For Me, Wing Chun has it all…..


The title also of this article say its all, for me, Wing Chun has it all. The martial arts are a purely personal thing for me, there is no such thing as an ‘ineffective’ martial art, Only ineffective practitioners…… The effectiveness of the art depends on two main things,  Preference or Suitability of the Practitioner and their Objectives for doing that martial art. I don’t want to harp on about the ins and out of this but merely want to say why I think Wing Chun has it all……

These days the trend is to fuse martial arts together and produce an entirely new martial there are many reasons for this but again preference, suitability and objective will play a big part, another reason which can be tied in to this is understanding. What is meant by that is that technique in mixed systems are not as fully explored as their traditional roots, traditional fighting arts, will practice and drill the techniques, look at the principles behind them etc. Coming up with Hybrid or mixed arts is not the same as cross training in another art, cross training helps the practitioner get a understanding of the other art and helps him to find answers in his own art posed by that of the cross trained art e.g if you want to know how my Wing Chun will deal with a Thai boxer, rather than sumise, I will go and train with a Thai Boxer. This is not the same as incorporating that art within yours, then it becomes Hybrid or Mixed Martial Art.

By cross training you get a good understanding of other arts and this allows you to look deeper into your own art and develop your own rather than dilute it. A good example of the above would student A (who will remain nameless) would turn up every week and train in Wing Chun and every new technique he would say ‘I wouldn’t do that, I’d do this’ and then demonstrate something different from a different and totally dismissing the original technique. How can you make an informed opinion on any technique when you haven’t a) Made an attempt to understand the technique or b) Drilled the said techniques or applied to different situations? What is worse is that have people incorporating them into arts this way.

I do prefer to cross train, from this I have not found an art to which Wing Chun does not have the answer to, no matter what, I have found Wing Chun

I will end with a disclaimer: This article is my viewpoint and MY viewpoint only, I only merely post this for you to READ, I seek not to rubbish any other arts or any other people…… If you wish to comment please bear in mind this is my viewpoint only and I DO NOT wish to enforce this on anyone at all….

Ng Chung So: Looking Beyond the “Three Heroes of Wing Chun”


Note: this article originally appeared as a guest post at “Wing Chun Geeks.” and later on “Kung Fu Tea“.

The origins of Wing Chun are shrouded in mystery.  We seem to like it that way.  It is the reason that people are drawn to them.  Who can resist the urge to throw back the curtains and reveal a hidden past?  The impulse to plumb the depths of history is all the greater when our current discourse privileges questions of “authenticity,” “lineage” and “tradition.”  For many modern practitioners Wing Chun is an extraordinary treasure, so it just makes sense to assume that it must have emerged from an equally extraordinary set of circumstances.  We try hard to attach it to mythic temples, poorly understood rebel movements and operatic culture heroes.

ng chung so

Paradoxically this same enthusiasm does not extend to the more recent periods of history.  In the late 19th century Wing Chun was an obscure local style practiced by a handful of individuals.  By the 1930s it had become a more popular regional style taught in a variety of settings, including public schools and private clubs, by a number of individuals along the Pearl River Delta.

Who were these teachers and how did Wing Chun really emerge as a public art?  What was the martial arts marketplace of Foshan actually like in the 1920s and 1930s and what role did Wing Chun play in this unique local subculture?  How can researching the modern history of the Chinese martial arts help us to better understand the development of “civil society” in southern China during the early 20th century?  In my humble opinion, these are actually the much more interesting historical questions.

While one loses the opportunity to discuss the various creation myths, and the supporting theories that have grown up around them, we gain access to some actual historical sources.  This information allows us to paint an accurate picture of the milieu that modern Wing Chun arose from.  That in turn may reveal something about the fundamental nature of the art that so many of us practice today.

It is also critical to remember that what Ip Man was doing in Hong Kong in the 1950s was in large part a response to the perceived successes and failures of what he had seen in Foshan during the 1920s and 1930s.  If you wish to understand contemporary Wing Chun the most important thing to study is not its ultimate origins, but rather the modern historical environment that these approaches emerged out of and reacted against.

When thinking of Wing Chun during the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s, one name stands out from the rest.  Ng Chung So was probably the single most influential public figure in Wing Chun from the time of Chan Wah Shun’s retirement until the advent of Ip Man’s public teaching career in Hong Kong.  For much of the 1910s and 1920s Ng Chung So was the only figure actively teaching in Foshan.

Shrine to Guanyin at the Foshan Ancestral Temple.  Source: Wikimedia.

More than that, he was very much the public face of the art.  Ng Chung So trained an entire generation of Sifus who would go on to advance the art in the 1930s.  He provided a central location where Ip Man, Yuen Kay San and Yiu Choi (later styled the “Three Heroes of Wing Chun” by local newspaper writers) could meet, relax and practice with other students whom Ng had trained.

The social disruption that befell Guangdong’s martial arts community with the Japanese invasion in 1938, the Communist take-over in 1949 and the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s left Ng without a large lineage of direct students.  Most Wing Chun practitioners today look back to either Ip Man or Yuen Kay San as the founders of their school.  As a result, Ng Chung So is rarely remembered in historical discussions.  When he does come up he is often relegated to the status of a supporting character of no particular interest.  Not only is this inaccurate, it diminishes the history of the style in some fundamental ways.

In subsequent posts I hope to shed light on some of the other neglected Wing Chun figures of the 1920s and 1930s.  Yet before that we must set the stage by discussing the life and career of Ng Chung So.  We will also need to know a little bit about where he (and the early Wing Chun students) fit into Foshan’s larger marketplace for hand combat instruction.

 

Foshan’s Martial Arts during the 1920s

Foshan had been one of the richest and most commercially successful towns in all of China early in the 19th century.  It was blessed by a confluence of geographic factors.  It was situated on multiple branches of the Pearl River making it a natural point for manufacturing and shipping.  The town had vibrant markets in a number of products and produced most of the handicraft goods consumed by the larger city of Guangzhou.  Close proximity to iron deposits also made Foshan a center for metal work.  In fact, it held the imperial iron monopoly, ensuring that merchants from across the region would have to travel to Foshan multiple times a year to buy its products.  The local economy also benefited from a number of other industries including sericulture, pottery and papermaking.

