Practising Emotional Wing Chun Kuen

Application is an integral part of our Wing Chun Kuen study and the bridge we cross from practice to application is the culmination of our training and experience.Whilst studying Wing Chun I have learned that its benefit extends to every aspect of my life.My academic studies, my professional pursuits and my personal relationships all resonate with

my understanding of Wing Chun. The recognition that Wing Chun reverberates through all areas of my life has also shown me that Wing Chun principles and practice have beneficial application in many arenas of life.


The philosophy of Wing Chun Kuen is grounded in the principles of Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. Therefore, Wing Chun principles are applicable to self-defence as well as self-understanding. Application of Wing Chun means being able to correctly use the martial arts techniques we learn in class and apply this knowledge and experience to other realms of life. My Wing Chun has been invaluable in helping me clarify and understand my emotions and my relationship with myself and others. Through an awareness of the principles of Wing Chun and by recognizing the relevance of our training to our emotions, we may learn a new way of applying our Wing Chun skill.
Here are eight ways (there are many more) that our Wing Chun skill may be applied to help us enjoy a centred, clear, happy and healthy emotional life:

1. Being direct.

Wing Chun Kuen uses the most direct path to connect with an opponent. Its principles concentrate on the centreline and the most direct path to reaching it. Similarly, to be emotionally direct and say what one honestly thinks and feels may often be the shortest route to being understood and appreciated. Directness and honesty allow for greater clarity and reconciliation of perspectives.
This is not to say that we should indiscriminately share our perspectives with others and that we should tell everyone exactly what we want and what we are thinking and feeling. Like Wing Chun, we do not haphazardly strike but wait for the right time when we have found an appropriate opening; then our strike is most effective. In emotional relationships, being direct and honest also necessitates finding the right time to communicate in order for it to be most effective.

2. Dealing with one thing at a time.

In Wing Chun we learn to deal with a number of attackers at the same time. In our daily lives, we similarly have many chores to accomplish and are often faced with the necessity to “multitask”. This frequently may become emotionally overwhelming. In class, we learn to concentrate on one attacker at a time. This does not mean that we lose sight of the larger situation but that we should concentrate on effectively dealing with the whole, piece by piece.
In a situation with a number of attackers, we isolate the weakest member or identify the easiest escape route. If we effectively neutralize one of our attackers, the others may be momentarily stunned or become intimidated and run off. This is why it is most prudent to initiate self-defence against the weakest assailant first. It may also open up more possibilities for a safe escape.
Even though we have many pressing agendas in our emotional lives, we may heed this Wing Chun lesson and resolve to tackle the smallest of our emotional engagements first. When we complete something successfully, other tasks may not seem as formidable and the solving of one thing may actually lead to the easier resolution of other things in our lives.

3. Non-aggression.

In Wing Chun, we train for health and to fight and defend ourselves. We should not use martial arts skills to start fights and to hurt others. Also, when we have control of our emotions and are able to read and understand the emotions of others, it is best not to make others feel bad. We must use our skill and experience with responsibility. We should use our knowledge and practice to defend ourselves and help others.

4. Don’t use too much energy.

Many of us have heard this from our Sifu repeatedly in practice and so we strive to use the least amount of energy in Chi Sau. Emotionally, we may also be on our guard to use less energy and not be drawn into emotional struggles that make us weary.
Many times we make poor decisions because we become “worn down” by people or the situation we are deciding about. Like Chi Sau, we should identify when we are using too much energy and change the situation earlier, so that we do not eventually get hit or make an inferior decision. We should concentrate on our feelings and be able to read our emotions. That way we will know (and can change the situation) when somebody is gaining an emotionally superior position to us, the same way we may change our footwork when we find that we are using too much energy in Chi Sau.

5. Staying Grounded.

Footwork is the most important skill in Wing Chun. From our footwork we derive our movement and our power. Strong footwork connects firmly with the earth and allows us to use the power of our entire body. Footwork is what keeps us grounded and emotionally it is very important to have good footwork as well. This means that we are nimble and yet strong emotionally. The philosophy of Wing Chun is to be centred (physically and emotionally) and practising being cantered emotionally may be considered training emotional footwork.
Our centred sense of self is what will give spontaneity and strength to our feelings, thoughts and actions, much like good footwork will give our Chi Sau accurate movement and power. We may train our emotional footwork (being centred/balanced) through the practice of forms, through more interaction and understanding of our Sifu and through meditation. (Wing Chun’s Siu Lim Tao is also like a meditation to calm the mind.)

6. Staying connected.

In Chi Sau, we use our hands to read the energy of our partner and to gauge what their actions and reactions may be. Intuitively, we do this emotionally as well. Like in Chi Sau, we can use emotional skill to remain “in touch” with others, feeling their reactions and acting accordingly ourselves. This means listening to others and feeling their responses in order to know whether what we are communicating is being received and understood.
In Chi Sau, sensitivity is very important; we should not try to force things. Emotionally, we should also not try to force things. Staying connected and reading others’ emotions will allow us to recognize other ways of communicating and will let us know when certain paths are not optimal for communication. We may then try to find a new way to convey what we are thinking and feeling or decide to engage the situation again later.

7. Keeping balance.

In class we learn to keep our balance and not to over commit when we strike. This way we do not just lunge unknowingly but prudently take calculated steps that allow us to remain balanced and to change our course of action if needed. If we throw a punch with all our weight, we may miss our target and our adversary may use our momentum and lack of balance to defeat us. It would be like jumping in murky.
In Chi Sau, and in emotional situations, we can continually check the depth of the water before we commit to action. As we read the situation we make moves that we can easily retract or change if necessary. Emotionally, this may mean waiting until we have more certain information before jumping to conclusions or waiting to say something until the right moment. Often we say or do things in the heat of the moment because we want immediate results. Wing Chun can teach us to read situations calmly and use appropriate steps to achieve our goal. Once we have internal balance and a good reading of the situation, we will know how best to act.

8. Practice.

Wing Chun skill is acquired by practice. Emotional skill is attained the same way. As with Wing Chun, we may best practice these skills with friends and family and people we trust. This way, when we make mistakes, we will be able to do so within an environment where we are cared for and our best interests are protected. This is why we practice Chi Sau with our Wing Chun brothers and sisters. It is a caring learning environment where we can afford to make mistakes and try new things. We should not become discouraged because through our practice we are already on the way to improvement and clearer understanding.
Wing Chun is an art that illuminates many facets of life. By following Wing Chun principles we may learn not only the art of self-defence but also that of self-understanding. These principles may lead to the better understanding of ourselves and more harmonious relationships with others and our environment. By training Wing Chun we follow principles that may assist us in many facets of life to become more centred, noble and harmonious. The is mapped by the principles of Wing Chun and we travel it by practice

By Lance Linke
Qi Magazine Issue 86, Jan/Feb/Mar 2008 pages 20-22