Ving Tsun Curriculum
Forms and san sik
Forms are meditative, solitary exercises which develop self-awareness, balance, relaxation and sensitivity. Forms also train the practitioner in the fundamental movement and the correct force generation of Ving Tsun.
San Sik (translated as Separate Forms) are compact in structure. They can be loosely grouped into three broad categories:
1) focus on building body structure through basic punching, standing, turning, and stepping drills
2) fundamental arm cycles and changes, firmly ingraining the cardinal tools for interception and adaptation
3) sensitivity training and combination techniques.
It is from the forms and san sik that all Ving Tsun techniques are derived. Depending on lineage, the focus, content and intent of each form can have distinct differences which can therefore have far reaching implications. This also means that there are a few different ideas concerning what constitutes progression in the curriculum from form to form, so only a general description of overlap between different schools of thought is possible here.
The most commonly seen Ving Tsun generally comprises six forms: three empty hand forms, one "wooden dummy" form, and two weapons forms.
Siu Lim Tau - 小念頭
The first and most important form in Ving Tsun. Siu Lim Tau is the foundation or "seed" of the art from which all succeeding forms and techniques depend. Fundamental rules of balance and body structure are developed here. Using a car analogy: for some branches this would provide the chassis, for others this is the engine. Some branches view the symmetrical stance as the fundamental fighting stance, while others see it as more a training stance used in developing technique.
Chum Kiu - 尋橋
The second form Chum Kiu focuses on coordinated movement of bodymass and entry techniques to "bridge the gap" between practitioner and opponent and move in to disrupt their structure and balance. Close-range attacks using the elbows and knees are also developed here. It also teaches methods of recovering position and centerline when in a compromised position where Siu Nim Tao structure has been lost. For some branches bodyweight in striking is a central theme, whether it be from pivoting (rotational) or stepping (translational). Likewise for some branches, this form provides the engine to the car. For branches who use the "sinking bridge" interpretation, the form takes on more emphasis of an "uprooting" context adding multi-dimensional movement and spiraling to the already developed engine.
Biu Tze - 鏢指
The third form, Biu Jee, is composed of extreme short-range and extreme long-range techniques, low kicks and sweeps, and "emergency techniques" to counter-attack when structure and centerline have been seriously compromised, such as when the practitioner is seriously injured. As well as pivoting and stepping, developed in Chum Kiu, a third degree of freedom involving more upper body and stretching is developed for more power. Such movements include very close range elbow strikes and finger thrusts to the throat. For some branches this is the turbo-charger of the car. For others it can be seen as a "pit stop" kit that should never come in to play, recovering your "engine" when it has been lost. Still other branches view this form as imparting deadly "killing" and maiming techniques that should never be used if you can help it. A common Ving Tsun saying is "Biu Jee doesn't go out the door." Some interpret this to mean the form should be kept secret, others interpret it as meaning it should never be used if you can help it.
Muk Yan Jong - 木人樁
The Muk Yan Jong form is performed against a "wooden dummy", a thick wooden post with three arms and a leg mounted on a slightly springy frame representing a stationary human opponent. Although representative of a human opponent, the dummy is not a physical representation of a human, but an energetic one. Wooden dummy practice aims to refine a practitioner's understanding of angles, positions, and footwork, and to develop full body power. It is here that the open hand forms are pieced together and understood as a whole.
Baat Jaam Do ("Eight Chopping/Slashing Knives") - 八斬刀
A form involving a pair of large "Butterfly Knives", slightly smaller than short swords (Dao). Historically the knives were also referred to as Dit Ming Do ("Life-Taking Knives"). The blade of a butterfly sword is roughly as long as a human forearm, which allows for easy concealment inside sleeves or boots, and allows greater maneuverability when spinning and rotating during close-quarters fighting. Butterfly swords are usually wielded in pairs. A pair of swords will often be carried side by side within the same scabbard, so as to give the appearance of a single weapon.
The butterfly sword has a small crossguard to protect the hands of the wielder,similar to that of a sai, which can also be used to block or hook an opponent's weapon. They may also be used as a knuckle duster when non-lethal application of the weapon is desired.
Traditionally, the blade of a butterfly sword is only sharpened along half of its edge - from the middle of the blade to the tip. The blade from the midpoint down is left blunt so that it can be used to deliver non-lethal strikes and to block without damaging the sharpened edge.The blade is 11½"long and the handle is 5"long.
Luk Dim Boon Kwun ("Six and A Half Point Pole") - 六點半桿
"Long Pole" — a tapered wooden pole ranging anywhere from 8 to 13 feet in length. Also referred to as "Dragon Pole" by some branches. For some branches that use "Six and A Half Point Pole", their 7 principles of Luk Dim Boon Kwun(Tai-uprooting, lan-to expand, dim-shock, kit-deflect, got-cut down, wan-circle, lau-flowing) are used throughout the unarmed combat as well. The name six and a half point pole comes from these 7 principles, with the last principle:Lau, or Flowing counting as half a point.
Chi sao - 黐手
Chi Sao or "sticking hands". Term for the principle, and drills used for the development of automatic reflexes upon contact and the idea of "sticking" to the opponent. In Ving Tsun this is practiced through two practitioners maintaining contact with each other's forearms while executing techniques, thereby training each other to sense changes in body mechanics, pressure, momentum and "feel". This increased sensitivity gained from this drill helps a practitioner attack and counter an opponent's movements precisely, quickly and with the appropriate technique.
Chi Sao additionally refers to methods of rolling hands drills (Luk Sao). Luk Sao participants push and "roll" their forearms against each other in a single circle while trying to remain relaxed. The aim is to feel forces, test resistances and find defensive gaps. Other branches do a version of this where each of the arms roll in small separate circles. Luk Sao is most notably taught within the Pan Nam branches where both the larger rolling drills and the method where each of the arms roll in small separate circles are taught.
In some lineages (such as the Yip Man and Jiu Wan branches), Chi Sao drills begin with one-armed sets called Dan Chi Sao which help the novice student to get the feel of the exercise, each practitioner uses one hand from the same side as they face each other. Chi Sao is a sensitivity drill to obtain specific responses, it should not be confused with sparring/fighting, though it can be practiced or expressed in a combat form.
1. Lap Sao : Block and Strike
2. Pak Sao : Slap Block
3. Pak Da : Block and Strike
4. Lop Da : Grab and Strike
5. Dan Chi Sao : Single sticking hands
6. Luk Sao : rolling sticking hands
7. Jip Sao / Jow Sao : Catching Hand / Running Hand
8. Tui Ma : Push Horse
9. Seung Chi Sao : double sticking hands
10. Chi Gerk : sticking Legs