Ko Kin is one of the late great Wong Shun Leung`s early students, this interview was taken during the author`s visit to Hong Kong, back in 1998, not long after the untimely passing of Wong Sifu. Ko Kin runs a small, but very busy school in the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong. This interview gives an insight as to how one man believes Ving Tsun (Wing Chun) to be performed.
John Smith Tell me how you got involved with Wong Shun Leung, Ving Tsun. Ko Kin I was introduced to Sifu Wong Shun Leung by another student called Wan Kam Leung more than thirty (30) years ago. Wong Sifu was just starting to teach then and his hand techniques were devastating, as he was constantly testing them against other martial artists in many of his Bei Mo (Challenge fights) where he was never defeated. Wong Sifu authorised me many years ago to teach at the Ving Tsun Athletic Association, but now I teach in Wan Chai. I used not to teach Ving Tsun so openly but some friends of mine who are teachers in other martial arts, think that it is a pity that I was not teaching to the public as they all agreed that my hand technique was very effective.
John Smith What attracted you to Ving Tsun? Ko Kin As compared to other styles of Kung Fu it is more effective in a shorter period of time by the very nature of the use of Chi Sau (sticking hands). When trained properly this drill enables one to automatically flow on from one technique into another with out any interruption to the sequence of attack.
John Smith It has long been known that Wong Sifu was never defeated in any of the “no-holds” barred versions of challenge matches. Did you ever witness any of these events? Ko Kin Yes, of course many times I viewed these events but these bouts were always extremely short. His hand technique was very effective and there was never any wasted motion in what he used to defeat his opponents. Many times he would only use only a couple of techniques and the bout would be over very quickly with himself always as the victor.
John Smith It has long been known that Wong Sifu was also a teacher to the late great movie star, Bruce Lee. Did you ever have any contact with Bruce Lee or did you ever Chi Sau with him? Ko Kin Yes, I remembered him well. But as to myself actually physically training with him, I can’t recall it.
John Smith Did you ever meet the late great master, Yip Man? Ko Kin Yes, I did. He was a very old man who used to come in to visit and to talk at Wong Sifu’s school. At that time, Wong Sifu was teaching at Yaumati, Nathan Road.
John Smith What do you consider to be the main principles of Ving Tsun? Ko Kin There are actually two (2) main principles that I consider to be most important. One is the punch, it is the most direct method to hit an opponent and the attack is paramount to prevent him from countering you. Next is the stance, as you need to chase aggressively, so it is difficult for your opponent to maintain balance and composure. Do not give the opponent any opportunity to attack you. There is no need to just block and then hit, it needs to be done at the same time. These movements are very direct and do not resemble what is seen in the movies. Ving Tsun is a real style for fighting and is not used for any flashy demonstration.
John Smith What is the main importance of Chi Sau? Ko Kin There are many variations and thus it is an important drill to be used for real life fighting. It also promotes a habit to develop instinctive reactions to your opponent’s force. Some people in other countries I have heard practise Ving Tsun and place little or no importance on Chi Sau and instead use set routines, maybe they do not really understand Ving Tsun and they should really be doing something else. Chi Sau is not used for planned attacks and defences. It is used in a situation where anything and everything can happen. You should not need to think about what you are going to do, but to merely feel your opponent’s force, deflect it and penetrate through to your opponent. Do not follow your opponent’s hands, but follow your opponent with your punches.
John Smith Many people have borrowed on or seen Ving Tsun hand techniques, but can you comment on Ving Tsun footwork? Ko Kin Footwork should only be used for controlling the enemy and disrupting his balance and then attack with the hands. Never give your enemy any chance.
Wing Chun Master , Sifu Wong Shun Leung says : „Any Martial Artist who says he doesn´t get hit is lying to himself!“ Sifu Wong Shun Leung´s Martial Arts ability is “legendary” ,and well documented in Hong Kong ,with his having fought and won many real fights in his younger years (And also in his older years , as will soon be found …) Sifu Wong is probably one of relatively few chinese Martial Artists still living who is able to claim real challenge match experience, keeping in mind that he lived in an era when Kung Fu was still unknown in the west and protective equipment was virtually unheard of. In those days, it was accepted practice for students from other schools to visit the various “rival“ styles in Hong Kong and “try out their style”. If a student was able to beat the main teacher of a particular school, the school would invariably have to close down. Sifu Wong Shun Leung reputedly “closed down” quite a number of schools in that way. I must say that, when reading this article, you should keep in mind that this sort of challenge was the accepted thing in those days in Hong Kong. These days it cannot – and should not – be done. However, Sifu Wong feels that, although one is able to have a more-or-less realistic sparring match, nothing beats “the real thing”, and that perhaps serious instructors and students are losing a little with the passing of that era. He regards modern tournaments as nothing more than “games”. He said he believes all Martial Arts styles can be just as good as each other; it just depends upon how diligently one practices. He does not claim Wing Chun is the only Martial Art. Nor does he claim that it is the best system for everyone – only that it is a basic , straightforward system with no frills and works very well in most situations. Sifu Wong believes that everyone must learn and teach their own arts their own way, and that every art art has something to offer. When I asked him about other styles he said he did not know very much about this or that style, and so he would not comment. Quite apart from Sifu Wong Shun Leung´s obvious Martial arts ability, I found him to be, quite simply, a lovely man … The following is a transcript of my interview with Sifu Wong Shun Leung, which has been edited in line with the publisher´s note in Vol. 10/3 , regarding the two Readers` Forum letters which closed the subject of the ongoing “Wing Chun Controversy”. The interview includes several additional comments from Wong Shun Leung´s sister Wendy Lee, who acted as interpreter, and brother-in-law Barry Lee, both of whom live in Sydney. (Wong Shun Leung has no representative in Australia, but would like Barry Lee – who has been teaching privately for over 10 years – to represent Wong´s Wing Chun in Australia.) Erle: Sifu Wong, were you the first student of Yip Man? Wong Shun Leung: No, but I learned in the early years when my Sifu was still teaching. Kung Fu is not like an inheritance. It doesn´t matter how senior you are, but how good you are. You need to study hard. It doesn´t matter if you are the son of a grandmaster, only how hard you practice. Erle: Yes, we hear so many stories about how a certain master taught his son from the age of four, etc. and so some naturally assume that that son must be quote good … Wendy Lee: My brother has two sons, but they aren´t interested in Kung Fu, although his daughter is quite interested. You can´t force the children to practice something that they don´t particularly want to. Erle: Was Wing Chun your first Martial Art, Sifu ? Wong Shun Leung: No, I learned a couple of other styles before Wing Chun. I started Wing Chun at around 17 or 18 years of age. Barry Lee: He wasn´t the first student of Yip