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Thread: WING CHOON KUNGFU - 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong

  1. #31
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    Daniel is offline Sifu Daniel Perez - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Spain
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    Santiago; thanks for sharing your experience, I´ve met some practicioners like what you describe too...they are not as formidable as they think...

    Questions on Wing Choon Kungfu Question 6 - Part 2



    In our school, when we practice Sticking Hands we create a chi field that extends beyond our physical arms. Even when our arms are not in contact and we are blind-folded, we can pick up the movement, and later the intention, of an opponent in our chi field. This was the reason why some of our advanced students and instructors in the Special Wing Choon Course in Penang in 2010 reported to me that during free sparring when their eyes were open, they could respond more effectively by sensing than by seeing their opponent’s attack.

    At this stage, the opponent’s movement and his intention are the same. He makes a feint move to attack your head, then changes it to an attack to your body because that is what he has intended to do. As our training is systematic and progressive, later you can also sense his emotions and other intentions. You may, for example, sense that he is nervous or confident. You may also sense that he is preparing to run away, or is about to press in with continuous attacks.

    As the level of martial arts today is low, with many martial artists freely exchange blows with a shocking disregard to their own safety, many people may not believe in these higher aspects of kungfu. But some of our instructors and senior students told me that sometimes in free sparring they knew beforehand what attacks their opponents would make. They picked up their opponents’ intentions in their chi field or mind field.

    George told me an interesting story some time ago. He was free sparring with Kai on an occasion not connected with Wing Choon Kungfu. They were in poise position. Suddenly George withdrew with his hand protecting his eyes. Kai then told George that he intended to execute “Poisonous Snake Shoots Venom”. Kai’s shen, which included his intention, was so strong, and George’s sensitivity so sharp that George could easily pick up Kai’s intention before Kai actually made the movement.

    Had George practiced Wing Choon Kungfu, he would have the benefit of breadth and depth to exploit the situation. He would wait for Kai to make his move, then swiftly squatted down like a gorilla, as George is quite large in size, to pluck some peaches. Gorillas love peaches too. Kai, of course, could protect his peaches. He might, for example, lift up his leg to protect the peaches and then executed his world-famous kicks.

    The above scenario shows the systematic progression of Sticking Hands training. If a teacher were to say, “Don’t follow the movement, follow the intention”, students would be confused. They may understand the meaning of the instruction but lack the skills to carry it out. Such an instruction is bad, but is better than an instruction commonly found in martial arts, “Put on your boxing gloves and fight”. The instructor submits his students, and the students submit themselves to being hit and punched when they are supposed to learn an art that prevents this happening!

    n kungfu context, “shadow” often refers to an opponent’s retreating movement. When an opponent attacks, you deflect his attack, with your hand still in contact with his arm. When he withdraws his arm, you follow the “shadow” to strike him. This is a manifestation of a saying commonly found in popular styles of Wing Choon, i.e. “loi lau huai soong, leik sau chiet choong”, which means, “When an opponent comes, retain him; when he retreats, send him away. If the arms lose contact, strike straight ahead.”

    In Choe Family Wing Choon practiced in our school, this is only one of many combat principles. It is not the all-important principle that some practitioners of popular styles of Wing Choon think it is. Other important combat principles in Choe Family Wing Choon, which are also found in other kungfu styles, especially those from Shaolin, are “yow kiew kiew sheong ko, mo kiew shun shui lau”, which means “If there is a bridge, go along the bridge; if there is no bridge, follow the flow of water”, and “yow yein ta yein, mo yein choui ying”, which means “if there is form, strike the form; if there is no form, chase the shadow”.

  2. #32
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    Daniel is offline Sifu Daniel Perez - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Spain
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    Questions on Wing Choon Kungfu Question 6 - Part 3

    (Continued from Part 2)

    When an opponent attacks, you counter-strike at the same time, with your attacking arm going over his attacking arm, thus deflecting his attack. This is going along the bridge. If he withdraws his arm, you still continue with your counter-attack. This is following the flow of water.

