Wing Chun History, Facts and Trivia

contribued from the archives of

Sifu Mateus Owens

Master Wang Kiu would just talk endlessly on all aspects of Wing Chun.He was full of historical stories, fighting stories, theory, and set explanations. Whatever you wanted to know, he had a big detailed story to tell about it. These notes are just a small portion of the kinds of things he said. In 1985 he gave a seminar which was to just cover the wooden dummy techniques. It ended up being almost a course in all aspects of Wing Chun because he showed how everythingis connected and everything relates. Hopefully he will put down his knowledge some day because my notes present a very scattered disconnected view.

1. In Southern China Wing Chun is called Wing Chun because the lady by that name introduced it there. In the North it is just called orthodox Shaolin. It is basically the good moves from the Shaolin monastery. The wooden dummy movements practiced by many today are only half of what Yip Man originally taught. The rest got lost. The published dummy moves are just a mixed up mess. They just fill in some moves with Gan sau and Kwun sau. The Photo's in the book were taken when Yip Man was quite sick.

2. Originally Yip Man had ten students. These were farmers.

3. In Wing Chun you just hit the fist or hand or whatever is sticking out. If you just charge in then you will get probably get kicked. Most kicks are just jammed.

4. The good thing about Bruce Lee was that he made up his mind to hit. All his intent was to get the fist through even if there was a mountain between him and his opponent. Yip Man did not like Bruce Lee shooting his mouth off. Wing Chun used to take a low profile. Wong Shun Leung and Bruce Lee did not take a low profile. Bruce started to teach the Cha Cha in the USA because he was the Hong Kong Cha Cha champion. No one was interested in the Cha Cha. Then Bruce switched to teaching Wing Chun. Then Wing Chun people said, "what qualifies you to teach Wing Chun? You don't know the third set, the dummy etc." Then Bruce did a lot of research to change the style and called it Jeet Kune Do.

5. There are nine laws of behavior in Wing Chun

1. Remain disciplined - conduct yourself ethically as a martial artist

2. Practice courtesy and righteousness - serve the community and respect your elders

3. Love your fellow students - be united and avoid conflicts

4. Limit your desires and pusuit of bodily pleasures - preserve the proper spirit

5. Train diligently - maintain your skills

6. Learn to develop spirtual tranquility - abstain from arguments and fights

7. Participate in society - be conservative and gentle in your manners

8. Help the weak and the very young - use your martial skills for the good of humanity

9. Pass on the tradition - preserve this Chinese art and Rules of Conduct

6. The wrist power is very important in Wing Chun. It is responsible for the one inch punch. In the Siu Lim Tao all the wrist hits are small movements. Have someone stand against a chair. Now hold the arm straight against that person who has his arms crossed in the high Tan position on his chest. That person will be propelled backwards. The SUN fist seems to go right through things even with a small force. Wing Chun believes it is a good one. The neck chop is also a very small movement. The one inch punch and zero inch punch is just for show.

7. The guarding hand must be held with the forearm bone vertical and not horizontal or else it cannot withstand a strong force. This is one reason for not having a flat Fook sau.

8. You cannot just kick. You have to first create an illusion. This can be done with a Pak sau to the arm combined with a low kick or by using a Gan sau toward his stomach to attract his attention then hit low.

9. The neck pulling hand on the wooden dummy is actually a nerve hit on the back of the neck. It will make the opponent dizzy and pass out. You apply this when your hand is overextended.

10. If you cannot press the hand in, just slap it. If it is too strong then circle it around the bottom of his hand and hit the opponent's neck. The circling is done as his hand rebounds back from the slap.

11. There is no style where you cannot get hit. All styles have weaknesses. The weakness of some Wing Chun practitioners is that they hesitate. They wait too long before doing something.

12. When you do the circular foot action at the end of the Chum Kiu form, do it like a real kick. This is a crescent kick. If the opponent does a right front kick, you can apply a right outside crescent kick to deflect it. The crescent kick can also be applied to the opponent's side.

13. The foot circling movements in the third set are really kicking or sweeping movements which can be applied as the opponent steps in. ALL movements from the sets are used for something in Wing Chun.

14. The Pak sau is used to get into the defensive Wing Chun hands. If there are no defensive hands, then go straight in with the chain punch. Don't worry about anything, just go in.

15. Wing Chun divides the arm into three stages. The hand is the first. The forearm is the second. The upper arm is the third. You hit the opponent to his heart through the second stage. Don't let the opponent past your first stage.

16. The wooden dummy is like a mirror. If it has a left move, it as a right. If it has a low move, it has the equivalent high move. The Tan sau is the center. It divides the body from left to right along the centerline. It also divides the body from top to bottom along th centerline.

17. The Gan sau is used to divide or separate the opponent's hands. The lower Gan sau splits the opponent's low hand from the center then hit up to his neck. The Gan sau is an offensive movement. It chops the neck. The Kwun sau supported by a low Pak sau is also an offensive movement.

18. The other styles may be good at the downward block or the midlevel block but none of these movements have a forward force to the opponent. They are not aggressive. In Wing Chun every movement is a forward attacking force to the opponent. If the force is not forward, then it is not an attacking force.

19. The Bong sau is the weakest hand in Wing Chun. It must be changed within a split second to another technique.

20. If you don't have a Bong sau in your art, then it is difficult to defend against the multiple hits of Wing Chun. The Bong sau neutralizes the hits right away.

21. The saying,"If he comes then I meet him," means if the opponent initiates the attack, then meet the attack with an attack of your own. The saying, "If he goes I follow," means if the opponent withdraws his force then stick to the opponent and hit him. The saying,"If he stays, I go," means that if the opponent does nothing then don't hesitate but attack right away. Otherwise you may be tricked. The intention of your attack is to make contact with the opponent. These sayings were meant for the simple farmers to tell them what to do. You educated people don't need to rely on these sayings.

22. The wooden dummy can be practiced a lot but unless it is understood it is useless.

23. You can know the wooden dummy but unless you know the sticking hands, you will not be able to apply the skill.

24. Eggs are good for you, but if you eat too many in a day you will get sick. Similarly Wing Chun is taught a bit at a time. Rome was not built in a day. But also it didn't take a hundred years. If one style gives you proficiency in 100 years, then Wing Chun will give you the same thing in 10.

25. Always ask,"why am I doing these movements?"

26. If a teacher is only willing to part with 99.9% of his art then you had better not stay with that teacher. In this way the art will eventually get lost.

27. Wing Chun has no complicated movements. You do not have to be an acrobat. They are all simple movements.

28. Wong Shun Leung once got hit when he used the classical Chum sau. The punch came in too low and he got hit. Yip Man told him that he should have used the Gan sau. To put special emphasis on this movement, Wong Shun Leung added a movement in the first set that emphasizes this. Now many people also have this movement added to their st.

29. In all my years of experience, even today, I have not found one reason why anything in Wing Chun needs to be changed. Wing Chun is a very perfect art. If you feel the need to change then still keep the classical art the same. Just tell the student why you feel you need to change. But don't change the original or all will eventually get lost.

30. Against a low front kick, master Wang Kiu jammed it immediately without hesitation. He said you might as well go in because you will get kicked anyway. If you stay you will get hit.

31. Wang Kiu diplomacy: Someone asked master Wang Kiu what he thought of our Wing Chun (we had trained a year so far). He said "I cannot say that you are good, but for the time you practiced, you are very good."

32. Wang Kiu demonstrated the zero inch punch with the arm perfectly straight. He said it was just wrist power. His punch was very heavy.

33. Wang Kiu said he is not an educated man but has figured out all the Wing Chun. He said students with a University background should have no difficulty whatsoever to understand the art. They can just think it out.

34. Leung Ting was the last person to learn anything from Yip Man.

35. The Tan sau should be level. If it is not and the hands are in contact, then the punch will get through.

36. Boxing employs sort of hit and run tactics. Wing Chun stays and fights.

37. There was a very good fighter in Hong Kong who was known for his lightning fist. He asked Wang Kiu what he would do against it. Wang Kiu said, "well let's try." The opponent threw a very fast Phoenix eye fist. Wang Kiu applied the Tan sau hit from the wooden dummy to finish the fight fast.

38. A good feature of the Wing Chun system is the simultaneous hitting. Once you have contact with the opponent, you can do whatever you learned from the sticking hands.

