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The Siu Nim Tao Kung Fu Form, and Why we train it…

The Siu Nim Tao Kung Fu Form, and Why we train it…

by Warren Ash

Hi Everyone…

Now we are entering into our 6th Kung Fu week of 2016, I’d like to talk to you about a group of ancient exercises we practise every single class whatever level you are… The Forms.

In Wing Tsun there are three empty handed forms, one Wooden Dummy and two Weapon forms. The first three you learn being: The Siu Nim Tao that translates into ‘little idea’, then the Chum Kiu that means ‘bridge seeking’ and finally Biu Tze that translates into ‘thrusting fingers’. In this blog I’ll be focusing on the first form in the Wing Tsun system.

What is the Siu Nim Tao?

The Siu Nim Tao (SNT) is the first aspect of Wing Tsun that you will be introduced to in your first class at one of our schools. It is not like a kata that is a choreographed pattern of movements that are practised in Japanese and Okinawan martial arts such as karate, judo and aikido, where the student practises set techniques intended to be used in combat but the SNT teaches us how to move using the basic shapes and principles of the system.

What stance do we practice in?

Although the Siu Nim Tao is practised with the lower body stationary and only the upper body moves, the first thing you do in the SNT is get into your practice stance, the IRAS. The internally rotating adductor stance, more commonly known as the IRAS is the practice stance used in the Wing Tsun system.

With the knees bent, heels facing outwards and the toes facing inwards, the stance engages the adductor muscles. The adductors are located on the inside of the upper leg and the provide the most power and stability for the hips and the femur (the longest and strongest bone in the body located in the upper leg).

The IRAS teaches us have our feet grounded strongly with the internal rotation of the knees engaging the adductors and the body weight sinking into the ground. The first seemingly strange angle of the feet in the iras teaches us where to place our feet and weight in the fighting stances.

Why do we learn the Siu Nim Tao?

The Siu Nim Tao is one of the best training methods to begin learning Wing Tsun because it most importantly (in my opinion) teaches us how to move! Where to place our hands, what shapes make, to work along our centreline with forward pressure and it also makes us more aware of where the parts of our body is in space in relation to the rest of our body. For example, close your eyes and reach your hand out in front of you and then touch your nose. Easy? Yes, that is because you know where your hand is in relation to your nose due to the sense is called proprioception.

What can I use to help me practise at home?

There are various youtube videos on the Siu Nim Tao but here is the link to the official EWTO (European Wing Tsun Organisation) video as there are many, many variations of the SNT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFuQdoXX_gg. Once you learn the sequence you can practise in front of the mirror to work on the details you are given in class as the mirror gives the perfect reflection of you!

I hope you enjoyed last week’s blog on why we exercise in class!

Remember if you don’t understand something don’t hesitate to ask one of the instructor team. Have a great week!

Source:  http://www.martialartssoutheast.co.uk/siu-nim-tao-kung-fu-form-train/


Misconceptions of Wing Chun

By Benny Meng and Steve Rudnicki

Modern day misconceptions about Wing Chun Kung Fu have led to numerous controversies and debates about its origins, its looks, its training methods, its applications, and even its combat employment. It is the intention of the Ving Tsun Museum to present some of these misconceptions to the reader, followed by the latest research the Museum has conducted. This research is by no means complete at this time, nor have any final conclusions been drawn. The Museum simply presents its most recent discoveries and leaves the practitioner free to draw his or her own conclusions.

1. The Burning of the Shaolin Temple

Legend: The Qing Dynasty overthrew the Ming Dynasty. The Qing were a minority group (the Manchu) which succeeded in ruling over the majority group, the Han (the Chinese), but not with out a struggle. The remnants of the Ming Dynasty, together with the Shaolin monks, continued to fight against the Qing. The Shaolin connection to and support of the Ming Rebels was eventually discovered, which resulted in the burning of the Northern Hunan Temple. It is from this destruction that the Five Elders escaped. This is the popular legend.

Latest Research: It is true that the Shaolin Monks were involved with the anti-Qing movements when the Ming Dynasty was overthrown. The Northern Temple was not burned during the Qing Dynasty, in fact it was expanded during this time. It was, however, surrounded by Qing forces – both military and political – to ensure that it could not openly participate in rebellion. It was the Southern Temple in Fujian that was burned to the ground because of its open support of the Ming revolutionaries.

2. The Five Elders

Legend: There are many Southern Shaolin Systems that trace their roots, via oral tradition, back to the Five Elders, one of the systems is Wing Chun, although it is not so named at this point. In the oral traditions, Ng Mui, a nun and one of the Five Elders, is credited with teaching Wing Chun to the girl.

