Wing Chun Kung Fu Grading
The Wing Chun grading system comprises of 14 grade levels (12 student and 12 master level grades). Following Chinese traditino, the twelve student grades are represented by the 12 colors of plum blossoms. Between each grade, a student is expected to train for a full three months as a minimum. The Masters grades take much longer, going into several years. The Twelfth student grade is the equivalent to a black belt, given in other styles of Martial arts (mostly those that are Japanese).
Wing Chun schools rarely offer belt colors, but rather these colors of attainment.
The 12 student grades are divided three primary sections
Wing Chun Student Grading
1st - 4th, Learning fundamentals
1st - Basic fundamentals of movement and style, long range engaging. Siu-Nim-Tau
2nd - Long range fighting, with bridging. Siu-Nim-Tau, Chi-dan-sau
3rd - Transitioning from Long to mid-range attacks. Siu-Nim-Tau, Chi-sheung-sau; Lap-sau drill
4th - Transitioning from mid to short-range attacks. Chum-Kiu, section 1; Chi-sau and Lap-sau
5th - 8th, Ranges applied with movement and transition.
5th - Short range attacks, and fighting with two hands simultaneously. Chum-Kiu, continue Chi-sau and Lap-sau training
6th - Poon Sao, Chi Sao. Chum-Kiu, Chi-sau and Lap-sau
7th - Chi Sao 1st attack. Refinement of all skill sets; continue Chi-sau and Lap-sau training; good performance in a free fight at medium power
8th - Chi Sao
9th - 12th, Application of the style, against kicks.
9th - Against a single attacker.
10th - Against multiple attackers.
11th - Against a single attacker with a weapon.
12th - Against multiple attackers with weapons.
After student grade 8, going into 9th-12th, the student is expected to apply the fundamental techniques they have learnt to attackers. The first twelve student levels take about four years to complete at average attendance twice weekly.
Wing Chun Instructor Grading
Upon completion of the 12 student grades are 12 instructor grades. At these higher levels, more complex forms of Wing Tsun including Biu Tze (標指), Wooden Dummy (木人樁), Butterfly Knives (八斬刀) and Long Pole (六點半棍) are studied. The instructor grades are themselves split into three sections, each of which with a particular focus in mind.
From 1st to 4th Technician level, the student is encouraged to perfect their own techniques, continuously improving and refining them. At this point, the Wooden Dummy and Biu Tze are learnt in depth.as he learns Biu Tze.
Between 5th to 8th Practitioner level, the student learns the final parts of the Wing Chun system.
From 9th to 11th Philosopher level, the student is expected to understand the mental, and spiritual, elements of the style, and should contribute back to the style by searching for weaknesses and suggesting improvements in teaching methods, techniques, and drills.
The final, 12th grade is awarded only posthumously (after one had died). The theory behind this is that whilst one is living it is impossible to gain perfection as a human, being out of reach. Each instructor grade takes correspondingly longer to achieve. The first technician level after that is another year of training; each subsequent grade takes an extra year – so, second technician is two years, third is three, fourth is four, and so on. This gives some indication of the length of time it can take to obtain such high wing Chun grades.
Other Wing Chun Grading
Although traditionally, now belts or other visual methods of ranking were issued to students, in the modern day, sashes are sometimes used in Wing Chun clubs. The benefits include giving an indication to others in the class, your level of ability and what training methods you should be practicing. A range of colored sashes are pictured right. They are based on the Wing Chun plum blossoms mentioned above.