39. Don't think of Wing Chun as a style but as a set of fighting principles.

40. Wang Kiu said those who write many of the martial arts books, usually only do it to brag that they know something. Most of it is just nonsense.

41. There is no style where you cannot get hit. The important question is whether you can hit back.

42. Wang Kiu learned in the 1950's from Yip Man. When Wang Kiu (who was very experienced in Preying Mantis and Lama Kung Fu), saw Yip Man's art, he just laughed and said, "that's no martial art." Then he found out different.

43. Wang Kiu advised to students to help each other learn. Don't just have wild fights.

44. Wang Kiu said the other styles have the idea that they can change and do all kinds of things. But in reality they cannot because changes take too long. The fight is over in a few seconds.

45. A good teacher wants each of his or her students to be much better than he or she is or was. He said Dr. G.K. Khoe had many aspects better than he.

46. If the opponent does not have a Wu sau, then he will not be able to protect against the neck chop.

47. In the third form there is no Bong sau, it is changed into the logical extension, the Man sau.

48. Never use the Bong sau as a first line of defense. It is always a second line of defense. The Bong sau is avery weak hand and must be immediately changed to a second technique. Meet the technique with a forward force. If the opponent throws a right punch, you can Lap sau and punch. Those styles without the Bong sau can have multiple hits happening to them. The Bong sau is the saving technique.

49. Don't defend, attack.

50. Someone asked Wang Kiu why you need to do Chi sau. The student said from his experience it is not of much use because the opponent doesn't let you get close enough to touch his arms. Wang Kiu said tht once you bridge the gap (meet the opponent's attack) then the Chi sau tells you what to do next. Once you meet the opponent, you have no time to think because close range fighting is too quick.

51. If you don't know the meaning of everything, then how can you teach? If you know the meaning then teaching is very simple.

52. You should always compare equal strength. You cannot block a motorcycle coming at you with a Bong sau. A weaker person cannot match a stronger person if the stronger person has the same skill. We all have limits.

53. Against a stiff force, apply the Pak sau.

54. The Bong sau is done at the wrist because you don't want the opponent past the first stage of your arm or else they can control your elbow and hit you.

55. In one fight a Preying Mantis style expert face Wang Kiu in one of their characteristic poses which is the double high Fook sau. Wang Kiu said the man had good work in Kung Fu to be so confident. The idea of the Mantis pose was to trap the incoming arm and then poke the eyes. Wang Kiu punched between the arms anyway then surprised his opponent by trapping both of his arms with his one (Gum sau and elbow movement) then hitting with the other hand.

56. If you move in with the head first, you will get hit. Move in with the arms first.

57. Wong Shun Leung was very bold in his younger days. One day they heard about a master who was very famous for his very fast punching techniques. So Wang Kiu and Wong Shun Leung went to this master and asked if they could learn this masters famous punch. The master said,"I am the master and I will decide who I will teach." So Wong Shun Leung said, "I would like to try out your lightning fast fist." The instructor said,"You dare to challenge me?" Wong Shun Leung said, "we have knocked out so many teachers that one more does not make any difference." This made the instructor very mad. He visibly shook. Then he attacked. Wong Shun Leung got him with the simple Tan sau and punch. (Note: mostly these challenge matches were against people who said they were unbeatable or who claimed to have special internal power which could not be defeated.)

58. Wang Kiu said there are many con artists. Once he went to a demonstration where a man had a large pot of bubbling oil. The man put his hands in it and then washed his face with it. he found out later that the oil was not really hot but merely had some chemicals in it to make it bubble.

59. Wang Kiu said that if you do ten years of Tai Chi and three years of Hsing I, then your fighting should be very good.

60. Against a roundhouse kick you cannot do a passive block. The kick will drive your hands into your face. You have to smash the kick.

61. When hitting the sandbag, hit it very comfortably. Don't force it or you will just injure yourself.

62. Even Yip Man got hit by some of his larger students. He would have black and blue marks. The same is true of Wang Kiu. Wang Kiu said when you are teaching, you must give the students the center for them to learn, but then you lose yours. You sacrifice yourself to teach your student.

63. Wang Kiu said the Preying Mantis style is very good but many don't understand their own work fully.