Internal Wing Chun Australia Blog

Wing Chun Centreline


The Centreline is at the core of Wing Chun Kung Fu. It is seen as a simple thing, and it is. As Wing Chun practitioners we know that where our centerline is. We know that we guard it and strike down it. We know that it is the shortest distance towards the opponent.

In combat we want our centerline clear. If the centerline is clear we can strike down it. If it is not clear, then we use the tools from Wing Chun to take the centre. This could be a Pak-Sau, Tan-Sau or even a punch. When taking the centre, the aim is to keep it while striking. An effective way of keeping it is to make sure the opponent’s centerline is never facing you, this means two things – he cannot use all his limbs and he cannot use the full force of his power. I’ll come to this later – the centerline is the most powerful point whether you do Wing Chun or not.

There is a saying in Wing Chun ‘The difference of a line is like heaven and earth’ – which is followed by ‘The slightest bit of slackness will bring defeat’. These lines epitomise the importance of the centerline. No matter the size or strength of the opponent, or how much internal power – controlling the centerline will negate it. However, it needs to be trained – and trained in a relaxed manner. A relaxed arm will take the centerline much easier a tense arm. If you are pushing, you are easier to resist – if you are relaxed and aiming for the centre you will have more success. This is trained in Wing Chun over and over, from the first form where you first learn it, to Chi Sau where it is trained dynamically and to the Wooden Dummy. It all comes back to the same thing, if the centerline is clear, you can hit. If it is not clear you cannot hit.

There is a deeper meaning behind the centerline. It is also our most powerful point, where we should be the most powerful in our art. Even before we start delving into the internal side of Wing Chun. If you know where the centerline is, nobody should be able to pull your guard apart by pulling your hands sideways away from your body. By relaxing and keeping your hands on the centre, if done correctly, you will feel the power of the line – this exercise is simple and beginners and kids should be able to do this. If you cannot find the line, your hands are easy to pull apart. Similarly, if you know where the centreline is, you can have both arms spread wide apart, and you should be able to use your hands to come back to your guard, even if somebody is resisting you. The trick here is to not fight the resistance, but to use the centreline.

Striking down the centreline should also be more powerful, yet it often is not. A centreline punch should feel like it comes from the centre of your body mass – yet on most people it feels like it comes from the shoulder. You should be able to place your hand on the centreline and when moving it forward the opponent should feel that it comes from your body mass, not the shoulder. This is difficult to do, but when achieved it makes centreline punches make more sense. Punching from the shoulder is strong, but it does not necessarily utilse the power of the centreline – and this is what differentiates our punch. A good test for this is to set your punch up in the centre, and get someone else to place their fist on yours but in a hook or maybe a bong position but with a fist – if you both press forward, the centreline punch should move the other person back as the weight is directly behind it. If you can discover the power of the centreline, it allows you to bring your mass more into each movement you do. It will also improve your Chi Sao considerably and others rolling against you may feel their shoulders tire more quickly.

Having said all this, it is not important to bring your arms onto the centreline for it to be effective. In fact it is probably very detrimental to bring your whole arm to the centre while punching. In my own training, the only position where my whole arm travels onto the centreline is Tan Sau. I do think, however it is essential that the hands stay on the centreline at all times, and that your centreline at all times should be pointing at your opponent. There are times when you are side on, and yes, you can mentally point your centreline sideways to your opponent however it is too complicated to write about and it is always better to be facing.

Some thoughts on the Kuen Kuit of Wing Chun


In this post I would like to share my thoughts on the meaning of some of the Kuen Kuit from Yip Man Wing Chun.

You can see the Wing Chun Kuen Kuit Here


1.     The first one I would like to start with is this:  "Glass-like head, cotton-like belly, and iron-like arm bridge”

This one is commonly interpreted as – You have a glass jaw and a soft belly, but you have iron-like arms from Wing Chun. Or something similar to this. To western readers this makes sense right? We all have heard of a glass jaw, and nobody likes being punched in the belly. And if you have good Kung Fu, your forearms feel like iron to another person. The problem I have with this is that not everybody has a glass jaw, and not everybody has a soft belly. Just watch MMA and see how many hits people can take. So considering this I asked a Chinese person what this meant to them and I received a different interpretation. One that fits more into the internal side of Wing Chun. I was told that glass often meant clear, or clear mind. Furthermore, in our Chu Shong Tin lineage we are often told to relax to become more powerful. As the common interpretation does not actually make sense to me, this interpretation makes much more sense for training: “A clear mind, and a relaxed\soft belly will help you develop iron like arms”.


