Article from a Singapore tabloid.

January 26, 2009

Fighting fit, the Wing Chun way
Learn more about Wing Chun from two masters in Singapore; and find out where to catch a demo and workshop.

Fri, Jan 23, 2009
my paper
By Dawn Tay

If you thought Bruce Lee’s lightning-fast fists as he punched the living daylights out of baddies in movies like Fist Of Fury and Enter The Dragon were just special effects, think again.
Singapore-based Samoan Wing Chun master Fofoa Temese is living proof that special effects have got nothing on the real deal.

Like Lee – whose gongfu movies inspired Temese to take up Wing Chun when he was just a teenager living in Samoa – the seventh-level master’s punches fly faster than the eye can follow.
“Wing Chun is an art for the scholar,” he said. “You have to do your research and think about the meaning of the Chinese names of the moves.”
For example, chi shou, or “sticky hands”, is a graceful duel where opponents keep their forearms in contact with each other’s, waiting for an opening to deal a fatal strike.
Wing Chun is a form of close-range fighting that emphasises economy of movement and directness of action. In other words, short, sharp and deadly punches and kicks.
Largely an underground martial art, grandmaster Ip Man was the first to openly teach Wing Chun in the 1950s, passing it on to his famed prodigy Lee, who then influenced a new generation of practitioners such as Temese. Ip Man was also the subject of a recent eponymous movie, which starred Donnie Yen.
Temese is testament to the fact that the art has a long reach. Not content with aping Lee’s moves in his films, he left Samoa when he was 17 in 1977 in search of a bona-fide Wing Chun master.
His quest took him to New Zealand and then to Hong Kong, where he trained under the famous master, Tam Hun Fan. Passionate about passing on the art, he migrated to Singapore in 1994 to teach it.
Sixty-year-old Chua Kah Joo, a Wing Chun master of 28 years, has seen the popularity of the martial art explode, particularly in recent weeks after the release of the movie Ip Man.
Chua – who will conduct a Wing Chun workshop on March 7 at the National Library (see below) – has seen more than 20 new students sign on since the beginning of the month.
PMEBs (professionals, managers, executives and businessmen) especially are catching on, he said, turning to Wing Chun as they seek a new form of exercise.
Deadly face-offs
Like Temese, Chua is yet another impressive testament to the art of Wing Chun.
Though he is of slight build, it would be unwise to underestimate him. The Wing Chun master confidently told my paper he can “easily kill a man”. He, too, traces his martial-art lineage to Ip Man.

He explained the nature of the martial art: Rather than a roundhouse kick or punch used in taekwon-do or boxing, Wing Chun disciples are taught to attack a person’s centre line.
The centre line – which runs from the top of the head to the base of the groin – are where the body’s vital and vulnerable points are located. Despite the high exposure given to the art by Lee and Ip Man, few know it was invented by a woman for women.
Legend has it that a Shaolin nun developed a new style of gongfu around the 17th century from watching a face-off between a snake and a crane. She taught the fighting style to a woman, Yim Wing Chun, who was being forced into marriage. Yim then successfully used her newfound skills to fend off her suitor, and later taught the art to her husband of choice.
But Bruce Lee wannabes take note: Experts say that just mastering the basics takes months of slow, repetitive exercises.

Said Temese: “Learning the art is a lifetime commitment.”
It takes hard work, loyalty to your shi fu (Chinese for “master”) and patience.” But he doesn’t regret the years of work he’s put into honing his art.
“Wing Chun is where I found myself,” he said.


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