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Wing Chun techniques are very simple and straight forward. As with Wing Chun principles, techniques are based on economy of motion and minimum movement. Techniques are based on using an opponents force against him or her, often by rotating around the spine to create a spinning motion, drawing the attack in and simultaneously countering with a strike.
Techniques are based on a counter strike which is simultaneously delivered with the defensive movement. Wing Chun concentrates on finishing the ‘fight’ as soon as possible and does not get caught up in grappling or pinning but ‘goes for the throat’ – often quite literally.
Initially when a practitioner begins at learning Wing Chun they are taught techniques through classes and by learning the 1st form – Sil Lim Tao. By regularly repeating sil lim tao they learn where their arms should be and how to switch on and off energy as needed. The first section teaches the practitioner to relax the whole body but specifically the arm which is moving. A relaxed mental attitude is also being trained in the first form so that techniques can flow smoothly and instantly when needed without mental disturbance getting in the way. This also prepares the student mentally for ‘playing’ chi sau.
The second section teaches explosive power at the end of each movement but also to relax the arms in between each movement. Third section of “The little idea form” or Sil Lim Tao teaches us the Wing Chun Techniques which we will initially learn for simple attacks – block and counter attacks with the same arm.
Although there are no turning techniques in the first form, there is a huge amount of information in it – if you know where to look. The techniques taught through regular repetition of Sil Lim Tao are used in conjunction with turning and stepping as taught later in the system through the other forms and chi sau. When someone first begins to learn Wing Chun they are always taught Sil Lim Tao first as it teaches a basic understanding of structure, stance, relaxation and movement. Techniques are taught mostly in the third section but can also be seen in the first two.
The first section is meant to be performed very slowly and deliberately and can be done so much slower than is being done here. Often when being taught in a class the first section is performed much quicker due to time constraints. Ip Man was known to stand for over 30 minutes in the same position while holding an arm forward as in first section. To understand why he would do this you must practice Sil Lim Tao for yourself diligently. If you have the opportunity to find a suitably qualified practitioner or Sifu, you can also gain a better understanding of what we are trying to attain through Sil Lim Tao, by linking arms with them and feeling their structure and ‘energy’. Playing chi sau with a master of Wing Chun such as Grandmaster Ip Chun should immediately allow you to glimpse an ‘idea’ of what can be attained.
Have a look at Grandmaster Ip Chun performing Sil Lim Tao here:
In Chum Kiu, or 2nd form we can clearly see Grandmaster Ip Chun bringing the turning principles into play which will be used in practical Wing Chun techniques. Chum Kiu is the second form learned in the traditional system of Wing Chun and here the practitioner begins to learn about stepping and turning for the first time.