Rusper Patel

Master Wong demonstrates Chum Kiu.

April 1990 saw the welcome return of master Wong Shun Leung for a well received seminar in St.Albans, Herts. He had come at the invitation of two of his students, Clive Potter and Anthony Kan.

The seminar opened with Master Wing emphasising that we, as martial artists, should not allow ourselves to be governed by Ving Tsun, but should instead, be able to adapt the system to suit the situation; we should be the masters of Ving Tsun, not for Wing Chun to be the master of us.

Master Wong then performed the first form, Sil Lin Tau and broke this down into its elemental parts with explanations. He went on to explain the reasons why centreline theory is so important in the Ving Tsun system and demonstrated this by showing how an opponent would find it more difficult to absorb force directed at the centre line as opposed to either side of it. Next he explained the dynamics of the Ving Tsun centreline straight punch. He suggested that many boxers might rather throw centreline straight punches instead of hooked ones, but were unable to do so because of having to wear gloves. He continued by stating that there was one section of the Sil Lin Tau form that should be performed slower than the rest. He said that the reason for this was, that some times we are training very much against our natural reactions. Therefore, to perfect certain moves so that they become a natural response, they should be practised slowly with the maximum concentration. Master Wong, although stressing the importance of practising forms, thought that actual two man chi sau training was the most effective method of learning how to apply the moves of Ving Tsun. Demonstrating the Ving tsun kick.

The second form, Chum Kiu, was demonstrated and explained. Master Wong said that whilst performing Sil Lin Tau, the practitioner should focus on an imaginary centreline in front of him. Chum Kiu, however stressed the opponent's moving centreline. Correct stance shifting was next shown with reasons given for pivoting on the heels rather than the balls of the feet. The former gave maximum power without sacrificing reach or economy of motion. The familiar bong sau technique was demonstrated from various angles. Master Wong said that Bong Sau is better used at very dose range once contact has been made, or from long range if executed from an prepared stance. Bong Sau was not considered by Master Wong as a good initial block or bridging technique as it did not in itself threaten the opponent's centreline. The relationship between Chi Sau and actual combat was detailed. Master Wong felt that many inexperienced Ving Tsun practitioners would attempt to perform unnecessary chi sau in a combat situation, trying to stick the opponent's hands rather than attacking the centreline. The main weapon in

Side Kick Self Defense
Showing low side kick on Sifu Anthony Kan.
Po Pai section of the Wooden Dummy.
Self Defense Kick

Pak Sau and strike.

Ving Tsun is the centreline punches and chi sau would only be required if a punch were to be blocked. Only then would subtle sticky hand moves be required to be able attack the opponent's centreline again. Chi sau training creates the skill to find the gaps in the opponent's defence to be able to attack the centreline, as opposed to following the opponent's every move and becoming exhausted.

Wong Shun Leung

Pak Sau and strike.

Tan Sau, Fook Sau demonstration with Sifu Anthony Kan. Master Wong Shun Leung next showed the Ving Tsun kicks; front heel kick and side kick. Both are performed low. The foot travels from its stance position to the target in a straight line thereby utilising the equal and opposite force being directed towards the floor to gain power and stability. Kicks are aimed mostly at the opponent's centreline and are never executed above waist level, this being their maximum reach parallel to the floor. This also allows for quick stance recovery.

Last of all Master Wong performed the first sixty moves on the wooden dummy. Several concepts and explanations were offered for many of the moves such as incorrect moves being corrected in following moves which would be helpful to the practice of chi sau. Pak sau, man sau and Po Pai were explained in detail, the latter for use particularly where there was some obstacle behind the opponent that he could be pushed unto or over. Unfortunately time eventually beat the enthusiastic Master Wong and the seminar had to draw to a close.

After all the recent heated articles appearing in martial arts magazines concerning different viewpoints of Ving Tsun, it was refreshing to see so many Ving Tsun practitioners from different schools throughout the country, come together under one roof to listen to the famous Master Wong Shun Leung. Many people had travelled far to hear ideas that may have opposed their own prior to and after the seminar, but all were able to listen and show their appreciation and respect for the Master with a good round of applause at the end.

Wing Chun Symbol
End of the seminar. Everyone gathers for photos. Left of Master Wong is Sifu Clive Potter. Right of Master Wong is Sifu Anthony Kan.

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  • Herb April
    Very well written article that gives the reader a glimpse at how a true master of martial arts thinks and teaches. Wong Shun Leung gave no "set in stone" concepts and theories," but rather a way of looking at what the individual does in a more fluid, flexible, and "adaptable to the real world" moment. If only more teachers would enlighten the martial arts masses with a similar teaching approach. Fantasy, myth, folly, and mystery are the name of the game in martial arts...always have been. the almighty dollar rules over common sense. C'est la vie.
    8 years ago

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