The Beginning of Modern-Day Wing Chun
Hawkins Cheung remembers his training days with Yip Man and Bruce Lee.
by Hawkins Cheung Most of the information surrounding the life of the grandmaster Yip Man revolves around anecdotes. But by dealing wither his approach to teaching we also can gain excellent insight into wing chun's greatest modern-day teacher. Through this introspection we will be able to answer many of the question students have about Yip Man. YIP MAN'S BEGINNINGS The China of the early 1900s was an empire on the verge of collapse. Most of the Western powers had carved spheres of influence out of the country's sovereignty. Yip Man was born in Futsan in 1895. He was 5 years old at the time of the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 and 16 when the Ching dynasty crumbled and Sun Yat-sen's Republic was proclaimed. His family had money and he was raised in the fashion befitting a child of wealth - educated, but sheltered as much as possible from the turmoil in the country. When he was 14. Yip Man started wing chun training with Chan Wah Sun, his first sifu. After approximately one year, master Chan died and Yip Man continued his studies with Chan's senior student, Ng Chang-so. Leaving home to attend high school in Hong Kong, by then an established British colony. Yip Man continued his wing chun education with Leung Bik. After graduation he returned to the Mainland, and worked in his family's business. He was not teaching at the time. Yip Man lived through the Kuomintang's revolution warlord period of the 1920s, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, and the upheaval of World War II. When, in 1949, the Communists succeeded in consolidating their hold on the Country, Yip Man, now 55, was forced to leave his possessions and wealth. He escaped with his family to Hong Kong. Yip Man turned to teaching to survive. He had several schools. His first location was at The Hong Kong Kowloon Restaurant Union. This lasted only a short time. Next he moved to Li Dai Strect (1953-54) and then to the Government Resettlement Area (1955). The average size of his school was 350-to-400 square feet, which doubled as a living space for his family. In essence, his was a school within a school within a school. The daily classes held from 2-4 p.m. and from 4-6 p.m. were open and informal. Anyone who paid could train. Information was passed on by the senior students, but for the most part you either trained by yourself or with a few friends. The high number of people passing through during these hours made it impossible to know everyone who was training. Bruce Lee and I didn't realize we were training with Yip Man until Bruce transferred into my class at St. Xavier Junior High School. Having Yip Man in common. we started spending most of our time together. At these open sessions. Yip Man barely paid attention. Most of the time he was watching what was happening Out in the street, while his senior students did the teaching. He did, however, know what was going on, although he was generally unconcerned with the progress of the public group. THE OLD MAN'S STUDENTS
Before continuing with the story, let me explain the three basic student groups that formed much of what has been taught since Yip Man's death. The first group was predominantly people who had studied other martial arts styles. The most notable of these were Leung Sheung, Lok Yiu and Tsui Sheung Tin. They were older than us and their approach was more traditional, and perhaps more intellectual because of their maturity. The second group was made up of myself, Bruce Lee and other teenage school kids. We wanted to learn how to fight. We were the fighters and partly through our victorious efforts in the street, wing chun began to get a good reputation as an effective fighting method. I make this distinction because other martial artists looked down their noses at us, claiming we were all brawl and no art. We didn't give a damn. We wanted the techniques as fast as possible so we could fight. Just like other teer-agers, we wanted to show off our skill and courage. The third group was comprised mostly of individuals or small, groups studying privately. Most in this section were professionals for whom wing chun was a hobby. It is believed there are people, unknown to us, who trained privately with the old man and are probably excellent fighters. One should also remember Yip Man started teaching at the approximately age of 56. By 1954-55 he was 60 and by 1965 he was 70. Obviously, as he became older he was forced to change his teaching approach either because experience had shown him better ways to get his points across or because physically he had to adapt to his physical limitations. Also remember that each of his students was different. I was 5-foot-1 and weighed 98 pounds. Bruce was 40 pounds heavier and William Cheung was even bigger. Our needs were different. Our training went like this. Each day after school we would go to the roof of the Rose Hotel for a couple of hours of sticky hands practice. Next door to the hotel was the gym where Bruce began weight training and several days a week he would go there after a session on the roof. However, three or four times a week we would head for Yip Man's after our rooftop session, where we would do regular, informal training. The training regime allowed us to work out with many different people, each of whom had a unique way of doing things. This gave us the experience to adapt to different situation and different feels. We would train with seniors, union workers and juniors. During this time I never saw Yip Man stick hands with anyone in the school. He was so busy watching what was happening in the street, or telling jokes. It took me a long time to realize how the improving students were getting their information. Finally, I asked Bruce and learned that after 6 p.m., Yip Man taught private groups by appointment. The name of the game was money and for school kids in Hong Kong like us, the amounts he charged were considered a fortune. However, I teamed with Bruce and several others. We pooled our money and trained privately. These private groups were small and usually composed of students, lawyers, policemen or businessmen. Usually one or two senior students would accompany Yip Man and take the bulk of the physical training. Yip Man would watch and coach. Again, he never stuck hands with anybody at these sessions. Occasionally, he would show a few moves to illustrate his points or he might satirize a student's inability to perform by exaggerating the student's technique. This was done partly to help the student, but also to have a good laugh. What I want to share at this point is that Yip Man Wasn't into the "sifu image" you see in the movies. He was a friend, a coach. He had a sense of humor and a sense of fun. Our respect for him was like one friend to another. That is not to say that he didn't have a serious side. If you lost a fight or had a problem, he became very serious.
as it was imparted to me by Yip Man. rumors and anecdotes about Bruce and Yip Man. One is strictly defensive. the essence of wing chun is to get the mind and body working at speed to process the information of a given situation in microseconds and then perform the correct maneuver with the best possible coordination and timing. By stepping. Yip Man
. Yip Man showed him a technique and said now he could beat Bruce. while the upper body shifts). because each had a different level of ability. size. he was 70 and primarily offering private training to older students. The choice is yours. or you may decide to set up a flow so a heavy second punch can he landed. closing the gap and combination. I am not about to go into which are true. let's look at lap sau. Each group was taught differently. You might decide to smash your opponent's forearm while pulling him off balance. you lose the inside game because the timing is stretched and the body is moving away from the opponent. he adjusted his methods to the student's character. He was the son of a restaurant owner. Choy went to Yip Man and asked if he could beat Bruce. natural ability. everyone is right. Bruce and Choy just didn't get along.HIS TEACHING METHOD I went with him to many of the different groups. if the student felt comfortable and natural. coordination and need. both as a senior instructor or a friend to keep him company. and honed the technique. For example. Then. and the relationship between the old man and his prized pupil. To capsulize the theory of the system. Business or professional people treated wing chun as a hobby or sport. Yip Man had another student named Choy. Again. the compromise became minimal because of the increase in the student's ability to perform the maneuver. and now I was training with him as an adult. so he concentrated on entry techniques. Most of this later training was control technique and theory. They couldn't stand each other. Lap sau changes relative to the size of the person performing the technique and the job he wishes to accomplish in various situations. It was the ultimate game Yip Man played toward the end of his life. I had trained with him as an adolescent. To better illustrate this point. Within this is the ability to read your opponent before he acts or to trick him into acting. But there are three which for me are the most important. This meant that each person learned something different. a person worked on the techniques he liked. Even though everyone is different. Bruce also went to Yip Man with the same question. but it allowed the student to do the job. which requires a great deal of experience. We had a certain affinity that was built on being the same size and of similar character. This became two-count instead of one-count technique. The student gained something.. and made them his own. he had the person step and turn. A STUDENT NAMED CHOY During our high school days. they show Yip Man's character. and each wondered if he could best the other if it came down to a fight. So. Bruce's humanity. Our group wanted to fight. Furthermore. but he also lost something. he concentrated more on theory and sticking-hands training. There are many stories. if someone couldn't get the swivel (e. The size and shape of the opponent dictates usage. keeping both heels planted and shifting the front of the feet simultaneously to the right or the left. However. By then. Another is strictly offensive. I trained privately under Yip Man. When I returned to Hong Kong after attending a university in Australia. This is the control level of wing chun.g.