Unfortunately things changed later in the 19th and early 20th century.  Multiple local waterways silted up making the region less convenient for trade.  The opening of new port cities along the eastern coast of China resulted in Guangzhou losing its monopoly on foreign trade.  This depressed economic growth in the provincial capital and hurt employment across the region.

Increased trade with Hong Kong helped to sustain the region, but by the 1920s Foshan was a sleepier place.  The economy was still dominated by handicrafts and what we might now call “light industrial manufacturing.”  In the countryside complex systems of agricultural landownership contributed to the growth of a wealthy class of landlords.  As a result, Foshan’s contained both prosperous “new gentry” families, who tended to be merchants, as well as a variety of semi-skilled workers who lived substantially different lives.

This emerging pattern of class stratification was replicated in the martial arts of the region.  The most popular martial art practiced in Foshan was Choy Li Fut.  The Hung Sing Association was one of the oldest and best established Choy Li Fut schools in the region.  Its many branches and Lion Dance associations boasted thousands of members.  Most of the students of this style came from the large class of semi-skilled workers that drove the local economy.  The Hung Sing Association was big enough that it even became an important force in local politics, until it was suppressed in the anti-leftist campaigns of the Nationalist Party in 1927.

The next largest institutionalized player in the local martial arts landscape was the Foshan branch of the Jingwu (Pure Martial) Association.  While the arts it taught were transplanted from northern China, the Jingwu Association really took root and bore fruit in the south.  This organization fell apart in most areas of the country after a series of bad investments in the 1920s, yet it continued to thrive and grow in Foshan and Guangzhou throughout the 1930s.

Unlike the Hung Sing Association, Jingwu concentrated on recruiting educated, middle class individuals who had a modern outlook on life.  It presented a modernized and sanitized vision of the traditional arts where old superstitions were done away with and the latest scientific training methods were adopted to promote the strength and salvation of the nation.  The Jingwu Association was very well connected to the local merchants and the commercial sector, but it tried to stay out of national politics.

These were the two big players that dominated the local landscape in Foshan during the 1920s.  Where they had thousands of students, other styles and associations claimed hundreds, or perhaps only dozens, of followers.  Smaller local players tended to include the more “traditional” southern arts such as White Crane, Hung Gar, the family styles and of course Wing Chun.

This is a critical point.  When thinking about the entire marketplace of martial arts in Foshan during the 1920s, we must remember that Wing Chun was just a minor style among many other (usually much larger) associations.  The challenge facing Ng Chung So, Chan Yiu Min and other early practitioners of the art was to carve out a social space in which Wing Chun could thrive. To do so they had to both demonstrate the art, but also make alliances with economically and politically connected actors in the local environment.
The Legacy of Chan Wah Shun

Chan Wah Shun, a student of Leung Jan, was the first individual to attempt to open a public school.  His experiment was only a partial success.  He had the misfortune to find himself teaching at the turn of the century and in the years directly following the upheaval caused by the Boxer Uprising.  These were dark times for the traditional Chinese martial arts, which were explicitly blamed and held accountable for the disastrous events of 1900-1901.  The truth is that the traditional hand combat systems came closer to extinction in these years than at any other time during the modern era.

Needless to say, the audience for Chan Wah Shun’s art was not as large as it might have been had he opened his school a generation earlier or even as late as the 1920s, when boxing started to regain its popularity.  His high tuition rates probably did not help matters.

Still, it is important to note that in the late 19th century most people who studied the martial arts did so because they hoped to find employment as a soldier, night watchman or some type of guard.  People from rural regions tended to study boxing either as a means of personal advancement, or because they were involved in a local militia or crop watching society.  The idea that the martial arts could be a part-time hobby for middle class individuals was just barely starting to take root in the early years of the 20th century.

While Chan Wah Shun’s tuition seems outrageous from a modern perspective, it was really more comparable to paying for an associates degree or some sort of accreditation program that would help you to get a job in the future.  Between the general funk that all of the martial arts were experiencing at the turn of the century, and the high cost of instruction, it is not surprising that Chan Wah Shun is said to have only had about 16 students.  While he succeeded in making the art “public” (to those who could afford it) Wing Chun had yet to gain the backing of an independent and thriving body of students.

Chan Wah Shun did more for Wing Chun than to simply train a small core of apprentices.  He went out into the community and interacted with other martial artists.  Over the years he gained a reputation as a talented fighter and a competent master.  He personally earned respect for the Wing Chun system in the local area.  The reputation that he built turned out to be important because it helped to advance the careers of a number of his students.  Other Wing Chun players from his generation, such as Leung Bik, tended to be more circumspect and were not as eager to put themselves out in the marketplace as public figures.  In commercial terms this probably granted a certain advantage to Chan Wah Shun’s students.

Chan Wah Shun’s most successful student, and the one that assumed this public role, was Ng Chung So.  Chan Yiu Min, the son of Chan Wah Shun, inherited his father’s medical knowledge and went on to open at least two martial arts schools of his own.  He is an important figure in his own right, but an exploration of his career will have to wait for another post.  Ng Chung So was really the first of Chan’s students to emerge as a successful public teacher.  He became the public face of Wing Chun in Foshan in the nineteen-teens and twenties.

Ironically much of Ng Chung So’s basic biographical data is poorly understood.  The Ip family generally states that he was born sometime in the 1860s and died in the 1930s.  An alternate tradition preserved by Yiu Choi’s descendants claim that he was not quite that old.  They guess that he was born in the 1880s and may have lived up through the 1950s.  If Ng Chung So did die during the 1950s then it should be possible to sort this out with the help of local documents and other primary source materials.  I am not aware of anyone having tackled this question yet.

Fortunately we do have some good details about other aspects of his early life.  Ng Chung So was born into a fairly well off family that was connected to Foshan’s handicraft industries.  His father was the owner of a prosperous ceramics shop.  Rich deposits of local clay made Foshan a natural center for the ceramics industry.  In fact, pottery is still produced in some quantity in the region today.  As a young adult Ng Chung Sok would start his career in the same industry.

