In Wing Chun there are thirteen principles that are applied when practicing and applying Wing Chun.  Six of these principles are physical.  Six of these principles are mental.  The thirteenth allows flexibility among all the others.  When practicing Wing Chun, not all of the principles are applied at the same time.  Sometimes you use all of the principles; sometimes you will use a variety of them.  While all of these principles are essential to Wing Chun, they are applicable to everyday life as well.
1) POSTURE – Everything begins with your stance.  Your stance is the foundation of Wing Chun.  Posture is having your head, neck, back, shoulders, hips and knees in the proper position.  Structure is all of your body parts working together properly.  If your posture is bad, it will throw off your whole structure.  Your structure is the foundation for wing chun.  Without it everything else won’t be solid. 
          Posture can also affect your attitude in life.  Look at the different attitudes of people who slouch when they walk compared to people who walk with good posture.  The people with good posture convey a positive attitude that is more palpable than someone who slouches when they walk.  So stand proud and tall and convey a “take notice” attitude when you walk in a room.
2) POSITIONING – In wing chun this pertains to several things.  Positioning is the distance from you and your opponent.  It’s knowing your own position.  It’s knowing your place in a fight.  It’s knowing the line and angle.  Practically applied, it’s recognizing that brute strength is less important than accepting the angle with which will allow you to redirect your opponent’s force.  If you know your own position then you can understand other people’s position.
          Sometimes in life positioning is more than being in the right place at the right time.  There are times when, if you want something to happen, you need to put yourself in the right position to make it happen.  “People make their own luck.”
3) TIMING – In Wing Chun there are four principles of timing.  Regular timing is the normal motion of movements, like bong lop rolling.  If the door is open, you go in. Create timing is timing you do when you attack your opponent.  You kick the door open.  Break timing is when your opponent attacks you are able to counter it and re-attack without a problem.  The door is starting to close, but you jam it and go in.  This is like the saying, “He moves, you move faster.”  Double/delayed timing is using two of the previous timings together.  When the door is open, you see someone behind the door not allowing you to go in.  Then you wait for the next chance to go in.  Then when the opportunity is there, you go in.  Without good timing speed is useless. 
          In life it can be funny how timing can work.  A simple example that I like is asking someone out on a date.  Sometimes it takes the right timing to make it happen.  You both are single at the same time.  When you meet someone and a light conversation is going well.  You have to jump on that window of opportunity when it’s there.
4) DISTANCE – In Wing Chun distance means the length between you and your opponent and how you adjust to it.  For example, if you just walk in, your opponent won’t know what you’re doing.  When the opponent starts to attack, he has something to work with.  Knowing the distance between you and your opponent is important because it translates over range.  You have to know your range of attacks and when you are in range to attack.  You also need to size up your opponent’s range of attacks and know when they are in range to attack.
          In life distances means interacting with people whether they are close friends, or not so close friends.  Never try to intentionally and deeply hurt someone’s feelings.  The distance in this case is knowing when you are closing in on crossing that line that separates joking around from humiliating someone.
5) POWER – In Wing Chun power derives from the strength that you already have.  But, you have to learn how to use it the right way.  This power is the foundation of gong.  Gong lik is the power after a long period of time of practice.  Increased gong lik gives you increased ability to better use your power.
          In life I believe we all have the power to control our path.  We all have the power to do what we want.  Sometimes there are hard choices in life.  It just takes that much more power, determination and focus to get it done.  As people we all have the power to make changes in our lives.  It’s just a matter of doing it.
6) AGGRESSIVENESS – In Wing Chun aggressiveness is the attitude when you fight.  In application you must be aggressive and seek the weaknesses in the opponents.  This doesn’t mean that you fight like a mad dog.  It means that you should fight with no fear and act with confidence in a fight.  You must believe and have confidence in Wing Chun or fail you will.
          In life you cannot sit around and wait for things to happen.  If you want things to happen you have to go out and make them happen.  How many people complain that they are overweight and do nothing about it?  If you want things to happen for you, you have to make them happen.  You cannot passively sit around and wait for that opportunity.  Success comes to those people who aggressively make that opportunity happen for them.
