BY CURT JAMES
Chum Kiu trains the stance and waist,
Wing Chun's second set is called Chum Kiu which means "Searching for the Bridge." The word Chum means Searching; Kiu is a Bridge or Forearm. Chum Kiu indicates a search for an opponent. This implies closing the distance, sticking and controlling an adversary in combat. As a technique, Chum Kiu may also refer to Sinking the Bridge. This indicates a sudden dropping of the arm-bridge and is an important technique. However, to translate Chum Kiu set in this manner is said to be inappropriate. Chum Kiu is associated with the idea of searching, chasing and closing the gap. Basic mobility plays a significant role in this set. "Where is the opponent's bridge to be found? Chum Kiu guides the way."
The term Chum Kiu, like Siu Lim Tau, can be understood in different ways. Chum Kiu points to a spontaneous act of seeking out what is essential. This reveals a direct and immediate action--whether physical, mental or spiritual. In self-defense, this indicates the opponent and the control of his defensive capability. Searching for the Bridge represents a sudden response that is directed toward the defeat of an adversary. This promotes a focused intent and aligns the totality of one's being. A direct and positive attitude are crucial in the world of martial arts. This mindset, perhaps more than anything else, encourages the highest degree of skill and success in combat. Chum Kiu develops non-hesitation and a unified purpose in Wing Chun Kuen.
The concept of Chum Kiu may also be understood in a metaphysical sense. Searching for the Bridge (Chum Kiu) indicates a clear aim and therefore a potential discovery and realization. The bridge in ancient religions always signified the Way leading to truth and reality. This is the way of the Buddha, Tao or Christ: "I am the way," meaning not one's ordinary self, but what is really meant by "I." This directs one past the ego toward the development of true Individuality. When the bridge is discovered and crossed, the aspirant is lead to the other shore. A Buddhist mantra chants, "O Wisdom which has gone, gone, gone to the other shore, gone beyond the other shore--Svaha!"
Chum Kiu presents second level in Wing Chun Kuen and is therefore a practical combat stage. Through the mastery of Chum Kiu and Sticky Hands training one approaches real self-defense application. As a preliminary level, Siu Lim Tau is an important beginning but is not considered practical, per se. The techniques acquired from statonary Siu Lim Tau practice must be incorporated with effective footwork and elements from Wing Chun's advanced sets to be rendered truly effective.
Wing Chun training sets are extremely multipurposed. They introduce essential techniques and skills as well as individual levels of development. These unique sets represent important clues that unlock the progressive, deeper aspects of the fighting art. For instance, Chum Kiu training points to a dynamic and practical level in Wing Chun Kuen. "Chum Kiu trains the stance and the waist, The arm-bridge is short and the steps are narrow." "A quick fight should be ended quickly, No delay can be allowed." This indicates some of the general ideas and fighting concepts associated with this training form.
Due to many deflecting and controlling skills presented, Chum Kiu set is often described as a fundamental, defensive form. Yet Chum Kiu set displays harmony between offensive and defensive skills, both practical and developmental methods. Martial training sets introduce many skills and physical elements that may appear impractical. In Wing Chun Kuen, Chum Kiu level represents an initial fighting stage. The set introduces neither fancy moves or advanced forms of mobility. Chum Kiu presents basic principles that enhance balance, body unity, torque and improved structure. It encourages simple, effective boxing techniques. Searching for the Bridge and general in-fighting concepts remain a practical concern.
One subject further developed in Chum Kiu practice is Posture or Facing. This style is known as Front Body or Jing Sun Wing Chun. The term Front Body refers to close-fighting tactics and indicates that the hands are used in a forward manner. The Basic Posture (Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma), which is used in forms and exercises, is considered fundamental. The idea that both hands must be equal and always able to touch an opponent is not absolute. Wing Chun's Forward Leg stance (Ding Sip Ma) and neutral or Side Body posture (Juk Sun Ma) are both used within the Jing Sun concept. Hence, Jing Sun Wing Chun includes the element of Juk Sun (Side Body). These principles are harmonized and hence this fighting art is also known as Slant Body Wing Chun.
Associated with the idea of Facing and Shifting is the development of Wing Chun's pyramid theory. In Chum Kiu, structural elements take on a new dynamic dimension. With greater movement, the basic pyramid structure is transformed into a spinning cone of force. This includes interlocking structural pyramids as well. "Turning the stance with a circular movement, Will allow superior generation of power." In Chum Kiu set, the pyramid concept evolves and symbolizes structural transition and energy in motion. Pyramid power and the theory of cones are some of the numerous secrets behind the efficiency of Wing Chun Kuen.