and the more games you can recognize being played. will give the smaller man a chance to use lap sau and follow through with his attack.S. They both have the wing chun attitude. Bruce came back to Hong Kong for his father's funeral. the timing of the lap sau and the use of a smashing lap sau instead of a rolling one. They both respect me. Often. Bruce was scared and wanted to quit. HIS FEUD WITH YIP MAN In 1964. This gave us a great deal of experience in dealing with many different opponents. this was the first indication of Bruce's departure from wing chun. bil jee create a dictionary or shop manual of the basic material and its application. with a wild flow of techniques. In this situation. Bruce Lee's first fight took place on a rooftop in Kowloon City. the more often the odds are in your favor. in his letters to me from the U. he would have to let all his seniors film him. and. Bruce handled the situation as best he could. he was not his senior student. he laughed and said. he would relate how good the wing chun served him arid how he was still practicing. His attack was violent." BRUCE WANTED TO QUIT When those of us in the second group were growing up. The style was only the raw material. This turn of events is consistent with Yip Man's way of teaching. Regardless of what he went on to achieve. or trapping (the opponent's mind as well as hands). he asked him for permission to film him doing the dummy techniques. The joke was that each thought he could beat the other and proving it didn't matter because sifu had told each he was better. the larger person wins. In the mid-1950s. The rules for these fights were simple. wing chun's high reputation was very much because of our efforts in the street. against a Choy Lee Fut practitioner. coordination. Using a straight lap sau on a big man will produce little success. Bruce did a television demonstration and referred only to his "gung fu. Yip Man refused. I still think this first fight was one of the turning points in his life. When Yip Man told me the story. superior timing." To me. When a physical challenge is met with. It just means the more games you can play. The fights lasted two rounds. In the first round. chum kil. We had already lost the first fight thanks to our fighter's inexperience. control techniques. timing and situation. we would challenge any style. He got in a few punches. A WING CHUN RECIPE
. defended himself. Usage is dependent on size. He broke the guy's jaw and won the fight. one opponent would attack first. "What else could I do? They're both my students. I have to satisfy both and keep the peace between my students. for example. although Bruce was one of his favorites. If he let Bruce film him. The forms of sil lim tao. We told him to go for his face as soon as possible. the physical will usually be contained This doesn't mean you should not train for a physical game. In the second round. the other opponent would attack first. the system was the means by which the material was made to work. The opponent was first to attack.showed Bruce a technique and said now he could beat Choy. When two opponents meet and the fight is hand-to-hand. His fear and excitement became focused and he moved in. When he visited Yip Man. We told Bruce the worst was over because he had survived the first round. Each side would provide a referee. and absorbed quite a few blows. Later in his visit. At the end of the first round. Choy Li Fut practitioners became our foremost enemies because their long-range style was opposite our short-range style. it was the second fight of a two-fight afternoon.
and you cook and serve them (timing. this time to the United States. you have a proficiency in this type of meal for this type of guest. and many others. Among his many good students are Robert Chu. experience). beef. Rumors circulated that Bruce had betrayed the old man by leaving wing chun. or fish. Bruce Lee died. Hawkins Cheung lives and teaches Wing Chun Kuen in Los Angeles. example. Hawkins Cheung) began learning Wing Chun Kuen in 1954 under the guidance of the famed Yip Man. They got along well. changing it into a meal. different cooks and different guests. In 1972. The theory is what helps you cook the raw food.
. In 1978. If you serve up a good meal and deliver it in the fastest conceivable time. Yip Man died of throat cancer.Yip Man tried to get each of his students to make the system his own. you have to cook a meal (fight). This may not he the right meal for your next guest. carrots.
Created & Maintained by Robert Chu & René Ritchie
Cheung Hok-Kin (Zhang Xuejian. every meal will be different even if called by the same name. This comes from experience and is a guide to your level of fighting. Bruce's respect and loyalty never strayed. Wallace Nakagawa. He attended Yip Man's funeral and paid homage to his teacher. would attend the funeral. Cheung moved to Australia to attend college. Everyone wondered if Bruce. YIP MAN'S DEATH This rift between Bruce and Yip Man continued until 1971 when Bruce visited Yip Man.eggs. and others. Consider if you will that all the moves found in wing chun are raw foods . One person's usage will differ from another's because each person is different and each sees things in different ways. Onions. You have to serve something else. However. Six months later. After graduating from high school. for. given the same materials. now a world-recognized film star. Hawkins Cheung often engaged in challenge matches and helped to build Wing Chun's fearsome reputation in Hong Kong. control. You choose those ingredients which are necessary (techniques) to the situation. he moved again. Bruce Lee. flour. Your level of mastery of the style is that when confronted by your opponent (the guest). Along with his good friend. Furthermore. water.
Canada. In the early 1990s. In the mid1960s. China. Jiu Wan established his own Wing Chun school in Foshan and became Yip Man's personal student. who was also the student of Chan Yiu-Min. Ho Kam-Ming relocated to Ontario. but returned to Hong Kong on weekends to continue his training.Ho Kam-Ming
Ho Kam-Ming (He Jinge) began learning Wing Chun as a young adult from Yip Man in the late 1950s. studied Wing Chun under Chan Yiu-Min (other stories indicate he learned from his cousin (his father's elder brother's son) Jiu Tong. Some accounts name him as the brother of Jiu Chao. Ho Kam-Ming continues to train students privately. Ho would care for him and take him for treatments. Ho Kam-Ming opened his own school in nearby Macao. Among his pupils are Augustine Fong and Johnny Wong
Jiu Wan (Zhao Yun). and when Yip Man would fall ill. where his son opened a school. After the Communists took over China. Jiu Wan left Foshan for Hong
. Ho Kam-Ming became quite close to his teacher over the years. in his youth in Foshan. Later.
it’s better in the beginning to see you’re not making any of your own.. For Wing Chun. If you eat too much. then wait till tomorrow to come back and finish it. but I can move your target. When you change your aim I move the target again. In Wing Chun we teach you how to think.
Sifu Said . Are you more powerful than a car? If a car comes at you. Open your eyes and you can see further. Keep moving. that it doesn't work to resist. Strong people naturally rely on their strength and are unwilling to let it go. First I have to know which way the door opens. Other styles tell you what to think. I don’t resist force. If your basics are not good. Don’t stop to think about your next move. but if you can’t use it in the right way. When you aim at me I can't move your aim. I can't see it for you. 4. But when there’s an opening I use all the force I have. If I stop. It's not whether or not to use power. and you say two. it’s you. I don’t want to push sideways if the door opens up and down. When styles rely on strength. Make every penny count. The better your foundation. so train to replace this natural reaction with new ones. the higher your level of skill the more critical it becomes. the higher the building the more dangerous it becomes.Kong where he met with Master Yip for continued advanced study and followed Yip for some 20 years. After a while we learned for ourselves what worked and what didn't. For other styles. like flowing water. and others. it may be too late. or meet force with force and so it’s a soft style. Amongst Jiu Wan's students were movie star Tai Lung (Tam Fu-Wing). Greater strength is a natural advantage. But if I choose the direction I’ll always have a headstart.
