Translated by Christopher J. Dias
I have taken the liberty of uploading the text of this book because the book that you see on Amazon.com is fraught with huge grammar mistakes which I did not make. The book on Amazon.com has been re-edited, probably by a non-native English speaker and it has big errors in it. I am the original translator and they never consulted me about the changes and so the author should be embarrassed at the indifference shown in the new edition. Until they republish the book in its proper form with my name on it, this version will stay up.
Wihng Cheun Kyuhn
I. The Basics, Saam Baai Fat (Siu Nihm Tauh)
(With video access)
The author and publisher of this publication are not in any way liable for possible incidents that result in injury or damage due to the implementation, execution of, training, and technical knowledge derived from the content in this book. This work outlines physical, and other natural activities that may drive people to over exert themselves, or be dangerous to themselves and others; hence, in case of uncertainty, it is advisable to ask a doctor’s opinion.
I hereby would like to thank all of those with whom this book would not have been made possible:
To my masters, Si Fuh Walter Block, Si Fuh Wilhelm Blech and Si Gung Louh Mahn Gam, from whom I was able to learn the different branches of Wihng Cheun; to Zoltán Czuczor, who embarked on the Wihng Cheun method as my first student; to Zoltan Toth, who among other things, has devoted his work to making it possible for the Lok Yiuh and Louhi Mahn Gam Wihng Cheun styles to find their way to Hungary; to József Bencze, from whom for the first time I was able to learn Qigong and its energy; to my students, who with encouragement and ideas, are a few: Zsolt Bába, Gábor Gáspár, Máté Györkei, Zoltán Katona, Attila Orbán, Daniel Sulyok, and all of whom have provided technical demonstrations; to Gallasz Károly for his translations, to Béla Kovács(†) for the photography, and to many others for their assistance; and to the Buddhist College that insured a worthy location for the photography.
Last, but not least, to you, my dear reader, for purchasing this book. I wish you loads of enjoyment from it!
To my dear reader, you hold in your hand the first piece of a five volume series. The first of three volumes contains the Wihng Cheun hand-to-hand movements according to the traditional Chinese approach. That is to say, part one engages in the first form, Saam Baai Fat (Siu NiHM Tauh), and its associations with movement and mobility; the second form is with the practices of Chahm Kiuh; the third volume is with Biu Ji and its associated practices, as well as a kind of summary that can be considered to be a Puppet form. I will also be covering the history of the style, its philosophy, principles, and the teachings of its energies. The fourth volume demonstrates how to use the style in real combat. Besides covering in detail what is now the subject of experts in the field and the science of human violence, also covered is the known physiological strife and the psychological background. And it is through that, that I introduce how it is all related to the teachings of Wihng Cheun, and why the ancient masters constructed the style that we know today. Finally, in the final fifth part I introduce the Wihng Cheun traditional weapons, a pair of short swords and the long stick, from the very basic technical katas through to their applications. There has already been plenty written about Wihng Cheun, but to my knowledge there has never been such a comprehensive and detailed description that has made a showing as in my work here, not only not in the Hungarian language, but I know of no foreign examples either.
My desire is to spin a profit, and fill your world with pleasures in this series!
I was born in 1970. As a child I studied boxing and Taekwondo. Since the age of 14 I have been engaged in more serious martial arts. At first, I studied Kyokushin Karate for five years, and later ran across the art of Wihng Cheun.
The first time I studied Ji Sihn Wehng Cheun (Zoltán Czuczor was my instructor, and two of Jehng Gwong's pupils, Lothar Hirneise and Klaus Pertl, were our masters. From 1991 Walter Block has been training the Hungarian group.).
After our master's death, I studied Lok Yiuh Wihng Cheun from Wilhelm Blech. For a couple of years I was a member of the Louhi Mahn Gam Wihng Cheun School in Hungary, and unto this day I attend seminars at Louhi Mahn Gam’s home.
Parallelly, I have been trained in various hand-to-hand and weapons techniques, and I am currently receiving private coaching from different masters, and learning by attending seminars.
Since 1992 I have been teaching Wihng Cheun, and from the mid-90s, Wu Taiji Wai Dan Qigong and various Taoist Nei Dan Qigong exercises (e.g. Bone Marrow Neigong, Central Channel training, the Tao of Intimacy and Channeling Sexual Energy exercises).
I was the editor and chief editor for the “KUNG-FU és más harci művészetek” — Kung-Fu and Other Martial Arts Magazine, and at present, I am the legal successor to the “Online KUNG-FU Újság” — Online KUNG-FU Magazine. It has published my writings, and a number of my articles regarding Eastern martial arts and military history are under publication.
If you like this book, and are deciding as to whether or not you should make a copy for a dear friend, please don’t do it!
If you should do such a thing, you would do great harm to me, the one who has spent a number of years writing this series, and to publishers and distributors who have marketed the book, and who live from it, so that these works shall be passed on to you! They can only do this if the work pays off. Stolen and copied issues bring us no revenues.
Instead, I would rather recommend my website, where you will find free content, and where you can buy my books:
This book is copyright protected, and authorized written permission to copy or to sell it must come from me exclusively. Thank you for your integrity.
About the Videos
We have had a film made of the exercises in this book, which we provide in a paper version as a DVD attachment, and as for the eBook, it is available on a closed site to our readers. If you would like to check them out, you can register on the following link:
I hope you have fun, and that your time is time well spent!
The Chinese Martial Arts
Eastern martial arts can already be seen everywhere in Europe these days. They can be seen in films, exhibitions and displays, shows, and run far and wide in schools across the country. This is why it is often heard that Eastern martial arts “has become available”, “shunning the Far East.” In fact, this is only a half truth. In the majority of films, we can find spectacular acrobatics, as if they were real martial arts. Most styles are still not open even today; Europe is just lucky to get so near to the ones they can.
China traditionally speaks about 356 basic styles (Wihng Cheun is counted as one of these styles, the Praying Mantis another, etc!), which are divided into additional schools. For comparison, in Japan the number of martial arts styles is around 8000!
In addition, inside each style every master teaches the personal exercise material slightly differently. We may not be far from the truth if we say that there are at least as many styles in China as there are in Japan (China's population is five times larger than that of Japan.). Compared to that, combining Europe and America together, there are a total of 30-40 Kung-Fu styles that can be found, and from them, not all of the movements, theoretical and historical backgrounds, are made available to the broader audience. In addition, in the past (now also for non-professional journalists who are a part of today's world) there have been plenty of inaccuracies based on published material, from which too many things have been transferred into the public’s perception as being correct. Therefore, it is important for me to consider a few more questions in greater detail, and to clarify them.
If someone has been engaged in martial arts for a long time, and the background is not so compelling, feel free to skip to the next section,
What is meant by art?
Art, the word in martial arts is often a source of misunderstanding. Many people do not understand how combat can be an art, or rather they assume some sort of control that causes the fighting movements to be beautiful, or that there will be some kind of modus operandi. For that same reason it has become a martial arts sports style that is often mixed up in competitions. In fact, martial arts is not beautiful because of the art, nor is it because of some kind of “sportsmanship endeavor.” The ancient folks were not fools. Classical martial arts were made to suit the battlefield, where fair play prizes are not shared, nor would the effectiveness of combat sacrifice anyone so that the movements would merely be beautiful. (Of course, among the several thousands of schools, some of those varieties may have “slipped” in as well. These are termed the “Wooden Kyuhn,” or “Flower Fist” Chinese martial artists, which are for flamboyant styles, but not really suitable for fighting.)
We get much closer to the solution if we look at what we mean by art. In fact, there is not much difference between the Far East and European slant.
How does the pictorial art differ from the plain painting? Or how does the wood carving artist's creation differ from any other kind of carving? The painting itself is only a technique. The art accrues that which we implement, that which we consummate, or if we like it, the painting we perfect. And of course, last but not least, added spiritual value will bring much more than just a clever technique.
All of these martial arts are perfectly sound. The fighting techniques that we use hundreds of times, at times have evolved over thousands of years to those that are known today. (I know of an almost three thousand year delineation display of such fighting techniques, which is to this day still used unchanged in several Kung-fu styles.) Meanwhile, it has been tried-and-true over innumerable occasions in real struggles, among battle conditions, and married to generations of experiences. All the while it has become much more than a collection of smart fighting techniques. The means of perfection for the different Kung-fu styles is the difference in strokes for different folks, the efficaciousness of meditation, the longevity of life, and the methods of preserving vitality.
Natural and Unnatural Movements
Much of the Eastern martial arts movements performed are strange to European a eye, which is why they often gun for a meme that purports that the movements go against nature–are unnatural. For this very same reason, today's founded combat system, as exemplified in European boxing elements, is gladly advertised as if it were built upon natural movements. At the same time, I have still never seen any kind of technical material that seriously addresses a clear definition that would truly constitute a natural movement.
Desmond Morris, the known British zoologist and ethologist, probed into those times when man's ethnic behavior is evaded by ethnic elements of struggle.
Through our surprising methods, large parts of the known forms don't demonstrate even a slight inkling of natural combat. Man’s natural ethnic struggles principally resemble the movements of a gorilla. That is, besides some grappling and wrestling movements, the most typical traits are profound, akin to holding a wide horse stance, and a palm and forearm strike initiated from high, for just two examples.
We might often believe that boxing or other forms of combat are natural because we see such fighting in our childhood (e.g. on TV). And yet, if we should make an attempt to do such moves, a layman, or a child to do some kind of "boxer" gestures, a protective reaction would fall quite short. If someone isn't even hit, it would be unimaginable to sense it as an attack. In contrast, if someone swings his arms skyward, the one facing him will retract his neck, pull up his shoulders, and raise his hands in order to protect his vulnerable areas. (Likewise, if someone is furious and threatens another, he will swing his hand skyward, and not imitate a fist.) On the flip side, to execute these movements, some kind of suitable muscles must be employed from a person who has never in his life exerted any kind of serious physical exercises.
