CHAPTER 3 -- A WING CHOON KUNGFU SET

Siu Lin Tou



A kungfu set is a series of prescribed kungfu movements arranged in sequences. Each movement, or a series of movements, is called a pattern. A kungfu set, therefore, is made up of patterns. Practicing kungfu sets is one of the basic requirements in kungfu learning, whereby an exponent learns and practices various combative techniques embedded in the patterns, as well as familiarizes himself with co-ordination and combination of kungfu movements.

Kungfu sets can be unarmed sets, in which the exponent practices with empty hands; or armed sets wherein the exponent practices with weapons. For convenience, however, the term "kungfu sets", if unqualified, will be used in this book to refer to unarmed sets, and "weapon sets" to refer to armed sets.

In some styles of kungfu, like Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu and Hoong Ka Kungfu, there are many kungfu sets, while in other styles there are only a few sets. In Tai Chi Chuan there is only one prototype set. In Wing Choon Kungfu there are three prototype sets. In Sifu Choe Hoong Choy's Wing Choon school, other sets like "Chin Cheong" (or "Arrow Palm") and "Shui Ta" (or "Essence of Combat") are also taught. These additional sets were not the original sets practiced by the founder, Yim Wing Choon, but were composed later by masters who combined useful Choy-Li-Fatt techniques with Wing Choon principles. "Shui Ta", for example, adopts the form or appearance of Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu with its wide stances, and the meaning or significance of Wing Choon Kungfu, with its fast, economical movements.

The three prototype Wing Choon sets are "Siu Lin Tou", "Cham kiew" and "Phew Chee".

"Siu Lin Tou", which literally means "Little-Training-Beginning", is the first and basic set wherein all fundamental Wing Choon movements are incorporated. It is technically the most important set. "Siu Lin Tou" is also known as "Siu Lim Tou". Please note the middle words, "Lin" and "Lim". "Siu Lim Tou", means "Little-Intention-Beginning". This difference in name happened in the early period of Wing Choon expansion when "Lin" was mispronounced as "Lim", or vice versa, in different localities. It is uncertain whether the set was originally named "Siu Lin Tou" or "Siu Lim Tou".

Cham Kiew

The second classical set is "Cham Kiew", which can mean "Seeking-Bridge" or "Sinking-Bridge". "Seeking" and "sinking" are pronounced exactly alike as "cham" in the Cantonese dialect. "Bridge" in kungfu terminology refers to the forearm. "Sinking-Bridge" therefore implies that the exponent's forearm is lowered, as in defence, to prepare for an immediate counter-attack. "Seeking-Bridge" suggests that the exponent seeks to place his forearm in contact with the opponent's so that the exponent can sense the latter's movements.

"Phew Chee", which means "Thrusting-Fingers", is the third and the most advanced classical Wing Choon set. Most of the patterns in this set are attack-patterns, especially the finger-thrust, from which the set derives its name. At the advanced stage of Wing Choon Kungfu, the exponent's attack also serves as his defence. This principle of "attack-is-defend" does not imply that the Wing Choon exponent attacks his opponent continuously, leaving the latter no chance to counter-attack; but it means that the exponent's defence is ingeniously embedded in his attacking techniques so that as the opponent attacks, the exponent can counter-attack instantaneously, apparently without bothering to defend.

A compact Wing Choon set is presented on the following pages. This set is composed of selected patterns from the three prototype Wing Choon sets. Learning this composite set alone is, of course, no substitute for learning the three classical sets completely. Nevertheless, this composite set illustrates adequately Wing Choon patterns and principles, so that those who wish to have a comprehensive picture of Wing Choon Kungfu, but do not have the time nor opportunity to learn the three standard sets, will find this composite set a good introduction. The first part of this composite set, Patterns 1 to 26, is adopted from and therefore represents the first prototype set, "Siu Lin Tou"; the second part, Patterns 27 to 40, is adopted from the second set, "Cham Kiew"; and the third part, Patterns 41 to 48, is adopted from the third set, "Phew Chee".

it is very tempting to learn the whole set quickly, but this is not a good way to learn it. Kungfu training is acquiring skills, not just accumulating facts; and it takes time to practice adequately the skills acquired so that they can be used flawlessly and flowingly. Assuming that one practices daily, two months is a reasonable period to learn the composite set competently, learning about one pattern a day.

