Articles » On methods and techniques of Wing Chun
On methods and techniques of Wing Chun
It is extremely difficult to write (or say) about Methods and Techniques of Wing Chun. This is due to many things cannot expressed by words. They must be grasped (or "enlightened") by disciples through practice. In the article "Wing Chun in Vietnam – Past and Present Secrets" published in Journal "Today" (Association of UNESCO Clubs) No-23 (12/2003), I have touched on Wing Chun methods and techniques under the heading "Several Special Features of Wing Chun Methods": “Wing Chun is a kung-fu system that requires a training with the greatest efforts and patience, despite the system has only few forms. Besides some weapons forms (such as doubleknives and six-and- half-point pole), there are following bare-hand forms: Thu-dau-quyen, (basic bare hand techniques, equivalent to Siu-nim-tao, or Litlle Idea in China); Chi-kung Wing Chun Kuyen form; 108 (movements) form (which includes 3 sub-forms: static 108, dynamic 108, and 108 with wooden dummy. The last form is known in some countries as Dummy techniques, but they have different techniques and different number of movements); Five separate 5-animal forms (dragon, snake, tiger, panther, and crane); One synthesized 5-animal form. Besides above forms, Vietnam Wing Chun also has several special training methods with their unique principles.
Among the above Wing Chun forms, the static and dynamic 108 forms (especially the static form) have a unique characteristic that no other kung-fu system has. That is, while training, the disciple must train with the teacher one-by-one from the start until when the disciple obtained and comprehended the deepest essence of the form. This usually last many years. In order to get to that level, the disciple cannot train with anyone except the teacher who already has inner strength, i.e.“nei kung”( That is, the teacher can let the disciple strike as strong as possible directly on teacher’s body during the whole training period of the 108 form). Many people think that Wing Chun "Nei Kung" (inner strength) is just the ability to generate great force. It is not so. In Wing Chun, ability to generate force is called “inner force” (“nei li”), while “inner strength’ is the ability to endure strikes (direct strikes on body). This “inner strength” is a secretive technique ( taught by mouth only and must be under personal special instructions of teacher). “Inner strength” is the highest technique of Wing Chun. 
To be successful in Wing Chun, disciples must have a strong belief, good intelligence, patience and diligence. Training in Wing Chun is not merely to memorize all forms, but more importantly, to comprehend the deepest spirit, essence of those forms. At the same time, disciple must master their “will”, and “chi power”. At higher level, the training in mastering “will” and “chi power” require more efforts. Therefore, Wing Chun is not appropriate for those people who like to use their muscle, those who want a quick achievement, and those who lacks of patience and diligence. Wing Chun bare-hand forms do not use much of muscle strength, and they are not eye-catching. Therefore, Wing Chun System is not an attracting system for demonstration. Moreover, those who got to high levels in Wing Chun also do not want to show their ability. As a result, Wing Chun was not widely understood and seems to have many secrets.”.
Therefore, Wing Chun does not have many forms. In some other Wing Chun branches, the number is even smaller. They typically consist of "Siu Nim Tau" (Little Idea"), "Chum Kiu" ("Seeking Bridge"), "Biu Tze" ("Darting Finger"), and "Muk Yan Chong" ("Wooden Dummy"). Some branches have several other forms. Here, we do not discus every forms and techniques, but focus on methods and techniques of our branch (Vietnam Wing Chun Noi Gia Quyen) that tought by our teacher - the late grandmaster Tran Thuc Tien.
  • Firstly, it should be understood that Wing Chun is a form of "soft boxing" ("Nhu Quyen") (hence the name "Noi Gia Quyen", which laterally means Internal Family of Boxing"). During entire process of practice from the begining, disciples must follow some fundamental principles such as "strictness", "preciseness", "smoothness", etc.
  • Except the 108 form (static, dynamic, and with dummy), Wing Chun forms were built around 5 animal forms: dragon, snake, tiger, panther, and crane. These forms were practiced from low levels to high levels. Each form has their own techniques and requirements. Disciples must grasp spirit of each form through practice at each level, and gradually formed their own essential reflexes in concrete fighting situations. These techniques are improved through practices.
  • The 108 form: this is the most fundamental, and also the highest boxing form in Wing Chun boxing techniques. This form is the concentrate of techniques with very high requirements for the close-range fighting. This form must be practiced with a teacher with "nei kung". With time, the deepest essence of the form will be gradually revealed and grasped by disciples. This process is difficult to described by words and cannot be grasped by practicing alone or with other disciples (who do not have "nei kung"). To teach disciples a full set of fundamental methods,  the teacher must assess the progress of disciples to teach them the next two levels of 108 form: the dynamic, and the wooden dummy's 108 form. At this stage, the disciple must practice concurently 3 forms: static, dynamic, and the wooden dummy's 108 forms. The practice to obtain these techniques requirements is a unique characteristic that the branch of the late grand master Tran Thuc Tien has, since this is a branch that has teachers with "nei kung". As said above, the founding father of Vietnam Wing Chun - Nguyen Te Cong - taught "nei kung" to one of his disciples - the late grandmaster Tran Thuc Tien, who taught "Nei Kung" to few of his disciples, including his two sons (Tran Thiet Con – or Sinh, and Tran Le Hoai Ngoc).
  • Some special methods of training: these are methods under direct instructions of teachers during practice. Some of them are taught by mouth only (i.e. one by one, separately). We can name some methods as follows :
    • Practice to generate inner force : these excercises are taught directly under supervision and directions of teacher. Through these excercises, studetns' force were enhanced. They can feel these changes during the training process and will be able to master higher techniques in the 108 form and to generate force. 
    • Practice "Linh giac" : This mentioned and practiced by many Wing Chun branches. Many had mentioned it under different name such as sticky hands, Chi sao, etc. However, there are some differences among branches. In some branches, disciples preactice Chi sao from the start under guidance of teacher. In some branches, Chi sao is practiced only after disciples botained bare-hand techniques and must be praticed with teacher under direct instruction. Each branch has their own reason for their methods, which are not discussed here. In our branch (of the grand master Tran Thuc Tien), Linh-giac must be practiced with teacher under direct instructions. We consider this is very important method during training process of Wing Chun. 
    • Practice "Chi": It can be understood simply as "breathing in the right way", and then "ability to direct Chi". This is a required practice for every disciple (although, each disciple will has different targets on different levels). It is a must, since if disciple do not practice "Chi", they cannot advance to higher levels in Wing Chun. Practice "Chi" is normally linked concurently with practicing "Will" ("Ý"). This is also under teacher's instruction and must be trained from the first day.
    • Some methods and principles must be practiced and gradually grasped by disciples during years of training such as: Thre essences (“Tam tinh”), Three internal  unifications (“Nội tam hợp”), Three external unifications (“Ngoại tam hợp”), Six unifications (“Lục hợp”), Seven attainments (“Thất đáo”), "Will", stability ("Vững")
    • One method has a esoteric chareacteristic, is taught directly, by mouth only: it is practice of "nei kung".       
There were many documents on Wing Chun techniques, especially after Bruce Lee made VingTsun famous. Lee himself also wrote many articles. For us, the most important thing in training and practice of Wing Chun, as our teacher Tran Thuc Tien said, is to grasp (enlighten - “ngộ” ) the spirit, essence of every method and technique. Only by doing so, through hard practicing and training, disciples can understand and achieve the highest level.