. you’ll eventually find someone stronger than you. what good is it? If you do it right.you get out of the way. Redirecting force is like opening a door. and so it’s a hard style too. So I gave it up and tried to let go instead. its bad for your digestion. If your foundation is not solid. I say two. and there’s no limit to letting go. I can only open the window. once is enough. a hundred times won’t help. In the beginning don't try to learn too much at one time. It's not whether or not to spend money. Wing Chun relies on letting go. It’s also a disadvantage if you can’t let go of it when you need to. but how to spend it. 3. But I always aim at you. Your natural reaction is to tense up when attacked. There's a big difference. 6. If we run a race and you’re faster than me I don’t have much chance of beating you. Instead of trying to exploit your opponent’s mistakes. you don’t try to hold it back . take action. you have to do the looking. I learned.
Random notes taken over several years During classes taught by Sifu Chow Hung-Yuen
Compiled by Dan Lucas 1. 5.. and so have a hard time learning Wing Chun. but how to use it. there’s a limit to strength. Keep moving. after struggling to resist for so long. How can you hit me if you can’t find my center? If you touch a spinning ball it sends you off in one direction or another. The same is true with the martial arts. Nothing was explained to us when I learned. contact is the end. Your real enemy isn’t your opponent. I just get out of the way. if it doesn’t work I try another. you have to make three yourself. I give you the basics. 7. As you get older you can also improve. we just learned by doing. the stronger it is. 8. for instance. it’s both. As you get older your strength naturally declines. After class you can do the Bong Sao by yourself a hundred times. I try one direction. I don’t care how big or how strong you are because I don’t resist you. Don’t start something. Chow Hung-Yuen. Chi Sao is training for sensitivity. If you compare power with your opponent. Instead I redirect any strength you have by moving with it. 9. you say one. I say one. If you do it wrong. Wing Chun isn’t a hard style or a soft style. I give you the chance to use your strength against me. That's not the way to learn. It doesn’t matter if it’s a car or a train. the higher you can build on it. contact is just the beginning. 2.
What matters is how good you can become. When you become negative I switch to positive. And I don’t have to get in on every opening. 12. Yin and Yang doesn’t mean I attack either hard or soft. but you and I can feel it. That’s why we can practice blindfolded or in the dark. In other words. I don’t know how dumb the fish is. don't fight with the heavy hand. A bystander can’t see it. Wing Chun is not for display or for competition. When I have contact with you I can sense your movement and so have a better chance. why not go through the one that's easy to open? Chinese philosophy is based on harmony and balance. but is in no way a defense. It means that in any situation you or I will be stronger or weaker. In chess if I know your next move and the move after that. nobody traps your hands against each other. if I set you up in the right way. And always remember that it doesn't matter how good you are. I can take advantage of it and your position won’t matter. in Wing Chun. I have a much better chance of winning. Attack the light one instead. What really matters is pressure: the pressure you apply and the pressure applied against you. but more usually means one arm is Yin while the other is Yang. one hard to push and one easy to push. it’s how you apply them. you can’t do both at once. The secret isn’t in the technique. If one hand is heavy and the other light. not really magic. Of course I shouldn’t go fishing unless I know I’m skillful enough to reel one in. I constantly test you to find weaknesses to exploit or strengths to avoid. You may still have a better hand than me but at least I have more options. or make the move that’s right for you. I move as little as possible. Learn the principles and how they apply to one technique. And if I move. You only have to learn the tricks. it’ll be easy to finish you off. I just throw out the bait and see if it takes it. If I know what's in your hand too. I keep my elbows on center and attack on center to make it difficult for you to take or use the center. Put together the right ingredients and you’ll make a fine supper. by sticking with you. 17. 14.
. 11. and force you to go the long way around. For instance a punch on center defends as well as attacks. 15. There’s nothing secret. If there are two doors. Wing Chun theory is firmly based in Yin and Yang. or how strong.10. how can you win? So in fighting I put you into a position where you have to respond in a certain way. When you are positive I am negative. You offer them to be trapped. Either make the right move. Then. practice as though blindfolded and depend on what you feel rather than what you see. The worst thing for you is if I know what your next move will be. Good contact means the right amount of pressure at the right spot going in the right direction. of course I know what's in my hand. Sometimes it’s better to let one go by to set up for another. I don't move unless I have to. Like the old Chinese saying about picking up a rock and hitting yourself with it: for instance. It has to come naturally through the movements. 16. no magic. but in the situation. Each situation differs and nothing stays the same for long. When I'm dealt a hand in poker. 13. A circular attack like a roundhouse punch is just an attack. because it’s something you have to feel and not see. When you’re in the right position but apply pressure in the wrong direction. I don't mean that I think about it. With your eyes open and in bright daylight. you allow them to be trapped. rather than a new technique for every change or situation. Magic is only tricks. changing with the situation. This can mean turning power on or off in one arm. More techniques don’t make you a master. Sometimes just being in the right position isn’t enough. I know where you’re going and what you’re doing. It’s like breathing in and out.
Leung Ting went on to form the International Wing Tsun Martial-Art Association. and continued under Leung Sheung. and later Tsui Sheung-Tin and Yip Bo-Ching. Leung Sheung. In 1956. In the late 1960s. he began his instruction in Wing Chun under his uncle's guidance in 1950 alongside Lee Man. In 1974. Cheng Fook and Cheng Pak. with branches in about 50 countries and somewhere in the neighborhood of 100.000 members.Leung Ting
Leung Ting (Liang Ting) began training in the late 1950's under his two maternal uncles. Amoung Leung Ting's top student are Keith Kernspecht of Germany. Lo Man-Kam established
. China. head of the European Wing Tsun Organization.000 members. Lok Liu. among others. which has about 70. who were students of Leung Sheung. with the encouragement of his cousin.
Lo Man-Kam (Lu Wenjin) was born in 1933 in Guangdong. Leung Ting received private instruction from Yip Man as a close door student (pupil taken after an instructor has retired from public teaching). The International Wing Tsun Martial-Art Association has become the largest Chinese martial arts organization in the world. Yip Chun. Lo made his first trip to Taiwan and in 1960 he was guided back there by his uncle. and has also served time on the board of the Ving Tsun Athletic Association. Nephew of the famed Yip Man.
Following the rise of the Communist regime. his teachings and followers have received wide publicity. not wanting to draw the governments attention.
Foshan Wing Chun From Where the Water Flows
by Derek Frearson Much is written about the life of Master Yip Man and his students in Hong Kong. Generally little has been published about his teaching in Foshan and his disciples from these early days. Lun studied for roughly 4 years.the first Wing Chun school in Taiwan. Lun Gai practiced his Wing Chun secretly. At an age of around 14. This is his story:
. Lun Gai still practices and teaches Wing Chun in China. Gorden (who has also trained under Duncan Leung). I have found Master Lun's method illuminating. In addition to the Taiwan military and police forces. Lun began studying Wing Chun in Foshan under the renowned Yip Man. With over 20 years experience learning learning and teaching Wing Chun I have had the opportunity to research this style and its many branches in England. Over the last four years I have had the great pleasure of studying with one of Yip Man's original students. Master Lun Jie.