2.     “In uniting the waist with the stance, power can be generated”

 This one is what we commonly refer to as “Tai Gong” in the Chu Shong Tin lineage. To unite the legs with the body at the waist, we think of gently lifting the anus. This unites the body, and allows the ability to raise the spine. This is considered one of the most important elements of Wing Chun. It helps with punching and kicking, and also is essential in Chum Kiu – “Chum Kiu trains the stance and the waist”


3.     “People do not know the extent of my skills, but I know their abilities.”

 I believe this is an interesting one. For me there is a difference in meaning between the words “skills” and “abilities”. Of course any opponent you meet, you will have no idea what training they have, or what style they have done – you will not know their skills. However, all our opponents are limited in their abilities by the fact they are human. We know that they can only throw their arm from their shoulder joint (it can’t come from anywhere else), or a kick, no matter how fast, can only come from the hips. How does this help us? I believe the stance and guard of Wing Chun is designed, in close range, to limit the ability of our opponents. All the areas where the opponents strikes are covered, or should be covered. For example placing your leg near the opponents leg makes it more difficult for them to use that leg to hurt you – especially near the hip. Controlling the centerline well should make it difficult for the opponent to use their shoulders to generate power. It is this statement that shows me that in Wing Chun we do not train to defeat a certain style.


More to come…

Wing Chun Shapes

Wing Chun Shapes


I intend this article to be about the importance of creating and maintaining the shapes in Wing Chun. I have seen, and been on both sides of the “shapes are important” argument.  However, I now lay firmly on the “shapes are extremely important” side.


How could I be on the other side of the argument? Well, learning in the Chu Shong tin Lineage you always hear rumours of what our Sigung says. One such thing was “When you are advanced, shapes are no longer important”. The only thing I can fault with this statement is the word “Advanced”, and I think perhaps he only meant himself. Even so, all his students who trained with him directly seem emphasise the importance of the shapes. And when you watch any of his videos, you see how amazing his shapes were. That he no longer used shapes because he was advanced is simply not true, you can see the quality of his shapes in any video.


Another reason why in the past I did not realise the importance of shapes was the way I was training. My way of generating force was to take force in through the arms, and mentally send it to the ground and use the reaction force back at the person causing them to “bounce” or jump backwards. The buzz word for this at the moment is “Force Flow” if you read any Wing Chun forums. And it is true, you do not need shapes to generate this type of force, and it is quite a powerful force. You can take their force and send it back via the ground, which sounds great and it is quite good. The only flaw in this theory is that you need force to take to the ground. If someone is pushing on you with muscular force, it is quite easy to take it to the ground and send it back if you know what you are doing. The problem with this occurs when someone does not give you force. From my training, the idea would be to give them force so they are forced to react, then you can take that to the ground. This works again, against muscular force – but it does not work well against good shapes. Another problem with this is that it does not work very well if someone has fast punches and does not leave enough force for you to take to the ground in time. After meeting people with good Wing Chun shapes, I could not take their force to the ground, as they just did not push back.

This leads me to the fundamental problem with using the ground. If people know how to use their body mass, and they can push that into you, yes you can take it to the ground. But once they start to keep pushing you into the ground – and they are using lots and lots of mass, your ability to send the force back to them is limited. Think of a spring with a small weight on it, then replaced by a weight too great for the spring – it will not spring back out and you are stuck.


So back to shapes – what are they? To me they are all the Wing Chun hand positions. Technically only one shape, but many variations. Think of a Tan Sao with an open shoulder, elbow, at a nice angle and nice hand position – straight fingers. Thinking of this as a whole, not parts. For example, to apply a Fook Sao to a Tan Sau, not applying the wrist to push, but the whole shape as one. What a good shape allows you to do, is to relax more effectively and to put your mind inside the shape to maintain its integrity (This is my opinion). Once you have the shape, you can sink your shoulders and elbows (mentally) to improve it. Once this is done it is very easy to apply your body mass into the shape.

