New Hero Magazine content update (2010 vol 24)
28 August 2010
Wing Chun under transformation
Some time ago, domestic television stations repeatedly broadcast a TV series “Spirit of The Dragon", and cinemas in the whole country screened the movie "Ip Man" starring Donnie Yen. The leading character Yip Man and the world-famous star Bruce Lee both practiced Wing Chun, thus drawing great attention from all walks of life.The number of Wing Chun enthusiasts skyrocketed,and countless people tried to learn from Wing Chun masters.
There are different branches of Wing Chun throughout mainland China, apart for a few areas in the south. However, in most regions, especially in northern and central China, Wing Chun is not well known, therefore some people floundered a bit, in other words, many so called Wing Chun masters who had only a superficial understanding of this kung fu could be found everywhere teaching all sorts of Wing Chun. Of course, occasionally there are authentic martial arts masters. Therefore the Yip Man Martial Arts Association, created by the Great Master Yip Man himself, is obliged to promote Wing Chun to people interested in it at home and abroad. It carries forward the spirit of Yip Man, maintaining the outstanding Chinese cultural legacy.
In 1996, I, on behalf of Yip Man Martial Arts Association, together with Mr. Wong Shun Leung, the chairman of Wing Chun Athletic Association, were invited by National Sports Council Martial Arts Administration Centre Training Department to Beijing to promote Wing Chun. After that Master Wong Shun Leung offered short Wing Chun courses, and received enthusiastic responses from participants, but for various reasons, the development of Wing Chun in foreign countries has been much faster than in China, emphasizing the need to promote this fine culture in our own country.
Last year, invited by Shandong Martial Arts Institute, some coaches and I representing Yip Man Martial Art Association traveled all the way to Tai'an City, Shandong Province to teach Wing Chun. Various martial arts schools and institutions from every corner of Shandong also sent coaches for training. Although this training session lasted only a few days, it provided a rare opportunity to use it as springboard for later promotion of Wing Chun.
The training received invitation from the organizer: Shandong Martial Arts Institute; support from Sun Gang; and coordination from Wang Yulong, deputy director of the Chinese Martial Arts Association. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to them all.
Wing Chun has originated from Shaolin, been passed down from Foshan, is rooted in Hong Kong, and has carried forward in the world. We are proud that we have the opportunity to spread Yip Man’s Wing Chun, part of Hong Kong culture, to our compatriots.
Chairman of Yip Man Martial Arts Athletic Association
On 10th July 2009, Yip Man Martial Arts Athletic Association was being invited by Shandong Wushu Academy, to teach Wing Chun Kung Fu at Tai An City, Shandong Province, China
Group photo of Mr Lau and coaches at Shandong Province, China
Demostrating Chi Sau with Coach Lau Tak Tai
Learning with an open mind
Italian disciples returning home in Italy to teach Wing Chun
The testimony of two italian disciples of Master Lau Kung Shing, who decided to dedicate themselves to Wing Chun, after knowing him almost casually
After practicing Wing Chun for almost 20 years in many different associations across Italy and Europe, we decided to approach the so called “traditional” concept of this martial art. After some disappointments related to some European Masters’(Schools’) ways of teaching, we felt the need to follow someone that could lead us to the original formula of Wing Chun, the traditional culture that was brought by Yip Man many years ago and now it is safeguarded by some masters(Yip Man’s disciples) in Hong Kong. We started to visit many schools in Hong Kong; some teachers rejected us without letting us to explain what we were searching for, some others didn’t convince us because of their interpretation and logic thinking of the style, until we went almost casually to the school directed by Master Sam Lau, the last assistantof Yip Man. There was an instantaneous reaction: his character and his good-natured manner were all unexpected to us. But despite our sensations, he didn’t immediately decided to teach us: everyday there’s a lot of people in his school and everybody asks to become a student. So, why should he accept foreigners?
But time and determination made the work.
From a technical point of view Master Sam Lau represents exactly what we were searching for: perfect knowledge of Wing Chun, mastery of the movements, confidence in executing the techniques and... a lot of patience in teaching!
Starting from the correct way to hold the fist and down to the more complex forms or the mastery in weaponry handling, Master Sam Lau is always clear and exhaustive in explaining them. The competence and honesty that he demonstrated are characteristics that we never found in our life as Kung Fu students, and we are proud of this.
We felt astonished for the intensity of the connections and the strong collaboration amongthe groups that represents Wing Chun in Hong Kong. It has been difficult for us to understand this family connections, because in Europe every thing is more transient and is based on different values.
The “Tea Ceremony” that we attended with Sifu Sam Lau, which is called BaiSi, helped us so much to understand the relations that link the members of Hong Kong’s associations, the concept of family in Kung Fu, but above all the tight relation which links the Master to his disciples and vice versa. Obviously a trustworthy relation needs time to be refined, and for us is very important to often visit Hong Kong to cooperate actively with Sifu in the various projects that born day by day.
