What is Wing Chun? Origin | Techniques | Benefits | How To Start

IP Man, Wing Chun

Wing Chun is a wonderful martial art that has many unique features that set it apart from other art forms. If you’re interested in Wing Chun then it’s no surprise as it has a fascinating origin along with a long list of benefits.

Here we’re going to give you an overview of everything you need to know about Wing Chun including its origin, techniques, benefits, how to get started and much more. Let’s dive into the world of Wing Chun!

What is Wing Chun

Wing Chun is a traditional Chinese martial which is derived from Kung Fu. At its heart, it’s known for its practicality, efficiency of movement, and its effectiveness in close-range combat.

While suitable for those of any strength or size, the artform found notoriety as a means for a smaller person to defend themselves against a much larger aggressor. This is due to the clever way in which is use a person’s force against them.

There are a few key features of Wing Chun one of those being how it excels in close-range combat where long strikes are less practical. We’ll discuss this more later, but it’s also known for its economy of motion and its unique centerline theory.

Wing Chun
Wing Chun

Origin of Wing Chun

One of the special aspects of Wing Chun is that it has an incredible story about its conception and how the martial art grew. The history of Wing Chun is fascinating as it all started with a legendary woman called Ng Mui.

Ng Mui was among the five elders who managed to survive the destruction of the Shaolin Temple. Following this, it was Ng Mui’s aspiration to create a combat technique that would help to empower people to fight against those of greater size and strength.

Unlike many martial arts that have more practical names, Shaolin Wing Chun is usually translated into either “eternal spring” or “song of spring”. These names give an insight into the world of Wing Chun as the art form was named after Ng Mui’s most promising pupil.

Ng Mui left the Shaolin Temple armed with a huge amount of knowledge in martial arts and used this to forge her own path. There are many mysteries and myths about how she got her inspiration for Wing Chun’s style, with one of them being that she saw a battle between a snake and a crane.

It’s said that this inspired her to create a way of fighting that would make the most of your strength, speed, and control. This form of fighting was then designed to offer a strategic advantage against those who may be bigger or stronger than you.

The snake and crane story was never confirmed, and there are a few different versions of the story. But regardless of the true source of the inspiration, Ng Mui worked hard to create a form of martial arts that is hugely respected around the world.

Ng Mui would go on to pass her knowledge on to the student that it’s named after, Yim Wing Chun. Another myth is that Ng Mui was inspired to name the art after her student when Yim Wing Chun used it to fend off an aggressive suitor.

Wing Chun progressed over the years as different Wing Chun characters offered their own insights. A few generations down the line from Ng Mui, the most famous practitioner of them all was the legendary Ip Man.

He played a monumental role in making Wing Chun popular in the 20th century. His teaching attracted students from many different backgrounds with one of them being the most famous martial artist of all time, Bruce Lee.

Through Ip Man, his relationship with Bruce Lee, and the hard work of his sons, Wing Chun rose to new heights of popularity. Over the last couple of decades, that has been helped further by the Ip Man films which showcased the art form in cinema.

That leads us to the present day. In its 300-year history, Wing Chun has spread around the world to become one of the most respected and empowering martial arts ever created.

Characteristics of Wing Chun

We’ve touched on it a little already, but what are the characteristics of Wing Chun? More than any other martial art, Wing Chun puts a strict emphasis on economic movement which means very little wasted energy.

Added to this, a huge amount of Wing Chun is about feeling the movement of your opponent and reacting to and manipulating them to your own advantage. This often allows a Wing Chun practitioner to deflect attacks and rapidly deploy their own.

Wing Chun has a wide range of techniques that allow you to control the movement of your opponent. Many of these techniques shift their defenses away from their centerline and place them in a vulnerable position to strikes.

That centerline is one of the key theories of Wing Chun. Here you have a high and narrow stance, with the elbows close to the body. This allows for that efficiency of movement and allows the shortest traveling distance for your strikes.

There is also a softness to Wing Chun that allows people to perform techniques in a relaxed manner. However, this softness shouldn’t be confused with weakness. The principle is to maintain flexibility while keeping the strength to fight back if required.

It’s these characteristics that make Wing Chun such a beloved marital art. It’s not about brute force or uncultured movements. Instead, it’s as much about the mental focus and discipline you need to outsmart and outmaneuver your opponent.

Stances, Techniques, and Forms

There is a unique set of techniques and forms that help to separate Wing Chun from many different types of martial arts. With that in mind, let’s look at an overview of the stances, common techniques, and forms of Wing Chun.

Stances of Wing Chun

The stance is at the core foundation of Wing Chun and plays a crucial role in getting the right mix of balance, stability and efficient movements. Without the right stance, you won’t be able to execute its techniques correctly.

The exact stances used can differ across schools but here are the main ones used:

Opening Stance (Hoi Munga)

This is a starting posture that is typified by having your feet shoulder-width apart, your toes pointing forward, and your knees slightly bent. This stance allows for balance alignment and high mobility.

