Updated: Aug 23, 2021
It has been said that success or failure in business comes down to systems.
Companies that develop and institute effective systems succeed and those that don’t fade away. Systems are procedures, processes, methods, or courses of actions designed to achieve a specific result.
They provide a path that allows you to go from point A to B consistently, efficiently, and effectively every time. No guess work. They are proven methods of starting from a particular place and reaching a particular destination.
This, however, is not limited to business.
It is found in any successful course of study, whether that be art, music, or even attaining the loftiest of spiritual states.
They all have a logical, repeatable method or path that has stood the test of time and allows one to go from complete novice to skilled master. High level martial arts, including Ving Tsun are no different.
Like all successful endeavors, becoming a high-level martial artist can come from having a highly skilled teacher, and following a time tested program for success. The Ving Tsun system is a complete system that can allow a beginner with no experience to become a skilled and proficient martial artist by following the path that many before them have traveled.
Sifu Wayne's schools, Wai's Kung Fu, teaches the same system as past generations, laid out sequentially in 108 steps. Each new step builds on the previous step, while at the same time preparing the student and developing the skills and qualities they will need for the following step.
While the system appears linear, once you complete step 1 you move on to step 2, and so on, and so on, the system is also cyclical, for the next step on your path not only provides you with the information you need to continue advancing to the following step, but it also unlocks data from the previous steps as well.
This means every time you revisit a previous step, you will have a deeper understanding of what it is trying to instill in you and you will get more out of it.
These steps are not meant to be quickly walked down and discarded, but are to be constantly revisited, for each step holds hidden gems that can only be found by the student who digs deep enough to find them.
It's similar to sharpening a sword, where each pass brings improvement. Some people consider that going back to earlier steps is somehow "below them" but again like sharpening the sword, each pass must cover the whole blade. Not just the tip.
The Wai’s Kung Fu 108 step Ving Tsun system contains 15 different curriculums that are woven and interlaced throughout the 108 steps. We teach from this curriculum in our schools and also in our online course The Complete Ving Tsun System.
Each works to develop a specific domain of knowledge, experience and skills.
While these domains appear to be separate, they are in fact part of an integrated whole, in much the same way plumbing, electrical, and framing are separate domains that must each support the other to create a fully functioning house.
Each step of the curriculum is like a link in a chain. A weakness in any of the links in the chain results in a weakness in your overall Ving Tsun, no matter how strong the other links may be. As the old saying goes, “You are only as strong as your weakest link.”
This is why the steps of each of these domains are spread throughout the system and overlap with other domains during the journey through the system. It allows for the student to constantly strengthen and develop all areas that must be mastered for one to be a complete Ving Tsun practitioner.
Here are the 15 domains of study and a description of each. I've added some images from my online course, The Complete Ving Tsun System.
The 15 domains of study are:
Fundamentals and Technicality:
It is said that a master is someone who has mastered the basics. Here you will learn the building blocks that make up the Ving Tsun system. You can only build as high up as your foundation is deep, so it is with these foundational elements that the students Ving Tsun will be built upon. Any crack in the Ving Tsun is likely the result of a crack in their foundation. As Sifu Wayne reminds us regularly, “There are two types of people who practice the basics. The very beginner and the very advanced.”
Siu Nim Tau (Little Idea) Form:
In this, the first of the six Ving Tsun forms, you will learn the lexicon of the Ving Tsun techniques as 80% are covered within this form. This form will also begin to engrain the idea of protecting the centerline and will begin to develop your fa jin or explosive one inch power. Siu nim tau also begins to help us release the tension so that we can reshape the tissues and begin to develop a “ving tsun body.” This releasing of tension will also allow us to use our mass more effectively and have more explosive power in our strikes.
An interesting side note is that most of the techniques found in the wooden dummy domain; what many consider to be one of the most advanced areas of study, are taught in this first domain.
Kyun Li (Fist Power):
Ving Tsun is a striking style so it relies heavily on our ability to punch. Ving Tsun was also developed as a style for a smaller opponent to take down bigger, stronger opponents. This means that punching power is incredibly important within the Ving Tsun system where the goal is the ability to defeat your opponent with one punch in less than three seconds. Here the student will learn how to develop whole body punching power and condition the fists so their hands become wrecking balls capable of punching up 6 weight classes. This is a process that is continually developed throughout the students’ career.