Man, but was one of four students that were taught around the same time and are now recognized as the main students of Yip Man. Wong Shun Leung, Choy Sun Ting, Lok Yiu and Leung Seung were the major students of Yip Man at that time. Wong Shun Leung was the only one who really went out and proved his style for the old master (Yip Man). He is the one the old master (Yip Man) used to rely upon and used to send out to fight the various other styles, so in that way he distinguished himself in a way that no other teacher, or no other student of Yip Man, really had to the same degree. They all went out and fought, but never anywhere near the amount of fights this man (Wong) has had; and proven fights against the best of nearly every style. Many were documented in newspapers; there were films taken etc.. As Sifu became more famous, the challenges came to him. Wong Shun Leung was 5ft. 4ins., approximately 104 lbs. and was never beaten. Erle: It must have been greatly different in those days. The west hardly even knew about Kung Fu then … Wong Shun Leung: Nowadays you just can´t do the things that we did then, and I think people miss out on some of the real aspects of fighting because of this. Erle: What do you feel about the Buce Lee era? His style and ideas etc.? (Wong Shun Leung was one of the senior instructors who taught Wing Chun to Bruce Lee … ) Wong Shun Leung: We had all known Bruce for many years. My sister used to know him when she was a little girl. When Bruce started to become famous he came back to Hong Kong and still came to ask me to practice with him. Bruce would ask me what I thought of his new style, or rather “way” (Jeet Kune Do has no “style” ). On one occasion I discussed and practiced with Bruce from midday until midnight behind closed doors (The two men went into a closed room while the two wives sat in the other room and talked. Another thing that could only happen in those days – Erle) Some of this time in the closed room was spent just talking, sometimes we would Chi Sau (sticky hands training); sometimes we would fight. Bruce was a very hard-working man; he trained very hard. A lot of Jeet Kune Do obviously came from Wing Chun. But with a lot of things… just because Bruce could do it doesn´t mean that his students could do it. Because Bruce had a firm background, with much Chi Sau, which teaches you instinctive reaction. It enables you to follow your opponent. (Sifu Wong was mainly referring to the students of Bruce Lee who had no other Martial Arts training. People like Dan Inosanto already had a solid background in other arts, so the concepts of Jeet Kune Do were easily picked up by him – Erle). You can´t teach people from the top. You must teach them as you learnt, from basics to a higher level. Jeet Kune Do is not a bad way. In fact, it´s quite good. But one thing that one must remember is that not many men are like Bruce Lee. He had a gift and so probably would have been good at any style. Erle: What do you think about many people who have changed the basic Wing Chun with respect to footwork, to cause it to be better in their eyes? Barry Lee: Some people say there is not enough footwork. But in fact those are the people who haven´t really analysed the style and don´t understand the kicks and the footwork that is involved. Wong Shun Leung: Someone who is looking at Wing Chun and hasn´t trained the full system, or hasn´t really gone for enough time with a teacher, probably won´t know enough footwork. They won´t understand the mobility involved in Wing Chun – the angles of attack, the advance and retreat. They won´t understand the full use of kicks in all situations. Therefore they will want to add something else that they think is better, for the sake of not knowing. Barry Lee: It´s the ability of the man and the understanding of what he´s doing that´s important. In an actual fighting situation you will very rarely need to use your legs. And when you do, you use them in such a way as to maintain your centre of balance so that you can use your hands. Wong Shun Leung: I think the kicks in Wing Chun are enough. It´s much easier to use your hands than to use your feet. Your hand is able to reach your opponent long before your foot. Why take the long way to attack (circle), when there is a much more direct method of attack? If you are using your hands, then your opponent can´t see a kick coming if you have to use it. When you teach Kung Fu, you can fool a lot of people, but not yourself. You can make like a movie and do many complicated movements and kicks, but you only fool yourself as to whether that would work in a real situation of life and death. Barry Lee: If you are training for the purpose of knocking your opponent down, you only need a small number of techniques. So it comes back to the ability of the man. In all of Sifu´s fights he very rarely had to use his kicks; so that answers the question. Erle: Regarding basic Wing Chun training methods: What does one learn first with the legs? Wong Shun Leung: You must learn, from the beginning, balance and stability, and then mobility. Mobility is such that you change your angle to the opponent, very often you´re stepping very fast. It´s a very aggressive style in many ways. Very rarely will you step back but you will step back if you have to. In fact, we learn to step backwards before learning to step forwards. But for every step back, you will try to take two steps forward. The mobility that you´re talking about is in the angle to your opponent. We use a lot of twisting; a lot of shifting using the hips to shift; using your body to change your direction with regard to your opponent. Erle: How effective is Wing Chun against multiple attacks? Wong Shun Leung: Wing Chun is better against one opponent (as is any art ), but if you face three people then you´d better be sure that you are better than them… (At this point, Barry and Wendy related – with Wong´s okay – an incident which happened to Wong, who is now 52 years old, in Hong Kong about a year ago)… Barry Lee: Sifu has a good friend who has trained in some Wing Chun, but normally doesn´t train in Wing Chun. He´s just a good friend who comes to talk to Sifu. This friend is an habitual gambler and has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time, and in this instance he owed a lot of money in gambling debts. Sifu and this person were in a restaurant minding their own business in the evening and more than 13 men came in, all with weapons of some kind in order to get this man. They were going to finish him and Sifu was forced to defend him. Normally Sifu would let them come to him but, because they were after the other man, he stepped between him and them and stepped into them. In his whole life, maybe more than 30 years of fighting, it was the first mistake of stepping in rather than doing the Wing Chun practice of allowing the fight to come to him. But he had to save his friend; otherwise he would have isolated a number of them and taken them out that way. Sifu fought them and knocked four or more of them down. He went to punch one of them and his sleeve – because he was wearing the long Min Lap (Chinese jacket with rolled up sleeves) at the time – the Min Lap unravelled and the man grabbed the jacket and came up with a knife. As the knife came up Sifu had the reflex action to move and the knife just caught him between the eyes (There is a scar on Wong´s forehead, between his eyes). The man grabbed his arm and as he pulled Sifu in, Sifu finished him with one punch. The rest of them ran away as the police came. But Sifu never advocates fighting a man with a weapon unless it is absolutely necessary. In a group fight, you angle yourself so that you are facing one man and the group has to come from behind him to get to you. So you isolate them by taking the man at an angle. Erle: Sifu, I know why I use the last three knuckles to punch, but what is your reasoning for using these three knuckles, which most hard stylists would think are the least strong ones and would be likely to be hurt? (At this point Wong stood up