So what we have is the ability to place our mass in our arms. Which, if you think about it, is a great achievement. At the time of writing I am 87 kilos. If I can place that amount of weight in my arms it would be very difficult to stop, unfortunately I do not believe I can get my whole weigh there yet, but I do believe Sigung CST could. If the shape lacks some integrity, the less body weight is able to be used in your limbs. So the more concentration on good shapes, relaxed shapes, the better. So I encourage people to have shapes before they relax, or their shapes seem to me to be lacking.

Back to the ground force. So when shapes were applied to my arms, and I could feel the body mass, not only could I not take it to the ground – I believe if I could I would not be able to send it back. In the same way I cannot lift a fridge, take its weight to the ground and send it back to throw the fridge – It was impossible to do the same. It was not muscular force – the ground force does not seem to work against shapes. The main reason is that good shapes have very little pushing. The second is the spring overload theory I mentioned before. I was shown that the better shapes could crush my poor shapes, and was advised to spend a lot of time building and pointing my shapes. Bodyweight is an amazing thing here, the next bit is moving bodyweight. Even if you can lift 87 kilos of dead weight with one arm, which is difficult for most people,  you probably will have a lot of trouble lifting 87 kilos moving at any speed (slow and especially fast) opposite to the way you are lifting.  Moving body mass is difficult to counter if it is in the limbs.

I have tried this on quite a few people who rely on the ground. A few tai chi people were quite amazed that they could not take the force from my arms to the ground, nor send it back. The more improvement I make in my shapes, the better I get at this. What I see with this type of force is a power that is there and ready to use. It does not require taking force and sending it back, its just your own bodyweight ready to use – It does not matter if you are 40 kilos or 140 kilos. This leads nicely onto the second form as the moving bodyweight power becomes greatly enhanced by turning and/or stepping.

So avoid think shapes are just for beginners at that you can just relax your arm and shapes just occur. I beleive this is not the case, work on your shapes.

Wooden Dummy Training - Kuit Meanings

This brief article is to help students with their Wooden Dummy Training. In this article I will go through what the Kuen Kuit says about the Wooden Dummy, and add my slant on what it means:


"There are 108 movements for the Wooden Man; repeated practice brings proper use of power"


I think this one is self-explanatory. You need to train. You need to practice. It is not enough to learn the form; you need to spend time each day practicing. It says it will bring the "proper use of power”. I believe this has a special meaning.

Obviously the Wooden Dummy is made of wood. It is tough, and you cannot overpower it with muscle. You need to adhere to the set techniques to move around it. You stick to it, and use your legs and arms together to “defeat” it. This is somewhat similar to a person much stronger than yourself. You cannot use your muscle to overpower them, just like you cannot defeat the arm of the Wooden Man. So the shapes from the forms, used in the correct way shows you how to properly use power. It is hard to describe, however repeated practice does bring about results as long as you understand not to use force against the arms.

I believe when hitting the trunk of the Dummy, the Dummy’s Centreline, it also helps develop the correct use of power. If you always hit the dummy with the force of your bodyweight, even only gently, then you are practicing to strike with your bodyweight all the time. Repeat, and this will all become natural.


"Steps vary and always maintain close contact with the Wooden Man.”


I believe this means that there are sets of different techniques, but no matter what, always have close contact with it. For example, when doing the Double Gan Sau movements, or Kwan Sau, do not have large movements that start away from the Dummy. Start each move always in close contact, no sweeping movements. Similarly, no large pivots, only small tight pivoting. This is similar to Chi Sau, where large movements will allow gaps to form.


"Power starts from the heart and shoots towards the centerline of the Mok Yan Jong”


In China a long time ago, it was believed that your mind was in the heart area. I believe this saying has a few meanings. One is from our Chu Shong Tin Lineage, where power starts from the mind. Another meaning is that power starts from the body, it is essential to learn how to use your body mass in Wing Chun, which makes it possible to overcome larger opponents. A third meaning is that just about every move in Wing Chun starts from the middle of the chest (They thought the heart was in the middle of the chest), or from the centreline. ie. the middle is where the heart is.

