Articles » Methods and techniques » About the 108 movements form of Vietnam Internal Style Family Wing Chun
About the 108 movements form of Vietnam Internal Style Family Wing Chun
Right after we introduced the basic methods of Vietnam internal style Wing Chun in the volume No. 23 December 2003 of the magazine “The modern time” (the article “Wing Chun Viet Nam – the secrets of the past and present”), and especially after we introduced some methods and techniques of our system on our Web site, many people asked me questions about the 108 movement form. Most of the questions were around the reasons for saying “The 108 movement form is the most important form and the most advanced form in the Wingchun system”. Beside that, some students asked me when they would be taught the 108 movement form. In fact, we have already explained some advanced features of the 108 movement form in some articles. Today, I would like to say in more detail about things related to practicing the 108 movement form. If there are some things of our method that are different with those of another Wingchun branch, please understand that all the things I am going to speak here are things I learned from my sifu (teacher).
In our system, there are some prerequisites for learning and practicing the 108 movement form: the student must have acquired an advanced level of some skills, e.g.: “looseness and softness” skill, internal power skill (e.g.: can issue internal force). Start learning and practicing the 108 movement form without these prior skill levels, the student will face great difficulty to meet our standards of doing the 108 movement form.
When doing the 108 movement form, the students must be able to manifest some characteristics such as “three essences”, “the combination of three external elements”, and then “the combination of six elements”, “seven attainments”…, and especially a high rate of doing continuous movements. As everyone knows, speed and rate of doing movements is a very important factor in fighting, movements with high rate make the opponent difficult to follow and react. Another important characteristic that a student must be able to manifest when doing the 108 movement form with his teacher is “sticking hand”. The 108 movement form is a form that clearly shows the close range fighting characteristic and the continuousness of strikes and parries. When doing the 108 movement form, the student is required to not only successfully parry the strikes of the teacher but also respond with powerful and high speed strikes in a high precision. Therefore, with practicing the 108 movement form, students will gradually develop the capability to effectively deal with opponent’s strikes in a tight space and especially the capability to issue powerful strikes from a close distance. All the above things can only be gradually understood through real practicing. Some of my students, which started practicing the 108 movement form earlier than their skills and capabilities, met a lot of difficulties when doing the form and could not meet the requirements. They had to go back to the previous exercises to enhance their skills and capabilities. And in fact, it cost them longer time than it cost the students who started practicing the 108 movement form only after doing very well previous exercises. This is the thing that the students should aware of - don’t be too hasty to practice the 108 movement form without doing very well previous basic exercises.
Some people thought (even wrote in books) that the 108 movement form consists of 54 movements on the right and 54 movements on the left. This is not correct. There are still some movements “in the middle”. The 108 movement form consists of 108 movements. Some movements contain only 1 strike, but some movements contain 2, 3, and even, 4 strikes. As I said previously about the rate of doing movements, a student is required to do about 2 movements per second in real practice with the teacher. With this rate, the student has to do the form repeatedly in about 15 minutes. And in 15 minutes, the student has to do more than a thousand movements. With current capability of most of my students, 15 minutes for practicing the 108 movement form is quite enough. In a TV program on VTV3 about a real class of our school, you can see that my students were very tired after practicing the 108 movement form. In fact, they were a bit out of form, because it was the first class after the Lunar New Year holiday. That holiday without practicing, affected the rate of their movements and the force of their strikes. And only about 10 minutes from 1 hour of the class was introduced in the TV program, so it is hard to see the actual capabilities of my students of doing 108 movement form in that TV program. As I said in the TV program, the capability of a student depends on his kungfu in practicing, so it is normal if in the same class, some students can issue very powerful strikes when other students can only issue weak strikes. Wherever, there are very good students and there are also students that need to try harder to be good. However, we hope that, through some video clips that we introduced, you can have some understanding of the practice of the 108 movement form in our school.
We find that it takes a lot of time to achieve even only some required skills mentioned above in doing the 108 movement form, usually years, not months. It does not take time to remember the movements. The problem is how to get skilled and refined in doing the movements. And I think that it is the same in all martial art systems, the skill in doing movements is important, not the number of movements and forms. Certainly, it is good and helpful to know a lot of movements and forms. But in real fighting, the understanding of the essence and important secrets of a martial art system and especially the skills in that system are crucial. Through this short introduction about the practice of the 108 movement form, I hope you will get more understanding about the techniques and methods of the Vietnam internal style Wing Chun. If there is something that you don’t satisfy or don’t agree with, please sympathize with my knowledge and capability.
On the occasion of the New Year Holiday of 2007, I wish all Wingchun practitioners, Wingchun lovers, our internal style Wing Chun lovers, and your family a new year of prosperity, happiness and success.
Thanks for your love and interest.
Si-fu Nguyen Ngoc Noi