Wing Chun, as taught by Lo Man Kam, emphasizes mastering the details to form a foundation, and building upon that base. As such, he teaches at a very slow pace, focusing purely on the form for the first month of training. A dedicated student may reach pair work at the end of that time, though most students may take two or more months.
However, most of Sifu Lo’s students who are now teaching have adapted drills to complement form training. In this class, students will progress through several stages. Unlike belt and other ranking systems, these stages do not represent sequential milestones delineated by a required knowledge of specific techniques; rather, they are merely aspects of training that overlap throughout a student’s development. A dedicated and intelligent student who came to all available classes could finish the basic curriculum in about 6 months. This does not mean that training is complete, as it is only through continual practice that one can refine and perfect martial skill.
1. Sil Lum Tao Form -« Little idea »
The first form of Wing Chun, the Sil Lum Tao contains all the fundamental movements of the system. The motions of the form are put into partner-drill form so as to understand their basic applications. In this stage of training, the student will learn to relax his shoulders and elbows, develop a strong stance, and maintain mental calm, all the while paying the utmost attention to the details of the form.
If one were to compare Wing Chun to a language, the form itself would be the alphabet, while the drills would be words.
2. Turning on the Horse:
Once the student has a decent understanding of Sil Lum Tao, he learns how to combine the motions with turning on his horse. Turning serves the purpose of redirecting an opponent’s force, changing angles of attack, generating more punching power, and coordinating the upper and lower parts of the body.
3. Dan Chi Sao (Single sticky hands)
The line between Dan Chi Sao and drills is vague; in fact, the student already starts in a rudimentary level of this stage as soon as he begins training with a partner. However, on a deeper level, Dan Chi Sao also encompasses more advanced movemen4. Directed Chi Saots and requires a general understanding of the first form. The student will learn simple rolling hands, and have a command of all the tools that will be used in Chi Sao. Once again, he must pay attention to detail. In the language analogy, this stage corresponds to syntax and grammar.
At this level, the instructor or a senior leads the student through a closed cycle of set techniques. While the movements remain constant, the order in which they appear is random. By the time he completes this stage, the student develops sensitivity, and should be able to flow through and make full use of all the tools he has learned.
Viewing Wing Chun as a language, this stage is like sentences and set dialogues.
5. Free Chi Sao
After practicing directed Chi Sao for a short time, the student should be ready to do the sticky hands exercise in a totally random pattern. While in the first stages, the instructor was holding his hand in a wading pool, the student must now swim with sharks. Through extensive training, he develops sensitivity and fluidity. At the same time, he finds which movements and techniques work best for his own body type and mindset, and it is here that Wing Chun becomes tailored to the individual. Chi Sao also has several stages, which may be discussed later.
In the language example, free Chi Sao starts as a conversation, and through constant practice, the student develops his own style of articulation.
6. Basic Stepping
Up to now, the feet have been confined to one place. At the basic stepping stage, the student learns three different types of footwork, with the goal of learning to maintain good fighting distance when pressuring or being pressured by an opponent.
7. Chum Kiu – « Seeking the Bridge »
The second form of Wing Chun combines basic stepping, turning, and kicking with hand techniques. Here, the student trains a strong walking stance, and learns the concept of « bridging » (making contact with an opponent).
8. Advanced Footwork
While early stages of stepping were essentially limited to back and forth movement, this level encompasses side and angling steps. The student will learn how to move out of the way of a strong, oncoming attack, and then attack from the flank.
At this stage, the student will know four kicks, and be able to use them both in close, chi sao training, and longer, unbridged positions.
10. Biu Tze – « Thrusting Fingers«
The third form in the Wing Chun System The student learns how to use short and long range techniques such as elbows finger jabs.
11. Wooden Dummy
Now the student learns the wooden dummy form. The wooden dummy helps the student to correct his hand techniques, positions, distance and power. As well it helps develop the students creativity and flow.
12. Six and half pole form
13. Bart Cham Dao Eight Cutting Knives