    When an opponent attacks, you rotate your waist slight to avoid his attack and simultaneously strike his attacking arm. This is striking the form when there is form. If he withdraws his arm, you immediately change from striking his arm to striking his body. This is chasing the shadow when there is no form.

    In “no-shadow kick”, “shadow” does not refer to intention. Its meaning is literal. It means that the kick is so fast that it does not leave a shadow.

    Actually, the effectiveness of the no-shadow kick depends more on tactic than on speed. I can speak with some authority because no-shadow kick is one of my specialties, the other being tiger-claw, both of which I learned from my Tiger-Crane Set. Those who will attend the Legacy of Wong Fei Hoong course at UK Summer Camp 2014 will have an introduction of both no-shadow kick and tiger-claw.

    Although it is one of my specialties, as far as I can remember I used the no-shadow kick only one in my sparring and actual fighting in my younger days. Many years ago in Alor Star in Malaysia I used the no-shadow kick in the pattern, “Yellow Oriole Drinks Water”, on a master of Silambam, a classical Indian martial art. He was surprised by my dragon-hand form a few inches from his eyes. It was a few seconds later that he realized by no-shadow kick was just an inch from his groin.

    In the Chinese language, “shadow” may sometimes mean “trace”. With a twist of semantics, though I don’t think this was its original meaning, “no-shadow kick” may refer to a skillful use of tactic that an opponent has no trace or awareness of the kick, even when it may not be executed fast.

    I have demonstrated the no-shadow kick a few times in classes. There are quite a few no-shadow kicks hidden in our combat sequences. As they appear in the combat sequences, they are ordinary kicks. They become no-shadow kicks with the application of some appropriate tactics.

    There is certainly a well-defined intention when executing a no-shadow kick, though the intention may not be obvious to an opponent. There is a signal when executing a kick, sometimes clearly shown. In fact there is a colloquial kungfu saying that “as soon as he moves his shoulder, I know a kick is coming”.

    In a no-shadow kick the signal is minimized, or if it is obvious like in the case of a tiger-tail kick, the signal is made to be so misleading that an opponent does not suspect a kick is coming.

    Talking about the tiger-tail kick, I now remember I used it as a no-shadow kick on another occasion on my sidai, or junior classmate, Ah Huat, who was a master at the Chin Wah Hoong Ka Kungfu Gymnasium. During a free sparring, I tempted him to attack him, then suddenly applied a tiger-tail kick that caught him in total surprise though he knew this technique very well. It was my skillful use of tactic. Both this event and the event with the Silambam master are recorded in my coming autobiography, The Way of the Master.

    “Never block a kick” is good kungfu advice, as there are many disadvantages doing so. If he telegraph his kick, like moving his shoulder, for example, let him kick and dodge it, simultaneously strike his kicking leg. He will find it difficult to defend against your counter.

  3. #33
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    Kevin_B is offline Sifu Kevin Barry - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Ireland
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    Another classic Q and A thread!

    Thank you Sigung for affording us another wonderful opportunity to deepen our understanding of Kung Fu.
    Thank you Sifu Daniel for kindly facilitating the thread.

    I have never practiced Wing Choon Kung Fu but I have always greatly admired it. A fabulous opportunity in Barcelona awaits.

    All the best,

    Kevin
    Wahnam Tai Chi Chuan and Shaolin Chi Kung classes in Dublin

    http://www.taijiquan.ie/

  4. #34
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    Daniel is offline Sifu Daniel Perez - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Spain
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    Questions on Wing Choon Kungfu Question 7 - Part 1

    Question 7

    Why do you think Yip Man style of Wing Chun has become so popular as an effective martial art?

    What are the differences this popular style compared to the Wing Choon you teach?

    Finally, I´ve noticed that many Wing Chun masters in the West are developing their own personal "Wing Chun", often taking things from other sports/martial arts like Grappling and Boxing, and many of them are overly aggressive and arrogant, some even violent, what is your opinion on this?

