Question and Answer with Wong Shun Leung

Questions and Answers

Wong Shun Leung

Grand Master Wong Shun Leung Demonstrating a Wing Chun Front Kick.

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Master Wong Shun Leung, can you comment on some of the fights you won?
When we won in a fight, we weren’t always happy just to win. We tried to figure out how to win in a better and more economical way. The best is always if only a single action is required. Try not to use two actions. Like when kicking, Wing Chun doesn’t like to lift the knee first and then kick because this is a two step action. Also the line of force is wrong because your kick will not have ground support. Instead, your kick will transmit back to your body to off-balance you. This is why Yip Man’s kick in the second set looks a bit funny at first. We want to travel in a straight line from the ground to the target, not lift the knee first.

Can you comment on boxing?
In boxing, the style has changed over the years from crouching to being more and more vertical. Also people used to jump around, but the modern boxer like Tyson just moves in flat footed to demolish his opponent in a scientific way. In Wing Chun a person does not bob as in boxing. When two beginners fight it doesn’t matter how they fight, but against professionals it makes a difference. Even a smaller [person] is better off to keep the body vertical and step back, then to bob and weave. This is because the hand can move faster than the body. Boxing is still like a game because there are rules for how you can hit and how you can’t hit. If you attack someone and they bend their head, then in Wing Chun you can still hit them with your hand even without pulling your hand back.

What is the idea of the Chain punches in Wing Chun?
In Wing Chun if you throw two fast punches to someone’s head they’ll be knocked out. The first punch causes the brain to go to one side of the skull. If a quick second hit comes, the person is knocked out. If you withdraw the hand to give the second punch, then the brain can recover (will have more time to recover), but if you don’t give this time then a knockout results.

How can you deal with a good kicker?
Against a strong kicker there are two ways to fight. If you are experienced, just go into their center and hit. But if you aren’t, then back up. Each time the opponent misses, he will lose one degree of confidence. After a while you have more chances.

What is the idea of the wooden dummy?
The idea of the dummy is that we do make mistakes. When we do, how can we recover from those mistakes in the most economical way? How can we minimize the error we have made?

What can you do against the low side kick?
For low side kick attacks, Wong Shun Leung uses the feet. For knee attacks, he said if you hit straight the knee cannot really get you. Against the Thai boxing round kick Wong Shun Leung kicks straight forward, rather than use a clashing force with a Bong leg. This forces the kicker straight back.

Of what use is the Chum Kiu Jip sau movement?
One use is as follows: if someone grabs your shirt you can use the first set Jut sau combined with an uplifting palm to injure the arm of the opponent. This is more economical than the Judo method of grabbing the hand and twisting it.

Why do the hands go up and down in section four of the wooden dummy?
In section four of the wooden dummy Wong Shun Leung said there is no up and down palm movement to start it off, it’s a forward pushing palm movement.

What is the third set foot circling action used for?
The third set foot circling action is used for:
– foot sweeping,
– foot interception,
– circling steps to chase an opponent who is very mobile and tries to evade from side to side while
trying to throw sweeping hook punches to your head.

What is better, the spear or the pole?
Wong Shun Leung said the long pole is the Wing Chun weapon instead of the spear. He said the long pole can deflect lighter weapons out of the way easier.

What do some other Wing Chun Sifus you have seen do wrong?

Some have too much movement when they defend.

Was Yip Man good?
Wong Shun Leung said if he wasn’t good then he would never have joined up. He said Yip Man was very good.

Did Yip Man teach all of the principles or did you figure them out?
Yip Man taught many of the principles but we also figured some out from experience and long discussions. Wing Chun teaches you how to think. People have found that Wing Chun principles can also be applied to other areas of one’s life.

Can you comment on the effect of a punch?
Wong Shun Leung said that when you punch the head the brain hits the side of the skull. If the brain is against the side of the skull and a second hit follows, then damage and a knockout results because there is no cushioning possible. This is why Wing Chun has its rapid fire punches instead of the pull back approach.

What kind of art is Wing Chun?
Wong shun Leung said that Wing Chun is an attacking art. The idea is to hit straight right away. Don’t have any roundabout motions.

What is a tip for our sticking hands and for real Wing Chun?
Don’t play with hands. Try to hit the opponent each time.

We have heard that you taught Bruce Lee. Can you comment on this?
Bruce Lee was good. All of the credit cannot go to the teacher.

How does Wing Chun approach knife fighting?
Wong Shun Leung said he has faced multiple opponents armed with knives. However on the subject of knife fighting training, Wong Shun Leung said Wing Chun does not send you out to get killed. Even if you can defend against eighty percent of the knife attacks, the remainder will get you killed. A lot of defenses are not realistic because the knife can twist around. Sometimes a kick to the hand is used.

How do we bring the Fook sau to the center in the Chum Kiu form?
In the second set when you chop to the side and bring the Fook sau to the center, the elbow moves first because this is a shorter distance. It really whacks the arm and then comes straight forward towards your head.

Can you comment on some of the Wing Chun shapes?
Master Tsui Sheung Tin said the shapes are not as important as the structure. This is more important than the sticking feeling with the Fook sau exactly level. Both masters felt that the flat Fook sau is very bad and is used only because people can’t do the other Fook sau properly. The flat one is bad because you can’t punch as fast from this position.

Is the Fak sau or neck chop used a lot?
Master Wong Shun Leung never teaches to hit the neck because once his finger tips caught someone’s neck and that person almost died. He instantly went pale.

How does the Tan sau elevate?
The Tan sau structure is elevated as one unit in order to handle force. The arm never bends from the elbow.

How can you respond to a grab?
If you hold two arms out in front of you and someone grabs them, then you can use the third set elbow movement to escape. Bring the hand right in to touch the body. If the hand is held in a fist, it doesn’t work. Then press down with the elbow.

How can you escape from a rear arm lock?
To escape from a rear arm lock, straighten the arm by choosing the best line of force. The hand turns and goes in an upward direction. Then step in and unbalance the opponent.

Can you explain a bit about what Wing Chun is?
On the subject of what is Wing Chun, Master Wong Shun Leung said that if you make a mistake then you learn how to minimize that mistake. You learn to recover quickly. So in essence he was saying that Wing Chun is really about being economical in your actions and use of energy.

How much did you train when you learned Wing Chun?
Wong Shun Leung said they trained six days a week, six hours a day. Bruce Lee learned for about one and a half years and then went to the USA.

What is the literal meaning of “Wing Chun”?
Wing Chun means “Springtime Song”.

Why are there differences in Wing Chun terminology?
Yip Man did not pass on all these things. Some terminology like Ding sau is made up because they really didn’t have a term for some of these things.

Do the Hong Kong Police still use Wing Chun?
The Hong Kong police do not really want to use Wing Chun now that much because it is too aggressive an art. They are supposed to just help and protect people, not attack them.

Have you taught any women who are good?
Wong Shun Leung has not really taught too many woman except the all Asian champion who was a very aggressive woman. She is now married and out of it.

Could we see some sticking hands between the two masters?
Wong Shun Leung said that you would not see too much because it is like when two teams who are good play together, they are so evenly matched that it looks boring. The same is true when you watch a match between two equal judo players.

Can you comment on the straight line concept?
Wong Shun Leung said when you kick a football on the side it will wobble and won’t fly straight, but when you kick the football dead center the football flies straight and the most force is transmitted to the ball. Therefore we hit people in the center as well.

Is the triangle theory of any use?
Wong Shun Leung said the theory of triangles is very important in Wing Chun, because this is a very stable structure. It is used not only in the theory of our stance (like a pyramid or the Eiffel Tower) but also in the angles of our arms.

Of what use is the Gan sau and the Huen sau?
The Gan sau is used to recover from a Bong sau mistake. The Huen sau is used to recover from a Gan sau mistake. A mistake is when you apply a technique which leaves you open, exposed or vulnerable on one side.

Do you have a lot of drills when you teach?
In Hong Kong we don’t use a lot of drills. We teach sticking hands and build everything into it.


chisaoQuestion and Answer with Wong Shun Leung
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An Interview with Yuen Yim Keung

Yester year Ving Tsun by Yuen Yim Keung


Grand Master Wong Shun Leung with Tommy Yuen.


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After the untimely death of the Great Master Wong Shun Leung, an enormous hole has been left, as the guidence of the fatherly figure is no longer there. There was an air of sadness that affected myself as I walked in to the Ving Tsun ameteur atheletic association headquarters located in the district known as Prince Edward in Hong Kong recently. One of the many who is attempting to fill this void is one of Sifu Wong Shun Leung’s more senior student by the name of Yuen Yim Keung.

Yuen Yim Keung was one of Wong Sifu’s more gifted fighters, he learnt the hard and long way, so much so that he spent more than eight years learning the Baat Jaam Do (Ving Tsun’s famous Knife form). This was to lay a strong foundation in his own mind.
He is a very articulate teacher, giving his utmost attention to his students, in the form of advice and correcting technique. Here is an insight into one man’s perspective of how Ving Tsun should be performed

John Smith How did you get involved with Ving Tsun?

Yuen Yim Keung Initially, I was a second-dan black belt in Goju Kai.
At night school, my English teacher, who knew I had a passion for Martial Arts,
introduced me to a friend of a friend who was a senior student of Leung Sheung
(who incidentally was Yip Man’s first Hong Kong student). This gentleman
noted that my legwork was good but my hand techniques needed
considerable attention. At first, I wanted to learn Ving Tsun from him,
but he said it would be better for me to be taught by a much better
teacher/fighter called Wong Shun Leung. At this time, Wong Shun
Leung would not take any person who had been practicing another
Martial Art before, but after intense negotiation Wong Sifu relented and I
became his student.

John Smith How many years ago was this, and who were your Sihing (seniors)?

Yuen Yim Keung I commenced training in 1970. Lam Man Hog (Gary Lam)
who is now teaching in the United States of America and Cheuk Hing Chuen, who was the most outstanding student according to Master Wong Shun Leung.
Cheuk Hing Chuen has actually become a Buddhist monk and does not teach any
more due to his religious beliefs.

John Smith What was training like in those early days?

Yuen Yim Keung The teaching was very slow, but it was taken much more
seriously than nowadays. Siu Nim Tau (young idea form), which is the first form of Ving Tsun to learn, took about two (2) months to complete. The basics were really drilled in initially. Wong Shun Leung used to give more attention to the students who used to go out and fight. They therefore took their fighting more seriously and therefore they were taught more.

John Smith It has long been known that Wong Sifu was an excellent fighter
and used to relish the chance of proving his skills in the Bei Mo (challenge fights), where he was never beaten. But as I understand he used to encourage his students to do the same thing. What type of preparations where taken before such challenge fights?

Yuen Yim Keung None. As these fights were taken completely ad hoc. All of
these fights were illegal and if the police found out, there would always be big

John Smith What were the rules of these contests?

Yuen Yim Keung There where three (3) two (2) minute rounds with a one
(1) minute rest in between. The ring was five (5) metres in diameter, which was
drawn in chalk, and as a result if the opponent went out of the ring more than
three (3) times he would be announced as the loser. There were also no attacks
to the eyes, throat or groin, but everything else could be applied. Also if there
was excessive blood loss, then the injured fighter would be announced as the

John Smith How many of these contests did you get involved with?

Yuen Yim Keung More than I can remember. Actually, Wong Shun Leung
ended up putting an end to these pre-arranged matches as his students were
defeating not only other Kung Fu styles but also other students of Ving Tsun
outside of the Wong Shun Leung family.

John Smith It has also been noted that you were not only a supreme
challenge fighter but also you had much success in the kick boxing arena.

Yuen Yim Keung Actually, the only ever defeat I ever encountered was in
Japan, where there was an invitation from Japan of two (2) fighters from Thailand, three (3) from the United States of America and two (2) from Hong Kong. The fighters from Hong Kong were Cheuk Hing Cheun and myself. All of these fighters were the best that their country could supply at the time. My defeat
occurred in the last round where I was actually ahead on points and my opponent suddenly broke my arm. This was my last fight.

John Smith What do you see as the major advantages of Wong Shun Leung’s
Ving Tsun?

Yuen Yim Keung Obviously, I am biased towards my Sifu (teacher), but he was very logical and systematic in his approach and he only ever taught the true
applications of fighting. The reason why Ving Tsun became so famous in Hong Kong was because of Wong Shun Leung. He had over sixty (60) pre-arranged challenge fights and was never defeated.

John Smith What do you consider to be the most important fundamentals of Ving Tsun?

Yuen Yim Keung Be systematic and practice all the forms thoroughly and really understand what you are actually doing when applying these thoughts to real-life fighting. This I inherited from my Sifu, Wong Shun Leung.

John Smith What are your ideas on Siu Nim Tau (the first form of Ving Tsun)?

Yuen Yim Keung It is the most important form of Ving Tsun and if it is not really understood then you will never get to perfection. A lot of people think Biu Ji is the most important, but actually it is not, it is only really used in case of an emergency, where things have not gone to plan and some form of alternate action needs to be taken. If Biu Ji was so important for these people’s thinking, then it should have been taught first.

John Smith How does the second form, Cham Kiu (the bridge seeking form) then differ from the first?

Yuen Yim Keung In Siu Nim Tau it is like learning the ABCs. Here we are
introducing basic arm movements, concepts and theories. Cham Kiu is putting these basic movements into a complete action, especially when movement is involved. If Siu Nim Tau is only practised even for more than ten (10) years you will never become a real fighter. It is only with the addition of Cham Kiu that it enhances all aspects of movement together with Chi Sau (sticking hands) and Laap Sau (grabbing hands).

John Smith What is the importance of Chi Sau?

Yuen Yim Keung It is to train your reflex action. If you have to use hand-eye
coordination it will be much slower. Whenever there is a clash of hands Chi Sau will automatically take over. Chi Sau promotes a non-conscious thought action where the arms feel for weaknesses in the opponent’s attack and when there is an opening our hands will immediately thrust forward. Chi Sau is the corner stone of Ving Tsun, this is what makes Ving Tsun different from the other styles.


chisaoAn Interview with Yuen Yim Keung
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Bruce Lee Discovers Jeet Kuen Do

Hawkins and Bruce meet up again in the middle
Bruce Lee Discovers Jeet Kuen Do:

Bruce Lee went back to Hong Kong to learn more from his teacher, the great Yip Man. He returned to the United States with a new art called Jeet Kune Do.
By Hawkins Cheung, as told to Robert Chu First published in Inside Kung-Fu 91/12

After Bruce left Hong Kong, I went to Australia to attend college. We still stayed in touch by writing to each other. He told me he was working part time at Ruby Chow’s restaurant in Seattle and teaching a few students wing chun as well as some of Uncle Shiu’s northern style kung-fu high kicks. He wrote that he loved wing chun very much and he wanted to go back to Hong Kong to learn the rest of the system.

He told me to carry on with wing chun and not to give up. Actually I didn’t have the time to give up my wing chun. I arrived in Sidney, Australia, in the late 195Os. Just 14 years after World War II, Australia had suffered much from the Japanese occupation. I found myself involved in fights because at that time there was a great resentment for Japanese. They always confused the Chinese for Japanese. Sometimes, I had to fight against people twice my size to stay alive. Many Southeast Asians also attended the university in Australia. At times, racial tension and cultural differences would result in violence. Fights would start up without warning. I had trouble with a few Thai boxers.

They would call themselves “prize-fighters” — they fought for prizes, I fought for my life. The Thai’s were hard to fight because they seemed to have four hands. I wrote Bruce about these fighting experiences. I learned how to apply my wing chun against multicultural martial arts. Bruce told me if had any problems in Australia to come to the United States and study. He would take care of me.

I returned to Hong Kong in 1964. One day, as I was ready to drive my car out of my parking space in the street, I saw someone toward my left window. I couldn’t see this person’s face. I thought that this person was loocking for trouble, and I opened the car door ready to fight. I then saw it was Bruce. I was so happy to see him, and just as I was about to say “Hello!” he said’ “Hawkins, stand here, I have something to show you.” Bruce stepped back two steps and suddenly charged in very quickly. I was surprised that his movement was so fast.

Another surprise was that Bruce’s character hadn’t changed at all. He still wanted to be top dog. He still wanted to show off. If he liked you, he would always tell you what was on his mind.

If he didn’t like you, he’d be very tricky to deal with. Bruce had that rare ability to draw your attention somewhere else. Sometimes yon didn’t know what he was thinking. I was often suspicious if Bruce was too nice; it meant he wanted something or was about to take advantage of you. This character made people like him, and at the same time, made it easy for me to trick him.

I asked him how he developed the ability to close in that quickly. He said’ “look, Hawkins, in the United States you don’t have any good training partners to practice wing chun with. You can say that my wing chun is better than any so called wing chun masters there. I can’t go any further. But I have had a lot of challenge fights. My opponents are fast, so I have to be faster; they’re strong, so I have to he stronger than them. There’s no other way, because in the U.S., I’m a ‘gung-fu’ guy. Because my wing chun is limited and my structure can’t hold up against larger opponents, I have to use no way as the way, no limitation as the limitation.”

That was the first time I heard Bruce say that. There is a Chinese saying Called, “Bik fu tiu cheung,” meaning, “The cornered tiger has to jump over a wall.” It is the equivalent of saying, “Having no way out” in English. I realized that Bruce felt frustration in his martial arts training. Although Bruce was becoming Westernized, he still felt pride that he was Chinese and he never wanted to appear inferior when comparing Chinese gung-fu with other nations’ martial arts.

Bruce continued: “I have to train very hard to beat my opponents. So I’ve come back to further my training in wing chun, and I hope to learn more of the dummy techniques from the old man (Yip Man). Hopefully, sifu will let me film him on 8mm so that I may show my students in the U.S.” Bruce said his acting career was beginning to take off. “By the way,” he noted, “I just signed a contract with 20th Century Fox to do a ‘Charlie Chan’ movie (it later turned out to be the “Green Hornet” series). I’m on my way to see the old man now.” I knew that when he wanted to accomplish a task, I’d better not get in his way, so I left.

A few days later, Bruce gave a demonstration on a popular talk show on television. Bruce didn’t mention anything about wing chun, but referred to his art simply as “gung-fu.” I realized that something must have happened between Bruce and Yip Man. I knew Bruce’s character, and when he desired or wanted something accomplished, no one could stop him. if not, Bruce would go out on his own to get the job done. Bruce would then come back and show you and try to embarrass you.

I found out that the “old man” refused his request to be filmed doing the dummy set. I knew that the “old man” was very Chinese tradition minded and that Bruce was very direct and Western in his thinking. Bruce wanted to learn everything overnight, but the ‘old man” felt you had to train to get it. later on, I found that Bruce formed his own method and called it ‘jeet kune do.”

During 1966, a friend and I were involved in bringing Japanese karate to Hong Kong. I found myself having to change when sparring with the Japanese karate instructors; their attacks were very fast with emotionally charged quickness. They would attack and disappear as quickly as they came. Their punches were so quick that when I attempted to pak sao, they would retract their punch and I couldn’t connect. When I tried to step in, they would use a front kick. I found that defensively, I was fine, because they found it difficult to land on me. But when it came to attacking, I was unable to score. I became frustrated with this type of sport fighting. It differed from real fighting in that it emphasized skill, not just guts and endurance.

I remembered what Bruce had said about his “opponents being fast, but he had to be faster; opponents being strong, and he having to being stronger.” Then I thought, these Japanese karate instructors train years to develop their speed and power. If I were to train as Bruce did, I would have to spend two or three times as much time to beat them at their own game. But I also had a limitation of power because of my size. If I sped up my wing chun straight punch, I found myself unable to reach my opponent because I was used to the wing chun back horse stance. And if I utilized karate’s front stance, I could reach my opponents, but in turn, I lost my wing chun structure. I found myself in a dilemma, as I would literally throw myself forward to reach my opponent. This may have worked well against a one-punch kill stylist, but I often wondered what would happen if I fought another gung-fu stylist or a street-fighter and they could take my best punch. If I managed to land my best punch and the opponent kept coming, I would certainly be in big trouble.

I wanted to keep my wing chun structure. I asked myself how could I hold back or stop a bigger opponent charging at me without that structure? The structure was also important to handle combination-type fighters. I also asked myself what would happen when I get older and my speed and power have decreased? It would mean that I would have nothing when I’m old.

I couldn’t take my dilemma to my wing chun seniors. They didn’t like the fact that I practiced karate. They didn’t understand that while I practiced karate, I could sharpen my skills against a legal opponent. Karate’s sparring allowed me to get legal fight experience. (In the old days, Chinese martial artists would test out their skills in illegal fights termed “gong sao”- which literally meant “talking hands.” Outsiders who watched me thought that I was doing karate; the instructors didn’t realize I used wing chun to combat my karate opponents. later on, I found a way to adapt my wing chun to their way of fighting. Bruce would throw his power hand out with his high speed and timing to intercept the opponent’s punch or kick. I thought, why don’t I throw my wing chun structure forward with one hand intercepting while the other attacked at the same time? My time training in karate gave me a good chance to develop my new method. Every year, Japan sent new Japanese instructors to Hong Kong to teach. I was always the first guy to fight with the new Japanese instructors. They knew me in the school as the “Chinese boxer.”

Thanks to Bruce’s ideas’ I learned how to handle my opponents. My way didn’t mean other wing chun practitioners did the same; but I developed my way to satisfy myself and keep my beloved wing chun style. I was able to make the wing chun style alive and understand the wing chun concept in combat. Bruce’s way of the intercepting fist (jeet kune do) is one of the principles of wing chun. Bruce’s standard was limited; he made intercepting into his concept because of the circumstances he told me of during his last Stay in Hong Kong. Before he died, he told me that “jeet kune” meant Pak sao in wing chun or intercepting an opponent’s punch before it landed on you. I asked him if he meant to create another style. Bruce firmly told me, “No! It is only the expression of the motion! You can say it is my expression of the pak sao in wing chun (note: Pak sao is one of the fundamental movements from wing chun and depending upon circumstance, it may be offensive or defensive in nature.) I didn’t betray sifu, I didn’t betray Chinese martial arts. I wanted to show others the application way of jeet kune. I wanted to prove I could stop their fast attacks coming at me.”

I knew Bruce’s character. I knew he wanted to prove what he said was right and that he would prove it to wing chun people as well as the world, that he was top dog. Bruce would always change his way of fighting to improve himself to be the best. I never read his books or books that others wrote about him, but I would watch his application whenever I could in his real fights or as an actor in his movies. I found his martial arts to have two versions: one in real life and one in his movies. In real life, Bruce’s speed and power would scare his opponents and would prove what he called “jeet kune.” His movie version would show his showmanship with fancy movements to satisfy his fans. I didn’t see his “jeet kune” action in his movies.

I believe those who knew Bruce Personally could tell his moves were sharp, clear and to the point. People who didn’t know Bruce in person were attracted by his action movies and philosophy. I have been in the U.S. for 12 years now. I have seen many of Bruce’s students and grand students change a lot of his way, even when they don’t even understand what the original meaning or essence of his “jeet kune do.” Some have even gone on to teach jeet kune do as a style! Some of them claim to be teaching jeet kune do and add their own personal style, calling it “JKD so-and-so.”

To my memory, Bruce explained that jeet kune do was the method of intercepting or cutting off an opponent’s action. So jeet kune do was the method of striking an opponent as the opponent attacked. The concept of intercepting or cutting is used in all systems of martial arts. if you don’t want to get hit, you’d better cut off or block an attack without running from or skipping away. Each style or person will demonstrate intercepting in a different manner. Bruce demonstrated in his personal attitude because of his emotional anger and hunger for winning character. He simply wanted to be the best and would accept nothing else. That is the trademark of Bruce’s style or action in entry. Only Bruce could do that.

Bruce changed his methods for the job on hand, not for you or me He became an expert in intercepting or cutting off an opponent’s attack. He had to continually train to prove what he said about “jeet kune.” if Bruce couldn’t intercept, he would have to take back the name “jeet kune do.” But he did prove it. He desired to keep the name “jeet kune do” while he was alive. Since he is now dead, it is up to his students to continue giving Bruce credit. The question is whether they can prove they can “jeet kune” for him and the public.

We don’t care how Bruce’s students change their way; we want to see someone as good or better than Bruce lee in action, not another style or way. if your results are different from what Bruce did you are not preserving jeet kune do. if you keep the name jeet kune do, then you should strive to become an expert in intercepting. Don’t down grade Bruce’s memory with your own way. This is not his creation. Just as wing chun people have recognizable trademark in application, those who follow Bruce’s way should also have a recognizable concept: that of intercepting.


chisaoBruce Lee Discovers Jeet Kuen Do
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Juvenile Delinquents named Bruce Lee and Hawkins Cheung

Hawkins Cheung and Wong Shun Leung, both classmates with Bruce Lee under Yip Man

A couple of “juvenile delinquents” named Bruce Lee and Hawkins Cheung roamed the streets of Hong Kong, picking fights, having fun and refining their martial arts techniques.
By Hawkins Cheung, as told to Robert Chu, in “Inside Kung-Fu” November 1991

Hawkins Cheung began his training in 1953 under the late grandmaster Yip Man. He attended high school with the legendary Bruce Lee and during evenings, the two would diligently practice wing chun together. To gain combat experience, they would engage in challenge matches; when they didn’t have opponents to fight, they fought each other. They were later separated when Bruce went to college in the U.S. and Hawkins attended college in Australia. Throughout the years, the two kept in touch through letters and phone calls. Bruce would detail his martial arts development through their conversations and correspondence using Cheung as a sounding board. Hawkins Cheung is one of the few individuals who experienced the progression that Lee went through in his martial art development from wing chun to Jun Fan to jeet kune do. The two were reunited in Hong Kong in 1970, when Lee returned home to make movies. The two shared and exchanged fighting experiences and training methods. They remained in close contact until Bruce’s death in 1973. Hawkins also is well schooled in other martial arts styles. He is particularly skilled in the Wu style of tai chi but he is familiar with the Yang, Chen and Sun styles as well. Master Cheung has also gained experience in Japanese karate-do and currently holds a fourth-degree black belt. In 1978, Cheung immigrated to the U.S. to promote wing chun. He is currently head instructor of the Hawkins Cheung Asian Martial Arts Academy in Los Angeles. He has appeared in several issues of Inside Kung-Fu magazine, given numerous public demonstrations, and appeared on television. He has always been low key about his relationship with Bruce Lee. Now that his friend has died, he finds that many of Bruce’s followers are distorting the real meaning of his jeet kune do. In this four-part series on Bruce Lee and jeet kune do, Cheung examines Bruce’s development, from his early days in Hong Kong to his final days as a film star, his creation of JKD, and the characteristics of the now-famous art.

Hong Kong in the l95Os was a depressed place. Post-World War II Hong Kong had suffered from unemployment, a poor economy, over-crowding, homelessness, and people taking advantage of each other. Gangs roamed the street, and juvenile delinquents ran rampant.

I met Bruce in intermediate school; he had been expelled from the famous European LaSalle Intermediate School to the Eurasian Francis Xavier Intermediate School which I attended. I used to make fun of him and call him “Bad Boy” because he was expelled. That was the beginning of our friendship. There was a real political situation in 195Os Hong Kong. The British led the colony and would sometimes treat the Chinese like dogs.

Bruce wasn’t a big star then, he was just an ordinary guy. We started to learn wing chun to survive. When we weren’t fighting others, we fought each other. We would argue about our wing chun training, and would argue about our personal experience and knowledge. Everyone wanted to be top dog. We would purposely hold back information that we gathered. Everyone had to find his own source, and not let the others know what we learned. We would purposely hide a trick that we would get from Yip Man, the Seniors, or friends from other styles. We weren’t concerned about how good the gung-fu looked, just whether it worked. Everyone wanted to know how to get the job done.

We were good buddies. We wouldn’t openly share our knowledge, but we tried to steal each other’s card. Whenever we learned a new method or technique, we would add it to our repertoire. Bruce would use a new trick on me, the next time I would throw it back to him first. We always asked ourselves where was the other’s source?

Against outsiders we were allies, but with no one to fight against, we fought each other. To test and see Bruce’s skill, I would purposely instigate or set up a fight. I would watch Bruce fight, and be a bystander to see how well he did. He would do the same. If he won, we would laugh; but if he lost, he would lose face and work harder to find a better means of beating an opponent.

We would play tricks on our opponents to psyche them out, sometimes hiding our best techniques. What someone would throw to us, we’d throw the technique right back to him.

Our competitive spirit was not only in martial arts, but extended in daily life. Everyone knew that Bruce was good at dancing the cha-cha. At school, I knew some Filipino friends who were pretty good too, so I would pick up steps to show up Bruce. The next time I saw Bruce, he had a bunch of new steps! I questioned my friend to see if he had taught Bruce those new steps, but he denied any knowledge. I later found out that he went to my Filipino friend’s dance instructor to learn more steps! That was our character—to always look for a new source. I later went to the same dance instructor and tried to persuade him not to teach Bruce.

William Cheung and Wong Shun Leung were Bruce’s source of information on wing chun. They were our seniors, but we couldn’t openly let them know what level we were at for fear they wouldn’t show us more. If a senior got into a street fight, however, and lost, we could find out his standard. If we couldn’t figure out a problem, we would have to ask the old man (Yip Man) from different angles. When we matured, we began to share more openly.

I lived a couple of blocks from Bruce. Being from well-to-do families, we would sometimes have our driver pick up one another, if we wanted to hang out we would sometimes spend a weekend at each other’s home. When we had final exams, we would study together.

We still kept up our old game. We would play tricks on an unsuspecting participant, one guy playing “good guy,” the other being the “bad guy.” One time, we persuaded two younger European classmates to fight each other. They were a grade younger than us and were good friends. Bruce and I separated them, and to find out who was the better instructor, we each picked one and trained him to beat each other up.

Bruce’s nickname at school was “Gorilla,” because he was muscular and walked around with his arms at his sides. Everyone feared him, but I was the only one who called him “Chicken legs.” He’d get really mad and chase me all over the school yard. Our friendship was very close.

Our school was the best in soccer, but Bruce and I never participated in any team sports. One day, there was an announcement that there was an inter-school boxing championship. The all English Saint George Intermediate school held the championship. Our school didn’t have a boxing team. Someone in our school suggested that we get a boxing team together. We had a reputation in the school as being the naughtiest, so someone suggested that Bruce and I get involved.

The night of the match, I went into the champ’s dressing room. He was my friend’s brother. Bruce was supposed to face him. I spoke to the champ and warned him that he was facing the Gorilla now, who was an expert in gung-fu, not boxing, so he’d better watch out!

The champ was intimidated, because he heard that Bruce and I practiced gung-fu together. Bruce, on the other hand, was concerned that we never boxed before. At the beginning of the fight, Bruce attacked his opponent from the inside with a tan da and cut to his opponent’s center. The champ was psychologically unbalanced, while Bruce continued to use tan da with a follow-up of straight punches to the champ’s face, and blew him out. Bruce won the championship!

The next match was myself and another for the lightweight championship. I was disqualified for using pak da, which the judges considered against the rules. In 1958, we graduated from high school. Bruce said that he was going to the U.S. upon his father’s request. Bruce didn’t want to go, but his father forced him. Bruce feared his father and had to comply. I was deciding to attend college in Australia. I asked Bruce what he wanted to study. Bruce replied he was going to be a dentist. I cracked up and laughed in his face! “You, a dentist?” I said, ‘Your patients would lose all their teeth.”

Bruce said that his father would support him and pay for his expenses in the U.S., but he wanted to be independent. To make money on the side, he said he would teach wing chun. I replied that he didn’t have much to teach at that time; we had both only learned up to the second wing chun form, chum kiu, and 40 movements on the dummy. We had a friend whom we called “Uncle Shiu” (Shiu Hon Sang), who taught northern styles of gung-fu. Bruce thought it would be a good idea to learn some of the more pretty, showy styles before he left. Bruce learned northern style for showmanship. In the late 195Os, Bruce had already planned to hide his art. Many were looking for the showmanship, not the killer. Bruce would give them what they wanted.

