The Forms of Wing Chun
When most people think of the forms in Wing Chun, many often think of elaborate techniques, moves and stances in styles like Shaolin Kung Fu or Wushu. But Wing Chun’s forms aren’t katas to focus on techniques, fighting imaginary opponents or even as fixed traditions to pass down. In this article, we will be going over the various forms in Wing Chun, what they are for and what their place is in our art.
Why Practice Wing Chun Forms?
So what are Wing Chun forms for? Or rather why practice them? Wing Chun forms are for one thing… to help YOU get better at Wing Chun. Because by practicing the forms, you learn to practice and reinforce good Wing Chun actions and concepts. You practice in order to turn those actions and concepts into habits. This is why when you learn Wing Chun, practicing forms is so important… practicing instills the essence of Wing Chun (its concepts) into your muscle memory.
Then, as you practice with a partner, you can see how much those actions have become a part of your movements in chi sao, drills or sparring. This feedback from partner practice can then be taken back to your form practice. Form practice and partner practice sharpen each other to help you develop.
How Many Wing Chun Forms are There?
Wing Chun has six forms. There are three empty-hand forms, two Wing Chun weapon forms and one form for techniques on the wooden dummy. The three empty-hand forms of Wing Chun practice difference stances and techniques. One Wing Chun form has basic techniques and one stance for building structure. One form has pivoting stances and techniques for movement. And the last empty-hand form has techniques and stances for outside-the-box recovery-based applications. The other three Wing Chun forms include the Mook Yan Jong (wooden dummy form) and the two weapon forms.. the Luk Dim Boon Kwan (the Dragon Pole form) and the Baat Cham Do (the Butterfly Knife form).
What Are the 3 Empty-Hand Forms of Wing Chun?
The three empty-hand forms of Wing Chun are Siu Nim Tao, Chum Kiu, and Bil Jee. These empty-hand forms have different techniques and stances to develop different skills. To give a basic rundown of what the three empty-hand forms of Wing Chun training are for… Siu Nim Tau develops structure, Chum Kiu teaches you how to move while maintaining that structure, and Bil Jee is learning how to think outside the box.
- Siu Nim Tau (Sil Lim Tau) 小念頭 — Translated as “Little Idea”—It is the first Wing Chun form taught to students. It is both the beginner’s form and the master’s form. Unlike the other two empty-hand forms, Siu Nim Tau is completely stationary. There are two primary goals of Siu Nim Tau: cultivating structure and expanding your own awareness. The stationary nature of Siu Nim Tau allows for the practitioner to develop their connection—their root—to the earth. It is referred to as the master’s form because of just how central the form is to Wing Chun. All of the answers lie within Siu Nim Tau; it just requires digging to find them. Some answers will be much easier to find than others. Lao Tzu said “A tree trunk the size of a man grows from a blade as thin as a hair. A tower nine stories high is built from a small heap of earth.” Siu Nim Tau is that blade as thin as a hair, or that small heap of earth.
- Chum Kiu 尋桥 – The second empty-hand form of Wing Chun is Chum Kiu, which translates to “Seeking the Bridge.” The form integrates movement into the meditation. The practitioner is no longer stationary. Chum Kiu is when we begin to learn how to move with the structure developed from Siu Nim Tau—this is why it is “seeking the bridge.” The movements are a little bigger, but they are still within the realms of Wing Chun (more on that in the next section.) Unlike the translation of Siu Nim Tau—“The Little Idea”—Chum Kiu’s translation is much more obvious in what it means: “seeking the bridge,” find a bridge, connect to it, maintain your root, be ready to move to find another one if you have to. Seeking is something that requires movement, after all.
- Bil Jee (Biu Tse) 标指 – The third empty-hand form of Wing Chun, Bil Jee, which translates to “Thrusting Fingers” is, by its very nature, non-conventional. The concept alone of “thrusting fingers” might come across as odd to some. Like Chum Kiu, Bil Jee is a mobile form. Unlike Chum Kiu, however, Bil Jee has bigger, very un-Wing Chun-like movements. The purpose for Bil Jee is that, simply put, there are times when you have no choice but to go beyond the realms of typical Wing Chun in order to defend yourself. But that does not mean that we cannot still stick to Wing Chun too. Thinking “outside the box” does not have to mean that you must forsake your Wing Chun, it means you have to get creative in your recovery. Bil Jee is all about recovering and getting back to your root.
What Are the 3 Weapon Forms of Wing Chun?
- Mook Jong 木人樁 – The Wooden Dummy is, in and of itself, a form of Wing Chun. The purpose of the Mook Jong form is to practice position and structure against a form of structure that is not our own. This is our ultimate partner when it comes to solo training, what we consider to be as invaluable as Siu Nim Tau. (See our Wooden Dummy Plans)
- The Luk Dim Boon Kwan 八斩刀 – The Dragon Pole is all about long distance—keeping an opponent far away with precise thrusts and footwork. It also builds strength, inch-power ans structure. It represents our longest fighting tool.
- Baat Cham Do 六点半杆 – The Baat Cham Do form is all about the principle of a weapon being an extension of the body. The butterfly swords, teach evasive footwork, handling double weapons and strengthen the wrists. Rather, all other forms can be done with the butterfly swords, just modified so that it can be done while holding the blades.