Lun Gai (Lun Jia) was born in 1926. Hong Kong and China. including his son. Lo Man-Kam has gone on to teach students from 33 countries around the world.
he began to study Wing Chun at the age of 14 under Yip Man who was about 40 at this time. sometimes lie would go to the park and to the Ancestral Temple. The relative got involved in an argument with a detective. Yip Man grabbed the gun and broke it. One time Guo Fu was near Guangzhou he met an electrician who said he knew Sifu Lun and that he had returned to Foshan and was working in a pump factory.Sifu Lun was born in 1926. being six years older he was much stronger and able to apply the techniques in a more realistic manner. Guo Fu wrote a letter to the pump factory in Foshan which Sifu Lun received. In the original class Sifu Lun's older Kung Fu brother was Guo Fu. During training Master Yip laid great emphasis on the practise of Wing Chun's first form Sil Lum Tao and on horse stance practice. at the same time Guo Fu was also trying to find Sifu Lun. They began to train and research Wing Chun and continue to do this up to the present day. his sensitivity was so refined he could tell which one of his students he was training with just by the feel. When they practiced Chi Sao they would cover their eyes. Master Yip would go around and play Chi Sao with all of his students. Master Lun recalls a story of when Yip Man was out walking with a relaitive. Sifu Lun did practice throughout this period mostly in his home. Some time later the members of the class scattered and lost contact with each other. Sifu Lun made an effort to try and contact Guo Fu but to no avail. Often the practice at the Temple would be watched by a policeman who was himself a martial arts practitioner so he never reported them. As the argument became more heated the detective pulled out his gun to shoot. The authorities
. This was during the occupation by Japanese forces. The classes were held during the evenings and attended by six students. Master Yip Man had no interest in teaching a lot of students. the old classmates were reunited in 1958 and have been close friends ever since. CULTURAL REVOLUTION During the cultural revolution the practice of martial arts was banned. As a policeman he feared that he might be arrested by the new regime. anyone practicing would be branded a counter revolutionary. The class would meet in secrecy in a warehouse as the practise of martial arts was banned by the Japanese. Knowing his old classmate was an electrician by trade he would always ask any electricians he met if they knew Sifu Lun. Yip Man left Foshan around 1949 before the liberation of China. Sifu Lun recalls at this time Guo Fu was much better at Wing Chun than he was. in fact Sifu Lun recalls Yip Man saying that he didn't intend to take any more.
He said that it is not his intention to right and he doesn't want his students to fight. Although nearly 70 his hands are still very fast. he also might have allowed his students more freedom interpreting the movements. There was one occasion.all over China were very nervous about the practice of martial arts. Lun applied the Kuo Sao movement from Wing Chun's second form Chum Kiu. his right hand flicked into the tank with a thud as he continued to explain the point. this would account for the differences of his followers. The man didn't follow up the attack hearing his accomplice's screams. HONG KONG WING CHUN? On the development of Wing Chun in Hong Kong and the differences between Foshan and Hong Kong Chun as taught today. both men fled. know that Yip Man only taught the Bagua steps in Foshan. Even in Foshan there are people who claim to teach Yip Man's method yet Sifu Lun doesn't know how this can be. as he stopped the light on his bicycle went out. four of which are now dead.
. a method which Sifu Lun still favours today. As long as Guo Fu and Lun Jie can remember Yip Man only had six students. I asked Sifu Lun if he had ever had to use his Wing Chun in a real life situation. He does. Many martial arts masters were persecuted by the Red Guards. During Sifu Lun's four year's training with Yip Man he always taught the conventional method of punching. however. Sifu Lun doesn't know why the teaching of Yip Man was different in Hong Kong. He quickly put the bicycle down. he can only assume that Yip Man might have added or dropped some movements. imprisonment and death. He heard the breaking of bone and the man screamed with pain. however. one man threw a powerful punch towards Sifu Lun. the amount of power he generates over such a short distance is phenomenal. Our training area was on a rooftop and Master Lun proceeded to demonstrate the punch on a large metal water tank. He was travelling along a dark road when two men jumped out in front of him. FOSHAN WING CHUN. Sifu Lun's method is very direct. I was on the receiving end of many "Jerk Hands" techniques and his "Slap Block" made my whole body shake. before he left Foshan he told his students to use the Phoenix Eye punch. on one occasion we were discussing how to apply force with the Phoenix Eye punch. this was particularly true about the practice of Wing Chun with its emphasis on attack and combat techniques. just after the cultural revolution when he went out on his bicycle into the countryside at night. this included torture. turning to the side the other man had already launched a kick which glanced on Lun's thigh.
Tsui Sheung-Tin in Hong Kong
by Martin Anderson It has been more than 17 years since I have been in Hong Kong but I will do my best to remember some of the training. Master Lun is a very humble man. all the other forms are longer with a greater variety of techniques. Both men have concentrated on developing and researching the direct fighting method as taught by Yip Man in Foshan. He said that Guo Fu and himself were not educated men. "Sifu you've dented the tank". I would play with Sifu several times a day since I would practice as long as the school was open which was from about 3pm until 10pm. Tsui Sheung Tin was always involved in these practices and always helping students at all levels. First and foremost we did a hell of alot of chi sau with everybody from the most advanced students to just beginers. during training he apologized for any deficiencies in his teaching. in fact Sifu Lun has only had one year's schooling.The point was lost for a while as the centre of attention was the dent that had appeared in the water tank. This could vary from just single hand chi sau to nearly a brawl. The first form is around the same length as the Hong Kong version but some of the angles are very different. I some times got some training when the school was
. Yip Man also didn't teach the Single Sticking Hand or any other method apart from two handed Chi Sao. He laughed loudly then continued the explanation. Since that day I have seen him train by punching trees and brick walls. THE FORMS The Foshan method has the same number of forms similar to those taught in Hong Kong.
which he enjoyed. Victor Kan once told that Mr. Sifu once questioned me (through someone else. of course) about what I was seeing when I watched him and others play. The atmosphere at the school was one of a very relaxed nature. Having heard many tales of Wing
. I also got a lot of help from Mui Chung Chi (Joe Mui) who was one of Sifu's best students and a sifu on the Hong Kong side. He once showed me a more aggresive side to WC that was interesting to me as Sifu would normally concentrate on defense. Tsui Sheung Tin is a very kind person and extremely generous with his knowledge. Well I had to develop an ability to literally see force and to try to analize what was happening. His defense is close to being invinceable. You might ask how I was able to learn from Sifu.closed as Sifu let me live there once when I did not have much money to rent a room. sampling a variety of methods including western boxing. Victor Kan should know as agressive attacking is something he does well.
Wong Shun-Leung (Huang Chunliang) was born in 1935 and began his martial arts training in his early teens. Joe was very helpfull as he spoke perfect english and I do not speak chinese nor does Mr. He is also alot of fun to play chi sau with because his force is great and his speed is blinding. Tsui had the best defense in the Yip Man School while he was there. Tsui speak english. I explained what I saw and he told me he could also see things this way but it took a long time to develop this skill and I could see this way from very early on.
videos and in classrooms around the world.
. Denis Chau. they are no longer practicing Ving Tsun. I have tried to develop an understanding of this system for the past 25 years of my life. after being soundly defeated by Yip Man. Wong decided to give it a try. as set out in the basic forms and drills of the system. What I am is someone who is in awe of the potential of this system that we have all chosen to practice.Chun from his father and grandfather (who had been a good friend of Chan Wah-Shun). yet time and again. I am not.
