Wing Chun is a very unique and scientific form of wushu (Chinese martial arts). It originated during the 17th Century from the far more rigorous and complex kung-fu forms taught in the Shaolin Temple of Southern China (a place called Siu Lam Monastery); and from that time, there have developed many intermixed facts and legends of its history. A large reason for this intermixture is, while the art was taught throughout history, it was rarely documented, as were the other forms of kung-fu. It wasn't until Grandmaster Ip Man that Wing Chun was popularized and documented.
Ip Man took Wing Chun from the silent, undocumented confines of its past and exposed the world to it, through his own teaching as well as that of his students'. From the exposure his student, Bruce Lee, gave Wing Chun in film to Ip Man's eldest son's (Grandmaster Ip Chun) work sorting historical fact from fiction., Wing Chun has become a world-renown and respected form of self defense.
Wing Chun's specialty is close-combat. It uses a balanced and coordinated approach to zhànshù zhàndòu (tactical fighting); one where offense and defense are simultaneous. The student must learn to deliver the correct response to a given situation, remaining as relaxed as possible. A good sifu (teacher) will teach the student how to acheive these goals efficiently and effectively.
The student of Wing Chun Kung Fu will undergo several levels of training, starting with the simplest and graduating into the most complex. For example, beginning students will learn the first form of Wing Chun, Siu Nim Tao 小念頭 (Simple or Little Idea), the first "sticky hands" exercise, Dan Chi Sau 單黐手 (single-hand exercise), multiple exercises including "The One Hand Blocks Many", and apply the principles of each in some beginner's tactical fighting drills/exercises. During this first level of training, students will understand where their center-line and core-line are, as well as learn the proper energies associated with various motions, defensive and offensive techniques. As students progress the forms and exercises will become more complex; for example, Dan Chi Sau will become Seung Chi Sau 双黐手 (double sticky hands) and forms will begin to incorporate movements and other defensive and offensive techniques.
Traditionally, students would progress through six levels of training, based on each of the six forms: Siu Nim Tao, Chum Kiu 尋橋 (Bridging the Gap), (followed by) Biu Gee 鏢指 (Thrusting Fingers) [These first three forms represent the empty-hand forms in order of learning], Mook Yan Jong 木人樁 (wooden dummy form), Luk Deem Boon Kwun 六点半杆 (long pole form), and Bart Jam Dao 八斩刀 (double knife form) .
But, some instructors will vary on these forms and levels based on the student's needs and goals. For example, some instructors may introduce the wooden dummy training before or simultaneously with the Biu Gee form training. The order of introduction of this training is largely one of personal preference of the instructor. However, prior to learning either the Biu Gee or wooden dummy, the foundation of Siu Nim Tao and Chum Kiu training must have been solidly laid.
The Chinese have a saying, "Bù chī diǎn kǔ tǐlì bùxíng". It means: If you can't eat bitter, your physical strength is no good. It is an old saying that seeks practical exercises for practical living. Wing Chun teaches: Perfect practice makes perfect.
Students at the Yost Wing Chun Academy will learn in a traditional sense; meaning, we look at each individual's needs and develop them for practical use. In this way, students responsibly learn in practical ways to apply what they're learning to everyday life, fitness, health, and self defense.
Each component of each form, exercise and application is broken down into its simpliest components for clear understanding. "Doing an exercise without knowing why one is doing it doesn't bring understanding or ability," states Sifu Yost. "A student of Wing Chun must understand why they are doing their exercise and apply that understanding, perfectly, toward ability - even in the worst of conditions."