We feel honored to be part of an important family as this, but at the same time we know that it’s a big responsibility and it’s not a game. The purpose, in Hong Kong as in Europe, is to spread the Wing Chun of Yip Man and Sam Lau.
Hong Kong’s Wing Chun is strongly different if compared to the one that we studied in Europe and Italy. The basic techniques, the first that the disciple learns, are the elements that mostly characterize Sam Lau’s Wing Chun and have a strategic importance for the student.
These basic techniques are fast-learned, very clear and linear, and represent the idea of a martial art like Wing Chun: simple, direct and effective.
Sifu did not force us to learn endless chains of movements that need hours just to be remembered, because this would be a waste of energy; instead he can focus directly on the principle and the concept which lead to the effectiveness of the action, saving time. Simplicity and effectiveness are reflected also in the forms. The form in fact is another key element: training the forms makes you stronger, fortifies mind and body, and helps you to understand quickness along with precision of movements that compose the system.
Watching Sifu performing one of the Wing Chun forms is an exciting experience and makes you understand what’s the meaning of a set of movements.
Learning a martial art like Wing Chun requires years of dedication and sacrifice, but the results are priceless. When our learning path with Sifu does not end, we are sure that we will continue to attend his enhancing training courses in Hong Kong, and the Yip Man Martial Arts Association. It’s not only a matter of arts and knowledge exchange, now we also have to consider the friendship and the respect for a man, Sifu Lau, who opened us the doors of an ancient and precious martial art, and those of a real family; that’s why we consider Sifu as a second father.
Students studing in Shandong
Salute to the elders after Ceremony
Group photo of four disciples and guests taken after the Baisi Ceremony
Nov 6 2009, Yip Man Martial Arts Association, at the invitation of Shenzhen Martial Arts Association, sent 30 people to the second Shenzhen Traditional Martial Arts Individual (Wing Chun) Exchange Conference, to participate in the performance and introduce the genuine Wing Chun created by Yip Man.
Certificate from Ving Tsun Athletic Assocition to prove that Sam Lau has received training from Yip Man signe by President Chui Shang Tin, Chairman Yip Chun
Shingjai, come, Baisi, call me Sifu, give me the red pocket
Photo taken before class
Tricks used by rumor mongers are limited, and believers are ignorant. Rumor mongers Play themselves up, spreading rumors, and gossip to play down other people. In fact, what is real is real and what is false is false. In fact, to showcase one’s kung fu, he should not rely on word-of-mouth advertising, or media publicity. He should perform natural Chi Sau (sticky hands) online, and do not use special effects as used in a film. When his peers see it, they can tell instantly what's genuine. In fact, if your kung fu is learned from Yip Man, then he knew it the most clearly. Our great master answered to no one else when he handled affairs, accepted students, taught special skills. Everyone can tell that who taught you kung fu, and how much kung fu you have learned. If one wants to confirm the truth, he should talk to Yip Man face to face.
In 1967 the great master found that I attended a challenge match, so he made a special trip to the hawker stall on Fa Yuen Street, wanting to know who the opponent was. He noticed his V-shape figure, swollen mouth and swollen face. Afterward we drank tea at Lung Fung Restaurant, and he encouraged me. And then for some reasons, I quit practicing Wing Chun, and the great master knew what was going on. One afternoon, Yip Man called me speaking with his Foshan Dialect, “Sam, come, Baisi, call me Sifu, give me the red pocket”. I was surprised, so I went to Yip Man's home No. 149, 9 / F , Tung Choi Street, for appointment. Yip Ching’s wife was there too. Yip Man asked me to perform Siu Nim Tao (Little Idea Form) to him and asked how I thought about Mui Yat. I said Mui Yat was very genuine. He nodded, then asked me about Wong Wing. I said Wong Wing’s tricks were too many. Because he learned Mantis Boxing, so he said “yes!” (Wong Wing was the judge when I was in challenge matches with other kung fu factions. He brought me to matches, and then I brought his student Chow Lin Fat and Ng Kwok Yin to challenge karate and Hung Kuen practitioners. In November 1968 when he opened his martial arts school the first day, he waited for me to come to attend the open ceremony with his first batch of students, and then I helped him teach Kung Fu. I took the opportunity and asked him: Master! Which one is better? He said Kam Ming was good. That was the focus of talk, then he went to 2 / F, 192 Tung Choi Street, my home, to tutor me, and then I followed him everywhere, teaching and learning Kung Fu, and then he asked me to teach his female home disciple, Wong Wai Han. She lived on Seymour Road. I taught once every Sunday at her home, and earned 500 dollars a time and then another 500 dollars with Wong Chung Wah practicing Chi Sau. Yip Man helped me earn two 500-dollar banknotes a month. 40 years ago, most people’s salary was about several hundred dollars. Why Yip Man took the initiative to accept me as his disciple though he had so many disciples to choose from to assistant him teaching Kung Fu. What was he thinking at that time? Until now I still do not understand why I was so favored by him. That’s because I had feelings for Yip Man, and did my bit for Yip Man Martial Arts Association.