Chi Sau (Sticking Hands):
Here the student will be introduced to one of the hallmark drills of the Ving Tsun system. Chi sau works to develop sensitivity, to develop proper responses to conditions, and getting those responses to the level of unconscious competence. Often called “doc sau” or measuring hands, it is here a student will learn how to measure distance and improve the quality of their techniques as well as begin to learn fight strategy. This by studying the different scenarios that arise under the constraints of a controlled drill.
Chum Kiu (Bridge Seeking):
In siu nim tao we began to learn about, and focus on the center line. Now in the second of the Ving Tsun forms we will begin to learn how to move the centerline while keeping ground path, thus developing our ability to remain rooted while in motion. Chum kiu also begins to train our waist and develop our balance, so we will not be pulled or pushed out of our horse stance (off balanced). Chum kiu also helps to develop the explosive, full body power that is necessary to defeat a larger opponent in one punch. Ving Tsun Patriarch, Ip Man, said “If someone knows chum kiu and loses a fight, I’ll jump off this building.” This does not mean that just because someone has learned the mechanical movements of the form that they can defeat anyone. Rather by “knows” chum kiu, Patriarch Ip Man meant that the student has deeply engrained and integrated all of the powerful principles and qualities within the form, into their physiology. That is how important Patriarch Ip Man knew this form was.
Toi Ma (Stance Development):
There is a saying in martial arts,“No horse, no kung fu.” Having and keeping your rooting and balance, while being able to take an opponents rooting and balance is a crucial aspect of becoming a skilled martial artist. The second you lose your balance you have opened yourself to defeat. Having a strong horse is a prerequisite to having any real martial arts skill and ability. The toi ma drills specifically work to develop the students ability to root and hold your ground while under stress from an opponent, and to avoid take downs and throws from grappling styles. Toi ma is a stress test to see where the weaknesses in your structure are, and how well you can maintain that rooting, structure and balance while under duress.
Gor Sau (Warring Hands):
Gor sau, or warring hands, is an advanced version of the chi sau drill. In chi sau we strive to practice and develop our sensitivity and technique as well as engrain proper positions, decisions, and responses, in an environment with fewer rules. This testing grounds more closely resemble fighting at close quarters. Here the student will see how well they have engrained the proper positioning, techniques, and responses. Do the hands and feet respond properly, or do they just swing away wildly? In gor sau there is less time to think. The student will discover what has become second nature and what they have to take back to the lab of doc sau to improve.
Maai San Jong (Alive Hands):
Maai san jong, or the “3 second fight simulator,” is where the training wheels come off and the student begins to learn how Ving Tsun is really used in a fight situation. It is Ving Tsun’s version of sparring and is meant to train the student how to quickly enter an opponent’s boundaries and end the fight in three seconds. Here you see if what you learned in gor sau has become second nature, for there is no time to think in this drill. If proper stance, hand skills and sensitivity have not been developed to a high enough level, these drills will expose it. As toi ma can reveal our stance and structure flaws, maai san jong will reveal any weak links in the entire chain. We can then use that information and go back into the laboratory of gor sau, or to any other curriculum, to improve our weaknesses using its specialized exercises.
Chi Geuk (Sticking Legs):
In doc sau and gor sau we began to learn how to use our hands to “stick,” develop sensitivity, and trap, now in chi geuk we will learn to do the same with our legs. Remember no horse, no kung fu. Balance is essential and the moment you lose yours you open yourself up to defeat. In chi geuk the student will improve their balance while learning how to take an opponent’s. It will teach the student how to kick, sweep, avoid sweeps, and how to trap and control an opponent’s legs. The improved footwork developed from chi geuk will take the student to the next level in their Ving Tsun journey.
Moy Fa Jong (Plum Flower Posts):
With chi geuk we began to lay the foundation for our sticking, and trapping with the legs. Now with moy fa jong we will begin to take that to the next level. In stage 1 of the moy fa jong exercise we continue to improve our sticking, distance and trapping. In stage 2, we practice all forms of kicking to improve technique, accuracy, speed and power and in stage 3 we integrate all the legwork from the whole system into this one exercise. The name moy fa jong (flower posts) comes from the fact that the posts are typically arranged into a pattern resembling the moy flower, the symbol of Ving Tsun. With these posts the student will have the ability to improve their footwork, balance, stability and mobility. Also they will learn kicking and kick prevention/blocks , as well as proper distance, plus sweeping and sweep prevention. The moy fa jong becomes ving tsun’s version of shadow boxing for the legs.