Latest Research: Oral traditions often date the Five Elders back to the 1800’s, implying that Wing Chun is only about 200 years old, when in fact it is older, having existed in the 1600’s. However, there is no recorded proof of who the Five were or if they were even people. According to the records of the Hung Mun (Secret Societies), reference is made to the Five Elders, which is how the legends may have entered into Wing Chun. It is possible that the Five Elders may be a reference to the evolution of different branches of the Secret Societies that arose during the conflict between the Ming and the Qing Dynasties or it may be a historical metaphor for variations of other Shaolin Martial Art Systems. Secret Society references may also point to the five political elders (with little to no Kung Fu experience) referenced in the book Mastering Kung Fu Featuring Shaolin Wing Chun by Gee, Meng, and Loewenhagen, Human Kinetics Publishing, 2004.

“Yat Chum” is another oral tradition. According to legend, the historically extant Cheung Ng learned his martial arts skills from a Shaolin Abbot named Yat Chum Dai Si.

3. Yim Wing Chun, her father, and her husband

Legend: The popular legend contends that one of the Five Elders, Ng Mui, taught a girl, named Yim Wing Chun, kung fu so that she could defend herself against an unwanted marriage. Some others state that the girl’s father was a disciple of Shaolin and wanted her to learn from the Shaolin Masters as well. After learning and mastering the kung fu, she then modified it after she watched a crane and a snake fight and then taught it to her husband. Her husband then named the Kung Fu System after her, and brought it to the Red Boats.

Latest Research: Like the Five Elders, there are no written historical records of Yim Wing Chun, her husband or her father. The problem with this version is that if there are no Five Elders, then the nun, Ng Mui, did not exist. If the Five Elders were the Revolutionary Leaders of the time, then being so, they were also marked, on the most wanted list. If she came forward either as a woman disguised as a man or as a revolutionary merely to teach Kung Fu to a young girl, she would have jeopardized her life, as well as her fellow elders, along with the life of the girl. Likewise, since the Qing military’s practice of executing ‘Nine Ancestors in Crime’ meant the death of all of her relatives out nine generations if she was discovered, it would have been most illogical for such a person to come forward to teach the girl kung fu simply because she was being forced into a marriage.

Anyone who studies Wing Chun knows that it is an advanced and sophisticated martial art. It is highly unlikely that one person developed such a complex system alone. Another point is that Wing Chun is based on efficiency. For the efficiency to work, the system has to be based on the movements and structures of human beings, not on those of animals.

If the mythical Yim Wing Chun invented Wing Chun, and then later on passed it to her husband, who later took it to the Red Boats, this places the time frame again in the 1800’s, creating a problem with the time frame in question. The Red Boats were in existence in the 1800’s and the Southern Shaolin Temple was destroyed in the 1600’s.This is a rather long time to be alive, especially back then. There seems to be nearly 200 years missing if the legends are true.

If we are to examine Wing Chun’s roots scientifically, then we must understand the etymology and logic of the phrase “Yim Wing Chun”. Weng Chun, as it was originally called, had a different meaning. The word ‘Weng’ means everlasting. Within the Shaolin Temple, the Weng Chun Tong is where the art was developed and practiced. After the destruction of the Southern Temple, the word changed from ‘Weng’ to ‘Wing’. ‘Wing’ means praising. This meant to pass on the art orally so that its details could not fall into enemy hands; this method of teaching is also consistent with Chan oral teaching. Shaolin teaching required one on one, Master to Student teaching for a more complete experience. ‘Yim’ was also added for the sum of ‘Yim Wing Chun’. ‘Yim’ means to be secretive. Now, the intent was to pass on the art both secretly and orally. The original intent was to return the name to Weng Chun upon the successful rebirth of the Ming Dynasty. Since such a rebirth never happened, the name remains Wing Chun today.

The burning of the Temple happened, but it was the Southern Temple. The Five Elders could be a metaphor that represents the combined effort of the Shaolin Temple and the Secret Societies. The Five Elders could also be different martial arts and/or secret society branches that came from the struggle to restore the Ming Dynasty. Yim Wing Chun represents the advanced system that was developed within the Shaolin Temple and passed on secretly to current times. The Wing Chun system remained hidden until it went public during the Red Boat Era. It was very convenient to have some cover story to hide the system’s true identity, thus preventing spies from obtaining any useful information due to skillful subterfuge.

4. Weng Chun is not related to Wing Chun

Misconception: Chi Sim Weng Chun looks very different than modern day Wing Chun that contains the Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu and Biu Ji forms, ergo the two are not related.