Phew Chee

At the initial stage, the student must pay very careful attention to accuracy of form -- that is, he makes sure that the hand, body and leg positions are exact. Then he should gradually (and not hastily) increase his force as he performs the patterns. It is recommendable to increase force pattern by pattern so that eventually the students can perform the whole set accurately and with force.

Next, he should gradually increase his speed of performing the set, without sacrificing accuracy of form and concentration of force. If one progress gradually -- checking his form initially, then developing his force, and finally increase his speed -- he should be able to perform the set skilfully after six months of daily practice. However, if one tries to learn too fast, he will eventually achieve little.

The hand, body and leg positions of the patterns are clearly shown in the accompanying photographs. The descriptions do not repeat what the photographs can illustrate, but comment on significant points or on whatever that is not easily shown in the photographs. Thus, the student must constantly and carefully refer to the photographs so as to check that he is performing the form of the patterns accurately.

Accuracy of form, it must be stressed, is extremely important. If a pattern is not performed correctly, not only it forfeits much of its usefulness, it also gives an opponent an unnecessary advantage. While some experts may modify the form of a pattern to suit a particular situation, the beginning student must follow the standard form conscientiously. He must practice and check his form scrupulously until eventually its accuracy becomes automatic. Only then can he enjoy the privilege of modification -- if the situation warrants it.

Wing Choon Set

1. Shaolin Greeting (Kin Liae)

Stand with feet fairly together and hands at the sides. Presume you are facing north. You may or may not be facing the geographical north, but the compass direction is for orientation purpose. Then bring the left palm and the right fist to chest level. This is the symbol for Shaolin greeting.

Clench both fists and bring them to the sides at breast level. This is known as "Carrying Fists", and also as "Ready Position". In Wing Choon Ready Position, the fists are held at breast level on both sides, and not at waist level as in many other styles of kungfu.

2. Goat-Riding Stance (Ye Tze Chim Yeong Ma)

Using the heals as pivots move the toes of both legs outwards so that they point sideways. Then, using the toes as pivots move the heals outwards so that both feet are parallel with the toes pointing forwards. Next, hook both toes inwards to about 5 to 10 degrees. Lower the body to "sit" on the stance. This is the goat-riding stance, the characteristic stance of Wing Choon Kungfu. You are facing north for orientation purpose.

3. Mirror-Hand (Thian Sau)

Move the left palm to chest position. This is a momentary, intermediate step. Then move the palm out to form a mirror-hand block. The palm should not be too far outside the shoulder, and the elbow should be close to the body. This mirror-hand is a common blocking technique in many styles of kungfu.

4. Buddha Palm (Fatt Cheong)

Circle the left palm in a clockwise direction, using the wrist as a pivot. Do not move the arm nor the elbow. Next, move the palm towards the body, and place it in front of the chest. The elbow must not protrude but keep it close to the body.

5. Slap-Hand (Pak Sau)

Slap the hand sideways. Keep the palm pointing upwards. Use force only towards the end of the slapping movement or when in contact with an opponent's hand.

6. Shooting out the Cup-Fist (Yiet Tze Shoong Choi)

Place the palm in front of the chest and clench it into a cup-fist. The elbow, must be close to the body. Breathe in slowly and deeply.

Concentrate force at the fist and slowly move it out at nose level. Simultaneously breathe out slowly.

Repeat this movement, known as "offering wine", by bringing the cup-fist back to the chest, and then moving it out slowly, concentrating force at the fist. Breathe in as the fist is brought in, and breathe out as it is moved out.

