My Way of Wing Chun

The Learning Curve

Tag Archives: Martial arts

Choose Your School Wisely

In this post I am not going to tell you what are the good things you should look for when choosing a school/Sifu. Instead, I want to tell you about potential “smells” that you should be aware of when signing up. One of the reasons why I decided to write this post, is the fact that in this day and age, the world of Wing Chun (in fact, the world of any other sport) is a very commercial environment. Some Wing Chun schools can really go the distance in their efforts to milk extra $$$ from students.

I have visited quite a number of Wing Chun schools and did a lot of digging and reading around. This process can be daunting and time consuming sometimes. For a young Wing Chun practitioner, it can be hard to see the bigger picture immediately without doing preliminary research,  I hope the current post can save you a little bit of time by shedding some light on how some Wing Chun schools operate today.

The “smells” that I mentioned earlier (or the warning signs in other words), might help you to identify whether the school you chose is a money trap. Please keep in mind, that the following is my personal and subjective opinion and you do not have to agree with me.

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What It Really Takes to Become Good In Wing Chun?

Lets not worry for the moment what “good” actually means…

The short answer is – practice. Yep that’s right. Good old practice and many many repetitions. I think, many people these days obsessed a little bit too much in their search for the most experienced and the most credible Sifu. Sifu that can prove the purity of his lineage, tracing back directly to Yip Man.

IMHO, no Sifu, not even Yip Man him self can help you if you do not practice. This applies to everyone without exclusions. There is no magic wand, shortcuts or secret behind door techniques – just practice, practice and again practice. Yip Man himself can be teaching you but, if you do not practice diligently, then the time spent will not yield any results.

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Notes on Hard/Soft Hawkins Cheung Wing Chun

I am a student of Hawkins Cheung, and as this is a forum on my sifu’s site. I have some thoughts on his teachings that may be of interest to some of you. I have been with Sifu for 14 years, and he has been a great influence on me. I enjoy sharing dialogue with others that are on a true path. Here are some thoughts on the “hard way” and the “soft way” in Sifu Hawkins Cheung’s system:To consider the whole of Wing Chun, beyond the various techniques, we must look at the two sides of the W.C. character; the “hard” and the “soft”. The yin-yang, the black-white, sun-moon, etc. . . characters of the system.

From the waist up, most W.C. practitioners are relatively the same. The elbows are in more with one system than another, or leg positioning changes slightly, but basically the tan sao is the tan sao, the lop is the lop, and the bong is the bong. However, how we apply them is important to understand. Why? Because if we are not trying to understand how to apply our art more and more, we are just spinning our wheels.

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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’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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