Wing Chun Concepts Level One
Whenever you begin the process of building something, your first step is to create a solid foundation. This is the goal of the Level One section. Here you will be introduced to the first of three empty hand forms – Siu Lim Tau – learn the basic structures that form the "hands" of Wing Chun, explore core concepts and principles, and practice the initial set of San Saus or reflex development drills.
It is important to follow the progression exactly as presented. The Wing Chun grandmasters carefully designed this hierarchy of training material to build skill, structure, strength and sensitivity in a very specific and incremental way. Every skill that you develop now becomes the foundation for other skills as you progress. Skipping or rushing through a training set will only introduce a weakness that only becomes apparent later on.
Empty Your Cup
There is the famous story of the college professor who travelled to meet a great Zen master. The master invited him in and set out cups and a pot of tea. The professor first asked the master to instruct him in all of the ways of Zen, but then began to recount all of his past experiences, degrees, books he had read and other masters he had interviewed. As the Zen master listened politely to the professor, he began to pour the tea. As the professor's tea cup filled, the master continued to pour until tea overflowed and poured out over the tabletop.
"Stop!" the professor cried. "The cup is full. It cannot hold any more!" The Zen master nodded in agreement. "How can I share with you, if you are already full?" the master replied. "If you truly wish to learn, you must first empty your cup."
The point of this story is simple: don't make assumptions based on any other martial art that you have trained in, any other books you have read or any movies that you've seen. Wing Chun Kung Fu can be very different from most of the other popular martial arts, so don't try to view it through the lens of past experience.
Trust but Verify
This doesn't, however, mean not to think critically. As part of your self-evaluation, you will need to be able to test each concept and technique to verify both that the principle behind the technique is valid, and that you are performing it correctly. A companion element is trust. The testing and verification should be done within the context of the drill. By changing the "rules" of the drill, it is possible to invalidate just about any technique. For now, stick to the drills as presented, trust that other variations will be covered in the future, and verify that you can reliably perform the technique when needed.
All of these ideas can be summed up simply:
Keep an open mind, just not so open that your brains fall out.
NEXT: The Wing Chun Punch
The Wing Chun punch is somewhat unique among martial arts and combat sports for a number of different reasons, including its emphasis on safe structural alignment, power generation, and concept or strategy of striking. In the next lesson, you'll be introduced to the "Yut" Jee Chung Kuen, or Sun Character Center Punch.