Bring the cup-fist back to the chest the third time, concentrate force at the fist without tensing any muscles, then suddenly shoot out the fist with force and speed, breathing out quickly at the same time.

This is an excellent pattern to develop soft-force. If one practices this pattern a few times daily, paying careful attention to correct breathing and concentration of force, he will find force vibrating at his fist after a few months.

7. Sinking-Palm (ChamCheong)

After punching out the cup-fist, jerk down the palm by bending the elbow. Use the base of the palm as you jerk down the palm. Concentrate force at the base of the palm.

8. Finger-Thrust (Phew Chee)

Immediately thrust out the fingers. Concentrate force at the tips of the fingers. The fingers should be close together.
After the finger-thrust, "sink" the palm and thrust out the fingers again. Repeat this sinking-palm and finger-thrust, making a total of three sinking-palms and finger-thrusts.

9. Taming-Hand (Fok Sau)

From the finger-thrust position, bring the left palm backwards and downwards, and place it in front of the body. Slightly arch the palm in the process with the fingers pointing sideways. Keep the elbow close to the body.

10. Phoenix-Eye Fist (Foong Gnan Khuen)

Thrust out the phoenix-eye fist, breathing out at the same time. The fist is aimed at the solar plexus of an imaginary opponent. Visualize force flowing out through the index knuckle of the phoenix-eye fist.

11. Guard-Hand (Bong Sau)

Rotate the body together with the left arm towards the right side. The hand is held in an open palm, with the palm facing outwards, the fingers pointing downwards and the feet remain unchanged in their original position. The arm is not moved separately from the shoulder nor elbow to block. Imagine the whole arm is "locked" to the body, the arm-movement therefore is the result of the body rotation.

12. Reverse Stamp-Hand (Fan Yein Cheong)

Strike out the reverse stamp-palm using the base of the palm as the striking point. The palm faces outwards and the fingers point downwards. The body and the leg positions are unchanged.

13. Sinking-Elbow (ChamChang)

Revert to the frontal goat-riding stance by rotating the body to face forward. Simultaneously jerk down the elbow. For orientation purpose, you are facing north.

14. Shooting-Palm (Cheang Cheong)

Shoot out the hand with the palm facing upwards. The fingers are close together. Concentrate force at the fingers, without tensing the muscles. Next, clench the fist and bring it back to the side of the body at breast level. Remain at the goat-riding stance.

15. Mirror-Hand (Thian Sau)

Breathe in slowly and deeply. Then place the right palm at the chest, and move it out to a mirror-hand block, breathing out in the process. The elbow must be kept close to the body.

16. Buddha Palm (Fatt Cheong)

Circulate the right palm in an anti-clockwise direction. The movement is effected by the movement of the wrist, without moving the whole arm nor the elbow. Bring the palm towards the chest.

17. Slap-Hand (Pak Sau)

Slap the right palm sideways to the left side. Apply force only when nearing the end of the slapping movement, or at contact with an opponent. Do not move the palm too far beyond the left shoulder.

18. Shooting out the Cup-Fist (Yiet Tze Shoong Choi)

Bring the right palm back to the central position in front of the chest and clench it into a cup-fist. Concentrate force at the fist without tensing any muscles, and breathe in slowly. Then slowly move out the cup-fist and simultaneously breathe out. Concentrate force at the fist without tensing any muscles. Perform this "offering wine" movement three times, thrusting out the cup-fist speedily and forcefully at the third time.

19. Sinking-Palm (Cham Cheong)

Open the right fist into a palm, and jerk it down. Force should be concentrated at the base of the palm, and not at the arm nor the elbow.

20. Finger-Thrust (Phew Chee)

Thrust out the fingers. Visualize force shooting out from the base of the palm through the finger tips.
Perform sinking-hand (cham cheong) and finger-thrust (phew chee) three times altogether.

