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Pao Fa Lien Wing Chun of Foshan

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.


Wing Chun Master Sum Nung: Strong Inch Power and Iron Arms

During the last New Year’s festival an America knocked on a door in Guangzhou in order to give a gift to the owner of the dwelling. The gift was a picture of the U.S. President and his wife. The man who brought the gift came across the Pacific Ocean to do so. He was a body guard for the American President, and had come all this way to visit the famous Wing Chun teacher, Sum Nung. The man was named Henderson, and had followed a student of Sum Nung’s named Kwok Wan-Ping to learn Wing Chun Kuen. Sum Nung is famous in China, but how did he come to be so? This must be told from the beginning.

As a child, Sum Nung journeyed with his relatives from South America to Guangdong, China. Japan soon invaded, however, and cut China’s communication with the rest of the world. Over night, Sum Nung’s family went from a life of prosperity to one of poverty. At a young age, Sum Nung was introduced to the Tin Hoi restaurant in Foshan where he soon began working.

Sum Nung was a nice youth, but there were many bad people around. Time after time he was bullied and he desired to fight back. He thought he would have to make himself stronger, so he went out to the streets and watched the martial arts demonstrations. When he returned home, he tried to reproduce what he had seen. For conditioning, he tried to obtain the “Copper Skin Iron Bones” skill by striking himself repeatedly with a brick. His efforts did not lead to any great martial success, and ended up consuming his money to pay for the “Iron Hitting” medicine.

At the restaurant there was a Dim Sum chef named Cheung Bo, who was a famous Wing Chun teacher. Cheung Bo thought perhaps Sum Nung was dedicated enough to last a persevere and achieve good quality martial skills, so he took him on as a student. Sum Nung had a natural talent, understood the lessons quickly, and worked very hard, managing in 2 or 3 years to learn all Cheung Bo had to teach.

Cheung Bo thought Sum Nung had great potential and attain great things in martial arts, but he knew he had no more to teach. Cheung Bo decided to introduced Sum Nung to Yuen Kay-San, hoping Yuen could help Sum reach a higher level.

Yuen Kay-San was famous in Foshan, a wealthy merchant and lawyer for the county government. He was also a “center gate master” of Wing Chun and knew its principles at a very high level. Sum Nung, however, saw him as old and thin, and doubted that he could be any good. Yuen Kay-San saw that Sum Nung’s desire was great and thought perhaps that he could inherit his martial arts, so he decided to give the youth a lesson in his skills. Yuen Kay-San invited Sum Nung to use all he had learned to test him. Sum Nung took up the challenge and tried all his skills, attacking repeatedly, but each time, after only 1 or 2 movements, Yuen Kay-San would cut him off and leave him unable to continue. He then came to realize that Yuen Kay-San was very high quality.

Sum Nung followed Yuen Kay-San until Yuen passed away. Sum Nung will always remember his teacher, Yuen Kay-San. Yuen Kay-San liked Sum Nung and taught him the fists, dummies, pole, knives, flying darts, and medicine (which Sum Nung has previously been learning from Nationalist army doctor Wai Yuk-San). Sum Nung’s whole life became Wing Chun and medicine, When he soled Dim Sum, he would think of only Wing Chun and medicine and because of this, he often mixed up orders and the owner eventually fired him. Sum Nung was just over 20 at the time and he went to Guangzhou where he worked at some local Workers Unions, teaching some Wing Chun Kuen and practicing medicine until the Communists took over.

Since then, Sum Nung’s students have spread across China and around the world. Many professional fighters and wrestlers have come to him for lessons. Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen schools have been opened in New York, Washington, Australia, Canada, Columbia, Hong Kong, Macao, Venezuela, etc.by Sum Nung’s students, grand-students, and descendants.

Sum Nung retired from osteopathy and is now in his early 60s, but still looks like a man of 40. His “Inch Power” is very strong and he is known by the nick-name “Iron Arm”. He serves as an honorary advisor for the Guangdong Wushu Committee. If he were not so modest and did not refuse many interview requests, newspaper journalists have said that he would have been written about far more often.

This writer has a special relationship with Sum Nung and over the course of a year managed to get this story.

By Yuen Jo-Tong. Roughly translated from Chinese.


Sum Nung: Master of Wing Chun

Renowned for over a half-century in China, grandmaster Sum Nung (Cen Neng) has remained a well kept secret to most in the wing chun kuen family outside of the Bamboo Curtain. It is hoped that this article can help share with the reader grandmaster Sum Nung’s incredible legacy and his great contributions to the art of wing chun kuen.

Born in Peru, South America in May 1925, Sum Nung was brought to Foshan, Guangdong province, China by his father as a child so that their family name would continue in their native land. Originally from a well to do family, the Japanese occupation of the 1930s caused great hardship for the Sum’s, stripping them of much of their wealth and cutting them off from their relatives abroad. Eventually, to help support his family, Sum Nung took a job at Tin Hoi, a local restaurant in which his aunt was part owner. That is where it all began.

Due to his background, Sum Nung became a favored target for bullies. In order to defend himself, he developed an interest in martial arts. At first he tried to learn on his own by watching street performers, imitating their movements and conditioning methods. In 1938, however, when he was involved in a particularly violent encounter, his aunt asked the restaurant’s dim sum chef, Cheung Bo to take over Sum’s instruction.

Great Grandmaster Cheung Bo

Cheung Bo was born in April, 1899. He studied Hung ga kuen (reportedly from a monk) until an encounter with a wing chun kuen practitioner named Wai Yuk-Sang convinced him to switch over. Wai Yuk-Sang, a doctor with the Nationalist Army, was said to have been a grand-student of the famed Guangzhou marshal Fung Siu-Ching (a disciple of Red Junk Opera performer Painted Face Kam) who taught both medicine and martial arts in his spare time.

Cheung Bo had a fearsome reputation as a fighter. He taught wing chun kuen at the restaurant, at the Koi Yee Union, and from his home. In contrast to the types of wing chun kuen more widely seen today, Cheung Bo’s system did not make use of any boxing sets (kuen to, such as the siu lien tao or little first training). Instead, it was composed of separate forms (san sik), as well as a wooden dummy (muk yan jong) set, double-ended pole (seung tao gwun), and double knives (seung do).

Due to Cheung Bo’s large size and muscular frame, his wing chun kuen also differed in approach. Rather than keep his elbows closed on the meridian line (jee ng sin, an important point in the practice of other wing chun kuen boxers of the time), he used wider arms and compensated with quick and powerful facing and flanking methods.

Cheung Bo’s teaching methods were demanding and many found they could not last a long time under his tutelage but, seeing a great deal of determination in Sum Nung, Cheung knew he could give him a very solid foundation.

