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Pao Fa Lien Wing Chun of Foshan

The Wing Chun style that is very popular now is the branch taught by Sifu Yip Man. It was passed down from [Yuen Kay San] and is known as the Slant-Body Wing Chun. But most people are ignorant of the Wing Chun Style of of [Lao Dat Sang], who was very well known in Foshan County of China’s Kwangtung Province by the nickname [Pao Fa Lien]

The author is very fortunate to have followed [Pao Fa Lien]’s disciple, Sifu Chu Chung, and therefor has a good understanding of this branch of the Wing Chun Style.

Before presenting the content of the Wing Chun Style passed down from Sifu [Pao Fa Lien], the author should like to make a vivid delineation of the branch.

A greater part of kung fu styles originated from the Shaolin Monastery in Sungshan Mountains. When the Ch’ing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD.) burned down the Shaolin Monastery because of the anti-Ch’ing inclination of the monks and secular disciples of the monastery, the kung fu exponents of the Shaolin Monastery went into hiding among the people and taught their pugilistic skills to people aspiring to topple the Ch’ing Dynasty.

The Wing Chun Style of [Pao Fa Lien] of Fo Shan County originated from a superior master of Shaolin Monastery who took refuge in Kiangsu Province. The monk took an assumed name “Big East Wind’ to escape the notice of pur-suing soldiers of the Ch’ing Dynasty. Gradually, he became an intimate friend of a magistrate called [Tse Gwok-Leung] and his brother [Tse Gwok Cheung]. The [Tse] brothers admired the monk’s pugilistic skills and in-vited him to live in their household and become their kung fu instructor. A few years afterwards, Monk Big East Wind took leave of the magistrate and traveled to the north. No one knew his where-abouts ever since.

After their teacher’s departure for the north, the [Tse] brothers lost their ambitions in the career as officials. They re-signed and returned to their home Fo Shan County, where they adopted a baby boy, [Lao Dat-Sang], who was later to be known as [Pao Fa Lien].

When he was only nine years old, [Pao Fa Lien] began to train pugilism and staff-techniques under the guidance of [Tse Kwok-Leung] and [Tse Kwok-Cheung]. After ten years’ hard work, [Pao Fa Lien] completed his training of martial arts.

What forms does Wing Chun comprise? My teacher, Chu Chung said: “In the category of pugilism are: The Little Idea; [Chum Kiu], or Seeking-Arm; [Biu Jee] or the Thrusting Fingers; [Dui Sao]; [Tut Sao]; [Sup Jee]; [Bien Kuen], or the Whipping Fist; [Jin Kuen] or the Arrow Fist; [Jin Jeung], or the Arrow Palm; [Juk San] or Sidling.
“Belonging to category of weapons used by Wing Chun are: [Mor Poon Do], or the Millstone Broadsword; [Siu Lung Gim], or the Book-bag Sword; [Yay Yan Bian], or the inverted-V shaped whip; [Ba]; [Tiu]; staff; etc.

“The forms for basic exercises are: The hard dummy, the soft dummy, the internal dummy and the external dummy.”s

These each comprises 100+ odd movements and has a different method of training. Bigger sets of pugilism and broadsword handling techniques are also composed of over 100 movements, including movements of the arms and the legs. The foot-work is soft and agile like a pearl dropping into a tray of jade; and the body turns nimbly with the footwork.

The sets of pugilism boil down into: the set of the elementary level- The Little Idea: the Thrusting Fingers and the Seeking Arm that come next; the more indepth sets, namely,[Diu Sao, Tut Sao, Sup Jee, and Bien Kuen]; sets of the advanced level, namely, the Arrow Fist, Arrow Palm and Sidling.

The set of the elementary level has simpler movements, which are more often in straight lines than in curves. It attaches im-portance to [Tan Sao] or the Spreading Hand, [Bong Sao] or the upper arm manoeuvre, [Kao Sao] or loop-buckling hand which is a stylized form, slapping hand t’o or dragging, k’ou or buck-ling, t’o , t’un ch’iao, meng and kun shou fa or the rolling-hand method. On the other hand, methods of higher levels gradually depart from stylized forms. Though their hand movements do not deviate from Wing Chun, they give prominence to footwork.