Latest Research: Within the Southern Shaolin Temple, there was a place called the Weng Chun Dim, the Everlasting Spring Great-Room. The style that was taught in this hall, called (Chi Sim) Weng Chun Kuen (Everlasting Spring Fist), represented one of the highest levels of Shaolin Kung Fu. This system is a Chan expression of martial arts meaning that it is complete; it deals with Chan Buddhism, all ranges of combat and, it also has complete Chi Gung training. It’s a system of fighting that is based on the concepts of Time/Space, Energy, and Gravity (Heaven, Man &, Earth).

A related system that also came out of the Southern Shaolin Temple was directly connected to the revolutionary societies, or the Hung Mun. (Hung Fa Yi) Wing Chun Kuen (Praising Spring Fist). It was developed in the Wing Chun Tong, or Praising Spring Hall, and is also based on Chan and the concepts of Time, Space and, Energy. However, the focus of Wing Chun is on the Economy of Motion, which created different sets of body structures than those found in Weng Chun. However, both systems share the same roots in Chan Buddhism and come from the Southern Shaolin Temple. They are considered sister arts. It is most probable that Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun gave rise to modern day Wing Chun, while Chi Sim Weng Chun most likely gave rise to modern day Hung Ga.

In summary, both systems came from the Southern Shaolin Temple, but from different places within the Temple. Both share the same roots and Chan tradition; however Wing Chun focused on the Sap Ming Dim (Formula), radically changing its appearance as compared to Weng Chun.

5. Wing Chun has no Chan Roots or connections

Legend: Most modern day Wing Chun lineages trace their roots through the Red Boat Opera, an organization that existed around the time of 1820-1850. This was about 200 years after the art left the Southern Shaolin temple. Many of the lineages of Wing Chun stemming from the Red Boat were taught without the inclusions of Chan Buddhism. Fighting ability is not dependent on knowledge of Chan Buddhism.

Latest Research: To the monks, martial arts were methods to cultivate their hearts and nourish their nature. In Chinese, the heart is equivalent to what the West refers to as the mind. In the Shaolin context, the mind spoken of is the Universal Mind. Nourishing its nature refers to the Buddha nature. This is the path used to seek enlightenment. When Wing Chun left the Temple, most of the people learning it were not doing so for the purpose of cultivating the heart or nourishing their nature. For students or teachers that placed an emphasis on self-defense or health, the Chan aspects of the art were left out of some lineages over time. Some lineages today carry on Chan traditions, maintaining a strong link to the origins of the art in the Shaolin Temple. A phrase often quoted by practitioners is, “Ming Sum Gim Sing (Understanding the heart, see the true nature).”

Today, there are at least two lineages of Wing Chun that maintain the Chan tradition, Chi Sim and Hung Fa Yi.

6. Wing Chun originates within the Red Boat

Legend: The Red Boat period was a sort of melting pot for many southern martial arts; numerous systems of today’s Wing Chun began to develop differently due to its environment and personal experiences. The ancestors of today’s well-known Wing Chun lineages, such as Yim Man, Yuen Kay San, Gu Lao, etc., originate from the Red Boats. For example, Yip Man’s lineage is from Chu Wa Shun, who learned it from Dr. Leung Jan, and Leung Jan was one of the first non-opera people to learn Wing Chun. According to oral tradition, he learned it from two opera members, Wong Wa Bo and Leung Yi Dai. So in this sense, Yip Man’s lineage did come from the Red Boats.

Latest Research: The point of the above discussions is that the Red Boat Opera members did not create the Wing Chun. Wing Chun was created in the Southern Shaolin Temple where it filtered to the Red Boat Opera through the Secret Societies, more than a century after it left the Southern Shaolin Temple.

7. Yi Ji Kim Yeung Mah

Legend: In Chinese, there are many words that sound alike, but which have different characters. Today, there are many people who translate YJKYM as “Two Adducting Goat Stance”, which means you use your legs and knees to adduct towards the center, as though you are capturing a goat between your legs. Due to this translation, the focus went to the placing of the knees on the center, which in turn led to very narrow spacing of the knees and feet.

Latest Research: Another translation of YJKYM is “Two Adducting Energy Stance”, meaning that you focus on joining the upper and lower body via the Daan Tien energy. Due to the misinterpretation of the word Yeung, it created two different meanings and structures.

8. Wing Chun dummies and weapons are taught only at the end of the system

Misconception: In modern day Wing Chun, you have to be an advanced student in order to qualify to learn the dummy and the weapons.

Latest Research: Wing Chun was a highly advanced system within the Shaolin Temple. Those students who were exposed to it were not beginner students, they had already been through previous martial arts training. In the Shaolin Wing Chun, such as Chi Sim and Hung Fa Yi, the weapons are taught right after the student demonstrates basic foundations and proficiencies in Wing Chun. Both systems focus on their core principles and concepts, which can apply to both weapons training as well as empty handed training. In the past, martial artists who were learning the Wing Chun system needed to learn the weapons immediately in order to survive. Learning the weapons at the beginning or end of the system is only a method, it is not a specified, set order. It depends on the master, the student and, the environment.

