Chi Shim Symbol
When one first looks upon the Chi Sim Weng Chun logo, he undoubtedly notices the tiger in the center of the symbol before anything else. The words around the top are an after thought once the image of the tiger is before him, as is much of the rest of the logo, including the Chinese character positioned next to the tiger. Nothing else seems very relevant to the average person looking at the symbol of Chi Sim. A martial artist might pay some attention to the character next to the tiger as well as to the words, and then would probably stop, not comprehending the depth of meaning behind those words. Many martial artists would also see "Shaolin" and "Weng Chun" and dismiss the possibility of the two being connected in any way, shape, or form. The Chi Sim logo however symbolizes the art's Shaolin roots in ways many would not imagine. The logo itself is much more than words and two pictures. This article will examine the meanings behind the Chi Sim logo for all to see.
The entire logo can be verbally pictured with five apparently simple sentences as follows: Everything in the logo is contained within a circle. Written across the top of the circle are the words "Weng Chun Kung Fu". Across the bottom of the circle is written "The Internal Power of Shaolin". In the middle of the circle is the aforementioned picture of a tiger, crouching as if ready to pounce upon its target. To the right of the tiger is the Chinese character for Eternal.
Not much to it, right? You will soon see that is far from true. There is much more to understanding the logo than five sentences.
Let's examine the words more closely. Weng, means Eternal, Everlasting, or Perpetual. This is the same Eternal as the Character mentioned above. Chun, means Spring (the season). Put together, Weng Chun means Everlasting Spring, referring to a continual rebirth of everything, reflecting the Chan reality of impermanence and the nature of change. Kung, meaning Skill, is next, followed by Fu, meaning Effort. Together, Kung and Fu refer to the skills one acquires through hard work and effort. Kung Fu also emulates the idea of Karma in that what one does today affects him tomorrow. If he trains hard today, tomorrow he has skill. If he is lazy today, tomorrow his health could be adversely affected. In Chan, this is the principle of cause and effect, or, action and consequences. Internal Power - This appears self-explanatory, but is it? It generally refers to the flow of Chi throughout the body and the universe, harnessing one's life force to work for him. But, Internal Power also refers to the specific knowledge of combat and health that Chi Sim training provides the student. Chi Sim Weng Chun is a complete system incorporating several principle training areas. The first is focused on fitness and health. Health is categorized as both internal and external, with exercises devoted to developing both, through breathing and physical training. The phrase Internal Power also covers the soft and internal aspects of the Chi Sim system for self-defense. The Chi Sim system teaches students to harmonize with an opponent's energy rather than meet force head-on. Therein lays the soft training, learning to receive an opponent's power without allowing it to influence the student's own structure. The focus on internal training teaches how to use the whole body for power, learning to unify the limbs and trunk into a more efficient tool. Shaolin - Now why is this word in the same logo as Weng Chun? How are the two related? Unfortunately many people, martial artists included, equate modern Wushu (i.e., Jet Li) with Shaolin. Wushu is a sport, not real combat. It is fun to watch, but not everyone can practice it. Shaolin consists of training one to be in harmony with reality, and modern Wushu does not have real skill for combat applications and is far from real combat. While Wushu has some Shaolin moves, it is not true Shaolin. It focuese on acrobatic demonstration rather than efficient martial science.
True Shaolin Martial Arts consists of three things. These are referred to as the three treasures of Shaolin. The treasures are Chan (Zen), Health, and Combat. Health refers to both the internal and external health benefits one receives from practicing Shaolin. Combat refers to the hand to hand combat methods developed and practiced by the Shaolin monks for centuries, Weng Chun being one of the most advanced of these systems. The Shaolin monks also developed these combat methods as an extension of their Chan studies. Chan focuses on removing illusions to discover reality, and nothing is more real than life threatening fighting. Remember what Weng means? We don't see too many 60 year-olds practicing Wushu – yet, we do see 60 year-olds practicing Weng Chun.
Now let's look closer at the two images within the Chi Sim Logo. First is the tiger. Tigers have long been a symbol of power and strength throughout many cultures. This particular image of the tiger is what makes it important for the Chi Sim logo. The tiger is poised as if ready to leap at its prey. It is ready to strike, but not ignorant of its surroundings. This is one of the key ideas of Chi Sim, "Maintain your space but keep your focus." In the Chi Sim system, the circle represents awareness of surroundings together with maintaining and creating space. The crouching tiger within the circle reminds practitioners of the importance of circular structure for health and combat. The tiger is also searching for a bridge, seeking to close the distance to its prey as easily and safely as possible. Tigers do not attack head on, but from an advantageous angle so they are safe and more successful. If you look at a tiger, it will circle until it can find another bridge from which to attack. This is but a part of the tiger's symbolism. It also represents the body methods of Chi Sim. The tiger is relaxed yet ready, low but can attack high, subtle but powerful. The tiger also reminds the viewer of another creature due to its particular pose within the Chi Sim logo. This creature is the dragon. The curved posture of the tiger is also reminiscent of the dragon's most seen pose, curved and poised to strike. The dragon, according to Shaolin philosophy, is invisible, but it is present with the tiger. Where the tiger represents the visible aspects of Shaolin (combat), the dragon represents the invisible, internal aspects of Shaolin (Chan and health). For Chi Sim these are the 10 wisdoms of the art and the internal power. The dragon and tiger exist in harmony with each other in the Chi Sim logo. The tiger's curved posture, from its tail to its foremost paw, also draws a line making the circle into the Yin Yang, referring to the harmony that Weng Chun practitioners use to defeat their opponents rather than clashing with them. The tiger and dragon are one as Chan, Health, and Combat. There can be no doubt that Shaolin and Weng Chun are part of the same whole. The next visual image is the character Weng. The character represents the triangles of Weng Chun. The triangle represents the focus within the space of the circle and using angles to penetrate space. Many of Weng Chun's physical structures require the body to take on triangular shapes to achieve maximum efficiency. Weng also implies space as well though. The symbol itself covers all dimensional space, reminding one to be mindful of his space while in combat situations, keeping his focus while maintaining his space. The Chi Sim expression of three-dimensional space is reflected in the traditional Shaolin concepts of Heaven, Man and Earth. The Tiger and the Character together create another facet of symbolism. In addition to the above reference about how a tiger will attack, the symbols remind us to be similar to the tiger, always circling the opponent for a vantage point, searching for the bridge and then closing that gap from that vantage point rather than rushing straight in. This is the proper way to engage and finish an attacker. While circling, one's triangles must remain aligned (observe the Tiger's paws), ready for the pounce. This is called maintaining one's space without losing focus. The images combined introduce circles into Weng Chun thought, but why? Many people equate fighting with being direct and straight on, but circles are not direct. How can circles exist within Weng Chun? Simply put they are a strategic tool used to help with tactics in combat. They are also part of the health aspects of Chi Sim, as its Shaolin roots make the art a vessel for improving one's health as well as skill. Circles are also continuously flowing and never ending as opposed to the angled corners of a triangle. Intimately connected, circles and triangles work together as Yin and Yang. We shouldn't tense up during a fight or in practice, but we should stay relaxed and fluid to help maintain our health and self-defense. That is the Chi Sim Logo. Five sentences explained in four paragraphs. The logo and its explanations are simple and to the point, yet they evoke more thought than one realizes. Chi Sim Weng Chun is the same way. Every motion is related to Chan, Health, and Combat – the three treasures of Shaolin.