We went to Uncle Shin’s gung-fu club at seven every morning. We began to learn lam ad (a basic northern style gung-fu set). I hated master Shin’s dog, and his dog hated me equally, as he would bark at me every time I visited. Finally, the early mornings and the loud dog made me drop out. Bruce continued for two months more and learned gung lik kuen (training power fist set), bung bo kuen (a basic praying mantis set), and jeet kuen (quick fist), all northern style sets.

Prior to any Hong Kong resident leaving for a new country, you had to check with the police station to make sure your record was clean. Bruce applied for this certificate, and found that our names were on a blacklist of known juvenile delinquents. He called me at home. “Hawkins, big trouble,” Bruce exclaimed. “Our names are on a known gangster list. I’m going down to the police station to clear my name, and while I’m there, I’ll clear yours, too.”, I thanked him.

A few days later, a police investigator came to my house and questioned me about gang relations. Bruce’s efforts to clear me actually got me more in trouble. My father had to pay off this investigator to have my name wiped from the record, or else I wouldn’t have been able to attend college in Australia. I hated Bruce for that!

The day he left, I escorted him to the dock. After many years of being as close as twins, we would be apart for the first time. It would be many years before our paths would again cross.


chisaoJuvenile Delinquents named Bruce Lee and Hawkins Cheung
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Bruce Lee’s Classical Mess:

Hawkins Cheung direct student under Yip Man

Bruce’s Classical Mess:
Cleaning up the Mess the “Little Dragon” Left Behind
By Hawkins Cheung, as told to Robert Chu in “Inside Kung-Fu” February 1992

Bruce’s sudden death left behind a classical mess. We can’t deny the impact that Bruce had. Eighteen years since Bruce’s passing, and hundreds of martial artists are still trying to copy Bruce’s movements, punches and kicks. Some learn wing chun simply because wing chun was his mother system. There are now many jeet kune do instructors teaching “his methods.” Eighteen years and many are teaching jeet kune do, but many still don’t know what jeet kune do is, Many of these so called instructors make their art mimic Bruce’s movements. Some instructors have nothing to do with Bruce, but try to relate their teachings to him.

Some of Bruce’s first-generation students came to study from me when I first immigrated here. When I told Bruce of my intent to immigrate to the U.S. before his death, Bruce thought it would be great to have me help out his students, but whether they came to learn or not was another thing.

Different way

When I touched their hands, I found that Bruce didn’t teach them the way he developed body power from wing chun. So, I tried to teach them the fundamentals of how to develop Bruce’s power. There are no secrets. First, you have to connect your body as one unit. Then you should develop it with a partner who tries to interrupt your unit by pulling, pushing and other types of physical interruptions. If you can manage physical interruption without disrupting your body unit, then you can talk about separating your unit into individual parts. If you don’t like physical interruptions (i.e., punches, kicks, etc.), then you may move your unit away before the punch or kick arrives. If you can do this, you can then move on to attacking techniques. You can also speak of unit attack with the body or either individual parts (arms or legs). For Bruce, every punch or kick had unit or body power behind it. This ability is something that you either have or don’t have.

The reader may ask, what is the difference between unit body power and individual power? When you punch at your partner during practice, your technique is usually delivered with your individual (arm) power. When you punch to destroy your opponent, the technique is delivered with body connection power. Techniques to impress your friends are delivered with speed and timing; techniques to destroy your opponent are delivered with speed, timing and body connection. Again, using my analogy of a hammer and nail, you have your choice. You can throw a nail and injure your opponent, or hammer the nail forward to kill him. When Bruce threw his punches and kicks, he used his body as a hammer.

When Bruce’s first-generation students came to me, I tried to teach them how to develop this unit power. Unfortunately, they did not believe me. Because I did not immediately teach them wing chun techniques, they felt I was keeping the knowledge to myself. Since then, I have kept my mouth shut. Whenever people talk about Bruce, I just walk away. These students wanted wing chun techniques and feeling. To me, the wing chun techniques are of secondary importance. Techniques can be learned from any wing chun teacher. However, without body connection and physical development, the techniques become useless.

Trained to fight

Back in the 195Os, Yip Man trained us to fight, not be technicians. Because we were so young, we didn’t understand the concepts or theories. As he taught us, Yip Man said, “Don’t believe me, as I may be tricking you. Go out and have a fight. Test it out.” In other words, Yip Man taught us the distance applications of wing chun. First he told us to go out and find practitioners of other styles and test our wing chun on them. If we lost, we knew on what we should work. We would go out and test our techniques again. We thought to ourselves, “Got to make that technique work! No excuses!” We learned by getting hit. When you are in a real fight, you find out what techniques are good for you. Just because your technique may work for one person doesn’t guarantee it will work for you. When you test your techniques on someone you don’t know, you experience a different feeling than when training with your friends. If you discover through your own experience, it’s much better than relying on another’s experience. In this way, you won’t be in his trap.

For this reason, physical and strong tool development are more important than the techniques. The way you apply techniques comes from your courage or confidence. You gain courage and confidence through your experience. For application, you have to ask yourself, “How much experience do I have? How many ways can I use this technique?” There is an old Chinese saying that in real fighting, you must have three points: courage, strength, technique. Technique comes last, unless you have superior timing to deliver techniques. These qualities are of personal development; they have nothing to do with styles. Through your fighting experience, you can check your system’s concepts and theories.

As I reflect, I think that if Yip Man first taught us the concepts or theories, we would follow them based on their requirements and rules. We wouldn’t need to test them out, simply because the wing chun system already had generations of testing. We would try to make the art as perfect as Yiin Wing Chun displayed. Perhaps Bruce and I would have become perfect technicians.

We wanted to find out what is important and not important when we fought outsiders. This is why we fought a lot when we were young. Only through application can you prove if the theories are valid. Techniques without timing are dead techniques. Display timing without power and the results are equally disastrous. Nowadays, many wing chun people have the same techniques, but how many wing chun people have gone through Bruce’s and my development?

Make the art alive

Some of Bruce’s followers say that wing chun people don’t have what Bruce had. To me, Bruce’s followers don’t have what Bruce had. What they teach is Bruce’s techniques, like his classical Jun Fan gung- fu, which is similar to wing chun. Only the body structure differs. These two classical arts were fixed by their founders. The individual that learns them needs to make the art alive. Both wing chun and Jun Fan’s goals are the same: simple, direct and economical movement to intercept. Wing chun utilizes the centerline as the fastest line of entry. Jun Fan allows their followers to choose whatever line they want to make their movements simple, direct and economical to intercept. Bruce’s followers need Bruce’s superior timing to catch up with wing chun’s centerline concept of intercepting.

Later, Bruce found that his Jun Fan was not direct to the goal of intercepting, so he advanced and improved his way of intercepting and created his jeet kune do. Bruce found that wing chun actually went further in’ terms of intercepting the opponent’s mind. Because Bruce never completed his Tao of Jeet Kune Do, many sections in it are not consistent with what we discussed in Hong Kong. Bruce’s five ways of attack and five ranges of fighting are attempts to systematize his teachings, but they fail. Were he alive today, he would have explained his JKD in detail. Jeet kune do translated into English means the “way of the intercepting fist.” Bruce realized that wing chun was straight to the point for intercepting and embodied the essence of jeet kune do. It was the nucleus of his personal art. Wing chun utilizes one method to close in to the attacker. With wing chun, one way handles all: you rush in to close the gap, intercept the opponent’s attack and finish him. In intercepting, there are no ranges. In wing chun and jeet kune do, there is only one range and goal: to intercept and finish off the opponent.

Bruce had no intention to create a style or system. He just wanted to prove to his sifu, Yip Man, that he could find another route to get the job done. Bruce’s work matches a wing chun saying, “Don’t speak of seniors or juniors. The one that attains first is senior.” We in wing chun have no seniors; we strive to become better than seniors or even the founder.

During Bruce’s last stay in Hong Kong, Bruce and Yip Man met at a dinner party. Bruce asked Yip Man, “Do you still treat me as your student?” Yip Man replied, “Do you still treat me as your sifu?” They both laughed. When Yip Man died, everyone thought that Bruce wouldn’t pay his last respects to his master. But he did show up, like one of us, to pay his final respects to his sifu.

Each martial arts style or system goes into battle believing it has all the answers. Any classical style deals with the imparting of fixed knowledge that becomes alive when it is mastered. It is up to the disciple to use that knowledge to develop and carry that knowledge to the point of free expression. Bruce did that. Every martial art master created something new and alive. His followers, later changed the system, intentionally or unintentionally, and made it deviate from the founder’s original intention. What was passed on from then was a dead system.

With wing chun, you still have the tools and concepts intact. Some individual in each generation that applies the tools and concepts will make wing chun alive. No one can say he has the “original wing chun,” as it has undergone generations of refinement, but if you apply the tools and concepts and can use it in combat, then you are using “live wing chun.” In applying wing chun, you have to change to keep up with your opponent’s change; your target is always moving. Wing chun is a system that has no particular style. We wait for the opponent’s style or way to show, and then we start from there to create our own style. You don’t waste time. You just react naturally to your opponent’s action. When Bruce said, “Your technique is my technique,” it is an example of his high understanding of wing chun.

There are now many so-called jeet kune do instructors teaching “jeet kune do-this” and “jeet kune do-that.” Everyone claims he is Bruce reincarnated. To me, all these claims are outdated, because Bruce had regretted naming jeet kune do. Jeet kune do was not designed for public consumption. Bruce said, “Jeet kune do doesn’t mean adding more, it means to minimize. In other words, to hack away from the non-essentials. It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease.” Some jeet kune do people are flow adding more ways, telling the public that this is Bruce’s way.

This is against Bruce’s way.

Jeet kune do is an advanced-level martial art: the question is whether beginners in martial arts can learn it without a proper foundation. Are they ready for it? You do a “daily decrease” only after you’ve studied and sorted out your background and what you have collected and have done the research to know what fits you.

When I teach wing chun, I don’t teach the Hawkins Cheung style. Each student has to customize the art based on his character, size, strengths, etc., and refine his personal style of wing chun. Bruce chose the simple, direct and economical way to express his style. What Bruce meant by jeet kune do is that it is not a style, but rather a process of refinement. It can’t be packaged. This is why he regretted naming ‘jeet kune do.” Those teaching “jeet kune do” and saying that this is the “original Bruce Lee art,” are turning a non classical art into a classical art. This is not what he meant by jeet kune do.

Real jeet kune do

Real jeet kune do was not at all like what he presented on the screen. What he displayed on the screen was his showmanship. People were awed by his ability and skill, but it wasn’t his real art. Jeet kune do was Bruce’s personal art. Now Bruce’s followers can be grouped in one of four categories: Those who teach the screen version; those who teach the “Bruce lee classical;” those who teach the search and development to create their own jeet kune do; and those who teach their own art and label it “JKD so and so.” The goal of jeet kune do is to add your own personal style to your martial art and decrease the extraneous. One day when you’ve sorted out your own martial arts, you’ll understand what Bruce meant by jeet kune do. If you are still in the process of collecting and developing. you haven’t yet attained jeet kune do. You have to find what fits with your background, not Bruce’s. That is jeet kune do. Ask yourself— What is your goal?

Bruce left behind the means to test your martial art. I know Bruce’s wing chun background and know what Bruce decreased for himself. But I don’t know the background of Bruce’s followers, so I ask: What are they decreasing? Have they tested out what they have? Why do you have to add more? What is the problem? Bruce changed for his own reasons. Myself? Rather than changing, I solved the problem of making my wing chun alive. Now some of Bruce’s followers are adding more and more to their art. They are losing the way.

You fight with your hands and feet, not your memory. When your mind becomes boggled with too many fighting systems, you find it difficult to know which to discard and which to keep. In actual fighting, you win or lose in a few seconds, not like a gung-fu movie where the actors fight for a half-hour. In those few seconds, you make up in your mind which style you will use. Every style is good, if you have trained for it. Every style can be useful, but you have to train to develop its usefulness in combat. Bruce was fond of saying, “Take what is useful, reject what is useless.” What you kept in your system is what is best. If you have too many styles, in real fighting, you can hardly decide which one to use under mental pressure. How can you finish the fight in a second if you haven’t decided which method to use?

Bruce’s trap

Many are caught in Bruce’s trap; even Bruce was caught in his own trap. Bruce decided to name his art jeet kune do based on his personal ideas without testing it in combat. Whatever is created by man can be destroyed. Before Bruce made jeet kune do, he fought a lot. After he created jeet kune do, he said this is the way to fight, but without testing it in combat, how do we know the art is alive? Bruce’s jeet kune do concepts are simplicity, directness, and economy of motion. Bruce stressed “non-classical” motion, which is your way of expressing the tools that you deliver. But some of Bruce’s followers are going in the opposite direction. They are collecting more tools, more ways to display their martial arts.

When Bruce Stated, “Take what is useful, reject was is useless,” he meant that you must already have the tools. The tools were whatever you have learned from your classical style or way. You have to put those tools into testing and finding out what is useful. if you are still increasing or gathering tools, it means that you’re not ready to reject the useless. You’re not up to jeet kune do yet. You must ask yourself if you are increasing for the goal of intercepting, for Showmanship, or some other personal goal. “Reject what is useless” is for the fighter to throw away unessential movements or change with whatever circumstances in which to survive. At this stage a person is beginning to do jeet kune do to personalize the art for his needs.

Every martial art system has its useful parts, otherwise it would become extinct. Bruce’s followers are taking what is useful from this style, another style and so on, and becoming collectors of “useful styles.” But all the while, they have no time to test out those “useful styles” in competition or combat. Meanwhile, there are still other “useful styles” out there which they haven’t learned. Where is jeet kune do’s home? Jeet kune do doesn’t have any specialty techniques that make it a unique martial art. Boxers box, wrestlers grapple, wing chun people in-fight and stick and trap, but where is jeet kune do’s home or specialty? Jeet kune do means the way of the intercepting fist, but how do Bruce’s followers attain that?

Any expert in his system or style has spent years continuously training the basic movements to discover the most effective movement. Every expert has to find a way to make his movements simple, direct and economical. if you have a lot of fundamental movements, you have to test out each movement to discover how to refine them and make them simple, direct and economical. This process will take years and years to refine.

When Bruce formed jeet kune do, he stated in a magazine article that “99 percent of oriental self-defense is baloney!” It really shocked me that Bruce was so blatant. It seemed that he meant to challenge the whole world! if he said that in Hong Kong, martial artists would line up at his front door to challenge him. He was in the U.S. at that time. The wing chun clan in Hong Kong just smiled and sat back to watch the show, because we knew the gun wasn’t pointed at us. We knew that Bruce was trying to stir up trouble!

In our youth, during the 1950s, we did the same to other gung-fu systems. That was how wing chun’s name spread. Now Bruce was doing the same in the U.S., but with his personal credit and name. if he won the challenges, he gained fame. if he lost, it was his personal style that suffered, not wing chun. The question was, who dared to test out Bruce to see his bottom card? That was the same game we played from the old days.

When the “Green Hornet” and “Longstreet” series played on TV, people liked the characters Bruce played. His fans loved the series, martial artists loved it, and gung-fu guys loved it. It starred a Chinese gung-fu guy, so maybe people forgot what he said. He made it. Later on, when his movies premiered, the characters he played spoke out for all martial artists. Bruce made his opponents become his friends when he became a hero. The challenges were over, and he won the world over to his side.

The real enemy

Bruce’s real enemy was his mind. When he became successful, his fans wanted more. He continued to work out very hard, but no longer had people challenging him. Before he died, I saw Bruce on TV. He looked exhausted, he lost weight and was ill-tempered. He wasn’t the Bruce I knew before. Bruce had strayed too far from the center. We always said, “When you play the game, it’s very exciting. But when you’re controlled by the game, you have no way out. It’s terrible, you have to pay for it.”

In wing chun, the term “centerline” not only refers to the line in fighting, it also refers to your mind, the things you do, the problems you solve, the way that you live your life. If you stray too far to the right or left, it takes some time to return to the center. The center has no opinion.

To Confucius, the centered mind sees clearly. In life, your yin and yang must be balanced for you to be in the center. Bruce’s followers should know that his main theme or center of his art is intercepting.

