Because of Bruce Lee wing chun has become such a hugely popular style around the world. And because Yip Man was Lee’s teacher, the Hong Kong style of wing chun became the most well-known and widely practiced of the wing chun branches. Yet, after Yip passed away so many of his students claimed to be grandmaster, including: William Cheung, Leung Ting, Moy Yat… to name a few. So what’s the difference?

I began my journey in wing chun in 1985 in William Cheung’s system. Then six years later changed to Yip Man’s system. Then on to the so-called Jun Fan method of Bruce Lee… and finally now for the past decade I have been training with Robert Chu whenever we see each other. And even with a large collection of wing chun books in my library, 23 years in the art, so many teachers, and having been editor on Rene Ritchie and Robert Chu’s book “Complete Wing Chun” and Rene’s “Yuen Kay San Wing Chun” book… I still have not grasped this system! Have I gotten lost in wing chun’s simplicity?

Maybe all my eskrima training makes the chi sao movements so difficult for me, since eskrima’s sword and dagger are applied just the opposite? Maybe the press has made the art more obscure than it really is, especially for intellectuals like me who think too much?

Speaking of which, in July of 1992 “Black Belt” magazine published an article I wrote on wing chun. It was originally titled “Fighting Principles of Wing Chun,” but they added a picture of Bruce Lee and changed the title to be controversial to sell copies.

So, they drummed up readership by making a difference between wing chun and ving tsun (Hong Kong spelling). And of course Leung Ting combines the two to differentiate his wing tsun. And yet, the styles of Cheung, Moy and Ting are so similar and all derive from the same teacher, Yip Man.

With so many branches of wing chun out there, much more complex and curriculum heavy than the Hong Kong lineage, why do we cling so hard to name and teacher? Well, for me personally, I cannot wait to meet and train with Por Suk in the Hay Bun system! Maybe this time, I will grasp something essential and finally become… skilled. 🙂

Hope you enjoy this old article… despite the added hoopla!

Mark

Well, Eric and I were talking tonight about a lot of things, as usual. This time the topic of silat emerged and it got me thinking about the different silats I have been exposed to and have researched. Then it dawned on me, that I have only written two articles on silat. One on the more spiritual side and one on a style known as Silat Seni Gayong. I have met and trained with quite a few pesilat during my travels in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, the USA… but after a book idea I had pitched to several publishers on silat was squashed more than a decade ago, I put the materials in the archive.

Tonight I decided to dust off my article on Silat Kebatinan. It was actually a paper I wrote for an anthropology class while an undergraduate at Drexel University. In 1994 it was published in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts. It’s a bit dry and has lots of footnotes… so the scholars among us will love it! But the regular guys may start to yawn. Either way, I have a passion for the more esoteric sides of Asian traditions, especially martial arts. And so I’d like to share this article with you now. Later in the week I’ll post the Seni Gayong piece with all the pics… promise. 🙂

(Illustrations courtesy of Carlos Aldrete-Phan)

Mark

Well, lot’s of kung-fu and karate articles ’round this here place. Thought I would shake things up a bit and post a rare article I was able to write on a grandmaster from Negros Occidental, Philippines. His name was Herminio Binas (he passed several years ago) and he practiced the classic style of arnis known as espada y daga (stick/sword and dagger style).

He was named as the “grandmaster consultant” when the National Arnis Association of the Philippines (NARAPHIL) was formed and the titles of master/grandmaster/professor were bestowed on the living legends of the arts. GM Binas retired in my home town of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where by chance I met him and was able to study privately with him in his home and mine for several years. I assisted him with some seminars, as well, and have included some pics of us together from 15 years ago.

Mark