7) WAY – In Wing Chun the way means a few things.  It’s knowing the why and how of doing things.  The way is knowing the purpose of each motion.  It’s the most economical path.  It’s knowing the natural position to be in.
          In life there’s a right way and a wrong way of doing most things.  The wrong way of doing things is doing them improperly or incompletely.  The right way is doing the task correctly.  Now you can do a job quickly as long as it’s efficient and thorough.  For example, take two Wing Chun practitioners.  One practices punching for an hour a day, but his mechanics are all off.  Let’s say you take a second Wing Chun practitioner and they practice punching for ten minutes, but his punching mechanics are correct.  The person who is punching correctly is getting much more out of practicing his punch than the other person who has bad mechanics, even though it’s fifty minutes shorter.  Do things the right way and you won’t have to repeat them again and again and again. . . .
8) DECISION – In Wing Chun this mainly pertains to the decision to fight or not.  If an altercation is going to happen the decision to fight or not must be made in a split second.  Once you decide to do it, see it through to the best of your ability.
          In life there are many times when a decision needs to be made.  Sometimes people are too ambivalent when decisions should be made.  Don’t be afraid to make a decision.                                                                  
9) REACTION – In Wing Chun this pertains to how one reacts to things.  A lot of people overreact.  By overreacting I mean make too big and unnecessary of a movement.  This is not useful.  Take for example when two people double sticky hands.  If one tense, scared, intimidated or even has too big of an ego, one won’t be able to ‘feel’ properly.  So when an attack does happen one will overreact to it.  Don’t forget what Siu Lum Tao means: “little idea.”  Basically this means you don’t need to make big sweeping motions.  Just changing the angle a matter of inches could be all that’s needed.  When one relaxes mentally and physically, through feeling, one will react properly.
          In life people have a tendency to overreact to things as well.  This is related to the ego of a person.  The bigger the ego the more likely that they’ll overreact to a situation.  Nobody likes to be told they are wrong, but if one is wrong one should be willing to learn from one’s mistakes.  As people mature they usually tend to have less of an ego, but this is not always true. 
          There is also a spiritual side to martial arts.  When the word spiritual is used it’s automatically associated with religion.  The spiritual side of martial arts has nothing to do with any religion.  It deals with purity; clean your karma, be physically and mentally healthy, and most importantly be a good person.  It deals with the ego; put people before yourself.  It deals with detachment; don’t let things bother you.
10) CONTROL – When Wing Chun is applied properly the opponent is under the control of the Wing Chun practitioner.  Control is to manipulate your opponent to make your attacks more practical and efficient.  When applying Wing Chun you must control the situation.  You play your game, not your opponents. 
          In life, we all have the power to control our lives.  It’s just a matter of doing it.  There is no fate, but what we make.  “Existence precedes essence”
11) RESERVE/STORAGE – In Wing Chun everything one applies uses 60%, if you use 100% you’ll have no return.  One needs to save power for the next moves.  While the straight punch is very powerful, and I wouldn’t even want to get hit once by my Sifu, wing chun is a constant flow of attack, defense and a combination of the two.
          Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
12) GUTS – In Wing Chun guts is the ability to face a situation without loosing your temper.  Guts is also overcoming the fear of being hit.  A good way to practice guts is when practicing chi sau, just practice defense.  Blocking helps develops your guts.
          In life it can take guts to do many different things.  Guts to ask out that person you’ve been thinking about.  Guts to stand up to that bully.  Guts to quit that job you hate.  Guts to do something you would normally be to scared to do, but you overcome that fear and do it.
13) ADJUSTMENT – In Wing Chun without adjustment one will be too rigid.  You must be flexible with all of these principles.  The previous twelve principles must not be static.  Sometimes you use some more than you use others.  It depends on the situation.  Every situation is different, so everyone must be able to adjust to that situation.
          It’s the same thing in life.  You can’t be static in life.  You have to be willing to adjust to the different situations that life presents.
In Wing Chun and life I believe that all of these principles apply.  It’s important to remember that all of these are flexible and it’s just a matter of learning how to be flexible between them.

Written by Sifu Ken Weingart
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