Chum Kiu set contains 108 movements. The form is divided into three sections with each presenting a unique topic of study. Chum Kiu set introduces three new stances: Chor Ma (Turning Stance), Tor Ma (Chasing Stance) and Toi Ma (Backward Stance). Turning and Chasing Stances dominate Chum Kiu set thus presenting body unity with mobil fighting concepts. In connection with some basic stances, hand and bridge techniques are also introduced. These include the Turning Elbows (Chor Ma Pai Jong), Turning Lon Sau/Bong Sau, and Stepping Low Bong Sau. Chum Kiu set also introduces basic kicking techniques and therefore an equal development of hand and leg skills.
Chum Kiu's first section introduces Wing Chun's popular Turning Stance (Chor Ma). Turning or "sitting" stance is a root movement in Wing Chun that encourages centering and torquing skills. This is accomplished through the concise shifting of the body. Wing Chun Turning is applied with a subtle, focused weight change. When properly taught, this movement teaches a pupil to generate great power instantly by spinning on a central-axis. In its simplicity, Turning Stance demonstrates the economy of movement and advanced structural design behind Wing Chun theory and application.
While body torque is fundamental to all the martial arts, Wing Chun's advanced method of Shifting sets it apart from various styles. For example, Turning Elbows (Chor Ma Pai Jong) are executed by spinning the upper body 180 degrees, while the lower turns 90. This not only develops body torque, but defines it! Turning Stance and weight shifting encourages the acquisition of body unity and is prerequisite in the use of footwork. In Wing Chun Kuen, body unity refers to an alignment of the upper and lower frames. Body unity and torque ability promote solidity and coordination in action. This fighting skill enhances striking and defensive techniques through efficient structural cooperation.
The second and third sections of Chum Kiu set present Wing Chun's Chasing Stance (Tor Ma). Tor Ma is a darting, Step/Slide movement, and is introduced in a linear and lateral manner. Unlike Turning Stance, Tor Ma is a type of footwork. When applying Tor Ma, the toes are kept parallel. The exponent steps with the front foot and slides the rear. The front leg, which remains lighter than the back, allows fast and continuous forward advancing. When executing Tor Ma (and Chor Ma) the weight distribution returns to 60/40, with 60 percent on the rear leg. This braces the body and encourages centering skills.
Stepping, double Bong Sau is one of Chum Kiu's most significant techniques. Repeated three times in the third section, this skill develops correct timing and coordination between hands and legs. The Stepping (Low) Wing Block (Bong Sau) begins with the front step and is completed before the rear foot slides forward. In drills, Stepping Bong Sau can be substituted with punching and applied with similar timing. Later, one can execute punches with both a forward step and a rear slide--using the drop step and rear push of the leg. This allows one to execute rapid punches with the whole body, not just the arm.
CHUM KIU TECHNIQUES
A popular drill associated with Chum Kiu level is Chor Ma Chay Kuen (Turning Punches). Like straight punching, the focus remains the centerline. Turning encourages the development of applied force. Following the Double Spear Hand, the Wing Chun Turning Elbows (Chor Ma Pai Jong) encourage balance, centering skills and power. Initially, the Pai Jong movement is applied by pulling the hands inward while turning. This is similar to a diver who pulls his arms in upon executing a twist. When applying full Turning and Hacking Elbows, the upper body turns through 180 degrees, the lower body and feet turn 90 degrees. This promotes a vital "two to one" ratio in upper/lower body movement.
In a similiar manner, Chor Ma Bong Sau/Lon Sau (Turning Wing Block/Bar Arm) also presents a near "two to one" ratio in body movement. The upper body turns 135 degrees, while the (Wing) arm and feet turns 90. To perform Turning Bong Sau (Wing Block) correctly, the wrist should stop on the centerline. Body torque is generated and directed toward the front. A torque movement should be concentrated and released near the beginning, not the end, of a motion. The wrist should be focused upon the centerline.
The second section in Chum Kiu begins with Lon Sau (Bar Arm) and a Front Kick, followed by Tor Ma Bong Sau (Step/Slide Wing Block). The Lon Sau is designed to disrupt the opponent and provide room for landing a Front Kick. As noted, Tor Ma Bong Sau (Stepping Wing Block) teaches correct body timing and aggressive power. Bong Sau is executed with the front step and is completed before the rear foot terminates. This braces the body and adds force to the movement. In Chum Kiu, many aggressive movements are introduced with defensive hand skills, thus obscuring the true intent of future usage. For instance, angular footwork can be successfully combined with hand skills and striking methods. In application, the Bong Sau is usually applied in a forward or jamming manner.