During workdays, Sum Nung would take every spare moment he could to practice, training his punches whenever his hands were free of the dim sum trays, and his forms whenever he found himself alone for a moment in the washroom. Even when he rested he would do so in a position that helped him stretch and better attain the demanding wing chun kuen postures. At night he would stay up past midnight to practice and wake up at dawn to continue.

Sum Nung’s dedication paid off and after a few years he learned all Cheung Bo had to teach.

More than just theory and training, even early on Sum Nung was forced to test his skills in real application. On one occasion, while he was carrying a heavily laden tray, Sum was attacked by a knife-wielding co-worker. Thinking quickly, Sum used the tray to block the attack and simultaneously kicked his opponent, sending the attacker flying across the kitchen.

On another occasion, Sum Nung was accosted by a man wielding double choppers–the large knives used to cut watermelons. While Cheung sat at a table a short distance away, Sum was forced to defend himself empty handed. As the deadly blades whipped by, Sum tried to protect himself as much as he could but received several nasty cuts along his arms. Luckily, he managed to find an opening and countered with lightning speed. Sum’s skillful response sent the man’s knives tumbling through the air, with one of the blades landing, point first, into the table in front of Cheung Bo.

Great Grandmaster Yuen Kay-San

Among Cheung Bo’s good friends at the time was Yuen Kay-San, the fifth son of the Zhenbei street fireworks merchant who was often referred to simply as Yuen the fifth (Yuen Lojia), who would often drop by to take tea at the restaurant.

Yuen Kay-San was born in 1889 and at a young age, his father arranged for him and his elder brother, Yuen Chai-Wan to study under the Foshan constable Fok Bo-Chuen (a disciple of Red Junk Opera martial lead actor Wong Wah-Bo and Painted Face Kam). From Fok, they learned the fist forms siu lien tao, chum kiu, (sinking bridge), and biu jee (darting fingers), as well as the wooden and bamboo dummy (juk jong), six-and-a-half point pole (luk dim boon gwun), and the double clamping yang slaying knives (yee jee kim yeung dit ming do), iron sand palm (tiet sa jeung) and other skills. When they had completed their lessons under Fok, the Yuen brothers invited Fung Siu-Ching, then just over seventy years of age, to retire at their home and followed him to learn close body (mai san) methods and advanced application until the old martial passed away at the age of seventy-three. Following Fung’s passing, the Yuen brothers went their separate ways. In roughly 1936, Yuen Chai-Wan moved to Vietnam while Yuen Kay-San stayed in Foshan and spent his time systematically analyzing his wing chun kuen, going on to became one of the first to organize and record its principles.

When Yuen Kay-San visited the restaurant, he often got a chance to see Cheung Bo’s students practicing and over time, came to admire the work ethic of Sum Nung. Eventually, seeing his friend’s interest and knowing he had already imparted as much as he could, Cheung Bo arranged for Sum Nung to continue his training under Yuen Kay-San.

Sum Nung was hesitant at first. He had been learning from Cheung Bo for a few years and saw Yuen Kay-San, older and thinner, as a stark contrast to his powerful looking teacher. This feeling led him to question Yuen’s skills. Yuen, however, seeing in Sum Nung a great desire and potential, was willing to indulge the youth. Promising that the youth could use all that he knew, and vowing only to defend in return, Yuen Kay-San invited Sum Nung to touch hands with him.

Sum Nung, his curiosity piqued, took up Yuen’s challenge. Sum attacked with all his vigor and the full range of his skills, but each time Yuen Kay-San calmly intercepted his techniques and after only one or two movements left Sum off balance, out of position, and unable to continue. Realizing that Yuen’s skills were of the highest level, Sum quickly became his student.

Fighting Spirit

Yuen Kay-San wanted to ensure he gave Sum Nung as encompassing an education as possible. In addition to one-on-one and group fighting, Chinese medicine, Chinese literature, and other pursuits, Yuen sought to give Sum confidence and a fighting spirit. Towards this end, he set up some public demonstrations for Sum and also some friendly tests of skill.

The first such test Sum Nung faced was against a famed local practitioner of one of Southern China’s “long bridge and big horse” (cheung kiu dai ma) systems. A stark contrast to wing chun kuen, Yuen felt it an important step in Sum’s training. The encounter was set to take place on a local rooftop. When the fight began, and the powerful roundhouse of his opponent came hurtling towards him, Sum Nung stood his ground, dissolved the attack, and promptly swept his adversary, knocking him into the roof-top’s railing wall and sending a few dislodged bricks clattering down to the street below. This led Sum Nung to realize that wing chun kuen was useful against a broad spectrum of other arts.

To further this idea, Yuen Kay-San next set Sum Nung up to face a well-known local wrestler. This opponent proved wilier and instead of attacking directly, he sought to fake out Sum Nung with feints. When their bridges finally touched, Sum was initially in a disadvantageous position and his opponent moved quickly to tackle him. Sum’s reflexes took over, however, and he cleared the wrestler’s grappling attempt and at the same time struck the man in the flank, sending him to the ground.

Sum Nung also had the chance to gain experience through touching hands with friends and peers. One man, much bigger and stronger, tried to use brute force to reach his flank but Sum changed quickly, gaining the advantage, and letting him fall to the floor. On another occasion, when a man told him he didn’t believe wing chun should contain any throwing movements, Sum made use of the wrapping arm from the chum kiu set to flip the man up and over onto his head. Yet a third time, on the restaurant rooftop where he worked, a man tried to use of a hard slapping movement to shock Sum’s forearm, but Sum reacted instantly by going with the force and leaking around it.

These and other encounters, in addition to making Sum Nung very grateful for having the fortune of studying under Yuen Kay-San, helped cement concept and application, forging him into a well-rounded, effective, and experienced martial artist.

Beginning his Career

By 1943, Sum Nung had made much progress and his reputation had grown to the point where people sought him out for lessons. This led to him accepting a few students whom he taught out of the Deep Village Temple. Among those early students was his uncle, Sum Jee who had previously been a well-known Hung boxer. He quickly gained other students as well, all experienced martial artists, many of whom were much older than he, attracted by the quality of his skill. Hard working and willing to test their knowledge, Sum Nung’s early students made his reputation for teaching as solid as it already was for fighting.

Alongside his wing chun kuen training, Sum Nung had also followed Cheung Bo’s teacher, Dr. Wai Yuk-Sang, in the study of osteopathy (ditda) and breathing exercises (heigung/qigong). Late in life, Wai Yuk-Sang experienced a profound spiritual change and became a Taoist priest. Deeply regretting that he had taught the martial arts, and thinking that someday his teachings, as they were passed down and spread to succeeding generations, may be used to harm or even kill someone, he wanted to make amend. With that in mind he taught Sum Nung the kidney breathing returns to source (sun hei gwai yuen) exercise and instructed him to perform it both before and after training, so that the martial arts would always be surrounded by the healing arts.

Moving to Guangzhou

Around 1945, with his devotion to wing chun kuen and medicine leaving him little time for restaurant work, Sum Nung decided to move to the nearby provincial capitol of Guangzhou to establish his medical practice. In the beginning, to help make ends meet, he taught wing chun kuen to members of local Iron and Five-Metal Workers Unions. When teaching his early students, Sum Nung
organized some of the separate techniques (san sao) that he had learned from both Cheung Bo and Yuen Kay-San, into the twelve separate forms (sup yee san sik), which included sections such as meridian punch (jee ng choi), single dragon punch (duk lung choi), inside outside yin yang palm (loi lim yum yeung jeung), flapping wing palm (pok yik jeung), and white crane catches the fox (bak hok kum wu), among others.

In Guangzhou, like in Foshan before, his encounters with other local practitioners helped grow his reputation and attract more and more students. Due to friction between the different guilds, many of which employed martial artists to teach their members, fighting became regular and eventually, hundreds became involved in almost weekly challenge matches at the nearby mountain. This, and concerns over wing chun kuen’s effectiveness in countering the seizing and holding techniques (fan kum na/ fan qin na) of the police lead to the local government’s banning of the teaching of wing chun kuen in the city.

In the mid-1950s Sum Nung made a short trip to Hong Kong to teach a seminar for the Fruit Market Union. Over a hundred people attended and the seminar was quite successful, especially his demonstrations of the counter kicking and fast throwing techniques of wing chun kuen. Despite requests to continue teaching by the union members, offers of partnership from other instructors, and warnings from old friends that China was getting ready to close its borders, Sum Nung was eager to get back to his family and thus returned to Guangzhou. Originally, he had intended to journey again to Hong Kong but before that could become reality, his friend’s warning came true and the borders were closed.

Sum Nung continued to travel back and forth to Foshan on the weekends to visit Cheung Bo and train under Yuen Kay-San until they both passed away in 1956.


Sum Nung was sometimes referred to by the nickname Tiet Bei (Iron Arms) Nung due to the explosive short power he could generate from his forearms with techniques such as the barring arm and center-cleaving arm. One encounter that helped fuel the nickname occurred during the Cultural Revolution. In those days, Communist China did not support the traditional martial arts and many practitioners were harassed, persecuted, and sometimes even killed. It was under these conditions that grandmaster Sum Nung was reportedly set upon one day by a gang of fanatics. In the course of defending himself, Sum Nung broke the arm of one of his attackers with a penetrating barring arm technique and managed to emerge unscathed. Shortly thereafter, Sum Nung was riding his motorcycle one day when he was cut off by a truck. When he confronted the driver, a knife-wielding compatriot attacked him from the side. Sum managed to deflect most of the attack with a half-dispersing-half-wing technique, but the blade was sufficiently long that it still stabbed slightly into his chest. Knowing that hesitation could prove fatal, Sum quickly threw his assailant to the side and simultaneously struck out with a tiger tail kick to the man’s ribs. The attacker limped away, badly injured from the devastating strike.

Other encounters lead to Sum Nung also establishing his reputation among the new, government schooled, martial arts experts. Another provincial wrestling champion, seeking something to bridge the gap between his long boxing and his Chinese (sut gao/shuaijiao) and Greco-Roman wrestling came to Sum Nung and proclaimed he could take Sum’s punch and then tackle him to the ground. Sum invited him to try and when the man came in, Sum flanked him and used a spiraling wing arm (bong sao) movement to knock him down. The man quickly became Sum’s student.

Guangzhou (Canton) Wing Chun

During the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution, grandmaster Sum Nung continued to teach wing chun kuen but did so only privately, not wanting to attract attention. When some of his students moved to Hong Kong in the late-1960s and early-70s, they used the name Guangzhou Wing Chun Kuen to both distinguish their branch and to maintain the privacy of grandmaster Sum Nung, still in the Mainland.

Expanding the Art

Over the years, teaching only those whom he felt were upright and trustworthy, grandmaster Sum Nung went on to train many outstanding students (with apologies, far too many to list here). In addition to Sum Jee, Sum Nung’s students from the late 1940s to early 1960s included Ma Yiu-Moon, former dragon-shape boxer Lao Lo-Wai, former Ngok family boxer Ngok Jin-Fun, Pang Chao, and Leung King-Chiu (know as Dai Chiu, who moved to Hong Kong around 1970 and later to the United States).

From the mid-1960s, his students included the late Dong Chuen-Kam, Ngo Lui-Kay (who relocated to Canada in 1982), Kwok Wan-Ping (Fu family internal boxer who established the Guangzhou Wing Chun Taiji Institute in Hong Kong in the late 1960s), Lee Chi-Yiu (who moved to Hong Kong in the early 1970s), and Wong Wah (Tom Wong, who relocated to Los Angeles). Others also adapted his methods and spread them throughout the Pearl River Delta and as far as South East Asia.

Sum Nung has also endeavored to help keep wing chun kuen “in the family.” Honoring a pledge he made his first teacher, Sum Nung taught Cheung Bo’s seventh son, known as Ah Chut. Following Cheung Bo’s passing, those students wishing to continue their training followed Sum Nung either directly or through Ah Chut. Sum Nung and his students have also shared their insights with Yuen Kay-San’s grandson, Jo-Tong, who has written considerably on the art Martial World (Wulin), New Martial Hero (San Mo Hop) and other periodicals. In addition, Sum Nung is passing along the art to his own family, including his son, Sum Dek.

Sum Nung’s Legacy

Grandmaster Sum Nung has continued to develop and refine his art over the decades, concentrating on practical application. So great and lengthy have his contributions been, many of his followers around the world have begun calling their art Sum Nung Wing Chun Kuen, in his honor.

Originally published in Inside Kung Fu


Yuen Kay-San, Master of Wing Chun Boxing

First of all, let me begin by saying that I am the legitimate descendant of Wing Chun jongsi Yuen Kay-San (Yuen the Fifth). I have received and retained many of my grandfather, Yuen Kay-San’s, notes and have often heard the accounts of Sum Nung and have thus come to know much about Wing Chun’s history. However, I can not say with absolute certainty that the accounts of my grandfather, Yuen Kay-San, and Sum Nung are the only correct version and the ones which should be held as the standard. Instead, I believe we should look at the authoritative historical records of Wing Chun kept by the Foshan Committee.

[Some have suggested that] there are more than five sects of the Wing Chun School, of which little is known. [and that] the reason for knowing so little is due to the discord and distrust among the various sects, the implication being that the Wing Chun school of martial arts is somehow in the midst of internal dissension. Factually speaking, according to recorded accounts at the Foshan Committee, the reason for there being five sects of Wing Chun is due to the natural evolutionary changes of the martial artists throughout the course of history, the subsequent development of different styles, techniques and practices, and geographical separation.