and demonstrated with Barry Lee. He showed the more “natural” punch, with the palm held horizontal to the ground, demonstrated how the power theoretically goes straight back to the shoulder and stops. Then he demonstrated the opposing theory of how, when you use the vertical fist with the last three knuckles, the power is transmitted right back through the hip, the leg and to the rear foot. This makes for much more power for the least amount of energy used. A Karate friend of mine pointed out to me that some Karate styles also use the vertical fist, but use the top two knuckles. This can mostly be used when attacking the chin, so that the last two knuckles don´t even come in contact.) Wong Shun Leung: In Wing Chun (and Tai Chi) we hit the larger part of the face, usually at an angle, so the butt of the chin is avoided. In Wing Chun, the main target area is from the mouth upward, although this is only general. Erle: Is there any time when you would punch with the weight placed on the front foot? Barry Lee: Never. Erle: Do you use a “natural “ punch – i.e. when the left foot is forward, and punching with the left fist? Barry Lee: Oh yes, of course. It depends entirely upon the situation. When you´re fighting you can´t afford to change your stance midstream. Wong Shun Leung: Even with the natural punch (same hand, same foot )the power still goes back to the rear foot and ground. Barry Lee: When you`re practicing your “twist” in Wing Chun (twist developed from the hips for mobility and power) your weight is evenly distributed across both feet. When you are developing that power in the punch the force is transmitted back into this leg (the rear one), but in fact the weight is evenly distributed across both feet. Erle: That answers another question: Some people think that the power for the Wing Chun punch only comes from the triceps? Wong Shun Leung: No! From the whole body. And many people think the power in Wing Chun comes from the snap of the wrist and that’s wrong, too. When you see Bruce Lee´s one-inch punch – it´s still from the whole body and not just the wrist! Barry Lee: In Wing Chun you think in terms of your elbow driving the fist forward, rather then the fist pulling the rest of the arm forward. It´s coordination and technique; everything beginning together and finishing together. That´s far more important than even speed and power; and that will give you power. Erle: Barry, I watched as you performed a punch and I would think that I would receive a nice bit of the old tennis elbow if I punched like that, locking the elbow upwards. Do you ever get a sore elbow? Wong Shun Leung: In the beginning you do, but it stretches the ligaments in the back of the elbow and if you train hard in the correct way your whole body becomes conditioned and you no longer have problems. Barry Lee: But if you´re fighting it´s rapid and you don´t always fully extend the elbow. You try to hit the opponent with a slightly bent arm, leaving room for penetration or reaction to his movement. Erle: Can´t you easily damage these (the last three) knuckles? Wong Shun Leung: In 35 years of fighting I have never broken a knuckle. Erle: What are the main striking areas in Wing Chun? Barry Lee: Wing Chun is a complete system. If you have the opportunity you´re going to hit somebody here, here and here (indicating various different parts of the body, including solar plexus and ribs etc.) but your main target is here (indicating the face). The centre line contains most of the vital points of the body, the areas that are most easily damaged . Whenever we can, the main punch in Wing Chun is centred here (the mouth and the nose) with a slight upward angle, but obviously, like any other style, of course we strike the body when we have to. If someone is 6ft.8ins., of course, you would have to go for the body because punching to the head would bring you in too close and leave you too open. Erle: What are your ideas on Chi? Wong Shun Leung: I don´t know anything about the Chi. That´s as honest as I can be. If someone practices any Martial Art, then that person must become stronger and more durable than someone who hasn´t practiced. So if you are punched you are able to take a lot more punishment than a normal person. I have been hit many times, as have all of the great Martial Artists that I know of. So we are not supermen, but we can take a lot more . Any Martial Artist who says that he doesn´t get hit is lying to himself! Erle: What do you say about the “old master“ who stands up and says that no-one can push him over etc.? Wong Shun Leung: What for! So if your student pushes your arm and can´t push you down, then many students can´t push you down… that means a truck can´t push you down? What are you – Superman? Eventually there is somebody who will knock you down; there is always someone better. An “old master” might not be pushed down, but he will still be hurt if his nose is broken. There are too many magician´s tricks in Martial Arts today. They would be better off learning how to fight. Erle: Tell me about Bil Jee (Thrusting fingers, he third and advanced form of Wing Chun… ) Wong Shun Leung: Barry can explain it better in English. Barry Lee: Bil Jee is like standing outside your style and fighting, or knowing how to use your technique and not be bound by what you have learned in Sil Lim Tao or Chum Kiu (the first two forms), where you are bound by certain principles. In Bil Jee you are standing outside looking at it. You have achieved a certain level that enables you to perhaps defend yourself, if you have to, against more than one person; to defend yourself if one arm is cut. It teaches you to be able to use a specific technique to be able to still protect yourself. It´s all defence, more than anything else. So you are using weapons – the elbow, the fingers – to areas that will damage quite drastically when you hit them. So you have to do that, because you´re fighting more than one person, or you have a cut arm, you´re disabled in some way. So in other words, it teaches you to apply your Wing Chun techniques more naturally and not be bound by what you have learnt previously. Erle: So it doesn´t teach new, specialised techniques, does it? For instance, the so-called Dim Mak, or Death Touch? Wong Shun Leung: No. (And jokingly…) You might kill yourself if you touch yourself? Besides, if a person is moving very fast, it´s almost impossible to touch small areas with such precision. In Bil Jee we do strike the more vulnerable areas of the body and these are things that are not taught in the first two forms. One must, however know the first two forms. You can´t just learn Bil Jee. In fact, most of our fighting is done in the first two forms. It´s only when life is threatened, or there are more than one opponent, that we use Bil Jee. Erle: How do you train in Bil Jee, when these techniques are quite dangerous? Wong Shun Leung: Training the set is enough. Because if you have learnt Wing Chun from Sil Lim Tao, Chum Kiu, Chi Sau etc. – learning the system step-by-step – once you come to Bil Jee you´re at a standard where you perform those techniques correctly and you will, through simply practicing the set, be able to use it in those situations. Because Wing Chun teaches, above all, instinctive reaction. Erle: What about the future of Wing Chun? Wong Shun Leung: Wing Chun has a very good future, because it´s spreading around the world. I have been asked to go to a South American country to teach their Police Force, although I´ve not made a decision regarding that yet. The future of Wing Chun depends on the teacher. If he teaches the right thing, the future will be bright.
An interview with Sifu Nima King from Mindful Wing Chun.
Note: Within the answers below, I at times refer to Grandmaster Ip Man as ‘Ip Man’ or ‘Ip’ and refer to Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin as ‘CST’, ‘Chu Shong Tin’ or ‘Master Chu’. I have done this for easier flow for the readers and no disrespect is intended.
Could you please share your first experience meeting the late Grandmaster CST?