The Little Idea Form as is passed down from [Pao Fa Lien] is very long. Striding begins at the middle of the form. The footwork employed is the [Cheung San Bo], or the Long-Robe Foot-work. [Cheung San Bo] is quite similar to the Sideways Stance of another style. While there are hsieh Pu and the footwork with the latter, the former is distinguished by the [Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma].

[Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma] can be divided ac-cording to whether it takes two and a half steps or three and a half steps.

At the start, [Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma] trains obverse standing stance to make the knees and hip joints strong, and is therefore suitable for defense. Only after starting to move does the form trains offense.

In order that martial arts enthusiasts have a deeper understanding of its merits and demerits, as well as its remarkable forms that have survived 200-odd years, we shall make a more in depth explanation of the Little Idea Form.

Following the middle straight thrusting punch, the second section of the Little Idea, is the Thrusting Fingers forms, which has the purpose of increasing the length of the hand. After the Thrusting Fingers, the hand is placed in the left in the form of the pressing palm. In consequence of the pressing palm, there is an opening in the right. Therefore, the pressing palm should press to the left with the back of the palm. The fact that only one hand and arm is used makes the density high and the switch from one form to another quick.

Wing Chun, which belongs to the Internal System, is predominantly intermediate between softness and hardness. The Little Idea also includes an exercise of the Internal Swinging Circle, as well as those of the slapping Hand and the Lifting Palm.

The Slapping Hand and the Lifting Palm seem to be identical in form and in appearance, but they are quite different in practical application.

The Slapping Hand slaps ahead past the front of the chest in an oblique line (with the finger-tips pointing upward). The Slapping Hand is the more powerful of the two. lt aims at slapping at an opponent’s fist in a straight line and is in a sense an attacking maneuver. The Lifting Palm, on the other hand, is quite different. It is used, when two contestants are exchanging blows, to keep off the opponent’s powerful elbow. Alternately, when the two persons are too close the Lifting Palm is used to force the opponent to retreat or is used to throw him back.

The Upper Arm Maneuver includes a broad range of forms and functions, including Single Upper Arm, Double Upper Arms, High Upper Arm, Low Upper Arm, Hurling Upper Arm, Rolling Upper Arm, Discharging Upper Arm, Dragging Upper Arm, and so on.

The Upper Arm Maneuvers used in the Little Idea are Single Upper Arm, Dragging Upper Arm and the Double Rolling Upper Arms. The purpose of the Upper Arm is to neutralize an opponent’s violent force. Instead of meeting force with force, an exponent uses the position between the wrist and the elbow to deviate the force of the opponent.

Strike with a Soft Palm on a Squatting Stance is a distinguished maneuver. Both palms strike sideways while the knees are bent to squat down the body. This form is used to cope with an enemy who suddenly attacks from one side. Since the exponent does not know the enemy’s location, he strikes backward laterally in the right and left with both palms.

The three dragging and three upper arm maneuvers are very important tactics of the Little Idea Form.

In the latter half of the set, the exponent begins to move about with the Long Robe Footwork while dealing folding palms in the left and right. If the enemy exerts very violent force, then the exponent will use the Two Rolling Hands while Whirling His Body.

When dealing the Rolling Hands, the body turns by 180.

The T-Stance is used in combination with the Hurling Hand, which is hurled upward at the opponent’s elbow.

The force used has the effect of raising up the opponent’s force and pulling and dragging backward. The left leg stands with the knee bent while the right foot is placed ahead oblique to form a “T” (with the toe tip upward). The purpose of this foot is to trip an opponent if he loses control of balance when rushing forward. In the brief introduction above we cannot enumerate all the tactics of the Little Idea. To do that, one needs to write a book of several tens of thousands of words. The millstone broadsword of Wing Chun has a fork at the tail. The blade is about 20 inches long. An exponent uses two such broadswords in pair. It is a short weapon.

