Wing Choon Kungfu

Wing Choon Kungfu

Question 3

How can Wing Choon Kung Fu benefit or enhance Taijiquan practice?



To be systematic, we can answer your question under four headings, namely form, skill, application and philosophy.

Wing Choon forms and Taijiquan forms are diagonally opposite. Wing Choon forms are short and linear, whereas Taijiquan forms are long and circular.

Let us take a typical Wing Choon technique and a typical Taijiquan technique for comparison.

A typical Wing Choon attack is “Phew Chee”, or a finger-thrust, to an opponent’s throat. The attack goes straight form the chest of a Wing Choon exponent to the opponent’s throat in the shortest, fastest manner. The distance traveled by the attack is about a foot.

A typical Taijiquan attack is “Green Dragon Shoots Pearl”, or a circular palm strike at an opponent’s face or chest. When a Taijiquan exponent uses his right palm in a left Bow-Arrow Stance, the attack, as the exponent rotates his waist, goes from somewhere near his right thigh in a big arc first slightly backward, next upward and then forward to strike the opponent’s face or chest. The distance covered is about five feet.

The Wing Choon technique is short and straight, moving only a foot. The Taijiquan technique is long and circular, moving about five feet. If the speed of both combatants is the same, the Taijiquan attack would take 5 times longer to reach. One may wonder how could a Taijiquan practitioner hope to defeat a Wing Choon practitioner. The fact is that a Taijiquan practitioner could defeat a Wing Choon practitioner even when both of them move at the same speed!

Understanding the hows and whys will benefit both Wing Choon and Taijiquan practitioners as well as practitioners of other martial arts. As a Taijiquan practitioner, learning the Wing Choon technique will enable you to better appreciate the benefits of the Taijiquan technique. As an analogy, if you practiced Taiji dance before, you will better appreciate when you practice genuine Taijiquan.

There are many situations when using the Taijiquan attack is more advantageous than using the Wing Choon attack. If an opponent is very fast, like a Boxer, for example, slowing him down without his knowing using the Taijiquan attack is more advantageous than the Wing Choon attack.

When an opponent attacks you, using the Taijiquan “Green Dragon Shoots Pearl”, which deflect the opponent’s attack cum striking him, is more advantageous than “Phew Chee”. Although in theoretical time the Taijiquan attack is 5 times slower than the Wing Choon attack, in real time it is still fast enough for an effective strike. If the Wing Choon attack takes a quarter of a second, the Taijiquan attack takes one and a quarter seconds.

Moreover, this Taijiquan counter runs into the opponent’s attack. In other words, the Taijiquan exponent does not start his counter after his opponent has completed his initial attack; he does so while the initial attack is in progress. If a Wing Choon practitioner takes a quarter of a second to execute his finger-thrust a foot away, by moving your body backward a foot more as you rotate your waist to start your defence-cum-attack, your opponent would take half a second to reach you.

By then you would have brushed away his attack, and your counter-attack is on the way, and will reach him in three quarters of a second. If you could make him fall forward when you brush away his initial attack, in which case you would have to simultaneously move slightly to your right side so that you opponent would not fall onto you, you would hit him while he is falling.

By slowing down your attack in using the Taijiquan technique, you will be in a better position to make changes if an opponent uses feint moves or tricks you in any way. This will be more difficult if you use a short, straight Wing Choon finger-thrust.

When you chase an opponent, like a Boxer, using one hand to control him and the other hand to strike him as in “Green Dragon Shoots Pearl”, is more advantages than using a short, straight finger-thrust, which may expose you to his counter strikes. As you are chasing him, safety first is of utmost importance, and striking him fast is of secondary importance. The Wing Choon finger-thrust does not have this advantage.

On the other hand, learning the Wing Choon finger-thrust will benefit and enhance your Taijiquan in many ways. Instead of striking your opponent’s throat with “White Snake Shoots Venom” in the orthodox Taijiquan way, when the situation warrants it, you can execute the same pattern in a Wing Choon way.

Puritans may cry that this is Wing Choon and not Taijiquan. They become a slave to their art, instead of mastering it. Tell them, if they are willing to listen, that kungfu is alive.

Practical experience of the short, straight movement of Wing Choon Kungfu will enhance your effort in reducing big forms of Taijiquan into small forms, which is essential for combat efficiency. Instead of moving your “Green Dragon Shoots Pearl” in 5 feet, you can reduce the circular movement into two feet. Gradually, when your whole body has been filled with flowing chi, you can execute the same technique in just 3 inches away, even shorter and faster than the Wing Choon movement.

You can still achieve this ability without learning the Wing Choon finger-thrust. But if you do, you will achieve the result faster and better. If learning just one Wing Choon technique can give us so much benefit, we can imagine how much a Wing Choon course can benefit and enhance Taijiquan.

Form is only one aspect that Wing Choon Kungfu can benefit and enhance Taijiquan. Another aspect is skill, or “gong” in Chinese.

Wing Choon Kungfu is well known for two special skills, “chi sau” and “chun keng”, or “sticking hands” and “inch force”.