Whenever anyone says he teaches Bruce’s art, he is making it a classical art. This was against the jeet kune do founder’s rules. Remember the essence of Bruce’s jeet kune do is embodied in the three qualities of simplicity, directness and economy of motion in entering the target. Bruce said it was a daily decrease, not a daily increase. His followers are not supposed to mimic the way he moved, but use their fighting knowledge to represent the three qualities. If any martial artist expresses these three qualities, he is doing jeet kune do. Bruce’s followers do not own jeet kune do. If you can express the three qualities and intercept in combat, you can say you are doing jeet kune do.

Bruce didn’t leave tools behind to support the concept of jeet kune do. Bruce was a wing chun man. His research was to prove the wing chun concept of the centerline, which is the fastest line of entry. Bruce’s speed and timing were an expression of that concept. Again, I say Bruce’s followers lack his physical ability because they fall short in his mother art, wing chun.

Wing chun was born out of frustration to find the quickest, most efficient way to fight. The founder of wing chun must have found no way out. Wing chun is designed as a combat system. For this reason, the system emphasizes confidence, timing, intercepting, capturing the centerline, shocking the opponent, setting up for consecutive strikes, and trapping. Jeet kune do was born out of Bruce’s frustration. That frustration made him search, experiment and develop into the legend that he is today.


In writing this series, I hoped to have proved that Bruce’s jeet kune do is research and development. Some of Bruce’s followers are teaching JKD incorrectly. Jeet kune do is the art of using simple, direct, economical motions to intercept in one beat. Jeet kune do is not a style or system, and does not feature unique tools; it is a means to check your current system to refine it further and monitor your progress. JKD custom-tailors your martial arts with your own “non-classical” movement.

Bruce left behind a martial arts system or systems, but they are not jeet kune do. Many call their art jeet kune do, but are teaching their personal interpretation which may or may not have anything to do with Bruce’s jeet kune do. Finally, jeet kune do was a means for Bruce to check and prove the wing chun concept of the centerline. He finally proved to Yip Man that he could achieve this without staying in the classical system.

My intention here is to help Bruce’s followers and clarify jeet kune do, not destroy or downgrade them. In this way, we can preserve Bruce’s ideas and memory for all time. I don’t want to cause political problems. I just want people to evaluate their efforts in promoting jeet kune do.

I was Bruce’s close friend and training partner. I came here in 1978 to promote wing chun. I have been pretty low key about my relationship with him. The public always knew we were close friends, but I never discussed much about his martial arts. The goal of these articles was also to clarify the connection between wing chun and Bruce’s jeet kune do. If I have frustrated any of Bruce’s followers, it is because I want them to question themselves and analyze their efforts. Jeet kune do was born out of Bruce’s frustration, but I don’t think many of Bruce’s followers suffered that same frustration. It was that suffering and frustration that made Bruce aspire to greater heights. Too many of Bruce’s followers have deviated from Bruce’s original intention.

These articles were written with the hope of helping my dear lifelong friend cleanup the mess he left behind. May we all let Bruce Lee rest in peace.


chisaoBruce Lee’s Classical Mess:
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An Interview with Sifu Ho Kam Ming

Ho Kam Ming. Direct student of Yip Man

An Interview With
Ho Kam Ming

During his first visit to the United States (May 1989) Wing Chun master Ho Kam Ming provided invaluable insights which clarified numerous aspects of Wing Chun Kung Fu. During a two day seminar in Tucson, Arizona, master Ho warmly received questions for about eight hours. With more than sixty visitors in attendance, this was a remarkable feat.

Joining Ho Kam Ming was classmate and close friend Hawkins Cheung. The seminar was hosted by sifu Augustine Fong and assisted by Mr. Pak Chan. During this event, Mr. Chan translated the questions and Augustine Fong related Master Ho’s answers to literally hundreds of questions. In the transcription presented various exchanges are paraphrased and edited where necessary. A sincere attempt has been made to maintain the integrity of the discussion.

Master Ho was a past vice president of Yip Man’s Hong Kong Ving Tsun Athletic Association. On his first visit to the U.S. he lectured on many subjects including Wing Chun forms and fighting theory. Ho Kam Ming is from Macao and the Hong Kong area and studied Wing Chun with the late Yip Man for nearly twenty years. As a leader of the Wing Chun clan, it is not surprising that master Ho’s knowledge and experience excels that of the ordinary instructor. Hawkins Cheung was quick to appreciate Ho Kam Ming’s excellence in Wing Chun and remarked, “He received all the best information.”

Master Ho is in his late sixties and has spent almost forty years in studying and researching the principles of Wing Chun Kung Fu. His motivation for sharing this wisdom is summarized by him thus: “The future of Wing Chun is based upon you!” At this prestigious gathering, Ho Kam Ming demonstrated numerous fighting techniques and concepts. As inquiries were quickly answered and explained, it became apparent that he possessed a profound understanding of Wing Chun Kuen.

Augustine Fong, Master Ho’s leading student in the west, began the seminar with an intriguing and provocative statement: “This style was developed by Ng Mui; Ng Mui was a Shaolin monk!” This remark delivered a shock because Ng Mui, the legendary founder, is remembered as a Shaolin Budhist nun. (This was undoubtedly an early reference to information Yip Chun would later release concerning Cheung Ng and his new origins for Wing Chun Kuen.)

The traditional genealogy of Hong Kong Wing Chun Kuen followed: Yim Wing Chun, Leung Bok Chau, Wong Wah Bo & Leung Yee Tai, Leung Jan, Chan Wah Shun & Leung Bik and Yip Man, the Hong Kong school, etc. Wing Chun’s basic stance (Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma) was then demonstrated and explained: “The knees and toes are held inward, the spine erect, and hips pushed forward.” It is here that master Ho Kam Ming begins to accept questions:

Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma

Question: Does one use the Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma as a fighting stance?

Master Ho: It’s not necessary; use a natural fighting stance.

Question: What’s the best way to check your stance to know the correct distance between your feet?

Master Ho: The stance is based on one’s body height. A tall person has a wider stance; a shorter person’s would be smaller.

Question: Why are the toes inward in our stance?

Master Ho: If your toes point inward, when you practice turning or changing angles–it is easier. If your toes point outward–turning is inhibited.

Question: Should the spine be held straight?

Master Ho: Generally, your spine has got to be straight. If not, when you turn you’ll swing your center out. If it’s straight, when turning, everything is centered.

Question: When you practice the basic stance, are you developing energy by doing it?

Master Ho: The stance helps you to find your center of gravity. When you know how to feel your center, then you know how to move your body. As for internal energy–no matter what, if you are standing here, you already have internal energy. When you raise your hand you also have internal energy.

Question: What’s the main purpose of Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma?

Master Ho: The main purpose of Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma is to practice your stance, to find your center of gravity and to balance yourself. When you have the ability to find the center, then when you fight, you can stand in any position. When an external force comes toward you, that’s the time to use your balance–that’s when your stance comes into place. If you can’t control your balance, it doesn’t matter how good your hands are; an external force coming in will knock you down.

Question: When you practice a long first form–say a half an hour or so–and you start to shake, does this mean youare weak or are you in the wrong position?

Master Ho: If you shake that means you can’t find your center of gravity. You’re using the wrong muscles.

Question: Is there any differences or improvements that you see in the forms since you’ve come to the United States?

Master Ho: The principles are the same but maybe the teaching methods are different. The foundation is the same but people teach differently.

Question: How significant is the knee position and is there natural tension somewhere along that area? If you’re tense, is that wrong?

Master Ho: If the muscles are tight then it’s wrong. It should be natural, natural tension. Any motion, as long asit’s natural, is fine. Don’t tighten up.

Question: A question about the hip–you don’t lock the hip then?

Master Ho: The hip isn’t held inward and tight. Just stabilize the hip and motion.

Question: About the center of gravity, usually this is indicated by a vertical plane. Is there a horizontal plane for the center of gravity and does it go down?

Master Ho: The vertical center of gravity should be straight in a vertical position. Whenever you move forward the whole vertical line should move as one unit.

Question: I notice that other systems seem to utilize wider stances. Can Wing Chun be practiced with a wider stance?

Master Ho: If your stance is too wide then you lose your flexibility to move. If it’s too narrow then you can’t move quickenough. The best position is your own natural position as based on Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma. Wing Chun doesn’t use a wide stance, you lose mobility with a wider stance.

Question: How wide should the stance be?

Master Ho: The width of the stance is based upon your shoulder width. Also, in this stance your weight should be evenlydistributed.

Question: To move, one must raise the stance; correct? Does one’s height remain the same?

Master Ho: When moving don’t bounce your stance. Keep the height even and try to stay stabilized.

Question: How do you know exactly how to sink the weight? For example, how far do you sink?

Master Ho: Sink to the point that you feel natural and flexible. Sink enough but don’t sink too much.

Question: Could you explain a little about basic pyramids and how they relate to the stance?

Master Ho: The pyramid stance is based on balance. If an external force comes in, it’s dissolved accordingly. However, that’s just talking about the stance, when you use the hands–they should be utilized with the structure.

Question: About the weight distribution, if the weight is evenly distributed on the feet and a burning sensation isfelt on the bottom of the foot, how does this relate to the directweight upon the heels?

Master Ho: The weight is distributed upon the whole foot. If you feel heat then that’s a good sign for that means you’vefound your center of gravity. Later, that feeling will go away–thatis, when you learn to control better. But that’s a good start. Also, both feet should be equal; if you feel burning, then you should feel it equally on both feet.

Question: Does it matter if you practice with bare feet? Or is it better to practice with shoes on?

Master Ho: If you practice with bare feet you’ll feel your toes grab the ground better.

Question: Should you always practice a long first form?

Master Ho: It depends upon your energy level. If you feel bad that day, then you shouldn’t do it too long. For example,if you try to study a book and you don’t have the energy, it won’tgo to your mind well. Thus, it depends on your energy.

Question: So, unless your basic foundation or balance is good, anything you build on top of that is weak; correct?

Master Ho: Right.

Question: Is there a best time to practice Siu Lim Tau. For instance, before or after practice?

Master Ho: When you practice Siu Lim Tau, the best time is before you’re tired. This way you can find your center easier.

Question: Again, about practicing barefooted, is it true that it’s best to practice this way?

Master Ho: It doesn’t matter. Practice many ways, for in a fight you’ll be wearing shoes. But bare feet are better.

Question: Do you ever sink your weight more for certain techniques?

Master Ho: Don’t emphasize sinking all the time. Just try to dissolve the incoming force. You may have to brace or sinkat that moment. But don’t sink all the time.

Question: Could you elaborate on the natural curvature of the spine; as opposed to what was said about the spine being straight?

Master Ho: It should be natural, naturally straight.

Question: Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma isn’t a fighting stance, correct? What happens in a real fight? What stance do we use?

Master Ho: Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma is the foundation of all stances. When you practice, you use this stance to develop balance. But when you fight for real, you use mobile stances.

Question: How does the shoulder relate to overall balance?

Master Ho: The shoulders should be straight down; pull them down equally. If your spine’s straight then your shoulderswill be down.


Question: About punching straight or slightlyupward–you’ve stated that punching slightly upward will uproot the opponent and that punching straight will just knock the subject backward. What about the concept of explode power where the opponent should drop straight down or even forward after being hit? In this casewhat does it matter if one punches straight or upward?

Master Ho: If performed correctly, the punch should drop the subject right there. In case you’re not good enough, however,a straight punch may allow the opponent the opportunity to strikeyou. Punching slightly upward will eliminate this possibility.

Question: Is it too much to practice a thousand punches a day?

Master Ho: Do what you can do–don’t force progress. Otherwise, you won’t get good results.

Question: Should one lock the elbow out when practicing punching?

Master Ho: Yes, but when you lock the punch and release the power, don’t tighten up on the elbow.

Question: Should one practice both high and low punches?

Master Ho: You can practice high, middle, and low punches. But don’t practice too much until you can control your fist. This means you should be able to punch with a minimum of muscular tension first.

Question: Could one pick out, for example, the double punches and practice them?

Master Ho: Yes, but only up to a certain point. Actually, one could drill any motion of the form.

Question: Could you comment on the opinion that other styles seem to have on the Wing Chun punch? For instance, many believe this type of punch has little power?

Master Ho: The more force you feel or see in the punch, the more chance the power will stay in the body and not be released. The less you feel, the more release you’ll have. Like shooting an arrow–the arrow has no power; but the result is forceful. In Wing Chun, the punch is based on speed, not muscle. If you don’t feel power or muscle, then that means you can punch faster. This will promote explosive power.

Question: Could you talk about Bone Joint Power?

Master Ho: Bone Joint Power involves a minimum of muscular use. The less muscle, the more flexible the joints can react. Like a snake, the punch will be fast and quick.

Question: In the vertical punch, the little knuckle is susceptible to damage; correct? What can one do to avoid this?

Master Ho: Actually, the lower knuckles are aligned to the largest bone in the arm. This position will produce a strongerpunch. If you feel pain in the last knuckle, perhaps your structureis wrong.

Question: When punching, do you snap the wrist upward upon contact?

Master Ho: When you practice, don’t emphasize snapping. Later, this will come automatically.

Question: It’s said the knuckles are like a tack supported in cotton. Could you comment on this?

Master Ho: When you punch, focus on the knuckles. When you connect, the whole fist will sink inward. The power is in the knuckles.

Question: Could you comment on the use of the wall bag?

Master Ho: The wall bag doesn’t develop power; that’s the purpose of the empty punch. Punching in the air can developmore and more power; but the wall bag can help to develop focus. The wall bag is like a target that can help train the fist.

Question: How about a moving bag? As opposed to a stationary bag?

Master Ho: In Wing Chun we practice hand development in a different way. If you use a swinging bag, then the power is held in the arm–it won’t release. It would be better, in thiscase, if one held a wall bag and then moved around the room (to practicechasing). That’s better than using a moving bag. A moving bag isn’t practical.

Question: Is the one and three inch punch something separate or do you develop this with a regular punch?

Master Ho: According to Wing Chun, you should be able to generate power even closer. One inch is already too far.

Question: Can the Wing Chun straight punch be used with gloves on–in say a full contact setting?

Master Ho: Yes, but you have to practice for a while first. One must get used to the gloves.

Question: How does one generate power from a close distance? For example, how can one strike when one is already in contact?

Master Ho: If you use Bone Joint Power it can be done. In this way you can use explode power.

Question: Do you have to use turning to make the punch more effective?

Master Ho: Not necessarily. The elbow can still punch … But there are six main joints which may be utilized in punching: the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. These jointswork together to produce what is called Bone Joint Power.

Question: Is it safe to assume that since most Wing Chun practitioners only use the straight punch, that there are few advanced exponents around?

Master Ho: Perhaps they have not reached that level yet.

Question: Any comments on western boxing?

Master Ho: Boxing is a sport, not a martial art.

Question: Should one coordinate breathing with punching?

Master Ho: One should breath naturally. If you need to breath hard, then go ahead.

Siu Lim Tau

Question: From the Fok Sau position, some people perform a Taan Sau before moving to Huen and Wu Sau. Is this correct?

Master Ho: When you turn the hand over in this manner that is an application. When you do the basic form, don’t do TaanSau for it can tighten up the muscles. In the form just circle into Wu Sau.

Question: When you hold the fist at the side of the body, doesn’t this promote some tension?

Master Ho: As long as it’s natural, it’s all right.

Question: If one wished to teach someone that was well built the Siu Lim Tau, how would you go about it?

Master Ho: Tell him not to use excessive tension, just do the motions–don’t force it.

Question: What’s the application for the downward Cross Hand (Sup Jee Sau) position at the beginning of the form?

Master Ho: This motion is useful for when you’re losing your balance and falling forward. If someone is kicking up whileI’m falling, this motion is useful.

Question: Could you talk about the elbow line?

Master Ho: The elbow line is close, but don’t force the position. Just bring it in as close as it’s naturally possible. Some people with larger muscles can’t bring the elbow in too far–that’s all right. Bring it in as much as you can. It really depends upon the build of the individual.

Question: There seem to be two schools of thought on the Taan Sau position. Could you comment on the true positionof Taan Sau?