Insofar as we know, a suitable force and dexterous execution of combat movements need plenty of practice and intensity. If the roots of mankind's ethnic struggles were considered exclusive natural movements, then yes, we could call very few martial movements to be natural styles, and those styles could not be found in Europe, but many rather would be found with many various types of native peoples, and some East Asian style.
For my part, I consider unnatural movements to be only those movements that have an adverse effect on the body (e.g. a strong arthrosis). What is not harmful to the body's organs, and that which can more or less be learned with practice, I reckon such movements to be among the natural motions, independently from how strange they may seem at first sight.
North and South, External and Internal
Chinese martial arts are often divided into north and south, or external and internal styles. The differences between northern and southern styles are usually explained by geographical origins. To the north there are open lands, where the wilderness of prairies and steppes can be found, which is why it's better to go there on horseback and foot. There are rivers to the south, canals and seas made into a prevalent network of waterways. For these very reasons, northern styles are more often circular movements, jumping and leg techniques, which focus on middle-distance or large fighting-range combat. And they are traditionally well rehearsed in the art of war on horseback. To the south a great emphasis was placed on the rigid job (often necessary to fight on the deck of ships), where hand techniques were more common, the kicks were most often executed at a low plane, and there were frequent tenacious hand techniques; the combat distance is generally a middle-range, or inside and close-fighting distance.
Traditional Chinese martial arts has played a central role in the development of Qi (the Chinese word for “energy”), and for military use. This is true for both the external and internal styles.
The external styles mainly engage in the development of physical skills. In it, diverse martial Qigong exercises were used. Internal styles place the emphasis on Qi development, and was later developed to be applied in techniques. Over time, the external styles have been used for Qi developer drills, and internal styles would also be needing physical development practices. In traditional martial arts, external-internal are divisions that rather constitute methodological differences.
Among the traditional (Qi-enabled), and exclusively extrinsic underlying ingenius differences (the most modernly established) of the systems are revealed mainly in one’s old age. Traditional martial arts practitioners for the most part can retain their combat effectiveness, skills, and mobility as they advance in years. In the East, 70 and 80 year old active masters are not uncommon, nor is it uncommon for them to pass away some time after their centenarian birthday. If someone rejects Qi generative exercises in the traditional Chinese interpretation, then the results of the training method will be considerable.
What is Qi?
Qi means air, breath and energy. If I would want to give Qi some kind of framing, it would be the following: it is the pervading force that animates and moves the universe simultaneously. Thus, all forms of energy–in addition to the ostensible separateness–are one and the same. Based on the characteristics of the manifestation of Qi, 3 fundamental properties are divided:• Celestial Qi
• Earthly Qi
• Human Qi
• Celestial Qi
The Earthly force, “coming from the outside” energy, is primarily the radiation of planets and celestial bodies. Positive, is the nature of Yang energy.
• Earthly Qi
Mankind's continous movements exert an effect on the Earth's energy. In most of the Earth-nerve currents (which are similar to the acupuncturing of the human body that generates the gyrating of energy throughout channels on various pathways, “via conduit”) and their mappings, or rather what can be found in the depths of the Earth: waterways, rocks and the radiation of caverns. Negative, is the nature of Yin energy.
• Human Qi
Celestial Qi and Earth Qi are in the interplay of human energy. It is usually opined that man is the intermediary between those energies, of Celestial energies and of Earth’s.
Yin and Yang
Yin and Yang are the two ancestral principles which can describe the world's phenomenon with its changes.
Yang is the “sunny side of a mountain,” in manifesting the masculine, active, lucid and positive forces in things.
Yin is the “shady side,” the feminine, passive, dark and negative forces. (Negative and positive here do not play roles in the meaning of what is good and what is bad!)
The symbols are of two water droplets that form a spherical set. In the black “water droplet” there is a white dot, and in the white droplet there is a black one, indicating that perfectly clean manifestations do not exist, that there is always “an impurity” that is present. More than from within the nature of the Yang celestial energy, there are also certain Yang planets, and the traits of Yin. Thus, the Sun is said to be the most prominent representative Yang character, and the Moon is said to be Yin’s. On the Earth certain nerve currents avert Yang, correspondingly with the nature of Yin.
Astrology was created to examine celestial type energy and the effects it has on man. The Earth type energy and man’s effect on it as an earth prognostication, or as a Chinese radiant acuteness is examined by a known Feng shui system. From redress to martial arts, there are many areas that are engaged in the examination and use in man's energy.
As I have previously written, Qi denotes breathing and energy. Gong denotes work and exercise. So the significance of Qigong is breathing exercises, energy exercises in the workings of energy.
The Three Treasures Jing, Qi and Shen
• Jing is the natal energy that we inherited from our parents. The amount of that energy cannot be improved. Jing is with practice designed for the preservation, and refinement of individual aims (e.g. martial arts), and desires in earnest one's liberation and transformation. It's stored in the kidney. (Jing, or Jing Qi is what is called the energy that creates the begetting of descendents through the transformation of our body. For males, this is stored in the scrotum–sperm energy–for women, it's in the ovaries–the energy of the oocyte. About one-third of the human resources are tied into the creation of this energy; in addition, unless there's a child from being together, we will completely waste it away. That's why that in the East a variety of Qigong exercises have been created for the exploitation of this energy. Considering this, the practice strictly regulated sex life–these restrictions, for example, the prohibition of any sex life before a European sports competition is considered standard procedure, even if it is not really advertised.)
• Qi is one's own energy (that is to say that through healers, bioenergy makes advances toward public awareness). In the human body, different energy pathways circulate in unison with the Earth's circulatory cycles, feed it, and sustain it. Along the energy pathways in the body there are certain allotted numbers of nerve confluences that form separate energy centers. The most significant of these are along the body's central axis, the Dians. (It was commonly referred to as Sanskrit, but has become known as Chakra.) The energy will build a continuous and steady circulation for healthy, active and strong individuals. There are various Qigong styles that strive for the circulation of energy and the accumulation of this energy. Many types of Qi are also differentiated. Qi is innate in us all, bestowed upon us by our parents; Primordial Qi, that is what Qi exfoliates from Jing, from which Qi secures its nourishment; Qi is finally plucked from this environment, from which is what, according to traditional understanding, we derive with every breath, but from which is also comprised of the energy we retrieve from our energy centers within the environment itself. With directional meditation pointed toward various planets and constellations, various Qigong methods of energy can be extracted from, for example, the Earth and the Heavens. Just as the circulation of our energy operates independently from our will, so too do the energies within our environment affect us; Qigong “only” makes it more pronounced and robust.
• Shen is pneumatic energy. Through the concentration of the practitioner, an energy of very refined quality is created. Where consciousness is directed, Shen accumulates; where Shen is collected, Qi is materialize. This enables body processes to become steered. The center of Shen is at the confluence of the eyebrows, a Shang Dan Dian (“the third eye”). Thus, it is understandable why the Chinese masters emphasize so much concentration, the importance of attention during practice. If someone, for example, while performing a kata with wandering thoughts, the energies will be “scattered”, and the exercises will not be as effective, nor will they develop as efficiently.
The Circulation of Qi
In the human body, Qi circulates on various ducts (in acupuncture channels). Among these, for Kung-Fu practitioners themselves, there are two really important conduits. They are what are known as the governing and receptive conduits. The two conduits are located in the axis of the body’s symmetry. The governing conduit starts from the perineum, rides along the line of the spinal column, goes up into the vertex, and then moves into the median line of the forehead, across the bridge of the nose and into the upper gums. It is important that the acupuncture point can be found on the duct on the palate. The governing conduit is the “confluence” of the total Yang conduit; thus, as follows, exercise strengthens the body's Yang energy.
Likewise, the receptive conduit also starts from the perineum, then traverses the anterior of the body along the median of the abdomen and thorax to the jaw, then sweeps the lips (from here, on the face two branches break off and reach the area under the eyes, which is of little significance in terms of Qigong exercises). The directorate of the governing conduit responds to the receptive conduit, similarly as does the management of the Yin conduit. In this way, the receptive conduit stimulates the workings of Yin's energy body.
In the course of an exercise we touch our palate with our tongue, binding the governing and receptive ducts to it. Thus the created circle of energy is called Small Heavenly Circle (or Circuit).
When we extend the circulation to the extremities, as well (from the heart toward the arms, or from the perineum, leading toward the leg, and thus create a larger energy), we appropriately say it’s the Great Heavenly Circle (or Circuit).
A variety of martial arts Qigong exercises are likewise basically used in the general circulatory pathways. Invoking the Saam Baai Fat (Siu Nihm Tauh) kata, it is often mentioned that the Wihng Cheun style is also a set of Qigong. Here it is not just about whether we execute a kata, but the impact that it has on our energies. In traditional styles of Qi exercises there is kinship with some special elements of Nei gong. What it is they do is regulate breathing, thoughts, and the movement of body; and with these gates, or as the more modern label is known, the “Qi pump”, the known areas are governed, and times for training determined. And in some of the Wihng Cheun styles, Jing Qi regulations are also interwoven. (Naturally, I do not know–I cannot know, all of the Wihng Cheun schools. It is the masters Lok Yiuh, Cheuih Seuhng Tihn, and Pahng Naahm, and their teachings based on Ji Sihn Wehng Cheun that I am writing about.)
The Dan Dians
The meaning of Dan is vermilion red, medicine, decoction (Elixir), the Dian Field, (fertile) land; so Dan is usually translated to the Dan Dian Cinnabar Field, or the Elixir Field. The Dan Dian is such a power point for the circle of energy, which can store vast amounts of energy for extended periods of time. Generally speaking, 3 Dan Dians are being talked about here.
The lower Dan Dian can be found about three inches below the navel, one or two inches inside the body. From the birth of energy the residence of Original Qi is produced. This is the Dian that is able to store the most energy, and therefore plays a central role in martial arts, and a great deal in the Qigong sytem (when simply mentioning only Dan Dian, these points are generally understood).
The Second Dan Dian is seated at the solar plexus. This is the Middle Dan Dian, and is the center for the neonatal Qi's production and agglomeration. From neonatal Qi, which gets its energy from the environment (breathing and nourishment), Qi is transformed. The quantity and quality of our peremptory mannerisms influence our lifestyle. In other words, how much we sleep, what we eat, what kind of thoughts we have, and our sentiments. (It has already been discerned by medicine and psychology that practiced sentiments and thoughts have an effect on health.) The neonatal Qi has become to be known as “Triple Heater.” These are the lungs, or the Upper Heater, the stomach, or the Middle Heater, and the abdoment (bowels), or the Lower Heater.
The Upper Dan Dian can be found on the forehead between the eyes, about two inches above the brow line (the so-called third eye). This is Shen, where the spiritual energy resides. Through the governing conduit it supplies the brain with energy. It is responsible for the state of mind.
The Types of Qigong
There are generally three main distinct schools of Qigong, according to its orientation. These are the following: the Combat Qigong, the Religious Qigong and the Medical Qigong.
The practices of this variant of Kung-Fu styles were created with a specific purpose in mind. Here the aim can be to strengthen the body, or to increase the impact of the force, or conversely in defense and readiness against various attacks, strikes, and kicks, particularly a batch of effective attack forms (for example, the ones targeting specific points of circulation). In such exercises, “Armoring”, “Ironing”, and “Golden Bell” are mentioned practices which pointedly train to defend against such attacks. Practitioners are on occasion outright prodigiously able to endure every blow without injury. On TV and in premiers we must have already seen such a thing. Bricks, and at times chunks of rock are shattered on the top of a practitioner's cranium – the fontanela, or the temple above the eardrum (which are expressly vulnerable points); moreover, the abdomen and ribs are hit with logs and beams of wood.
From this end, the most well known are the “Iron Palm”, the “Iron Sand Palm”, or the “One Finger Gung”, which are all very serious destructive forces. At the same time, some of these practices also harm the practitioner, both physically and energetically.
These various Buddhist and Taoist Qigong methods seek enlightenment. Their primary practices are for the development of spiritual energy. Several significant Qigong exercises have been developed that possess many assets for everyday practitioners (i.e., a long life, and robust health); thus, these methods also spread outside the monasteries. Best known variants of Bodhidharma are a type of Yi Jin Jing (a book on the transformation of muscles and tendons), and Xi Sui Jing (a book on the elutriation of marrow).
There are innumerable variations in existence, ranging from the transcendent, long Tai Ji Quan exercises, to the very simple, which simply concentrate on a particular area of workouts (e.g., one aiming to improve respiration, or digestion).
Wai Dan, Nei Dan
Wai Dan exercises, also known as the “external elixir” exercises, animates the channels of energy (through acupuncture, or the body's meridian pathways) found in the body's limbs, actuating the entire body; whilst it is Nei Dan exercises, also known as “internal elixir” exercises, from where we begin to recharge the body's energy. Animation, breathing, and thought all direct Qi in the course of the exercises.
Large, or a Pool of Styles, and Little, or "a Kata" Styles
The styles of the two extremities is either the pool of styles, or of what is known as “the kata” styles, according to their sizes of technical assortment and specializations. The most well-known is the great style of Shaolin. These various movements are collected, and expressed over and over again in large quantities (50-60 disarming exercise systems, additional weapons techniques, but from these, a significantly larger number of useful kata styles have been brought into play); accordingly, the greatest variety of suitable techniques are reserved for the favored fighter. That is why it is often only the entire clan that knows the entire system; only a fighter here and there can clinch a suitable system of movements for him or herself.
In contrast to being based on the ability of a “one kata” system, or a technical suit of hearts, it has been developed to exellence. The prerequisite for these styles would be for the student to be able to execute certain types of movements, or would be able to pick them up. Among the better known of such styles are the Jeui Kyuhn (Zui Quan; the Drunken Fist), the Wihng Cheun, and the Cheuhng Kyuhn (Chang Quan; the Long Fist), which was originally of such a kind, as well as the Hauh Kyuhn (Hou Quan; the Monkey Fist).
These are suitable for examples.
The Drunken style literally emerged from a hand-to-hand kata, a special form of exercise, and the engagement of a high level of hand techniques. The mastering of the Monkey style demands a very earnest flexibility, and a bit of acrobatic skills.
The Wihng Cheun demands a high degree of laxity, and requires the use of free hands.
For these styles to be truly effective, the practitioner must prescribe to their gifts. That's why such an intrinsically capable student is sought after (particularly for the Monkey style), or assisted in mastering the special exercises.
The large styles’ disadvantages have mainly to do with the large quantity of movements and mobility material that must be mastered by the student, thus substantially prolonging the training. The small styles, by contrast, are much faster in being able to groom disciples; however, somewhere the transfer is compromised, and the displayed blemishes of the style are very difficult to correct (the techniques are really just often a form in exercise, and pass with a small amount of repetitions, so there is little proper control.).
Our History in Pictures
Si Gung Yihp Mahn with Lok Yiuh
Si Gung Yihp Mahn’s early disciples are Lok Yiuh, Seung Leuhng and Cheuih Seuhng Tihn
Si Gung Yihp Mahn with Lok Yiuh and and his sons
An early group photo. In the first row: Lok Yiuh, Leuhng Seung, Chi Gung Yihp Mahn and a son, Yihp Jing.
With Si Gung Lok Yiuh’s sons and Wilhelm Blech
Seminars in Hungary
Louh Mahn Gam Seminars
The History of Wihng Cheun
Wihng Cheun and Wehng Cheun
The Wihng Cheun's distinct styles are written in two distinct Wihng symbols. In both of the Cantonese dialects Yong is pronounced the same. In both of the Cantonese dialects there are only two Wihng pronunciations that differ in accentuation. The first symbol (picture 1), the Wihng pronunciation, denotes a rhymer, caroler, and hummer. The second symbol (picture 2), the Wihng accent (Wehng), sounds the same as if it were in the vacinity of the city of Fatsaan (which is why I will be sharing this important distinction throughout the rest of this book), along with what the terms ‘eternal’ and ‘permanent’ mean in this context. An additional difference is that the Wihng symbol appears in female names only; in turn, the Wihng / (Wehng) form is only in male names.
This written difference may seem an irrelevant trifle, but in truth reflects the disparate strata of tradition, and makes important contributions to our understanding of the early history of the style.
Legend and Reality
It does often befall on Western skilled labor that the early history is brought into question, and that the founders are purely considered legendary figures. What lies behind that background? In point of fact, bringing up that argument is merely such that the first known records that arose 200-250 years after its founding are derived from Yihn Mahn, and at that time had at the history of its style been spread via word of mouth, which went on far too long. As we shall soon see, though, this citation does not hold water; but let's first look at just how much time the word of mouth tradition can be taken seriously.
These days, it's no longer usual for the cohabitation of multi-generational families, and the role of literacy had become quite hefty; unknown and a little inexplicable is the pedagogic system of old, and the preservation of its heritage. In old Eastern societies (here we may add the old Hungary) it was considered to be a very important thing that people know the lineage and history of their ancestory. For the steppes peoples, we haven’t known their ancestory for at least seven generations, and what happened to them (and of course, accordingly the entire peoples’ histories); they were only considered to be vagabonds. It has been this way for at least 140 years, but like I said, this is the minimum. A couple of years ago a young Uighur boy told an ethnographer a 1300 year old story of his ancient history, and since enough of the Uighur history had been documented, the narrative could be confirmed! Moreover, this outcome was not even unique.
In traditional societies, it is the stay-at-home elderly who handled the youngsters. In my own childhood I could hear about World War I from those who took part in it. I was already almost an adult when my last great-grandparent died. But let's take about smaller numbers, say 60 years, for that time period to convey the events. (There were 64 years between my grandmother and I, when such particular things were not expected, and the elderly lived only 70-80 years on average way back when). This means that a message 60 years old could be conveyed by an eye witness, but two generations would be needed to convey one that was 120 years old. For us to have known of an event two hundred years earlier, three generations would have been needed. This isn’t so much. But of course, due to the generational deliverance, information may be distorted; nevertheless, with such important things, such as family history, such distortions are difficult to imagine. (And before anyone raises the question, today when the lie is a completely natural thing to like, and is only a form of self-management, that kind of straightforwardness is almost unimaginable, as how people used to relate to themselves, or the history of their environment.)
But let's look at the factual story. The first records that prove the existence of two masters, Wohng Wah Bou, and Leuhng Yih Taih, arose in Fatsaan. The first writings of Wihng Cheun were made in the form of a “school book” by Leung Jan. So only on the Ji Sihn line is it possible to question the existence of the first generation. On the Hng Muih line there are three generations: Hng Muih, Yihm Wihng Cheun-Leuhng Bok Chauh, and Leuhng Laahn Gwai. We factually base both lines on a very little questioning of the delivery of information.
But let's look at the other statement that mounts a reference to the deliberate falsification of famous ancestry. As for Ji Sihn and HNG Muih (i.e., the Fujian Shaolin abbot and senior nuns) this might be conceivable also. But what we should start with is with a salt trader (Leuhng Bok Chauh), or with a doctor (Leuhng Laahn Gwai) whose mere names have been preserved in the family line, but nothing else. And Yihm Wihng Cheun is known only in connection with the fight bearing its name, but we know nothing more about it (This is just the style’s legend, with no additional existing traces.). In addition, if Wohng Wah Bou and Leuhng Yih Taih would have been falsified, it would have been done very awkwardly. Considering that Ji Sihn was learned directly, Hng Muih is separated into three generations; while according to our cognition, both belonged to the same time period tied to Shaolin. This would make their statements rather incredulous. Furthermore, Wihng Cheun contains elements that are of more contemporary styles of movement that would have been able to have been compiled based on such “a more distinguished family tree.” But that wasn’t done. Maybe it's perhaps that there was little else, but as long as there is no other tenor of evidence regarding it, I consider the story of the founders to be credible.