“Sticking Hands” trains sensing skill. When your arms are in contact with an opponent’s, not only you can sense his movements without looking at them, like how and where he attacks, but also his intentions, like whether he is hesitant or nervous. At a higher level, you may sense his movements and intension even without contact.

Participants at the Special Wing Choon Course in Penang in 2010 did very well in this area. They could sense their opponents very well even when blind-folded. You can view some videos at

A few participant told me that their sensing skill had developed so efficiently that during sparring with their eyes open they found it more effective using their sensing skill without looking at the attack, than seeing the attack with their eyes. However, due to time factor, blind-fold sticking hands is not likely to be taught at the coming Wing Choon course in Barcelona. But practitioners of other kungfu styles, particularly Taijiquan practitioners, will benefit much from the sessions of sticking hands which will be taught.

Taijiquan, practitioners also train sensing skill using Pushing Hands. But the approach is different. In our school, in Taijiquan Pushing Hands, the pattern, “Immortal Waves Sleeves”, is used. In Wing Choon Kungfu, two patterns, “Circulating Hands” and “Covering Hands”, are used. These two patterns are also found in Taijiquan. They are open Cloud Hands and close Cloud Hands.

In other Wing Choon and Taijiquan schools, Sticking Hands and Pushing Hands are performed in a routine with many patterns. In my observation, this methodology greatly minimizes their training opportunities. Instead of developing sensing skill, they focus on following their routine. It is like performing a combination set, commonly known as a two-man set, which serves the purpose of demonstration rather than combat training.

Hence, in our Sticking Hands and Pushing Hands, I purposely reduce the techniques to the minimum so that students can focus on developing skills, and not on learning techniques or worse on remembering their routine.

Like Taijiquan Pushing Hands, a main aim of Wing Choon Sticking Hands is to develop sensing skill. But the movements are different. In Sticking Hands, students employ Wing Choon techniques, whereas in Pushing Hands, students employ Taijiquan techniques. Taijiquan practitioners will benefit much by learning Wing Choon skills, and vice versa.

If an opponent executes a middle attack, for example, a Wing Choon practitioner would use “pak sau” or “slap-hand”, or “tan sau” or “mirror-hand”. Against a same attack, a Taijiquan practitioner would use “ward off”.

The movements are quite different. In “slap-hand” and “mirror-hand”, the movement is linear. In “ward off”, the movement is circular. Linear movement is faster, but the counter-strike is not necessarily so.

In Wing Choon Sticking Hands, your right hand is in contact with your opponent’s left hand. If he uses his left hand to execute a middle strike, and you use your right “slap-hand” to deflect it away to your left, or your right “mirror-hand” to deflect it to your right. Your “slap-hand” movement or “mirror-hand” movement is about 6 inches. In either case, you need to use your left hand to cover his left hand before you use your right hand to counter strike with a finger-thrust, with your attack traveling about 1 foot.

In Taijiquan Pushing Hands, your right hand is in contact with your opponent’s right hand. If he uses his right hand to execute a middle strike, and you use your right hand to ward off, deflecting his attack forward and diagonally to your right, your ward off movement is about 1 foot. Immediately you counter strike with a White Snake Shoots Venom, with your attack traveling about 6 inches.

This is second class Taijiquan. In first class Taijiquan which we practice in our school, the White Snake attack is incorporated in the ward off, with the defence-cum-counter traveling about 1 foot. Hence, although the Taijiquan movement is circular and is technically slower than a straight Wing Choon movement, your Taijiquan attack arrives faster than a Wing Choon attack.

Inch-force is developed in Siu Lin Tou. Using inch-force, a Wing Choon practitioner can injure an opponent within inches, instead of using muscular strength derived from lifting weights.

The methodology of training inch-force is different from that in Taijiquan force training. In inch-force training, energy is consolidated and exploded out within inches in a linear manner. In Taijiquan force training, energy is made to flow in circular movement, and having picked up momentum is exploded out in a continuous flow. Taijiquan practitioners will benefit much from learning inch-force training.

At an advanced level, when a Taijiquan practitioner has filled his whole body with chi, by just practicing Taijiquan he can explode force within inches. But if he also learns inch-force, he will attend the result faster and better by a big margin. This is the advantage of breadth and depth.

Another dimension where a Taijiquan practitioner can benefit much from learning Wing Choon Kungfu is application. Application can be martial or non-martial. Non-martial application of Taijiquan enhanced by Wing Choon Kungfu is a special feature of our school, usually not present in most other schools.

Wing Choon Kungfu

Green Dragon Shoots Pearl in Taijiquan

The combat application of Wing Choon Kungfu is in direct contrast with that of Taijiquan. For most students of other schools, learning Wing Choon Kungfu and Taijiquan together may be detrimental, as the benefits of one cancel out the other. But in our school, which is unprecedented in kungfu history, learning these two arts or any contrasting arts together is mutually beneficial as their benefits enhance one another.