    Sifu Daniel



    Answer


    I can think of two reasons why Yip Man style of Wing Chun has become so popular as an effective martial art.

    The first reason is that its practitioners spend a lot of time on sparring, whereas practitioners of most other styles spend their time on demonstrating form. The relatively few kungfu sets in this style contribute to this situation. Leaving aside weapon sets as weapons are seldom used in combat nowadays, there are only three kungfu sets in this style, whereas in other styles there are more than a dozen sets. This gives practitioners of this style more time on sparring practice.

    Compared to some martial arts, or sports, like Boxing and Muay Thai, there are no sets, so their practitioners focus solely on sparring. Boxers and Muay Thai fighters are generally more effective than kungfu practitioners in using their arts for combat. Their lack of or relatively few sets is a significant contributing factor.

    The second reason is the low level of combat today. This is a sensitive issue, and may make may some people unhappy or angry. But I prefer to state my opinion honestly, or course without being disrespectful to any martial artists. As I have mentioned many times, what and how they practice is their business, and I have no interest to convince them.

    But in my opinion, the standard of martial art today is low. A crucial aim of any martial art is self-defence, but most martial artists today, including advanced ones, cannot defend themselves! They may be good at hitting others, but the fact remains that they are poor at self-defence, to the extent that they accept being hit in free sparring as normal.

    In the light of the present situation when martial artists in general regard being hit as normal, if you practice a kungfu style that encourages you to rush in to hit your opponent, without any regard for your own safety, the popular style of Wing Chun practiced today is effective as a martial art. This is the criterion of most people.

    But it is not my criterion in judging whether a martial art is effective. In my opinion, the first principle of combat is safety. If you can come out of combat unhurt, even if you lose the combat, I would consider the it an effective art of self-defence. On top of this, if you can use the patterns you practice to defeat your opponent, I would consider it a very effective martial art.

    There are many differences between this popular style of Wing Chun and the style of Wing Choon I teach, which is Choe Family Wing Choon.

    The first noticeable difference, though it may not be significant and some people may not have noticed it, is that we use the term “Wing Choon”, and not “Wing Chun”, though the Chinese characters are the same. I prefer to use “Wing Choon” because it is less likely to be mispronounced by English speaking people, with “choon’ rhyming with “soon”. It is easier to mispronounce “Chun’ to rhyme with “pun”.

    A more significant difference is that the form of Choe Family Wing Choon is much closer to that of Shaolin Kungfu than the popular Wing Chun form. We frequently use, for example, the Horse-Riding Stance, Bow-Arrow Stance, the phoenix-eye fist and the leopard fist, which are seldom found in the popular style. It is therefore no surprise that those who are limited only to the popular style of Wing Chun, think that our Wing Choon movements are not Wing Choon movements. Forms that are frequently found in the popular Wing Chun style, like the Goat-Stance, the Four-Six Stance, the cup fist and the finger-thrust are also found in the Wing Choon I teach.

    Many people may not be able to tell the difference between traditional Shaolin Kungfu and Choe Family Wing Choon because the forms look the same. But the initiated can tell the difference. Choe Family Wing Choon is softer, and frequently uses the forms of the snake and the crane, whereas traditional Shaolin Kungfu is harder and frequently uses the forms of the dragon and the tiger.

    These same many people can usually tell the difference between traditional Shaolin Kungfu and the popular Wing Chun style by observing their forms. Northern Shaolin is characterized by long Bow-Arrow Stance, kicking and jumping, willow-leaf palm and hook-hand, Southern Shaolin by shorter Bow-Arrow Stance, False-Leg Stance, dragon-form and tiger-claw, whereas popular Wing Chun style by Four-Six Stance, cup fist and finger-thrust.