That is to say that I don’t want to say that what has been written regarding the early masters is of their true nature. But what I am saying is that the nature of such criticism actually bears little weight, and isn't founded in many facts, like the most wildly held Chinese legends.
The Wihng Cheun Three Historical Strata
Styles nearly identical in form are considered to be belonging to the identical ancestral line of the style's history. Yet schools that have long been divorced may have serious differences. These traditions generally tell the story of what happened in three rudimentary forms:
1. The Hng Muih style emerged from the Shaolin nun, and its disciple from Yihm Wihng Cheun. Wihng Cheun is so named from the Yihm Wihng Cheun style. (According to another story Yihm Wihng Cheun adopted the style's name.)
2. The style was compiled in the Shaolin monastery, and after the monastery's destruction it spread. The masters who compiled it, compiled it for the Wehng Cheun Tohng Monastery (Yong Chun Tang, The Eternal Spring Hall), while always sitting together in the aforesaid locality. This is where the style got its name.
3. The “Red Boat” style was a hidden Shaolin priest’s syle, and was compiled by Shaolin priests and members of various secret societies, expressly aimed at fighting against the Manchu. The name of the style originates from the keywords of a motto here.
Important yet, is how we know so little of an existing style, Wihng Cheun Baah Hohk (the Yong Chun Bai He, and the Eternal Spring White Crane), that founded the Crane style; the founder is deemed to be the Shaolin mester Fang Zhong's daughter Fang Qi Niang, and there is nothing known about the history of the masters of Wihng Cheun either. Another point of interest is that these styles of movement are recognizably a cousin of several Wihng Cheun styles, but there is a greater difference between them and additional Wihng Cheun styles, just as between the HNG Muih Paai and Fatsaan styles (they are rather classified to be among the Crane styles). In the same way, a pair of short swords is used as basic weapons, but this use of weaponry is not even similar to other Wihng Cheun styles weapons use.
It seems that from the transformation of Wihng Cheun the styles’ masters protected contradictory stories, but in fact those stories are only apparent opposites. Through the centuries the Wihng Cheun masters and practitioners tightly bound a secret society against the Manchu, and be it that conspicuous, public meetings were never held, where debates would tell what exactly happened. Thus, every master has given the traditions only through disciples, what was heard, or what was known about them. However, if we take the differences in styles, and the styles’ names being maintained, a story is outlined from the “slices of history” that seems to explain all of the other stories, and turns into something that can be understood, and how the different variants arose. I'll recount these discoveries in the following pages.
The Martial Arts of the Shaolin Monastery
The Shaolin Monastery was founded in the year 495 AD in the Henan Province in Mount Song by a few Indian monks. In the name of the Chinese, with two disciples, Ba Tuo began one of the stories of the Shaolin martial arts. Two monks, Hui Guang and Seng Chou, were equally trained in martial arts, and according to each traditional strata, from this time on, monks began practicing martial arts. The next stop was the legendary Da Mo (Bodhidharma), who came to China in 527; and after a short detour to the monastery, settled down there. Da Mo is considered to be the founder of Chanbuddhizmus (called Zen in Japanese), and according to tradition, through it came the Shaolin Kung-fu internal exercises (Yi Jin Jing and Xi Sui Jing), rather known as Lohan exercises (Shi Ba Luohan Shou), that have become the defining elements of Shaolin martial arts. During the Song Dynasty's reign (960-1279), the abbot Fu Ju 18 masters were called upon, and with assistance put together the “Shaolin hand-to-hand techniques” over the course of 3 years. At the turn of the XIII.-XIV century, a Shaolin monk named Jueyuan, with masters Bai Yu-feng and Li Sou, commonly created the Five Animal style. The style was based on the Lohan exercises, and the “Five Animals Qigong”, which was developed by Hua Tuo (a III century physician). After its birth, the new exercises became the substance for Shaolin training.
The Five Animals mean to form to completion the essentials of a person's makeup. These are:
the Dragon - the spirit
the Tiger - bone
the Leopard - the force
the Snake - Qi
the Crane - the tendons
the Dragon - the spirit
the Tiger - bone
the Leopard - the force
the Snake - Qi
the Crane - the tendons
From these, it is the Tiger and Crane that were the basis for the training. (It is no accident that Huhng Ga was created precisely based on the combination of the Tiger and Crane techniques.)
In addition, Shaolin was like a “pool of styles” that took over a number of techniques for a variety of reasons from adherent masters, created a special form of exercises, and miscellaneous ranges of exercises, each based on specific skills, and envisaged in its construct. Originally, such a techical drill was Shaolin Chang Quan (Long Fist), and probably the Wihng Cheun, as well.
There are little-known facts about how the Song Shan Shaolin template was instituted in several churches all over China — the most famous was the Quan Zhou Shaolin monastery in south China's Fujian Province; in addition, there was also a known monastery in the Hebei Province, He Lin Wai in the Meng Province, Changan in the Shaanxi Province, and Luoyang in the Henan Province — and fighting techniques are taught in all of them; over and above that, there were nuns in the monasteries, and these women also studied Shaolin martial arts. (To this day, next to the Song Shan church stands a nunnery).
Various peoples of the northern steppes were conquered repeatedly over the course of China's history, and they often had to live through civil wars. Shaolin warrior priests actively participated in various anti-outlander battles, with most of the combat trainings in secret societies. During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), however, we find them having already been in a variet of military campaigns, mainly from the 1500's. Of these, the best known is the campaign against the Mongols, and their struggles against Japanese pirates. For this very reason, early in the background there were marching priests who became known for both their fighting merit, and their protagonistic role working alongside the Ming government. However, a civil war erupted during the last years of the Ming Dynasty, and so the monastery and clans associated with it became primary targets. The first few clans were already destroyed by this time, but due to the monasteries isolated positions and confined areas, at that time they were still able to defend themselves. After the Manchu conquest of 1644, fate did finally catch up with them. The plan for the destruction of the central church was then executed by an official named Chan Wai Man in 1723. Some of the church's people returned, who then set the monastery ablaze at a specified time, while the imperial troops launched an offensive. Two years later, the Fujian came next.
(Around the dates and events, there are sticking points that have caused a bit of a ruckus. It seems that the date of the destruction of the Song Shan church is certain, but as for the other monasteries, not so much. Tradition is bestowed upon Song Shan, the monastery that lies in front of the Fujjan province. In addition, after the destruction of the central monastery, five surviving masters came to be well known; thereupon, in every subsequent traditional stratum, those five surviving masters are spoken of irrespective of which monastery was in question. And so it goes that there may be illogical elements to the historical dogma, such as, according to each teaching, only the five masters survived; nevertheless, the subsequent event is still yet a word about one of the masters and his surviving students.)
According to tradition, five masters survived the massacre: Ji Sihn (Zhi Shan), the Fujian Monastery's abbot, HNG Muih (Wu Mei), an elderly nun, Fuhng Douh Dak (Feng Daoda), Miuh Hin (Miao Xian), and Baahk Meih (Bai Mei), a Taoist master.
In time, the Manchu government had managed to have the Baahk Meih family apprehended, thereby enlisting Baahk Meih himself. Not only did Baahk Meih take part in the destruction of the monastery, but he also took chase to the escaped monks, and among others, slaughtered Ji Sihn and Fong Sai Yuhk. Ji Sihn’s student, Huhng Hei Gun (Hong Xiguan), then in turn executed Baahk. Huhng Hei Gun is the father of the Huhng Ga style, and the husband of Fong Sai Yuhk's niece, Fong Chat Neuhng (Fang Qi Niang, the founder of the Wihng Cheun Baahk Hohk style, is also known as Fong Wihng Cheun. The significance of Fang Qi Niang is that she is the seventh lady within the Fang family.).
Wehng Cheun Tohng
After the Manchu conquest, the priests and the clans that supported them were methodically hunted down. The priests' fighting styles were already known, but additional techniques had been acquired in secret, descriptive books. In the Fujjan monastery, a few masters buckled down to devise a new style. This style is expressly intended for the training of secret societies. That's why a little-known system of practice was selected. The Crane and Snake styles were employed as the basis for those exercises (both were exclusively modified for hand techniques). However, of course other elements of the style were employed as well; thus surprisingly, exercises can be found in the Tiger and Dragon styles, as well as a distinct exercise in the Lahp Sau series. The basics have remained the same, but the method of aggregation has become new. After the government made the possession of weapons a criminal offense punishable by death, the new system incorporated only the use of two short swords (namely, Cantonese short swords, or two short lengthed swords that were almost completely identical to meat cleavers; the only differences were that a hand guard of a sword can be found on them. Thus, if necessary, meat cleavers could be used as weapons, or easily retrofitted for military purposes.).
According to tradition, the operative masters of the style always sat together on the premises of the monastery named after Wing Cheun Tong (Yong Chun Tang; the Eternal Spring Hall). This is where the style gets its name. There are 3 known masters among the earliest representatives of the new style: Ji Sihn, the monastery's abbot, and two nuns, Hng Muih és Yat Chahn (Yi Chen).