9. Wing Chun is an art that only deals with Trapping Range in that it does not have long kicks, strikes, or any grappling.

Misconception: Modern day martial artists at times need to learn two or three martial arts to learn the full ranges of combat. This is referred to as mixed martial arts. Some look at Wing Chun as one of the styles that specializes only in trapping.

Latest Research: Chi Sim Weng Chun is a complete system where it deals with all ranges of combat through its concepts of Heaven, Man and Earth. This concept addresses both where an attack is height and width wise as well as how long an attack is. Earth can be used to describe the lower area of the body (below the Daan Tien) as well as a body to body, close contact situation. Human can be used to describe a mid range attack with trapping and short striking. It can also be used to describe the middle area of the body. Heaven can be used to describe the upper portion of the body, from the solar plexus up, as well as a long-range combat situation involving kicking and long striking.

In Hung Fa Yi, the paradigm shifted due to its focus on the economy of motion. The efficiency of Hung Fa Yi is based on human structures utilized in human to human combat. It can effectively deal with all ranges of combat using these structures. These configurations allow the practitioner to make the most of time, space and energy in a combat situation. Only when the practitioner’s space is threatened, at his six-gate range, will his tools turn on. He will not go out of his way to hurt anyone. Once in this six-gate mode, all options are available to the defender; kicks, punches, traps and, throws, as well as being mobile or balanced and stable. This is one of the most versatile and dangerous postures for human combat. It is not due to personal style or the artistic desire to do something, it is a hard fact of combat.


A Note About the Author: Sifu Benny Meng is the principle founder and Curator of the Ving Tsun Museum. He has traveled extensively throughout the world researching the roots of the art, and studying the training methods and applications employed in virtually every lineage of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Benny Meng can be reached at the Ving Tsun Museum, 5715 Brandt Pike, Dayton, Oh, 45424, phone (937) 236-6485 and emailed at bennymeng@vtmuseum.org. Steve Rudnicki is an assistant instructor under Sifu Meng.


Interview with Wong Shun Leung and Barry Lee

by Earl Montaigue

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.


Siu Lim Tao – 小念頭

Siu Lim Tao (Siu Nim Tao)- Little Idea

by West Coast Wing Chun

Siu Lim Tao 小念頭 is most often translated as “little idea”.  If we look at the Chinese characters we can understand a more in depth meaning.

小 is understood as meaning “little”.
念 is understood as meaning “think, study”.
頭 is often translated as “head”, but may also mean “first or start”.
The Siu Lim Tao Form  is the first open hand form of Wing Chun. There are 108 movements in the form, presented in three parts. The form is conceptual, presenting the concepts of energy, motion and position in a fixed context.

The Stance

The Siu Lim Tao form is comprised entirely of the Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma Stance (Character Two  二  Frontal Adduction Stance).  Stepping and turning is not introduced until the second form of Wing Chun, the Chum Kiu form.   Attention must be given to correct foot, leg and hip positioning so the stance optimizes its stability, mobility and ability to lever power from the earth. Additional focus must be given to earth points on the bottom of the feet, as well as the hui yum point on the underside of the pelvis to facilitate proper chi flow.

Siu Lim Tao is a single-handed movement; even in the second part you are using both hands symmetrically, so it is still single-handed. ~Ip Chun

The First Section

The first section of the Siu lim Tao form introduces us to two of the seeds or family motions of the Wing Chun Kuen, the tan sau and fook sau. Proper breathing, stance integrity, and relaxation are heavily emphasized to facilitate the development of internal power. However, direct focus and intent must be placed on the underside of the elbow to build jahn dai lik (force/tension beneath the elbow). Careful attention must be given to practicing the motions slowly to facilitate muscle memory.

The motions are as follows:
Seung Guan Sau
Seung Tan Sau
Lop Sau
Sam Pai Fut or Praying Thrice to the Buddha (Slow) Section:
Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Wu Sa
Fook Sau, Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Wu Sau (Repeat 3x)
Pak Sau, Jek Cheung

The Second Section

The second section of the Siu Lim Tao Form, often referred to as the Long Bridge section, teaches us to use the energy that is built in section one, in a combined soft and hard capacity. Here, we start to develop the first aspects of Fa Ging or whipping power. The arm is like a whip; it remains soft and relaxed until the moment of impact when we add last minute energy to the motion, and then become relaxed immediately after. The strike becomes like the crack of the whip only through the use of the soft/hard combination of energies.