  5. #35
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    Daniel is offline Sifu Daniel Perez - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Spain
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    Questions on Wing Choon Kungfu Question 7 - Part 2

    (Continued from Part 1)

    Because of a wider range of techniques, there is also a wider range of combat applications in the Choe Family Wing Choon I teach than in the popular Wing Chun style. While all the combat applications found in the popular style are also found in our Wing Choon style, there are many useful techniques in Choe Family Wing Choon not found in the popular Wing Chun style. For example, moving diagonally forward to a Bow-Arrow Stance and simultaneously executing a ginger-fist, also called a leopard-fist, to an opponent’s ribs, is not found in popular style Wing Chun.

    A useful technique often found in Choe Family Wing Choon, known as “por pai sau” or “flank-breaking hand”, which is similar to “Jade Girl threads Shuttle” in Taijiquan, and “Old Elephant Drops Tusk” (where the fists instead of the palms are used) in Shaolin Kungfu, is not found in the popular Wing Chun style. This technique is very useful when fighting in a pub where assailants often rush in swinging a broken bottle. You move in frontally into a Bow-Arrow Stance, using one hand to break his bottle-holding arm, and your other hand to execute a combat-ending strike on his solar plexus.

    It is also very effective against a fast Boxer or someone rushing in with a series of chain-punches. Here, you move in from a side into a Bow-Arrow Stance, using one hand to cover your opponent’s two hands, and the other hand to execute a decisive strike on his temple. If he hasn’t felled, you can finish him off with a finger-thrust into his throat or eye. Is this Wing Choon Kungfu? Of course, it is.

    Such counters reveal another philosophical difference between Choe Family Wing Choon and popular Wing Chun style. Wing Choon Kungfu is known for its economy of movements. Wing Choon strikes are also vicious. As a combat art for a small sized person against bigger sized opponents, you have to finish them off with just one decisive strike. You can’t afford to play around with a series of 20 chain punches.

    If you are far superior to your opponent and wish to play around with him, you can use chin-na or felling techniques, which are found in Choe Family Wing Choon but seldom found in the popular Wing Chun style. Here, the center-line concept, which is an important principle in popular style Wing Chun, is used differently. In popular style Wing Chun, an exponent keeps his center-line. But a Choe Family Wing Choon exponent goes away from the center-line to grip his opponent from a side with a chin-na technique, or off-balance his opponent from his center-line with a felling attack. Is this Wing Choon? Of course, it is, though those who think of Wing Chun as only goat stance and chain punches may call it Jujitsu or Judo.

    The approach to force training is also different. The wooden dummy is an essential training tool in popular style Wing Chun. Some practitioners of popular style Wing Chun would consider their training incomplete if they had not hit a wooden dummy. Judging from the big muscles many practitioners of popular Wing Chun style have, it is reasonable to conclude that weight-lifting is an important part of their force training.

    In Choe Family Wing Choon, we can be quite powerful without having to hit a wooden dummy or lift weight. We can develop a lot of internal force using Siu Lin Tou.

    I believe our force training is in line with Wing Choon history and philosophy – founded by a lady for small sized exponents against bigger sized opponents. Bot h its founder, Yim Wing Choon, and a great master nicked named Wing Choon King, Leong Chan, were known to be graceful and elegant. It was unlikely they had big muscles.

  6. #36
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    Emiko H is offline Sifu Emiko Hsuen - Chief Instructor, SHaolin Wahnam Japan
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    Dear Daniel,

    Thank you again, for facilitating this fascinating series.

    My deepest thanks go, once more, to Sifu for the eye-opening comparisons revealing the differences between the popular styles of Wing Chun and the Choe family Wing Choon. It is amazing to read of the increased options in variety of techniques, but even more amazing to read about the increased options in strategy (e.g. Handling bottle attacks in a pub situation).

    The appreciation grows even stronger for the solid foundation (of stances, variety of techniques etc) given in the Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course.

    Shaolin salute - with gratitude, love and respect,

    Emiko
    Last edited by Emiko H; 11th April 2014 at 11:22 AM.

  7. #37
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    Daniel is offline Sifu Daniel Perez - Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam Spain
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    Dear Emiko,

    Yes, we have to thank Sifu again for this excellent Q&A series.