Master Ho: If the Taan Sau is held pointing upward, you have no control of the motion, it’s weak. If it’s held horizontallyit is braced–it’s like a bridge. A Taan Sau position which points upward is wrong.

Question: Could you comment on Chi Kung practice. Wing Chun is a Buddhist style, correct? Also, what do you think about Taoist Chi Kung as practiced in Siu Lim Tau?

Master Ho: When you do the form, don’t worry about Chi Kung. Just work on the position; worry about the technique.

Question: After Pak Sau, why does one bring the hand back to the center before executing the straight palm?

Master Ho: Basically, one learns one motion at a time. When you get used to the technique you can execute the palm strikefrom Pak Sau. Like the basic punches, you bring the punch to the center first. But once you know this, it’s not necessary–just punch out. The form teaches one step at a time. Later, one can edit the motions. At the beginning it’s important to learn the correct line.

Question: What’s the significance of going in and out in the first part of Siu Lim Tau?

Master Ho: Well, Taan Sau is executed once because it’s a strong position. Fok Sau is performed three times to allowmore practice. Fok Sau develops the elbow by bringing it inward–thisneeds to be practiced more.

Question: After the Cross Hand position at the beginning of the form, some people come straight up while we “roll” up and out slightly. Why is this?

Master Ho: If you come straight up, when people trap you, you have no way out. If you roll from the inside out (Quan Sau) you can easily get away. This is better than coming straight up.

Question: I understand Fok Sau develops the wrist. Are there other applications?

Master Ho: The Fok Sau motion stabilizes the arm. This promotes a strong motion.

Question: What’s the proper height for Taan Sau motion?

Master Ho: The perfect position for Taan Sau is the palm flat and the forearm slightly upward. Taan Sau should be on the centerline, not too high or too low. If it’s too high it will make the shoulder muscles tight. However, if your arm is larger, it may be higher, if you have a shorter arm, it may be lower.

Question: What’s the relationship between Siu Lim Tau and the practice of mental clarity?

Master Ho: If you clear your mind when you practice it’s much better. You can concentrate on what you’re doing; nothingwill bother you.

(Master Hawkins Cheung noted: “Ho Kam Ming began trainingwhen he was about 29 or 30 and therefore concentrated on theory. This is what he’s best at. He received all the best information.” Cheung questioned the listeners, “The Wing Chun style is based on what? It’s based on feeling, sensitivity. And what do I mean by sensitivity? Information. Do you have the correct information or not? Wing Chun (boxing) uses what? Unity. Earlier today stances were mentioned … We don’t fight with separate movements, we fight with unity. That’s the key. And yet, theory is very important. You can’t copy anyone … Ho Kam Ming will teach you the correct motions, theory. This is better than learning a lot of movements. If you start good, you learn good. If you start no good, you learn no good, understand?)”

Chum Kiu

Question: What’s the main thing that Chum Kiu develops? What is it’s purpose?

Master Ho: Chum Kiu teaches you how to control your motions while turning. Siu Lim Tau develops techniques in a stationary position. In Chum Kiu, even though you’re turning, you still can control that motion–much like a stationary position. This will develop turning, balance and unity. Chum Kiu means “Searching for the Bridge.” The bridge refers to the person’s hand or arm. When you face an opponent and go in, you go in the center. When his hands come into play, you can touch or feel for the hands; then you can control him–that’s “Searching for the Bridge.” Remember, if the opponent doesn’t block you, or bring his hands up–just go in the centerline.

Question: If you have a powerful opponent and he comes after you with wide swinging motions–how would you handle this? How would you end the fight?

Master Ho: If your opponent attacks you in this way–according to theory you should be able to use a straight line punch to beat the wide motion. This is because the timing is longer. But if he’s already in, you may be able to deflect his power. If he’s too strong then just step away. (Master Ho demonstrated how to deflect power left or right by using Bong Sau or Taan Sau).

Question: How do you deal with a flicking attack or a fake?

Master Ho: Just attack, go right in. (Master Ho demonstrated how one may simply attack when faked). Also, some people try to scare you by stomping on the floor, etc; just strike out withyour fist.

Question: If confronted, do you look at the eyes or the hands?

Master Ho: If you look at the hand, you lose everything. Look at the eyes.

Question: So moving inward can effectively jam a technique?

Master Ho: Don’t just run into the opponent. You must adjust the distance. If the distance allows you to go in–do so; don’t go in blind. If you can’t control the opponent, don’t go in. Close the gap and strike when you should–don’t when you shouldn’t. (Master Ho demonstrated an “inside facing” punch). Some people duck when punched. In Wing Chun you can attack by changing the angle–without ducking.

Question: Could you comment on the concept of “Sinking the Bridge.” Doesn’t Chum Kiu also mean this?

Master Ho: Sinking the Bridge is an application. (Master Ho demonstrated how to drop the elbow in defense of a body punch). Searching for the Bridge is the name of the form. “Chum” Kiu, or “sinking” bridge, is a technique. But the meaning of the form is “Searching for the Bridge.” Don’t confuse this.

Question: Why does the Wing Chun style always teach one to look at the eyes? Other styles teach to look elsewhere.

Master Ho: For example, if you look down while I punch, you’ll miss what’s coming. By looking at the eyes you’llsee the whole picture.

Question: What’s the difference between the Pai Jong (Hacking Elbow) and Lon Sau (Bar Arm)?

Master Ho: Lon Sau can help you to get out from a grab. By turning, you use the whole body to bring your hand up. (A demonstration followed in which master Ho easily brought his hand back from a double grab position).

Question: Where does the power originate in the turning position? Is it the knees?

Master Ho: It’s not just the knees; the whole body assists in the turn. If you turn the whole body as a unit–you can get more power. This is better then using just the hip or knees, etc. The idea here is unity. Question: But where does the turn originate? How do you turn? Master Ho: You can’t say exactly where the turn originates, for the whole body turns. The feet, knees, hip, and body all work together. You can’t say, that’s where the turn originates. This is why you have to practice. In order to know exactly how to generate power, you need to practice in order to feel your motion. This is the only way to know these things.

Question: Is the Turning Elbow (Pai Jong) technique lower than the same technique in Siu Lim Tau?

Master Ho: No, it’s about the same. But, when you perform the Turning Elbows, it’s important to learn how to turn the technique with the body. In application you need to control your motion.You see how close the subject is and therefore how much to turn. This you need to adjust, you can tell how much by experience.

Question: Toward the end of Chum Kiu, are there not two circle side kicks executed?

Sifu Fong: In the beginning, we use all front kicks. If you can’t do a front kick right, you can’t do a side kick. The front kick is the basic kick for the Wing Chun style. At the end of the form there is a “left” circle front kick. Master Ho: According to human behavior, everyone uses the right leg automatically. In Wing Chun we develop the left leg. If you concentrate on the left leg, you’ll be able to use both legs equally. It’s the same principle behind developing the punches: left, right, left in the forms. Develop the left more than the right.

Question: In Chum Kiu set, why does the Drilling Punch go upward, like an “Uppercut?”

Master Ho: Has everyone seen Mike Tyson fight? Well, I feel he’s the first fighter to effectively use the Uppercut. Yet, in Wing Chun, we already had this punch a couple hundred years ago. You see, under the chin is a point and, when hit, causes an immediate knock out–the brain is sent to the top of the head. It can even kill.

Question: How many triangles are there in the structure? And does that change with the movement of the opponent?

Master Ho: (Here, master Ho demonstrated how to use triangles in group fighting).

Question: How many triangles are there in one’s own structure?

Master Ho: (Master Ho demonstrated how changing the line also changes the triangle.) No matter how many triangles there are, they all focus or lay on the centerline.

Question: How do you get power in your front kick? Other arts use a kind of wind up to generate force.

Master Ho: The Wing Chun kick uses Bone Joint Power. It comes directly from the floor and goes forward. If you bring the leg up first and then kick, there are two motions. Anyway, the Wing Chun kick is not used all the time, only when necessary. This is because when you use a kicking technique, you have only one leg on the ground. You can be attacked easily. If you kick me, I can avoid the kick by moving one inch. When you miss, I can get you; I can go in.

Question: What’s the purpose of the Fok Sau technique in Chum Kiu?

Master Ho: From an outside position, Fok Sau will cover your opening. The purpose is first to bring the elbow in to cover oneself. If you bring the hand in only, you will miss the block. Learn how to control your elbow. Also, Fun Sau (which is applied before) is executed toward the side in the form. But this technique can be applied to the front.

Question: Wing Chun doesn’t advocate ducking. Many styles know this and use this against us. Is there a reason for this? How can you fight against other styles if you don’t duck?

Master Ho: According to Wing Chun theory, we don’t duck, we keep our position. If your position is right, no one can get into your area. In Wing Chun, the whole structure is protecting your body; that is, as long as you play your own game. In Wing Chun we have a saying, “Glass head, tofu chest, and iron bridge.” The bridge protects the head and body–the glass head and tofu chest. If you get hit in the head, it’s like glass; in the chest and it’s like tofu–smashed. The hand is like an iron bridge–the hand is the guard.

Question: But don’t you think it’s a disadvantage that other styles know our methods? Shouldn’t one do something different?

Master Ho: No matter what system you are facing, just play your own game. Your own game is to adjust your distance, timing, etc. You will win.

Question: At the beginning of the second section of Chum Kiu, you turn with Lon Sau and form a fist. Is this for attacking? Is this a punch?

Master Ho: It is a fist, but it is not for striking. This motion allows one to stick and follow the opponent’s hand.

Question: Is the Arm Catching (Jip Sau) motion for breaking an arm, controlling, or what?

Master Ho: This is an arm break, but the way you are demonstrating it is lousy. If I do it like you, with the elbow down and in, the punch will get through. (Here master Ho discussed the hand closest to the body.) The elbow has to be out; this way you can catch the arm. In Wing Chun not all the techniques have the elbow in. You have to know this.

Question: What’s the best way to fight a group of people?

Master Ho: When you fight, use hand techniques more than kicks. Use the hands 80% of the time; especially when you fight more than one person. Use the legs to move the center, adjust the angle.

Question: How does the eye power of Chum Kiu differ from that of Siu Lim Tau?

Master Ho: In both forms, learn how to control the eyes. Look straight forward, that is the main idea. Learn to develop periphery vision.

Question: If one initiates an attack first in a fight, where is the best place to strike?

Master Ho: Strike the weakest point–the chest. If you attack the head you may cause a cut, but if you attack the chest it involves the heart. This is a killing point. No matter how big you are–one good punch here and you can not take it.

Question: When’s the best time to strike? When the subject is breathing in or out?

Master Ho: This kind of timing doesn’t matter, you can go in anytime.

Question: In the proverbs it states, “Use escaping hand to turn around the situation.” What’s this mean?

Master Ho: If you can’t do it, don’t worry. For example, books say you can jump ten feet high! But this is only writing; can I do it? That’s a different story. If you want to understand a thing, learn to do it. If you can apply the theory, that’s good, that’s what you should concentrate on.

Question: Again, what’s the fist for in the Lon Sau technique? Is this a grab?

Master Ho: This allows one to stabilize the bridge. If it’s open here, it won’t be correct or stabilized.

Question: So it’s not a grab?

Master Ho: No, and when you grab someone you must be careful–it’s very dangerous. If you grab my hand, I’ll break your wrist. In China, these locking techniques were quite popular. Today theypractice Tiger Claw or Wu Shu but won’t allow the citizens to practice Wing Chun and such. This is because they don’t want ordinary people better than those in the government. This is one reason why Wing Chun is being lost in the Chinese mainland.

Question: Could you explain the application of the Low Wing Block (Bong Sau)?

Master Ho: (Master Ho demonstrated how a punch is deflected downward from a regular Bong Sau position, thus forming a low Bong Sau). The low Bong Sau follows the power. If the force is too heavy, just go with it. Don’t block the punch upward; you should flow down. Also, in the form, two low Bong Sau’s are applied together. But by the time you apply the Bong Sau, use only one hand. Remember, when you apply this, never use two Bong Sau’s at the same time.

Question: Why does the “Inside Line” punch (from Lon Sau) come from the elbow rather than the centerline?

Master Ho: From a slight sideways position, the centerline is here. (Master Ho indicated one must use this motion to regain the centerline). If one punches from the center, there’s no control–the opponent’s punch gets in. Use this motion to clear the line of attack.

Question: What’s the meaning behind the “Step Forward” Double Palm technique in the third section of Chum Kiu?

Master Ho: This push allows the whole body to move together. This develops unity; it teaches one how to move the entire body forward.

Question: Should the Front Kick be practiced more than any other kick?

Master Ho: The Front Kick is the most important kick in Wing Chun. When you fight, your opponent is facing you. The kick to use is the front kick. If you turn or use a side kick, you may lose everything.

Question: Could you explain the difference between Siu Lim Tau and Chum Kiu techniques in relation to distance in fighting?

Master Ho: When you’re talking about forms, since there’s no subject before you, it’s difficult to speak of distance. Distance only applies when you have an opponent in front of you.

Question: After the Stepping Bong Sau, you “drop” the hands (Chum Kiu) crossing them. Do you maintain the same line?

Master Ho: Yes, when you drop, since you’re turned, it looks like you’re off the centerline. But really the centerline is still here (toward the center). In this motion the elbows should be slightly out. Don’t squeeze them inward. But yes, the intersection of the hands is on the centerline.

Question: What’s the correct angle for the Brush Hand (Tuit Sau). How far away from the body should the hand be?

Master Ho: Go straight down. The hand should be close to the body. You can use this motion to dissolve a grab. If you go forward you can not dissolve the technique.

Question: Could you talk about Huen Sau (Circle Hand)? Is this a grab?

Master Ho: In Wing Chun forms you see inside circling, but not outside grabbing. The circle is inside, we don’t use an outside circle (Grab Hand) too much. If you use an outside circle (Grab), your opponent can just snap down and break your wrist. But Huen Sau is really for regaining your position or line. (Master Ho demonstrated a Huen Sau followed by a low side palm).

Question: What’s the application for the dropping Chum Kiu (Cross Hand) technique which follows Stepping Bong Sau?

Master Ho: When you apply Bong Sau, your lower gate is all open. This motion allows you to drop the hands to protect the body.

Question: Could you explain a little about the Backward Step (Toi Ma) in the Chum Kiu?

Master Ho: When you step Backward here, it allows you to regain your balance easier than by going forward. Remember, Chum Kiu teaches one how to control the balance in movement.

Question: Do you snap both wrists when you execute the Jip Sau (Arm Catching) motion?

Master Ho: Yes, both hands snap at the same time. The timing must be right.

Question: What’s the application for Gum Sau (Pinning Hand) near the end of Chum Kiu form?

Master Ho: Gum Sau teaches you to block. When you use it, though, don’t just use the hand, use the entire arm. Remember to bend the elbow; don’t lock the arm.

Question: When you execute the Double Palm and push both feet together, it doesn’t seem to be a strong base, does it?

Master Ho: The purpose of this technique is first, to practice moving forward while maintaining the center of gravity. Second, so you can execute a turn kick. For example, the legs must be close together to perform the kick. In the form you practice the basics, in fighting you can do whatever you wish.

Question: Could you explain the application of the Rising Punch from the Gum Sau position?

Master Ho: (A demonstration was presented in which a Rising Punch follows a blocked kick–Gum Sau). Remember, the elbow should be bent. Also, after the block, you should punch immediately–attack right away.

Question: Where does the gate end for the hands and the legs take over? Does it end where the Gum Sau position is?

Master Ho: If a kick comes into your hand area, fine. But don’t chase the leg. Keep your hands in position. If the attack is lower than the waist, use the your legs. Don’t follow the kick with your hands. Also, if the knee is used to block a kick, don’t bring it straight up–use a circular knee technique.

Question: In Searching for the Bridge is the idea to destroy and control the bridge? Or perhaps just to feel for it?

Master Ho: In the real meaning for Chum Kiu, it’s not breaking or controlling; that’s the application. Searching for the Bridge is the name and meaning of the form.

Question: Is there a meaning and application for the double Taan Sau before and after the Stepping Low Bong Sau?

Master Ho: Not really, this is only to set up for the next Bong Sau. (Here master Ho indicated nobody has asked about the main point of Chum Kiu. He asked, “What’s the main technique in the form?”)

