What’s happening?

These last few days, I have been receiving messages asking for materials pertaining to origin of Wing Chun……

Hmmmm,I thought I posted a little something a while back so why the sudden revival in interest?

Okay, reposting some pages, more than my previous post, from a mainland book published recently.

To me, the MOST comprehensive Wing Chun book ever; it’s a compilation of major streams of WCK and the authors actually interview the authentic families from the various lines with side by side comparative examination.

From the horses’ mouth, so to speak, and it’s as reliable as you are going to get.

You really got to go get a copy …….the 2 volumes set are truly money worth!

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I suppose it’s only human nature to think that “I am always RIGHT” – this is displayed everywhere.

Religions, politics, sports and specifically, martial arts and why? Because it is a “way of life” blah blah blah and my way of life cannot be, heavens forbid, wrong!

That and soccer.

Be warned, I am a diehard “Manchester United” supporter and I don’t want to hear any discussion there.

And believe it or not, I was once caught up in a beer cans throwing scuffle against some “Gunners” no-brain supporters in Singapore which is many many many miles away from England – the birthplace of soccer mania. What was I thinking …. Maybe that’s the problem, I wasn’t!

So now, we see hot headed arguments outside Asia about CKF.

Without a doubt, the ying/yang balancing at work!

Not that we are no longer quarrelling in Asia but I think with the older and “wiser” generations, things are more restrained.

I guess they see the senselessness of the whole situation, I mean, you can yell until you turn blue and still not get to the bottom of many issues.

And the next thing you know, you gotta get physical to prove a point.

Hey, we got sufficient stress as it is without adding more and you are really not going get more “life” by winning in such arguments.

Trust me on this one, as far back as the early 70s, magazines reported all kinds of debates relating to histories, lineages and principles and 30 years on, nothing has changed really – you’ll be surprised – is this lineage real, who is the genuine founder, the others got it wrong ….. the same exact contention that you find in forums everywhere.

Same issues, same sh@t but new players that’s all.

Me, I am contented to just follow what my late Sifu did; walk away and just disregard those who are clueless or worse, pretending.

I guess you could say that underneath everything is the basic fundament gap between eastern and western values system.

And don’t shoot me here, I am just offering my personal angle on this.

Most Eastern culture is about abiding by “protocol”, the “be seen and not heard” rule that is still upheld by many in many areas of life in Asia.

I think this youtube clip says it all:-

“David letterman tries to make fun of indian tradition… but he gets burned straight down

the punchline is
David- Do you live with your parents in India
Ashwarya- Yes I do
David: – ” Is it common in India for elder children to live with their parents”
Aishwarya- “Its common in India to live with your parent.. It’s also common in India that we don’t need to take appointments with our parents to meet for dinner”.

Coming from 2 diverse environments and now faced with something as demanding as CKF in terms of code of behavior etc etc…

You can expect all shades of reactions and outcomes.

Don’t think so; try this one – during my time, you are taught never to disbelieve your teacher, never ever. It’s sacrilege to do so.

I know of folks who were expelled because they defied their Sifus and remain outcasts until today.

Now you know why forums are noisy – imagine everyone in there thinking him and only he is right?

Okay, right or wrong, I got a Canton Wing Chun Kuen book for you if you are interested.

Give me an email address to send the pdf file to.

It’s about that time of the year again, weather turning warm … everything greening … translated – it’s time for me to visit my students again in the US. 

Planning on traveling to Seattle to spend some time with Chas’ school but this year, I am doing more than just fly solo.

As a prelude to what we have planned for next year; one event in Penang and another in Kuching Sarawak, we are looking into the feasibility of taking GM Cheong Wai Por and possibly, GM Cheong Cheng Loong along.

GM Cheong Wai Por, or Por Suk, is 4th generation Cho Gar Hay Pun Wing Chun; his Cho Gar Wing Chun should be an eye-opener for those of you familiar with only WCK that were routed through Hong Kong. 

He is retired and when I was first introduced to him, it took a little convincing to get him to rejoin the martial circle again. What I wasn’t prepared at that point, my perceptions of WCK had being confined mostly to Yip Man’s lineages thru books and videos, was his “old-hands” version of WCK. 

These last couple of years, work together with Por Suk, has brought about some major changes in my view of WCK altogether.

GM Cheong Cheng Loong should not be unknown to most of you; he being the spotlight of 2 books written about Shaolin Phoenix Eyes Boxing that are widely circulated everywhere.

Custodian of this highly effective Hakka fighting system, GM Cheong got to be seen to be believed even though he is in his 70s now. 

Touching hands with him, personally, calls for extreme awareness. Give him half an opportunity, he will slip right through and hit you hard, very hard in his special whipping manner.

These are 2 elders that are highly respected throughout this region and the idea of traveling with them thrills me to no end. 

A real honor for me, really.

So if any of you in the US reading this and want to host workshops by these 2 masters, email me. 

Cheers.

GM Cheong Wai Por

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 GM Cheong Cheng Loong

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A couple of weeks back, I posted the website link to this line of WCK…. here.

Got an old “New Martial Hero” article  featuring GM Chu.

Happy reading.

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Green or Oolong tea ?

February 24, 2009

Like tea, TCKF comes in many unfixed colors, textures and tastes and yet they’re all tea…  

Through the years, prior to the internet days and depending on which book/magazine you’re reading, you are expected to read varying accounts of histories, transmission lines and concepts and such info came from leading masters of the day.   Why the incongruities?  