21. Taming-Hand (Fok Sau)

Lower the right palm into the taming-hand pattern. The palm is slightly arched, and the elbow is close to the body.

22. Phoenix-Eye Fist (Foong Gnan Khuen)

Punch out the phoenix-eye fist. Simultaneously breathe out and visualize force shooting out from the index knuckle of the fist.

23. Guard-Hand (Bong Sau)

Move the body together with the locked arm to the right side to form the guard-hand pattern. Do not move the feet nor the arm.

24. Reverse Stamp-Hand (Fan Yein Cheong)

Strike out the reverse stamp-hand, using the base of the hand as the striking point. The body and the feet are not moved.

25. Sinking-Elbow (Cham Chang)

Rotate back to the frontal stance and simultaneously "sink" the elbow by jerking it downwards.

26. Shooting-Palm (Cheang Cheong)

Immediately shoot out the right palm with the palm facing upwards. Then clench the right fist and bring it back to the side of the body at breast level. Remain at the goat-riding stance. Take in a deep breath, then breathe out slowly. For orientation purpose, you are facing north.

27. Thrust-Kick (Tchang Thuei)

Move the right leg a small step diagonally forward, slightly to the right side, lift up the left knee and place the palms in front of the body in a yin-yang position, i.e. left palm, which is below the right palm, facing upwards and right palm facing downwards. Move the left palm forwards to feint, and thrust out the left leg using the heel as striking point. The palms can also be used for blocking or attacking. For orientation purpose, you are facing northwest.

28. Finger-Thrust (Phew Chee)

Place the left leg a big step forward to form a left bow-arrow stance, and simultaneously thrust out the right palm with the fingers pointing forward. Immediately pull back the right palm and simultaneously thrust out the left palm with the fingers pointing forward. The fingers are close together. For orientation purpose, you are facing northwest.

29. Yin-Yang Palms (Yam Yeong Cheong)

Return to the original frontal goat-riding stance. For orientation purpose, you are facing north. Place both palms in front of the body with the left palm in front of the right palm in a yin-yang position. "Yin" and "yang" are in Mandarin pronunciation. In Cantonese they are pronounced as "yam" and "yeong" respectively.

30. Thrust-Kick (Tchang Thuei)

Move the left leg a small step diagonally forward to the left side, lift up the right knee, and place both palms in a yin-yang position in front of the body. Thrust out the right heel, simultaneously moving out the palms (to feint, block or attack as the case may be). For orientation purpose, you are facing northeast.

31. Finger-Thrust (Phew Chee)

Move the right leg a big step forward to form the right bow-arrow stance, and simultaneously thrust out the left palm with the fingers pointing forward. Immediately withdraw the left palm and thrust out the right palm with the fingers pointing forward. The fingers must be close together.

32. Yin-Yang Palms (Yam Yeong Cheong)

Return to the goat-riding stance and place the palms in a yin-yang position in front of the body with the right palm in front of the left palm. Be relaxed but alert. For orientation purpose, you are facing north.

33. Pinning-Hand (Kham Sau)

Circle the right hand in an anti-clockwise direction, and simultaneously the left hand in a clockwise direction in front of your body. The palms are slightly arched and the elbows must be kept close to the body. Circle both hands simultaneously for about three times.

34. Flank-Breaking-Hand (Khang Sau)

Without interrupting the circling movements of the pinning-hands, move the left leg in a big step diagonally about 45 degrees to the left to form the left bow-arrow stance, and simultaneously strike out the right palm with the palm facing forward, and block with the left hand with the palm facing backward. For orientation purpose, you are facing northwest.

35. Flank-Breaking-Hand (Khang Sau)

Move the right leg diagonally forward about 90 degrees. For orientation purpose, you are facing northeast. Strike out the left palm with the palm facing forward (in the picture, the fingers are facing forward), while blocking with the right hand with the palm facing backward.