Question: Is it the control of the center of gravity; maintaining the centerline?

Master Ho: That’s been discussed already. What’s the main motion Chum Kiu develops? That has not been brought up as yet.

Question: Is it the Bong Sau motion?

Master Ho: Which one.

Question: The Stepping Bong Sau (Tor Ma Bong Sau, replied Dan M.)?

Master Ho: Yes, right (applause). This motion uses a side position and goes sideways. But in application you go forward. The purpose for going sideways is to develop and maintain your center of gravity while moving. If you practice going forward in the beginning, you lose your balance; so you step sideways. Remember, in application, you go forward.

Question: Could you talk some more about Bong Sau? I’ve never heard that idea before.

Master Ho: When you’re attacked, it’s difficult to tell where the attack is coming from. The Bong Sau only protects your body. When the punch comes in, that’s the time to use it. Other then that, you can use Taan Sau or Pak Sau. Bong Sau is applied after touching; when you feel something, then you use Bong Sau. Bong Sau and the “elbow up” is used for close fighting–to save your position. You use Bong Sau after the hand is already in. Don’t use it if the attack is still outside.

Question: Then is Bong Sau considered an “emergency” block?

Master Ho: In a way, yes; when you’re in danger. Also, Bong Sau controls the force of others.

Question: Could you show how Bong Sau is used moving forward?

Master Ho: When your opponent attempts to change attacks, you can jam his motion. (Master Ho demonstrated.) Use the body to step in; it’s not the hands so much as the body moving forward.

Question: For a high punch, how would you block?

Master Ho: In Wing Chun, “offense is defense.” (Master Ho demonstrated an Inside Rising punch to deflect a punch. He then executed a strike over a low blow controlling the attack. These are examples of Searching for the Bridge.) Also, a lot of people step back in defense of an attack. In real Wing Chun, we go in–get the right structure, position. One should attack, don’t move away–move in–go forward. If you don’t do it right–you will miss the block and you may get hit. If your timing and position are right then you will be alright. That’s why you need someone always around, pointing out your mistakes.

Question: Besides Bong Sau (Wing Block), are there other motions that are important?

Master Ho: All techniques are important; each can counter one another. But it’s vital to touch and then apply the techniques. This is why we have Sticky Hands; you touch and apply. This is called application after touching.

Question: How can you get away from an outside grab besides applying Biu Sau (Shooting Fingers)?

Master Ho: You don’t need a big motion–just turn the hand over and apply Taan Sau. (Ho Kam Ming demonstrated how Taan Sau can easily break an outside grab).

Question: About a Step/Slide (Tor Ma)–Do you drag the back leg?

Master Ho: Slide the back leg.

Question: Are you pushing off also?

Master Ho: Yes, when you push yourself forward, you also control your center of gravity. If you push two inches–you step two inches. Keep the distance constant between the feet.

Question: Could you talk about mobility. For example, in application, when’s the right time to change your stance?

Master Ho: Mobility depends upon the opponent–try to adjust to his movement. If you do it by yourself–you can’t develop any kind of ability. You need a target to really develop mobility.

Question: Could you show some examples?

Master Ho: Yes. (Master Ho demonstrated some angling steps, Saam Gok Ma, etc.)

Question: Could you comment on “front body” versus “side body” fighting?

Master Ho: Wing Chun is a natural system. If two birds are fighting, and one bird faces away, he will get it. Better yet, if two dogs fight and one turns away, the one turning will get bitten. It’s the same for two boxers–if you turn sideways then you’ll lose–you lose one side, one hand. When you punch with that hand, you have to change your center. When you move, I can punch you right then. Or if I want, I can just control you by holding your shoulder, keeping you from turning toward me. Because of this, Wing Chun doesn’t fight sideways. Basically, Wing Chun fights front on (one leg forward). This way both hands can be used equally.

Question: If I’m like this (Side Body Stance–Juk Sun Ma), is this considered Pin Sun (Side Body)?

Master Ho: No, this is still Front Body (Jing Sun).

Question: Should we combine horizontal and vertical leg positioning in fighting?

Master Ho: (Master Ho moved forward and backward and had sifu Fong execute combination stances). When you’re beginning, you can use a flat stance (Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma) in practice. If you can not control your stances (if you can’t do it), don’t fight with one leg forward. This way you can move to both sides equally. If you can’t be flexible with your stances, when you stand this way (forward leg), you may have only one way to go–you can’t develop equally.

Question: Does height matter? If I fight a taller person, do I have to angle out more?

Master Ho: No matter–tall or short–they have to come into your position. Just play your own game.

Question: But, do I need more footwork for a bigger person?

Master Ho: When you fight, it’s better to stabilize your movement. The more you move around, the more room you give to the opponent to attack.

Question: Could you talk about the Wing Chun principle, “If you move, I move faster.”

Master Ho: Well, in order to move faster–the first thing you need is correct structure. If your structure is right, you can attack right away. But if your structure isn’t good, even if you are faster, your opponent will get in.

Question: As a beginner, I don’t understand the pivot (turning stance). When would I use it?

Master Ho: Turning allows you to get your center of gravity. If you turn too much you lose the position–not enough and you lose your balance. Correct turning allows you to be strong–the structure will be perfect; then no one can move you so easy.

Question: Why is it that so many exponents turn incorrectly? They put all the weight on their rear leg and move the vertical axis line “to and fro?”

Master Ho: It’s because that person or the person who taught him didn’t know how to find his center of gravity. It’s really like spelling a word; if it’s spelled incorrectly you don’t pay attention, you keep making the same mistake. You keep spelling the word wrong.

Biu Jee

After demonstrating the Biu Jee set master Ho inquired, “Does anybody perceive any difference in this Biu Jee set?” After a few moments the discussion shifted to questions concerning the “Buddha Palms” at the end of Biu Jee. In this movement both hands form a prayer and dip down; as the hands press upward the body rises. The hands then open over the head and swing back returning to the prayer position. This is repeated three times and the set closes. There were no kicking techniques at the end of this Biu Jee set. Sifu Fong interjected–these are the basic forms and certain details have been omitted.

Question: Because of the Wu Sau’s or single Buddha Palms in Siu Lim Tau, I thought the first form was once known as Saam Bai Fut or Three Bows to Buddha. Could you comment on this?

Master Ho: It’s the Three Buddha Palms at the end of Biu Jee which are Saam Bai Fut. Saam Bai Fut is not associated with Siu Lim Tau; it’s a technique of Biu Jee.

Question: What’s the meaning of this motion?

Master Ho: Let’s assume you’re falling forward, losing your balance and someone is trying to strike you from above. Your hands go up first to regain your balance; this motion then opens above the head to deflect incoming attacks. Remember, when you learn the forms, don’t practice them too fast. Perform them slowly, one by one. Learn to control your motion, control your center of gravity. It’s best to practice slowly and to be aware of your moves. At the beginning, if you practice the movements too quickly, you’ll lose everything, you won’t develop correctly. In the Buddha Palm technique, if you perform it incorrectly, if you don’t think about where the hands are placed, when and how the body comes up, if you miss the timing of this motion–instead of blocking you may get hit on the head. In order to time this correctly you open the hands after you are up. You must feel and control the motion; practice it slowly. When you get used to the motions, you can perform them faster.

Question: Is there some relation between the Saam Bai Fut and a Buddhist element here?

Master Ho: That’s only the name for the motion. People say, ah, it looks like you’re worshipping the Buddha. But there’s nothing significant in this.

Question: Near the beginning of the Biu Jee set, you wiggle the fingers after the Huen Sau and before you close thefist. What is the purpose of this?

Master Ho: This allows you to relax your muscles and wrist. When you turn the hand (Huen) and squeeze, you tighten up the muscles of the arm. Thus, you never have a chance to relax the muscles. This motion allows you to relax the whole hand before going on to the next move. I bet you’ve never seen anyone perform Biu Jee with this motion. This particular motion, Yip Man taught me only. I doubt if you will see this motion elsewhere.

Question: What’s the meaning for the snapping hand (Jut Sau) at the beginning of the set?

Master Ho: This develops wrist power. In this way you can generate snapping power from only a short distance. (Here master Ho asked why in the Buddha Palm, at the end of the set, the hands actually come a little behind the body?) You see, the purpose for this is to regain you center of gravity. The main thing is to keep your balance.

Question: What’s the application for Fak Sau (Whisking Hand)?

Master Ho: Fak Sau can be used as a type of “asking hand.” When someone’s hand is in the way, you can use this motion to break open the centerline. In the form, Fak Sau is performed sideways, but in application it is executed forward.

Question: At the beginning of the Buddha Palm motion, what’s the purpose of leaning and dipping the hands forward?

Master Ho: This motion assumes you’re losing balance. That’s why you make yourself go down in this manner.

Question: What’s the meaning of the term Biu Jee?

Master Ho: A lot of people think Biu Jee (Shooting Fingers) is for attacking people. But the real meaning behind Biu Jee is not really attacking. Biu Jee promotes and develops many emergency techniques.

Question: Is one of the main purposes of Biu Jee for close fighting? Many of the motions seem to be quite large.

Master Ho: For example, Gwai Jong (Diagonal Elbow) is used like this–you feel and then use it. Like Bong Sau, you don’t use it from the outside.

Question: So are most of the motions of Biu Jee for in-close fighting?

Master Ho: They are mostly for emergency use.

Question: After you execute the Biu Sau technique, you turn and chop. Here, you execute the chop with the elbow bent. Why is this?

Master Ho: If the elbow is down, the hand will be solid. For example, with the hand fully extended, the hand is weak. If you keep the elbow in, it’s stronger and you can cover yourself.

Question: What’s the correct position of this chop? Is it like the Taan Sau?

Master Ho: It’s a little bit higher, but according to your own structure. The flowing power from this technique is chopping in, it’s not going outward like a Taan Sau. Do you know why you use this kind of motion? Say you’re fighting someone in front of you and you’re attacked also from the side. Here, you turn and chop to cover yourself. That’s called an “emergency technique.” If you turn and face the attacker, it’s too late. You simply turn and strike. In application, wherever your hand is, that’s where you attack from. If it’s up or out here, that’s where you start your attack; don’t come back to the center and then punch. In the beginning, when you practice the basics, you come from the center. But in application, if your hand is here, that’s where you start from. If your hand is down, you punch from there; don’t bring it back up and then punch. If my hands are down like this, and you punch me, it’s too late to bring my hands up–just block from there. (Master Ho executed a long hand wrist snap–Ding Sau.) In this way you save time.

Question: Why are there Fok Sau techniques in Chum Kiu and then Jaam Sau techniques in Biu Jee? These motions look similar, why is this?

Master Ho: Any motion that comes from below is Fok Sau; but from the top is Jaam Sau. For example, from Fak Sau (Wisking Hand), you execute Jaam Sau, etc.

Question: Why in Chum Kiu set, from Fun Sau (Horizontal Chop), do you execute a Fok Sau technique? Fun Sau is a high position and then you execute a Fok Sau. Why is this?

Master Ho: In Fak Sau (in Biu Jee set), the elbow is up, therefore you simply go down into Jaam Sau. In the Fun Sau motion, the elbow is already down, it’s low, so you just bring it in–Fok Sau.

Question: If the Biu Jee set makes your fingers strong, why loosen them up in the way you described earlier? Wouldn’t it be best to develop iron fingers?

Master Ho: Remember, Biu Jee (Shooting Fingers) is not really for hitting people. Many people think this. This motion you are asking about loosens up the wrist–not the fingers. Anyway, if you think Biu Jee is that way, it’s already like that in Siu Lim Tau.

Question: Developmentally, don’t you want the wrist strong and tight. Why loosen the wrist?

Master Ho: When you try to make it strong like that, it’s not strong–it’s stiff. If you want it strong you need to be flexible. If the wrist is stiff, it will break easily; you may break your hand if you hit something. Do you know why when practicing Wing Chun forms we don’t use much muscle? In the beginning, if you can control your muscles and motion, if you can develop that ability, this is good. If you can control your power and motion, later you can weight lift with good results. But if you lift weights before you can control your muscles, then you become too stiff, you become like a robot. You won’t really be able to apply power.

Question: So, just to make sure I understand this correctly, you never strike with the finger tips?

Master Ho: This is not for hitting, this is for emergency use.

Question: Can you use finger techniques once you are already close?

Master Ho: For example, (from Gwai Jong), if you just use the hand to shoot out, it’s not enough. After you touch your opponent’s hand, you shoot your hand in and step forward–slide the fingers to the throat. This technique you can apply to the throat. (Master Ho demonstrated a Biu Jee to the throat from a Gwai Jong position). Before, I wasn’t allowed to teach this technique. But now, I let this information out, but this isn’t so you can go out and fight with people.

Question: What’s the right time to applysuch finger strikes?

Master Ho: The timing is based on your opponent and his movement and position.

Question: Are there any knee techniques in the Biu Jee?

Master Ho: The leg and knee techniques come after the Dummy form. Right now, we’re studying Siu Lim Tau, Chum Kiu, and Biu Jee. This is still the basic foundation. Until you can do this right, you can’t improve your level.

Question: What’s the correct position of Gaan Jaam Sau (Upper/Lower Chop)?

Master Ho: Gaan Jaam is applied with the turn of the body, just go with the body–don’t emphasize power. Gaan Jaam Sau is an emergency motion. This clears the area from the head to the groin. Sometimes you don’t know where you’re being attacked–what section, the head, chest, etc. Use the Gaan Jaam technique. By the time you touch the hand and block, then you know what to do next.

Question: So, is using a punch in most cases better than using a Biu Sau?

Master Ho: A straight punch is for attacking on the line. Just punch. But Biu Jee Sau (Shooting Fingers) is for regaining the line. If I have you trapped, you have to regain your line to attack. Here, you can use Biu Sau to regain the line first.

Question: After Turning Elbows, at the beginning of the form, you then repeat almost the same motion omitting the Stepping-In Elbow (Tor Ma Gwai Jong). Why is this?

Master Ho: The first set of turning elbows develops flowing from one elbow to another. In the second, your elbow drops and you immediately get away from that situation.

Question: What’s the application of the Huen Sau/Pak Sau motion in Biu Jee?

Master Ho: If the power is coming in too strong, I can’t block it. (Master Ho showed how to deflect a punch with a hooking Huen Sau). So, I just hook the punch away; this is an emergency technique. For example, if the punch is too close, if you can’t block, you can use your body to circle the attack out. Use your structure to deflect the punch. It’s just like a bullfight; you move slightly and the bull passes you by. That’s why in Wing Chun, you use technique. If a stronger force comes in, use your technique to deflect the opponent. Don’t use muscle.

Question: What’s the correct order to learn the forms? Do you learn the Biu Jee first and then Mok Yan Jong? How should one learn the sets?

Master Ho: The right way to learn is this: after the three forms, then you learn the Wooden Dummy set. You learn step by step–after the three forms, you learn Mok Yan Jong.

Question: What’s the application of Biu Jee Ma or circle stance (Seung Ma)?

Master Ho: When your opponent moves toward you, then you can circle around his leg. Also remember this, if you’re standing forward and you punch out–this is only “hand power.” If you use your stance when you attack, you can discharge the opponent more effectively. The stance and hand technique, when combined, is much better. In ordinary technique, people just use the hands. People don’t know how to employ the stance to destroy an attackers center. In Wing Chun Kuen, if you can use the stance and hands together, you can destroy the opponent and his center of gravity.

Question: If the opponent’s foot is not in the way, do we still use the circle stance (Seung Ma)?

Master Ho: It’s not necessary.

Question: Why does the circle stance in Biu Jee return to the Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma position? Why doesn’t it move forward?

Master Ho: The idea is that the foundation is built step by step. Before you perform moving stances, you must be able to find your center of gravity. It’s the same as learning the ABC’s before being expected to write a composition.

Question: If there’s a Gaan Jaam Sau in Biu Jee, why is there no Quan Sau (Rolling Hand)?

Master Ho: You already have that at the beginning of the form, when you roll up from the cross hand position. That’s a rolling hand (Quan Sau). You already have that principle; there’s no need to repeat it.

Question: What’s the most important motion in Biu Jee?

Master Ho: All the motions in Biu Jee are important.