His father was on friendly terms with Chan Wah Shun (who at the time was likely practicing traditional medicine).  When Chan Wah Shun started to teach, he immediately enrolled his two sons Ng Siu Lo (the older brother, and Chan’s first disciple) and Ng Chung So (the second son, and Chan’s second disciple).  Multiple sources indicate that in the earliest phase of his career Chan actually taught the boys in their own home.

This practice was not all that uncommon.  Occasionally wealthy individuals might hire boxing instructors for their sons either as a source of exercise if they seemed sickly, as a form of diversion, or to prepare them to take the military service exam as an adult.  Home-schooling such students was a common practice for a number of reasons.  There were not all that many suitable commercial or public spaces in southern China, especially if one lived in an urban area.  Occasionally temples were rented by martial artists, but for wealthier individuals it was more common to either support an instructor as part of their household, or to at least have the instruction carried out within their own walls.wing chun in foshan

According to the Ip family tradition, Chan Wah Shun was unable to publically teach while Leung Jan was still active in the area.  The older master had no desire to teach and so his student was constrained by social convention not to.  Leung Jan may have retired around 1895.  All martial arts instruction in the region was disrupted by the Boxer Uprising (1900), and was specifically prohibited by the local government for a few years after that.  Local officials in Guangzhou feared that copy-cat attacks on British merchants and tourists would be used as a pretext for the British Navy in Hong Kong to seize the entire Pear River system, so they enforced this ban quite rigorously.

It seems reasonable to guess that Ng Chung So received his initial period of instruction between 1895 and 1900.  Of course these dates are just approximations, and are very dependent on which family history you accept.  They should be approached with some caution.

By about 1905 a sense of normalcy was restored and multiple martial arts institutions (including the Hung Sing Association) reopened their doors in and around Foshan.  It was at this point that Chan Wah Shun approached Ip Oi Dor about renting the Ip clan temple for use as a school space.  This was where Ip Man would first become aware of Wing Chun and would later become a student of Chan Wah Shun himself.

It seems that both of the Ng brothers resumed training with Chan Wah Shun after he reestablished his school in its new location.  Nevertheless, it would appear that it was the second son who was either the more dedicated or successful student.  As his teacher’s health began to deteriorate towards the end of the Foshan phase of his career, Ng Chung So handled more of the class instruction.  He was responsible for teaching the younger disciples, including Ip Man, much of the system.  When he finally retired (apparently after having had a stroke) Chan Wah Shun entrusted the continuing education and care of his youngest disciples to Ng Chung So.  At that moment the informal leadership of the public aspect of Wing Chun in Foshan passed into his hands.

 

Ng Chung So: The Forgotten Face of Wing Chun

It is commonly asserted that Ng Chung So was the only individual (or possibly one of a very small number) to teach Wing Chun in Foshan for some years after the death of Chan Wah Shun.  It appears that Ip Man continued to study with him until 1908 when he left to attend high school in Hong Kong.  Ip Chun reports that upon his return Ip Man discovered that Ng Chung So was one of the few disciples of Chan who was still active and the only one who was publically teaching.

We do not know very much about this early period of instruction.  Ng Chung So apparently followed the family business and had a ceramics store of his own as a young man.  Perhaps that gave him the monetary and spatial resources he needed to finance his interest in Wing Chun and continue to teach the art?

We have more information about the later phase of his teaching career in the 1930s.  Unfortunately it can be difficult to parse fact from rumor when discussing these years.  Leung Ting claims that from about the mid-1930s onward Ng Chung So taught out of the backroom of an opium and gambling den located on Shi Lu Tau Street (“Entrance to the Rocky Road”) in Foshan.

This establishment may either have been a joint venture between Ng Chung So and Yiu Choi (his student), or it might have actually been owned by the latter’s elder brother, Yiu Lam (also known as “Bird-fancier Lam”).  Again, one must be careful with accounts like this.  The liberal use of opium fits into many romantic reconstructions of life in China during the 1920s and 1930s.

Of course by the middle to late 1930s morphine and heroine were causing much more serious drug problems.  Leung Ting dismisses the social relevance of the rumor that he himself passes on by noting that in the 1930s opium use was legal, and so this was not a big deal.

Of course the situation, if true, would be much more complicated than that.  Opium was legal in some respects, but only if it came from certain sources and its distribution, use and the treatment of addicts were all nominally controlled by the state.  The Nationalist Party leadership made deals with certain gangs granting them the right to distribute certain quantities of narcotics in return for set fees.  Of course it was not uncommon for various criminal organizations and the state to violently clash over these agreements.  The questions of legality notwithstanding, there were strong social prohibitions against the use of opium.  Anti-opium leagues were vocal in the south, and the Nationalist army in Guangzhou had even executed a number of soldiers for opium use.

The social significance of drug use, or an association with the drug trade, was very much dependent on what sort of patronage networks you happened to be part of.  At the very minimum, if Ng Chung So was operating out of a known opium den in the 1930s it might indicate that he was connected to important local political factions who benefited from this trade.  In fact, the Wing Chun community of the 1930s and 1940s had a number of connections with local Nationalist Party (GMD) officials, but that is a topic for another post.

Despite his surroundings, or perhaps because of them, Ng Chung So was successful in attracting a number of students.  Following the pattern established by Chan Wah Shun tuition was high and most of his followers came from well-off merchant families. Among his best known students we find He Zhao Chu (the son of a wealthy bakery owner), Li Shou Peng (a prominent local doctor), Zhang Sheng Ruo (son of a wealthy wing chun historyhardware store owner), Li Ci Hao, Luo Huo Fu (owner of a successful restaurant) and Liang Fu Chu (treasurer of the Ping Xin Restaurant).  Additionally, the so called “Three Heroes of Wing Chun,” Yuen Kay San, Yiu Choi and Ip Man, all either associated with, or studied at, Ng Chung So’s school.

It is now possible to say something about the socio-economic profile of Wing Chun and its place in Foshan’s martial arts community.  Ng Chung So was in direct competition with the Jingwoo Association for young, modern, educated students.  However, where Jingwu promised modernized, scientifically reformed, boxing subordinated to the goal of “national salvation,” Wing Chun remained a firmly traditional and local style.  It existed alongside local power structures and its goals were parochial rather than national in scope.  In fact, this tension between localism and nationalism, or regional versus national control, was one of the defining social cleavages of the entire Republic of China era.  Foshan’s martial arts history is interesting precisely because it throws these larger struggles into such sharp relief.

