The three-part structure of the WingTsun system

It is only at first glance that the WingTsun system merely consists of movements, techniques and principles for effective self-defence. In fact there is much more to this complex martial art, namely a way which can lead the individual to manifest his/her higher, inner self.


The 1st and lowest level in WingTsun

WingTsun consists of three levels, the physical level being the lowest.

The object here is to protect one's body from the attacks of others and overcome physical confrontations successfully. Nonetheless even physical WingTsun is no mere collection of techniques. Certain axioms or formulae are combined with specific movement patterns (forms, Chi-Sao etc.) to spontaneously create the necessary defensive "movements", which are directly suited to the attack.


The 2nd or medium level in WingTsun

The same formulae we use in the lower, physical level to generate our fighting movements are used at the second level to develop tactics or stratagems which can be used to advantage in the various manifestations of everyday life, e.g. in professional life, at school and in politics.

In this case the object is not physical protection, but rather to safeguard our position, social status or business success. In short, the medium level teaches us how to use intelligence, skill and guile to survive in the outside world and prevail against others.

But in the end this level must be overcome by the individual, for everything gained in this way is transitory and therefore without value in the end. Eventually tactics and management skills (unless one is merely selflessly performing one's duty) only strengthen the ego, the root of all evil and suffering. Nonetheless level two also develops "personality", which must be separated from the "false personality" and will constitute the food or material for the stunted "essence".


The highest and most valuable 3rd level

Ideally according to GGM Leung Ting this is the level of the Master. The highest level has nothing to do with the power of our punch (physical level) or with our success in business or with the opposite sex, i.e. in the outside world. "For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and thereby loses his soul?"

At the 3rd level the object is our essence, our real or inner life. Here the point is not to vanquish others, but ourselves (envy, hate, frustration, self-pity, fear, offended sense of justice, self-importance, bad habits etc.).

By taking the path of individual psychological evolution and e.g. free ourselves from incorrect thoughts and mechanistic physical and mental attitudes, we try to transform ourselves into new, better and peaceable people. When we have worked on ourselves accordingly the world will be a better one for our neighbours. Originally the WT follower would strive for personal development on all three of these levels at the same time, however when the art was taught to less sophisticated people who could only understand the physical aspect it was divided into three different learning levels. Most schools, also in Asia, are only aware of the physical level and have never been exposed to the other two – in fact some even deny their existence. In fact in an ingenious way the same axioms and behavioural principles are a common thread in all three levels, bringing their greatest and most lasting benefits particularly at the highest level.

Letters from GM Keith R. Kernspecht about the 3rd level: