Often viewed as an elbow strike, the Bil Jee elbow movement in Wing Chun is actually a defensive manoeuvre for rescuing hands.
Fundamental to producing the right techniques under the right circumstances is knowing what each technique is designed to do. In the four open-hand Wing Chun forms there are many examples of techniques that can be misinterpreted.
This usually arises from one of two reasons. Wing Chun’s focus on efficiency or the ambiguous appearance of a technique left open to interpretation by instructors.
Efficiency is built into the style, whether in relation to following the shortest path or the way training is conducted. For example, the Sil Lum Tao stance is designed to condition both legs at the same time and is not a fighting position. Other times it is the ambiguity of how something looks, such as the raised, bent elbow in Bil Jee.
Watch the video
Defensive nature of the Bil Jee elbow
The raised elbow in Bil Jee does look like it could be a strike. But by understanding the purpose of the form, we can start to home in on its true purpose.
Bil Jee 鏢指 is the third form in Wing Chun. It’s an advanced form that teaches finger strikes and also techniques for rescuing or regaining position. Worth noting is that if your opponent has forced you into using these techniques, you are in last resort territory. It means your techniques from the earlier forms have failed. You haven’t been able to bridge their guard, your centreline has been broken, your footwork undone, defences not working and your strikes not landing. Would this be the right time to attempt an ultra-close elbow strike to the head?
As described in the video, the elbow technique is actually allowing recovery from a collapsing guard. It yields inward from the Bong Sao position with a simultaneous body pivot. The elbow rolls over the top of the opponent’s attack and is quickly followed by a counterattack. Note the immediate follow-through with a finger jab, as seen in the main photo above. This indicates the range of the opponent’s face (In other words, not elbow-distance away).
The final note is that whilst in the form this movement is practiced as a 180-degree inward turn, in application the manoeuvre is much shorter. See the demonstration in our video. The body rotation is similar to the outward pivot in Chum Kil, in which the raised forearm is ‘seeking the bridge’. It is practiced long, but applied short and fast.
- Bil Jee demonstration (Wing Chun meets White Crane)
- Finding the Bridge (Chum Kil Explained)
- Sil Lum Tao and the Wing Chun sequence of learning
Article: Written by R Zandbergs. Created from Barry Pang’s seminars.
Video: Filmed and edited by R Zandbergs
Main photo: Anne Pang demonstrating