Wallbag Training In Wing Chun Kung Fu
Wing Chun Kung Fu came to the public’s attention through the skills of Bruce Lee. He was famed for his 1″punch. Despite his tremendous reputation, it is a simple fact that almost every Wing Chun student is very capable of these feats even after a short period f training. As Wing Chun has captured a niche in close range stand up combat, we approach the development of power and speed slightly differently to other martial arts. Through a combination of repetitive skill sets in the hand drills and Sau Bau or Sandbag / Wallbag training the art justifiably deserves it strong reputation.
James Sinclair was particularly noted for his short distance power and skill in the use of the Wallbag. His training colleagues had great respect and said it sounded like a machine gun being used when James was training on the bag. Often his kung fu brother would say they knew that James was training as they could hear him before even entering the building! James’ experience meant he later went on to design the graphic that is printed on the UKWCKFA wallbags and is now used by students and teachers all over the world. His follow on DVD has proven a great success with fantastic feedback from all quarters of the martial arts.
James would like to add that even if you cannot obtain a wallbag it is possible to start your strike training and hand conditioning by using a ‘Yellow Pages’ or ‘Telephone Directory’. Simply skewer or drill a hole through the corner near the binding, place some string through and hang! It is that easy.
Wallbag Training: Before You Begin
Students of Wing Chun Kuen should have been training for at least 3 months before starting wallbag training sessions. By this time the punching with the CENTRE LINE PUNCH (lin wan kuen) and the many other hand strikes should be correctly aligned and executed. The power in each punch will have increased and the need to build strength in the wrist and condition the various striking areas of the hand will now be important. However, it must be realised that many students may be more willing than able to undertake this step. It is, therefore, very important to proceed carefully.
Wallbag Training: How to Hang Your Wallbag (Sau Bau)
When hanging your wallbag be sure to place a piece of carpet or linoleum behind it in order to prevent wear and tear caused by friction with wall, and make sure the wall is sound! A tree is also pefectly adequate, but please protect the tree from damage. A tree is a great way to train as the tree absorbs the shock and sound. The canopy of the tree can also offer protection from rain dependant on species.
Start with the top section of your wallbag adjusted to be above shoulder height when in your basic stance (yee chi kim yeung ma). Using this as a guide will increase shoulder strength for upper level strikes. Fill this top section with very hard dried beans. At our HQ we have experimented with many types and found English Maple Peas to be very good. The second and third sections of the bag should be filled with dry, sharp sand which requires a weighty punch for penetration. The sand simulates the body punces and builds up your back strength.
CAUTION: Do not use fine grained sand as the dust could damage your health, some builders sand is coloured and will stain your hands when you sweat, and NEVER punch a damp wallbag. Do NOT fill your bag with ballbearings, you will simply cripple your hands.
Wallbag Training: Distance From Wallbag
As previously mentioned, Wing Chun is a close range stand up martial art. Therefore, the distance form which you train on the bag is very important to begin with. This is less so as your experience progresses, but nonetheless the ability to feel comfortable at ‘conversation range’ is imperitive.
To begin one should approach the bag in much the same manner as that taken when wishing to train effectively on the Wooden Dummy. Set up your stance (Hoi Ma) and drop your body weight to ensure your feet are securely on the ground. Always remember the Wing Chu statement
Strength comes from the Heart
Power Comes from the Earth
Wallbag Training: Striking The Wallbag
Start by laying your fists into the wallbag, do not attempt to punch too hard too soon. Allow the skin to toughen
particularly between the small and third finger. When training always attempt to strike the centre, Fig 1 above & 2 right, laying the knuckles of both fists into the same position. You do not need to clench a tight fist at all at first. You need only lay the knuckles into the bag firmly. Gradually, over time, punch harder and form a better, stronger fist. The wrist and forearm are the key to powerful short range punching, both in transferring your effort and protecting your own body from the impact. You will need to straighten out the bag occasionally by gently shaking it against the wall/tree. You should be striking the bag with a flat fist and only elevating the fist after contact in order to penetrate add add the ‘ging’. This will also protect the little finger from damage. Maintain a good stance and drive your punches gradually harder into the bag, do not pull the punches back, just relax.
Wallbag Training: Don’t Just Punch
Once you get the ‘feel’ of the straight punch try a chop. In Fig 3, you can see the start position of‘Throat Cutting Hand’. Try to generate power by using the wrist movement. This is the same as the puch movement, but the plane of movement is different Fig 4 & 4A below. The same rules apply, start slowly and build up… This technique is very common in Wing Chun’s chi sau or ‘sticky hands’, where every student who manages to get on top of his partners hand tries to chop the throat! The shape is important as it must be effective as the opponent will drop their chin to save themselves from harm, even if both arms are trapped. The high elbow helps to trace the arm and prevent an easy block.
Wallbag Training: Wing Chun Palm Strike
In Fig 5 & 6 below, you can see the Front Palm Strike. This is a very common weapon to most barehanded combat systems. Again the power from short range comes from an explosive drive of the heel of the palm, bringing fingers back toward yourself very quickly. The is most effective striking upwards, shoulder level and above. this strike is particularly powerful into the septum of the nose, the bridge of the nose, the cheekbone and orbit below eyebrow.
Wallbag Training: Wing Chun Downward Chop
The next strike that is displayed in Fig 7 & 8 below, is the downward chop. This is possibly the closest to the so called ‘KarateChop’ that the general public is familiar with. Once again you can see that the starting position consists of a ‘primed’ wrist . This movement is still relying on, and building, the wrist power and ensures a common theme is sustained. Wing Chun practitioners are not famed for their strength, but more for their power, through speed. This movement is commonly ued with ‘Pak Sau’ to attack the neck, and corotid sinus or corotid artery. The strike benefits from the low elbow to hand position and, as it drops in aplication, it is made more substantial by sinking further in the stance as the strike is applied.
Wallbag Training: The Rolling Punches Gwaa Choi & Pin Choi
In Fig 9, 10 & 11, a quite unique technique is demonstated. The rolling strikes of ‘gwa choi’ and ‘pin choi’ Fig 10, are used in many different ways. The most difficult part in approaching these strikes is that they are not natural. Everybody can strike forward and
swing, but these rolling moves are quite alien to most people. The photos show how to approach the application. Start with Bong Sau Fig 9 and ‘flip’ the elbow down. The momentum propels the hand over and forward. With practice good power can be achieved. From this position pivot at the elbow, bring hand close to body and strike down. With more distance the strike can be made to move upwards. This strike is useful when attacking the short ribs and particularly good for the groin in a very close range situation.
Wallbag Training: Utilising The Whole Body For Power
So far none of the training really involves the use of the whole body for power. Once your hands are accustomed to the impact, and the skin less likely to tear from friction, it is time to utilise the power from the hips.
In Fig 12 left and & 13 right the Turning Punch (Ju Sun Kuen) is demonstrated.The turning punch moves the centre line away from oncoming force and ‘torques’ the body to enable one to generate tremendous power from the legs and also increases the reach. The Wing Chun practitioner sits slightly away on the back leg. Whislt this keeps the head away from danger it can make reach a problem. It is important to push the hip forward by clenching the buttocks for stability. There could be too great an opportunity of being pushed over easily. The turning punches can be delivered to both the centre and two outside lines on both mid and upper sections of wallbag. This is because the punch approach is slightly different on the inside and outside gate.
Once again, Do not train turning punches until your hands are conditioned enough to take straight and side punches, this is because there is a high risk of scuffing the surface and literally tearing the skin.
Wallbag Training and A Candle for Control!
There are many ways you can further utilise your wallbag. Train your focus by punching as hard as possible, from various ranges, trying to only touch the surface. Your training partner will appreciate the control you can develop!
Also, train standing on one leg hitting with the unsupported arm, you may have to strike from a weak position at times. Also strike from a stance that is completely perpendicular to the bag in case you have your elbows pressed etc.
Another way to train your control is such to a lighted candle. Ensure the candle is placed in a safe position with no risk of causing a fire ( a shelf may be okay dependant on you environment). Allow the candle to burn for a while a and stand in front of the candle. Try to push and put out the flame WITHOUT touching the candle
- Try firstly with a side punch at full extension. This is the easiest way and you should be able to accomplish this 100% of the time.
- Then shorten the distance and try with a shorter side punch. This will force your muscles to contract very sharply, developing ‘geng’.
- Next try the same thing with a full extending front punch.
- Now try with a shorter front punch.
- Now try to punch the flame out with a turning punch. as there is more muscles involvement this amy be a little more difficult.
- Place THREE candles and try pushing the front and then alternate turning punches. Don’t give up until you can put all three out with only three punches.
- Finally, hold the candle securely and punch short to put out the flame.
- No kiai or sharp out breath is allowed!!!!
Wallbag Training: Using Side Punches
When training side punches use your side stance (ju sun ma) to position yourself, punching from the heavy leg and make sure to turn your wrist slightly in order to make knuckles point of contact and not back of wrist. The side punch is a derivative of the side chop, so it makes sense! It is not always necesary to chop a throat when a good punch on the nose will suffice. If your hands are down, the side punch is very quick and offers good protection.
On ALL punching it is important to remember that you will respond in a situation in the manner that you train. Ensure you are not fully extending your punches. Every punch should have a few inches or more to drive through, ensuring solid contact.
Wallbag Training: Further Variations
Above are some close up shots other hand positions you may like to try.
From left to right. 1. Spade Hand strike, used to neck, throat and chin. 2. Half Fist to throat, short ribs. 3. Single Knuckle used to face, eyes, and pressure points. 4. Inverted palm close and low, also as a method to leave the arm in the upper area. 5. Close up of erect palm. 6. Side Palm powerful to both head and flank. The side palm also has the same wrist action as foward palm.
Wing Chun Kuen is a strike based art and it is close. There is no ground work and there are no locks as such, only controls. If you feel the need to strike at someone in self defence then you must be able to hit hard. If you cannot you will be overcome. If you perform a half hearted strike you will receive a full hearted response…….!
AFTER TRAINING…always massage your hands, always perform 100 fully extendingair punches. Try to keep your hands warm and dry for about an hour after training on the wallbag, it is therefore more practical to train on your wallbag after a light warm up but before your rigorous workout. Use ARNICA cream to help disperse bruising and DIT DA JOW (herbs in alchahol) to protect hands from long term bone damage.
INDEPENDENT REVIEWS OF THE QUALITY OF THE UKWCKFA WING CHUN WALLBAG TRAINING DVD
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I use my UK Wing Chun Wallbag most days and have to say it is well made and the design has really brought on my ability to use different types of strikes.
Not sure my family are as happy the sound does travel.
After boxing for many years it was very different to start striking a wallbag. I wanted to really smash it but my hands let me down!
With great coaching from my teacher I have now really improved. The Printing on the bag really does help to use all of my hands as weapons.
Great bag for building power and variety in strikes. It is to easy to forget to work on your different chops and palm strikes.
I would recommend a good sit down and watch the DVD from these guys too.