Wing Choon Kungfu

This technique, "Spiritual Monkey Plucks Coconut", is found in Wing Choon Kungfu, and is effective against a shoot, but not many practitioners may know it

Question 3

Sifu, Can you please explain the strengths and weaknesses of Wing Choon Kung Fu?



I shall first explain the strength and weakness of Wing Choon Kungfu popularly practiced in the world today. There are only a few unarmed sets in this style of Wing Choon Kungfu, namely Siu Lim Tou, Cham Kiew and Phew Chee, and this style uses mainly the Four-Six Stance.

There are two weapon sets using the Butterfly Knives and the long staff. As sparring using weapons is not popular today, we shall focus our discussion on its strength and weakness on the unarmed dimension, mentioning the weapon dimension only on passing.

Because there are only a few sets, practitioners of this style of Wing Choon Kungfu can spend much time on sparring, unlike in some styles where students spend most of the time performing their many sets. This makes these Wing Choon practitioners combat efficient, whereas most other kungfu practitioners only demonstrate beautiful forms, or use kick-boxing if they have to spar. This is their strength.

On the other hand, if these Wing Choon practitioners meet other kungfu practitioners who have a wide range of techniques, presuming that their skill levels are about the same, the Wing Choon practitioners will face a big disadvantage. This is their weakness.

For example, if a Tantui practitioner uses continuous kicks, a Drunken Eight Immortal practitioner uses felling techniques, or a Choy-Li-Fatt practitioner uses hard pressing attacks on a Wing Choon practitioner, the Wing Choon practitioner would have difficulty facing these attacks. This was probably the main reason the celebrated Bruce Lee abandoned Wing Choon Kungfu and developed his Jeet Koon Do. It is therefore ironical that many Wing Choon practitioners today glorify Bruce Lee, a martial artist who abandoned their art!

However, if the Wing Choon practitioner is of a high level, like a genuine Wing Choon master, he could easily use typical Wing Choon techniques to counter Tantui kicks, Drunken Eight Immortal felling techniques, Choy-Li-Fatt pressing attacks, and any other attacks from opponents of a lower skill level. Here, the deciding factor is skill. The Wing Choon master could defeat his opponents, regardless of what techniques they use, because he is of a higher skill level.

If both have the same level of skills, the limited range of techniques of popular Wing Choon Kungfu would be a weakness. Because of the small range of techniques in his repertoire, a Wing Choon practitioner would find it difficult to defend against the continuous kicks of a Taekwondo exponent, the throws of a Judoka or the locks of a Jujitsu practitioner of the same skill level.

Fortunately for the Wing Choon practitioner today, this weakness is not very significant because regardless of what his opponents practice, whether it is Taekwondo, Judo, Jujitsu, Tantui, Choy-Li-Fatt or whatever martial art, when they spar they will still bounce about like Boxers. So, all the Wing Choon practitioner has to do is to rush in with a series of chain punches, which give a semblance of Wing Choon Kungfu. If he has big muscles due to weight-lifting, which traditional Wing Choon practitioners would not practice, it would add to his advantage.

However, if you have similar level of combat skills as the muscular charging Wing Choon exponent, including similar sparring experience, and employ a Taijiquan technique to cover his chain-punches adequately, a Baguazhang technique to get to his back, or a Monkey style technique to slip below him to steal his peaches, the Wing Choon practitioner would not know what to do because he did not have the necessary counter techniques in his limited repertoire.

It is interesting to note that the strength of popular Wing Choon Kungfu is also its weakness. Its limited range of techniques gives its practitioner more time to spend on sparring. However, if an opponent is of a similar skill level, the limited range of techniques becomes a weakness.

Another example where its strength can also become its weakness is that Wing Choon Kungfu is meant for the small-size against a bigger, physically stronger opponent. Wing Choon techniques are such that being big size, including having big muscles, is a disadvantage. Wing Choon force training is such that having big muscles is a disadvantage. And having succeeded in developing internal force in Wing Choon Kungfu, a small-sized Wing Choon practitioner can be more powerful than a bigger-sized opponent.

A Wing Choon student will have this strength of the art if he applies Wing Choon techniques the way they should be applied, and trained Wing Choon internal force the way it should be trained. If he does otherwise, like using Wing Choon techniques as in Boxing, or developing muscular strength by lifting weights instead of training internal force using Siu Lim Tou, the strength becomes a weakness.