The target is the centreline, and this can be practiced on the Wooden Dummy. This is the centre of the two points from your heart to the Dummy, and also the vertical centre of the Dummy itself.


"Up, down, back and forth, the movements are continuous”


The meaning I have appointed to this in my training is that when using the Dummy, you do not stop. There is a beginning, but there is no end. When you get to the last set, you immediately start the new set with no break. Doing this for hours at a time, you can get lost in where you started and you just be in the moment of back forth, up and down… over and over. After hours of practice is where the magic happens, you improve without realising. 

You can only practice this way if you already know the form quite well.


"Power improvement cannot be predicted”


To me this means, and has meant, that if you train the Dummy - over and over for hours… or for months/years. You cannot predict or even feel if you are getting better. You cannot judge how much you will get better. However, after a time you will notice it later, probably not in the Dummy, but in Chi Sau. Power improvement will happen, but you might not even know that it is improving - Just keep practicing and do not look for it when training the Dummy - Avoid being powerful against the Dummy - it’s too strong for you anyway.


"The arm bridge sticks to the hands of the Wooden Man while moving; adhesion power when achieved will be a threatening force”


I believe this is similar to Sticking Hands or Chi Sau. Where the benefit of sticking can introduce its own force. I clearly remember in Hong Kong, Sigung Chu showing a cut down, where he brought his hand down to brush another’s away and even in that tiny contact he had this adhesion power - It stuck to the opponent for a split second to increase the power. You can feel this when you move your wrist around the wood in the first section when doing a tan sau and a pivot. If you use this “adhesion power” on a person it increases the force.


"Power can be released in the intended manner; use of the line and position will be proper and hard to defeat”


I think this is a summary of what has been said. If everything is done correctly, as it is in the Dummy, on a person… then the Dummy will have helped your positioning, your line of attack and will make you better at Wing Chun.


I would also like to add, that even though you are moving around the Dummy in practice - If anyone has tried this in free-sparring it is almost impossible to move around someone in the same way. People move and the Dummy does not. Try looking at it in reverse, the Dummy is moving around you - This is one way to look at it. If someone is trying to move around you, use the movements in the Dummy to counter. Another way is that you can be in all three sides (two sides and the middle) of the Dummy on a person without stepping, depending where your arms are and how your bridges are connected - or with slight pivoting and/or stepping. You most likely will not be able to move around a person like you do the Dummy.

When practicing, think to yourself - “What is the purpose. What is the Wooden Dummy trying to teach me?"

Phillip Warburton.

Internal Kung Fu Australia.

Wing Chun North Sydney

Each week I run my class in North Sydney, located on Falcon Street at the PCYC.  The main aim is to teach Wing Chun Kung Fu as best as I possibly can.

When I first trained, the schools I went to spent the first 30-45 minutes doing warm up excersizes and the last 30 minutes doing warm down exercises. For me, personal fitness and excersise does not increase your Wing Chun Kung Fu ability. fitness can be done on your own time for your own health. Perhaps run around the oval across the road before or after class. Time spent in class is one and a half hours of improving your ability. If you are going to a class where you are only spending 15-30 mins on actually Kung Fu, then you are not learning as much as you should - it will take 3 classes to get to the same level as going to a class that spends all the time on the art.

What we do in class is focus on the body, and how the body mass can generate power. Similarly we focus on Tendons and Joints for power. Doing fitness excersises does not help with learning this. What does help is focusing on the special power of the Sil Lim Tao form, and other Wing Chun forms, Chi Sau and other special Wing Chun activiites. The ulitmate aim is to gain Power, Speed and Technique.

Easy to learn SLT Video

Check out the new sil lim tao video here. I have made a series of videos to assist in the learning of the first form. Many new students have said that trying to learn the form from a video is quite difficult due to the length of the form. I have made 3 videos to help, just learn one section at a time.

Listen To Your Form

A new article has been posted. See it here Listen To Your Form

New Article - What is a Form

See the new article here :-

What is a Form in Wing Chun

Closed Queens Birthday

Internal Kung Fu Australia will be closed today, Monday 10 June for the Queens Birthday Holiday.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Closed For Anzac Day

Internal Kung Fu Australia is closed for Anzac Day today, the 25/4/2013. 

Have a good day off everyone, and Lest We Forget.

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