There are many Wing Chun blocks. And for the new and intermediate student it’s hard to keep track of them all.
Here are some tips to help you organize these all-important Wing Chun techniques in your mind:
- — Two Arms
- — Deflection
- — Centerline
- — Gates
Let’s breakdown these four terms…
Click here for a list of Wing Chun blocks with names.
Two Arms: Use Both at the Same Time
Learning to use two hands at the same time is difficult for all new Wing Chun students. Most people are not naturally ambidextrous. You’ll most likely have a stronger, or more coordinated, side (right sided or south paw for instance).
When you first learn Wing Chun you’ll train the hand blocks in the air, one arm at a time and isolate each one: pak sau with the right hand, pak sau with the left hand.
Then you’ll quickly move on and learn to use two hands at the same time (alternating from left to right): pak sau, punch starting with the right hand, then switch to the left hand.
Something that’s a bit more advanced is learning to bridge distance safely: pak sau, lap sau, punch or kick, pak sau, punch.
As you build up your coordination you’ll become more fluid and your combinations will become more natural and you’ll have an easier time expressing yourself.
Deflection: Comes from Footwork, Position and Structure
Your Wing Chun blocks depend on your body position. To block and counter-attack effectively, you need to properly move in relation to the attack. It’s not a matter of how strong your arms or shoulders are, it all works together.
Oftentimes, Wing Chun students put all the emphasis of their blocks on their arms. And that’s understandable because getting your arm into the correct, textbook, shape and position is hard enough.
The bong sao, chun sao, lap sao or any Wing Chun technique used for blocking is hard to do at first because you have to train your arms to move into these unnatural positions.
However, the correct shape of the arm is just one important part to blocking. In order to deflect and parry effectively, you also need to have the proper footwork, body position and body structure.
In Wing Chun you are not trying to stop an attack. In stead, you want it to glance off, glide past or alter its direction while staying close enough to your opponent to counter-attack.
Centerline: Control It
Understanding the “Centerline” is an important concept to execute any Wing Chun technique.
For attacks it’s important because the Centerline is the shortest distance from point A to point B. It’s the shortest distance for your attack to travel, which means it’s the fastest route. Greater speed is a huge advantage in a fight.
In defense, the Centerline is equally important. If you occupy the Centerline with an obstacle (such as your guard, or, your own attack) you force your opponent’s attack to take the longer and slower outside path (around your obstacle).
In physics they’d say something like, “two objects can’t occupy the same space”. In this case it means you make it difficult and slower for your attacker to harm you, while you simultaneously use the shorter and faster Centerline path to counter-attack.
Gates: High, Middle, Low and Legs
There are three gates in blocking:
Upper gate – above the shoulder (neck and head).
Middle gate – shoulders down to the solar plexus.
Lower gate– solar plexus to groin area.
All Wing Chun blocks are designed to protect a specific gate. If you use the wrong block to defend the wrong gate, you’re going to get hit.
Some blocks can be adjusted to cover different gates (not necessarily at the same time).
For instance, the bong sao can be used as a bong sao (middle gate), low bong sao (lower gate) or as a high bong sao (upper gate).
And then there are the leg blocks.
The leg blocks are separate from the “gates” because you cannot use your hands to block attacks to your legs. If you try you’d have to bend over at the waist and that would ruin your balance and put you out of position.
In Wing Chun’s case you use legs to block leg attacks (low kicks) or move your leg out of the way, so it’s not a target anymore.