Records on the origins of Wing Chun, the five sects, and various masters may be found at the Foshan Committee. [Some have also mentioned] that the expansion of Wing Chun in Foshan is credited to Leung Jan. I would like to discuss this particular matter in greater detail if I may.

In the early days, Wing Chun was shrouded in secrecy. Outsiders had only the vaguest idea of the origins of Wing Chun. One may ask, why is it that Leung Jan is credited with such a breakthrough in the history of martial arts at such a late date? The reason may be found in a book written by Ngau Sui-Jee (currently more than 8O years old, in good health, and living in Foshan) in the 1930′s- Foshan Jan Sin-Sang (Mr. Jan of Foshan), in which Ngau enhanced the influence of Leung Jan. This writing attracted much outside attention to Leung Jan, at which time the tradition of Wing Chun received more public exposure. Naturally, Leung Jan’s celebrated name was also related to his own broad range of highly developed skills and contributions toward the development of the Wing Chun fighting style.

The Foshan Committee and I both have a copy of Ngau Sui-Jee’s book Mr. Jan of Foshan.

Ngau Sui-Jee wrote yet another book about Yuen Kay-San jongsi. Upon completion of his book Juen Gai Yuen Kay-San (Biography of Yuen Kay-San), he submitted the book to Yuen Kay-San for review, however since Yuen Kay-San was a lawyer for the government, he did not wish the publicity and declined Mr. Au’s good intentions, thus the Biography of Yuen Kay-San was never published.

In the martial world, the writing of books on well known people was common place, not a special event, and books were written about many people. Today’s authors who write about the stories of martial artists are no different from Ngau Sui-Jee and his simplistic stories. I would be delighted if anyone wishing to understand the above would care to visit Ngau Sui-Jee, who is alive and well, and as him to substantiate what I am saying.

While I am not willing to get involved with controversies between outsiders and my grandfather, Yuen Kay-San, as far as the mistakes concerning my grandfather Yuen Kay-San, naturally I feel quite qualified to clear up any questions surrounding this issue. I also maintain that I am the most qualified authority on this issue, that is, when you consider that the accounts provided by my grandfather, uncle, father and Sum Nung (the student of Yuen Kay-San) are all in total agreement. Even minor details related to Yuen Kay-San have been substantiated by the accounts kept by the Foshan Committee.

Although I, Yuen Jo-Tong, am a middle age adult, my understanding of martial arts is somewhat limited. I have never been initiated into any style of Wing Chun. However, according to the consistent accounts of my father, uncle, Sum Nung and the documents of the Foshan Committee regarding my deceased grandfather, early in his youth, my grandfather Yuen Kay-San studied under the Qing dynasty Ngao Moon Bo Tao (imperial constable) Fok Bo-Chuen. In one of the records kept by the Foshan Athletic Committee it is written that:

Dai Fa Min Kam (Painted Face Kam) taught Wing Chun Kuen, to Fung Siu-Ching in Guangzhou. Fung, a native of Shunde, was later invited by Ma Bok-Leung of Foshan’s son, Ma Jung-Yiu; Jiu Gan-Heung, son of the owner of the Go Sing Tong (Charity Hall); Lo Hao-Po of the Yin Joy restaurant; Nanhai native Li Guang-Po; NgNgau Si of the Fai Jee (Chopsticks) street Butcher Shop; Leung Yan of Fa Hung Road; Yuen Kay-San, son of the owner of the fireworks store on Chen Bak Road (as well as Yuen Kay-San’s fourth brother Yuen Chai-Wan who was known as Dao Po Chai (Pock Skin Chai) and who was later invited to teach martial arts at the Nanhai & Shude Union in Vietnam) to teach Wing Chun Boxing in Foshan. At that time, Fung Siu-Ching lived and was cared for at the Yuen family’s ancestral home of Song Yuen (Mulberry Gardens) in Foshan (this building is now the tax office located on Fushen Road, Foshan City). Fung Siu-Ching remained there until he passed away at an age of 73 years. Ma Jung-Yiu, Yuen Kay-San, Jiu Gang-Heung, Ngau Si, and others officiated at Fung’s funeral.

Because Yuen Kay-San did not publicize who he learned from, I feel I need to explain things. I admire frankness and the discarding of the random creation of hearsay with regard to the history of Chinese traditions and culture, however when one is engaged in writing history, one should not substitute what one does not know with popular folklore. Such a practice is a crime against history itself. Please forgive me for my frank yet well-intentioned admonishment.

I maintain that, due to historical reasons and the results of the traditional concept of maintaining secrecy, the problems related to the history of martial arts which our forefathers left us must be tackled anew by this generation. Moreover, our generation must undo the various regrettable problems which still exist in the inner circles of Wing Chun.

I approve of those in the martial arts, especially the insiders, and their attempts toward friendly relations. I once met with sifu Leung Ting, a student of Yip Man. His friendliness and sincerity moved me greatly, not to mention my respect for his contributions to Wing Chun martial arts. There is also an article which appeared in the overseas edition of the Yang Sing Wan Po (Canton Evening News) in which I interviewed sifu Leung Ting. I feel it would be very beneficial if persons such as sifu Leung Ting and his teacher, Yip Man, were introduced to the Chinese reading public.

Feeling a deep sense of obligation and responsibility, my superior Sum Nung and I hereby present these facts.

By Yuen Jo-Tong. Roughly translated from Chinese


Lun Gai – From Where the Water Flows

Much is written about the life of Master Yip Man and his students in Hong Kong, his teachings and followers have received wide publicity. Generally little has been published about his teaching in Foshan and his disciples from these early days.

Over the last four years I have had the great pleasure of studying with one of Yip Man’s original students, Master Lun Jie.
With over 20 years experience learning learning and teaching Wing Chun I have had the opportunity to research this style and its many branches in England, Hong Kong and China. I have found Master Lun’s method illuminating. This is his story:

Sifu Lun was born in 1926, he began to study Wing Chun at the age of 14 under Yip Man who was about 40 at this time. This was during the occupation by Japanese forces. The class would meet in secrecy in a warehouse as the practise of martial arts was banned by the Japanese.

The classes were held during the evenings and attended by six students. Master Yip Man had no interest in teaching a lot of students, in fact Sifu Lun recalls Yip Man saying that he didn’t intend to take any more.

During training Master Yip laid great emphasis on the practise of Wing Chun’s first form Sil Lum Tao and on horse stance practice.

When they practiced Chi Sao they would cover their eyes, Master Yip would go around and play Chi Sao with all of his students, his sensitivity was so refined he could tell which one of his students he was training with just by the feel.

Master Lun recalls a story of when Yip Man was out walking with a relaitive. The relative got involved in an argument with a detective. As the argument became more heated the detective pulled out his gun to shoot, Yip Man grabbed the gun and broke it.

Yip Man left Foshan around 1949 before the liberation of China. As a policeman he feared that he might be arrested by the new regime. Some time later the members of the class scattered and lost contact with each other.

In the original class Sifu Lun’s older Kung Fu brother was Guo Fu. Sifu Lun recalls at this time Guo Fu was much better at Wing Chun than he was, being six years older he was much stronger and able to apply the techniques in a more realistic manner.

Sifu Lun made an effort to try and contact Guo Fu but to no avail, at the same time Guo Fu was also trying to find Sifu Lun. Knowing his old classmate was an electrician by trade he would always ask any electricians he met if they knew Sifu Lun.

One time Guo Fu was near Guangzhou he met an electrician who said he knew Sifu Lun and that he had returned to Foshan and was working in a pump factory. Guo Fu wrote a letter to the pump factory in Foshan which Sifu Lun received, the old classmates were reunited in 1958 and have been close friends ever since, They began to train and research Wing Chun and continue to do this up to the present day.

Cultural Revolution

During the cultural revolution the practice of martial arts was banned, anyone practicing would be branded a counter revolutionary. Sifu Lun did practice throughout this period mostly in his home, sometimes lie would go to the park and to the Ancestral Temple.

Often the practice at the Temple would be watched by a policeman who was himself a martial arts practitioner so he never reported them. The authorities all over China were very nervous about the practice of martial arts, this was particularly true about the practice of Wing Chun with its emphasis on attack and combat techniques.

Many martial arts masters were persecuted by the Red Guards, this included torture, imprisonment and death.

I asked Sifu Lun if he had ever had to use his Wing Chun in a real life situation. He said that it is not his intention to right and he doesn’t want his students to fight. There was one occasion, however, just after the cultural revolution when he went out on his bicycle into the countryside at night. He was travelling along a dark road when two men jumped out in front of him, as he stopped the light on his bicycle went out. He quickly put the bicycle down, one man threw a powerful punch towards Sifu Lun. Lun applied the Kuo Sao movement from Wing Chun’s second form Chum Kiu. He heard the breaking of bone and the man screamed with pain, turning to the side the other man had already launched a kick which glanced on Lun’s thigh.

The man didn’t follow up the attack hearing his accomplice’s screams, both men fled.

Foshan Wing Chun, Hong Kong Wing Chun?

On the development of Wing Chun in Hong Kong and the differences between Foshan and Hong Kong Chun as taught today.

Sifu Lun doesn’t know why the teaching of Yip Man was different in Hong Kong, he can only assume that Yip Man might have added or dropped some movements, he also might have allowed his students more freedom interpreting the movements, this would account for the differences of his followers.

He does, however, know that Yip Man only taught the Bagua steps in Foshan. During Sifu Lun’s four year’s training with Yip Man he always taught the conventional method of punching, before he left Foshan he told his students to use the Phoenix Eye punch, a method which Sifu Lun still favours today.

Even in Foshan there are people who claim to teach Yip Man’s method yet Sifu Lun doesn’t know how this can be. As long as Guo Fu and Lun Jie can remember Yip Man only had six students, four of which are now dead.

Sifu Lun’s method is very direct, the amount of power he generates over such a short distance is phenomenal. I was on the receiving end of many “Jerk Hands” techniques and his “Slap Block” made my whole body shake.

Although nearly 70 his hands are still very fast, on one occasion we were discussing how to apply force with the Phoenix Eye punch.

Our training area was on a rooftop and Master Lun proceeded to demonstrate the punch on a large metal water tank, his right hand flicked into the tank with a thud as he continued to explain the point.

The point was lost for a while as the centre of attention was the dent that had appeared in the water tank, “Sifu you’ve dented the tank”. He laughed loudly then continued the explanation. Since that day I have seen him train by punching trees and brick walls.

Master Lun is a very humble man, during training he apologized for any deficiencies in his teaching. He said that Guo Fu and himself were not educated men, in fact Sifu Lun has only had one year’s schooling. Both men have concentrated on developing and researching the direct fighting method as taught by Yip Man in Foshan.

The Forms

The Foshan method has the same number of forms similar to those taught in Hong Kong.

The first form is around the same length as the Hong Kong version but some of the angles are very different, all the other forms are longer with a greater variety of techniques.

Yip Man also didn’t teach the Single Sticking Hand or any other method apart from two handed Chi Sao.


An Interview with Fung Sang’s Family

by Jim Roselando

One of the most well known names in Master Leung Jan’s Side Body Boxing family was Fung Sang Sifu! The late Fung Sang Sifu was the first member of the Fung family to openly teach his families art in Hong Kong. In our family it is said; before Chun Suk (Fung Chun) and Fung Chiu, there was Fung Sang! Fung Sang Sifu was interviewed (by the Sun Mo Hop magazine) many years ago but to this day not much is known about this talented man. So, I contacted Fung Sang SiBok’s family and we organized an interview! Respect to Fung Sang!

Family History

Fung Sang was born in 1940 and passed away in 2006. His father, Fung Lim was a practitioner of Fuzhou (Fujian) Nam Kuen “southern fist” {not White Crane} for over eighteen years. When Fung Lim returned home to Kulo village he experienced the art of Side Body Boxing and discovered that nothing he had trained was as effective as the Kung Fu King’s teaching! Fung Lim then discarded his previous art and started training with Master Wong Wah Sam!

Master Wong Wah Sam had eight disciples. Of the eight it is said that Fung Lim, Fung Min and Fung Chun were the most active. Fung Lim taught his son from an early age but wanted his son to learn as much as possible so he sent his son to train with his Kung Fu brother, Gu Siu Lung. Gu Siu Lung was one of Master Wong Wah Sam’s eight disciples. Fung Sung Sifu trained with Gu Siu Lung for the last three years of his life. Today the Gu lineage is no longer active.

The Teaching

Fung Sang Sifu began teaching when he was only thirty years old. He taught in three districts of Hong Kong. {Tai Hing, Yau Ma Tei and Tuen Mun} Fung Sang’s teaching was public but it was mostly friends and family who trained with him. They were fishermen and would meet in the park after work every day to practice and socialize. Fung Sang’s closest and senior disciple is Mr. Fung Ho Chiu. Fung Ho Chiu trained with Fung Sang since 1968 and when we called on Fung Sang’s family for the interview it would be Fung Sang’s son (Tim Fung) and Fung Ho Chiu who would answer all our questions.

