2024 Wing Chun Residential Course

Wing Chun is a famous martial art from southern China, reportedly developed by a famed Shaolin nun and passed onto her female disciple Yim Wing Chun, whose name became synonymous with this special skill.

Hundreds of  years after its inception, the skill has now spread to all corners of the globe. Anyone with knowledge of martial arts will have heard of Wing Chun. But what is it really? Well, to start to answer that, it should be experienced first-hand. The best way I can think of doing that is to come to a Wing Chun residential course with the Tse Centre!

The residential course is an extended weekend of diving into all the forms that make up the Wing Chun skill. This might sound like a lot – and it is. It is, however, manageable to cover in a few days. This is different from most other styles of traditional Chinese martial arts which can easily have 20-30 or more forms when including weapons. The Wing Chun ancestors realised that this number of forms could easily take a life time to learn. At the same time the practitioner ran the risk of never really embodying the skill as there would be too much focus on learning movements over integrating the deeper principles. Their solution was to boil everything down to 6 core forms – Siu Lim Tao, Tsum Kìuh, Bīu Zī, Wooden Dummy, Six-and-a-Half Point Pole and the Baat Jáam Dōu. This makes Wing Chun a prime example of a minimalist system. Minimalism permeates Wing Chun theory as it strives to waste no energy and to keep everything simple and direct.

GM Tse often talks of how the ancestors were very clever when they made the forms as they encoded all their knowledge and all the principles into them. In this way, the wisdom could be preserved for later generations. GM Tse gave an example from the first form Siu Lim Tao. In the first section there are 3 main hand positions – the Wuh Sáu is performed 4 times, the Fuhk Sáu 3 times and the Tāan Sáu 1 time. The message is that Wu Sau is most important and in extension that we should focus on protecting ourselves first (Wuh means protect). Second most important is Fuhk Sáu – and thus we should next turn our attention to developing lightness, softness and sensitivity as this is the energy of Fuhk Sáu – in this way we become able to read an opponent’s energy without offering them any energy in return, making it hard for them to read our energy and preventing them from using it against us. Third is Tāan Sáu – a more active hand technique which teaches us to control and occupy the fighting ground between ourselves and the opponent. The forms are full of these messages – the more we look the more we will find.

True to tradition, this year’s residential course took place at Harper Adams University among the green fields of Shropshire. The first day was an arrival day to let everyone settle in and get ready. People started arriving on site a few hours past noon and by evening almost everyone was there – ready for the first attraction – dinner at the Vineyard Cantonese Restaurant. There was a great spread of dishes, from vegetarian to various meats like duck, chicken and pork. The joy of being a big group at a Chinese restaurant is that you can order and try many different dishes and then discuss the wonderful taste and texture with the others rather than just having one dish and ordering separately. Not surprisingly, people have different tastes and so no dish came out as undisputed winner. This being said, the dishes also complemented each other and so could not be judged independently – in the end it was a great culinary experience.

After the meal it was not time to relax and go to bed just yet; it was time for Chī Sáu in the Queen Mother Hall. This might be the most enjoyable and giving element of the residential course. If the forms teach us the principles then Chī Sáu is the testing ground. It is in Chī Sáu that everything comes together and is applied with a moving and adapting partner. GM Tse often states that if someone intends to become skilled in Wing Chun they must do a lot of Chī Sáu and with many different people of varying heights, strengths and dispositions. In time your skill amasses and you can become calm and confident in any situation and while facing any opponent. Without Chi Sáu there is no martial skill and the forms and principles lose their purpose. Therefore the residential is the perfect opportunity to take your skill to the next level as there a many different people and plenty of time to practice. GM Tse says that if you only train with the same one or two people all the time your development will stagnate. He also pointed out an interesting fact about partners – we gain the most experience from training with beginners and seniors but not people at our own level. Why is that? Well, beginners tend to make mistakes. They use a lot of energy, leave themselves open to attack and generally their reactions and sensitivity are not well developed. This means that they give you the opportunity to test and work on your techniques. Someone at your own level is hard to work with as they can often sense when you want to do a technique – so in the end you cannot polish your techniques on them. At the same time they might not know how to use your energy against you so it often ends with a lot of flinching and tensing up – rather than relaxation and flow. How about training with someone senior? This is beneficial, as a senior can show you your faults – you realise when you have used too much energy, have the wrong distance, angle or timing. Seniors also embody better Wing Chun energy so juniors can pick up on this and try to emulate it. In this way many elements can be picked up intuitively by doing Chī Sáu with more skilled partners.

The following days were very compact and intense. They can be summed up with the words Train, Eat, Rest, Repeat. It was a real gift to be able to put everyday obligations away for a while and just focus all one’s attention on the skill. Every day we would do a long Siu Lim Tao. For beginners it can be very challenging to stand still for a long time and the legs and arms become fatigued and start to shake. In time it becomes much easier and then you start to feel the energy developing inside the body. Once at this stage the practice becomes very pleasant and often you do not even want to stop!