Question: What’s the most important concept in Biu Jee?

Master Ho: The main thing is that Biu Jee is for emergency use.

Question: What’s the correct position for the Gwai Jong (Vertical Elbow) technique? Exactly what is the line of attack?

Master Ho: The elbow should come straight down.

Question: Does the back of the hand touch the chest?

Master Ho: It should barely touch, don’t press the hand against the chest.

Question: Why is the hand open and in this position?

Master Ho: The hand is open for protection. Also, if you don’t loosen and open the hand, you can’t use the elbow. If you make a fist, you can’t swing the elbow down.

Question: Is there any thumb techniques hidden in Biu Jee set?

Master Ho: No, I’ve never learned anything like that. If you know some perhaps you’d like to teach me.

Question: What’s the rising Pushing Hand (Pow Sau) for in Biu Jee?

Master Ho: This motion is executed upward in the form, but in application, you use it low–a low palm. This motion stretches the muscles and teaches one to generate elbow power.

Master Ho asked, “Do you know why you have to swing the Fak Sau technique all the way down and then up?” Fak Sau, when necessary, clears one’s entire area. This is an emergency technique. In the old days, martial artists usually fought very low to the ground. (Master Ho showed how a fighter, crouching low, attacks inward using a low blow). If you shorten the Fak Sau motion, you miss the block; you miss the lower section. Fak Sau swings down and then up. In this way, everything is cleared.

Principles and Techniques

Master Ho demonstrated techniques against a straight punch. He executed circle step Pak/Low Palm. He showed the correct position for blocking with Taan Sau. He stated, “If the angle is incorrect, I won’t be able to block the strike. The angle should be braced out, toward the line of attack.” He used the “blocking line” to deflect the blow while punching. This is called the central line by some. This was followed by Bong Sau Low Side Kick; Quan Sau Low Side Kick; Guide Bridge Low Front Kick; Guide Bridge while throwing the opponent; Bong Sau Chor Ma; Taan Da with a slight angle change. Master Ho then retreated out of distance as a response to a strike. He executed Quan Sau Chor Ma; Inside Facing Jaam Sau, followed by a chop; beginning from Lop Sau, advancing Bong Sau, etc.

Master Ho: When practicing, one partner should be active and the other passive; retreat and change angles, then go in after adjusting. You have to get the right timing. For example, while the opponent is still coming in, that’s when you attack. Learn to avoid the “power point” first–then strike. When an opponent punches you, when you retreat or angle out, he has a tendency to continue to come forward, that’s when you get him. By practicing the stance, you know the correct moment to step. Wait until the punch comes all the way to you before you move. You must practice this kind of timing. Also, if the opponent comes in too fast, and you can’t step back–use turning. (Master Ho showed how to adjust angles and slip punches.)

Question: Is this Boy Lay Ying Faat or Glass Body technique you are describing?

Master Ho: The term Boy Lay Ying is the title for this. But the principle idea is to learn how to adjust your distance when fighting. Learn how to avoid the opponent’s power point.

Question: Is this also applicable to “chasing the shadow?”

Master Ho: Yes. When two fighters are facing each other, you “face the shadow.” This is called Chew Ying. If the opponent turns sideways, I’m Chew Ying, he’s Bai Ying. He is losing his structure. Front-on facing (Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma) isn’t necessary (to be the Chew Ying concept). If your opponent is in front of you and you’re looking at him–that’s Chew Ying. It doesn’t matter as long as you face the opponent. But you don’t have to face front-on each time with the basic stance. You can rotate slightly, chasing the shadow (punching the opponent). That’s Chew Ying. Many martial artists jump around like boxers, but in Wing Chun we stay in one point and “face the line.”

Question: What about when your opponent flanks you and goes beyond your shift limit?

Sifu Fong moved quickly right, but was easily cut off by master Ho’s punches.

Question: Besides chasing the shadow, how about “striking the shadow?”

Master Ho: This isn’t quite right. What happens if you turn around and see a shadow and punch a tree? You still have to focus and know what you’re doing. Let me ask you, why do we practice punching a wall bag? The wall bag is just like a target for shooting arrows. This develops focus for the fist. When you see the opponent, his whole body is the target. When he attacks, it is basic Wing Chun technique which protects you. The main idea is that you learn to see the opponent’s opening and how to get in. When you close the gap, it isn’t with techniques but with your stance–then your attack comes. Don’t strike when you’re closing. If you use hand techniques to close the gap, you’ll lose when the opponent moves–it’s easy to get hit at that time. It’s best to close first and then to trap the opponent as he tries to attack you. (Master Ho showed how to slip and withdraw and then attack using Wing Chun closing techniques.)

Question: So, you make the opponent react to you?

Master Ho: Yes. Also, in Wing Chun we never duck our head around. When you duck, it’s easy to get hit. It’s best to use structure to dissolve an attack. If an opponent ducks a lot, I can easily get him. I can hit him anytime I please. He can’t defend himself for he is too busy ducking. When he comes back up, that’s when I’ll get him. The key word is to learn to adjust your timing and structure.

Question: Which is better–to close the gap and attack, or to wait until the opponent commits to something and comes into your area?

Master Ho: Closing and setting up the opponent is superior to waiting. If you wait until the opponent is attacking you, he may be applying this theory and therefore you will be in trouble. Also, when closing the gap, if an opponent doesn’t react, if he doesn’t move at all, then you can strike him anytime. Don’t wait for a reaction–just strike.

Question: When an opponent attacks, he will usually attack with three punches or a combination. How would you adjust this concept for this type of opponent?

Master Ho: If you catch the opponent on the first punch, he won’t have a chance to throw a second and a third.

Question: Should we then continue with combinations of our own? For example, should we use just one punch at a time or concentrate on landing combinations?

Master Ho: The principle is like this: If you get in with one punch, that might not be a killing blow. If you have a chance to strike a second time, fine. But if not, don’t do it. Don’t try to hit too much. Try to use the right timing.

Question: Should we then go back out and start again?

Master Ho: That’s not necessary. You just don’t have to hit, continue to chase, control.

Question: So, it’s better to punch one, two, three, watching the opponent than to try to throw three punches at thesame time?

Master Ho: In a real fight, you rarely have a chance to punch the opponent three times quickly like that. When you punch, at that moment, you are stationary–your hands are faster than your stance. But if you advance and land solid blows on the opponent, one by one, this is superior.

Question: For systems that use great power like Choi Lee Fut, do you attempt to get out of the way or what?

Master Ho: Sure. If you understand the distance, it doesn’t matter how strong an opponent’s power is. As long as you’re just one paper distance away, you won’t accept any force. Learn to adjust your distance and move properly. Like a gun which shoots a mile–as long as you’re a mile and an inch away, you’re safe. Also, in Wing Chun, we don’t put our hands above our shoulders. (Master Ho demonstrated a boxing posture.) If you think this will protect your head against a strong punch, you’re wrong. It will blow right through your hands. If your guard is high, you can’t balance your hands and technique. Also, for a roundhouse kick, when the opponent executes this kick, all of his weight is supported over one leg. When you kick like this, you can’t easily change your position. I can move to the other side and in. Don’t use your kicks too much. But if you have the chance, go ahead.

Question: In contrast to hard power like in Choi Li Fut and Hung Gar, what about soft power? Do you use soft against soft or hard against soft like Tai Chi Chuan?

Master Ho: In Tai Chi Chuan the center of gravity changes all the time. When you shift your center like this, it’s not good; you’re in a poor position to launch an attack. This may be good for health but not for fighting. Also, Wu Shu from China; such moves are enjoyable to watch. We can’t do this type of movement. For fighting, the moves we use, they can’t apply this either. So, we can’t copy them and they can’t copy us. (Master Ho performed a Wu Shu pose.) These motions have no meaning, like saluting, there’s no fighting aspect. Also, running around and performing splits have nothing to do with fighting. This may be good for health and movies, it’s wonderful to watch, but that type of martial art is different that what we practice.

Question: Wing Chun employs the Plum Blossom symbol. Could you comment on the significance of the Plum Blossom withinthe Wing Chun system?

Master Ho: The Plum Blossom defines the prime attacking areas for the front body: the center of the chest, face, higher ribs, lower ribs, etc.

Question: Does the Plum Flower relate to footwork also?

Master Ho: Yes.

Question: May I ask about the application for the Wing Chun hook punch?

Master Ho: (Master Ho demonstrated guiding the opponent and then striking.) This punch is best used to the body; there’s more protection in this. But you can use these techniques any way y

Source:  We are currently looking for an original source of this. It was offered online at one time, but no longer found any where but here.

chisaoAn Interview with Sifu Ho Kam Ming
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Wing Chun Hei Gung

Wing Chun Hei Gung

It is said in wing chun kuen that one must “eat well and moderate lust; quiet the heart and conserve the hei “. While these ideals are all fairly typical in the Chinese martial world, and the first three are pretty self-explanatory, one may wonder how does wing chun kuen specifically go about working hei?

Wing chun hei gung (qigong, breathing/intrinsic energy work) is not a singular phenomenon. Different branches of wing chun kuen, as may be expected, view hei gung and its training in different ways. Some, like the Sum Nung branch have forms in addition to the usual boxing, dummy, and weapons sets to train hei gung. Others prefer to focus exclusively on the sets and see no need for separate hei gung forms. Neither approach is in and of itself better then the other, but by knowing the differences, practitioners can make up their own mind, based on their own needs.

Protecting arm from siu lien tao and expanding chest from sun hei gwai yuen shows the difference between the boxing and hei gung positionings. In the boxing sets, it is often thought that the slow movements are especially good for hei gung. An example would be the little first training’s (siu lien tao) three prayers to Buddha (saam bai faat) section which focuses on the slow extension and retraction of bridges through dispersing (tan), controlling (fook), and protecting (wu). In the end, however, it could be said that all movements of all forms provide some benefit in this area.

Why, then, are there separate hei gung forms in some branches? Simply because, to achieve its great results as a martial art, wing chun makes use of certain specific body structure ideas and methods of motion. The kidney breathing exercises give the practitioner a way to step outside this model and perform movements not contained in the forms, but desirable from a hei gung standpoint. It also means a practitioner does not have to alter the structure nor sacrifice the reflexes they develop within the forms simply to gain some extra hei gung benefit.

Kidney Breathing

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the kidneys are important for several reasons. They store the body’s jing (prenatal qi), governing birth, growth, and development. They produce marrow, nourish the brain, and control the bones. They govern water passage and receive the qi (as in breathing). They open into the ears, manifest in the hair and house zhi (will power), They are the gate of ming (vitality) and the source of the original qi and fire of all the internal organs, warming the lower burner, and harmonizing sexual function. It is this importance that leads to exercises like the kidney breathing.

A form of yit gan (yi jin, tendon changing), the kidney breathing exercises put a practitioner through a good range of motion in order to improve health. In terms of martial benefit, it is know that when Sum Nung trained the exercises, he achieved a form of body resilience. Yuen Kay-San pointed out, however, that even an iron hammer, struck repeatedly, would wear down and the body was far more valuable than a hammer. Thus, while present, the already effective fighting concepts of wing chun kuen as a whole lend the health aspects of the kidney breathing a greater import than any martial benefits.

The kidney breathing exercises are composed of a sequence of a half-dozen or so short forms intended to be performed both before and after wing chun kuen training, to replenish and re-vitalize the practitioner. In terms of their place in the system as a whole, the author and his classmates learned them following the wooden dummy and prior to weapons.

As with most things in wing chun kuen, there are some variations in transmission of the kidney breathing exercises. Some perform all of the exercises separately. Others prefer to link the exercises into one long form and practice them together in that manner. Names and orders also sometimes vary from time to time and teacher to teacher. With that in mind, the following is a list of the sun hei gwai yuen as the author remembers learning them.

Rising arms begins by expanding the whole body vertically, from toes to fingers. Yielding breath works on stretching the whole body in a slightly different way, bending the wrists backwars. This form is often used to link the others together when practiced in sequence. Side-to-side waist turns the hips and torso of a practitioner, working the waist (an important component trained for power in the boxing system) in a horizontal manner.
Side diaphram bends, works the waist and also involves stretching the intercostal muscles (used heavily in the sinking and rising methods of wing chun kuen). Single hoof, so named because it focuses on one hand at a time, is almost identical to the threading exercises seen in systems like baguazhang. This helps work the flexibility of the bridges and the balance in conjunction with the backwards and forwards movement of the waist. Expanding chest serves to fortify the chest which is often “sunken” in wing chun kuen boxing, stretching through the pectorals and shoulders, and continues the whole body work of the yielding breath.
Dropping power is also seen in the hei gung of other arts. The skyward reaching of the arms, combined with a complete squatting and rising of the legs, works the entire body and end the series with the practitioner feeling fully invigorated. Overturning arms completes the body of the exercises, reaching out and over in the horizontal plane. Following this, both the back and the dan tian are usually stimulated.

Single Hoof Exercise

The single hoof is one of the most interesting of the kidney breathing exercises. Primarily involving the arms and waist, it takes the practitioner through an extensive range of motion, twisting, stretching, and revitalizing the area.

Begin with the feet shoulder width apart, arms down at the sides, and the body and mind relaxed and centered. The feet should be connecting the horse firmly into the ground through the kidney-1 point (approximately 1/3 of the way down from the toes), with the toes slightly gripping the ground. The joints bend naturally, free from tension. The anus should be tucked in and the tongue lightly pressed against the roof of the mouth to complete the body’s hei connection. Breathing is deep but natural

Although not vital to the exercise, typically an item like a teacup or small bowl full of liquid can be used to aid in keeping the palm level and the eyes focused. The bowl should be allowed to rest on one extended hand (in his case the right), while the other arm stays retracted to the waist.

To begin the exercise, the right hand moves forward and outward in a smooth circle. The eyes begin with, and maintain their gaze on the bowl (or the hand if no bowl or cup is used). The waist turns slightly with the motion and the other hand remains at the waist. The body stays rooted, and the breathing natural.
The hand continues its path around the body, moving backward. The waist bends back to keep the eyes focused on the hand and the palm remains level (so as not to drop the item resting upon it, if one is used). Balance should be kept throughout.
The arm keeps twisting, moving forward and outside again, this time with the elbow inverted. The arm is bent both at the elbow and the wrist, keeping the palm in position.
The hand then rotates inward toward the waist, bringing the fingers in at hip level. Breathing remains steady and the eyes focused. The arm completes its journey by circling through to resume its initial position, extended from the waist. The exercise is repeated with the alternate (in this case left) hand.
Typically, 7 repetitions are done for each exercise. When training is completed, the hands are again lowered to the sides.

Preserving the Legacy

Among the better known individuals fortunate enough to have learned from grandmaster Sum Nung (with apologies, far too many to list here completely) are Sum Jee, Leung Dai-Chiu, Ngo Lui-Kay (Ao Leiqi), Kwok Wan-Ping, Lee Chi-Yiu, Wong Wah (Tom Wong), and many others.

Ngo Lui-Kay followed grandmaster Sum Nung from the mid-1960s until he relocated to Canada in 1982. As the kidney breathing exercises were passed from Yuen Kay-San to grandmaster Sum Nung, and from grandmaster Sum Nung to Ngo Lui-Kay and his many classmates, so have Ngo Lui-Kay and his classmates begun to share them with their own students and descendants. It is hoped that by introducing these exercises in the west, it will help to preserve the rare and unique system of Sum Nung Wing Chun Kuen, and the teachings of grandmaster Sum Nung for future generations.


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The Hidden Power of Siu Nim Tao, by Tsui Sheung Tin

The Hidden Power
of Siu Nim Tau.
by Tsui Sheung Tin

My master Yip Man first started teaching Ving Tsun in Hong Kong at the Restaurant Worker’s Union Association. At the time I was the secretary of the association, so Master Yip and I had many opportunities to be together. Before I became interested in Ving Tsun, I often overheard Master Yip explaining his Ving Tsun theories in his classes. Gradually he sparked my interest in the art. It so happened that I had great interest in physics and mechanics; I enjoyed his theories on body structure and power development methods very much. Through my careful analysis, I was convinced that Master Yip’s art was flawless and very advanced. Finally, I decided to follow Master Yip and became his student.

