Three WingTsun Kung Fu Punches
by: Keith Sonnenberg, Sifu
One of the abiding principals of WingTsun is simplicity.
WingTsun is simple. It has only three different punches in its repertoire. The first punch is the “Straight-line Thrusting Punch” also known as the Character Sun Thrusting Punch. This is because the punch when viewed from the front has a passing resemblance to the Chinese character for the word “sun.” When a punch is truly straight, it defeats the flight path of so many other punches, grabs, and strikes because it takes less time to arrive. Its flight path is shorter. This one WingTsun punching technique works in at least 80% of the situations one may encounter.
The Straight-line Thrusting Punch is the most important technique for the beginner and continues to be the most important weapon in the WingTsun arsenal well into the advanced levels. One can almost not practice this punch too much both in its single form and the chain punches. In fact, quoting from Wing Tsun Kuen, the book by Grandmaster Leung Ting: “Generally speaking, a student under the guidance of an instructor, gradually increases his sandbag exercises, from about twenty punches at the beginning, to between two to six hundred a day, depending on the ability of the individual… Some particularly keen practitioners work up to six or seven thousand a day, but they are rare.”
The straight punch and the continuous barrage of straight punches known as chain punches are worth extensive practice to get right. After-all, it is the classic technique of all Wing Tsun lineages and has proven its high degree of worth in countless fights. The most unique feature of strikes in WingTsun is the de-emphasis on power and the high degree of emphasis on technique. It is one thing to say that technique wins out over brute force. It is another to prove it in terms of science and mathematics. The WingTsun straight punch travels the shortest path. Therefore when two objects travel at the same speed, the object using the shortest route will get there first, thus conforming to the motto, start later – arrive first.
Of course the above ambition takes several months of daily, dedicated increases in repetitions. In addition, the student must have completed the 2nd Student grade before embarking on a wall-bag regimen, having mastered air punches first.
The second WingTsun punch is a special use technique used in certain rare circumstances. It is called the Lifting Punch and is in the second form, Chum Kiu. It is called the Lifting Punch because it is executed in a way that says “lifting” to the eye. It is reserved for those times when one is faced with a fighter who covers his face with his fists or arms and comes close to grab you low, let’s say around the legs. The lifting punch is combined with the neck-pulling hand to attack the soft palette or the throat.
The third WingTsun punch is in the third form, Biu Tze. It is called the Hooking Punch. Neither the Lifting Punch (which looks like an upper-cut) nor the Hooking Punch is delivered like a boxing upper-cut or a boxing hook. Both techniques are delivered while maintaining contact with the enemy with the opposite hand in circumstances completely different than that of boxing. The Hooking Punch of Biu Tze is used as a way to outflank an attacker who is a skilled fighter and has effectively defended his own centerline by shifting or turning while attacking aggressively.
Another way to look at WingTsun’s “three punches” is to mention that in the forms, the number 3 comes up a lot. In the Siu Nim Tau for example, the chain punches are delivered three times at the end of the form. In general, if an attacker can use each of his hands to block the first two punches, he would have difficulty in blocking your third punch, hence the practice of three chain punches.
About The Author
Keith Sonnenberg is a Sifu of Leung Ting WingTsun kung-fu. He has been a teacher of WingTsun and student of Grandmaster Leung Ting’s WingTsun kung-fu for 30 years. Information about his teaching can be found at: http://www.wingtsunaz.com