In fact, most of those people who claimed they were Yip Man's disciples, do not necessarily have good kung fu. Kung fu must be learned through talent and enthusiasm, hard frequent practice and many quality matches. Just because you have a good master, it does not mean you are a good disciple.
Only those practitioners with limited kung fu skill make rumors, and believers are ignorant. The following is my Wing Chun practice history:
1.Enlightened by Moy Yat
2.Became disciple of Yip Man
3.Improved by Sam Lau (the great master offered profound teaching and encouraged me always to improve myself through self-improvement)
Chairman of Yip Man Martial Arts Association
From right: Wong Wing, Lau Kung Shing
I have a good relationship with Yip Chun
From Left to Right (from the second man): Fung Ping Po, Leung Pang, Yip Ching, Siu Yuk Man, Man Yim Kong, Chan Wai Hong, Lau Hon Lam, Chui Shang Tin, Yip Chun, Lok Yiu, Lo Man Kam, Lau Kung Shing
In 1972 the great master’s memorial hall was set in Kowloon Funeral Parlour, and I met Yip Chun at the entrance. He said, “you helped my father teaching Kung Fu in the past, now could you help me”. So I went to Kowloon City Yip Man Martial Arts Association to help him to teach kung fu. At that time, Ho Kei, Lee Ming, and Leung Chung Wai were all students. And then Wing Chun Athletic Association selected some boxers to participate in Taiwan Chiehshou Boxer Challenge Cup Competition, Yip Chun told me to train Leung Chung Wai for the competition, and I took him to the Tin Kwong Road army training ground for two weeks. And he beat two opponents. Last year, Yip Chun also invited me to participate in the film’s “Yip Man I” celebration party, and he presented a red fan to me, with signatures of Donnie Yen and other staff members. At that time, he had only one red fan, so that showed how good his relationship with me was. It has been over 40 years.
There is a YouTube video recently. It showed I practiced Chi Sau with Yip Chun. Because this film was uploaded without our permission and consent and I can not confirm when or where this video was taken, to avoid speculative misunderstanding, I have complained to YouTube, and they have deleted it. In fact, 8 years ago, Yip Chun and I went to Gulao in Jiangmen to visit Mr. Chan’s hometown. During the visit, Wing Chun was performed for entertainment, but we believed it was not genuine, not Wing Chun. At lunch, I requested to the Deputy Mayor that he find Wing Chun master to perform for us. The mayor then called on more than 10 masters, including the most famous Master Feng in Gulao, who was also known as Tank. After the lunch, we watched them performing.
After their performance, they asked me to perform. Although I did not feel well, but as courtesy, I also showed Siu Lim Tou.And then they sent groups of two people to perform Chi Sau.
Finally, they asked me to do Chi Sau with them. I thought we had different Chi Sau methods (they sat in low horse stance, and they chased hands but did not chase bodies and their Chi Sau hand movement was different. Although Gulao is Yip Man's master’s Liang Zan's birthplace, but the kung fu there is very different), therefore if I did Chi Sau with them,it could cause misunderstanding or we might hurt each other easily, but they wanted to know Yip Man’s Wing Chun. They hurried me to do Chi Sau with them, so I thought they had about twenty people, and no matter if I won or lost, I would be ata disadvantage, so I tried everything possible to refuse them, but it was very difficult to say no. Fortunately, Yip Chun was sophisticated, and decided to calm them down, so he said, “Shing Chai, I do Chi Sau with you.” In fact, it was the first time for both of us to do Chi Sau—he did not Chi Sau with any of his Kung Fu brothers after he started teaching boxing. Because that was a moment showing Yip Man’s Wing Chun to our peers, we decided definitely not to show the boring, mundane hand movements. We both had known that we should show some more intense offensive and defensive pass-through hand action, and of course, when we did that, we would contact each other. And they applauded crazily. Then I said, my elder Kung Fu brother was almost 80 years old and his kung fu was great. My glasses were almost broken, then they clapped their hands again. In fact, we were all Yip Man’s disciples—if he was good, then means I am good too.If he gave me several more frontal punches, that would be no problem, because it was just performance! But most of those people who did not know Wing Chun well would think we were fighting with each other. And criticize us blindly. They absolutely do not know what is Kung Fu. In fact, when we practice Chi Sau in classroom, mouth bleeding, nose bleeding, and losing teeth occurs frequently, so in fact, it is no big deal, because this is Yip Man’s Wing Chun.
My brother Yip Chun, I hope that you and I live long, carry on our friendship, and have good health.