The motions are:
Left Side Gum Sau, Right Side Gum Sau,
Rear Gum Sau, Frontal Gum Sau
Lan Sau, Fak Sau, Lan Sau
Jum Sau, Tan Sau, Jut Sau
Bui Sau, Gum Sau, Tai Sau
Ji Si Sau, Lop Sau

The Third Section


In the last third, you are applying the techniques. ~Ip Chun

The third section of the Siu Lim Tao form shows us correct flow and positioning of motions. For example, after practicing the Bong Sau, the third seed of the Wing Chun Kuen, the student drops his elbow into Tan Sau. This sequence reveals the vulnerability of the Wing Arm position. Careful consideration must be given to hand positions while understanding that when an opponent is present hands may need to be adjusted based on the height of the opponent. The movement must be slow and deliberate.

The motions are:
Pak Sau, Tsang Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Left Side)
Pak Sau, Tsang Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Right Side)
Tan Sau, Guan Sau, Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Wang Wa Cheung, Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Left Side)
Tan Sau, Guan Sau, Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Wang Wa Cheung, Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Right Side)
Bong Sau, Tan Sau, Tok Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Left Side)
Bong Sau, Tan Sau, Tok Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau (Right Side)
Left Tut Sau, Right Tut Sau, Left Tut Sau
3 Lin Wan Kuen,
Tan Sau, Huen Sau, Lop Sau

Source:  http://westcoastwingchun.com/training/forms/siu-lim-tao-2/


Sashes in Wing Chun Kuen?

Traditionally, Chinese martial arts (of which Wing Chun Kuen is one) do not use “sashes” to denote student level, rank, or instructor experience. They don’t use anything.

Judo began the practice of using colored belts (initially a few, later more) to designate experience levels for competition. Philosophically, Judo was trying to move away from the older practice of Jujitsu and into a modern, sport-based structure. In martial arts, you know something or you don’t; you can use it or you can’t.

But the Judo idea quickly spread to Karate and other Japanese arts, and into Tae Kwon Do, American Kenpo, and other arts. Instructors realized that belts were a motivator for students (status being desirable) and a financial incentive for themselves (desire creating demand). White, brown, black became White, yellow, orange, blue, green, brown, black, became purples and reds and half-colors and stripes and all sorts of other ways to increase the steps, increase the motivation, and (for those who instituted belt fees, testing fees, association fees, and other surcharges) increase the profits.

When Chinese teachers came west and saw commercial Japanese and Korean schools with belt-ranking systems, some decided to implement a China-cized version, substituting sashes for belts. Others who had backgrounds in TKD or Karate and then learned a traditional, rank-less Chinese art, integrated sashes in as well.

In the best of cases (some would argue Judo still and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu now both represents this), belts reflect skill level, aid students in improving, and cost next to nothing aside from the cloth. They can also be handy when schools become widespread, multi-state or multi-national organizations with set standards and high-mobility of students between locations. (Leung Ting’s WT and William Cheung’s TWC would be examples of this).

In the worst cases (some would argue McDojos are in part defined by this), the belts become something bought instead of skill earned (pay the fee, get the belt, actually knowledge and ability be damned), confuse students, and gouge them financially. (Plenty examples of this too, unfortunately).

I had or have colored belts in judo, karate, and BJJ, and did Wing Chun Kuen longer than any of those without any strip of cloth to denote it (traditional mainland sifu — never heard of the practice).

But that’s just it. Sometimes the practice of ranks and sashes can become so widespread, people actually refer to them without realizing how modern, and in some cases anachronistic, they are. The modern and commercial becomes seen as the traditional.

We gain the benefits of stability and interoperability, of scaling and fitting in, but what do we lose?

The small classes where the sifu knew every student and their individual level, replaced by the gigantic class with sub-teacher of the moment looking at colored strips of cloth before deciding which generic drill to begin.

Like most things, there are benefits and risks, and knowing both helps maximize the former and minimize the latter.

(Personally, I’m wearing a black belt right now — leather with a metal buckle from the mall)


Chum Kiu – Seeking/Sinking The Bridge


Chum-Kiu – the Wing-Chun intermediate level form: Chum (search/seek), Kiu (bridge/gap). Literally means “seeking the bridge.” Chum-Kiu also means ‘sinking the bridge’. A bridge is created when one of your arms makes contact with the arm of the opponent. After a proficient level is attained in the Siu-Lim-Tao, Chum-Kiu is taught to the students at this level to bridge the gap to your opponent, developing arm and leg movements from the Siu-Lim-Tao into a coherent fighting system, consists of techniques to destroy your opponent’s structure and balance, leaving him open to attack. This 2nd form encloses advanced footwork, such as Chuen-Ma, Hau-Ma, Tor-Ma, Thoi Ma are incorporated using Yiu-Ma (Waist Power), to generate force in the strikes and block movements. New hand positions, kicks and movement are also introduced. Close-range attacks using elbows and knees are also streesed. Chum-Kiu can also be looked on as the ‘bridge’ between the hand motions of the first form, and the emergency motions of the third form.