The art of Side Body Boxing is rooted in the Twelve Fists of Master Leung Jan but there is much more to the systems curriculum to be studied, which, lead to different expressions of the art. One element of Kulo history that was confirmed from this interview was; Who developed the Yee Sup Yee or Twenty Two Point Kulo system? It was Fang Sang’s father, Fung Lim, who developed, and taught, this system to the public! The system that Fung Sang taught consisted of Eighteen Points (12/6), Dummy, Pole & Dbl Knives. Fung Ho Chiu said this about his sifu’s teaching, “Ging power comes from “yao yun” soft power from the waist. In the early training the horse is emphasized along with the 18 basics single man followed by the Chi Sao two man training.”

Today & Tomorrow

Fung Sang Sifu was extremely active his entire life with his Pin Sun Wing Chun. Today there are only a few close students preserving Fung Sang’s art and boxing in the world. There are no schools or active public teachers in Hong Kong. Yet, men like Fung Ho Chiu Sifu are still going strong and training daily with a few! This is how the art is passed on today and unless we continue to actively search for the roots our art we will have no chance for a strong tomorrow. Thanks to Fung Sang Sifu’s diligent training, research and teaching throughout his entire life, this obvious love for his art would later allow him to become one of the most well known and respected figures in the history of our Pin Sun Wing Chun family! I leave you with some words from Fung Ho Chiu Sifu to give you a good idea as to how the art is taught and preserved in 2010; “There are no teachers in Hong Kong today. I work as a textile worker with cloth. I train most every day for my health. There is no school but I do have a few students and my son who train.”


Sum Nung Wing Chun Kuen Methods

by Rene Ritchie

The fifteen year old had been learning Wing Chun kuen for the last couple of years from a fellow Foshan restaurant worker. During those years, the he’d oticed that every once in a while, a slender sumnung1looking old man would come to the restaurant to take tea. Sometimes, following dinner, the old man would remain behind long after the establishment closed and watch their Wing Chun kuen practice. Although the old man looked on intently and was presumably quite interested in their activities, he always sat quietly, never criticizing anything he saw. Thus, it came as quite a shock to the youth when, one day, his teacher came to him and stated that the old man was in fact a Wing Chun kuen master of highly advanced skill. His teacher went on to tell the youth that the old man had been impressed by his dedication and hard work and had offered to take over his training. The youth was uncertain how to proceed. He turned his attention first to his teacher, large and powerful and then to the old man, who was small and thin and presumably long passed his prime. The youth’s observations led him to express doubts about the old man’s abilities. Nevertheless his teacher, Cheung Bo brought him over and introduced the youth, Sum Nung, to the old man, Yuen Kay-San. They spoke for a few minutes and Sum again stated his reservations. Intrigued by the youth and sensing his potential, Yuen decided to offer him a potential solution. The old man told the youngster that he was going to place eggs inside his pockets and then they would have a match. If, during the match, the youth succeeded in breaking even one of the eggs, the old man vowed he would admit defeat and be on his way. The youth quickly agreed to the simple sounding challenge and the contest was soon underway. Sum attacked repeatedly with all the power and skill his hard work and training had given him, yet each time he felt himself cut off and unable to continue after only one or two actions. Yuen remained calm throughout and hardly seemed to be moving at all. Nevertheless, when the match ended, Sum Nung stood back, confident that he had been victorious. It took mere moments for that confidence to shatter, however, as Yuen Kay-San slowly pulled all the eggs from his pockets. None were broken, not even so much as a crack.

Wing Chun kuen is not a technical style, it is a conceptual system. More than a set combinations of pre-patterned movements, it is an ingenious index and guide to the core principles of Southern Chinese martial arts. Thus, in the Wing Chun kuen of Yuen Kay-San, as taught by grandmaster Sum Nung, it is the yiu dim (yao dian, important ideas) that are vital, since from them come the many individual applications and implications.


Yuen Kay-San (Ruan Qishan) was born in 1889 to a wealthy family who owned a fire-works store. The fifth son of the family, he was often called by the nickname Yuen Lo Jia (Ruan Laozha, Yuen the Fifth). At a young age, Yuen Kay-San and his elder brother Chai-Wan (Jiyun) began studying Wing Chun kuen under a Foshan constable named Fok Bo-Chuen (Huo Baoquan). Fok had learned the art from Hung Suen Hay Ban (Hongchuan Xiban, Red Junk Opera Company) classmates Wong Wah-Bo (Huang Huabao) and Dai Fa Min Kam (Dahuamian Jin, Painted Face Kam). After completing their studies under Fok, the Yuen brothers sought out another student of Painted Face Kam named Fung Siu-Ching (Feng Shaoqing). Fung had worked as an Imperial Marshal and a guard for the Sichuan governor but by the time the Yuen’s approached him, he was just over 70 and ready to retire. The Yuen’s invited Fung to move into their family estate on Foshan’s Songyuan Dajie (Mulberry Gardens Main Street) where he taught Wing Chun kuen to them and a few of their friends. Since Yuen Kay-San was already accomplished in Wing Chun kuen, Fung Siu-Ching concentrated on teaching him practical application and close-body fighting (including joint locks and breaks, reverse locking, etc.)

Following their training with Fung Siu-Ching, the Yuen brothers took different paths. In 1936, Yuen Chai-Wan moved to Vietnam where he taught Wing Chun at the Nanhai and Shunde Expatriates Association. Yuen Kay-San, on the other hand, stayed in Foshan and worked on developing his Wing Chun kuen. Throughout his lessons, Yuen had always taken copious notes. He then spent time analyzing the scientific principles of Wing Chun kuen and became one of the first to document its formal concepts. Linking together and refining all the knowledge he had acquired, he developed a complete understanding of Wing Chun kuen and went on to found remarkable methods and principles encompassing its forms and functions.

One of Yuen Kay-San’s close friends at the time, Cheung Bo (Zhang Bao), worked as a chef at Tien Hoi, a local restaurant next to Kuaizi (Chopstick) street. Cheung, a large and powerful man, taught san sik (san shi, twelve separate forms) based Wing Chun kuen to a small group of fellow staff members at night when the establishment was closed. One of his students at the time was a teenager named Sum Nung (Cen Neng).

After a brief introduction and quick lesson in the skills of Yuen Kay-San, Sum Nung became Yuen’s student. Over the years, Yuen and Sum spent much time together, constantly practicing Wing Chun kuen. From Yuen, Sum learned the siu lien tao (xiao lian tou, little first training), chum kiu (chen qiao,sinking bridge), biu jee (biao zhi, darting fingers), muk yan jong (mu ren zhuang, wooden dummy), luk dim boon gwun (liu dian ban gun, six-and-a-half-point pole), yee jee seung do (er zi shuang dao, parallel double knives) and worked at developing his chi sao (chi shou, sticking arms) and other skills. When not practicing, Sum would sit beside Yuen Kay-San while Yuen discussed Wing Chun kuen’s concepts. Under Yuen’s guidance, Sum continued to refine and polish his Wing Chun kuen, developing an intelligent and practical system, as efficient as it was effective.