Like Ip Man, Ng Chung So also suffered financial setbacks in the 1930.  Local lore related by multiple sources indicates that Ng was not an effective money manager.  Reportedly he squandered his fortune feasting and drinking with his friends and Kung Fu brothers.

Again, it is hard to know exactly what to make of these accounts.   Chinese folklore is full of stories of wandering swordsmen who disregard wealth but value loyalty and hospitality above any other virtue.  This creates a two-fold problem.  Actual martial artists apparently felt some pressure to live up to the norms of the “Rivers and Lakes.”  In some cases this may have contributed to their eventual impoverishment.

Still, almost all of these accounts come from the students and friends of a given master after they have passed on.  The stories that these students tell are always so similar in their basic structure that one suspects that these norms may have also been affecting how a teacher was remembered, quite apart from his actual personality.  In short, the image of the spendthrift swordsman is a common stereotype in martial arts hagiography.

Of course there are also a number of other reasons that a formerly wealthy individual might lose a lot of money during the 1930s.  The great depression affected China as well as the rest of the world, and many previously promising investments failed.  The local economy was stagnant during much of this period, and the government instituted a variety of extraordinary tax programs to pay for it its military expenditures.  At least some of these taxes more or less took the form of wealth confiscation.   In this sort of economic environment, hunkering down and consuming your capital rather than investing it is not an irrational strategy.  We should at least remember these background factors when considering Ng Chung So’s financial difficulties.

Money problems aside, Ng’s efforts to promote and strengthen Wing Chun were a success.  During the 1920s and 1930s he personally trained many of the Wing Chun Sifu’s that would go on to prominence in the local community.  These same students were also able to provide some level of financial support to their teacher as his economic situation deteriorated.  Ng retired from public instruction sometime in the 1940s (possibly during the Second World War) and moved in with Yiu Choi who continued to support him as a “private tutor.”

 

Conclusion: Ng Chung So’s Place in the Wing Chun Community

As the popularity of Wing Chun has exploded, both after Bruce Lee’s death and the latest spate of Ip Man movies, there have been numerous attempts to paint one individual or another as the “leader” of Foshan’s Wing Chun clan, and the true “inheritor” of the system.  Many of these arguments are transparently political, placing one lineage against another, and more recently, martial artists on the mainland against those in Hong Kong.  Unfortunately most of these accounts promote a partial or unrealistic vision of the martial arts in Foshan.  That is a problem, because Foshan actually has much to teach us about how the Southern Chinese martial arts developed and interacted with the broader social community.

In actual practice, Wing Chun does not appear to have had specific “inheritors” and “leaders.” Yet if it did, the “leader” of the Wing Chun clan during these years would have been Ng Chung So.  While Ip Man, Yuen Kay San and Yiu Choi are remembered as the “Three Heroes of Wing Chun” for their remarkable fighting prowess, it was actually Ng Chung So who built the schools, trained the students and kept the public face of the art alive.

This is critical because at the end of the day the martial arts are a voluntary social systems. They require regular investments of both human and social capital if they are to thrive.  Ng Chung So appears to have understood this, and so he continued the work that Chan Wah Shun had started.

Unfortunately the social structures that underpinned the entire martial arts community of Foshan were badly damaged by the events of 1949 and later the Cultural Revolution.  Ng Chung So’s students seem to have been hard hit.  By in large, they did not return to the art.  His memory does not enjoy the active support and promotion of any major lineage today.

Further, each lineage has a very understandable tendency to rewriting history in its own image.  As a result the real contributions of Ng Chung So to the Wing Chun community are largely forgotten.  He is rarely mentioned in current discussions and when he comes up he tends to be cast as a strictly supporting or subordinate figure.  Yet that is not how he was perceived at the time.  Coming to terms with Ng Chung So’s contributions and legacy is a necessary first step in exploring other forgotten aspects of the Wing Chun community during the 1920s-1940s.

How to have a successful Martial Arts School?


Simple recipe to having a successful martial arts school

  1. There is NO competition. Your journey to your success is yours and yours alone, in your own pace. Let everyone have their own journey in their own pace.
  2. Make your own reputation through your skills and knowledge. Give credit to where credit is due, but not “name-drop” every chance you get to show people you know famous people.
  3. Avoid talking about mysticism, secret forms or techniques that is only given to a selected few. If you want to keep your style or system a secret then don’t teach it.
  4. Be open minded, not judgemental about arts we don’t know or don’t train in.
  5. Promote those martial artist or martial arts systems that are good. Not because you want them to promote you back but because it shows that you appreciate quality and their dedication to their training.
  6. If your way of promoting yourself is to talk bad about other martial artist, system or style, then STOP it.
  7. Focus on your training and people will be attracted to knowledge and skill.
  8. Don’t be known for your bad mouth or bad attitude.
  9. Train hard. quality attracts quality.
  10. Don’t try to impress beginners or weekend instructors.
  11. Train because you want to be a complete martial artist that knows what he is doing, not a jack of all trades but a master of none.
  12. Be positive.

Taken from a Facebook Status by Guru Maul Mornie of Silat Suffian Bella Diri

How to progess in Wing Chun?


How many times have returned from class dejected and down and thinking ‘I am not progressing in wing chun’. You have been practicing, you have thought about the forms, practiced on the dummy but you feel you are just not making any progress.

There are a few fundamental things you need to ask, Is it your Instructor?, Is it your fellow Students?, you don’t like the club setup you are training in? Whilst you may ask those questions and they may have a bearing on them, your progression in Wing Chun is down to one thing and one thing alone. YOU

There is a simple Formula for progression in any Martial Art let alone Wing Chun and that is:

Attend          – Turn up for Class

Attention     – Listen and Pay Attention..

Activity        – Train the techniques, principles and drills

Ask               – Ask Questions if needed.

Achieve

So basically Turn up, Train and Listen and if you need, ask questions. Each one of these elements are down to you and you alone. The most important element is to turn up! If you don’t turn up the rest of the process cannot take place, if there is a breakdown in any of this practice the learning process will not take place and you will not progress.