A subtle yet practical movement introduced in Chum Kiu is the concise Half-turn. The meaning of this movement is extremely important and is often overlooked by many Wing Chun exponents. In Chum Kiu set, Full-turning is usually expressed, but the Half-turn is also realized. Half-turning is discovered in all sections of Chum Kiu. In most cases, as introduced in Chum Kiu, the Half-turn also promotes a "two to one" ratio in body movement. The upper body moves 90 degrees while the lower body turns 45. In Wing Chun Kuen, even in smaller motions, body torque and explosive power is cultivated.
Linear Chasing Stance (Tor Ma) is presented in Chum Kiu's Tor Ma Sarng Dai Bong Sau. In this sequence, Wing Blocks are performed low to sink the shoulders and weight. This advancing movement combines a forward chasing step with bridge techniques. One searches with both hand and leg. As an alternate drill, a type of linear, direct Stepping (Tor Ma) can be combined with Punching techniques. The execution of punches with both step and slide can be explored. Chasing/attacking maneuvers are considered superior self-defense techniques. Angling or side-stepping can be employed to supplement one's fighting strategy.
Finally, Chum Kiu training also introduces various kicking skills or Leg maneuvers. Section three begins with a Turning Stance and skip Front Kick. This may be followed by the right and left Side Kick. Completing the section, in most Wing Chun traditions, is a Slant Front Kick. This is immediately followed by Turning blocks (Gum Sau) and consecutive punching skills. These final techniques develop body torque, hand flow, continuity, punching and blocking ability. This encourages sound boxing structure, stability and power.
All Chum Kiu techniques are designed to be practical in self-defense applications. Some movements are worthy of special attention. Any technique repeated three times should be drilled extensively. Techniques such as Chor Ma Pai Jong (Hacking Elbows), Turning Lon Sau/Bong Sau and Tor Ma Bong Sau (Stepping Bong Sau), present vital martial concepts. Techniques delivered in a Forward Posture (Ding Sip Ma) should be carefully noted. A Forward position introduces the main Wing Chun Pre-fighting Stance. Hand techniques such as the Jip Sau (Arm Catching), Straight Palms (Jing Jeong) and the Wing Chun Uppercut describe flowing skills in an active fighting position.
With the essential Chum Kiu ideas and techniques outlined, it may be apparent that in each of the three sections discussed, both hand and body continuity are fully expressed. Body Unity is known to be an important skill associated with Chum Kiu training. One might say Chum Kiu set and its unique movements are carefully divided between developmental and practical methods. Front and Side Body postures are equally used and coordinated. This harmonious consideration cultivates both force and practical fighting ability.
Chum Kiu set contains many qualities which lead a fighter toward a progressive, total development. Within Wing Chun training, opposites are introduced and eventually balanced. Only then can the exponent truly progress. In Chum Kiu practice, one begins to physically understand and use the Yin-Yang concept. In a psychological sense, it is through fluctuation that one recognizes and approaches unity and the path between extremes. The Middle Way and Doctrine of the Mean are extremely suggestive. This central doctrine allows one to avoid many pitfalls and indicates the razor's edge between the opinions and methods of other systems.
The principle aim of Chum Kiu practice remains self-defense. "Use the three joints of the arm to prevent entry by the opponent's bridge. Jam the opponent's bridge to restrict his movement." The three joints indicate the division of the arm employed for defense--the wrist, elbow and shoulder. The opponent is restricted in a similar manner: "The three joints are nicely controlled." Indeed, the fighter may, "Create a bridge if the opponent's bridge is not present." Or, "Use the arm-bridge to track the movement of the opponent's body." Chum Kiu deals with basic fighting tactics. In Wing Chun Kuen this suggests searching for, controlling and finishing the opponent.
Chum Kiu relates to self-defense but certain maxims do hint at internal training in Wing Chun. "The eyes are trained to be alert, The Ch'i flows in perpetual motion." This signifies an aware martial quality; the flow of Ch'i refers to the development and purification of the complete Man. "Strive to remain calm in the midst of motion; Loosen up the muscles and relax the mind." To relax the mind and remain calm can be understood physically, but these concepts indicate the creation of a spiritual center in everyday life. With this ability, the disciple can strive to be a master of a situation and not its slave.
Wing Chun's Siu Lim Tau (Small Idea) symbolizes a humble birth and small beginning. Chum Kiu receives this creation and places it in motion. Like a child taking his first step, Small Idea may falter with initial movement. However, with work this essential beginning matures and is restored to its original purity. Siu Lim Tau represents the right start, but Chum Kiu directs the pupil to an important goal: balance and Unity! Within Chum Kiu training and in the midst of motion, one affirms "I am." But one may question, "Where do I go from here?" The answer echoes back, "Chum Kiu guides the way."