    Let´s continue with Question 7 part 3:

    Questions on Wing Choon Kungfu Question 7 - Part 3

    When I was learning Choe Family Wing Choon from my sifu, Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, the celebrated Bruce Lee made the popular Wing Chun style well known, though, ironically, he abandoned Wing Choon Kungfu for Jeekwondo. I found a lot of differences between the Wing Choon I practiced and the popular Wing Chun style. So I asked my sifu about it.

    His reply was most humbling, and greatly shaped my own philosophy and later teaching. He said, “What others practice is their business. We practice, and are grateful for, what our masters have passed down to us.”

    Of course, I did not blindly practiced what masters had passed down to us. I accessed my practice to the best of my understanding and experience. Having learnt from Uncle Righteousness, Sifu Chee Kim Thong and Sifu Ho Fatt Nam, who were patriarchs of their own arts, I was already proficient in kungfu philosophy and practice. Still I found my Wing Choon training greatly enriched my kungfu understanding and performance.

    I later discovered that the Wing Choon Kungfu I practiced was closer to what was practiced by early Wing Choon masters. I also discovered that Wing Choon Kungfu was a complete art by itself. Not only there was no need to borrow techniques from other arts, these techniques were already very advanced in Wing Choon Kungfu. This does not mean that we cannot enrich Wing Choon Kungfu from our understanding and practice of other arts. This is the benefit of breadth and depth, which is a hallmark of our school.

    Earlier I learned an important lesson from my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. He said that anyone who developed his own personal style, often taking things from other arts, was either not advanced in his art, or the art he practiced was not advanced. This comment was made at a time when many kungfu “masters” borrowed from Karate, even calling their arts so and so “do”, like Shaolin-do or Taiji-do.

    Let us briefly examine the examples you gave that these “masters” took from other arts to improve their Wing Chun, that is Grappling and Boxing. Chinan -na, which is more sophisticated than just grappling, is already found in Wing Choon Kungfu, though not many Wing Chun practitioners may realize it. The “tan kam sau” and “seong kam sau”, or “single grip hand” and “double grip hand”, found in the fundamental set, Cham Kiew, are examples of chin-na techniques.

    Important differences between chin-na techniques and grappling can be traced to the fact that Wing Choon Kungfu is a fighting art whereas Grappling is a martial sport. An exponent applying a chin-na technique has to ensure his own safety. He would not, for example, expose himself to attacks by his opponent while he grips his opponent. A martial sport practitioner, on the other hand, is protected by safety rules.

    A chin-na technique is combat-ending by itself. In other words, having applied the chin-na technique successfully, the exponent can let go of the opponent but the opponent could not continue fighting. In practice and friendly sparring, however, the exponent may not apply decisive force to hurt his sparring partner. But this may not be so in grappling. If the exponent lets go of his hold, his opponent can fight again. Those “masters” who borrow grappling techniques from martial sports probably do not know these facts.

    Many people forget that Boxing is a sport, governed by safety rules. If one uses Boxing in a real fight without safety rules, it can be disastrous. When an opponent throws you some Boxing punches, you can cover his both hands with your “tan sau” or mirror-hand, not from your center-line which would be disadvantageous but from a side, and simultaneously kick his groin. Or you can move slightly to a side away from the center-line, and glide your “phew chee” or finger-thrust to his eye, with your thrust arm deflecting his Boxing punch.

    As mentioned earlier, Wing Choon strikes are vicious. It ends combat in the fastest manner. Personally I would not use such vicious techniques if I have a choice. But if I have no choice, like an overly aggressive and arrogant master ridicules my Wing Choon and challenges me to a fight, I would not hesitate to pierce my finger-thrust into his eye or smash his groin with a Wing Choon kick to show that Wing Choon Kungfu is not only effective but deadly in real fighting, which it actually is. I am quite sure that Yim Wing Choon herself, or Leong Chan or the famous Wing Choon master, Yip Man, would do the same in a same situation.