Returning to the Basics
The Scientific Foundation of Ving Tsun Gung Fu
By David Peterson
[Speech from the 1999 Ving Tsun Conference in Hong Kong]
There is an old expression in English that goes. Wong Shun-Leung helped forge Wing Chun's reputation in Hong Kong with his victories in challenge matches and assisted in the teaching of his juniors. magazines. for each and every one of us to use Ving Tsun in our own unique way. the late Wong Shun Leung. It is quite natural. However. I had the great fortune of being under the guidance and tutelage of another great man who helped make this system what it is today. "One must be the MASTER of Ving Tsun. "He couldn't see the forest for the trees". Wong Shun-Leung practiced Wing Chun for over 4 decades before passing away in late January. great Yip Man sigung first began to transmit his knowledge of this marvelous system to the world. it would seem that many of those who studied the system have lost sight of its fundamental essence. Wong became Yip's student. this seems to be the case for many of my Ving Tsun brothers and sisters. and that as soon as one ignores the most basic concepts of the system. Not that I am in any way suggesting that anyone is wrong. not it's SLAVE". or that I have somehow stumbled upon all the answers. Nino Bernardo. completely acceptable. please allow me to put things in perspective. surely each of my learned colleagues present here today would agree that there are several basic underlying principles which simply must not be ignored. a master fighter. in books. Before anyone starts accusing me of trying to put myself upon a pedestal. and many others. then we are no longer practicing Ving Tsun and are in fact reducing the quality of what it is that we practice and teach. and over time reducing our skills to a "watered-down" version of what they could be. many of my respected brethren are going down paths that have strayed a long way from the basic tenets of this skill. students of Ving Tsun are being shown methods that totally contradict the principles upon which this system was built. or perhaps it is just a basic human trait to overlook the obvious (and not-so-obvious!) and continually "re-invent the wheel" when one already has at their disposal a uniquely brilliant set of combat concepts such as those which make up Ving Tsun Gung Fu. by my own definition. we are in fact "breaking the rules" so-to-speak of Ving Tsun. 1997 and taught many renowned students including Lam Man-Hok (Gary Lam). such as Bruce Lee. and as a result. Ko Kin. my dear Sifu. During the late 1950s and early 1960s. While I readily accept that there are different ways to interpret or apply techniques. proclaiming myself as some "Next Generation Grandmaster". In around 1951. a person who loves the art of Ving Tsun above all other pursuits in my life. if in being different. or a master "anything" as far as Ving Tsun is concerned. What Sifu helped me to realize was that the effectiveness of Ving Tsun is in its inherent simplicity. and for almost 15 of those years. but whatever the case. in keeping with my late teacher's often repeated philosophy that. David Peterson. and sadly. but that over the years since the late. Perhaps it is due to the influence of other martial art disciplines on the minds of those practicing the Ving Tsun system. a master teacher.
realistic attacks. The sequences in the forms. Too many Ving Tsun practitioners overlook the most obvious aspect of the system's advantage over virtually all other combat methods. While you are "chasing the hands" of your enemy. with an emphasis on "free" or "open" drills whereby the students are encouraged to apply the most basic techniques and concepts against random and very threatening. This is in keeping with the Ving Tsun maxim. verbatim.One of the most glaring errors that I have observed. not an endless series of sequences. are NOT to be interpreted as such. you are not trying to Chi
. you should be responding with a scientifically more structured and more efficient attack of your own! That is the true nature of this system. Instead of developing a false sense of security through the rote learning of patterned responses. we simply make use of the one or two most practical tools for the job. This helps to get the students out of the trap that complicated set drills can engender. We simply use what we need. the student should be encouraged to try to apply the same concepts or techniques under increasingly random and more realistic conditions. We do not have to use every tool in the toolshed every time we enter the toolshed. because while we may not need some of the tools. the students quickly realize that real combat is an unpredictable arena where ones ability to adapt instantly and aggressively is the key to survival. and with deception and aggression. It is a serious mistake to presume that certain motions must follow each other in sequence just because they do so in the forms. not set routines with fixed patterns and predictable outcomes. The tools are simply positioned for either ease of access. To be blunt. when the opponent launches his or her attack. we rob the next generation of the chance to reach their full potential. drills should be kept SIMPLE. you are always one or more steps behind him or her. you are ignoring the fact that your opponent is still in control of the situation. in Ving Tsun. but as soon as practical. with all the tools that one might ever need placed neatly and ready for use at our disposal. and with no obligation that if we make use of a particular tool that we are in any way obligated to also use the tools immediately next to it. in no particular order. DIRECT and EFFICIENT. and should not. nor do we have to make use of every tool in our lifetime. and that is what sets it apart from virtually all other methods. Real attackers don't attack in rehearsed or predictable sequences. but make sure that the entire contents of the toolshed are made available to all who come after us. As we are confronted with each new task. this is a grave error and will only lead to a false impression in the minds of the practitioners which could well see them totally at the mercy of any potential adversary. others may find that they have a need for them. or easy recognition of their individual potential. "Pass on the complete skill in order to make the next generation strong". where a basic concept or technique is tested under fixed circumstances. Attempting to deal with such people by applying a sequence rote learned in the classroom is a recipe for disaster. By the same token. the best form of defense is attack! We are not. with the possible exception of an extremely few examples. and that of the system. The ONLY way to guarantee victory when being attacked is to have a better means of attack! This is what Ving Tsun is all about. If you are busy "defending" yourself. It is therefore the CONCEPTS that need to be passed down to each successive generation of Ving Tsun practitioners. time and time again. and it keeps the training challenging and realistic. they attack at random. the sequences of movements as they are practiced in the basic forms. Why then do many Ving Tsun exponents advocate complicated sequences of blocking and trapping motions when a more aggressive response is what is called for? When you are in combat with the enemy. but simply as a well structured means of understanding concepts and "internalizing" these ideas so that the body can reproduce the best possible shapes or movements at the most opportune time. be in the business of "self-defense" as this is the fastest way to defeat in real life combat. If we only pass on our favorite ideas or techniques. is the robotic way in which students are taught to apply. This goal is best achieved by firstly setting up a "closed" drill. A more useful way to see the forms is to think of them as an ideal toolbox or toolshed.
derived and practiced through realistic and efficient training methods and drills. yet there are still many people in the world oblivious to the potential and benefits of this system of personal protection. Ving Tsun is one of. I answer by telling them what it is not. and we should definitely not be going out with the idea in mind to "trap hands" with them. is a sophisticated weapon with which one can overcome an adversary by applying scientifically provable concepts through efficient biomechanical motions. When people come to my classes and ask me what Ving Tsun is all about. we need to put aside our individual egos. you should be trying to hit him! The reflexes and skills developed through correct Chi Sau practice are only needed and applied if and when our own attempts to attack are hindered or impeded by the enemy. This constitutes a blatant misunderstanding of the realities of real combat and has to be avoided at all costs. One of the reasons that Ving Tsun is still to be taken seriously by many in the martial arts world is the constant bickering and infighting that has occurred in recent years. We cannot deny that this has taken place. or that of a loved one. by reexamining the basic concepts and techniques with the added benefit of modern sports science and the input of those who have participated in the "Pavement Arena". we are teaching them how to be defeated! Surely this is not our goal as teachers and practitioners of Ving Tsun. the greatest methods of combat that exists in the world today. such as Leung Sheung and Wong Shun Leung. is the key to the future of Ving Tsun. based on real experience and practical experimentation. adding unnecessary complications and impractical methods to the repertoire of techniques that are being transmitted to our students. The other very important reason that Ving Tsun is yet to be recognized universally for the brilliant system that it is. by its very nature. and I am sure that he would have much more wisdom to share with you all than I could ever hope to have in my lifetime. we must ensure that we never lose sight of what makes it work. The restrictions of time prevent me from elaborating further. and the underlying principles that make this possible. This conference is the first very positive step in that direction. is that we have allowed ourselves to stray from the original concepts of the system. I can only wish that my Sifu was still alive to be a part of this occasion. This can. and those gifted students of his who have also passed on. If we teach our students to attempt to deal with an adversary in this way. and deeply humbled to be asked to speak to all present. or will practice it. yet such methods are being taught all over the place. by returning to the basics. On the contrary. but is developed even further to even greater heights. but for it to evolve further. pitting their Ving Tsun skills against real opponents in real combat situations. and I am indeed proud to be a participant in this historic event. If our Ving Tsun forefathers had thought in this way. This is not to say that we need to radically overhaul and alter the system. It is NOT a sport (…there are no rules in real combat!). not in the classic sense. Individual creativity. and get back to the job of bringing Ving Tsun into the 21st century. This kind of thinking is extremely dangerous. Like
. there wouldn't be a system known as Ving Tsun and we'd all be here for a poetry or paper folding conference! Ving Tsun is. is not only preserved for the future. be prepared to rethink and reassess our teaching and training methods. it is NOT a form of fitness training (…it is too efficient in application to demand enough of one to create super fitness!). It is no good constantly adhering to "tradition" when the reality of the world is no longer what is may have been in the past. and will only be achieved. it is NOT for demonstration (…while you and I can see the inherent beauty of the system. in simple terms. and we must come together in a spirit of understanding and cooperation so as to work together for the long term benefit of both the system and all who have. but I hope that I have planted an important seed in your mind that will slowly develop into the necessary thought processes that will help each and everyone of us present here today to make sure that the legacy of Yip Man. and it is NOT a form of meditation (…well. resulting in the acquisition of skills that could one day save your own life. if not. a constantly evolving art.Sau with him. anyway!) What it is. for "outsiders" it is just not "pretty" enough!). are.