Wing Choon Kungfu is excellent for one-to-one combat, ranging from beginners’ to masters’ levels. This is its strength. However, the nature of popular Wing Choon is such that it is not suitable for mass fighting. If a group of assailants attack a master of popular Wing Choon at the same time, he would have difficulty fighting the group. This is its weakness.

These examples of the strength and weakness apply to styles of Wing Choon Kungfu popularly practiced in the world today. While the strength remains, the weakness does not apply to some little known styles of Wing Choon Kungfu, including Choe Family Wing Choon practiced in our school.

In the little known styles of Wing Choon Kungfu, including Choe Family Wing Choon, there are many other unarmed sets and weapon sets in addition to those practiced in the popular styles.

In Choe Family Wing Choon, for example, the three unarmed sets of Siu Lim Tou, Cham Kiew and Phew Chee of the popular styles, are incorporated into one set, Siu Lin Tou. There are about a dozen other unarmed sets, like Flower Set, Tiger-Crane, Battle Palm, Choy-Li-Fatt, Drunken Eight Immortals, and Essence of Fighting.

Besides the Butterfly Knives and the Long Staff practiced in the popular styles of Wing Choon, in Choe Family Wing Choon there are about a dozen other weapon sets, like the sabre, the spear, the big trident, the kungfu bench and the Guan Dao. In Choe Family Wing Choon, the butterfly knives set is called Human-Character Double Southern Knives, whereas in popular Wing Choon styles it is called Eight-Chop Knives. The long staff set is similar in both Choe Family Wing Choon and other popular Wing Choon styles, and is called Six-and-Half-Point Staff.

These extra sets, by a big number, are sufficient to off-set the weakness experienced in the popular Wing Choon styles. If a Taekwondo exponent executes kicks at a practitioner of Choe Family Wing Choon, for example, the Wing Choon practitioner can apply techniques from other sets to overcome the kicks. If a group of assailants attack him, he can apply techniques from Choy-Li-Fatt or Drunken Eight Immortals to overcome them.

The limited weapon sets in the popular styles of Wing Choon is also a strength and weakness. Like in unarmed sets, as there are only two weapon sets, it gives practitioners more time to enhance their skills in these weapons. The Six-and-Half-Point Staff has become a very formidable weapon.

On the other hand, it is also a weakness because practitioners have no chance to explore other weapons. Not only understanding other weapons will enhance performance in the butterfly knives or long staff, if a practitioner chooses that as his choice weapon, but also it will enhance other aspects of his unarmed kungfu, and by extension in his daily life.

After the Special Wing Choon Course in Penang in 2010, we were generous enough to post some videos on YouTube revealing some secrets of Wing Choon. Some critics under the cloak of anonymity ridiculed our videos in the public comments saying that our counters were useless. Some complained that ours was not Wing Choon Kungfu.

An instructor in our Free Sparring Competition Committee traced the real persons behind the anonymity and invited them for some free sparring with our students to see whether our counters were useless. Despite the big talk of the critics, no one took up our invitation. Our instructor also found out that the one who made the most noise, especially regarding our counters against kicks, was a student of his junior during his Karate days before he joined Shaolin Wahnam.

We walk our talk. We do not challenge others, and we respect their right and privilege to practice whatever they like in whatever way they like. But if anyone ridicules and challenges us, and as scholar-warriors after making sure we can beat him in a fight, we shall accept the challenge. I have mentioned this a few times, and would take this opportunity to repeat. Any student or instructor representing our school in a challenge, must not be afraid or be hesitant in hurting his opponent drastically, even fatally. It is a challenge, not a friendly match. We must of course make sure that there will be no legal implications afterwards.

Those who say that our Wing Choon is not Wing Choon are only showing their lack of exposure. It may not be the Wing Choon they practice, but it is certainly Choe Family Wing Choon.

Wing Choon Kungfu at Barcelona 6-7 May 2014

Questions on Wing Choon Kungfu – Overview

The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread Wing Choon Kungfu -- 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.

Wing Choon Kungfu

Wing Choon Kungfu is well known for the small-sized against bigger, stronger opponents