The Learning Process and the Stages of Learning

A famous Author of the self-improvement classic ‘The New Psycho-Cybernetics – The Original Science of Self-Improvement’,  Maxwell Maltz, said there is an explanation of what he calls the four stages of learning.

Unconscious Incompetence
Conscious Incompetence
Conscious Competence
Unconscious Competence

As you look at these stages you can see the mental progression the student goes through. One progresses from struggling to execute or understand a technique right through being able to execute and understand without giving it much thought. The last level of “Unconscious Competence” could be described as a “conditioned reflex” to incoming threats and your counter just happens without you giving much thought.

In order to build this reflex it takes time, patience and effort and this is where the saying ‘Hard Work Beats Talent’ comes into play.

Progression

In Wing Chun there is a definite systematic approach to progression, Firstly the ‘Seeds’ of the art are sewn in Siu Lim Tao 小念头 (Meaning: Little Idea) built on in Chum Kiu 寻桥(Meaning: Seeking Bridge) and then finally polished and sharpened in Biu Gee 镖指 (Meaning: Darting Fingers). Each form adding different elements to your WIng Chun and each pushing your further to a goal.

After progression from the first three Empty Hand forms we then have three forms involving apparatus and\or weapons and they are Muk Yan Jong 木人桩 (Meaning: Wooden Man Dummy), Luk Deem Boon Kwan 六点半棍 (Meaning: Six and Half point Pole) and Baat Cham Dao 八斬刀 (Meaning: 8 Slashing Knives).

The Wooden Dummy Form can be introduced earlier but only if a solid foundation and understanding of Siu Lim Tao and Chun Kiu is gained.

Conclusion

We must not rush this process and to expect progression outside of it would be unrealistic and make your wing chun ‘Incomplete’. The one huge conclusion we must draw is that ultimately your progression through the Wing Chun is down to you and if you don’t attend class there is no point. you can only gain so much learning online but ultimately you need a live partner for full progression. If your training is not allowing progression then change it, whatever element you think is lacking, change it! But it is only YOU that can change it.

 

Sifu – 師父


Definition: Sifu – 師父

The word has a long history and comes from Cantonese (Sifu 師父 ). Basically the two symbols have a dual meaning of “master” and “father”. Therefore Shifu is always a person of trust and for the student a part of the family. The second meanings of the traditional symbols are “skilled person” and “tutor”. Addressing someone as Shifu shows the same respect like a child shows respect to his father.

Academics, highly skillful or educated people are never addressed as Sifu, for them the term “Lao si” 老師 (teacher or professor) would be more fitting. Addressing them as Sifu can be considered as disrespectful.

The Role of a Master and Father

Westerners often mistake this role and balance out their own life with commanding students around. The Sifu is not an army commander or someone who can boss around. Many people are weak to the feeling of having power over other people. The Sifu must never lose his paternal role and never put his own ego between the students.

The Sifu is not only educating his students but keeps in mind their individual development. The methods of a Sifu can be very different but most believe that a student must learn himself to become proficient in learning. There are times when a Sifu will be harder and more strict on a student, like throwing a bird out of its nest to learn flying. Handling the border between a caring father and a strict tutor is very important.

The role of a Sifu is definitely not to show off his developed skills. Instead the Sifu feels always responsible for his students and ensures their safety and growing. Traditionally a Sifu has always an open ear for personal problems or questions for the student.

For the role as a master it is important for the Sifu to strengthen his lineage and ensure his teachings for future generations.

What a Sifu has to teach.

Primarily a Sifu does not teach smart moves or clever things. Sifu is always teaching from real life experience. Only this is considered as true wisdom and worth respecting. Like a father teaching his child all kind of things that he managed to overcome in his own life.

Sometimes setting the right path behind the scenes to make students encounter this teachings is also considered as teaching. Therefore a Shifu does not have to appeal as tutor. He might not even talk much to students at all.

Learning with a Sifu

The students should always take to heart what a Sifu tells them to do. You might not realize it but every Sifu who takes his role seriously will closely observe you and your progress.

Never go into a direct discussion with a Sifu during his teachings, this is considered as very disrespectful. If you truly doubt the teachings you may ask him alone and directly in person when the training ended. But you should be careful with this and may think a bit longer, there is a possibility that the meaning is for you to discover.

London Chinese New Year 2017


This year CNY Celebration in London will take place on 29th January 2017. This year Warrior Wing Chun will be representing Master Samuel Kwok and the SKWCMAA along with Urban Wing Chun, Milton Keynes.

A full program of where and when can be viewed in the link below:

Chinese New Year Program

 

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Please come along and say hello, so I would like to say Kung Hei Fat Choy 恭喜發財 for all!

May all you and your family have good health 身體健康, good wealth 財源廣進,

and all your wishes come true 心想事成 for coming New Year!

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RIP Sifu Joseph Man


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Joseph Man was born on the April 2, 1953. He spent his early years in his ancestral home, a village called San-tin in the New-Territory of Hong Kong. He lived with his mother, father, aunts, uncles and grand-parents who were skilled in the art of Chinese music, opera and costume making.

Joseph parents immigrated to England, but in 1960 he joined his elder sister Angela Man in Hong Kong and started stage performing art training under a Chinese Opera teacher called Ms Wong Chin-Ai. He began performing travelling opera stage performances at the age of 9 years old and two years later, in 1964, he and his sister arrived in London, England to be reunited with their family.

In 1965, at the age of 12, Joseph continued his Chinese language and culture arts studies and his brother, Ray Man (The Chairman of Chinese Traditional Music Association), introduced him to Master Sing-Lee, a Wing Chun style martial arts teacher at the London Chinese Association at Soho. From there Joseph Man’s Wing Chun martial art journey begin. Joseph Man began teaching Wing Chun in 1978.

Sifu Joseph Man passed away on November 30, 2016, his burial was 16th December 2016.

Sadly Missed by all that knew him.

Researching the Roots of Wing Chun by Danny Connor


Note: This is an interesting passage found In Wing Chun by Ip Chun and Danny Connor. This particular passage was written by the late Danny Connor. I am sure you will find it an interesting Read.