and in doing so. made to spend time on something which is unlikely to be of any use. I thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. I have tried to share some of my Sifu's wisdom with all those present in the hope that you too will make the effort to sort through the "martial mess". but to think it over. Wing Chun is a system based upon logic and science. it was that I should never stop seeking the truth. Today. but also him or herself as well. At the Melbourne Chinese Martial Arts Club. He taught my Sihing-dai and I to never accept any idea or method at face value. this is a "young idea" that should be nurtured so that it develops into something truly wonderful. namely it must reflect three distinct qualities .SIMPLICITY. punching the air. I sincerely apologize to those concerned. like in all martial systems. then it is not something we wish to waste time practising if a more practical method exists. no matter how skilful the instructor may be. when to apply it and. constantly testing and refining the principles and concepts gleaned from the three basic training patterns or forms of the Wing Chun system. strength or effort. we at the Melbourne Chinese Martial Arts Club (MCMAC) do not spend the majority of our training time alone in lines. In Wing Chun. good and bad points. to put aside egos. there are inherent strengths and weaknesses. in order to determine its validity. That was never my intention. It requires neither great strength nor great athletic ability. Within these variations. it is not just a matter of copying movements. I also hope that my comments have in no way insulted or offended anyone present here today. but you can't replace time. how to develop and perfect such skills. once again see the beauty and simplicity of the Ving Tsun forest." Sifu Wong believed that if a student is allowed to.The Science of In-Fighting
By David Peterson There are. a system whose origins are said to be an amalgamation of the most effective combat theories and techniques of several Chinese systems some two centuries ago. "You can always replace money. Training on the Muk Yan
. DIRECTNESS and EFFICIENCY. or worse. discuss it and test it.
Wing Chun . false pride. however. ignorance and prejudice. (ii) Cham Kiu. all aspects of our training emphasise and refine these three qualities. and (iii) Biu Ji. Our basic philosophy is that if something requires excessive movement. but in contact with many partners. the likelihood is that the students will never fully realise their potential. the instructor is not only deceiving his/her students. If what a particular school or instructor teaches is to meet the requirements of what is generally considered to be Wing Chun. or engaged in make believe combat routines. most importantly. one has to know precisely why something is being done. is a very precise understanding of some very basic combat principles and unless the instructor can get these across to the students.the 'Siu Nim Tau' form. and I hope that I have provided some positive inspiration towards the goal of uniting all Ving Tsun devotees around the world so as to not only take Ving Tsun into the next millenium. it seems. If my late teacher taught me anything at all. subtle and not so subtle differences. nor ever assume that there isn't a better way of doing something. In the words of our Hong Kong-based leader. This being the case. as realistically as possible. many interpretations or styles of the Chinese martial art known as Wing Chun being taught throughout the world. and if my words have been interpreted in that way. but to strive for the development of the very best quality of Ving Tsun instruction and training. then it must meet certain criteria. Sifu Wong Shun Leung. namely (i) Siu Nim Tau. What it does require.
consequently. "tit for tat" so to speak. become a very misunderstood part of the Wing Chun training regime. In other words. realising as they do that the greater the distance becomes. forms and techniques. From there. Because of its efficient and subtle nature. Wing Chun does indeed have medium.Jong. and it does utilise kicking and ground-fighting. through Chi Sau the Wing Chun student learns to dominate the situation with skill and controlled aggression. the belief being that the best form of defence is attack. was a man who believed wholeheartedly in the importance of practical experience and practical training. After just a short time training at the In-fighting range. extreme close-range. and there are those who do nothing but Chi Sau. Wing Chun trains these techniques and concepts in such a way that even some Wing Chun practitioners fail to appreciate their existence and potential. virtually anything can and does happen so that the practitioners are constantly forced to react to very real attacks without the luxury of standing back to think about it. but if the Wing Chun fighter's own techniques are trapped. but for all the wrong reasons. In other words. but it requires these so rarely that many people think that these skills don't exist within the system. It is not fighting per se. By its very nature. the easier things become. the more time one has at one's disposal and. or "wooden dummy" also provides a means developing good positioning and accurate techniques and allows for the practise of techniques in a way which would not be appropriate on a "live" training partner. Chi Sau's main purpose is to enable the Wing Chun fighter to develop the means by which they can instinctively find or create gaps in the opponent's defences. one must excel at fighting there. in recent years. the theory being that as most situations end up at this range. Instead of becoming a session of trading blows. under whom this writer and several of our students have had extensive training in Hong Kong. Wing Chun devotees work outwards. The sensitivity developed through Chi Sau is such that whenever the path of an attack (by the Wing Chun fighter) is blocked. we at MCMAC also place a great deal of emphasis on the Chi Sau or "sticky hands" exercise to further develop instant reactions and technical precision and to provide us with a linking device for all of the above-mentioned concepts. there is no need for the Chi Sau to be applied.and long-distance techniques/strategies. the Wing Chun student begins to realise the effectiveness of getting in close and tends to develop a distinct preference for this range. a position where many other fighting systems do not have effective responses. jammed or blocked by the opponent. Chi Sau has. Wing Chun is an attacking system. There are those who say it has no application to combat and dismiss it as a useless exercise. The first range to be developed is closerange. ie. but it does provide the perfect environment in which to acquire and develop the skills and responses necessary for fighting an opponent at the worst possible range. Contrary to what the many critics of Wing Chun may say. Chi Sau training has provided him or her with the means to overcome the problem. Chi Sau is quite simply a means of developing practical reflexes and of refining them to the point where conscious thought is eliminated. Chi Sau training encourages the student of Wing Chun to treat every threat as a real one and to totally overwhelm the opponent at the first opportunity so as to render them unable to offer any kind of defence. he or she automatically redirects the enemy's hands and continues the attack. Should the enemy not put up an effective defence. The other great advantage of Chi Sau training over the sparring normally seen in other martial art systems is the fact that it is totally spontaneous. having himself many times put his fighting skills to the test for the sake of improving himself as well as proving
. Wing Chun does not fight by doing Chi Sau with the opponent. As well as a variety of training drills and reflex exercises done with partners. Sifu Wong Shun Leung. never being afraid to go forward and never making the mistake of trying to trade blows with the enemy. Wing Chun in fact trains in reverse order to many other systems of combat.