  8. #38
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    Questions on Wing Choon Kungfu Question 7 - Part 4

    (Continued from Part 3)

    Even if we leave aside these weaknesses in using Boxing techniques in a real fight, for which Wing Choon Kungfu is designed, borrowing these Boxing techniques from Boxing is unwise because there are better techniques in Wing Choon Kungfu itself for similar functions.

    Boxing punches depend on muscular strength, which in turns depends on big muscles. This is contrary to fundamental Wing Choon philosophy. The striking power of Wing Choon comes from internal force, developed from practicing Siu Lin Tou. I had personal confirmation of this about 30 years ago.

    A gang rode their motor-cycles right to the middle of an open training ground of my sidai, or junior classmate, Lau Weng Woh, who was teaching lion dance in preparation for the coming Chinese New Year in Penang. Earlier I told a gang member off when he was rude to his master.

    That gang member pointed to me, and the leader of the gang came straight to me and said, “Why do you mind others’ business?”

    “I like to mind others’ business,” I replied, and simultaneously gave him a gentle Wing Choon cup fist on his face.

    This sent him back about 20 steps falling onto the ground. I was quite surprised at the time, but on hindsight I believe my internal force shocked his brain.

    The whole gang of about 10 people attacked me. Had I used popular Wing Chun style, Grappling or Boxing, I would be in trouble. But the Choe Family Wing Choon I practice included Drunken Eight Immortals and Choy-Li-Fatt, which are excellent for mass fighting.

    I did not think of Drunken Eight Immortals or Choy-Li-Fatt then, but fought spontaneously. The mass fighting, with me alone fighting about 10 gangers, as the others were enjoying the show from the side, ended not with a vicious Wing Choon technique (because I had a choice as the gang did not insist that I must use Wing Choon) but with “Lohan Tames Tiger” from Shaolin Kungfu, throwing the leader face-on to the ground. But my control was subperb. I stopped just an inch away, letting him smell the cement floor.

    Because Boxing depends on muscular strength, a Boxer throws his body forward as he punches, which makes it more difficult for him to defend against counter-strikes. Wing Choon strikes, which can be more powerful even executed by a small-sized exponent, does not have dis weakness.

    Boxing is limited to ordinary punches, but there is a wider range of hand-forms in Wing Choon Kungfu, like the finger-thrust, the palm strike, the cup fist ,the ginger-fist and the phoenix-eye fist. Striking the eye with a finger-thrust or the solar plexus with a phoenix-eye fist is more effective than with an ordinary punch.

    Although Wing Choon Kungfu is a vicious art, its training when carried out correctly can make practitioners relaxed, humble and peace-loving. This is due to the way of its training. Anyone practicing Wing Choon or Wing Chun and finding himself becoming more aggressive, arrogant or violent, should, for his own sake, check whether he has practiced the art wrongly.

    Not tensing the muscles, not grimacing and not working oneself into a frenzy, which are contrary to what some misguided Wing Chun practitioners wrongly think the art is, is essential in internal force training, which is crucial in an art meant for the small-size against the big and muscular. It is well known from records that Yim Wing Choon, Leong Chan and Yip Man, the great names in Wing Choon Kungfu, were lovable people.

  9. #39
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    Emiko H is offline Sifu Emiko Hsuen - Chief Instructor, SHaolin Wahnam Japan
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    Dear Daniel,

    The whole gang of about 10 people attacked me. Had I used popular Wing Chun style, Grappling or Boxing, I would be in trouble. But the Choe Family Wing Choon I practice included Drunken Eight Immortals and Choy-Li-Fatt, which are excellent for mass fighting.
    Oh, dear... this is simply too exciting to read about: how much more depth and breadth the Choe family Wing Choon has!

    The course in Barcelona sounds like it is going to be very special indeed - there is just so much going on that is amazing and rare this year.

    Dear Sifu, thank you for the great story of courage and righteousness, revealing the benefits of training Wing Choon authentically.

    Shaolin salute - with love and respect,

    Emiko
    Last edited by Emiko H; 14th April 2014 at 03:26 PM.