Wing Choon Kungfu is known for its economy of movement. A Wing Choon practitioner would not use two moves if one is sufficient, or a longer distance if a shorter one is available. On the other hand, Taijiquan is reverse. A Taijiquan practitioner may, by choice, use two moves when one is sufficient, or a longer distance when a shorter one is available. In our school, due to the benefit of breadth and depth, learning Wing Choon Kungfu will benefit and enhance Taijiquan, and vice cersa.

In combat application, if a Muay Thai fighter executes a right sweeping kick at you, you can move forward slightly to your right and simultaneously execute a finger-thrust at his throat while he is still kicking. This is the economy of movement of Wing Choon Kungfu. You strike down an opponent as soon as he makes a move!

If you use Taijiquan, your respond will be different. You will move back a small step into White Crane flaps Wings in a T-step to let his sweeping kick past. Immediately, while your opponent is recovering himself, you move forward and fell him using “Carry Tiger Back to Mountain”.

You avoid his kick first, so as to be safe. In case his first kick is a feint move, you are in time to make adjustment. Even when his kick is real, if you move in too early, if he is skillful he can make instant changes to strike you. You let his attack past, then while he recovers himself, you move in to strike him, using the principle, “start later but arrive earlier”.

If you have learnt Wing Choon Kungfu, you can use the Wing Choon move to enhance your own Taijiquan counter. You may, for example, if you are skillful move forward slightly to your right and fell him with Carry Tiger Back to Mountain the moment he starts his right sweeping kick. You must, of course, be ready for his feint moves or instant change.

This combat principle can be fruitfully used in daily life. If you wish to date a girl, for example, using Taijiquan, you may ask as follows.

“Are you free this Saturday night?”

When she says yes, you continue with, “I’ll like to take you our for dinner.”

If she says no, you can ask, “What about Sunday night?”

You give yourself room for maneuver.

If you have learnt Wing Choon Kungfu, you will make only one move instead of two or three.

You say, “I’ll like to take you out for dinner on Saturday night.”

Even when she is not free on Saturday night but likes to go out with you, she will make her own adjustment. If you ask her the Taijiquan way, you would miss this opportunity.

What happens if she is really not free on Saturday night and cannot make any adjustment?

In typical Wing Choon move, you can then say, “then I’ll like to take you out on Sunday night or any night you are free.”

Someone who practices only Taijiquan, and has his Taijiquan training internalized in him, would not make such moves.

He would say things like below.

“As you are not free on Saturday night, are you free on Sunday night?”

“What do you do on Sunday night?”

“Do you like to see a movie or go for dinner?”

After going round in circular movements, the Taijiquan practitioner would eventually ask, “Would you like to go out with me on Sunday night?”

The Wing Choon practitioner, who has Wing Choon training internalized in him, would go straight to the point: “I’ll like to take you out on Sunday night.”

Learning Wing Choon kungfu will enhance your application of strategies in everyday life for mutual benefit.

The fourth dimension is philosophy. Both Wing Choon Kungfu and Taijiquan are effective for the smaller sized person against bigger and physically stronger opponents. But their approaches are different. Wing Choon Kungfu will benefit and enhance Taijiquan, and vice versa.

To avoid the full force of a stronger opponent, both Wing Choon Kungfu and Taijiquan advocate avoiding or deflecting the opponent’s force instead of meeting it head on. How they do so is different.

In Wing Choon Kungfu, when a stronger opponent attacks you with a powerful right punch, for example, you move your body slightly to your left side and deflect the attack with your right mirror-hand and simultaneously strike his throat with a finger-thrust. All the movements are generally linear and executed in the fastest manner.

In principle you move the target away from the line of attack, cover the attack and simultaneous counter-strike the opponent. If you keep your body still and ward off the attack with a mirror-hand by moving your arm, in a mistaken concept of the middle-line theory, the movement would be unwise.

Dealing with a similar attack using Taijiquan is different. Without moving your feet, you shift your body backward, rotate your waist and ward off the attack with Immortal Waves Sleeves, moving your ward-off arm diagonally forward. All the movements are circular.

In principle, maintaining your central position, you yield, then deflect the attack using the opponent’s momentum and turn the table back to him. If you do not shift back your body, but maintain your body position and ward off the attack with your arm is unwise.

Both the Wing Choon philosophy and the Taijiquan philosophy can be applied in daily life. Suppose you have a small business, and a bigger business selling similar products is attacking you by cutting their prices. If you meet the attack head-on by cutting your prices too, you will be unable to meet the attack.

You maintain your prices but move your position by selling to a different group of customers, like those from a higher income group, in a most direct and fastest manner. This is using the Wing Choon approach.

Alternatively, you may use the Taijiquan approach. First you yield, accepting that your bigger business rival can afford to lower his prices. Next, you deflect the attack following the attacking momentum, saying that what they, your customers, want is not just the product but also service. Then you turn the table round, saying that your rival being a huge organization may be unable to give them personal service but you can, which will more than off-set the little extra price they pay.

Wing Choon Kungfu can benefit and enhance Taijiquan practice in four main dimensions, namely form, skill, application and philosophy. Similarly Wing Choon Kungfu can benefit and enhance other kungfu styles too, and vice versa.

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

Practicing Sticking Hands while blind-folded during a Special Wing Choon Course