Like every beginner in class, I started my journey with Siu Nim Tau , even though I had already familiarized myself with the form as an observer. It took me little effort to completely learn the basic movements. I then began to wonder about the essence of the form, besides the hand movements. I went to Master Yip and inquired about the meaning of Siu Nim Tau, especially the non-combative tone in the name. Master Yip replied: “This is about Lop Nim — to establish an idea in the mind”. I am sure most of my peers have also heard about this term. Master Yip also added that it required prolonged practice of this form to truly master the essence of lop nim.

This hidden meaning of lop nim really caught my interest. I spent much time analyzing its nature, but could still not grasp the concept. Therefore I decided to drop all my thoughts and simply practiced Siu Nim Tau whenever I could, day and night. After a long time, I began to see the connection between lop nim and the form. I suddenly felt great joy in my Ving Tsun training, which fueled my interest in the art further. I became obsessed with the art. Gradually I discovered some powerful but hidden forces within each Siu Nim Tau movement. All the movements are indeed able to deliver indestructible power, yet they look very soft and graceful. At that moment, the concept of lop nim became extremely enlightening and inspiring to me. I finally understood the reason behind it.

I summarize this hidden power as a kind of nim lik (the force of an idea; or mind/intent force, where nim is the same idea/intent as in nim tau ). In essence, Siu Nim Tau has two major points: nim lik and “structure”.

1. Nim Lik (force of idea/intent): it stabilizes all Ving Tsun movements to form a springy and dynamic combination of body structures. It makes Ving Tsun body structure able to sustain great pressure and produce rebound energy. Although there are common terms such as nim lik, qigong, noigong or supernatural abilities that are being perceived as some kind of unusual power, here I would only illustrate the concept behind nim lik (force of idea/intent). Nim lik is the power of a highly focused mind. It helps one bring forth chi flow into every part of the body. Everyone should have this kind of power. However, without training, it is very difficult to focus thoughts. Siu Nim Tau is a great tool to invoke mind focus power. If properly practiced, one can deliver this kind of power at will in every instance. The mind can stay focused even when the structure is adjusting or moving at high speed. So to achieve nim lik is the goal of Siu Nim Tau.

Let’s look at a simple example: if a healthy person falls down from a 6 – 7 feet tall platform unprepared, although he/she lands with both feet, he/she is still likely to injury him/herself. However, if the person is mentally prepared for the fall, his/her feet will automatically recoil and absorb the impact. Also, he/she can only have this reflex if his/her feet are relax. This is an unique attribute of human muscle in its relax state. The springy force on the feet that help the person land safely is a direct result of relax muscles and nim lik.

note: according to contemporary scientific findings; when human muscles are in relax state and are moving at steady speed, they can sustain greater pressure than when they are tensed up (using force). It is so amazing that our Ving Tsun ancestor Ng Mui was able to make use of this scientific method to design our Siu Nim Tau hundreds of years ago

2. Structure: Yee Gee Kim Yang Ma allows one to project all energy forward towards the target. Tei Gong (pulling up of the muscle around the anus area) helps unite body and stance. It also helps relax the leg muscles while being in the stance; thus the whole body reaches a highly alert and ready state. These are the necessary conditions to produce nim lik and must be maintained firmly. The core techniques of Siu Nim Tau — Tan / Bong / Fook — are indeed subtle uses of body mechanics. These three techniques take the shape of arcs or bows. As we extend the arc shape further, Tan / Bong / Fook become hemispheres. As we all know, an arc or spherical-shaped object can sustain strong impact. It can also transfer or deflect energy dynamically when spinning. A wheel can accelerate faster than objects of other shapes (e.g. square, triangle). Each movement in Siu Nim Tau, inspired by this efficient arc-like structure, and when combined with nim lik, becomes extremely powerful defensive and offensive techniques. In addition, practitioners must not employ brute muscle strength. Siu Nim Tau training should never be tiring. To be proficient in this foundation, all movements should be done with the mind rather than strength.

Many Ving Tsun practitioners like to impose their techniques into frozen and static postures. Many believe that Bong Sau should be done at certain height or angle, or criticize others for not complying to their artificial standards. Some may call this style traditionalist; that style reformist; and on and on. In fact, movements in Siu Nim Tau are not named as if they were static postures. For example, when rolling up Tan Sau into Bong Sau, it is the course of this rolling movement that makes up the Bong Sau technique; the function of Bong Sau exists in its circular motion. Similarly, all other techniques in Siu Nim Tau employ circular movements in various directions.

It is a popular belief that Bong Sau is a passive technique: practitioners only use Bong Sau to deflect incoming forces. This would apply to the scenario where a statically posted Bong Sau is being used to block attacks. However, this explanation lacks an understanding of Bong Sau. In my experience, Bong Sau can deliver enormous offensive power. Indeed, it is a very aggressive and penetrating technique due to its circular nature.

Finally, I suggest that all fellow Ving Tsun practitioners look carefully into each technique of Siu Nim Tau. Discover the subtle circular movements in each of them. Practice with mind focus and steady speed. Use the mind to command each technique rather than using muscle tension. I am sure you will gradually find great joy and satisfaction in your Siu Nim Tau training!

Tsui Sheung Tin


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Daoist Breathing Techniques

Daoist Breathing Techniques


by Zhou, Xuan-Yun, May 20, 2009 


It is common knowledge that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is needed to have a healthy and strong body. Without exercise, the general condition of the body suffers. Without a healthy diet, we lack the calories and nutrients we need for physical and mental health. However, air is arguably more important that diet and exercise. Because we work hard to earn money to buy food (or work hard to grow food to eat), we have learned to value food. Air is free, and so it is easy to forget its importance, but we can go far longer without food and water than we can go without air. Breathing (along with digestion, sleeping patterns, and blood and lymph flow) is a part of the body’s cyclic patterns, but is often overlooked and rarely practiced. Daoist breathing exercises are breathing practices designed to activate the diaphragm muscle, expand the lungs, and invoke the body’s innate relaxation response. There are four major types of breathing (调息tiao xi) used in Daoist practice. These are natural breathing, reverse breathing, dantian breathing, and embryonic breathing. These breathing practices can be used on their own as a spiritual meditation practice, or used to compliment your martial arts training, allowing your to reach a deeper level of mental and physical health.

Natural Breathing 顺呼吸 (shun hu xi)

Natural breathing describes the type of breathing that we typically use throughout the day. In this type of breathing, when you inhale, your diaphragm contracts and pulls downward, pushing the belly out, and the lungs expand. Exhalation is a passive act, so on the exhale, the diaphragm relaxes back up into a dome shape, air leaves the body, and the belly contracts inward. The breath should be slow (慢man), deep (深 shen), fine (细 xi), and even (均 jun). This allow your body to take in more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide. This leads to many health benefits: a lowering of blood pressure, slowing of heart rate, and faster elimination of toxins.

Reverse breathing (逆呼吸 ni hu xi)

Reverse breathing gets its name because it is, in many ways, the reverse of natural breathing. To try reverse breathing, inhale deeply, contract your abdomen and fill the upper part of your lungs. When you exhale, push your abdomen out, and drop your breath within the body. Because of the decrease of pressure in the lungs (increase of volume) the diaphragm will move down, so consequently, the organs in the abdomen will be contracted. Everyone has used this type of breathing, whether you are conscious of it or not. It is the way we instinctively breathe when pushing something heavy. The breath moves vertically, up and down within the body, like a pump.

Interestingly, during reverse breathing, the breath also moves horizontally, moving backwards and forwards inside the belly during exhalation. (A common Daoist technique is to imagine a pearl moving back and forth). I find reverse breathing a useful technique to use before meditation practice. It is important that you never let this become your natural way to breathe. Over-practice and incorrect practice of reverse breathing can lead to medical problems. I would not recommend anyone with high-blood pressure to practice reverse breathing. While I am not a medical professional, I was taught that exerting too much downward pressure on the lower abdomen can cause hemorrhoids, and too much upward pressure on the stomach can contribute to acid reflux problems. Techniques like moderating the amount of force used, and lifting up the pelvic floor can be used to prevent straining the breathing muscles, so is important that any advanced breathing techniques be learned and practiced under the supervision of an experienced teacher.

Dantian breathing 丹田呼吸 (dan tian hu xi)

The Chinese word “Dantian” literally means “cinnabar field”. Cinnabar refers to mercury sulfide (朱砂 zhu sha) a toxic metal that early Daoists used to make medicine. “Dantian” is usually roughly translated as “elixir field” since the Chinese name means that it is a valuable energy center, a place where something valuable and medicinal can be cultivated. Although there are considered to be three major Dantian in the body. The Dantian we are talking about for Dantian breathing is the lower Dantian, a major energy center found slightly under and behind the navel. Dantian breathing describes when the lower back is incorporated into deep breathing breathing practice. For this type of breathing, the mind focuses on the Dantian and the chest stays relaxed, while the abdomen and lower back expand on the exhale, and contract on the exhale. There is a very important acupuncture point on the lower spine called the “Gate of Life” (命门 ming men) which can be stimulated by Dantian breathing, as can the kidneys. Daoist medicine tells us that when the kidneys are stimulated, your entire body’s vitality and energy level will improve.

Embryonic breathing 胎吸 (tai xi)

Zhou Xuan Yun
Zhou Xuan Yun

Embryonic breathing is sometimes called “stopping the breath” (闭气). But it is important to differentiate that “stopping the breath” actually does not mean the same thing as “holding the breath”. There are several Daoist practices that involve holding the breath to increase lung capacity, but Embryonic breathing is actually a bit different. Embryonic breathing means that your breath feels like an effortless, internal movement. Your breathing becomes so natural you are not aware that you are the one breathing, like a new-formed child in the womb. When I practice this type of breathing, I find that my spirit and breathing become aligned, I become less aware of myself sitting there. I become present in the moment, and am only aware of the breath. This is a very useful type of breathing for meditation. Focusing the mind too sharply on your breathing can prevent the naturalness of breath needed for Embryonic breathing, so instead of diligently practicing this technique, I find it more useful to let it happen naturally. If you use one hand to hold a feather under your nose while practicing this type of breathing, it will not move, your breathing is so calm and subtle. Embryonic breathing is also called nei hu xi (内呼吸 meaning ‘internal breathing’).

Qi and the martial arts

Soldiers in China, singers, and external martial artists often practice chest breathing. This involves breathing practices that expand and contract the chest and ribs, and develops the strength of the upper lungs. The practice of yelling or exhaling qi through the mouth when practicing martial arts also practices the qi of the lungs. However, these types of breathing are not a part of typical Daoist or internal martial art practice. The Daoist conception of the body tells us that the qi (气) or “intrinsic energy” in the body naturally moves upward. We believe that practicing chest breathing encourages this tendency. When the qi in the body is raised, it is best to do the jumps and flips that are common in the external arts. However, if the qi in the body is high, a person will also feel unsettled, like a tiger in a cage, they will have a bad temper. In the internal arts the qi of the chest is compared to fire and a tiger. The qi of the stomach is compared to water, or a dragon. Our traditional Daoist practices involve grounding the qi low within the body instead of raising it. When the energy of the chest and the energy of the belly are able to mix, this is called ‘mixing fire and water’. As everyone knows, when fire and water are mixed, they create steam. This steam (qi) creates more energy for the body. This type of metaphor is common in the Daoist internal arts practices, where the body is compared to a crucible (stove for making medicine) where fire and water create steam (more qi for the body).

The role of the mouth in the internal arts related both to Confucian and Daoist theory. Confucian thought teaches that the mouth is the source of many problems. We have a traditional saying (祸从口出,病从口入) meaning that “trouble exits from the mouth, and sickness enters.” This refers to the problems that saying the wrong thing, or eating and drinking unhealthy things can cause. However, the mouth is also necessary for preserving life. Ideally, it should be used for nourishing qi. This means when we eat and drink, we should do so in a way that brings energy to the body. Daoism teaches that talking too much can exhaust the body’s energy and vitality. This is why all religions have a practice where people take vows of silence. When I first leaned these techniques, I tried them out by walking around the outside walls of the temple with my mouth wide open. I found that I got tired a lot easier. This is something you can try out for yourself.

Preventing excess energy from exiting the mouth spans the Daoist meditation and martial practices. For this reason, I was taught that it is bad to expel breath through the mouth while practicing. The reason for this is because the energy and breath in the body should be conserved. If too much qi is exiting from the mouth, it will weaken your punches, and you will tire more quickly. Also, if you are making loud noises while practicing, it is easy to become self-conscious about what noises you are making, and how loud they are. How many people have found themselves embarrassed because they are making more noise than the people around them. When this happens, your mind is drawn away from where it should be.

It is said that in the internal martial arts, we use qi when we practice. It is important to remember that qi does not just mean ‘breath’. Rather qi refers to the material energy of the universe. It is the air we breathe, and the food we eat. It is also given to us from our parents before birth, and taken in during our interactions with people. Qi refers to anything intangible but perceptible, things you can feel easier than see. However, while it is easy to think of Qi as an energetic substance, it is also correct to think of it as a process. In Chinese medicine, Qi is most commonly defined not by what it is, but by what it does. This is similar to the conception of energy in modern physics, where matter is describes as having an interconnected physical and energetic qualities. Qi is that which warms, raises, and harmonizes, as well as the process by which things are warmed, raised up, and harmonized. This material energy works in many ways, creating movement, and nourishing the body. Nourishing your body’s qi can be done by practicing breathing techniques and meditation, eating and drinking nutritious foods, keeping your interpersonal relationships healthy, and working to create a clean environment.

When a martial artist uses qi it also refers to a process. For me, this process begins by keeping the breath in the body low, and emitting force through the entire body. When I practice, I breathe deeply into the abdomen, and fill the dantian. When I emit force (发力 fa li), I am breathing out from the dantian, through the nose (which lets air out slower than the mouth, hence avoiding letting out too much qi). While the mouth exists mainly for the intake of nutrients, the nose was designed to be the main organ of respiration. The dantian is also kept full on the exhale, and my mind (忆 yi) is focused on using the qi and strength from my lower body and waist. In this way, whole body movements are used. This means using the legs, dantian, and waist area to emit force, and keeping the mind focused on where the force is going. The mind, breathing, and body are all in harmony. When the body and mind are synchronized, the qi of the body will harmonize with your movements naturally.

Daoist monk Zhou Xuan Yun (Mysterious Cloud), grew up in a temple on Wudang Mountain, China where he was a student and later an instructor of Taiji and Kung Fu. He belong to the Orthodox Unity sect of Daoism, and is trained in ritual arts, chanting, divination, and internal alchemy. He is formally recognized as a disciple of Li Guang Fu (李光富) the head Daoist monk on Wudang Mountain (武当道教协会会长), and he is dedicated to teaching the traditional arts in classes around the world. He is the author of the Wudang Taiji DVD and the upcoming Wudang Kungfu Fundamental Training DVD (October 09).


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A Resource For Studying Wing Chun Kuen Kung Fu 詠春拳

Welcome to Chi
The very best resource for studying Wing Chun.

 We all know the tale of the nun Ng Mui observing a fight between a snake and crane, devising a whole new fighting style from this experience. It often amazes me how many take it as an actual historical event. Of course, the story is just an analogy that teaches us the most basic but profound principles of our style.Whenever a crane is being attacked, it stays calmly in place. If the adversary tries to get around it, it just turns around its own axis, continually facing its opponent. This principle has been much misunderstood . Because Wing Chun Kuen stylists are taught to keep facing their opponent, many think it means to keep facing the adversary, nose to nose, through all the stages of the fight. Even when it would be more practical to go to his blind side.
No matter how much an opponent moves, or how threatening or big its gestures are; the crane never gets excited. It stays calm and centered, just observing what is coming.

We will be expanding the site soon, please check back for updates.

We will be including many links, articles, equipment reviews and resources for studying Wing Chun.

Wing Chun, Wing Tsun, Ving Tsun, Ving Chun, Wing Tzun, Chi Sao, Wooden Dummy, Trapping, Sparring, Techniques, Books, Videos, DVDs, Teachers, Sifus, Schools,

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chisaoA Resource For Studying Wing Chun Kuen Kung Fu 詠春拳
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