By the mid-1940s, Sum Nung had gained a great reputation in Foshan for his depth of knowledge and fighting skills. In the late 1940s, Sum Nung moved to the nearby provincial capitol of Guangzhou to pursue his medical career. In the early days, he supported himself by teaching Wing Chun kuen and providing medical services to members of the local Workers’ Unions.

Although Sum Nung, like Yuen Kay-San before him, did not boast of his abilities nor seek out confrontation, he did on occasion have friendly tests of skill with practitioners of other martial art styles. Although he seldom spoke of the encounters out of respect for his opponents’ reputations, it is said that in them, he never met with failure and his reputation in Guangzhou grew steadily.

Following Yuen Kay-San’s passing in 1956, Sum Nung renamed his system in his teacher’s honor in order to ensure Yuen’s name and contributions to Wing Chun kuen would live on. Due to the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution that followed, Sum Nung taught his system privately. Over the last half-century, however, teaching only those whom he felt were upright and trustworthy, grandmaster Sum Nung has gone on to train many outstanding students.

Due to the quality of his training, and the many sources from which Wing Chun kuen flowed down to him, grandmaster Sum Nung was able to give his students not only his practical experience in application, but also his deep insight into the concepts and principles behind it.

Wing Chun Kuen Concepts

There are many important concepts in Wing Chun kuen such as “linking defense to bring in offense”, “techniques come from the heart”, “sticking hands is like asking the way”, and one of the most famous, the “meridian line”.

The jee ng sien (zi wu xian, meridian line), sometimes referred to as the central line, sagittal place, etc. is behind many of the major concepts of Wing Chun kuen. Like most Chinese concepts, it can be viewed in several different ways. Firstly, it defines the line that vertically bisects the practitioner’s body from the crown-point all the way down to the central point between the feet. Secondly, it indicates the same line through an opponent’s body. Thirdly, it encompasses the most direct root between the practitioner’s center and that of the opponent.

Wing Chun kuen seeks advantage by aligning its structure and weapons on the central meridian, striking the opponent’s center of balance, and maintaining dominance of the line between the two throughout combat.

In addition to the general principles, Yuen Kay-San left behind several formal written sets in poetic form, including the sup yee faat (shi er fa, twelve methods). Wing Chun kuen is based on these methods of joining, intercepting, sinking, darting, sticking, feeling, pressing, swinging, swallowing, slicing, stealing, and leaking. They are at the same time the simplest and yet the most profound of Yuen Kay-San’s written principles. Profound in meaning, the twelve methods provide a gateway to deeper understanding of the style.

Although each of the twelve methods can be interpreted and applied in different ways, basic explanations can help give insight into their potential. Joining is to make contact with the bridges. Intercepting involves the cutting-off the offense of an opponent. Sinking deals with the destruction of the opponent’s structure. Darting advocates the relaxed and accurate thrusting of power. Sticking relies on contact to gather information. Feeling uses contact to maintain positioning during the dynamics of combat. Pressing applies power like an iron on clothing. Swinging turns the reactions of opponents against them. Swallowing accepts an opponent’s power instead of resisting it. Slicing carves into an opponent to disrupt their center of gravity. Stealing fills the empty holes in an opponent’s defense. Leaking runs through an opponent’s actions.

Tactical advice is passed down in the system through sets of four character rhyming couplets such as the yiu ku (yao jue, important rhymed formulae) and the similar faat mun (fa men, methodologies).

These formulae impart advice including; as force comes, it should be received and kept. It is never resisted or knocked away but accepted and adhered to. As force goes, it is accompanied, escorted back, and added to. When a loss of contact occurs, or the body is crossed, a practitioner is advised to charge straight down the central meridian.

Wing Chun kuen does not prepare or plan out ahead of time and stubbornly enact these plans regardless of circumstance. It attacks according to current conditions and is alive and ever changing. Every offense is a defense and each defense is an offense. When changes are done skillfully, a practitioner can achieve twice the results with only half the effort.

Wing Chun kuen boxers must learn to apply their power in the most advantageous way, moving with the wind rather than against it. Its power is soft, calm, and quiet. Practitioners must therefore have faith in themselves to use it. Soft is employed to overcome hard, but both hard and soft are combined in use. Enemies are fought fiercely and attacks may be initiated in order to gain control. Once an initial attack is made, it is followed in succession until the target is no more.

Sets of five character rhyming couplets pass along training principles in the Yuen Kay-San system. They include the yiu jee (yao zhi, important ideas) and the ching yan (qian yin, introductions). These sets relate to working hard, being healthy, studying, being nimble, using the eyes, and being first.

Some of the training principles include that strength must be exacting in position, never overextended. It is aware, follows, and changes with feeling. During training, the eyes should be angry and look straight forward. Changes should be explored through sticking with a partner. A teacher must correct these practices. When there is no teacher and no partner, a mirror and dummy should be used to aid in this pursuit and one must imagine an enemy is present.

In addition, practitioners are advised to follow the methods of the ancestors, but to remember to change according to conditions. Lastly, it is said that if one works hard and trains, one is unlikely to meet with failure.

Preserving the Legacy

Among the better known individuals fortunate enough to have learned from grandmaster Sum Nung (with apologies, far to many to list completely here) are Leung Dai-Chiu (Liang Dazhao), Ngo Lui-Kay (Ao Leiqi), Kwok Wan-Ping (Guo Yunping), Lee Chi-Yiu (Li Zhiyao), Wong Wah (Huang Hua, Tom Wong), as well as Teddy Wong and many, many others.

Ngo Lui-Kay followed grandmaster Sum Nung from the mid-1960s until he relocated to Canada in 1982. As the concepts were passed from Yuen Kay-San to grandmaster Sum Nung, and from grandmaster Sum Nung to Ngo Lui-Kay and his many classmates, so have Ngo Lui-Kay and his classmates begun to share them with their own students and descendants. It is hoped that by introducing these concepts in the west, it will help to preserve the rare and unique system of Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen, and the teachings of grandmaster Sum Nung for future generations


Augustine Fong- short bio

by Curtis James

Augustine Fong was born on the island of Macao, off the coast of southern China. Since his early childhood, he has had a special interest in the Chinese martial arts. In 1960, he was fortunate enough toaugustine-fong-3 begin training in a traditional gung fu style. His instructor was the honorable Wing Chun master, Ho Kam Ming. Master Ho, a top student of the late grand master Yip Man, had, at that time, introduced the style to the Macao area. Augustine Fong, without a second thought, became one of his first students.

