10 HAND STRIKES OF WING CHUN KUNG FU
from BLACKBELT MAGAZINE, Dec. 95
By Todd Shawn Tei
The Shaolin Temple in China’s Hunan province is considered by martial arts historians to be the site where many kung fu styles originated. According to legend, it was a Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma who suggested that the temple’s clerics train in kung fu so they would be able to defend the monastery against those who wanted to pillage and destroy it. Bodhidharma, who was of Indian descent, taught his disciples a form of Yoga that was somehow converted to a martial art. The combat system featured fighting tactics which originated form observing natural defensive methods of a variety of animals, including tigers, dragons, cranes, snakes and leopards.
One of the kung fu systems taught at the Shaolin Temple was wing chun , which was developed by a nun named Ng Mui, who named the style after her first student, Yim Wing Chun. rather than create an entirely new style, Ng merely combined the most effective and economical elements from all of the temples fighting arts into one system of self-defense called wing chun, which meant Beautiful Springtime. Instead of relying on brute strength or forceful blocks, wing chun practitioners attempt to redirect their opponents’ energy and/or power and use it against them. The hand movements are relaxed and never stiff or rigid.Following are 10 of wing chun’s most potent hand strikes:
1. Palm strike This is probably the most frequently used hand technique in wing chun. it can be executed immediately after a pak sao (slap hand block) technique or a lop sao ( grabbing hand) maneuver. there are many variations of the palm strike. It can be executed with your palm in a horizontal or vertical position, or with the palm facing up or toward the ground. The palm strike can also be delivered in a side (knifehand) position to an opponent’s jaw or neck.
2. Side palm strike This technique is usually employed after the wing chun stylist has performed a tan sao (palm-up block) maneuver. The wing chun practitioner can deflect an opponent’s punch with a tan sao technique and simultaneously counterattack with a side palm strike to the jaw or temple.
3. Knifehand strike This rapid, knife-like chopping hand technique is often used to strike the opponents neck, ribs or face. The technique is most commonly employed after a pak sao slap-hand has redirected an opponent’s strike.
4. Wrist strike One of wing chun’s most classical weapons, this blow is generally used as a first strike in a rapid combination of hand techniques. The wrist strike is often delivered to the opponent’s chest, leaving him vulnerable to a follow-up palm strike and a wing chun straight punch. Each of these techniques is delivered at close range with the same hand.
5. Hammerhand strike Before there was the backfist, there was the hammerhand strike. This hand technique is a favorite among wing chun stylists, but most people who study the system today don’t realize how useful the hammerhand can be in their self-defense arsenal. have you ever hit your hand down on the table when you were frustrated or angry? If so, you likely remember the power that generated from the bottom portion of your hand. To perform the Hammerehand strike, make a fist, with your knuckles facing up or toward the ground. Then, swing the fist downward, forward or backward, using the bottom part of your hand as the striking surface. The Hammerehand strike is particularly effective as a follow-up technique to a palm-up deflection block (tan sao)
6. Backfist This technique is not used in traditional Wing Chun circles too often, yet is a highly effective and explosive hand strike. The back fist is generally targeted to the opponent’s ribs, temple, jaw or face. It is particularly useful after you grab your opponents arm with a lop sao technique. The blow is more effective if you slant the backfist at an angle instead of delivering a straight or horizontal technique.
7. Forearm strike If executed properly, this strike is like being hit with a baseball bat. As your opponent advances, you simply parry his striking arm and execute a forearm strike to his chest, ribs, throat or groin. Keep your hand in a knifehand configuration, and strike with the portion of your arm form the wrist to the elbow.
8. Spearhand strike By placing your fingers closely together to form a point, you can effectively strike the opponents eyes, throat, solar plexus or floating ribs with this technique. The spearhand strike is quite lethal and could blind or severely injure an opponent. it should therefore be used only in potentially life-threatening circumstances.
9. Elbow strike This is a powerful and potentially devastating technique. you can deliver the elbow strike in either a horizontal or vertical manner. By twisting your hips as you move into the technique, you can intensify the strike. Targets include the opponents jaw, temple cheek or chin.
10. Straight punch Wing Chun is noted for it’s straight punch. The technique is delivered by keeping your hand completely open and relaxed until the moment of impact, when your hand quickly snaps upward into a jolting straight punch. The punch always travels in a straight line to it’s target, making it an extremely quick and effective technique. Conversely, the hook punch, which is so popular in boxing, is never used in wing chun because it is too slow and the opponent can see it coming.