Why is the weapon called the millstone broadsword and how is it brandished? The answer is that the footwork in handling this broadsword is very agile so that the weapon covers all directions. In one section of the set of the broadsword technique one spins quickly.

There are two hundred movements to the set of millstone broadsword technique. It last section comprises “Turn a Corner and Step Forward”, “eight slashing with the broadsword” and finally “double chen tao”. The footwork forms involved are the Long Robe Footwork, the Rear Circle Footwork, the Turning Footwork, the Tiptoe Stance, the Oblique Footwork, the Rear Discharging Footwork, etc.

Because of its shortness and thickness, the millstone broadsword is especially suit-able for slapping, as is distinguished from a longer waist broadsword, which is not handy in slapping. Another distinguishing feature of the mill-stone broadsword is that it has such maneuvers as circle striking upward jabbing, return thrusting, buckling, thrusting, chien ch’ieh tao, up-ward slapping, etc. On these we cannot elaborate because of the limitation of space and we shall have to wait for an opportune time to make an adequate presentation. The crux of the question is that there is much in common between the millstone broadsword technique and the pugilistic forms of Wing Chun.

There are things in common between the pugilistic forms of Wing Chun and the millstone broadsword technique, but there are also differences, since the broadsword is different from the hand at any rate. For example, the effective ranges are different.

Thus with the pugilistic forms of Wing Chun, there are the single grasping hand, bottom palm, choking hand, and dragging rolling hand, which also make use of the fingers and palms to seize and lock an opponent’s arm. But such tactics are useless to an exponent armed with a pair of broad-swords. This is a difference between pugilism and broadsword technique.

We can also give an example to illustrate the things in common. With the hand movements, there are such tactics as countering buckling, slapping, drawing, pressing palm and the B-shaped fist.

In the broadsword technique, we also have such tactics as countering with a broadsword, buckling, slapping, drawing, Ch’u P’a Tao, etc.

Countering with a hand is to put an arm in the upper middle section to block and neutralize an opponent attacking in the front Countering with a broadsword has exactly the same purpose.

Buckling with the broadsword has the same purpose as buckling with the hand. Here the back of the blade is brought down in an oblique course.

Slapping and drawing with the broadsword have the same reasoning as the corresponding movements of the hand.

This set of millstone broadsword technique experienced several actual combats by [Pao Fa Lien] in a few dozen years. [Pao Fa Lien] tried skill with a famous exponent called [Pan] in Fo Shan County and killed the latter with the P’a Tiao tactic. It forced [Pao Fa Lien] to leave Fo Shan and exile abroad. Thirty years afterward, [Pao Fa Lien] returned to Fo Shan. He tried skill with the lieu-tenant of the county magistracy at the request of the latter, who was skilled in broadsword technique and admired the prestige of [Pao Fa Lien] for his use of the millstone broadswords.

[Pao Fa Lien] did not want to commit another mistake on top of his past mistake. And it would certainly be to his disadvantage to try broadsword technique with an officer. So he suggested that bamboo broadswords should be used in the trial of skill. But the lieutenant declined the suggestion on the ground that false broadswords would not be compatible with sincerity. And he insisted on the use of real broadswords to see who was the superior.

[Pao Fa Lien] thought that it was impossible to avoid injury with real broadswords. To get round the impasse. he finally came up with an idea, that is, to use one real broadsword and one bamboo broadsword.

In this way, he could avoid causing injury by blocking the opponent’s attack with the real weapon and attacking with the bamboo broadsword. The lieutenant failed to score a hit after many rounds, when his clothes were reduced to tatters by the bamboo broadsword. The lieutenant left, heart and soul convinced by [Pao Fa Lien]’s surpassing skill.

By Mok Poi-On. Edited to Cantonese romanization.


