As I said in yesterday’s post, I’m really working on the second form (chum kiu). From what I understand of the style so far, the majority of the system is contained in that and the first form, known as sil lum tao. In this article, I want to address what I think are the most important techniques to focus on. As you can see below, it really boils down to two things. One of them is an actual technique while the other is more like a principle.
*The Straight Punch*
For those of who you don’t know, most wing chun techniques involve the upper body. These would include elbows, finger jabs, palm strikes, chops and…of course…punches. Since this is the most common strike in the system, it is the most important one to develop. If you don’t have a solid punch, then you won’t cause your opponent any damage.
Developing a good wing chun punch goes beyond being super muscular. While that helps, it doesn’t mean you can skip the one thing that REALLY puts more wallop into the blow: the proper release of energy.
What do I mean by that? To answer that question, I will paraphrase the way Bruce Lee himself described it.
Think of a metal chain with a ball attached to the end of it. Now imagine you flick the chain so that the ball sails toward some target (a wall, someone’s head…doesn’t matter for this example). When the ball hits the target, the energy gets released. Then the ball and chain relax. This whipping motion is what you are aiming for when you throw a wing chun punch: your fist goes out, clenches just before the moment of impact, then relaxes so you can either drop it back into an on-guard position or can move on to the next attack.
It’s kind of hard to describe how you develop a good punch without telegraphing my next point, but that is the beauty of wing chun: from what I have seen, everything in this system is tied to everything else. When it was created, they really trimmed away all the fat!
Proper Release of Energy
(NOTE: It’s hard to show the concept of “proper release of energy” in a still photo, but I just thought this one looked cool.)
I already covered this a little bit at the end of the punching section, but it bears repeating here. In my years studying various martial arts, I have seen guys that weigh 100 pounds soaking wet generate more power in their attacks than guys who weigh twice as much. Why is that? Because the little guys know they are already at a size disadvantage, so they study proper body mechanics to get the most bang for their buck.
This is especially true of wing chun practitioners. You learn this right away with sil lum tao because in that form, you don’t step or even pivot. You set up your basic horse stance…and STAY in that stance…while you go through all the hand techniques. Your shoulders and hips don’t ever come into play when you throw a punch during this form. Honestly, I have seen the first form drive a lot of people away from the style because they think that the punch feels really wimpy, and they want to be able to defend themselves. And they are right: it IS wimpy at first, but those who stick with it open up a whole treasure chest of whoop ass.
The theory behind punching without a pivot at first is quite simple: if you can develop a strong punch with no body mechanics, then you will be a REAL monster when you finally add the body into the equation.
At any rate, for the point where I’m at in my life and training, these are the two most important things to work on.