Since Siu-Lim-Tao develops proper structure, stance, centerline, hand-eye coordination, qi development, body unity and the power of proper intent, Chum-Kiu adds and develops three more energies. These are forward momentum, pulling momentum and turning momentum. These energies add significant power to all Wing-Chun techniques though coordinated movement of the body along both linear and circular paths. Practicing Chum-Kiu will lead to a heightened awareness and understanding of the ways in which these movements enhance and magnify natural body power ‘chi’. The nature of this form is to train your body balance by playing the form. The more you practice this form the better your balance will be. Chum-Kiu is a bridge to a greater understanding of the Wing-Chun system.

• Hands positions are Lan-Sao, Fak-Sao, Biu-Sao, Dai-Bong-Sao, Lin-Wan-Cheung (chain palm strikes), Sup-Gee-Chang (crossed palms) and arms break.

• The heart of the Chum-Kiu “Yiu-Ma-Hap-Lap”, latterly translates as “waist power co-operation”, either in deflecting or returning force using Chuen-Ma/Yee-Chi-Kim-Yeung Ma.

• Kicks are Dim-Gerk (front kicks) and Jeet-Gerk/Waang-Gerk (low side kicks).

• The techniques in Chum-Kiu are more apparent as well as the footwork required. This form stresses the importance of mobility and the coordination of movements to achieve maximum effect using Yin-Yang power art.

This form is divided into three sections. In the first section we train several crucial concepts that will enhance your Kung-Fu. These movements train the body to move in coordinated unison to fully maximize efficient use of the body’s qi in implementing hand techniques while maintaining balance as the centerline is changed. These movements train our timing as well as develop flawless hand replacement; as one hand retreats from the centerline to the guard position, the other hand replaces on the advance position on the centerline. This ensures that control of the centerline is never given away. Our “dead horse” stance from Siu-Lim-Tao now becomes alive in the practice of Chum-Kiu.

In the second section, Dim-Gerk kicking is introduced in the form. This practice allows the student to deliver powerful, economical and efficient kicks while maintaining optimal balance while communicating little visual intent with the upper body. The student learns to shift his/her weight to the back leg to help deliver power to the kicks while maintaining balance and sensitivity along the centerline with the leg/feet.

The third section focuses the student to develop unity of the horse stance and hand techniques to better develop body power through kicking, stepping and changing the centerline.


Wing Chun Practitioners: Leung Dai-Chiu, Teacher of Wing Chun Kuen

The Wing Chun system began with Ng Mui Si Tai who taught it to Yim Wing-Chun. Yim taught her husband, Leung Bok-Tao. In Foshan, Leung took a student named Wong Wah-Bo who was a member of the Red Junk Opera. Another Red Junk student, Painted Face Kam, taught Wing Chun Kuen to Fok Bo-Chuen and Fung Siu-Ching. They passed the art on to Yuen Kay-San. Yuen’s nickname was Yuen Lo Jia (Yuen The Fifth) because, in his family, he was the 5th brother and in Guangdonhua, Jia signifies the 5th. Yuen Kay-San taught the art to a student named Sum who in turn taught Leung Dai-Chiu.

Leung Dai-Chiu now teaches in Kowloon and where he also runs a medical clinic and treats many specialized conditions such as falling and hitting, wind damp, and the loss of feeling children experience in their limbs. While teaching Wing Chun Boxing, Pole, and Knife, he also does a good job at medicine.

According to Yuen Kay-San grand-student Leung Dai-Chiu, Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen has forms like Siu Lien Tao (Little First Training), Chum Kiu (Sinking Bridge), Biu Jee, (Darting Fingers), Muk Yan Jong (Wooden Dummy), Sup Yee San Sik (Twelve Separate Forms), and applications.

Siu Lien Tao is the foundation form of Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen and every beginner must learn it. Its main focus is to develop the horse and bridge positions. The next form is Chum Kiu, which continues the step by step progression that allows a student to understand the methods of Wing Chun Kuen. The last form is Biu Jee, which combines the use the straight body and horse and the side body and horse together in the practice of attack and defense.

When a student has finished the Siu Lien Tao, they can use soft and hard to develop bridge feeling and strength. This is called sensitivity training. After, sticking hands involves the methods and rules from all three forms and the Sup Yee San Sik. The last stage of training is Jee Yao Pok Gik (free fighting).