On the first day of teaching, GM Tse went through the three sections of the Siu Lim Tao and then paired everyone up so we could polish each other. It was very interesting to see how there were slight differences in how people did the moves – this made us think more about the details and then GM Tse helped to clear up any confusion and most importantly explain why it should be that way. This is what separates a good teacher from the rest – the ability to demonstrate correctly AND explain the reason behind it. Otherwise a form quickly becomes an empty set of movements devoid of purpose. After lunch GM Tse taught the first and second section of the Wooden Dummy. He also included some special polishing exercises that are not commonly taught – a rare treat. He wanted everyone to know some Wooden Dummy skill early on in the course so that we could have more time to practice on the dummies before going home.

The second day of teaching focused on the Six-and-a-Half Point Pole and Tsum Kìuh. The pole is always a lot of fun and is quite a Yang skill within the Wing Chun syllabus. It is not a traditional part of the system as such – it was included as a result of an exchange between two masters in the past. It turned out to be a good fit – the harder and more physical training helped develop a lot of power and so balanced the softness in Wing Chun. As on earlier courses, the pole demands a competition – who can hold it outstretched the longest while in a low horse stance? The winner was a happy Daniel Nwume – proudly protecting his title from last year! The prize? Free dinner at the Vineyard Cantonese Restaurant that same evening. After training Tsum Kìuh and going for another extraordinary meal, we all convened back at the Queen Mother Hall. Here it was time for a surprise party for Michaelis. He had decided the best way to spend his 50th birthday was with his Tse Centre family doing what he loves. Modest as always, he did not tell anyone, so he had a nice surprise when suddenly the lights were dimmed and we started singing Happy Birthday and had two delicious cakes ready.

The culmination of the last evening was the special opportunity to Chī Sáu with GM Tse himself. Everyone had a go and everyone felt his skill. At the end he emphasised that he hopes someday we can all have his level of skill.

The last day was focused on the Baat Jáam Dōu (Eight Chopping Knives). GM Tse taught the 7th section – which is centred on the use of the Mahn Dōu technique (Asking Knife). Once we had a fair grip on the section we went on to test the movements in application against each other, training Mahn Dōu, Páak Dōu and Hyūn Dōu techniques. Then GM Tse told us to go freestyle – what a blast! Clinging, clanging and laughter filled the hall. Thus the residential finished leaving us elated and full of new knowledge, yet already thirsty for more.

So what can we look forward to while we wait for next year’s residential course? Well, first there is Chī Sáu Day on the 8th of June. But even more exciting and long awaited, GM Tse will be teaching the Bīu Zī form in a seminar for the first time!

So if you want to know what Wing Chun is all about or you want to raise your skill to the next level – definitely do not miss next year’s Wing Chun residential course.

by Paul Hogg

Had a great time at the Wing Chun residential course. We did some unusual things like Wooden Dummy polishing and the section 7, Man Dou, of the Baat Cham Dou. Also trained the Wing Chun pole in the morning, which was great to bring up the energy for the day. The Chi Sau was particularly good, and I learnt a lot with people I had not Chi Sau with for a while. Sitai looked after us very well, with a different very yummy cookie and cake every day. It was so good spending time with everyone and sharing Michalis 50th birthday day with him. Thank you Sigong and Sitai for such a special course. Christine

Thank you, Sigong, for an amazing Wing Chun Residential course! Eat, train, sleep, repeat seemed to be the schedule. It is always great to come to Harper Adams where you can focus 100% on training and everything else is taken care of. It was wonderful to Chi sau with Sigong and everyone else and to work on the Wooden dummy, Pole and Baat Jam Do that we usually don’t see as much. Looking forward to Chi sau’ing with everyone again next time. Thanks, Sigong. Best, Tom Hogg.

Absolutely fantastic , deep, fun training and group cameraderie. Such a wide range of wing chun aspects were covered with lots of opportunities to practice with all participants to build on what was taught.the extensive chi sau sessions and wooden dummy opportunities really heightened the three days. New hands, old hands, Sigong hands -all teaching hands.big thanks to Sigong ( also for the injury treatment and qi gong encouragement) looking forward to the next one! Brian

It was my first time doing the Wing Chun residential course. I learned so many new technics and had chance to chi saw with everybody until late. I want to thank Sigong for teaching us the wooden dummy, wing chun knifes, and the pole. It was nice experience, good fun, and the food was very tasty. This course is definitely something I want to do again. Zhelyzko

