Wing Chun

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Chum Kiu

Chum Kiu is simple. In Chinese, it translates as “building the bridge.” I believe the bridge is within the self. Chum Kiu attempts to remind you of some basic lessons that you already learned; but, it teaches you in a different way.

For example, if I asked you to do the following: run for about four miles each day; crawl like a baby on the carpet; dig holes in the ground about five feet deep; and, go to the pool and swim lengths. In a way, you’re being prepared for a position in the military, maybe Navy Seals, but you really haven’t done anything related to combat.

This is why the forms in Wing Chun look so nonsensical because they have everything to do with fighting; but, what you are learning feels like simple movements.  You may, already, have learned the movement known as “bong sao” in Siu Lim Tao. It’s, essentially,  handing someone a glass of water and then turning it upside down just before you give it to them. This movement when used correctly with little energy has an amazing ability to redirect significant force directed at your center without you doing much! Spilling water. It’s also in Chum Kiu in several places. 

If you can remember being young and spinning in circles with your hands held out and, perhaps, accidentally hitting a friend in the face, you are practicing Chum Kiu. It has this concept. There is a turning that generates an internal force enabling your body to repel, control and guide greater force that approaches you with little effort.  In Chum Kiu the range of motion is restricted to 180 degrees because we want you to maintain a stable base, and due to the fact that this is the maximum range that your body can turn without transitioning to something else.

As you played in the park as a child, you may have felt the momentum of your body accelerating on the swing while your legs kicked out gently. This relaxed kick and punch exist in Chum Kiu. The form is trying to show you that martial arts and kung fu, in particular, do not have to be tense and hyperactive to work. It can be simple: stand in front of a child on a swing and let it hit you; it will hurt!  It will hurt because the child has both speed and mass, and the legs are hitting you in a specific time and place. The child has no martial intent. She is only playing in both time and space. This is Chum Kiu:

I chose this video because the instructor does a good job of presenting the nature of rotational force in Chum Kiu. He moves to center in a relaxed way. The main point of Chum Kiu, and perhaps all of Wing Chun, is to place basic ideas about movement into your subconscious so they are available to you without you needing to think about what application to use next. You are simply having fun at the park! Joy is more powerful than anger.