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Researching the history of Chinese Kung Fu is very difficult. This is due to a general lack of written records. For every Kung Fu clan, clan history was passed down orally from teacher to disciple. History was thus passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. This process involved some who were poorly educated, or had poor memories. There were also those who were not interested in history, and were half-hearted in passing it down. Much was lost here. Some people borrowed from heroic characters in popular Chinese novels. They invented and exaggerated, and gave an air of myth and mystery to their founding fathers. After several generations, the facts of history will be lost to hearsay and legend. Look at Southern Kung Fu clans. They padded their founders with fable, so all the founders either came from SIU LAM monastery (= SHAO LIN monastery) or Mo Dong. They were all Buddhist monks or nuns, or Taoist priests. So, suddenly, the glamour and hype of martial arts history was forced upon these peaceful places and nice people. It became a joke.

There are legends about Wing Chun Kung Fu clan, retracing the period from Grandmaster Leung Jan. These are legends because there are no comprehensive written records. The general story goes like this: Wing Chun was founded by Yim Wing Chun. She studied under Ng Mui of SIU LAM. This means that Wing Chun originated in Siu Lam monastery. Yim Wing Chun married Leung Bok Chau, and she followed him back to his home town in Siu Hing, Canton. Wing Chun Kung Fu was passed down to Leung Jan through Leung Bok Chau.

There are two different stories here. One says that Leung Bok Chau taught the techniques to Leung Lan Kwai, Wong Wah Bo, Leung Yee Tei and others. Wong Wah Bo and Leung Yee Tei then passed them on to Leung Jan. The other story says that Leung Jan and the others studied together under Leung Bok Chau. These stories about the origin of Wing Chun are consistent with an article by the late Grandmaster Yip Man on the origin of Wing Chun and also with a 1972 article I wrote for the ‘Hong Kong Contemporary Martial Arts Circle’. They are also broadly in line with the general story on the origin of Wing Chun.

wing-chun_thumbIn 1982, I was in Fatshan, and paid a visit to Pang Nam (Blackface Nam). He can be said to be a very senior member in the Fatshan Wing Chun Kung Fu clan. Pang Nam was a senior in years, rather than in the hierarchy. He was already eighty. Our discussion turned to the origin of Wing Chun , and Pang said, ‘Wing Chun was brought to Fatshan from the north by a person called Tan-Sau Ng (Palm-up Arm Ng – a nickname). Yim Wing Chun is only a storybook character.’ He sounded very sure. Later, I unexpectedly found some information about Tan-Sau Ng, recorded in old literature on the history of Chinese opera. This information is closely connected to the origin of Wing Chun.

There was a book by one Mak Siu Har – A study on the history of Cantonese Operas (now kept in the Hong Kong City Hall Library). In it there was one paragraph, roughly as follows: Before the reign of Yung Cheng (Manchu emperor, 1723-1736), the development of Cantonese opera was very limited. This was due to defective organization and unclear division of labor. In the years of Yung Cheng, Cheung Ng of Wu Pak, also known as Tan-Sau Ng, brought his skills to Fatshan and organized the Hung Fa Wui Koon ( now the Chinese Artist Association). From there, Cantonese opera made great progress.

The book also records: Besides being very accomplished in Chinese opera, Cheung Ng was especially proficient in the martial arts world.

Another piece of information appears on page 631, Volume three of the book A history of Chinese Opera, by Mang Yiu, first published by Chuen KayLiterature Publishers in 1968
For some reason, Cheung Ng could not stay on in the capital, so he fled and took refuge in Fatshan. This was during the reign of Yung Cheng. This man, nicknamed Tan-Sau Ng, was a character ‘unsurpassed in literary and military skills, and excellent in music and drama’. He was especially proficient in the techniques of Siu Lim. After settling down in Fatshan, he passed on his knowledge in traditional opera and martial arts to the Hung Suen (Red Boat) followers, and established the Hung Fa Wui Koon in Fatshan. Today, Cantonese opera groups revere him as Jo-Si (Founding Master), and refer to him as Master Cheung.

From the two passages above we learned: Cheung Ng, also known as Tan-Sau Ng, not only excelled in martial arts, but actually taught the techniques himself. He was called ‘Tan-Sau Ng’ because of his ‘tan sau……..peerless throughout the martial arts world’.

psComparing the legend of Yim Wing Chun with the information on Tan-Sau Ng, I consider the latter more acceptable in our examination of Wing Chun’s origins. The reasons are as follows: 1) Cheung Ng brought his skills in Fatshan during the reign of Yung Cheng. This was forty to fifty years before the great fire of Siu Lam during the reign of Kin Lung (1736-1795). It was almost a hundred years before the legend of Yim Wing Chun, which fell within the Ham Fung (1851-1861) and Dao Kwong (1821-1850) years. 2) Tan Sau is a technique unique to Wing Chun. Cheung Ng was famous for his tan sau. He actually taught martial arts in Fatshan Hung Suen (Red Boat). And Fatshan was the breeding ground of Wing Chun. 3) Some years ago, my Kung Fu clansman Pang Kam Fat told me that the Wing Chun stance is best used on boats for stability. Looking further, the various sets of martial arts strokes and practice areas are closely related to practice on narrow boats. 4) Before the skills were handed down to Leung Jan, the people connected, including Leung Lan Kwai, ‘Painted Face Kam’, Wong Wah Bo and Leung Yee Tei, all belonged to the Hung Suen (Red Boat).

Yet it is still very difficult to verify the origin of Wing Chun with so little material about b38bfccf27ada4e484c3c5039c3b8b6fCheung Ng. So, before we find more information and proof, we can perhaps make following assumptions: During the reign of Yung Cheng, Wu Pak actor Cheung Ng, also known as Tan-Sau Ng, for some reason fled the capital and went to Fatshan. He organized the Hung Fa Wui Koon at Tai Kay Mei, Fatshan. Apart from teaching traditional operas, he also taught the techniques of martial arts, and was called Master Cheung. The martial arts skills he taught already had the principles and techniques of Wing Chun martial arts. Perhaps they can be called incomplete or inadequately practiced Wing Chun martial arts. A hundred years passed in dissemination (mainly in Hung Suen) and development. Much effort was made by Yim Wing Chun, Leung Bok Chau, Wong Wah Bo, Leung Yee Tei and others. Wing Chun became a complete and mature set of martial arts, which spread and flourished under Leung Jan.

