April 1994 and it was time for another visit to Hong Kong to learn and train under the world famous Master Wong Shun Leung. His school is situated on the second floor of a block of flats in Kowloon. Visitors can recognise the school from the large sign on the front wall outside. This also is the home of the headquarters of the Hong Kong Ving Tsun Athletic Association's meetings on Wednesday afternoons when many well known instructors from Hong Kong meet to discuss their business.
The school is open for training from 4pm to 10pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. There are special classes on Saturdays and Sundays are set aside for free sparring using protective equipment. Though physically not that large, the school has many practitioners training at various times throughout the afternoon and evening. Around the wall of the school are mirrors, the Ving Tsun wooden dummy, six and a half point poles, butterfly knives, punch bags, protection equipment and a large marble plaque which has inscribed upon it, the nine commandments of Ving Tsun which all students are expected to adhere to.
The Nine Commandments of Ving Tsun
1. Behave well and keep the spirit of your Kung Fu skill.
2. Understand the concepts to become gentle and a patriot to your country and respect your parents.
3. Respect your colleagues and be co-operative.
4. Control your sexual urges.
5. Practice Kung Fu diligently.
6. Keep calm and controlled. Do not fight without a very good reason.
7. Be tolerant and understanding to other students.
8. Help to protect the weak and needy using your martial art skills.
It must be noted that these commandments are a direct translation of the Chinese writing on the wall of Wong Shun Lung's school, and are therefore an interpretation of the Chinese language by the actual translator. The meanings in Chinese may be subtly different than we may understand being European. I would therefore like to make comments on them as follows:
1. This may concern the proper use of a martial art. It should not be used to gain power or bully.
2. This may concern the philosophical concepts of
Clive Potter exchanges kicks with Master Wong.
Clive Potter exchanges kicks with Master Wong.
to practise hard. The teacher can only show the way. The rest is up to the student,
6. This may mean that one should be calm in a situation and only fight if absolutely necessary. One should try to find non-violent ways to solve a problem and only fight if there is no other alternative.
7. This links in with point '2' and '6' and may have a message concerning the need for patience with people and problems.
8. This may concern coming across a person being bullied, taken advantage of, robbed or attacked. Kung Fu skill may be used to help save them from the attacker.
9. This is completely self explanatory.
Ving Tsun, to be controlled and show loyalty and respect to family and country.
3. This is quite self explanatory to respect, help and co-operate with one's friends and colleagues at work, in Kung Fu or in private life.
4. This may have a few different interpretations. There is some belief amongst the older Kung Fu generation that sexual activity can sap the 'Chi' from the body. If this were to be the case it would mean that one would have to refrain from any sexual activity to realise one's full potential at Kung Fu! However a more modern and realistic interpretation could be to be faithful to your true partner, do not be tempted to stray and be unfaithful.
5. This is self explanatory. The only way to be good at Kung Fu is
Training is run informally, with everyone learning and sharing their skills with each other. A typical training session for a practitioner who has learnt the various Ving Tsun forms would be to first practise Sil Lin Tau, Chum Kiu, Bil Jee, the Wooden Dummy, the six and a half point pole and the butterfly knives. Once these were completed he would team up with another practitioner to train at Chi Sau, bridging techniques, and other two man training drill s including two man six and a half point pole drills. In this way, students may find that they are both teaching and learning within their sessions, depending on the level of skill their partner has attained. Approachable Master Wong Shun Leung is always approachable to ask questions with regard to the various techniques. Throughout the training he keeps a fatherly eye on all the students. At various intervals he will approach a student to explain how that student should really be executing a certain technique or how
to approach the problem the student finds himself in. When this happens most of the other students stop their training to gather round the Master and watch, listen and learn.
The informal and friendly atmosphere lends itself to giving the students the confidence to ask questions, experiment with techniques and stimulates an open enquiring mind. Not only do many Chinese students from Hong Kong frequent the school, but also other Ving Tsun practitioners from countries such as Great Britain, the USA, Germany, Australia and Switzerland.
The time of year was a special time for paying respects to the late Grandmaster Yip Man. On Sunday the 10th April many Ving Tsun teachers and practitioners including his two sons gathered by his grave near the New Territories town of Fan Ling. Drinks accompanied by roast pork and roast chicken were consumed by all with some also placed on the grave for Yip Man. Many people lighted incense and bowed three times to the grave and then place the incense by the grave as a mark respect. It was good to see so many Tsun schools united together in a common occasion.
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