Political and territorial row?   Maybe.

But many of these are very low profile teachers and schools who are just as happy to be left alone to pursue their own course. Small followings and closed-door teaching best describe their way.  

Many are averse about publicly narrate their family histories.   And rarely do they challenge others about the disparities – you are left to your “rivers” and I’m happy with my “wells”.  

I remember attending dinners, performances and other events and my Sifu would point out how other schools did their arts another way.   And I never sense any of that “they’re doing it wrong” tone. He might not concur totally with other methods but “like a big river, there’re bound to be many streams splitting off “was his perception.  

It’s like other Chinese customs – take Chinese New Year for instance.   15 days of celebration but different dialect group would observe respective rituals during this period – all in the name of ushering in a New Year.

 I asked my mom once about this and she simply said “China is a big country and not every thing is done in a same manner” – just like that.   

Simple but really think about it – how true?  

Personally, I prefer the analogy of noodles – the Cantonese, Hakka, Teochew, Fukien, Fuzhou, Hainanese and HengHuas all eat noodles but I tell you, each in a particular manner that makes them distinctive.   I get to test the whole range here in Sarawak and I have my preferences but that’s not making those I don’t like “wrong”.

Of course there is a caveat here; charlatans and pretenders not included in this discussion.   If you are a duck trying to pass yourself off as a crane, you are still a quack!  

Having said all that; here are 2 examples of differently flavored teas.  

Enjoy.  

Preservation of Fukien Traditional Yong Chun Quan.  

Shaolin Weng Chun.

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Found this clip over at a mainland site – Cheong Bo Wing Chun Kuen.

The performer is Sifu Mai Yaoming and this line of WCK is also known as “Real Combat” WCK.

Enjoy.

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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Psst, located in an undisclosed site somewhere in the thick concrete jungle of Singapore business district, the original bronze men of Shaolin.

Hmmm, one of them appears to be doing a “tan shou” in a deep low stance; the site is right next to the Singapore River where 100 over years ago, red boats were reportedly plying … this is getting curiouser and curiouser….

Anyway, in the pics we got Chad, after flying thousands of miles across the great ocean hammering away on the bronze.

I bet you the next thing that the authorities going to do is to put up a big warning sign – “No Kung Fu allowed, fine $1000 or up to 6 months jail time!”

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I’m back :)

October 12, 2008

Whew…. back from another 2 weeks of meeting, playing and eating…. yeah yeah, I know it’s a dog’s life but somebody got to do it, right?

Okay, first I want to thank my 2 fellow shoemakers for holding the fort and then, I got to quickly go out and get myself a dictionary – Mark’s english is so “English”, you know what I mean?

For now, outline of events that transpired in Singapore and Penang (I am keeping to MA related topics) :-

  • Recorded a TCMA performance held in Hong Lim Park in Chinatown area, Singapore. Frankly, I had no clue about this show until Ian Leong wrote to me about this. Not knowing what to expect, I just showed up and boy, what a pleasant surprise; Ah Teck (TaiZu), Sifu Ku Choy Wah, Zhou Jia, Saolim, Hungga, Sifu Liao Shong Fen/Hakka Boxing and a string of other TCMAs presented a 3 hrs show to a audience of about 500 – 1000. And all this in a downtown park too – what can I say?

  • Spoke comprehensively to both Ah Teck and Sifu Ku Choy Wah regarding publishing books and I am really glad to say that the response is really affirmative….finally. So Mark/Russ, roll up your sleeves, we got “work” cut out in front of us – cancel all vacation plans and be prepared to come here!

  • Visited one of my White Crane Sifus, Li Wen Shi together with my sihing. At 93, Sifu Li is still able to describe most of his training experience in Fuzhou White Crane. Listening to him is like taking a stroll through history during a highly capricious time when CKF masters were fleeing the mainland. His journey, alone, is sufficient to fill up an entire book about Fuzhou Whooping Crane both the MingChiang and Putien lines; personally, if you want to examine Whooping Crane, I say talk to this Master – even China wanted him back to restore Whooping Crane! So guys, more work……

  • It’s beginning to look like we will be kicking Muay Thai off soon (pardon the pun). Spoke to the relevant people and took a tour of a MT school run by a Thai coach, Bia.

I will be putting up pics and clips etc over the next few days.

Penang was equally hectic; starting with Por Suk’s 63th birthday dinner. For those of you, who are thinking that this is a “formal” occasion, wait for the clips.

Instead of staying in a hotel, I decided to lodge at Por Suk hillside temple and for 3 solid days, we were going over plans of publishing his “Cho Gar Hay Bun Wing Chun”.

And it was also during these 3 days that I got a really close up view of his Wing Chun including his distinctive wooden dummy and sandbag drills – 3 days ain’t enough folks!!!

The purpose of the Penang leg of the trip is to talk to the right folks about next year’s event in Penang and I will expand on this in a later entry.

Before I left, I revisited GM Cheong Cheng Loong and mooted the idea of forming a “TCMA Research Fellowship” involving masters from the various families.

This concept received warm reception from GM Cheong and in fact, from almost all the masters I spoke to.

So fellow cobblers, yeah, you got it – more work 🙂

I got some pics here for you first – I shot Por Suk’s “13 Arrow Palms”, one of the essential forms in his line of WCK in preparation for the book that we’re working on.

Enjoy…..

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