By 1964, master Ho’s school had grown considerably. The school had gained a reputation, so good, in fact, that a famous gung-fu school from Hong Kong decided to send a formal challenge. Challenges, back then, were very serious business. The challenging school, in this case, had also obtained an impressive name and reputation. It was undersood that they had fought and won over a hundred contests in this manner, and as a result, defeated a number of top schools in Hong Kong. Accepting the written challenge, master Ho decided that Fong would fight the match. Fong was master Ho’s best student and toughest fighter. On the appointed day, the challenger appeared along with his instructor and ten fellow students.

Out of courtesy, the challenger’s sifu was appointed the referee. The match was to consist of three rounds, with the only rule being you could not step out of the fighting area. During the fight, Fong dominated his opponent. In the second round, he became very aggressive, driving the challenger into a mok jeong (wooden dummy). In the third and final round, Fong continued his advantage, chasing and punching his opponent into a wall. Reeling off the wall, the challenger fell into a well-timed punch and was knocked unconscious. Without a word, his sifu and si dai picked him up and carried him out. Master Ho’s school, through Fong’s victory, had upheld its reputation. Fong, because of the encounter, became quite well known throughout Hong Kong and Macao. In Macao he is still known as Wing Chun’s “Gum-Pai Da-Sau,” or “Golden Ribbon Boxer.”

Following this incident, many new students, hearing of the school’s reputation, decided to enroll. To help with the increasing number of students, Fong was asked to assist master Ho in teaching. This was quite an honor for the young Fong. But instead of passing on the good news to his family, he chose to keep it to himself. His mother, during this time, was a very strict woman. Her opinion of the arts was not altogether high. She felt that skill in gung fu would only get one into trouble. So, instead of worrying his mother, Fong had decided from the beginning, to keep his skill a secret. And did he ever! For thirteen years, his mother never new that he was practicing the art of Wing Chun!

During this period, sifu Fong began studying under the Chinese herbalist, sifu Wong Bing Gong. Sifu Wong had learned his art from a monk and was well known for his healing ability. During World War II, he used his knowledge to cure a great many people. Sifu Wong taught Fong how to use “Dit Da” massage to heal broken bones and to treat bruises, strains, and sprains. Sifu Wong also taught him how to prepare herbs, and their medicinal remedies, all of which was valuable knowledge for a practitioner of the martial art.

In 1967, due to civil disturbances in Macao, Augustine Fong moved to Kowloon, Hong Kong. There, his instructor, master Ho, opened a Wing Chun school, where Fong practiced and taught for two years. Then, in 1969, following his father’s footsteps, sifu Fong immigrated to America. Moving to Nogales, Arizona, and then settling in Tucson, sifu Fong soon began to teach and promote the Wing Chun style. In Tucson, he accepted a position teaching self-defense for the city. The program worked out so well, that in 1973, prompted by his students and friends, he opened his own school. This was the first public Wing Chun school in the southwestern United States!

Today, with over twenty years of experience in the art, sifu Fong is considered to be among the top Wing Chun masters in the world. Not only is he a highly qualified Wing Chun instructor, but he is also well-versed in a wide variety of weapons. Wing Chun itself, has two weapons forms: the Six and 1/2 Point Long Staff and the Bot Jaam Do (Butterfly Knives). Besides these two weapons, sifu Fong is also highly skilled in the use of the Kuan Do, Three Sectional Staff, Spear, Half Moon, and Tiger Fork, to name a few. Sifu Fong, following Chinese tradition, also performs the southern Lion Dance which he learned from sifu Chan Gin Man. Sifu Chan, who lives in Kowloon, Hong Kong, teaches the Hung Sing Choi Lee Fut style of lion dance.

Sifu Fong has given martial arts demonstrations and performed lion dances throughout Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. He has organized two Martial Arts Exhibitions in Tucson, both very successful. Sifu Fong has appeared on numerous local television shows, as well as in articles published by “Inside Kung Fu” and “Black Belt” magazines. Currently, he operates a school in Tucson and an affiliated school in Phoenix, Arizona.


Sunny Tang – short bio

A native of Hong Kong and a second generation disciple of the famed grandmaster of Wing Chun, Yip Man (Bruce Lee’s Master). In 1969 Sifu Dunn Wah first established his Wing Chun Kung Fu school insunnytang1 Midland, England.

In 1971, he emigrated to Canada and left his most advanced student in charge of his British school. This student was Mario Reho. Since his arrival in Canada, two Wing Chun Kung Fu Academies have been established in Toronto. Since then Sifu Dunn Wah has become very active in the Chinese community. He is a director as well as life president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Inc. (East Toronto). Sifu Dunn Wah is also a director and vice-president of the Tang’s Fraternity Inc. of Ontario.

Some of his earlier students of his Canadian Wing chun schools have now established their own schools. These students include Paul Stiles, Ebenezer Shum, Tony Ng, Chris Hader and Darren Smith all of Ontario, and Joland Leung of British Columbia.

Sifu Dunn Wah is well on his way to becoming one of the mainstays of the development of Wing Chun Kung Fu in Canada.

source: “Pah Chum Do of Wing Chun” by Dunn Wah, Toronto: Champion Enterprises, 1984.


Samuel Kwok – short bio

Master Kwok was born in Hong Kong the son of a Church Minister, his interest in the martial arts started at an early age from watching performers at a local bazaar and over the coming years he studied samuel kwok 1several different styles, always with a deep interest in the technical side, analysing each for their practicality.

It was not until he came to England that he was introduced to Wing Chun. He studied with five Chinese Masters over the years, but as he became more proficient Samuel Kwok noticed variations in the techniques, so it was that Master Kwok decided to return to Hong Kong and go to the ultimate source of Wing Chun, to the Great Grandmaster’s son Yip Chun.

For the next few years Master Kwok had private tuition from Yip Chun, learning the pure and undiluted style. After gaining Master level in Wing Chun and opening a school in Hong Kong he left his Master, Yip Chun, but not before he promised to teach only the pure style of Wing Chun, a promise which Yip Chun made to his father Yip Man before his death, a vow which Yip Chun has strictly observed since that sad day.

Master Kwok became an important figure in the Hong Kong Kung Fu society, with his students, competing and demonstrating at major tournaments representing the Yip Man Martial Arts Association, and it was in Hong Kong that he met Bruce Li, the actor, becoming fast friends and training together regularly.

Since his return to Britain, Master Kwok has continued to teach Wing Chun, at first only privately, then after many requests he organised open schools, which have flourished, and now with new clubs opening all the time covering most of England, and plans to spread more throughout the world, the Samuel Kwok Martial Arts Association can only help to maintain the name of Wing Chun and the pure form of the art in the years to come and protect it from the changes that occur through instructors with an incomplete knowledge of the system, who use the name of Wing Chun to mislead students and to promote themselves to the detriment of the style, and with no regard for those who had preceded them, as you should always think of the source of the water which you are drinking.

source: “The Path to Wing Chun” by Samuel Kwok. London: Paul H. Crompton, 1984.