one factor which immediately springs to mind being that there are at least three or four different systems of Chinese boxing which take the name Wing Chun (though the Chinese characters may differ). it's more a question of taste. if your not attacking your opponent's attack. and a somewhat less sophisticated method to "Chan the money-changer". We at MCMAC believe that not all Wing Chun is the same and that if one examines his or her own training by asking if it is truly SIMPLE. if you have to think. but if you think that "A" can defeat "B" then it can be put to the test. including western boxing and fencing. The reasons for these variations are many and complex. whereas art is purely subjective. the man who almost single-handedly put Wing Chun on the martial arts map in Hong Kong in the 'fifties and 'sixties when he engaged in countless challenge matches against practitioners of all styles. DIRECT and EFFICIENT. it may well be that it just doesn't measure up. We at MCMAC are constantly striving to pass on the very best Wing Chun skills possible and take great pleasure in sharing Sifu Wong's teachings with anyone willing to put aside pride and ego in order to journey down what we believe to be a more rewarding path to combat proficiency. The late Bruce Lee drew many of his fighting concepts from what he had learnt from Sifu Wong during those early days and applied that line of thinking to his own training. Herein lies just one of the many causes of today’s confusion. emerging undefeated each time. it's not Wing Chun. MCMAC invited Sifu Wong to Australia to conduct classes and seminars while he was alive. the man under whom Grandmaster Yip Man began his Wing Chun training. simply because a skill is something which can be tested. Put quite simply. You just may find that the Wong Shun Leung Way can answer questions for which you have been unable to find a satisfactory solution. As often as possible. If we are to believe the stories handed down through history concerning Leung Jan and his attitude to teaching "outsiders". Chan Wa Sun. who in turn had learnt from the most celebrated of Wing Chun "ancestors". a man who was very protective when it came to passing on his skills. This then is the MCMAC approach to the training of Wing Chun. students and instructors at MCMAC regularly spend extended periods of time training at Sifu Wong's school in Hong Kong. you can't "prove" whether it's good or bad. proven and improved.. At least two of these appear to have originated in or around the city of Fatsaan (Foshan in the Mandarin dialect). one to his own sons (whom he hoped would inherit and pass on his skills). their skill levels compared. but physically powerful student Chan. Like a piece of music or a painting. or so it seems. We are confident that we have something of value to share with you. that Leung Jan in fact seems to have taught two interpretations of the same art. He prefered to refer to Wing Chun as a martial skill. Sifu Wong Shun Leung. rather than a martial art. the "Wong Way"!!!
By David Peterson & Enzo Verratti There are many people claiming to teach Wing Chun. the undefeated "King of Wing Chun". Jeet Kune Do. who was a far more gifted fighter
.. educated man) did in fact "simplify things" for his not so bright.
Wing Chun by Definition
Getting It Right .Wing Chun's effectiveness under real conditions. Leung Jan. In order to maintain the highest possible standards. the result of course being his own expression of combat. it is fair to assume that Leung (who was an intelligent. being as it is drawn from the training philosophy of my teacher. it's already too late! That is the essence of the Wong Shun Leung Way. and as many different "versions" of Wing Chun as there are teachers. the southern Chinese city where Grandmaster Yip Man of the Hong Kong-style first studied the system under his teacher.
filling the gaps in their knowledge with guesswork based on what they could recall seeing others do. Yip Man was to learn that his opponent was the son of his own teacher’s teacher. Prior to this time. and that quite a few of these individuals actually learnt a "second-hand" or even "third-hand" version of Wing Chun. According to the story told by Grandmaster Yip himself. Two events in recent Wing Chun history tend to lend substance to this belief. He of course went on to dispatch his opponent. It is also said that he didn't have much time for his slower. being a taller man. the ‘Jam Sau’ only partially deflected the blow which then struck Wong in the upper thigh. less sophisticated. To cut a long story short. in turn. tending to pass on skills according to the student’s size. but nevertheless very effective form of Wing Chun. Sifu Wong decided that both techniques were important (especially in view of the fact that the ‘Jam Sau’ is an integral part of the basic single-hand ‘Chi Sau’ exercise). dropped to one knee and lashed out with a punch which Sifu Wong attempted to deflect with the ‘Jam Sau’ movement contained within his form. being more influenced by his second teacher. and so continued to include both. This. Grandmaster Yip. on the other hand. Chan Wa Sun. while most. who had been a very small man and had not needed to make much use of the lower action ‘Gaan Sau’. What Chan learnt and made use of was a cruder. afterwhich he and Grandmaster Yip got into some heavy discussion about what had transpired. led to the fact that many people learnt by observing others training. ‘Jam Sau’ is also a much more subtle action than the ‘Gaan Sau’ movement and therefore less likely to be included in the arsenal of a man like Chan who tended to just blast his opponents out of his way. his opponent.than he was a thinking man. While fighting a rather stubborn opponent during one of Sifu Wong’s many celebrated "contests". Yip Man advised his students to include the technique known as ‘Gaan Sau’ in place of the ‘Jam Sau’ previously found in this section of the form. This. he suffered his first and possibly only defeat at the hands of an old man whom he had challenged while a student in Hong Kong during the early part of this century. of course. rather than at first-hand. concerns the fact that Sifu Wong’s "version" of the first form contains an extra movement in the third section. and therefore were more likely to hit lower. As a result of this discussion.
. Because the attack was so low. gave rise to the variations in technique (and the interpretation of these techniques) extant today among instructors of the same generation. and Yip Man in turn became Leung’s student during which time he was taught a much more refined and subtle approach to Wing Chun. would often make use of the lower action as many of his opponents had been smaller than himself. not to mention those of their younger Wing Chun brothers and sisters. had therefore altered his form accordingly. Leung Bik. and retold by many of his students over the years. if not all of his classmates (the instructors of today) dropped the "old" technique in favour of the "new" one. in a fit of desperation and at the point of exhaustion. the son of Leung Jan. The following story explains this fact. The second event. his second teacher. and actually taught few people the entire system in person. which is not so widely known. or even worse. reach and so on. something which tends to have influenced what he was to teach to his own students later on. One of these is the well known story of how Grandmaster Yip was easily defeated by Leung Bik. the ‘Gaan Sau’ technique was only seen in the ‘Biu Ji’ and ‘Muk Yan Jong’ ("wooden dummy") forms. It has often been suggested that Yip Man taught in a fairly un-systematic way. less intelligent or less diligent students. leading to an injury which nagged him for months. making it up out of their own imagination. Grandmaster Yip Man had explained to Sifu Wong that the ‘Jam Sau’ movement had been taught to him by Leung Bik. except to students of the late sifu Wong Shun Leung (and anyone who attended his seminars on the ‘Siu Nim Tau’ form over the years).
