My Way of Wing Chun

The Learning Curve

Wong Sifu – A Passion for Wing Chun (Part 1)

There are many who claim to be the true head of the Wing Chun family, however, the few that do have a genuine claim to such a title avoid all mention of it and regard each other as brothers. It is gratifying to know that with all the adverse publicity Wing Chun has bad, at the top, where it really matters, the skill is in good hands.

In the space of 30 years, Wing Chun has gone from a small but significant family style in Foshan, South China, to perhaps the most widely practised traditional style of Kung Fu in the worid. Sure,

Taijiquan is practised by millions, but very few people know the traditional training, and the different styles of Shaolin are all very separate from one another. But Wing Chun is a complete style, covering forms, internal training, partner work, weapons, and wooden dummy training. And all of the modern masters are direct descendants of Yip Man, meaning that there is a relative amount of cohesiveness between what one master practises and what another does. Wing Chun owes a great debt to Yip Man. Over the twenty or so years that he taught, many people studied with Yip Man, but few can claim to have inherited his skills. Wong Shun Leung is one of the few that can.

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What I Have Learned Through “Beimo”

The great master Wong Shun Leung fought anyone, anywhere to prove the validity of his Wing Chun techniques.

The following article is a personal account of what Wing Chun master, sifu Wong Shun Leung feels, are the main lessons he has learned about combat through his experiences of “beimo” or skill comparison, a somewhat subtle way of naming the many full-on fights he had with practitioners of literally dozens of Chinese and other fighting systems during his 40plus years as a Wing Chun devotee.

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Ip Chun

If you ever been lucky enough to meet Grandmaster Yip Chun you are sure to have noticed how happy and relaxed he is. It’s as though he does not have a care in the world. He is an example of how a martial art, when done correctly, improves and prolongs life

Most people when they are seventy years old have already retired. Most of the time they stay at home, get into a daily routine and are not very active. Perhaps this is because many of them are not in the best of health. They are not as energetic as younger people and so need to take it easy.

Grandmaster Yip Chun is seventy, and he is one of the exceptions. His attitude and movements are like a younger person’s, he has a healthy shiny face, walks very quickly, is quick minded and has very quick reactions. Each year he travels from one side of the world to the other giving seminars and teaching. All this is because of his Wing Chun Kuen training. He is the eldest son of Yip Man, who everybody knows taught Bruce Lee.

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Wing Chun Wisdom by Sigung Ip Chun (Part 2)

Like all martial arts Wing Chun requires a great deal of practise. However practise alone is not enough. You must spend time listening to your teacher and seniors who can pass on valuable knowledge. Knowledge which is not written in any texts, as it comes from a culmination of their own experiences, which are unique. So the wise man will recognise an opportunity to learn from the wiser and more knowledgeable, and in the Wing Chun world who could be wiser than Grandmaster Yip Chun.
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Wing Chun Wisdom by Sigung Ip Chun (Part 1)

Those of you who know Wing Chun will know of it effectiveness, even for those who do not posses the muscles of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the acrobatic ability of Jackie Chan. Such is the ingenuity of the Wing Chun principles, means that it is suitable for everyone, even the smallest can be deadly! Perhaps the best example of this today is Grandmaster Yip Chun. Barely more than five feet tall his size belies his skill. Playing Chi Sau (Sticking Hands) with him is an astounding experience!
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Bruce’s Classical Mess

Bruce’s sudden death left behind a classical mess. We can’t deny the impact that Bruce had. Eighteen years since Bruce’s passing, and hundreds of martial artists are still trying to copy Bruce’s movements, punches and kicks. Some learn wing chun simply because wing chun was his mother system. There are now many jeet kune do instructors teaching “his methods.” Eighteen years and many are teaching jeet kune do, but many still don’t know what jeet kune do is, Many of these so called instructors make their art mimic Bruce’s movements. Some instructors have nothing to do with Bruce, but try to relate their teachings to him.

Some of Bruce’s first-generation students came to study from me when I first immigrated here. When I told Bruce of my intent to immigrate to the U.S. before his death, Bruce thought it would be great to have me help out his students, but whether they came to learn or not was another thing.

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Bruce Lee’s Mother Art

To understand Bruce and his martial art, you have to look at his mother art, wing chun. Wing chun in the 1950s was a popular fighting system because of its reputation in challenge fights with other gung-fu Systems. Wing chun was noted for its simple, direct, economical movement and non-classical style.

Many joined and wanted to learn how to fight. Because of the reputation of wing chun, Bruce and I joined. The thing about wing chun is once you start the first form, you feel frustrated. We questioned, “Why do we have to learn this? How can you fight like this?” Everyone wanted to learn the siu nim tao quickly, so they could move onto the sticking hands exercise. The dan chi sao (single sticking hand) exercise was no fun, so the younger students wanted to get through that even quicker. When you finally learned the double sticking hands exercise, we felt excited and thought, “I can fight now! I know wing chun now!” We liked to copy the seniors. If you could land a punch on your opponent, you felt very excited. “I can beat him now,” was our first thought. So everyone wanted to beat his partner first so he could be the top dog.

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Bruce Lee Discovers Jeet Kuen Do

Bruce Lee went back to Hong Kong to learn more from his teacher, the great Yip Man. He returned to the United States with a new art called Jeet Kune Do.

After Bruce left Hong Kong, I went to Australia to attend college. We still stayed in touch by writing to each other. He told me he was working part time at Ruby Chow’s restaurant in Seattle and teaching a few students wing chun as well as some of Uncle Shiu’s northern style kung-fu high kicks. He wrote that he loved wing chun very much and he wanted to go back to Hong Kong to learn the rest of the system.

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Bruce Lee’s Hong Kong Years

A couple of “juvenile delinquents” named Bruce Lee and Hawkins Cheung roamed the streets of Hong Kong, picking fights, having fun and refining their martial arts techniques.

Hawkins Cheung began his training in 1953 under the late grandmaster Yip Man. He attended high school with the legendary Bruce Lee and during evenings, the two would diligently practice wing chun together. To gain combat experience, they would engage in challenge matches; when they didn’t have opponents to fight, they fought each other. They were later separated when Bruce went to college in the U.S. and Hawkins attended college in Australia. Throughout the years, the two kept in touch through letters and phone calls. Bruce would detail his martial arts development through their conversations and correspondence using Cheung as a sounding board. Hawkins Cheung is one of the few individuals who experienced the progression that Lee went through in his martial art development from wing chun to Jun Fan to jeet kune do.

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The Wing Chun Mind: Learn to Think Like a True Fighter

Many have heard of the wing chun system of martial arts. Most articles deal with the techniques, the chi sao, the forms, the politics, and the variations, but I believe this may be the first article that deals with the wing chun mind. Master Hawkins Cheung, who has taught in Los Angeles since the late 1970s, outlines the concepts of wing chun in combat. An early student of grandmaster Yip Man, Cheung has practiced wing chun for over 30 years. Hawkins was also Bruce Lee’s training partner in the early 1950s and together they explored fighting concepts. Master Cheung stands 5-feet-5 and weighs 105 pounds. He is every inch a skilled fighter and excellent teacher.

Cheung explains the wing chun mind and the “how” and “why” of wing chun. He also explains where many wing chun men are incorrect Cheung states that the principles discussed here could be used by any system of martial arts to be applied in combat, regardless of the tools delivered. He considers stylistic differences, postures, techniques, forms and drills secondary to wing chun’s application in combat. Master Cheung’s advice here is reminiscent of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. He offers practical, straight forward advice on combat, very much like his style of fighting.

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