After, the Muk Yan Jong is used, allowing a student to pretend they have an enemy present in training. With a classmate in chi sao, a student must be careful not to cause harm, but with a dummy more power is possible. This brings the techniques together, giving the practitioner flexibility.

In Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen, there is also a Juk Jong (Bamboo Dummy) that has twelve bamboo hands. The Juk Jong methods are all freestyle, using the only the methods of Wing Chun Kuen as guidelines. The Juk Jong was used many years ago on the Red Junks. They would put bamboo arms through the cabins that had weights on the back ends. In use, they functioned like the Lien Wan Sa Bao (Linked Chain Sand Bags- a group of sandbags hung together). If a student is slow, they will be hit by the return of a previously struck arm (or sandbag).

Leung Dai-Chiu sifu explained that Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen uses the Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma (”Yee” Shaped Groin Clamping Horse). In this, the horse clamps, the chest is hollowed, the stomach relaxed in, and the shoulders dropped. When a hand goes out, the elbow protects the chest. Each elbow can be used like half a hand so that together, a student can employ three hands at once. The wrist is very important in the transmission of power. The gallbladder is important as the source of courage. These two allow Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen to use an opponent’s own strength against him with both soft and hard.

When the arms are chambered, the body and horse should be straight. The hands should be drawn up and the elbows no allowed to be out or over the stomach. To the left and right, they should not be over the ears.

Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen uses the Twelve Methods of Join, Intercept, Sink, Dart, Stick, Feel, Steal and Leak, Swallow, Slice, Press, Swing, and Detain. Other methods for helping students practice include hitting sandbags, splitting rattan rings, twisting chopsticks, pressing paper, hitting candles, hitting telephone books, etc.

Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen uses the Luk Dim Boon Gwun (Six-and-a-Half Point Pole). It is 7′2″ in Chinese measurements. The knife method is Yee Jee Kim Yeung Dit Ming Seung Do (Parallel Shaped Groin Clamping Life-Taking Double Knives).

In addition, Leung Dai-Chiu worked hard and so his teacher gave him knowledge for the treatment of falling, hitting, cuts, long-term blood stagnation, chronic pains, long-term wind damp, follow-up treatment, children’s lack of feeling in the extremities, rare problems, half body paralysis. This included both compresses and internal medicine, cleaning, operation, massage, and therapeutic massage.


“The hidden power of Internal Wing Chun”

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.

Sifu Nima King touching hands with Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin for the first time in 2004 at a seminar in Australia.

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.

A photo of Nima King with his Sifu, Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin at his school in Hong Kong.

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!)

A photo of Grandmaster Ip Man with his students taken in 1955. Standing directly behind Grandmaster Ip Man you can see a very young Chu Shong Tin.

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!

Grandmaster Chun Shong Tin teaching Sifu Nima King at his school in Hong Kong.

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).

Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin transmitting “Nim Lik” to Sifu Nima King during a seminar with his students.

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)

Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin teaching a student how to rise energy up through their spine with the assistance of Sifu Nima King.

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.

Sifu Nima King helping his students at the Mindful Wing Chun school in Hong Kong.

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”.

Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin and his students at the Ip Man Tong Wing Chun museum in Foshan, China.

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.

Sifu Nima King with Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin sharing a precious moment during training at CST’s Wing Chun school in Hong Kong.

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!

source https://www.themartialman.com/the-hidden-power-of-internal-wing-chun-sifu-nima-king/


Wing Chun From Guangzhou: Same Origin, Different Development

For many decades, Wing Chun Kuen stayed around the Foshan and Guangzhou area and never spread much further. Today many people still don’t know this “short bridge narrow horse” boxing art. Decades ago in Guangdong Wing Chun Kuen was known as “Gwai Ga Kuen” (”Returning Home Boxing”). This meant Wing Chun Kuen was not like the “long bridge big horse” boxing arts which look good in demonstrations. Wing Chun Kuen is not good looking in demonstration but then, that is not where Wing Chun Kuen’s value lies.

20 years ago, Wing Chun Kuen had not spread far and its circle remained very small. Not many people had learned the art and those with good quality did not easily teach others. Thus, only a few were successful with it. Since then, however, the Wing Chun Kuen of founder Mr. Yip Man has been spread in Hong Kong and around the world. Now, many people know of Wing Chun Kuen. Besides the branch of Mr. Yip Man, there is another system with different methods and techniques.

The reader may ask, why are there different branches? Like Taijiquan, it has spread and developed different branches. Now in Hong Kong a different branch is becoming popular.

Wing Chun Kuen Has Two Branches

This branch has the same origins as Mr. Yip Man’s branch but the techniques and methods are a little different. This article will introduce the “Guangzhou Wing Chun Kuen”.

The name Guangzhou Wing Chun Kuen is only used to distinguish the system from Mr. Yip Man’s style. Like Taijiquan has Yang, Chen, and Wu branches, but they all remain Taijiquan. While the distant origins of Wing Chun Kuen may lie with Siu Lam, its development must be traced to the Foshan area. One teacher of Guangzhou Wing Chun Kuen is Kwok Wan-Ping sifu who operates the Guangzhou Wing Chun Institute. So we refer to it as Guangzhou Wing Chun for convenience.

According to Kwok Wan-Ping sifu, he learned Wing Chun Kuen in Guangzhou from Sum Nung. 20 years ago, Sum Nung and Mr. Yip Man knew each other. Now, Sum Nung is still in Guangzhou. This branch of Wing Chun comes from Jee Shim and Ng Mui – Red Junks – Fung Siu-Ching – Yuen Kay-San and Cheung Bo – Sum Nung – Kwok Wan-Ping.

Difficult to Research the Origins & Development

Kwok Wan-Ping says:

“Today, if you want to trace the origins and development and find out what happened a long time ago its very difficult. You commonly hear two different origins. One is that Jee Shim taught it to the Red Junks. The other is that it comes from Ng Mui. After this, this boxing art spread to a few people on the Red Junks. After, Fung Siu-Ching, Yuen Kay-San, and Cheung Bo’s skills were all passed down to Sum Nung.”

New Martial Hero: “So, is this Wing Chun Kuen different then Yip Man’s?”

Kwok Wan-Ping: “I don’t know much about Mr. Yip Man’s Wing Chun Kuen. I can only tell you about the Wing Chun Kuen I learned. This Wing Chun has the three fundamental forms of Siu Lien Tao (Little First Training), Chum Kiu (Sinking Bridge), and Biu Jee (Darting Fingers). It also has Sup Yee San Sao (Twelve Separate Hands), and more the 150 Wooden Dummy techniques. These are the important points for training wrist power.

“Do you have a Wooden Dummy?”

“Yes, we have the Hong Jong (Air Dummy) and the Yut Jong (Real Dummy). I learned Wing Chun Kuen with sunken chest and dropping shoulders. The body shape faces the side.”

“You go to the side for simultaneous canceling and hitting?”

“Yes, but we have front body, facing body, chasing body, etc. For example, when I am at the center, I can follow the opponent with my stance like the radius of a fan.

“You said Air Dummy and Real Dummy before, what does that mean?”

“They are two methods of training the dummy form. One trains flexibility, the other power.”

Wing Chun Kuen Kicks Are Not Higher Than the Chest

“Kwok sifu, does Wing Chun Kuen have leg techniques?”

“Yes, but never higher then the chest, like Invisible Kick, Heart Piercing Kick, Tiger Tail Kick, Lifting Groin Kick, Side Nailing Kick, etc.

“And Weapons?”

“Wing Chun Kuen has Yee Jee Kim Yeung Dit Ming Do (Parallel Shaped Groin Clamping Life-Taking Knives) and Luk Dim Boon Gwun (Six-and-a-Half-Point Pole).

“I’ve heard the pole has a Dummy too?”

“The Six-and-a-Half-Point Pole has a Dummy, but since there is not a lot of space it’s easier to use a ball hanging from a string. The aim is to train speed and accuracy, there’s no secrets.”

“Kwok sifu, I saw you teach your students before and some of the movements did not look like Wing Chun Kuen.”

“Those were Gai Bun Gung (Basic Work). You have to train the whole body- joints, muscles, and tendons. It’s just basic work. Its goal is to build power, inner strength, speed, flexibility, and softness. In my opinion, when learning kung-fu, the basic work is the mother of the fists. I studied at the Guangzhou and Wuhon Sports Institutes where these exercises come from. They’re important so I never forgot them. In every activity, you need good basics, fist fighting is the same.”

Kwok Wan-Ping learned at the Guangzhou and Wuhon Sports Institutes for 4 years. He won the All-China lightweight wrestling championship during this time. At the institute, he studied Mongolian, freestyle, and Greco-Roman wrestling. He also learned weightlifting, fencing, and Chinese martial arts. Besides the Wing Chun Kuen of Yuen Kay-San and Cheung Bo he also learned Chen and Fu Taijiquan, Xingyi, Wuxing Bashi, Yin Yang Bagua, and Longxing Bagua palms, spear, knife, pole, flying dragon sword, etc.

Kwok Wan-Ping teaches Wing Chun Kuen, Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua and other methods.

With Kwok Wan-Ping, New Martial Hero. Roughly translated from Chinese