The Story of Mr. [Leung] Jan’s Employee and Student Big Mountain [Ngau] Shu

By canceling the millstone palms, Moneychanger Wah knew in his heart Shu was better but when he pushed down the elder son, Leung Bik, trouble came.

Chu Chong-Man was a Foshan native. His name was originally Chu Yee-Sheung and his older brother was Chu Yee-Han. When Chu Chong-Man was young his body was not healthy, so his father had him learn martial arts to promote his health. He liked martial arts a lot and followed several teachers to learn. He gained his greatest understanding in Wing Chun Kuen. When he was young, he followed Ngau Shu, known as San Dai (Big Mountain) Shu. Later, he followed Dong Jik and Wong Jeet-Sing. This article is based on a story Chu Chong-Man heard, and what he saw.

Ngau Shu Became an Employee To Steal Martial Arts

In Foshan, the southern sects of martial arts are popular. There were many masters of the martial world in Foshan. For example, one famous master was Foshan Jan Sin-Sang (Mr. Jan of Foshan). Mr. Jan’s history has been made famous by many writers and many stories and his martial arts have spread to Hong Kong, making him an important figure.

The history for these many stories has come through the line of Mr Jan’s student, Chan Wah-Shun, known as Jiao Chin Wah (Moneychanger Wah). Chan Wah-Shun’s story has also become very popular in the martial world. This article, however, will talk about martial world expert, Mountain Shu.

Before, many people did not know much about Mountain Shu. Some have said Mountain Shu learned Hung Kuen. Another said he learned “tense-fist tense-stance” based martial arts. This is not true. Mountain Shu’s real name was Ngau Shu. His original occupation was in Siu Lap (Bar-BQ) and he was good at it. He learned Wing Chun Kuen from Mr. Jan. This history can be proven.

How did Mountain Shu come to learn from Mr. Jan? Through many twists and turns.

Mountain Shu discussed methods with Chan Wah-Shun. Chan Wah-Shun’s Mor Poon Gong Jeung (Millstone Palms Attack) was canceled by Mountain Shu

This story Chu heard as a young child, because his family were the neighbors of Mountain Shu’s Mao Sing Hall on Sing Ping Street. So, how did Ngao Shu, come to learn martial arts? Chu will relate the story.

When Ngau Shu was 20 years old he was very poor and did not have a lot of relatives. For a living, he worked at the Foshan Siu Lap (Bar-BQ) shop. At the time, Ngau Shu was young, strong, and had a lot of power. He used a fork to turn the pig rapidly in the cooking fire. Because he could turn it so fast, his pig’s always retained more juice and were heavier then other cook’s. While Ngau Shu worked at the shop, he came to know that Mr. Jan’s martial arts were first class.

Mountain Shu very much liked the martial arts, he wanted to learn from Mr. Jan. At the time, however, this martial art was not taught to poor people. This is because learning the martial arts was like learning scholastics. One had to have enough money to afford a good teacher and enough time to learn. Mountain Shu had neither of these things. Also, because Mr. Jan was very famous and had quality skills, one could not simply approach him for lessons. One had to have a trusted friend who could gain one and introduction.

Mountain Shu did not give up, however, he kept trying to figure out a way. Every day he stood outside and peaked in on Mr. Jan’s classes. Whenever Mr. Jan entered or existed his shop, Mountain Shu smiled broadly and tried to make a good impression.

After a long time, Ngau Shu became familiar to Mr. Jan and came to know the workers and family around his shop. Mr. Jan get accustomed to him. One day, Ngau’s chance came. Mr. Jan needed to employ someone to clean the shop and, hearing the news, Ngau Shu asked the people of the shop to recommend him for the job. In the end, Mr. Jan agreed to hire him.

Ngau Shu quit the bar-bq job, hoping he would have a chance to see more martial arts. During that time, class distinction was rigidly enforced and the workers could not mingle with the wealthy people who made up Mr. Jan’s class. Thus, Mountain Shu could not simply stand and watch, but had to make sure he stayed busy or stood off to the side. Because he could only watch and not participate, he worked very hard on his own to gain skill. In the beginning, Mr. Jan did not realize what Ngau Shu was doing. Eventually, however, he caught on.