36. Pull-Hand (Mang Sau)

Move the right leg backward, and simultaneously pull both hands back, with the right hand in front of the left hand. For orientation purpose, you are facing northwest.

37. Pull-Hand (Mang Sau)

Move the left leg backward, and simultaneously pull both hands back, with the left hand in front of the right hand. For orientation purpose, you are facing northeast.

38. Flank-Breaking-Hands (Khang Sau)

Move to the goat-riding stance facing north for orientation purpose. Then strike out the right palm with the palm facing forward, while blocking with the left hand with the palm facing backward. Next, strike out the left palm with the palm facing forward, while blocking with the right hand with the palms facing backward.

39. Pinning-Hand (Kham Sau)

Circle both palms in front of the body, the right palm in an anti-clockwise direction and the left palm in a clockwise direction. Circle about three times.

40. Circling-Hand (Heun Sau)

Reverse the direction of the pinning-hands. The right palm now circles in a clockwise direction, and the left palm in an anti-clockwise direction. Both hands circle simultaneously in front of the body. The elbows are close to the body. Continue the circling movements for about three times.

41. Finger-Thrust (Phew Chee)

Move the left leg a big step diagonally forward to form the left bow-arrow stance, facing northwest for orientation purpose. Simultaneously block with the left hand with the palm facing backward, and thrust out the right palm with the fingers pointing forward and the palm facing downward. The fingers must be closed together. Concentrate force at the fingers.

42. Finger-Thrust (Phew Chee)

Move the right leg a big step forward to form the right bow-arrow stance, facing northeast for orientation purpose. Simultaneously block with the right hand with the palm facing backward, and thrust out the left palm with the fingers pointing forward and the palm facing downward. The fingers must be closed together. Concentrate force at the fingers.

43. Finger-Thrust (Phew Chee)

Move the front right leg a big step backwards to form the left bow-arrow stance, facing northwest for orientation purpose. Now the right leg is the back leg. Simultaneously block with the left hand with the palm facing backward, and thrust out the right palm with the fingers pointing forward and the palm facing downward. The fingers must be closed together. Concentrate force at the fingers.

44. Finger-Thrust (Phew Chee)

Move the front left leg a big step backward to form the right bow-arrow stance, facing northeast for orientation purpose. Now the left leg is the back leg. Simultaneously block with right hand with the palm facing backward, and thrust out the left palm with the fingers pointing forward and the palm facing downward. The fingers must be closed together. Concentrate force at the fingers.

45. Finger-Thrust (Phew Chee)

Move to a goat-riding stance, facing north for orientation purpose. Simultaneously block with the left hand with the palm facing backward, and thrust out the right palm with the fingers pointing forward and the palm facing downward. Next, block with the right hand with the palm facing backward, and thrust out the left palm with the fingers pointing forward and the palm facing downward.

Repeat the process twice, i.e. three times altogether. The fingers must be closed together. Concentrate force at the fingers.

46. Scissors-Hands (Kao Chin Sau)

Place both palms in front of the body in a cross-position. It does not matter whether the left palm or the right palm is in front.

47. Carrying Fists (Phou Khuen)

Clench the palms into fists and bring them back to the sides of the body at breast level. Simultaneously shift the heels and toes inwards so that the feet are fairly close together. Straighten the knees to stand upright.

48. Standing Meditation and Chi Flow (Yew Fong Pai Lau)

Drop the fists to become open palms at the sides of the body. Be totally relaxed and think of nothing. This is standing meditation. Enjoy the inner peace. If chi, or energy, inside your body starts to flow, go along with a gentle swaying. For beginners and those who learn from books, it is unlikely that chi starts to flow. Just enjoy the inner peace. Remain at this position for a few seconds, and later for about 5 minutes, before moving away.

Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit,
17th July 2019.

LINKS

Introduction to Wing Choon Kungfu

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