Fighting Stance

There isn’t just one fighting stance used, as there are a few different varieties. The right stance will depend on the circumstances but here are the main options.

Forward Stance (Ma Bu) – This is very similar to the fighting stance you’ll find in many other martial arts with a dominant foot placed slightly behind the front foot. This allows a wide and stable stance for effective strikes and quick weight shifts.

Backward Stance (Ban Kuen) – This is the opposite setup to the forward stance. While not as popular, it’s a good stance for evading kicks and setting up counterattacks.

Centerline Stance (Qian Jin Da) – The centerline is an authentic Wing Chun stance. It minimizes punch distance to your opponent while maximizing efficiency.

Goat Stance (Yang Jong)

This is a variation of the centerline stance but can be an uncomfortable position for many. Here your feet are wider than your shoulders with your knees bent, and toes pointed inward. This can be an effective way to defend against kicks.

Wing Chun Techniques

There is a vast range of techniques and strikes in Wing Chun which can be highly effective. Here we’ll look at some of the most effective blocks and strikes.


Biu Sau Block – Deflects head-level attacks, adaptable for different heights.

Tan Sau (Receiving Hand) – Uses long bridge energy for high-to-low strikes.

Wu Sau (Guarding Hand) – Blocks close-range attacks, can transition to strikes.

Lap Sau (Grabbing Hand) – Unbalances opponents for counterattacks.

Bong Sau (Wing Arm) – Deflects punches, controls wrists in advanced combinations.

Man Sau (Asking Hand) – Blocks overhand strikes, follows with elbow strike.

Pak Sau (Slap Block) – Diverts strikes with palm block.

Fook Sau (Subduing Hand) – Builds positioning understanding for advanced techniques.

Gang/Guan Sau (Splitting Hand) – Effective midsection block and counterattack.

Chi Sau (Sticking Hands) – Enhances reflexes, relies on sensing opponent’s movements.

Gum Sau (Pressing Hand) – Disables strikes by blocking the opponent’s arm.

Huen/Hyun Sau (Circling Hand) – Maintains control while altering position.

Kwan Sau (Rotating Hand) – Blocks various attacks, aids in escaping traps.

Seung Chi Sau (Double Sticking Hands) – Two-handed version of Chi Sau for close defense.


One Inch Punch – Generates powerful short-range strikes.

Wing Chun Double Punch – Simultaneous forceful punches, overwhelming opponents.

Pai Jarn (Hacking Elbow Strike) – Horizontal elbow strike for close-range impact.

Biu Sau Strike (Thrusting Fingers) – Targets soft spots like eyes and neck.

Fak Sau (Whisking Hand) – Chopping strike from a distance, adaptable.

Lin Wan Kuen (Chain Punch) – Rapid succession of punches for offense and self-defense.


Along with the techniques and stances, you’ll also need to learn the forms if you want to master Wing Chun.

The forms are sets of distinct training sequences that will allow you to refine your techniques and solidify the principles of Wing Chun. These are split into three “empty hand” forms without the use of equipment, and three with equipment.

Siu Nim Tao (Little Idea) – This is the most basic of the forms and will help to teach you the fundamental concepts of balance and control of the centerline.

Chum Kiu (Bridging the Gap) – Here the focus is building on your technique through the use of footwork and getting in striking range of your opponent.

Biu Gee (Thrusting Fingers) – Here you’ll learn the building blocks of being able to defend yourself with a range of techniques which includes rapid strikes but also energy recovery.

Muk Yan Jong (Wooden Dummy) – The wooden dummy is the ultimate solo training partner. This form allows you to practice position against a solid structure for more precise learning.

Luk Dim Boon Gwun (Pole Form) – Here you’ll utilize a long pole to keep your opponent at a distance with thrusts and footwork.

Bart Cham Dao (Knife Form) – This is the final form which incorporates knives being an extension of the body. This allows you to work on adapting empty-hand forms for self-defense and close combat.

Top 10 Benefits of Wing Chun

There are many benefits of Wing Chun that go beyond simply learning a martial art. Let’s take a look at why you should learn Wing Chun.

1. Practical Martial Art

Of course, the most important benefit of Wing Chun is that you’ll get to learn a practical martial art that is going to help you in all areas of life. Its techniques and teachings will allow you to better defend yourself in real-life situations and learn the fundamentals of self-defense.

2. Fitness

Wing Chun involves a range of physical activities that are sure to increase your cardiovascular fitness and improve your overall health. It’s no wonder so many Wing Chun masters live to such an old age! This art will also help to improve your muscle tone, stamina, and flexibility.

3. Improved Coordination

You can’t become proficient in Wing Chun without a high level of coordination. Its techniques and forms will allow you to improve the coordination of your whole body. This will help to give you better awareness and balance in general life too.

4. Relives Stress

This is a benefit of any type of martial arts training, as it can be a great stress reliever. The concentration required can give you a mental break from the stresses of everyday life and striking can help you to get rid of any pent-up aggression.