At the time of the destruction of the Fujjan Temple, Sister Hng Muih (Wu Mei), who was a serious master of Shaolin martical arts, fled. Several styles respect Hng Muih as a founder (i.e., Wihng Cheun, Hng Muih Paai, and one of the southern Dragon Schools). During these times, there were several who were involved in duels to the death. According to one of the stories, it goes that a 14-year-old boy Fong Sai Yuhk (Fang Shiyuan) got mixed up in a struggle to the death and was obliged to kill his opponent. However, his opponent's father, Li Ba Saan (Li Pashan), swore revenge and challenged the lad. HNG Muih tried to dissuade Li from fighting, but he remained adamant. The fight was upon so-called “Plum Blossom Piles.” (These pegs are about the height of a man; 5 pegs beat down in the form of a “Plum Blossom”, or a set of beaten down pegs of 5.) HNG Muih was already so very old (75 years old), but she decided that she would fight in the boy’s place. The struggle began with the nun trying to neutralize Li without him getting more seriously hurt, but the man was too good of a combatant. With one of her counter-attacks, a kick sent Li sprawling to the floor, and to his death. The rescued boy, Fong Sai Yuhk, later went on to become a famous warrior.
HNG Muih is forced to flee, and after a long trek finds a small Taoist temple called the White Crane where she can safely elude her pursuers. (The existing Sichuan and Yunnanhatárán Temple can be found in the Daaih Leuhng (Daliang) Mountain. Yunnanaz is one of the longest enduring provinces, and was later the nest of resistance.) She further worked in the monastery crafting a new style, and the intellectual and prime spiritual agents of Buddhism appear side by side with the Taoist principles, mainly those which are related to softness, and those applying the power of Yin-Yang.
After developing the system, HNG Muih left the White Crane Temple. She traveled the country, and taught religious communities in several places in the new style. (In our century, it has been ousted from the monasteries, and is now known as HNG Muih Paai, and is being taught in the West.)
Yihm Wihng Cheun
On one of her journeys, Hng Muih became acquainted with a Fatsaan (Foshan) merchant, Yihm Yih (Yan Er). At some point Yihm Yih complained that although his daughter Yihm Wihng Cheun (Yan Yongchun) got engaged to a young man, a local gang's leader didn’t intend on taking notice of it, and he wanted the girl for himself. Despite Yihm being engaged in the martial arts, and having taught his daughter what he knew, he knew that it wasn't enough to defy the band.
After a short reflection, Hng Muih offered to help. So, a message was sent to the the gang leader to say that consent had been granted to marry him, but they asked for time for the dissolution of the current engagement, and wedding preparations. Soon thereafter Hng Muih took Wihng Cheun with her, and started teaching her her style. After a year she could see that she would be able to cope with the thief. Yihm Yih then approached the gang and told them to arrange for the wedding, but also insisted that Yihm Wihng Cheun only intends to marry someone she knows can defeat her in battle.
When the event took place, the thief tried to blitz the girl, but to his greatest astonishment the hit was deflected, and he was subsequently laid out with ease. After having tried several times in vain to beat her, other compadres also engaged, but in short notice they too found themselves on the ground. In the end, they were forced to concede defeat, allowing Wihng Cheun to be able to wed Leuhng Bok Chauh (Liang Botao). For three more years she still kept up her studies with Hng Muih. It was at this time that Yihm Wihng Cheun then took on the Wihng Cheun name, but for the first time ever the hànzì needed to be changed because the Wehng (Yong, Eternal) form had only ever been a male name. This is the story of how Wihng Cheun (Yong Chun, Rhymer, and Singing Spring) got her name.
The Wehng Cheun formula might have been some kind of prearranged identification hànzì because Yihm Wihng Cheun’s name was unopposed, where it occurred. Several masters had also inserted the Wehng hànzì into their names, while the Wehng Cheun expression had also been inserted into various rhymes, and slogans.
According to tradition, the three hand-to-hand forms of combat are as follows:
• Saam Baai Fat (a.k.a. the “Triple Greetings Buddha”), and later called Siu Nihm Tauh (a.k.a. the “Small Idea Form”) has become commonplace.
• Chahm Kiuh (a.k.a. the “Bridge, or Search for Arms”)
• Biu Ji (a.k.a. the “Marking Finger”)
• Saam Baai Fat (a.k.a. the “Triple Greetings Buddha”), and later called Siu Nihm Tauh (a.k.a. the “Small Idea Form”) has become commonplace.
• Chahm Kiuh (a.k.a. the “Bridge, or Search for Arms”)
• Biu Ji (a.k.a. the “Marking Finger”)
The usage of the Muhk Yahn Jong Faat (the practiced “Wooden Training Dummy” kata), and the Baat Jaam Dou (the “Sword: Eight Cut” kata), constituted part of the style conveyed by Hng Muih.
After Yihm Yih's death, Wihng Cheun and her husband moved to Guangzhou. And Leuhng Bok Chauh learned the style from his wife. They passed their knowledge on to just one other person, a Guangxi merchant, Leuhng Laahn Gwai (Liang Langui).
Shaolin masters might have been prepared not to be able to hold down the monastery, because after its destruction, they did not escape haphazardly because there were multiple paths that led to the southern opera societies. In China, actors are traditionally given priority in the training of martial arts so that they can perform pieces of battle scenes more credibly. In addition, during a performance a strong paint is worn on their faces. Thus, some of the presence of martial arts does not become so conspicuous. At that time theatrical companies didn't have permanent theater stages, they usually just roamed around the country, and where it was demanded, performed their pieces. (This is similar to our XIX century actors, tarpaulin Conestoga wagons and prairie schooner wagons; in China they were characteristic of red-painted junk.) This has also allowed the masters to organize the company's work against the Manchu. The Red Navy, and later the neighborhood of Fatsaan, served as the center for two secret societies. One of them was the Tin Deih Wui (Tian Di Hui; The Society of the Heaven and Earth), and the other was the Huhng Fa Wui Gun (Hong Hua Hui Guan; the Red Flower Society).
After the destruction of the temple, Abbot Ji Sihn was placed on the opera society's ship as a cook. Assumed to be a simple-minded chef, no one guessed who he really was.
In one of the settlements, where a performance was being held, a well known criminal under the name of “Tiger” Wohng sought them out, demanded them to pay protection money, and only gave them until midnight to collect it. Their society was in a hopeless situation. Not only didn’t they have any money, they didn’t have any money to continue their journey. At the same time, they couldn't defend themselves because although they were trained in Kung fu, their training was only suitable for a flamboyant show performance, and not a real fight. That evening “Tiger” Wohng returned with exceptional anger, asking why they couldn't pay, and then he proceeded to attack the society's leader Wohng Wah Bou-ra (Huang Baohua). The “simple-minded cook” unexpectedly intervened and tried to stop “Tiger” Wohng, without anyone getting more seriously injured. But Wohng could not tolerate that he could possibly suffer defeat at the hands of an ordinary cook, so his attacks got harder and harder with more and more vigor and rigorous techniques, one after another as his attacks continued to be deflected. At first Ji Sihn only deflected attacks, but as the attacks got stronger and stronger, his defense grew stronger and stronger until he finally broke some of his attacker's fingers with a blow. Since Wohng still wouldn’t stop, with the next set of attacks Ji Sihn stepped in, and with one grip he took him to the ground. It was at this point that “Tiger” Wohng finally admitted that he couldn't contend with the “cook.” Humiliated in defeat, “Tiger” Wohng left the ship. After the incident, several members of the society began to learn from Ji Sihn. (Ji Sihn's origins can be traced back to the Southern Shaolin and Huhng Ga abbot. These styles can be found in the ancestral line of the legendary Wohng Fei Hung.)
Nun Yat Chahn (Yi Chen) fled with her apprentice Jeung Hng (Zhang Wu). The two priests' apprentices hosted an associate actor who was a member among those belonging to actors of two secret societies against the Manchu, the “Taan Sau” Hng (Tanshou–The Outstretched Hand–Wu), and the “Huhng Gan” (“Hongjin”–the Red Scarf–Biao); he was later joined by his counterparts on the Red Ship.
Leung Yee-tai, Wong Wah Bo and Syun Gam (Sun Jin; nicknamed “Daaih Fa Mihn” Gam; in a word, “Painted Face” Gam) all attributed to the completion of the style.
The Proliferation of the Style
Leung Lan Kwai, who was Yihm Wihng Cheun's and Leuhng Bok Chauh's student, was taught Wohng Wah Bou, a version of the Wihng Cheun Hng Muih. In turn, Ji Sihn taught Leuhng Yih Taih (Liang Erdi) the Shaolin “Single Head” for technical stick fighting (Later it'll be combined with the lance; in this way, the sticky-stick techniques came to be.).
It was during those times from among the Red boat actors that today's known form of the Wihng Cheun was established. It was during this period that the great masters were known: Wohng Wah Bou (Mo-sang, who played the role of a male warrior), Leuhng Yih Taih (Mo-deng, who played a female role), Syun Gam (Daaih Fa Mihn, that is to say, who played the role of the “Painted Face”), Laih Fuk Syun (Li Fushun; who played the role of a man in love).
– In the 1860s General Yihp Mihng Sam had destroyed the participants of the opera societies in a movement against the Manchu, and every kind of theatrical performance was outlawed thereafter for sometime. (The injunction was revoked about twenty years later during the successor government.) This effectively drove down the revolutionary movements, but it could not completely eliminate them. Soon thereafter San Wah (Xin Hua) and Gwong Dihn Hing (Qing Guang Dian) founded the Baat Hahp Wui Gun (Ba He Hui Guan, The Hall for the Society of Eight Union), and they continued the work therein. –
A couple of years later, Leuhng Yih Taih passed on the system to a Foshan physician, Leuhng Jaan (Liang Zan). Leuhng Jaan often and gladly tried out his skills, which earned him the “Kung Fu King” title, and made the style popular in Foshan. (In China, the winners of such titles were given diverse bouts with predilection. For example: “The King of the Seven Provinces Long Stick”, and “The Challenges of a King,” etc.). This, of course, had at first attracted several practicioners, but the challengers were beaten so quickly that the challenges had gone astern over time.
Leuhng Jaan also passed on his knowledge to his sons, Leuhng Bik (Liang Bi), Leuhng Cheun (Liang Chun), and Leuhng Go (Liang Ge), as well as a few locals.
Leuhng Jaan practiced with his disciples in his yard at his home. There he caught the attention of a man of great stature, a strong man who watched the exercises from the gate. Leuhng knew the man, and knew that his name was Chahn Wah Seun (Chen Huashun), and that he worked at the market as a currency exchanger. After Leuhng Jaan saw just how much Chahn wanted to study, he welcomed him as his apprentice.
Chahn Wah Seun had to repeatedly prove his skills due to his work. Soon thereafter he was in the news, a news that suppported and accompanied him, yet he truly believed in Wihng Cheun's earlier exercises, and in four decades only taught a total of sixteen disciples. The Manchu imperial court also invited the instructor, but Chahal refused the request; he maintained that he never got the entire system so he couldn't effectively pass it on. However, the real reason was that the Wihng Cheun was “the other side”; that is to say that it was bestowed upon the members of the secret societies only. Of it, there are several traces preserved. At the same time, many places today describe Chahal Wah Seun as not having enough knowledge of the entire system.
Chahn Yuh Mihn's own son (Chen Rumian) was also taught the system, but the boy didn't show too much interest, which is why he passed his knowledge onto his daughter-in-law. So after his father's death, with reluctance, he was obliged to learn the Wihng Cheun from his own wife. The one who became the most famous, however, was Chahn Wah Seun's last student. His name was Yihp Mahn.
The legendary Yihp Mahn
Yihp Mahn (Ye Wen) is perhaps the most well-known Chinese martial artist. He was born in Fatsaan in 1893. His family was well-off, and their houses and shops were in the city. Chahn Wah Seun rented a backyard of one of those houses for teaching and training. Thus, Yihp Mahn had the chance to observe the styles. It was here that Yihp Mahn took the opportunity to observe the style. Yihp Mahn wanted to learn the martial arts, and be given the opportunity; He had asked his mother to be an intermediary to persuade Master Chahn to accept him — and accept him he did.
Chahn Wah Seun died three years later, whereupon with his lead student, Hng Juhng Sou (Wu Zhongsu), and with more elderly students — Hng Siu Louh (Wu Xiaolu), Leuih Yuh Jai (Lei Ruji), and Chahn Yuh Mihn (Chen Rumian) — he continued on with the practice.
Among Chahal Wah Seun's apprentices, Yihp Mahn was the youngest; hence, Chahal Wah Seun didn’t teach Yihp Mahn Kung Fu for the longest time for fear that it would offend his brothers, and the study of martial arts wasn't even discussed among his family circle.
One spring holiday the Lion and Dragon dances were held in the Temple of the Monkey King. On behalf of his aunt’s request Yihp Mahn escorted two of his nieces to watch the performance. Out of the crowd on the scene, a flock of 6-7 young men caught an eye full of two chic ladies, and started to harass them. Yihp Mahn soon had enough of the stuff, and demanded an apology. However, they didn't take this thin, well-dressed man very seriously, and only saw him as a spoiled rich dandy. One of the guys came forward to push him aside, but after several attempts, still only found air. So out of frustration he furiously lunged himself forward toward Yihp, but in short notice found himself on the ground. In seconds the gang members awoke, and attacked Yihp Mahn, but it was easy for Yihp to ward them off. Yihp moved very little to do so. When any of them tried to hit him, he would pivot just enough to avoid being hit, but then with lightning speed he counterattacked at the opponent's center of gravity to dislodge his balance. In every instance when it looked as though an attack was going to connect, Yihp moved like a flash of light, or parried the blow. Sometimes it seemed as though his enemy was only slightly touched, but as a result of Yihp’s sleight of hand, the assailant collapsed in pain. But nonetheless, none of them were seriously injuried. The combat ended abruptly at the crack of a whip, so to speak, with the gang hightailing it out of Dodge. That incident made Yihp Mahn’s name famous in Fatsaan.
One evening his friends invited him to a tavern to have some drinks. In the restaurant, a ravishing young lady was entertaining one of the tables. His friends told him that the girl’s name was Yihm Hung, and that she resides in the “House of Flowers and Willows.” (It was in an area where there used to be entertainment brothels in China that were called the ‘Red-light District’.) He was told that she did martial arts too, and that she offers her free services to those who are able to beat her with three punches to the belly, but demands ten liangs of gold paid to her personally for those who cannot do so (In China metal coins, paper money, and gold and silver measured by weight were all legal tender. 1 liang is about 5 dkg.). Yihp Mahn just laughed about it, but his friends would definitely love to see him face the test. One of them called forth Yihm Hung, and said:
“This man is a very well-seasoned martial artist, and even your steely belly cannot withstand his power.”
Yihm responded: “Mr. Yihp, I have a rule, if you can hit my stomach so that I can't stand, I'll go with you for free. But if you fail, you'll be paying me ten liang of gold. I see that you’re a good young man from a good family, and I don't know what your concepts of martial arts might be, but I'm afraid you’re going to hurt your hands if you take the challenge!”
Yihp Mahn said with a smile: “I've never hit a woman, but if you don’t mind, I'm going to try to do it. Here's the gold. If I lose, it's yours.”
Yihm Hung went through a short breathing exercise, and flexed her belly, which was very tough. Yihp Mahn cooly touched his fingers on the lady's stomach, and gave off a short fast punch to it. Yihm Hung gasped and collapsed to the floor. Yihp quickly helped her up and asked for her forgiveness: “The money is yours, and I expect nothing from you.” He later wrote down a doctor's prescription that could restore her Qi circulation. He then said goodbye, and left with his friends.
On another occasion, Yihp Mahn was taking an evening stroll to admire the full moon. There was quite an amount of people in the streets, and Yihp accidentally stepped on a man's foot. When he stopped to apologize, he saw that it was an officer. At that time in China (since the fall of the Qing Dynasty) a variety of short-lived governments replaced one another, and separate forces took their orders from different military commanders that dominated various provinces, or military units. Because the civil government wasn't able to account for a soldier’s misdeeds, there were many. And so it was also to be that on this occasion, this officer immediately drew his pistol to shoot the meddlesome civilian. But before he could fire his weapon, Yihp Mahn acted, grabbed the gun and wrenched it out of his hand so that the magazine dropped to the ground. The officer stood stunned, and before he could do anything, Yihp Mahn had disappeared into the crowd.
The First Disciples
One day a local trader, Jau Chen Chung, invited Yihp Mahn to his house, and asked him to teach his sons. It got Yihp Mahn to thinking about his personal financial concerns, so that after only a brief reflection he said “Yes.” This news caused a major surprise, given that such a request usually fell on deaf ears. One of Yihp Mahn's friends knew a Choi Leih Fat master, Wan Dai Han, who was introduced to Yihp. Wan invited Yihp Mahp to a friendly match, who thought that this would be a good time to promote and demonstrate the popularization and proof of the abilities of Wihng Cheun, and therefore accepted the challenge. They agreed on the details, and a doctor was called to referee.
The fight began. Wan began a series of attacks. With short steps Yihp Mahn pivoted and avoided his punches, then broke his opponent's rhythm by stepping into his midline to attack his torso and head. Wan couldn't evade any of it, and after each strike he fell backwards. The referee finally stepped in and stopped the fight. Not to hurt anybody, he announced a draw. But from this point on, no one brought up the fact that Yihp Mahn teaches Wihng Cheun.
Meanwhile, China's attacks against the Japanese had become more intense, so he decided to move his family to Hong Kong. Upon accepting the President of the Restaurant Workers' Labor Union Yi Hu's invitation, he could live in Hong Kong where he began teaching the members of the union. It was here where many of his famous apprentices began their studies: Leuhng Seung (Liang Xiang), Lok Yiuh (Luo Yao), Cheuih Seuhng Tihn (Xu Shangtian), Louh Mahn Gam (Lu Wenjin), Wohng Seuhn Leuhng (Huang Chunliang). And later, Muih Yaht (Mei Yi), Jeung Cheuk Hing (Zhang Zhuoqing , William Cheung), Hoh Gam Ming (He Jinge) és Leih Siu Luhng (Li Xiaolong; Bruce Lee), as well.
In order to make his style well-known in Hong Kong, he mainly initially trained his disciples for various competitions to which they were thoroughly prepared, which in turn is how the development of his school accelerated; the first pair of disciples were taught in a couple of advantageous areas, of which they became experts. So Cheuih Seuhng Tihn became an expert in Siu Nihm Tauh (and its associated exercises), Leuhng Seung in Biu Ji (and its associated exercises), and Lok Yiuh became an expert in the long-pole (and its associated exercises). Later of course, they learnt the whole style, but this gave special characteristics to their own styles (with somewhat of a different underpinning).
In the 50s, two of his adult sons successfully passed through Hong Kong. At that time, the Wihng Cheun School being led by Yihp Mahn already had a serious reputation; to this end, the Wihng Cheun teachings ensured their livelihood. Two of his apprentices, Lok Yiuh and Wohng Seuhn Leuhng were asked to start teaching his sons. (In China, it is a general practice that the Kung-fu masters seek an instructor from within the clan to teach their children because masters only deal with it if they reach a more serious level in their studies. This is primarily due to the differences between the two types of education. As parents, the Chinese are extraordinarily lenient; as instructors, however, they are genuinely tenacious. And as one of the masters said, “It doesn't work to fondle his head in the morning, to say that I love him, and then to beat him with a whangee cane in the evening.”) The differences in the primer one uses can be seen unto this very day. Wohng Seuhn Leuhng's Yihp Jing's style is more closely compared to Lok Yiuh's Yihp Jeun's.
