Introduction to the forms in Wing Chun Kung Fu
“Wing Chun is like an onion, it has layers upon layers of ideas and applications for beginners as well as for advanced learners.” – Sifu Talib Fehlhaber
The nature and purpose of the forms in the Wing Chun method are fundamentally different compared to forms or pattern training in other martial arts. As Wing Chun is designed to be a concept based fighting system, its six inherent forms can be viewed as tool boxes that reference and catalogue movements and positions. The various “tools” or techniques that are introduced and trained in the respective forms are then applied by combining and adapting them in specific defensive or counter-offensive scenarios.
The forms should not be confused with set patterns like Katas that highlight or address a specific scenario. In fact much of what is learned and practiced in the Wing Chun forms is not even supposed to be used sequentially. All forms need to be practiced slowly and deliberately to instil correct muscle memory and to allow for corrections and variations.
Forms in Wing Chun are completely utilitarian and contain no superfluous or ornamental movements, which reflects very much the nature of this martial art.
The first three, so called empty handed, forms all begin in the same manner and many movements are repeated three times for emphasis and repeated on each side for balanced practice. The other three all use a specific training aid, i.e. a wooden dummy with limbs, an 8-12ft long pole and a pair of metal short swords, respectively.
The first form (Siu Nim Tao – Little Idea From) focuses on upper body movements only and contains around eighty per cent of the Wing Chun arm movements. It also introduces the first of the two stances in this style.
The second form (Chum Kiu – Bridge Seeking Form) introduces much of the footwork, like shifting, stepping and kicking to the learner. It also provides many concepts for the practice of tactile reaction drills called Chi Sao, which are at the core of Wing Chun training.
The third form (Biu Jee – Pointing Fingers Form) is the most advanced of the empty handed forms and is centered around the recovery from desperate situations in which the attacker has already gained the upper hand or a tactical advantage. The aim here is in surviving the altercation rather that wining it.
The fourth form (Mok Yan Jong – Wooden Dummy Form) uses the movements and ides of the previous three froms and applies them with the aid of a so called wooden dummy, which is typically suspended on a wooden frame. The practice on the dummy helps to develop correct positioning of arm movements and body positions. One of its main objectives is to give the learner more recovery ideas from common mistakes.
The fifth form (Look Dim Boon Kwan – 6 1/2 Long Pole Techniques) involves the use of a tapered long pole which is around eight to twelve feet long. It is a very short form with only six and a half movements to it. The chief aim of the practice of this form is fact not a weapons application, but is supplementary in nature to enhance upper body strength, balance, coordination and explosive energy.
The sixth form (Bart Jum Dao – Eight Cutting Swords) uses a pair of 19” long metal swords, weighting around a kilogram each. These are sometimes referred to as “Butterfly Swords”. One of the primary aims of this form is to improve footwork and agility.