Qi Gong (气功) is an integral part of Kung Fu training. In our CSL Wing Chun, we teach the 6-13-3 system. It is a framework for learning Traditional Chinese Martial Arts (TCMA). Developed by Hendrik Santo, a long-time friend of our GM Robert Chu Sau Lei. [1]
This post is an introduction to 6-13-3 and how it is trained and applied in our Wing Chun practice.

6-13-3 Introduction

Before we adopted 6-13-3, we practised “body structure” as a system to develop our Wing Chun for combat. GM Robert Chu Sau Lei introduced this system in his landmark article published in 1999: “The Root of Wing Chun Kuen Power”. [2]
The Body Structure system refined over the years and served us well. However, Qi Gong or “internal training” in TCMA is a vast, fuzzy subject and hard to teach without a comprehensive model. The 6-13-3 system changed all that. It gave us a method and framework for learning and teaching TCMA, written in today’s language in a comprehensive, scientific and systematic way.

 What is 6-13-3?

6-13-3 stands for 6 Core Elements (CE), 13 States and 3 Keys.
  • The 6 CE are body, mind, breath, Qi, strength and momentum.
    • The first four (4) CE pertain to Qi Gong practice.
    • The 5th and 6th CE are martial arts applications.
  • The 13 States are the different levels of achievement (states) of the 6 CE.
  • The 3 Keys (of reality, style and variation)
The six CE are interdependent and practised in sequence. One must achieve a certain level of proficiency (state) in one CE before you can incorporate the next Element.
For example:
“Qi readiness” is the first state of the Qi or Energy CE. One can never achieve this level if you have not developed the first 3 Core Elements (body, mind, breath).  When you have achieved this required level or state (Qi ready) then the Qi (4th Element) will flow; naturally, it is a natural process (自然). You cannot create, visualise or force your Qi flow. You either have it, or you don’t.

Wing Chun and Qi Gong training

The best platform for practising Qi Gong is Siu Nim Tao (SNT) Wing Chun’s first form. In our system, first-year students (beginners) practice the (regular) SNT combat version and intermediate and advanced students the Qi Gong SNT.
In the next paragraph, I will discuss how to integrate 6-13-3 into Wing Chun from a perspective of a beginner, intermediate and advanced student.

Beginner students

The focus for beginners (Level 1-3) is to develop the first 3 CE and integrate them into SNT.
Here are a few preparation exercises to develop the first three (3) CE.
  • Body – loosen up the seven (7) bows :   Reeling silk, Snake Hands, Shen Fa body methods.
  • Breath – is even, deep and regular :  lower abdomen breathing, whole body breathing, awareness breath
  • Mind – have a stable mind:  meditation to stable the mind, Zhan Zhuang standing meditation
Then integrate these three (3) CE into your SNT.

Intermediate and advanced training

The 4th Element, develop and movement of Qi is practised in the SNT Qi Gong version. The aim is to circulate the Qi energy in your body
The 5th Element  Strength () is about developing Force Flow: A lively application of ‘energy strength”, also called “short fist”.
The 6th Element is about momentum, how to use your body mass to create movement, footwork and combat strategy. Momentum means “object in motion”. It is the highest level of martial arts application.
The 5th and 6th CE, are combat applications and practise in live training such as Chi Sao and sparring.
A few words about “how to train” Qi Gong. A key concept in Qi Gong training is awareness. Your body, mind and breath work like sensors. You must be able to connect and integrate these sensors into your whole being. Practice meditation to develop these skills. [3]
You should train slowly, feel and connect to your body, mind and breath (the sensors). This type of training is similar to bodywork and movement practices like soma. (“body as perceived within”) [4]
Regular and proper exercise will lead to a relaxed body and a calm mind; this will help you to stay healthy and maximise your potential in martial arts learning.

Final words

6-13-3 is a method, a framework for learning TCMA.  It stands for 6 CE, 13 states and three (3) keys. The first four (4) CE pertain to Qi Gong training and are trained progressively in SNT. The final two CE’s, Strength and Momentum are combat applications and trained in Chi Sao and sparring.
Happy training
Wang Sifu
Head Coach CSL Wing Chun Singapore




[1] Hendrik Santo, “Basic Wing Chun Kuen Art and Science”. 6 13 3 Publication, January 2016.

[2] “ The Root of Wing Chun Kuen Power”.

[3] Meditation of Wing Chun and Qi Gong

[4] Soma