I first met Chu Shong Tin in 2004 when he came to Sydney to conduct seminars for the school I was training at since 1998 (Jim Fung’s International Wing Chun Academy). Of course we had heard a lot about our Grandmaster and I had seen his astonishingly powerful demonstrations in some videos filmed at his school in Hong Kong, but to be very honest, inside I was pretty sceptical of it all, thinking that the students in the video were just putting on a show. Either way I was very happy and excited to get to meet the man in person and see for myself what he was all about.
I felt honored when my Sifu asked my friend (Murray Wood) and I to meet the Grandmaster and his family at the airport to help drive their luggage to their hotel. I must admit that Murray and I were very anxious to meet him because for us it was like meeting a huge Rock-star celebrity. After waiting at the arrival hall for a while, finally we spotted him. A 72 year old skinny Chinese man approached us with his family, with his hands waving above his head in acknowledgment of us while displaying a massive smile on his face. We naturally bowed and he laughed out loud in response and bowed back. It immediately became obvious that he wasn’t all about commanding respect. We dropped off the bags at their hotel lobby where we saw them again. Grandmaster and his wife showed their gratitude by inviting us to have dinner with them. Needless to say the dinner was one of the most nerve-wrecking dinners I had ever had .
The next day he was scheduled to do a seminar on ‘The Inner Power of Siu Nim Tao’. There were around 70 students attending. Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin arrived around 20 minutes early to meet all the students and take photos before the seminar. From the time he arrived until the start of the seminar he held the most humble and warm smile while interacting with the students, almost as if he was the one that was honored to be there. It’s very hard to put into words the way that he composed himself around others, but the expression that comes to mind is ‘open and ego-less, shy, yet extremely relaxed and content’. I must say that his behavior was very heartwarming to witness and it was very hard not to immediately admire him. Those have met him in person would know exactly what I’m talking about.
As soon as it was time for the seminar to start, it was as if he flipped a switch and his persona became very focused and serious. He started talking about the inner power that can be cultivated through the slow and correct practice of Siu Nim Tao, and within the first 15 minutes he asked for a volunteer to demonstrate on. I immediately put my hand up and jumped up, super excited about finally getting a chance to touch hands with him. He asked me to hold my arm under his, contacting at the forearms, and to resist his downward movement. In those days I was lifting a lot of weights and was around 83 kg. I knew that Master Chu was around 55 kg. On top of that I was less than a third of his age at the time. Because of this I remember thinking to myself not to resist his force as hard as I could so as not to potentially embarrass him in front of so many people. On the other hand, I wanted to use enough force to be able to feel what he was doing. While Grandmaster Chu was talking to the audience, with his forearm placed on top of mine, he very casually and slowly moved his arm downwards and even though I wasn’t holding as hard as I could, I was shocked at what I had just felt. So then, knowing that I needn’t worry about him not being able to do the movement, I adjusted my stance and honestly braced as hard as I could. Master Chu then glanced at my changed posture, smiled, then did the exact same movement in the same way with the same amount of effort and this time, because I was using all my strength, I felt like the force dropped to my stomach and moved my entire body down towards the floor. It’s an understatement to say that I was in shock and right then and there is when I decided that I needed to move to Hong Kong to learn directly from this man.
What would you say most impressed you about CST, and what inspired you to move to HK to become his disciple?
As mentioned above, I was very impressed with the way he handled himself around other people. The amount of humility and lack of ego was very refreshing as it was not an attribute that I had seen in any other person of authority. And of course the mind blowing Power that he was able to generate with such little effort was like something out of the old Kung Fu movies, which I never imagined was possible in reality. So these two factors completely sold me and caused me to make the biggest shift in my life and move to Hong Kong in 2005.
How many years did you study with him, and how were the classes typically structured?
I trained with him full-time for nine years. His classes were on every weekday were from 5 to 11pm. From the day I arrived I made it a point to be the first to arrive to the class and the last to leave. In the first three years we were practicing in his family home, which was where he had been teaching in the past decades. After that he rented a slightly bigger space, 6 floors up in the same building which to this day is where I train nearly every day.
Master Chu changed his teaching method three times in his 65 years of teaching Wing Chun. In the first few decades of his teaching which included the time he was living with and running Ip Man’s school, the main focus was on getting the students ready for Challenge fights so the classes were much more self-defense based*. Then in the 80s and 90s he changed his teaching to consist of mainly Chi Sau and a bit more focus on the forms. I was very lucky to have arrived exactly at the time of the final change in his teaching method which consisted of mainly standing and practicing the Siu Nim Tao Form. This was a huge change from what I was used to doing in Sydney which was techniques, striking, sparring and Chi Sau.
(*Note: when Master Chu stopped practicing in Ip Man’s school and opened his own school in 1964, he did try and teach the way he had practiced and instructed all students to just stand and practice Siu Nim Tao for hours. This method only lasted around 1 year and when I asked Gum, who was one of his earliest students from those days, about why he stopped teaching that way, he answered that the students were lazy and didn’t want to just stand and practice Siu Nim Tao. They wanted action and to learn how to fight and so Master Chu lost many students to other teachers who were teaching that way, and in the end, he had to change his teaching to cater to the people’s interests and to keep his school going. So actually after over 40years of teaching, he looped back to the method he tried in 1964, only this time we were all very compliant and trusted his teachings and were willing to stand and practice Siu Nim Tao for prolonged periods!)
I spent the first couple of years of my practice with him just standing in the WC Stance and trying to relax and release all the tension. It was pure agony to say the least! To stand still for 10 minutes was a challenge and I was doing 6 hours a day! I remember in the beginning I didn’t want to come across as a weak or bad student so whenever I couldn’t handle the pain any more I would go to the bathroom put the toilet cover down and sit for a few minutes to rest my feet and knees. He must have thought I had a bladder problem to be going to the toilet so often. But knowing him, he probably knew exactly what I was doing and perhaps found it amusing!
Within this first few years of me being there, he figured out the importance of energy rising upwards through the spine to the back part of the head. Prior to this he was more focused on manipulating the student’s shoulder girdle, hip and elbow joints. The discovery of the importance of the spine was a huge development in his teaching method. He came across this discovery by observing what was happening within himself when he activated the Siu ‘Nim Tao’ State, and realised that there is energy rising from the tailbone all the way up the spine to the base of the skull. This, he felt, shut off (or minimized) the front cortex activity and activated the back part of the brain, which he felt activate the Nim Tao State. After this discovery he tried can manipulate that student’s spine and was amazed that he could guide them (the ones who were advanced enough) to activate a small amount of the Nim Tao State. For example, prior to that he would need to locally adjust the shoulder joint to relax it to a level in which it could effortlessly withstand incoming force, but then he found that by guiding the rise in our spine, we were able to get a similar tangible result in our shoulders without him touching it. So this switched his teaching from a localized to a more holistic method of approach.