One day, when no one was around, Mr. Jan approached Ngau Shu and told him he knew Ngau was stealing his martial arts. Ngau Shu confessed honestly and explained that he had neither the money nor the connections to gain proper lessons and spying was his only way to learn. Because of his honesty and good character, Mr. Jan gave his tacit approval. Since the wealthy and workers couldn’t mix, however, Mountain Shu could not join the class and had to settle for only words of encouragement. From time to time, however Mr. Jan would let him come close and watch clearly.

Double Uplifting Hands To Cancel A Grinding Palms Attack

Watching Mr. Jan’s classes let Ngau Shu progress fast. In fact, since Leung Jan had over ten students and Ngau Shu got to watch each one of their lessons, he got to see more then any one individually. After work, he would practice hard by himself. In this way, Ngau Shu got good quality boxing methods.

One night, Mr. Jan was invited for food and drink at a party and asked Chan Wah-Shun to teach the students. Chan Wah-Shun often said that 90% the masters could not stop his side millstone palm. That night, one class member asked Chan Wah-Shun how to apply the side palm. Ngau Shu watched from the side as Chan Wah-Shun showed the class member. He made it look very easy. Mountain Shu, however, did not think the technique was perfected and saw a problem with the elbow power.

Ngau Shu did not say anything when the class member was there. When his younger martial brother left, however, he went over to Chan Wah-Shun. Mountain Shu told dai sihing (eldest classmate) Chan Wah-Shun that something was wrong. Mr. Jan did not use the palm in that manner and he felt if one did, it would not be effective since the elbow would not be powerful.

Chan Wah-Shun saw Ngau Shu as a low-class worker in the shop and himself as an experienced student of Mr. Jan. Jan had told him many things. He felt it was impossible for the worker to have more the knowledge them him. Due to his pride, Moneychanger Wah asked Mountain Shu to practice with him.

Ngau Shu agreed and they began to practice. Chan asked Ngau Shu to punch first. Ngau Shu punched with high speed and hit Chan in the chest. He used center-line punch to hit Chan. Chan Wah-Shun used the Wong Jeung (Side Palm), using one hand to Fook (Control) the bridge and with the other tried to grab his throat. Chan thought Ngau Shu must block his hand, and both of their bridges would be in contact. Chan’s bridges ended up on the outside. He wanted to use the millstone palm like he had previously. He made up his mind and repeated the side palm to set it up. As their bridges moved around, Chan felt Ngau Shu’s bridges were not easy to control. Ngau Shu’s two bridges were very powerful. Chan wanted to retreat and change, but had not time. Both his shoulders were then lightly pressed by Ngau Shu. Chan lost his center of balance and fell back several steps before regaining his feet. Chan Wah-Shun felt Ngau Shu’s hands were fast like lightning. He didn’t know he had been pushed back. Ngau Shu worried that Chan Wah-Shun would hold a grudge. He immediately spoke to Chan but at that time Leung Bik came home.

Leung Bik listened to their story and thought Chan Wah-Shun had used the palm reasonably. He wonder if Ngau Shu’s skill was good or not and asked Ngau Shu to practice. Ngau Shu was thus forced to try it with Leung Bik as well. They switched positions and began to compare. This time it was serious. Ngau Shu’s hands were still fast as lightning and Leung Bik fell on the ground. Because Leung Bik wanted to understand Ngau Shu’s methods, he tried again, this time with 80% power. Ngau Shu responded with the increased power and again Leung Bik fell to the floor. This time, however, the fall was hard, sending him flying back many meters and falling over a chair that Leung Jan always relaxed in. Because he fell heavily, the leg of the chair broke. Ngau Shu, recognizing the situation, quickly helped Leung Bik up and apologized. Leung Bik, however, was happy. Even though he had fallen and hurt himself, it wasn’t serious. He was more concerned about the bamboo recliner. Mr. Jan, after finishing teaching, liked to lie back on the chair to relax. Thus Mr. Jan was certain to discover the broken leg and from there, that they had been practicing. So, the three had to fix the chair. They thought Mr. Jan would this way not find out.

When Mr. Jan Taught You Techniques, He Hit You

Many days later, bad things happned. That day, Mr. Jan finished his course and, as usually, lay down on his recliner. When he lay down, he felt it was wobbly. He discovered the leg had been broken and repaired. Mr. Jan, thinking something was wrong, called Ngau Shu and asked for an explanation. Mr Jan was very serious when he asked, and Ngau Shu could not lie to him. He told that he had practice with Chan Wah-Shun and pushed him down. Mr. Jan smiled and asked why the chair was broken. Ngau Shu had to admit he practiced with Leung Bik and pushed him down over the lounge-chair, breaking it. This time, when he heard Ngau Shu explain, Mr. Jan’s face was dark. Because Chan Wah-Shun was a student, if he compared with this lower-class guy, is was not important if he won or lost. But for the low-class person to practice with the master’s son and use heavy power was not good. Mr. Jan was not happy with Ngau Shu for hitting his son. He was very angry but could not show it in front of people. Instead he kept it in mind and though of a way to settle the problem with Ngau Shu, unobtrusively. Ngau Shu thought everything was finished and okay.

10 days later, Mr. Jan finished the class and turned to Ngau Shu. He said that Ngau has been there many years already, and he thought Ngau had at least learned some techniques, so he wanted Ngau to practice with him. Ngau Shu was happy and afraid at the same time. Leung Jan told him not to worry, that he only want to know his level. Ngau Shu though he could practice with Mr. Jan only because Mr. Jan was the master and he was just the worker. He thought Mr. Jan wouldn’t kill him, only hurt him maybe. Ngau Shu could not await this point and very pain. If Mr. Jan wanted to kill him it would have been very easy. Mr. Jan only use the heavy power to hit his rib, and he would be dead. But, Mr. Jan didn’t want to kill him or permanently injure him, just hit him a little. This time Mr. Jan, instead of using his palm, used two fingers to pinch Ngau Shu.

The pinch was hard and Ngau Shu felt a lot of pain, he lost strength in his whole body and his face turned green. Because he had taught him a lesson and resolved things, Jan thought everything was fixed. Ngau Shu didn’t die but for a long time after felt something was wrong.

Chu Chong-Man said that when Ngau Shu taught him the martial arts, he would lift his clothes and show him the spot. Everytime it rained or got windy, he felt pain. From this story we know Ngau Shu learned martial arts the hard way.

How did Chu Chong-Man learn from Ngau Shu? By chance. When he was just over 10 years old, his body was not healthy. His father knew martial arts was popular in Foshan. It was good exercise like sport andcould make you healthy but was also useful for defense. He wanted to go learn one system. One problem was that martial schools had people from everywhere and it was hard to know if the sifu’s behavior good or not. His elder brother, Chu Yee-Hon made sure he found a good teacher. By chance, his elder brother had a frined named Fok Yui, who was know as Jong Biu Yui. He liked martial arts had a rich family. His family had a big house in Foshan and he had money to martial arts. He learned from many famous teachers. Like the pole from Leung Sai-So, who Jong Biu Yiu had paid a lot of money to learn from. After that he’s paid a lot of money to learn kicking methods from another. By then, Jong Biu Yui thoungt nobody could match him in Foshan. His cousin was Ngau Shu. One time Jong Biu Yui and Ngau Shu compared methods and Jong Biu Yui failed. From then on, he followed Ngau Shu to learn Weng Chun. Chu’s elder brother heard this story, that Jong Biu Yui had learned a long time but failed to beat Ngau Shu, so thought Ngau Shu was first class.

By Mok Poi-On, New Martial Hero. Roughly translated from Chinese.