5. Better Reflexes

As with coordination, reflexes are a huge part of what can make someone proficient in Wing Chun. With its focus on close combat, those quick responses you’ll learn will help to sharpen your reflexes. The more you practice Wing Chun, you’ll find the better your reflexes become.

6. Improved Self-Esteem

Learning a martial art is empowering. You’ll be learning a new fighting skill while also being in a supportive community. Meanwhile, you’ll also be improving your fitness, reflexes and coordination. The net result of all of this is improved self-esteem and confidence.

7. More Power and Speed

Wing Chun doesn’t involve wild strikes or huge lunges. Instead, it focuses on generating power from your core over short distances. This allows anyone of any size to increase their power while they’ll also be improving on their speed of movement in the process.

8. Sociable Community

When you join a Wing Chun school, you’ll be joining a community of like-minded individuals who are all there to learn and grow. Most schools are extremely supportive environments and you’re sure to meet new friends and be a part of a tight-knit community.

9. More Developed Focus

Wing Chun demands focus and concentration at all times. You need to pay close attention to what you’re doing while also constantly looking at and feeling your opponent. This helps to cultivate a better mental discipline which you can also apply to other areas of your life.

10. Better Mindfulness

Wing Chun is also great for the mind. Its focus on precise movements and the need for self-awareness during training can help to promote mindfulness. This, in turn, can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on your mental well-being.

How To Start Learning Wing Chun

When looking at how to learn Wing Chun, there are a few important steps that you’ll need to take. While our article explains this in more detail, let’s look at the process you need to follow.

First Steps

The first thing you need to do is find a qualified instructor in your area. Ideally, they’ll have years of experience along with a strong lineage that can be traced back to a Wing Chun master. A simple Google search will likely bring up practitioners in your area and then you can compare them.

Along with this, it’s a good idea to learn about the philosophy of Wing Chun before you jump into doing any of its techniques. Make sure you understand the importance of the centerline theory, how it deploys the simultaneous use of attack and defense, and appreciate the economy of motion.

Next Steps of Learning the Basics

Once you’ve found an instructor, then you’ll need to start learning the basics. This usually starts with learning the basic stances along with footwork. They will give you the foundation for maintaining balance and mobility.

After this, you can start working on basic hand techniques such as blocks, palm strikes and punches. Once you have a good understanding of the basics, you can then move on to Chi Sao (Sticky Hands) where you start to learn the importance of sensitivity and reflexes.

Learning the Forms

Eventually you’ll go through all the forms of Wing Chun that we looked at above. However, many Wing Chun schools don’t work with weapons, so that may be an exception. These forms will advance your techniques and allow you to start perfecting your muscle memory and coordination.

An important part of learning the forms is practicing on the wooden dummy (Muk Yan Jong). This will allow you to refine your techniques and start to develop your power.

Applying your Teaching

Once you get to a sufficient level, you can start to put it into practice. Here you’ll engage in controlled sparring sessions where you can start to deploy your skills in a more realistic setting. This can help you to further refine your technique as it will highlight any weaknesses.

Final Steps

The final step on your Wing Chun journey is to improve your learning and physical conditioning. It’s important to be in the best possible physical condition so you can commit to your techniques without worrying about fatigue.

Over the course of your Wing Chun martial arts training, you need to remain patient as it’s only natural to have setbacks. With committed training, careful studying, and an acknowledgment of the history of Wing Chun, you’ll have constant improvement and become proficient in this wonder martial art.


Is Wing Chun the best Kung Fu?

The answer to this is completely subjective. Many people love Wing Chun Kung Fu due to its practical and efficient techniques. Due to this, many prefer Wing Chun over any other form of Kung Fu, while others will say that other forms are better. There is no “best” when it comes to types of Kung Fu.

Is Wing Chun an Olympic sport?

No, Wing Chun is not, and never has been, an Olympic sport. While you won’t get to see Wing Chun at the Olympics, there are other martial arts to enjoy. These are boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo, and wrestling. Other martial arts, such as karate, have been included in the Olympics in the past but are not currently a part of the program.

Is Wing Chun effective in a real fight?

Wing Chun has plenty of real-life applications that can be effective in a real fight. This is especially true in close-quarters combat situations. It can be valuable in diffusing tensions and self-defense.

In the likes of a bar brawl, while the techniques and skills of Wing Chun can be useful, it’s most likely that other techniques would need to be applied. This is especially true if it turns into a ground fight.

Is Wing Chun for girls?

Not only is Wing Chun fantastic for girls, but the martial art itself was founded by a woman. If any martial art was perfect for women then it would be Wing Chun due to its focus on allowing a fighter to disable a much larger opponent.

What weapons are used in Wing Chun?

It depends on the style of Wing Chun being taught but traditionally there are only two weapons used. These are in the forms we mentioned above which consist of the long pole as well as butterfly swords.

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Kenny Jarvis
Kenny Jarvis
I have been practicing and studying boxing since I was a teenager. I am passionate about the sport, along with many other martial arts. While my fighting days may be over, I love channeling my passion into my writing to provide insightful blogs.