Yihp Mahn's school quickly “outgrew” the premises provided by the club, so he opened his own private dojo.
He was the first Grandmaster to publicly teach Wihng Cheun. During his teaching practices, various changes to the style were changed. Although he abandoned some of the techniques, other techniques were expanded in other areas (He increased the Wooden Puppet form, for example; the 108 series at that time was changed to 116 to this day.). Thanks to his work, Wihng Cheun has become one of the most popular trends, and has hit the west through his students.
Grandmaster Lok Yiuh was born in Hong Kong in 1922. He belonged to the first generation of Yihp Mahn's Hong Kong students. In 1950, in the Restaurant Workers Workers' Association, he began to study Wihng Cheun from Yihp Mahn. Owing to the tough training, after a few weeks, among the students, Leuhng Seung and Lok Yiuh were among the ones who remained. Yihp Mahn moved in with Lok Yiuh for the next eight years, and the training resumed at the Workers' Association.
During that time Yihp Mahn literally spent day and night training his student. Shortly afterwards, Lok Yiuh became the assistant tutor in trainings. In the 1950s, Lok Yiuh, Leuhng Seung and then Wohng Seuhn Leuhng established Wihng Cheun's reputation. They participated in competitions and in traditional challenging battles. With a number of well-defined representatives, he managed to achieve victory, and what was the largest feat of weaponry were Lok Yiuh and Leuhng Seung themselves, through the fighters exhibited defeat of the Choi Leih Fat style. Until then, the Choi Leih Fat School was considered unbeatable.
On completion of his studies, he opened his own school where he taught his style for more than fifty years. His two sons, Lok Geng Sang and Lok Geng Gwong, and his grandson, Lok Mahn Wu, all learned his system. (Lok Yiuh's grandson was 15 and had been teaching at the Hong Kong Police Station!)
In 1992, he received his only non-Chinese student, Wilhelm Blech, who was named after him after two years (with his two sons). With his passing in 2006, he left behind one of the greatest forms of Wihng Cheun.
Louh Mahn Gam
From 1950, Grandmaster Lou Louh Mahn Gam studied Wihng Cheun in Hong Kong for ten years as his uncle's, Grand Master Yihp Mahn, third student (Leung Sheung, Lok Yiuh, Louh Mahn Gam). Because the school was accumulating more and more students, Yihp Mahn had accumulating more and more groups, so he occasionally instructed one of them to teach; under his supervision and guidance they not only learned to teach, but they also passed on Wihng Cheun. Since Yihp Mahn was a former senior police officer and training officer instructor in the government of the exiled Chinese Republic in Taiwan, in 1960 he asked Master Louh Mahn Gam to go to Taiwan and serve in military intelligence. Master Louh naturally complied with his uncle's and Si's request, and moved from Hong Kong to Taiwan where he lived and taught since then.
Louh Mahn Gam is a world renowned, acknowledged master, and is considered to be the biggest Wihng Cheun expert in Taiwan. His public school opened in 1975 in Taipei, Taiwan's capital, to fulfill his master's request and to spread his Wihng Cheun far and wide around the world. Thanks to his knowledge and his love of the teachings of Wihng Cheun, numerous foreigners are constantly coming to Taiwan's school to join the Chinese students there, among whom there is rarely a student who is not already a master of another style. Over the past thirty years, he has taught more than two thousand disciples from a total of 35 countries on all six continents.
At present, he is also currently teaching martial arts to the Taiwan Police and Special Forces, as well as being an invited instructor training members of the Hong Kong, Virginia, French, English and Swiss police.
Si fuh Louh Ma hn Gam regularly holds public seminars where he not only demonstrates and trains Wihng Cheun's techniques, but also speaks about its theoretical and tactical background. He encourages his disciples to learn not only how to learn, but also why they should learn. People should not just blindly rehearse and execute the exercises, but should also be mindful and analytic martial artists. Since March 2003 he has been visiting Hungary regularly, and has held seminars where several Wihng Cheun and other martial arts practitioners have been involved.
Ji Sihn Wehng Cheun
The most popular variants of Wihng Cheun that came from the “Yihp Mahn branch” were side-stepped, but several variants were maintained, mainly in the Fatsaan area. One such version is Ji Sihn Wehng Cheun.
The style was named after the legendary Fujjan Shaolin Monk Ji Sihn, from the Shaolin Monastery. The style was derived from Ji Sihn's disciple, Syun Gam (nicknamed “Daaih Fa Mihn” Gam, or “Painted Face” Gam). When Syun acquired new costumes in Fatsaan, he got to know a tailor's apprentice, Fuhng Siu Ching. Within a short time, he became Fuhng Syun's student, and followed the brotherhood, where he assisting in the making of make-up, and studied Wehng Cheun in his free time. Fuhng consolidated the style, and handed it over to several disciples. The most well-known are Fuhng Ting (the son), Dung Syun, Mah Juhng Yuh, Dung Jit, Loh Ying Nam, and Loh Kai Tong. Through Fuhng, Ji Sihn Wehng Cheun has spread to several South China provinces, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia. Fuhng Siu Ching received his last student, Yuhn Keih Saan, at the age of 71.
Dung Jit handed over his art to Jyu Juhng Mahn, who moved to Macao, where he became known as a fighter, and was referred to as “Invincible” Jyu; he did not teach, but he only dealt with his medical profession. Dung Syun's son extended the system to Dung Yik and Pak Cheung.
In the early 1900's, Fuhng Siu Ching's disciples guarded Fatsaan from bandits. In the 1930s, two of those studied students later became known as brothers, Loh Chiu Wan and Loh Hong Tai. Loh Chiu Wan lived in the vicinity of Hongkong, and taught it to a wealthy friend, Waih Yan (Wai En). Because Waih wanted to preserve Ji Sihn Wehng Cheun's methods, he went to his master for help, who in turn brought Masters Loh Hong Tai, Dung On, Dung Yik and Jyu Juhng Mahn into the fold, all who thereafter often got each of their students together on the Daaih Duk Lan loading dock. (Daaih Duk Lan is best known to have made the first suspended Kung-Fu wooden dummy, instead of what was up until then an open space dugout form built into the ground.) Waih Yan's students include Lauh Chi Lung and Jeung Gwong. Jeung Gwong has already received European students, mainly from Germany, so this style has become known to us, as well.
Other Schools of the Wihng Cheun
The Wihng Cheun of today has broken up into several dozen schools. The best known among these are styles created by Yihp Mahn and his disciples, considering they were first taught to a wider audience, and are now mostly available in Europe, America or Australia. Little is known about the schools still in existence in Fatsaan, which have their student base largely in China today. This is not to mention a word of the school practised by the Buddhist priests, or of the Wihng Cheun Baahk Hohk, or the teaching masters adhering to traditions of teach only a few disciples, all of whom are practically the only ones aware of such existing styles.
Pahng Naahm Wehng Cheun (Peng Nan Yong Chun)
The Fatsaan Wehng Cheun is in keeping with being the most representative style. One of Chahn Wah Seun's pupils was Laih Hihp Chih (Li Xiechi; One of Yihp Mahn’s eldest Kung-fu brothers). Pahng Naahm studied Huhng Ga in his youth. Through a friend he went to Laih Hihp Chih, from whom he could learn the whole system. Its style is the classic Wehng Cheun style, which has today left China through its disciples.
Yuhn Keih Saan Wihng Cheun (Ruan Qishan Yong Chun)
As I have previously written, Yuhn Keih Saan Fuhng Siu Ching was a personal student of the early 1900's. As a master of the style, he taught in Fatsaan until his death. His disciple Sahm Nahng (Cen Neng) named his system Yuhn Keih Saan Wihng Cheun. Many of Sahm Nahng's disciples left China. Thus, through them Ngouh Leuih Keih (Ao Leiqi) became the most well-known master, and the Fatsaan style the most well-known of the styles.
Naahm Yeuhng Wihng Cheun (Nanyang Yong Chun Quan)
One of the “Painted Faces” Gam's students was Chouh Dak Saang (Cao Desheng). Chouh came from a martial arts family, so Huhng Ga was also known as an expert. To the start of the 20th century this version of Wihng Cheun was handed over by the Chouh family from father to son, while (while retaining traditional forms) a number of other style-specific techniques were added to the system (such as the Tiger Claw from Huhng Ga, elements of Baahk Meih, etc.). Today, it has spread to many parts of Southeast Asia (e.g., Malaysia, and Singapore), as well as taught in Australia.
Gu Louh Wihng Cheun (Gulao Yong Chun), vagy
Gu Louh Sei Sahp Dim Wihng Cheun (Gulao sishi dian Yong Chun)
One of Wihng Cheun's most renowned masters, Leuhng Jaan, in his old age retired to his native village Gu Louh. They continued to come together to practice with their immediate disciples, and in the meantime styled new methods. Instead of focusing on formal exercises, the so-called “40 short trainings” were put in focus. This was a selection of 40 elements, and an exercise with which ascribed to the particular importance in the acquisition of Wihng Cheun. This was the Gu Louh Sei Sahp Dim, that is, the Gu Louh's 40 points. Leuhng Jaan did not alter this style, but only created a new form for the transmission and learning process of the art. Among his disciples, Taahm Yeuhng (Tan Yang) carried this type of system forward.