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    Questions on Wing Choon Kungfu Question 8 - Part 1

    Question 8

    How similar do you estimate the Choe Family Wing Choon practiced in our school to be to the original style taught by Yim Wing Choon?

    Sifu Andy



    Answer

    I believe that the Choe Family Wing Choon practiced in our school is very similar to the original style taught by Yim Wing Choon, with the exception of the part contributed by Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu. On the other hand, considering only the Wing Choon part and leaving our the Choy-Li-Fatt part, Choe Family Wing Choon is still very different from the style of Wing Choon most popularly practice today.

    A brief historical background will explain the Choy-Li-Fatt part of Choe Family Wing Choon.

    Choe Family Wing Choon was originally an exclusive art taught only to the Choe Family in the Nga Wu Village of Phoon Yu District of Guangdong in South China. “Nga Wu” means “Beautiful Lake”. “Phoon Yu” is just the name of the district without any special meaning.

    Initially the villages of Nga Wu practiced Choy-Li-Fatt Kungfu, taught by a famous master, Yik Kam. One day a red-boat, i.e. a huge boat conveying actors and apparatus of Cantonese opera, landed at Nga Wu Village. One of the actors, Leong Yi Tai, was a master of a little-known kungfu style called Wing Choon Kungfu.

    Yik Kam, who was keen to meet other kungfu masters, paid a visit to Leong Yi Tai and requested a friendly sparring. Yik Kam was so convincingly beaten by Leong Yi Tai that he begged the Wing Choon master to accept him as a disciple.

    Subsequently Yik Kam taught Wing Choon Kungfu in Nga Wu Village, but he kept the famous Drunken Eight Immortals set. He also composed his Choy-Li-Fatt techniques into a set, and just called it “Choy-Li-Fatt”.

    There were many kungfu sets in Choe Family Wing Choon passed down by Yik Kam. The fundamental set, which all students must learn, was Siu Lin Tou, which incorporated the three sets of popular style Wing Choon, namely Siu Lim Tou, Cham Kiew and Phew Chee. The other Wing Choon sets included Flower Set, Tiger-Crane, Battle-Palm, Battle-Fist and Essence of Fighting.

    Although Battle-Palm and Battle-Fist were Wing Choon sets, there were a lot of Choy-Li-Fatt features in them. My sifu, Sifu Choe Hoong Choy, told me that their spirit was Wing Choon, but their application was Choy-Li-Fatt. Essence of Fighting had a combination of Wing Choon and Choy-Li-Fatt. It was probably composed by Yik Kam, drawing from the best techniques he had used in his fighting.

    Flower-Set and Tiger-Crane were typically Southern Shaolin Kungfu, with emphasis on the softer forms of the snake and the crane. Siu Lin Tou was like popular style Wing Choon, except that the ginger-fist (also called the leopard fist), the phoenix-eye fist as well as the bow-arrow stance were frequently used.

    I once asked my sifu why our fundamental set was called Siu Lin Tou, which means “Little-Practice-Beginning”, whereas the fundamental set of popular style Wing Choon was called “Siu Lim Tou”, which means “Little-Thought-Beginning”. My sifu said that every time Yim Wing Choon practiced her kungfu, that was the set she would begin first before proceeding to other practices. Hence, the set came to be called “Siu Lin Tou”, or “Little-Practice-Beginning”.

    My sifu did not know why in popular style Wing Choon the set was called “Siu Lim Tou”. But he was of the opinion that as “Siu Lin Tou” required more effort to pronounce it, gradually it changed to “Siu Lim tou”, which would be smoother to pronounce, as in some English words like “thank you” and “come on”.

    Besides the Long Stsff and the Butterfly Knives which were found in popular style Wing Choon, there were also many weapon sets in Choe Family Wing Choon which were not found in popular style Wing Choon. These weapon sets included the sabre, the short staff, the big trident, the soft whip, the spear, the kungfu bench and the Guan Dao.

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