It is so nice to be back at Harper Adams where we can focus on training and enjoy being part of a group of really nice people. I enjoyed polishing the forms, learning new techniques and refining my knowledge. It was great to Chi Sau with everyone, get advise, walk through different situations and practice them in more details. The Wooden Dummy polishing was a whole new thing I was very happy to learn. Thank you Sifu, for another great course. Saulius

Many thanks to Sifu and Simo for organising the residential course this year- this has been my third time attending the course; as always the venue is an amazing location; to be away from city life and dedicate time to what we love doing best- Wing chun! I really appreciated the opportunity to share ideas with other students across the UK and abroad, as well as the chance to sit down, share a meal and enjoy chit chat afterwards 😄 would book again next year! -Leon

Thank you Sigong and Sitai for organising another brilliant Wing Chun Residential course. It’s always great to be able to go away to a place where we can focus solely on developing the skill. As well as covering all the different aspects of Wing Chun which we don’t normally get a chance to learn like wooden dummy, being able to Chi Sau for long periods with many hands really helps the process of discovery. A big thank you to everyone for making this a special and memorable course. Sam

I had a fantastic few days, once again, on the Wing Chun residential. The detail and depth of the description of the forms, pole and baat jam dao was amazing.
Chi Sau with Sifu, the Three Peters, other seniors and new members alike was priceless.
A great many thanks to Sifu, Simo and Christine for running and arranging the event and thanks also to Radu for being so helpful.
Looking forward to the next one 👍 Nick

I really enjoyed this year’s Wing Chun Residential Course! It was really good to go through Tsum Kiu, Wing Chun pole, Baat Jam Dao, Wooden Dummy and many techniques. As well as the long Siu Lim Tao! So good to spend the days deepening the Wing Chun skill and practicing Chi Sau with so many students from the Centre. Thank you Sifu, all senior students and everyone who organised the course and helped us to better understand the skill and how to become better and truly grasp the Wing Chun essence! Looking forward to the next year! -Radu

This year’s Wing Chun Residential Course was wonderful. The atmosphere was both dynamic and also very healing and nourishing. It was great to connect to so many students face to face. It was really good to go through so many different aspects of the wing Chun skill.
It was good to be challenged and to check what level skill is at through long Shou Lim Tau practice. Thank you Taisigong and all senior students and everyone who organised the course and helped us to better understand the skill. Looking forward to the next year!  Daniel

Sifu / Simo
Thank you for this year’s Wing Chun residential course. I love the residential courses, but I love this one a little more than the rest! For just over three days we come together like family. We step away from our normal lives and immerse ourselves in Wing Chun. We laugh, we eat, we learn, we get healthier. This year was no different. Each year, the course seems to run more and more smoothly. There is a natural flow to them. This year was no exception. I enjoyed it even more than last year. So much so, that I want another one sooner than next year! I really enjoyed focusing in on a section of the Baat Jam Dou and the sections we did of the dummy. These residentials provide a wonderful learning opportunity that you just can’t get elsewhere. They also provide the opportunity to Chi Sau with 10s of people for hours. Thank you again for the organisation, instruction and creating such a great learning environment.
Here is to more of these. Thank you. Peter W

Thank you Sifu and Simo for the course this year. Every year is brilliant and this was the same. Every section was a highlight and very interesting. It was really interesting to go deep on sections of Sui lim Tao , tsium Kiu the dummy, Baat Jam Dao but also enjoyed the special parts like polishing the dummy, and the new part of the pole and the mun Dao on Baat jam Dao, these were all real treats. Still the best part is seeing everyone sharing lots of meals and snacks with friendship and chi Sao and lots of laughs. It’s always the best. A special thank you to Christine too as she also helps a lot. Looking forward to next years. Thank you again. Peter B

Fantastic to see everyone again in a nice place with great food. As always, the opportunity to chi sau with everyone is not to be missed. So much to learn, covering many different aspects of the skill which we don’t have the chance to do in class. Thanks to everyone helping out and of course thanks to Sifu and Simo making such a fantastic course.  Peter D

Thank you Sigong and Sitai for organising a great course bringing us all together in Harper Adams to improve our skills in Wing Chun and even practicing wooden dummy long pole and baat jam do.
As always excellent company, meeting, talking to old friends around the table with great food and so special for me celebrate with all of you my 50th birthday. Chi sau or practicing the wooden dummies in the hall pole practicing next to the old tree how time flies with lots of practice and fun!  Michalis A.

Thank you to Sigong and Sitai for organising yet another great course. My mind was still spinning as I drove back home with all I’ve learned. Thank you to all the seniors who helped with the demonstrations and teaching. I enjoyed Chi Sau with everyone, which was an intensive and enjoyable experience. I look forward to practicing everyrhing I’ve learned, and to the next course (and the food). Stuart

I really enjoyed my first Wing Chun residential. Thank you so much Sigong and Simo for the wonderful experience, advice, training and friendship shown to me by everyone.  Kevin M