The above assumption eliminates the mythical padding towing Chun, and presents an orderly progress of events. It also provides a trail which can be followed by people interested in the history of Wing Chun Kung Fu.

“Playing” the Victim.


Most of us have all played the victim before. How many of us have blamed our little sister or brother for breaking something around the house, many of us have! How many of us have blamed a colleague for screwing up at work?

Playing the victim is like taking drugs- however good they make you feel it will only ruin you in the long run.

Here’s the plain truth: people that believe they are victims tend to alienate work colleagues, friends and even family.

Here are some signs that someone is playing the victim card and what they need to do instead:

  1. They don’t take responsibility

This is a classic sign of victim behaviour. A victim has trouble accepting they caused a problem and accepting responsibility for it. Instead, they blame others, or simply ignore their role in the problem.

What should they do? They may not be completely responsible for what has occurred, but they can always ask if they contributed somehow. Asking this question invites a person to be responsible, mature and cooperative. Plus, it will help them avoid similar situations in the future.

  1. They are frozen in their life

Victims believe that they are at the mercy of everyone and everything around them. Usually, a victim will not make progress or advance in their life because they perceive that they are powerless. As a result, their life is stagnant. If you were to ask them why, they would respond by giving you a laundry list of reasons why they are stuck. The real sticking point here is that the victim will not usually tell you what they plan to do about their lack of progress in life.

What’s the remedy here? The victim needs to see that small behaviours or changes in their attitude can reap big rewards. Try to help the victim make a list of small, achievable steps they can take towards a goal in their life. Hold them accountable and ask them to hold themselves accountable too.

  1. They hold onto grudges

The victim likes to hang onto old grievances. They carry these around like weapons, just in case anyone ever tries to hold them accountable for something. A victim will bring up old memories and events in which they were probably legitimately hurt, but they use them as reasons why they can’t make changes to their attitude, their life, or their circumstances in the present. These hurts and grudges underpin the victim’s hobbled life. .

 

What’s the remedy here? This one is pretty simple. Let those grudges go! The victim needs to see that keeping grudges is only holding them down, and not doing anything to help anyone else either- although the victim may not believe this. The victim needs to recognize that freeing others of blame is actually returning all power and self-control back to the victim, so guess what? That means they no longer have to be the victim!

  1. They have trouble being assertive

The victim does not truly believe they can control their life, so they struggle to state what they need, desire or deserve. The victim’s life will usually involve repeating patterns of submissiveness and passivity. This pattern is detrimental to self-esteem and personal development. The victim fails to break this pattern and suffers from potential anxiety or depressive disorders.

What’s the remedy here? A first recommendation is to seek help from a professional psychologist, counsellor, or life coach. This is a chance for the victim to turn the direction of their life around. It could also be beneficial for the victim to read a book on assertiveness, commonly available in libraries or bookstores. Ultimately, learning to be assertive is not a quick fix. It will take time, practice, learning, failing, and trying over and over. In the end, however, the victim will no longer feel that gnawing sense of powerlessness and self-pity that has kept them down for so long.

  1. They feel powerless

This could be shadow behaviour, meaning that the victim does not outwardly show that they feel powerless. Instead, the victim will try to be manipulative, coercive, and underhanded in getting what they need. You may have dealt with someone experiencing this kind of powerlessness. Usually, the victim is someone that is suspicious of others, feels insecure, and constantly needs to know the latest gossip.

What’s the remedy here? First, do not play the game with them. Stay away from the game of sharing gossip, listening to their stories of manipulation, or their stories of insecurity. Let them know you’re there to support them and to listen to them, but not to contribute to their feeling of powerlessness.

  1. They don’t trust others

This issue is not only a problem of not trusting others. This is a problem of the victim not believing they are trustworthy themselves. The victim makes the assumption that other people are exactly like them – untrustworthy.

What’s the remedy here? Examine the evidence. Are all people untrustworthy? Probably not. There are trustworthy people in the world. There are people that want the best for you. There are people that want to help you. It is the job of the victim to begin revising their old assumptions about people.

  1. They don’t know when to say enough is enough

In relationships, victims have no sense of limits. They don’t know when to say enough is enough.

What’s the remedy here? The victim needs to start creating their own boundaries. What is the maximum they are willing to take in a relationship, or in any given situation? It is the responsibility of the victim to decide these boundaries for themselves.

  1. They get into arguments easily

The victim has trouble choosing their battles. To them, every battle is a war. To them, they are under attack all the time

What’s the remedy here? The victim needs to realize that a difference of opinion or a criticism is not necessarily about them. It could very well be about the other person. The victim must recognize they have a choice over whether they allow themselves to uncritically enter into petty arguments.

  1. They feel sorry for themselves

Victim has a habit of pitying themselves. Their mirror reflects a defenceless child that cannot fend for it. Since other people do not usually show them sympathy or empathy, they try to give it to themselves, only to potentially appear immature to others. This further traps them in the victim role.

What’s the remedy here? Recognize that all people have tough days and experience bad events. Even the luckiest people experience unfortunate events. The victim must learn to avoid thinking that they are the only person in the world that has experience sad, difficult, or unfair circumstances.

  1. They constantly compare themselves to others

The victim usually struggles with the habit of comparing themselves to others negatively. The truth is that we are all lacking in some respect compared to others. No one has it all.

What’s the remedy here? The victim needs to change their view. The victim must recognize that they have good qualities and likely have experienced privileges too. Yes, they’ve probably not always been super lucky, but it’s not all bad!

  1. They see life as always lacking

Even when something good happens, the victim will seek out what’s lacking or what’s missing. The victim will complain about complaining and then complain that they can’t stop complaining. It’s a deadly cycle.

What’s the remedy here? They should count their blessings, the victim needs to treasure these blessings and develop a new habit of being positive and optimistic. They should aim to be the most thankful and hopeful person they can be.

  1. They are a critic

The victim has a need to put others down and find fault in people. By doing these things, they get a fleeting sense of superiority.

What’s the remedy here? The victim should take all their energy and use it to build others up. This will reflect back on them in a positive way too.

  1. They think they are perfect

Ironically, when there is a chance that a victim could be caught in an error, they suddenly become perfect. This arrogance and narcissism closes the victim off from having truly trustworthy and cooperative relationships.

