The 5 Best Exercises to Improve Your Wing Chun
One of the most common questions we often get is how long will it take to be good at Wing Chun? The answer relates to how much time and effort that you are willing to put in to practicing this martial art. In general the more you practice the better you will get. So here is our advice on what to practice in order to get better at Wing Chun quickly.
The secret of a quick improvement in Wing Chun is self practice. Regardless of the number of classes you take in the gym, you will see a greater improvement by developing the muscle memory for this style of martial art. Hence, the quicker you can apply the movements of Wing Chun when required.
Lack of time is the most common excuse not to self practice. An extra 30 minutes a week can make all the difference to speeding up your improvement. Below is a list (in order of importance) of the 5 best 30 minute training exercises that will help you.
The Best Wing Chun Solo Exercises
1) Practice Hand and Footwork Skills
Our advice is to practice the basics of Wing Chun in a practical manner. Centre line punches, turning punches, and footwork (Biu Ma and circle step) are key to facilitating a drastic improvement in your Wing Chun skills (see How to Train Biu Ma). Of course, the first form (see Sui Nim Tao) is ideal, but when you first start Wing Chun some effort should be made to mentally and physically prepare your body for self defence.
You should use the same format as the warm up in our Wing Chun classes as a guide for the timing of each skill set. As a rule of thumb, you should spend around 10 to 15 minutes focusing on centre line and turning punches, and an equal amount of time on footwork drills. Footwork drills could include moving around objects or simply practicing your hand and leg coordination as a movement.
To improve your footwork we suggest that you place a small object on the ground and use this as a point to focus or even to circle around. Chairs are also a useful tool because they can simulate the leg of a Wooden Dummy, but also help you practice the footwork of moving around a body. When training at our gym there is plenty of over sized slam balls or medicine balls to use for these exercises.
Although, it is preferable to focus on either your Wing Chun hand skills or your footwork, it is acceptable to train both areas in a single 30 minute training session. If you prefer to specialise, then spend between 20 to 30 minutes on your footwork training only (see The 5 Best Exercises to Improve Wing Chun Footwork).
2) Wall Bag Training
We strongly advise that you train on a Wing Chun Wall Bag as soon as you start training at our gym. Of course you will need some advice before you start, as there is a risk of injury, therefore please check with your Sifu before you start this self practice.
Without a doubt wall bag training will ultimately develop power and conditioning for your basic Wing Chun strikes. Akin to the traditional form of ‘Iron Palm’ training practiced by many Chinese martial arts, wall bag training conditions your hands effectively for self defence. You will hit harder and with a better structure if you train correctly on the Wing Chun Wall Bag.
Generally, you should practice closed fist punches (centre line, turning punch, high and low rolling punch) at various distances away from the bag for at least 10 minutes. This could be followed by training the various open hand strikes (palm, standard, and inverted chops) for a further 10 minutes, and finally a combination of both for a 10 minute duration. Please follow the angles and instructions on the UKWCKFA designed wall bags hung on our gym walls.
Note, 30 minutes may be too long for many beginners, as your hands will not be conditioned. Therefore we advise that you start with 10 minute sessions.
3) Practice the Differing Elements of the Wing Chun Forms
Once you have been solo/self training for a while, more ideas and opportunity will naturally open up for you to practice. For more advanced Wing Chun students, practicing the various empty hand forms of Wing Chun (Siu Nim Tao, Chum Kiu, Mook Yong, Bue Tze) are also necessary. The first form gives you strength and structure, the second develops rotational energy to the strength derived from the first form, and the Wooden Dummy form allows you to practice these elements together.
Our suggestion is to focus on specific elements of the various Wing Chun forms and not practice the form from beginning to end. You should select an element or a section of a specific form and train this repeated for 10 minutes (or less) then move on to another section for the same amount of time to a maximum of 30 minutes.
Ideally you should also use the mirrors in our gym in order to (a) correct your shapes, (b) to observe your own movement on the centreline, and (c) to check your overall body structure.
4) Practice on the Wooden Dummy
Training on the Wing Chun Wooden Dummy is ideal for all levels of Wing Chun students, including beginners or new starters. This is because Wooden Dummy offers the opportunity to train with a human structure in relation to Wing Chun movement.
After at least 4 to 6 weeks, beginners should start to train on the Wooden Dummy in order to enhance their basic hand leg co-ordination and conditioning of their forearms/shins. New students should practice turning drills using the four basic hand shapes (Bong, Taan, Gaan, Jum Sao) as taught in our beginner’s classes for at least 15 minutes on the Wooden Dummy.
Intermediate and advanced Wing Chun students should practice the various footwork, sweeping and kicking drills taught at our gym for 30 minutes. Take care to divide the 30 minute session between hand and leg techniques, and leg only Wing Chun techniques. Ideally, 15 minutes on each region.
Of course, you should practice the dummy form. However you should move beyond the form to develop a wider set of skills. Please note, that the wooden dummies in our gym are available during the majority of classes in the main training hall.
5) Practice Shadow Boxing for Wing Chun Application
For those new to Wing Chun, Shadow Boxing can be a complex training skill. However, it is an essential component of improving your Wing Chun ability at an Intermediate to Advanced level. To get started, simply view Shadow Boxing as a natural extension of practising or combining your hand, footwork skills, wih the Wing Chun forms as mentioned above.
To start, take the elements that you started with in the basic hand and footwork self practice drills (mentioned above) and then expand them with offensive or defensive Wing Chun actions. For example, you could combine Laap Sau with a single step and link this to Paak Sao to follow up. As daunting as this sounds this sounds, once you start it does become easier.
Spend 5 to 10 minutes warming up with footwork and punching drills. This could be done on the spot or in combination moving around the gym. Choosing some techniques that you want to work, and then focus on repeating the movement for another 5 to 10 minutes. You should always try to finish with some visualiation skills working on responses to your attacks. Hence the remaining 10 or 15 minutes should be spent on this stage.
Please read The Importance of Shadow Boxing for Wing Chun for a more detailed explanation of what to do.
Solo training is vital to improving your martial arts ability regardless of what martial art you may train. The rate of improvement far exceeds training in a class in the gym because you focus your body on a particular action. So the more hours you put in the better you will be compared to simply turning up to a class.
When selecting a school to train make sure you find a gym that will also give you the skills to train (practice) on your own. Better yet, even provide you the space and the opportunity to self practice. The London Wing Chun Academy not only provides a great range of classes but plenty of opportunities to come in on your own to self practice. After all, that’s where you get the bulk of your improvement.
Now go train...
The London Wing Chun Academy is a martial arts and functional fitness gym based in North London. Open 7 days a week with gym and functional fitness equipment. Our gym provides group fitness and martial arts classes in Wing Chun, San Shou Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, WC4 Self Defence, Yoga, Functional Fitness, and non contact Fitness kick Boxing. Membership starts from £25 per month. Visit our gym today for a taster class. Get Started Now >>