Interview with Ko Kin
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.