CST’s teaching method was very hands-on in that he has an amazing ability to use the correct kind of touch to elicit a deep level of relaxation in us. He had a background in Chinese bones setting so perhaps that had some influence in his teaching!
How much emphasis was put into practicing the first form “Siu Nim Tao”, and how did CST recommend for it to be trained?
As mentioned above, in the first few years of him changing his teaching method for the last time, the majority of the attention was on the first form. The biggest emphasis was put on how to stand correctly, meaning with as little muscular effort as possible and from there how to apply Taigung and Seng (the activation of their anus area to release tension from the pelvis hips and base of the spine, and then to rise energy upwards through the spine the back part of the brain) while performing all movements slowly and mindfully.
It’s noteworthy to consider that in his own practice in his early years when he was living with Ip Man, he would practice Siu Nim Tao for many hours every day on the rooftop where he said was pitch black and completely silent (this was in the 50s so Hong Kong wasn’t buzzing in the same way as these days). He would practice so slow, that his movement was not very obvious to onlookers. He mentioned that the neighbors would often see him practicing up there from the other rooftops, and they thought him to be a crazy person who would stand there like a statue for a long time and not move.
We were extremely lucky because in 2009, Grandmaster Chu told us that he was planning to retire and therefore for the first time ever in his 60 years of teaching he was going to teach us every form of Wing Chun including the Wooden Dummy and the weapons, movement by movement. This was huge news for the lineage, because he had never taught any students the wooden dummy and the weapons in such great detail. He spent 6 month each for the 3 empty-hand forms and Wooden Dummy and one year on each of the weapons forms. This period gave us hundreds of hours of footage that we can now study and refer back to; and of course in the end he never ended up retiring and in fact, he was with us in the training hall until the night he was sent to the hospital and laid on his deathbed.
CST is well known for teaching his students about “Nim Lik”, could you explain what is Nim Lik, and what is its importance for in Wing Chun?
Nim Lik, was the term that CST gave the energy that he felt flowing through his body. In his DVD he mentions that other internal arts have different names for the energy cultivated through internal practices. He named it ‘Nim Lik’ which can be translated to ‘Mind Force’ or the ‘Power Generated by the Mind’.
He believed the method of using and cultivating this energy was different from Tai Chi for example (this was his opinion from touching hands and watching many Tai Chi masters in his lifetime including his childhood Tai Chi teacher whom he practiced under for a couple of years in his early teens). His Chi in his words was not cultivated in a particular area of the body and the process originated from the tailbone and shot upwards through the spine (he said he didn’t cultivate it within the Dantien and it wasn’t restricted to travelling through the meridian lines).
He was able to transmit his energy into other people not only to seize them from moving, or throw them around, but also to heal them. Many times I went into training with small muscular injuries around the joints and he would spend a short while on me and relieve the pain (without any cracking or major position adjustments). Once he told us the story about a student of Lok Yiu who was a construction worker who had fallen off a building from the 2nd floor causing his arms to be clamped shut in front of his chest. The man was unable to move his arm off his chest due to excruciating pain. The hospital sent him home to rest as they didn’t know what to do. Master Chu spend a few hours on his spine transmitting energy as well as making gentle adjustments and after a few hours he said the man was “as good as new”!
The amazing thing about his energy was that it could be tangibly experienced by all. When he intended the energy flood through his body, we were able to feel it by holding his arm, leg and even skull!! The flow of Nim Lik in his limbs was experienced by us as if there were little tiny spiders pulsating in one direction and to prove they wasn’t just increased blood flow he would also make it flow in the opposite direction! Very amazing stuff that you would really need to feel to believe! I have a lot of footage of him doing this and recently published one on my YouTube channel which was demonstrating this in a seminar at my school.
Through this use of Nim Lik, Master Chu was able to produce great power without much physical movement merely by lightly touching the person. However, I know that some great Tai Chi and other internal art’s Grandmasters also have this ability!
He believed that Nim Lik is within every human being and that the body (and mind) just needs to be unconstrained internally to gain access to it. He said Nim Lik to be the same power that a mother taps into when she lifts a car off her baby. He was 55kg and was able to hold an extremely heavy WC pole at one end (with his arm extended in front of him at shoulder height) and lift it up with only a small movement of his wrist. This is something that strong men weighing over 120kg were unable to do (I would usually be the smart-ass who would ask them to try, knowing they wouldn’t be able to pull it off)
But in my opinion, the most impressive handling of Master Chu’s Nim Lik was in the way he managed his health. As a child he was extremely frail and would fall ill very frequently. Therefore, his father forced him to practice Tai Chi under a famous master in Guangzhou (this was a couple of years before he moved to Hong Kong). Since his 20s, CST was told by the doctors that he was going to die 3 times. The first time was a stomach illness which lasted a whole year (he was given 3 months to live by the docs). The second time was when he was in his 60s. his eyes and limbs started to bruise and swell. They found that his blood platelets count was so low that they tested him 3 times to triple check and at the end they gave him the test results along with a red packet saying “with this result, we don’t know how you’re alive, let’s alone walking around normally, let alone teaching Kung Fu; good luck!”
The last time they told him he only had a couple of months to live I was already training with him and he was in his mid 70s. They found stage 4 cancer in his liver and kidney. We were all very sad and some were tearing up as he was breaking the news to us. He smiled and said “I feel fine, let’s keep going with the training as if nothing has happened”. He went on to live another 7 years after that without taking any western treatment for the cancers and doctors where scratching their heads when they saw that he had shrunk the cancers. (note: The majority of the videos that I have posted online are within this stage of his life). This too he believed was thanks to the flow of Nim Lik.
On this subject, it’s noteworthy to mention that Master Chu once told me that the Yogis who are able to sit upright in Lotus position for very long periods of time are actually using something similar to Nim Lik in their spine which enables them to sit effortlessly upright for days. Therefore, in my personal opinion I believe that the ‘Kundalini Energy’ used in Yoga, even though it is not useful martial purposes, maybe more similar to what CST cultivated than what some Great masters in Tai Chi have cultivated. However, I personally have never practiced Tai Chi and I’m only a beginner in Yoga; therefor the above statement is not more than a guess according to the information collated from CST and my low-level understanding of the other 2 systems.
Was Nim Lik taught to CST by Grandmaster Ip Man?
