with certain hand defenses from a certain distance and simultaneously counter the attack, passively. This is done by repetition.
One then progresses to simple free-hand fighting drills involving two opponents who step towards each other using the tools they have practiced solo. These are also applications of the techniques from the Siu Nim Tau form. The techniques are simple in concept so that once they are committed to ‘muscle memory’ they work spontaneously in real attacks. Now the student has the most effective tools in case of an attack at an early stage of the training. The straight chain-punching and four different defending hands, tan sau, fook sau, gaun sau and pak sau plus advancing step footwork have been called the “universal defense” by some member WingTsun organizations because this simple approach handles most attacks from the front.
Second Form and Sticky Hands
The second form is next, called Chum Kiu. This form teaches footwork and the use of elbows, knee striking and kicks, bong sau and footwork.
The aspect that is missing from many martial arts as they are taught today are close range striking, elbow striking, kicking and punching with clinging arms. In real situations, strikes and other attacks happen far too quickly for the eye to see them, then letting the brain decide how to react, then deciding to react. The solution is sticky hands, “sticky shoulders” and “sticky elbows.” By feeling an attack through the limbs, one can react much faster and with greater reliability. One can instantly use the force of an attacker against them.
Realistic Fight Drills
The next step is to learn the transition from sticky hands (chi sau) and an actual fight. Students learn to bridge the gap in five ranges: kicking range, punching range, elbow and knee range, anti-grappling range, and the ground.
WingTsun normally dispenses with so-called ‘sparring’ and, instead, goes directly to a small fight. Two practitioners square off. The first person to score a serious strike or kick to their opponent technically ‘wins’ although we do not call it a ‘win’ but rather a successful defense since WingTsun is a self-defense system. The shorter the small fight, the less risk a defender has in getting hurt by somebody bent on his or her destruction!
The third form, called Biu Tze is next, taught in the early Technician Levels. A set of four sticky hands programs corresponds to the Biu Tze techniques. The Biu Tze techniques are more aggressive, more efficient, more lethal. The Biu Tze methods are then used in realistic fighting practice.
The next step are the wooden dummy techniques. A set of seven sections of sticky hands techniques are taught applying the techniques which make up the 116 wooden dummy techniques of Leung Ting WingTsun® and then applied in small practice fights.
-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg