The Truth About The Wing Chun Gate

The Wing Tsun Gate is an extremely important theory that must be understood by all Wing Chun Practitioners.  Despite having a catchy name, there is nothing magical behind the “gate” concept.  First lets go into where the mystical “Wing Chun Gate” is located.

***At the end of this article we are going to share one exercises and training tips that can actually HURT the development of your Wing Chun “Gate.”***

  • Once your hands go outside this imaginary box, its the equivalent of a boxer dropping his or her hands.  Meaning if your hands go outside or even worse, are forced outside this invisible box, you were just hit, banged, or tagged.
  • It should be understood, that if your opponent’s hands get forced outside this area or “comfort zone” you theoretically should have an opening to take advantage of (a.k.a show your opponent what Wing Tsun is all about).
  • As Wing Chun’ers, it is our duty to own this space.


What should your response be to this new found knowledge?

Own the space.

When you train, ask yourself? “Are my hands outside the gate? Is my Bil Sau located too far outside my shoulder line?”

Below are a few hand positions/techniques that are most likely to go outside our own defined gates:


Bil Sau


The Bil Sau is strongest at the outer lining of the gate.  If this shape goes outside your gate, or falls short of correct position (as shown in picture above), you’ve failed to maintain correct position and more then likely have just been hit.





Gan Sau


Reserved for lower strikes, the Gan Sau is another position/shape/technique that is often performed incorrectly. While your hand remains on your center line, the upper part of your arm must remain on the outside side of your gate.

Again, if your position collapses (towards your body) or your hands travels too far outside your gate, you’re in trouble. You biomechanically no longer have the advantage.




Why is his gate bigger then my gate?


Everyone’s arms are of different lengths, some people are taller, some are shorter. No one person’s gate is the same size as another.

Your “gate size” is determined by your body type.


The Gate in Chi Sau?


As our Wing Tsun level advances, our gate becomes smaller, and there is even LESS room for error.

Below is a picture of your “gate” in Chi Sau.


In the training game of Chi Sau, the basic concept is not to allow your hands to fall outside the box outlined above

As you climb the Kung Fu Mountain, it is your duty to ensure that you have complete control of this defined area. Once your level increases, this space, especially in Chi Sau, gets smaller and smaller.  


Exercises that can HURT your Wing Chun gate


Most southern shorthand styles of kung fu, Wing Tsun among them, include practitioners well known for their ability to keep their elbows in. In fact, as any Wing Tsun practitioner knows, it is this ability that offers a superior defensive line along the bridge even while punching and attacking. Exercises or training methods, therefore, that go against this general idea are not wrong per say but may stand against you in battle or while playing chi sao.

The best example of this is flat bench, wide grip chest presses. So as you build up those massive pectoral’s you will start to notice that it will become increasingly difficult to keep those elbows in.
Now, we are not saying, “Never work out your chest!” but rather, use a dose of common sense. If you cant touch your two elbows together in front of you (try that now).




or have difficulty doing so, you may wish to consider spending more time trying to do so (stretching by trying to touch your elbows together and holding the position for, say 30 seconds) and less time pumping out those reps on the bench with 500lbs on the barbell. We (Scott and Mike) do perform this activity as part of our regular work-out routine but only with enough weight to maintain the level of conditioning and not in an effort to win the Mr. Universe competition.

Consider also the “ripped and toned” effect of doing less weight but more reps. This has the effect of creating more power and speed but without the added mass when compared to using heavy weights with less reps, but more sets.

So, if you are already doing bench presses, and cant touch those elbows together in front, consider dropping the weight enough to allow upwards of 20 reps per set. Rather than doing, say 4-6 sets of 8-10 reps, consider doing 3 sets of like 25 reps. This will keep the pectoralis toned but keep muscular mass gains from getting in your way.

Don’t believe us? Please do the following
A – try that exercise
B- chi sau and keep good position while remaining lose.

What if I can touch my elbows with no problem?

Keep doing the stretching exercises listed above.  Not only is it a stretching thing, its also a endurance thing.  This is your opportunity to train by yourself and develop or improve upon the correct Wing Tsun attributes needed for battle.   If you haven’t figured it out already, this isn’t something you do once and THINK you’ve mastered, but rather its something you should revisit constantly throughout your Wing Chun career.

How long should I practice this exercise for?

Try doing the following:

30 seconds on and 30 seconds of rest.

More advance?

1 minute on and 30 seconds of rest.


To easy? Then you’re probably doing it wrong. Please watch the video below to learn the correct format.

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6 Responses to The Truth About The Wing Chun Gate

  1. Mike Pekor August 20, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    Awesome stuff brothers!!!!

  2. Anthony Iglesias October 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Preach it brothas!!!

  3. Kraven Karroll October 25, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Nice. You guys should do a whole article on Wing Chun/Tsun based workouts and possibly even a training regimen or something of the sort. That would be really helpful.

  4. Bill Dowding April 11, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    Guys, the exercise for the elbows together, being a standard and traditional VTK exercise, should be performed with the hands pointing at least as low as a jum sau or guard position, and preferably trying to get horizontal for extra training, rather than pointing in the air. That is too easy – meaning it isn’t exercise – and doesn’t train the elbow for the normal fighting position – aiming in front of you.

    Although it is true that if you can’t even do it with the hands pointing vertically, a student needs to give up the gym work and focus on stretching, since anyone normal should be able to do it vertically.

    • Scott April 12, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

      For an advance person who trains sure, extend your arms so they are TOGETHER and parallel to the ground.

      For a person who lifts weights or someone who is new to Wing Chun, if they find it too easy, it means they aren’t doing it long enough or are doing it wrong (i.e not keeping elbows together.)


      • Scott April 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

        ah also, jumping to advance stuff might lead to injury. Although it sounds like we agree for the most part.

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