No. According to CST, Grandmaster Ip Man didn’t talk about Energy in this teachings. He did however emphasis the importance of Siu Nim Tao practice and mentioned the power that can be generated through prolonged practice of Siu Nim Tao. He instructed CST to practice the form without the use of muscular effort and to initiate all movements with the mind. CST mentioned that he asked his Sifu many times about what he meant by saying ‘use your mind to move’ and the answer from Ip Man was always the same, “learn how to use Lop Nim’ which CST later called ‘Nim Tao’. Within the first few years, having practiced Siu Nim Tao for thousands of hours, CST started to realize that he had attained some inner power that his classmates did not have. His training partners thought that he was doing weight training or other activities to make himself physically stronger because they couldn’t figure out why he was becoming so powerful. One time in class when CST was practicing the Biu Gee form, Ip Man was watching him intently and after he finished the form, he asked CST to grab his Sifu’s forearm with both hands and perform the second last movement of the form in which the arms are both fully extended in front while turning the body. CST then performed the movement and sent Ip Man flying across the room. Ip then asked the whole class to practice that movement under CST’s instructions.
What is the best way for a student to develop Nim Lik, and how do you pass this skill on to your own students at Mindful Wing Chun?
The best way to develop ‘Nim Tao’ (the ability to shut of the front lobe and use the back part of the brain) is through the correct and prolonged practice of the Siu Nim Tao Form. The word ‘correct’ here is very important. I recommend people to explore how to stand and move with as little effort as possible while practicing the Siu Nim Tao form. There needs to be an awakened sense of mindfulness while practicing this (and all other) form. Gradually, and after hundreds or perhaps thousands of hours of practice, the student will begin to feel exceptionally comfortable and energized while practicing the form. They will have the sense of ‘stillness in the mind while moving’ and ‘movements inside the body (energetically) even when there is no physical movement’. Then by continuous practice within the state gradually the student will start to feel the flow of ‘Nim Lik’. So we can say that this energy is not something to be obtained, but rather, it’s something to be released once the body has been mindfully opened enough.
In addition, I believe that a student has a much better chance of attaining this level if they are under the instruction of a teacher that has walked the same path experientially (not just intellectually). This is why I’m planning to set up an online course and in the next few years will begin to do more workshops globally, to hopefully be able to reach many more people with the information passed down from grandmaster Chu.
If a student is not training to cultivate Nim Lik, do you think they are missing out on an important part of Wing Chun?
Most certainly! I personally went through a huge life transformation from this internal practice after having moved to Hong Kong. I can say that as I write this in 2017, I have not attained a worthy-to-mention level in Nim Lik and my overall ability in Chu’s internal art of Wing Chun is not very high when compared to what I was able to do/feel under his guidance. Having said that, the mere practice within this internal path has not only enabled me to produce much power with little effort in a lot of my movements, but more importantly, the mindfulness method of this practice has brought great amounts of mental, emotional and physical balance with in my life.
So, even though an ‘external’ Wing Chun practitioner can certainly become a great fighter, and gain things like increased health through better fitness, structural alignment and coordination, and a sense of belonging to a family (lineage), I know that there are many more fruits one can enjoy by following the internal, and almost meditative, path of Wing Chun. In the end, this path is not merely about attaining Nim Lik or the other remarkable abilities the CST had – although that’ll be very nice, but it’s more about the daily benefits that I feel and am able to pass on to others so that they too can better the quality of their lives by it. In that sense, there is much depth and truth to the old Taoist proverb “The Journey is the Reward”.
Did CST ever talk about Grandmaster Ip Man’s skill and what it was like being his student?
We asked him a lot about Ip Man’s skill. Specially the later years when he became much more like a father (rather than a rock-star celebrity) to me, I wasn’t embarrassed to ask very direct questions such as ‘did Ip Man have Nim Lik’ and other such questions that the local Chinese students would never dare to ask because of their culture. Master Chu never said anything to suggest that Ip Man did not have internal skills in Wing Chun. He would always give answers such as “Ip Man’s skill level was very high as he was able to handle himself very easily against much bigger opponents even within his older years”. Ip Man, according to CST, was very big on the slow practice of Siu Nim Tao and pointed out that “When well-versed in Siu Nim Tao, all other parts of Wing Chun training including the other forms will be well grasped and performed too”.
The relationship between CST and Sifu, Ip Man, was more like father and son or at least like brothers. This is because they both fled China around the same time (1949) and in those early years when they were living together for Five years (in the restaurant workers’ union where Ip Man initially started teaching in HK), since they both did not have any family in Hong Kong, they would spend the majority of their time together. He mentioned once that Ip Man was a very humble man and he never said anything bad about anyone, and that he was more like a scholar than a Kung Fu teacher. According to him, Ip was optimistic in character and had a very youthful heart. He was playful with his disciples and would often tell jokes. He seldom expressed grief and sadness except when occasionally thinking of his family back in China, which was mainly during the Chinese festivals.
When we look at Grandmaster Ip Man in his videos, we can see that there is a difference in his performance compared to Chu Shong Tin’s later videos. However, personally from observing these videos, I believe that Ip Man had a very good understanding and ability in using deep relaxation and body mechanics (even though he wasn’t at the same level as CST to have obtained Nim Lik) . Ip Man told CST that his Master Leung Bik had great internal skills so I believe that Ip had some experience or had at least witnessed real internal ability in his past. This, I suppose, is why he noticed very early on (even before CST knew himself) that Chu Shong Tin had developed a high level of Nim Tao and coined him ‘The King of Siu Nim Tao’.
Do you have any other stories about CST that you would like to share?
To me, Master Chu was a true master of the body and mind which was evident even outside his Wing Chun. He was able to utilise and demonstrate the inner control attained from his practice in many ways. For example, he could sit in the lotus pose and hold his hands in the air and lift his whole body off the floor just by pressing down with his knees! He was able to do the ‘Human Flag’ in which you hang from a pole with your entire body held parallel to the floor. He swam 3 hrs a day in the ocean daily and his students say that he used to swim circles around them while they were swimming. He was able to tread water with his legs until his belly button was out of the water while his hands were held above his head! There are countless other remarkable things he was able to do with the use of ‘Nim Lik’ (which I mention in some of my You Tube videos) but I think you get the picture and if I keep listing them here, I’m afraid I’ll start to sound like I’m telling Chuck Norris jokes.
Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin was a very kind and down-to-earth human being. He took me, and the other boys who moved to HK to train under him, into his home and treated us like family. Whenever I had a problem with anything and even when tragedy struck in my Family life back in Oz, he was the first person I went to for advice or closure. He certainly taught me to have respect for others and that violence doesn’t always solve problems (he knew of my background in Sydney and knew I was a violent and angry kid when I started training under him and slowly he worked on that). Even though he had many challenge fights in the 50s and 60s, he never used more than 30% of his power and never kicked because he believed that it would badly hurt the opponent; and within these fights he never had to strike more than once (never hitting with a closed fist or to the face). The only time where he hurt someone was when a group of Japanese reporters came to his house to interview him. At the end of interview, one of them held out his hand as a gesture of wanting to shake hands and as soon as CST put out his hands, the man grabbed his arm and suddenly tried to turned his body in attempt to throw him. Master Chu naturally reacted immediately by dropping his arm down a few centimetres, which ended up shattering the Japanese man’s wrist in three places!
In his last DVD, Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin expressed his frustration with his own teaching ability and said that he knows that “there must be a faster way to teach people how to obtain the inner power of Wing Chun than the way he had been teaching”. His last wish was for his disciples to find a faster method of teaching so that many people could benefit from this art in the same way that he did. I believe that in the last 4 years of his life he had already found this ‘faster’ way, since I’m putting it to practice with myself and our students at Mindful Wing Chun and we’re getting very promising results. I guess only time will tell; but regardless, I hope he is resting in peace knowing that there are people who have dedicated their lives in preserving and passing on his legacy and that the internal art of Wing Chun that he disclosed still lives on today!
Sifu Augustine Fong (Fong Chi Wing)
Up close and personal
The Following interview was conducted by Derek Vernon on the 6th May 1998.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong, Can you tell us about your early days in Hong Kong and how did you get started in Wing Chun?
Sifu Fong: Yes, I started my Wing Chun training when I was about 11 years old, that’s when I became interested in Kung Fu. Actually, my mother didn’t like me doing martial arts because she thought it was violent She was afraid that I would become a gangster and fight all the time. However, my interest was very strong and they say ” where there’s a will, there’s a way “. So the way was that I saved all my own money and went to learn, keeping it a secret from my mother all the time until I immigrated to the United States.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong, Can you tell us, was Wing Chun the first martial art that you learnt?
Sifu Fong: Yes there was no other martial arts in Macao, until I meet Sifu Ho Kam Ming. Therefore, I went to start Wing Chun straight away.
D.Vernon: How did you get to meet Ho Kam Ming? Did anyone introduce you?
Sifu Fong: Yes I was introduced by one of my classmates at School.
D.Vernon: Does your classmate still train today?
Sifu Fong: No, at that time you see a lot of people come and go, he lost interest soon after I started.
D.Vernon: Can you tell us, how the Wing Chun was taught back in Hong Kong, is it taught the same as it is taught today?
Sifu Fong: No back then it was very hard to learn, because the teachers were very traditional in their approach to teaching. Nowadays the teachers are a lot more flexible with the students. At that time the teacher’s skills were very high, so the standard was also very high. But nowadays most of the good teachers have moved away from Hong Kong.
D.Vernon: So you know many of the Wing Chun people coming to America?
Sifu Fong: Yes that is the people who were around at the same time as me.
D.Vernon: I understand Sifu Fong, you were one of the first to teach Wing Chun in America.
Sifu Fong: Yes you can say so, actually Bruce Lee was before me, he started teaching Wing Chun but then started teaching his own style Jeet Kuen Do.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong , when you came to the United States, was it hard to get students at first
Sifu Fong: At that time I did not pay attention to getting students, I just looked for some one to be a dummy, someone to practice with. I did not think of teaching Wing Chun to make money then.
D.Vernon: So it was important to have someone to train with then?
Sifu Fong: Yes that was my main purpose, just to keep up my training.
D.Vernon: When you opened a school did you have to get permission from Ho Kam Ming?
Sifu Fong: Yes before I came to the United States, the last thing I did was to go to Ho Kam Ming’s house. He told me to get someone to train with. To keep up my Chi Sau and open a school when I was ready to teach. Because teaching is the only way to improve learning
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong how many years did you train with Ho Kam Ming in Hong Kong?
Sifu Fong: Since 1960 when my Sifu opened the School, But the school was not registered until 1964. Just a hand full of us used to train back then.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong I have seen you in a photo with Ho Kam Ming sitting next do Si-Jo Yip Man and you stood behind them. So you actually got to meet Si-Jo Yip Man?
Sifu Fong: Yes I got to meet him.
D.Vernon: Did you do any of your training with Si-Jo Yip Man?
Sifu Fong: No at that time Si-Jo Yip Man did not teach just anyone, especially kids. Why do you think he does not teach? He did not teach you if you were poor and had no money because he thought you should be working hard at making a living first. If you were a women or too forward he would not teach you.
D.Vernon: I understand that Si-Jo Yip Man held your Sifu Ho Kam Ming in high regard.
Sifu Fong: Yes Sifu Ho Kam Ming was a lucky guy he was so rich that he did not need to work, so he spent a lot of his time with Si-Jo Yip Man. When Si-Jo Yip Man was sick he took him to hospital, just like his own father, because he was his Sifu.
D.Vernon: So Ho Kam Ming was a true Bi-ser of Si-Jo Yip Man?
Sifu Fong: Yes.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong, is the Wing Chun you teach the same as SI-Jo Ho Kam Mina’s.
Sifu Fong: Yes.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong I see that your dummy form is different to the form that we see most of in the U.K, can you tell us why this is so?
Sifu Fong: All I can tell you is what I learnt from my Sifu and that is what he learnt from his Sifu. Many people have a different second half to the dummy form. The way I teach, is Siu Nim Tao then Chum Kiu followed by the first half of the Muk Yan Jong (dummy form) because the first half of the dummy form has the movements from the fist two-hand forms. Then I teach the Biu Jee form and on to the second half of the dummy form, as that has the movements of the Bui Jee form. Then we do the Luk Dim Boon Gwan ( Pole form ) and on to the Bat Jam Dao ( Knife form ).
D.Vernon: I understand that there is a saying that Bui Jee does not go out the door. What does this mean to you.
Sifu Fong: You can say that Bui Gee does not go out the door, because a lot of people lose interest at this time or they think they already know how do Wing Chun then they can never go up to the Bui Gee Level. In addition, the teacher may see that they do not have that kind of ability to go on to Bui Jee Level. You see if do not know Biu Gee, then you can not know the second half of the dummy form. This is another reson why there are many ways of doing the dummy forms around.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong what would you say is the most important form in the Wing Chun System?
Sifu Fong: The most important form is the Siu Lim Tau because that develops your Chi Gong, your Chi power, develops your spiritual power, physical power and your fighting power all in the one form.
D.Vernon: And how long would it take a good student to learn the Siu Lim Tau, with all it’s theory and applications in one of your schools?
Sifu Fong: To learn the form is easy, every one can learn it in one day, but to understand the form and digest the form takes a very long time. But depending on the person some can pick it up in a shorter time scale, some take longer. But you have to understand why you do the form, people think it is easy, but they do not see the important parts of the form and then they just drop the form and move on to the Chum Kiu form.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong can you tell us the main points of the Chum Kiu form?
Sifu Fong: Chum Kiu’s main purpose is to practice body unity, your whole hand motion, is based on the body. So body is the foundation of the hand, if you have a strong foundation then you can execute your hand technique better than just using your hand, then you have a body behind the hand. The body is just like a hammer, the hand is just like a nail. If you have a hammer behind a nail then you can nail the technique in.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong I understand that Chum Kiu has two meanings, searching bridge and sinking bridge, which is right.?
Sifu Fong: Both, are O.K depending on which Chum Kiu you mean. The name of the form is searching bridge, but the name of the hand technique is sinking the bridge in the Chum Kiu form. They are different words in Chinese, but they are pronouns the same.
D.Vernon: Do you think that this has caused a lot of confusion between the interpretation of different teachers?
Sifu Fong: It has, because it depends on the teacher and how much they know of the system. If they do not know the system then they have to make up a story or something like that.
D.Vernon Sifu Fong some people say that Biu Gee is for attack and some say its for emergency. Which is the right way?
Sifu Fong: The Bui Gee form is based on the Siu Nim Tao and Chum Kiu forms. You see Siu Nim Tao develops your steady power to control your balance and Chum Kiu is to control your steady power when you are moving. Bui Gee conbines the two concepts, when you have to give up your hand position you will still be able to save your self, this is why it is sometimes called emergency hand. All the Bui Gee techniques are in the Siu Nim Tao and Chum Kiu forms already, they are only applied differently in the Biu Gee form, like from a different angle.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong can you tell us about the Mok Jong ( Wooden Dummy Form ) Please ?
Sifu Fong: Yes, the Mok Jong is used to find the correct line. As I said before it incorporates the three hand forms. When you reach this level of training one understands more about the theory and applications of structure, Centre line, gates, triangles, timing, etc. As most Wing Chun people will tell you the Mok Jong is the next best thing to a live training partner.
D.Vernon: Do you use the dummy to condition with?
Sifu Fong: When you start to use the Mok Jong you do not hit it hard because you will hurt your hands and legs. Just tap the dummy lightly at first because the force used is not the same as brute strength. As you train you can increase the amount of force used, but do not go over the top.
D.Vernon: This morning we were training with the Luk Dim Boom Gwan ( six and a half point pole ) and you were telling us about the way in which you learnt back in Hong Kong?
Sifu Fong: Yes that’s right, when we learnt the pole we were given the techniques and how to use the Wing Chun theory. This is the way it was taught, so different students put the techniques together and now teach the form differently. If you think of just the order of the techniques in the form, then you are missing the point.
D.Vernon: Talking of points, what is the six and a half point about in the name of the form?
Sifu Fong: Actually the six and half does not mean the amount of techniques, what it refers to is the way in which you strike the target. As you bring the force to the tip of the pole, the vibration will cause the tip to leave a sixth and a half mark of the pole on the target area.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong, moving on to the Bat Jam Do ( Eight Slash Knives Form ), can you tell us why the form has this name? , Is it about using eight directions or eight techniques?
Sifu Fong: Well you can say about eight directions, but this is not the reson for the eight. It is because the Chinese for the number eight looks like two lines coming down to a point, which is the same as the shape of the chopping motions you use with the knives. It does not mean eight motions or techniques. It is the mark that is made by the knives when you slash with them.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong, I would like to ask you some questions about Chi Sau ( Sticky Hands ). Do you have a direct relationship between the forms and Chi Sau practice.
Sifu Fong: Yes I do because all the Chi Sau motions are what make’s the forms in the first place. The forms are just like textbooks with the right ways of doing the motions, this is the study and Chi Sau practice is just like the lab work to test the application.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong, is there a direct relationship between the forms and the applications?
Sifu Fong: No there is not, in applications you must make adjustments to the line and hand positions. You move high or low, it all depends on the situation. Take the movement in Chum Kiu when you shift your line to the side with the Bong Sau motion, maybe in the application you move in at 45 degrees to use the Bong Sau. You see in the form you turn by yourself, but in the application you can not do this. You only turn if it is needed and your opponent will determine this with the amount of force he gives you.
D.Vernon: How do you teach your Chi Sau?
Sifu Fong: First, I teach you how to make the right structure for each of the moves ( Tan Sau, Bong Sau and Fook Sau ). Then with the structure you learn to control the point of contact. From then on, you can learn to control the point between the motions. Then you can create an equalisation of force, you make yourself a strong structure just like a wall . When another force comes in to push , you just maintain a wall, you do not push back but no force can move you. In that way, they just bounce back and that’s the way to control your energy. Chi Dan Sau teaches you how to use the horizontal and vertical mother lines and how to get the inside Centre line.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong, you teach eight types of energy in Wing Chun and Chi Sau?
Sifu Fong: Yes that’s right, so far, I have taught eight types of energy in Chi Sau:
Bau Ja ging ( Explode Power )Ging is your internal power that is executed outwardly; people can see how much power you have. This is when they can see Ging externally.
Chi Ging ( Sticking Power ) In Wing Chun, we stick to everything so that we make our energy and our opponents energy one. Therefore, when he tries to move I can control him by using his force this is now my force.
Keng Ging ( listening Power ) listening means feeling your opponents energy and body talk, so you trap him by counter moving before him.
Juun Ging ( Drilling Power ) Drilling Power is the force that goes forward, it is like a circle, every straight line has a circle. This does not mean a circle motion, the straight line is drilling like a spiral. Just like a bullet as it turns, as it goes through the air.
Jek Jip Ging ( Direct Power ) Direct Power means I use the power to go from point to point by bouncing off the first point and going straight to the second point. Like hitting one opponent’s head and using that point to start a technique to hit the second opponent.
Yaan Ging ( Guiding Power ) Guiding force is the one you use when your opponent’s incoming force is on its way. You just turn the force a way to the side and carry on in a circle back to the starting point of the attack. Just like a wheel.
Lin Jip Ging ( Connecting Power ) Connecting Power is like Direct Power from one motion move to the next motion without stopping. Like if you do a Pak Sau use the same hand to do Tan Sau or a Punch straight away without stopping, just learn to feel what’s going on.
Choung Ging ( Aggressive Power ) Aggressive Power is used outwardly, you must be very mentally calm. However, you must not be out of control. If you do not train this, in the right way you will be out of control.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong how do you know which one of the eight powers to use?
Sifu Fong: Simple, all of the eight Ging’s are used in all of the techniques and motions. What . I mean is, that they are all adjustable and interchangeable.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong do you have any tips for us in the U.K.
Sifu Fong: Well if you want to do well in Wing Chun, just keep to doing one thing and try not to do all things. If you put other ideas into Wing Chun, then you will not be doing Wing Chun.
D.Vernon: Sifu Fong I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your time and sharing your thoughts with us.
Sifu Fong: your very welcome.