Biu Ji (Thrusting Fingers):
With siu nim tau and chum kiu we learned the proper foundations for the Ving Tsun system; by first learning the centreline and then learning how to move that centreline and stay balanced. We worked to engrain proper techniques, qualities, and principles based on Ving Tsun theory. Now in Biu Ji we learn what to do if things go wrong or we make a mistake. Also called the “standard compass,” bui ji teaches emergency techniques that allow the practitioner to recover the line and get their hands back on center as quickly as possible. This is an explosive form that will help the student to continue to develop their power while reinforcing the idea of never being outflanked and maintaining control of the line of attack.
Cheung Kiu Sau (Long Bridge):
The next stage after gor sau starts to break from the expectation that an opponent will kindly give you his hands so you can trap them up. In a fight, it’s necessary to earn any advantage, and that includes even making contact. In cheung kiu sau we work on breaching an opponents boundary when we are out of range. It is important to remember that Ving Tsun was designed to allow a smaller opponent to defeat a larger opponent. This means we don’t stand in one spot and their tradeing blows, or try to use brute force to overpower our opponent. In Ving Tsun the goal is to get in fast and end the fight as quick as possible since time works against the smaller person in a fight. In cheung kiu sau we will further our ability to quickly and explosively enter our opponents boundary from long range, all while controlling and trapping their hands so that we may get the open target that Ving Tsun is striving to gain. Cheung kiu sau teaches us how to own the timing of the fight and get into an advantageous strategic position by applying the logical principles we trained in previous drills Remember the goal is to end the encounter in three seconds or less. We get in fast and end it. There is no dilly dallying. Cheung kiu sau furthers our development in this skill.
Mook Yan Jong (Wooden Man):
Here we have the fourth and final of the Ving Tsun hand forms. The mook yan jong, or wooden man, is one of the more well known elements of the Ving Tsun system. Many a student begins their training wanting to rush to the wooden dummy. H however, without the foundations that come prior to this form the student would receive little to no benefit, for it is in this form that we learn to refine the foundational techniques and skills learned up to this point. The mook jong works to develop and refine power and position for the hands the same way the flower posts develop and refine our kicking and leg power. The wooden dummy and the plum flower posts are two sides of the same coin. Here we will further refine our development, enhancing our speed, power, and accuracy while developing surgical precision. It has been said that the wooden dummy is similar to a typewriter - it will make the written work appear advanced and professional but does not improve a writer’s core writing skills.
Luk Dim Bun Quan (Long Pole):
With the completion of the hand forms the student begins their weapons training with the luk dim bun quan or six and a half point pole. Due to the weight and length of the pole the form will not only make you proficient with the weapon, but will enhance power and strength in both your stance and punching ability, which is the forms primary purpose within the Ving Tsun system. The long pole will develop punching power by enhancing the coordination of the punch with the waist. By learning to bend the pole using the whole body, a student learns how to deliver coordinated whole body power into their fist.
Bat Jum Doa (Eight Cut Swords):
The student now enters their final examination for the Ving Tsun curriculum with bat jum dao. Here the student will draw on the previous steps and phases within the curriculum to learn to use the butterfly swords;, short, knife like swords that become an extension of the body. Here the student will discover why proper technique is so necessary, for a wrong move with the swords can have the student injuring themselves instead of their opponent. Mastery of this form will allow the student to confidently deal with any armed opponent.
One a student finishes the swords, he or she has acquired the basic skills of the system and can solve problems presented by an attacker.
I hope this gave you a good overview of the system we use to make sure you can successfully learn all the ving tsun skills. Under the guidance of Sifu Wayne, you will learn to defend your body and mind against all manner of attacks. With this foundation, you will move forward into the more advanced stages of learning.
If you're interested in learning from sifu Wayne, either in class or online, please feel free to contact us or go to sifuwayne.com.
If you enjoy my writing, check out all my other articles. I've been writing a column called "Second Nature" in Wing Chun Illustrated Magazine since it started.
In case you wanted more information about my books or classes: