The Wing Chun style that is very popular now is the branch taught by Sifu Yip Man. It was passed down from [Yuen Kay San] and is known as the Slant-Body Wing Chun. But most people are ignorant of the Wing Chun Style of of [Lao Dat Sang], who was very well known in Foshan County of China’s Kwangtung Province by the nickname [Pao Fa Lien]
The author is very fortunate to have followed [Pao Fa Lien]’s disciple, Sifu Chu Chung, and therefor has a good understanding of this branch of the Wing Chun Style.
Before presenting the content of the Wing Chun Style passed down from Sifu [Pao Fa Lien], the author should like to make a vivid delineation of the branch.
A greater part of kung fu styles originated from the Shaolin Monastery in Sungshan Mountains. When the Ch’ing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD.) burned down the Shaolin Monastery because of the anti-Ch’ing inclination of the monks and secular disciples of the monastery, the kung fu exponents of the Shaolin Monastery went into hiding among the people and taught their pugilistic skills to people aspiring to topple the Ch’ing Dynasty.
The Wing Chun Style of [Pao Fa Lien] of Fo Shan County originated from a superior master of Shaolin Monastery who took refuge in Kiangsu Province. The monk took an assumed name “Big East Wind’ to escape the notice of pur-suing soldiers of the Ch’ing Dynasty. Gradually, he became an intimate friend of a magistrate called [Tse Gwok-Leung] and his brother [Tse Gwok Cheung]. The [Tse] brothers admired the monk’s pugilistic skills and in-vited him to live in their household and become their kung fu instructor. A few years afterwards, Monk Big East Wind took leave of the magistrate and traveled to the north. No one knew his where-abouts ever since.
After their teacher’s departure for the north, the [Tse] brothers lost their ambitions in the career as officials. They re-signed and returned to their home Fo Shan County, where they adopted a baby boy, [Lao Dat-Sang], who was later to be known as [Pao Fa Lien].
When he was only nine years old, [Pao Fa Lien] began to train pugilism and staff-techniques under the guidance of [Tse Kwok-Leung] and [Tse Kwok-Cheung]. After ten years’ hard work, [Pao Fa Lien] completed his training of martial arts.
What forms does Wing Chun comprise? My teacher, Chu Chung said: “In the category of pugilism are: The Little Idea; [Chum Kiu], or Seeking-Arm; [Biu Jee] or the Thrusting Fingers; [Dui Sao]; [Tut Sao]; [Sup Jee]; [Bien Kuen], or the Whipping Fist; [Jin Kuen] or the Arrow Fist; [Jin Jeung], or the Arrow Palm; [Juk San] or Sidling.
“Belonging to category of weapons used by Wing Chun are: [Mor Poon Do], or the Millstone Broadsword; [Siu Lung Gim], or the Book-bag Sword; [Yay Yan Bian], or the inverted-V shaped whip; [Ba]; [Tiu]; staff; etc.
“The forms for basic exercises are: The hard dummy, the soft dummy, the internal dummy and the external dummy.”s
These each comprises 100+ odd movements and has a different method of training. Bigger sets of pugilism and broadsword handling techniques are also composed of over 100 movements, including movements of the arms and the legs. The foot-work is soft and agile like a pearl dropping into a tray of jade; and the body turns nimbly with the footwork.
The sets of pugilism boil down into: the set of the elementary level- The Little Idea: the Thrusting Fingers and the Seeking Arm that come next; the more indepth sets, namely,[Diu Sao, Tut Sao, Sup Jee, and Bien Kuen]; sets of the advanced level, namely, the Arrow Fist, Arrow Palm and Sidling.
The set of the elementary level has simpler movements, which are more often in straight lines than in curves. It attaches im-portance to [Tan Sao] or the Spreading Hand, [Bong Sao] or the upper arm manoeuvre, [Kao Sao] or loop-buckling hand which is a stylized form, slapping hand t’o or dragging, k’ou or buck-ling, t’o , t’un ch’iao, meng and kun shou fa or the rolling-hand method. On the other hand, methods of higher levels gradually depart from stylized forms. Though their hand movements do not deviate from Wing Chun, they give prominence to footwork.
The Little Idea Form as is passed down from [Pao Fa Lien] is very long. Striding begins at the middle of the form. The footwork employed is the [Cheung San Bo], or the Long-Robe Foot-work. [Cheung San Bo] is quite similar to the Sideways Stance of another style. While there are hsieh Pu and the footwork with the latter, the former is distinguished by the [Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma].
[Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma] can be divided ac-cording to whether it takes two and a half steps or three and a half steps.
At the start, [Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma] trains obverse standing stance to make the knees and hip joints strong, and is therefore suitable for defense. Only after starting to move does the form trains offense.
In order that martial arts enthusiasts have a deeper understanding of its merits and demerits, as well as its remarkable forms that have survived 200-odd years, we shall make a more in depth explanation of the Little Idea Form.
Following the middle straight thrusting punch, the second section of the Little Idea, is the Thrusting Fingers forms, which has the purpose of increasing the length of the hand. After the Thrusting Fingers, the hand is placed in the left in the form of the pressing palm. In consequence of the pressing palm, there is an opening in the right. Therefore, the pressing palm should press to the left with the back of the palm. The fact that only one hand and arm is used makes the density high and the switch from one form to another quick.
Wing Chun, which belongs to the Internal System, is predominantly intermediate between softness and hardness. The Little Idea also includes an exercise of the Internal Swinging Circle, as well as those of the slapping Hand and the Lifting Palm.
The Slapping Hand and the Lifting Palm seem to be identical in form and in appearance, but they are quite different in practical application.
The Slapping Hand slaps ahead past the front of the chest in an oblique line (with the finger-tips pointing upward). The Slapping Hand is the more powerful of the two. lt aims at slapping at an opponent’s fist in a straight line and is in a sense an attacking maneuver. The Lifting Palm, on the other hand, is quite different. It is used, when two contestants are exchanging blows, to keep off the opponent’s powerful elbow. Alternately, when the two persons are too close the Lifting Palm is used to force the opponent to retreat or is used to throw him back.
The Upper Arm Maneuver includes a broad range of forms and functions, including Single Upper Arm, Double Upper Arms, High Upper Arm, Low Upper Arm, Hurling Upper Arm, Rolling Upper Arm, Discharging Upper Arm, Dragging Upper Arm, and so on.
The Upper Arm Maneuvers used in the Little Idea are Single Upper Arm, Dragging Upper Arm and the Double Rolling Upper Arms. The purpose of the Upper Arm is to neutralize an opponent’s violent force. Instead of meeting force with force, an exponent uses the position between the wrist and the elbow to deviate the force of the opponent.
Strike with a Soft Palm on a Squatting Stance is a distinguished maneuver. Both palms strike sideways while the knees are bent to squat down the body. This form is used to cope with an enemy who suddenly attacks from one side. Since the exponent does not know the enemy’s location, he strikes backward laterally in the right and left with both palms.
The three dragging and three upper arm maneuvers are very important tactics of the Little Idea Form.
In the latter half of the set, the exponent begins to move about with the Long Robe Footwork while dealing folding palms in the left and right. If the enemy exerts very violent force, then the exponent will use the Two Rolling Hands while Whirling His Body.
When dealing the Rolling Hands, the body turns by 180.
The T-Stance is used in combination with the Hurling Hand, which is hurled upward at the opponent’s elbow.
The force used has the effect of raising up the opponent’s force and pulling and dragging backward. The left leg stands with the knee bent while the right foot is placed ahead oblique to form a “T” (with the toe tip upward). The purpose of this foot is to trip an opponent if he loses control of balance when rushing forward. In the brief introduction above we cannot enumerate all the tactics of the Little Idea. To do that, one needs to write a book of several tens of thousands of words. The millstone broadsword of Wing Chun has a fork at the tail. The blade is about 20 inches long. An exponent uses two such broadswords in pair. It is a short weapon.
Why is the weapon called the millstone broadsword and how is it brandished? The answer is that the footwork in handling this broadsword is very agile so that the weapon covers all directions. In one section of the set of the broadsword technique one spins quickly.
There are two hundred movements to the set of millstone broadsword technique. It last section comprises “Turn a Corner and Step Forward”, “eight slashing with the broadsword” and finally “double chen tao”. The footwork forms involved are the Long Robe Footwork, the Rear Circle Footwork, the Turning Footwork, the Tiptoe Stance, the Oblique Footwork, the Rear Discharging Footwork, etc.
Because of its shortness and thickness, the millstone broadsword is especially suit-able for slapping, as is distinguished from a longer waist broadsword, which is not handy in slapping. Another distinguishing feature of the mill-stone broadsword is that it has such maneuvers as circle striking upward jabbing, return thrusting, buckling, thrusting, chien ch’ieh tao, up-ward slapping, etc. On these we cannot elaborate because of the limitation of space and we shall have to wait for an opportune time to make an adequate presentation. The crux of the question is that there is much in common between the millstone broadsword technique and the pugilistic forms of Wing Chun.
There are things in common between the pugilistic forms of Wing Chun and the millstone broadsword technique, but there are also differences, since the broadsword is different from the hand at any rate. For example, the effective ranges are different.
Thus with the pugilistic forms of Wing Chun, there are the single grasping hand, bottom palm, choking hand, and dragging rolling hand, which also make use of the fingers and palms to seize and lock an opponent’s arm. But such tactics are useless to an exponent armed with a pair of broad-swords. This is a difference between pugilism and broadsword technique.
We can also give an example to illustrate the things in common. With the hand movements, there are such tactics as countering buckling, slapping, drawing, pressing palm and the B-shaped fist.
In the broadsword technique, we also have such tactics as countering with a broadsword, buckling, slapping, drawing, Ch’u P’a Tao, etc.
Countering with a hand is to put an arm in the upper middle section to block and neutralize an opponent attacking in the front Countering with a broadsword has exactly the same purpose.
Buckling with the broadsword has the same purpose as buckling with the hand. Here the back of the blade is brought down in an oblique course.
Slapping and drawing with the broadsword have the same reasoning as the corresponding movements of the hand.
This set of millstone broadsword technique experienced several actual combats by [Pao Fa Lien] in a few dozen years. [Pao Fa Lien] tried skill with a famous exponent called [Pan] in Fo Shan County and killed the latter with the P’a Tiao tactic. It forced [Pao Fa Lien] to leave Fo Shan and exile abroad. Thirty years afterward, [Pao Fa Lien] returned to Fo Shan. He tried skill with the lieu-tenant of the county magistracy at the request of the latter, who was skilled in broadsword technique and admired the prestige of [Pao Fa Lien] for his use of the millstone broadswords.
[Pao Fa Lien] did not want to commit another mistake on top of his past mistake. And it would certainly be to his disadvantage to try broadsword technique with an officer. So he suggested that bamboo broadswords should be used in the trial of skill. But the lieutenant declined the suggestion on the ground that false broadswords would not be compatible with sincerity. And he insisted on the use of real broadswords to see who was the superior.
[Pao Fa Lien] thought that it was impossible to avoid injury with real broadswords. To get round the impasse. he finally came up with an idea, that is, to use one real broadsword and one bamboo broadsword.
In this way, he could avoid causing injury by blocking the opponent’s attack with the real weapon and attacking with the bamboo broadsword. The lieutenant failed to score a hit after many rounds, when his clothes were reduced to tatters by the bamboo broadsword. The lieutenant left, heart and soul convinced by [Pao Fa Lien]’s surpassing skill.
By Mok Poi-On. Edited to Cantonese romanization.