Chum Kiu

The second form in the system, Chum Kiu introduces movement of the body, combined with the arm movements learned in the first form, Siu Lim Tao.

It teaches us the separation of upper and lower, and how to coordinate the two.

The upper and lower each have their independent actions, and when these are coordinated there is a synergistic result.

At this stage we introduce the pivot points on the foot, and the tremendous value of training the use of the appropriate pivot point to the relevant movement.

After training Chum Kiu in this way for a short time, the pivots points become a natural and integral part of our movement. Generally, the more of an angle we are turning through, the more rearward the pivot point. It is amazing the difference the use of the optimal pivot point makes with regard to range, position and expression of power.

Chum kiu also introduces us to the simultaneous use of the arms, such as Jip Sau. In Siu Lim Tao there are many movements done with two hands at the same time, but they are single arm actions practiced both sides at once. In Chum Kiu, different actions are performed simultaneously, so we learn to coordinate not just upper and lower but left and right sides, and with turning.

Chum Kiu teaches us the value of intercepting. We don’t wait for an opponent to get to where they’re going, but strike to where they are going to be. It teaches us how to move our elbow in a straight line whilst we are being turned, a surprisingly complex movement considering our joints move our limbs in arcs.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but sometimes these straight line pathways deserve the closest analysis.

Ving Tsun is mostly infighting, but we don’t like to be too close either so our strikes are crowded. Chum Kiu teaches us simple but powerful ideas related to maintaining the optimal space for us to manoeuvre.

Chum Kiu introduces kicking. In this form we practice three different types of kick, which give us versatility and the ability to kick from anywhere to anywhere, though we are well advised to only kick low if at all in fighting. The ascending heel kick works best with the back foot pointing towards the target. It can deliver more power this way, kick higher and can change direction much more fluidly and to greater degree. When the feet are turned relative to the target and facing isn’t possible it’s best to use another kick eg side kick or snap kick. When we do the throwing bong section with the sideways angled stepping, our feet are turned already and will stay turned ie we can’t face the opponent for whatever reason, so after the arm bar we do a snap kick, to teach us to use appropriate ideas for the relevant situation. In the stepping with bong sau section we do an ascending heel kick to the side and simultaneously shift our back leg through 90deg to face where we are kicking. Now we are also ready to advance with the bongs with proper facing. The second kick requires a 180deg turn with the back foot, and the waist of course. The final kick in Chum Kiu is a turning side kick done behind. It’s only done with the left leg. When we cannot turn to face the opponent, we only half turn our waist, and back foot, and strike simultaneously behind with a side kick, left leg. When we can turn to face, we turn all the way around to face them properly with a simultaneous ascending heel kick, right leg. In these instances, there may be no time to lose, and we don’t even want our brain needing to decide which leg to kick with.. it’s already been programmed in.. and let’s face it, if the kick is going directly behind, either leg will do the job equally well, so we may as well just program one to do each job.

In Chum Kiu we begin to move forward with simultaneous arm action, with the bong sau stepping forward action. This is not a double low bong or even Dai Bong practiced with each arm simultaneously. Low bong requires a turning of the body, shifting, twisting or pivoting with the arm, otherwise it is too weak.

In this section of Chum Kiu we are practicing stepping forward with bong sau from an extended arm. In the fight it would relate to an instance where we are stepping in with a punch which gets deflected by their strike so we bong and strike with our other arm, or flow to lap-da. In the form we practice it down low and off centre in order to be able to practice the two sides simultaneously. If we try to practice two normal bong saus simultaneously while stepping forward our shoulders will scrunch inappropriately and our elbows will go out off centre. When we practice down low our shoulders can be relaxed. Also when we start the movement off centre the hands can move towards centre while we bong, which allows the elbows to travel straight forward and not learn to go out off centre. With a normal bong sau the elbow is in at the start of the movement because we are punching, and it stays in as it goes up and forward. The wrist is pushed by this action across the centre and down. The rolling over of our forearm is what rolls their arm aside.

Practicing the bong sau while advancing in this way, down low and off centre, teaches us that the centre is arbitrary, in that we can train on whatever centre we choose. So long as we train parallel with the centre there is no harm done. This is important to understand in dan chi practice when sometimes training by necessity off centre. This training of the bong down low and off centre also gives us an opportunity to see that these movements are all ideas we are programming in to our neuromuscular system, not techniques to be used as they are performed in the form, but ideas to be used in whatever way is required in the fight. In this way Chum Kiu presents an opportunity to take us deeper into the system.. if we understand it thus.

There is a demonstration of our Chum Kiu form with explanations of most of the ideas on my YouTube channel linked to this website.

Dave Jardine


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