. Like the person who pulls the flower to pieces to discover its beauty. Let's pause here to define. Sifu Wong took the Wing Chun system to a whole new level and was never defeated in dozens of real life encounters with practitioners of a myriad of martial styles. ‘Luk Dim Boon Gwan’ and ‘Baat Jaam Do’). but that the more advanced forms differ by greater and greater amounts. The Wing Chun system is strongly influenced (one could say. two techniques to control? What is even more disturbing (and frustrating) is that many very intelligent people blindly continue to follow such instructors. Wong was therefore always close to his teacher. obsessed) with three main qualities. going straight to the point. could train with and observe his teacher thereby picking up many of the subtleties which his peers never did. depending on what his instructor learnt directly from his teacher. Chinese or otherwise. and understand that Wing Chun is a unique system of Chinese boxing. other students). Instead. or involving only one element of operation. We need to bear these factors in mind. So many Wing Chun practitioners invent endless sequences of defensive actions when what is clearly the obvious message of the system is that "attack is ALWAYS the best form of defence". takes five or six techniques to deal with a situation that should only have taken one. ‘Biu Ji’. they take what is basically a simple. in simple terms. some present day instructors defy all logic by ignoring them altogether! How often have we seen sequences of movements where the instructor demonstrating his or her defence against various forms of attack. Sifu Wong Shun Leung probably spent the longest time under his tutelage because it was Sifu Wong who in fact did most of the teaching in Yip Man’s school. becoming obsessed with needless analysis. ‘Cham Kiu’. with minimum waste of effort. and turn it into a complicated and less efficient one. or what he may have learnt indirectly from other sources (ie. often appearing like completely different systems! To make matters worse. Becoming known throughout Hong Kong as ‘Gong Sau Wong’. not complicated or elaborate. What a present day instructor teaches therefore has many factors influencing it. what is meant by these three above-mentioned qualities:
• • •
DIRECTNESS: extending or moving in a straight line. they completely miss the point. These are DIRECTNESS. practise and content of the six training forms (‘Siu Nim Tau’. ‘Muk Yan Jong’. straightforward method. All of the ideas and opinions expressed above would tend to be supported by the fact that the majority of Wing Chun teachers have a fairly similar looking ‘Siu Nim Tau’ form (though concepts and applications still tend to vary). from the physical application of the techniques to the structure. even when confronted by convincing arguments which clearly prove that what they are doing does not conform to this very logical approach.Of all Yip Man’s students. EFFICIENCY and SIMPLICITY. not crooked or oblique. Sifu Wong was also the one student of Yip Man who always put everything he had learnt to the test. could confer with his teacher and. EFFICIENCY: productive. ratio of useful work performed to energy expended. or by the shortest route. unlike any other fighting art. most importantly. some of these teachers have withheld certain techniques from their students. or have been unable (or unwilling) to teach certain techniques or concepts at a given time or to particular students. SIMPLICITY: easily understood or done. whereas most of the other senior students opened their own schools and went about doing things their own way. or at most. so he soon developed what can only be described as an intimate knowledge of the Wing Chun system. These three qualities are immediately evident in any genuine representation of the system. While one would assume that the majority of Wing Chun practitioners are aware of these three qualities. consisting of. or the "King of Talking with the Hands".
rather than in set combinations as practised in the training forms. to seek out ways of making what they do even more DIRECT. Take it from two people who have been down that very same road . provide the Wing Chun student with a system of combat which adapts naturally to any situation. noted that the more Lee explored the intricacies of combat. Lee departed Hong Kong as a very young man and found himself without an instructor and with an incomplete knowledge of the Wing Chun system. the real purpose for doing them is missed altogether. EFFICIENT and SIMPLE) it has far more likelihood of succeeding. surely it’s worth it. of structured movements and concepts which. Sifu Wong found that Lee was rediscovering many of Wing Chun’s most basic concepts in his efforts to develop ways of becoming more DIRECT. examples which exhibit the three qualities being discussed. EFFICIENT and SIMPLE. we’ve never looked back! In the long run. the examples offered on these pages are not to be taken as "The Way". "Be the master of Wing Chun. not it’s slave!" To put it even more plainly. could and would lead to a better standard of Wing Chun throughout the world. because if so used. In particular it is hoped that they clearly show how the "tools" within the forms can be applied as needed. not to mention the pride the instructor will feel when he starts being honest with himself and starts producing even better students. However. the concepts of Wing Chun are far more important than any particular technique/combination. We are in no way advocating anarchy in the classroom. often with disastrous results. The forms contain a combination of theory and technique. the sequence of the movements in the Wing Chun forms MUST NOT be taken literally.
. complicating things when the whole idea was to make everything more streamlined. he knew enough of the concepts of the system to realise that by applying those same three qualities to other ideas and methods. though obviously if the movement being utilised meets the aforementioned criteria (DIRECT. however. The sad fact is. but as illustrations of methods already available to the Wing Chun practitioner within the basic forms. that the majority of people do tend to freely accept much of what they are told by their instructors when in fact some healthy scepticism. to put aside pride and ego in preference to developing a higher standard of teaching. it’s a big step to take but you'll never regret taking it. As Sifu Wong Shun Leung so often repeated over the years. when seen in the right perspective. This is the attitude with which the late Bruce Lee approached his personal training. Having had our eyes well and truly opened up by our teacher. Sifu Wong.By recognising and understanding these three concepts. EFFICIENT and SIMPLE. leading to the development of his now well-known fighting concepts. without the need to rote learn an infinite number of combinations to deal with an equally infinite number of possibilities. the more his ideas and techniques began to resemble the Wing Chun he would have eventually learnt had he remained in Hong Kong! In their many all night discussion-come-training sessions on those occasions when Lee returned to Hong Kong to work. It is unfortunate that Lee’s own followers have in many ways missed the point of his philosophy. Present day instructors need to take a long hard look at themselves and what they teach. he could begin to fill the gaps in his knowledge. coupled with some positive discussion and experimentation. Sifu Wong Shun Leung. to be copied and applied verbatim. deciding if what you are learning or teaching is valid and/or deserving of the title WING CHUN!! should (if one has an open mind and a willingness to improve) be a relatively easy process.. after many years of far less efficient Wing Chun training (under an instructor with a poor understanding of the system). Interestingly.. Even if it means going back to the basics to re-learn and perfect their knowledge. and their students will respect them for it as well. With this in mind. now generally acknowledged by many to be the most influential teacher Bruce Lee ever had. simply that instructors should encourage their students to think rather than blindly follow. when all is said and done.
responding to the opponent’s movements and the changes that angling and positioning bring to the basic concepts of the first form. the "King of the Challenge Fight". Wing Chun starts with an alphabet (‘Siu Nim Tau’ form. Through ‘Chi Sau’ ("sticky hands") training. and to be prepared to change their approach if it fails to live up to the definition presented here. it’s time to ask yourself.Like learning a language. like the tertiary stage in one’s education. It is our intention to make Wing Chun practitioners everywhere question the validity of what they have been taught. His personal motto was ". It is also deliberately aimed at the average martial arts enthusiast. to see that we pass on the best system possible. This is the purpose of the ‘Cham Kiu’ form which provides the keys for "finding & maintaining the bridge" with the opponent. the Wing Chun student learns to utilise this knowledge and to improve his or her skills and understanding in a freeflowing exercise that develops the "language" and is forever emphasising the need for. to "engage in conversation" in a natural way. EFFICIENCY and SIMPLICITY.. to step outside one’s own universe and consider potential weaknesses or problems and to apply the logic of the three qualities mentioned so as to overcome adverse situations whilst sustaining the least amount of damage to oneself. someone bothered to question the combat theories that they encountered and sought a method that offered more than those at their disposal. To better myself with each day of training". spent much of his life attempting to raise the curtain of ignorance surrounding the martial arts. Wing Chun owes its very existence to the fact that somewhere back in time. The ‘Biu Ji’ form "points the finger" to the fact that rules sometimes need to be broken. improve and teach the Wing Chun system minus the "bull****" that keeps on raising its ugly head time and time again. and advantages of DIRECTNESS. Sifu Wong Shun Leung. to ensure that only the very best that this system has to offer survives into the 21st century. . As a final point. comment or inquiry into what it actually is that some instructors/schools are teaching. So then. the "young idea" from which everything grows) and proceeds to teach the student to make words and sentences. how does your Wing Chun measure up?
. to help them sort out the WING CHUN!! from the WING CHUN?? To this end we can only hope that we have succeeded in invoking a response which will lead to an even brighter future for this most dynamic form of Chinese boxing. that no one and no method is infallible.. and to those contemplating becoming involved in the martial arts.. to test the effectiveness and practicality of their "brand" of Wing Chun. ‘Biu Ji’ form highlights the need for looking beyond one’s own ideas. Finally. and to test. the next generation of Wing Chun practitioners. please keep in mind that this article has been written with the deliberate intention of provoking some thought. Now it’s up to us..