What’s the remedy here? They need to remove the word ‘perfect’ from their vocabulary, and accept that they are human and are not perfect. In fact, the victim needs to realize that the more they own their mistakes and failings, the more others will gravitate towards them.

  1. They cut people out of their life

“I’ve had it – they are out of my life for good!” If you’ve heard that statement before and it wasn’t in reference to an actually dangerous or abusive situation, then you’re probably dealing with a victim. Rather, this statement was likely made in reference to everyday behaviours and relationship problems the victim finds challenging. In response to this, their default strategy is to cut people out of their lives. This highly emotional behaviour creates chaotic relationships.

What’s the remedy here? Breathe. Stop the brain chatter for a moment. Take a walk.

The victim needs to recognize their pattern of cutting people off. Cutting people off usually doesn’t lead to the resolution of problems and conflict. They could always take a different, more positive approach, such as letting people know their feelings instead.

In the end, the victim will end up facing painful consequences in their life and relationships if they do not change their behaviour.

As with most things in life, alternative options are there, we just have to be willing to look for them and make a start.

Wing Chun Glossary Of Terms


English Simple
char.
Traditional
char.
Cantonese
(Yale
transcription)
Mandarin
(Pinyin
transcription)
Meaning(s)
(in English)
Wing Wing6 yǒng song; poem
Chun (as simp.) Cheun1 chūn spring (time); joyful; youthful; love; lust; life
Kuen (as simp.) kyun4 quán fist

Forms

English Simple
char.
Traditional
char.
Cantonese
(Yale
transcription)
Mandarin
(Pinyin
transcription)
Meaning(s)
(in English)
Siu Lim Tao 小念头 小念頭 siu2 lim6 tau4 xiǎo niàn tou little idea
Chum Kiu 寻桥 尋橋 cham4 kiu4 xún qiáo seeking the bridge
Biu Jee 镖指 鏢指 biu1 ji2 biāo zhǐ darting fingers
Muk Yan Jong 木人桩 木人樁 muk6 yan4 jong1 mù rén zhuāng wooden dummy
Luk Dim Boon Gwun 六点半棍 六點半棍 luk6 dim2 bun3 gwan3 liù diǎn bàn gùn six and a half point pole
Bart Cham Dao 八斩刀 八斬刀 baat3 jaam2 dou1 bā zhǎn dāo eight slashing knives

Family Lineage Titles or Terms

 English Simple
char.
Traditional
char.
Cantonese
(Yale
transcription)
Mandarin
(Pinyin
transcription)
Meaning(s)
(in English)
Sidai 师弟 師弟 si1 dai6 shī dì junior male classmate
Simui 师妹 師妹 si1 mui6 shī mèi junior female classmate
Sihing 师兄 師兄 si1 hing1 shī xiōng senior male classmate
Sije 师姐 師姐 si1 je2 shī jiě senior female classmate
Sifu 师父 師父 si1 fu2 shī fù master
Sisuk 师叔 師叔 si1 suk1 shī shū master’s junior male or female classmate
Sibak 师伯 師伯 si1 baak3 shī bó master’s senior male or female classmate
Sigung 师公 師公 si1 gung1 shī gōng master’s master
Sitaigung 师太公 師太公 si1 taai3 gung1 shī tài gōng master’s master’s master
Sijo 师祖 師祖 si1 jou2 shī zǔ master’s master’s master’s master

Limb names

English Simp.
char.
Traditional
char.
Cantonese
(Yale
transcription)
Mandarin
(Pinyin
transcription)
Meaning(s)
(in English)
sao (as simp.) sau2 shǒu hand
kuen (as simp.) kyun4 quán fist
gerk geuk3 jiǎo foot; leg

18 hand technique names

Limb position names

English Simp.
char.
Trad.
char.
Cantonese
(Yale
transcription)
Mandarin
(Pinyin
transcription)
Meaning(s)
(in English)
bong sau 膀手 (as simp.) bong2 sau2 bǎng shǒu wing arm
fook sau 伏手 (as simp.) fuk6 sau2 fú shǒu prostrating hand
man sau 问手 問手 man6 sau2 wèn shǒu seeking hand
wu sau 护手 護手 wu6 sau2 hù shǒu protecting hand
tan sau 摊手 攤手 taan1 sau2 tān shǒu dispersing hand
kau sau 扣手 扣手 kau3 sau2 kòu shǒu detaining hand

Limb movement names

As normally
seen in English
(from Cantonese)
Simp.
char.
Trad.
char.
Cantonese
(Yale
transcription)
Mandarin
(Pinyin
transcription)
Meaning(s)
(in English)
jam sau 枕手 (as simp.) cham4 sau2 chén shǒu sinking hand
gaun sau 耕手 (as simp.) gang1 sau2 gēng shǒu cultivating arm
jut sau 窒手 (as simp.) jat6 sau2 zhì shǒu choking hand
huen sau 圈手 (as simp.) huen1 sau2 quán shǒu circling hand
lap sau 拉手 (as simp.) laap6 sau2 lā shǒu pulling hand
pak sau 拍手 (as simp.) paak3 sau2 pāi shǒu slapping hand
tok sau 托手 (as simp.) tok3 sau2 tuō shǒu lifting hand
lan sau 拦手 攔手 laan4 sau2 lán shǒu barring arm
tie sau 提手 (as simp.) tai4 sau2 tí shǒu uplifting hand
jip sau 接手 (as simp.) jip3 sau2 jiē shǒu receiving hand
gum sau 揿手 撳手 gam6 sau2 qìn shǒu pressing hand
biu sau 镖手 鏢手 biu1 sau2 biāo shǒu darting hand

Drills

As normally
seen in English
(from Cantonese)
Simp.
char.
Trad.
char.
Cantonese
(Yale
transcription)
Mandarin
(Pinyin
transcription)
Meaning(s)
(in English)
dan chi sau 单黐手 單黐手 daan1 chi1 sau2 dān chī shǒu single sticky hands
luk sau 碌手 (as simp.) luk1 sau2 lù shǒu rolling arms
seung chi sau 双黐手 雙黐手 seung1 chi1 sau2 shuāng chī shǒu double sticky hands
chi gerk 黐脚 (as simp.) chi1 geuk3 chī jiǎo sticky feet