Paauh Fa Lihn Wehng Cheun (Paohua Lian Yong Chun)
Its first known master was a 19th-century monk Daaih Dung Fung (Da Dong Fong – Great East Wind), who was a member of an anti-Manchu secret society. He taught the system to the Jeh brothers (Jeh Gwok Jeung and Jeh Gwok Leuhng) when he was in the Gwongdung (Guangdong) province. The Jeh brothers took in an orphan boy, Lauh Daaht Saang (Liu Dasheng). The boy was taught in combat arts from the age of 9. In Lauh's younger years, he worked for a hair care master. The hair salon was cooked from wood chips from the tree that Lauh planed down. One of his nicknames derived from here was Paauh Fa (the Wood Planer). The “Daaht” punctuation is similar to that of the “Lihn”, which means the Lotus (the Water Lily). Thus, if others wanted to tease Siu Lihn, he was often called the Little Lotus (which is typically a female’s name). Over time the two names were mushed together, and he was then referred to as Paauh Fa Lihn (the Wood Planer Lotus). Over 10 years, Lauh Daaht Saang studied Wehng Cheun. For a long time he worked CIT Security, along side with being a local institution's cashier.
In his old age, he returned to Fatsaan and taught his system to some selected disciples. After his death, Jyu Jung (Zhu Zhong) and his disciples carried the style forward.
Fukgin Wehng Cheun (Fujian Yong Chun)
This style's name was spawned from Abbot Ji Sihn of the Shaolin Temple in Fujian. It should be remembered that the style's name was given to the church. Fong Sai Yuhk (Fang Shiyu) and Hu Hui Gan took this direction of education to the Gwongdung Province. (Fong Sai Yuhk is the person whose life was rescued by Hng Muih during a duel.)
Pin San Wihng Cheun (Pianshen Yong Chun)
Leuhng Jaan's senior disciple was Wohng Wah Saam (Huang Huashan). He had already learned the known Gu Louh system. Wohng passed the style onto Fuhng Lihm (Feng Lian). The Fuhng's family had several experts in the Shaolin style of Fujian. The Fuhng family blended Southern Shaolin and the Gu Louh Wihng Cheun to create their own style.
Yiuh Keih Wihng Cheun (Yao Qi Yong Chun)
The son of Hng Juhng Sou's pupil (Yihp Mahn Kung-fu’s older brother), Yiuh Keih, established it. Yiuh Keih learned from his father, Yiuh Choih, and later as a master had learned for himself from the elder Hng Juhng Sou. Yiuh Keih's activities are also tied to Fatsaan.
Huhng Syuhn Wehng Cheun (Hong Chuan Yong Chun, Vörös Dzsunka Wehng Cheun)
This style was spawned by Abbot Yat Chahn, who was one of the ones on the “Red Ship” (Huhng Syuhn) who hid priests. To start with, two members among those belonging to the actors of secret societies against the Manchu, “Taan Sau” Hng and “Huhng Gan”, hosted his disciple, and others who later followed: Wohng Wah Bou, Leuhng Yih Taih, and “Daaih Fa Mihn” Gam. The original teachings were carried on by “Taan Sau” Hng and “Huhng Gan” Biu.
Vinh Xuan, vagy Yuht Naahm Wihng Cheun Kyuhn (Yuenan Yong Chun Quan, the Vietnamese Wihng Cheun)
This self-contained style can be regarded as a version of the Wihng Cheun. Several Vietnamese masters have learned fighting arts in South China. The first person to learn Wihng Cheun from the XIX Century Masters was Nguyen Te Cong. Later on, Luong Vu-Te studied at several famous masters', from Chahn Wah Seun to Yihp Mahn. Returning to Vietnam, he taught the style. Today, a uniform Vinh Xuan system was transformed from various epochs derived from Wihng Cheun teachings. Today, this version of Wihng Cheun already also exists in the West.
The Wihng Cheun Family Tree
The genealogical lineage and the stages of the birth of the style
A Wihng Cheun Family Tree 1.
A Wihng Cheun Family Tree 2.
A Wihng Cheun Family Tree 3.
The Wihng Cheun Philosophy
The spirit of martial arts is pervaded by the philosophy of the “Three Great Roads.” These are Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Aside from the physical exercises in China, there is at least, if not of more importance, the ascription of the coefficient of consciousness and energy of which explain through design a philosophical trend in these functions. Of course, in a word, it is here that we speak not one word regarding religious interpretations (which is why I don't go into such things deeply); the philosophy only appears to the extent that it is necessary to explain the principles of the style. And they do not often use the original religious terminology. (For them, this is an appendage of daily life, and similarly as natural as our own general knowledge of, for example, the religious sources of holidays — Easter and Christmas — the knowledge of its original content.)
The origin of Wihng Cheun can be found in the Shaolin styles. Shaolin follows the Buddha branch of Chan, which was founded by Bodhidharma, which is a form of contemplation that emphasizes spiritual practices. Since its first masters were Buddhist priests and nuns, built into it is a completely natural and integrated style of the Chan-Buddhist construct.
One of the often accentuated goals of meditation exercises is to create the emptiness of consciousness. Its aim is to reach such a state of consciousness that it becomes immune to all distracting thoughts, and therefore becomes capable of direct observation of the world's phenomena.
According to the Chan standpoint, with the incessant currents of the everyday knowledge of conscious thought, one is always only able to see oneself, which may not secure real cognition (In other words, through the subject of our reflective schemes — our prejudices — we form filtered thoughts, and as such, our personal thoughts are always eventually perceived as the ultimate thought, never the objective one.). Exercises aimed at the emptying of consciousness runs with serious benefits, since the ability to respond to an adversary's actions is far faster and much more concentrated when not burdened with other thoughts. Thus, almost every Chinese fighting art places emphasis on various kinds of calming and movement meditation exercises.
Many Wihng Cheun masters also teach meditation techniques, but most of those techniques are built into the practices, or the practices give rise to the meditation techniques. Instead of the form being tied to the style, it is more of a free-flowing activity, which is why the compilation of the forms of movement gives more elbow room to improvisations that are necessary for the body and mind alike to be able to acquire it.
The cornerstone of Wihng Cheun is the creation of balance. Balance can never be a purely physical ability. As they say in China, we need to harmonize both the outside and the inside with each other. That is to say, that a real balance can be achieved if, along side the body's forms (correct footing, the lowering the center of gravity, a loose upper body, correct hand positioning, etc.), the consciousness of mind can also be loosened, balanced, and simultaneously grow a focused mind for the practitioner.
According to tradition, the White Crane Monastery was a Taoist monastery, where Hng Muih learned of the Taoist teachings. The style’s techniques of the Taoist characteristics were most favored, not only for those that were being built upon physical strengths, but also for those that grew the role of consciousness.
One of the most well-known symbols of Taoism is the Yin-Yang symbol. This symbol represents a state of equilibrium where Yin is the negative, feminine, dark, cold, and passive side; Yang is of the positive, masculine, warm, active, and luminous traits.
The two opposing forces — the straining might of the continued chop and change of each other, create motion. At the same time, the two forces can not be without each other, since the two qualities in themselves have no meaning in each other. Besides, there is neither a pure Yang nor a pure Yin element; each contains one part from the other. The pure Yin or the pure Yang is an exorbitant; it is an unsustainable state that is forced to contradict itself.
“He who stands on tiptoe is not steady.
He who strides cannot maintain the pace.
He who makes a show is not enlightened.
He who is self-righteous is not respected.
He who boasts achieves nothing.
He who brags will not endure.”
With the struggles and the movements of the two forces, Taoists have been able to describe and explain any phenomenon in the world. In Kung Fu, the various physical states, holds, and techniques have been listed in the two poles, and thus their reciprocity is explained. And so it goes that Yang is the hardness in the body's state (i.e. the tension and the tightening of physical and mental muscles), Yin is softness (i.e. the fluxing and laxness of the physical and mental body), which uninterruptedly alternates with movement, and techniques, and a fundamental defect in the course of movement is its exclusivity. With a concrete example, if a handsome thrust is made with a forehand stroke, the muscles of the hand tighten at that moment, but at the same time, the body must be loose, otherwise the force will “whip back” and move away from our position. Likewise, if with a soft, sagging counter defense we take the opponent's energy, the hold must still be firm enough to furnish the basis for the technique.
An important question is the aspiration of softness, “water”.
“Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water.
Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better;
It has no equal.
The weak can overcome the strong;
The supple can overcome the stiff.
Under heaven everyone knows this,
Yet no one puts it into practice.”
Therefore the sage says:
“He who takes upon himself the humiliation of the people is fit to rule them.
He who takes upon himself the country's disasters deserves to be king of the universe. The truth often sounds paradoxical.”
“Underneath the heavens the weakest are pierced, which is the toughest:
in everything there’s a nest of nothingness, its power is that of non-action.”
Wihng Cheun does not resist force with force, nor is its use of force the use of the usual strength of muscle. The Wihn Cheun executor doesn't jam an opponent's attack with a rigid block (this position used in this style isn’t suitable), but instead tries to lead it away, to neutralize it, and not once turn against it (As the Chinese say: they "borrow" the opponent's power.). The same principle is true for the attack, the defense of the opponent is not necessarily a “break through”, it’s often enough to bypass it, and with some kind of position change to attack the weaker area, toward a side. And what's important is to look for the point of least resistance (by using special exercises that assist in the development in this level of ability).
“Good weapons are instruments of fear; all creatures hate them.
Therefore, followers of Tao never use them.
The wise man prefers the left.
The man of war prefers the right.
Weapons are instruments of fear; they are not a wise man's tools.
He uses them only when he has no choice.
Peace and quiet are dear to his heart,
And victory is no cause for rejoicing.
If you rejoice in victory, then you delight in killing;
If you delight in killing, you cannot fulfill yourself.
On happy occasions precedence is given to the left,
On sad occasions to the right.
In the army the general stands on the left,
The commander-in-chief on the right.
This means that war is conducted like a funeral.
When many people are being killed,
They should be mourned in heartfelt sorrow.
That is why a victory must be observed like a funeral.”
As several masters have conceived, Kung-fu is a means of self-defense, and is not to be continually shown off all the time. One should not initiate a fight to merely prove one's abilities. Peaceful behavior has a practical reasoning; a defensive attitude trains unity, and through the attacker's own movements he "opens" himself up, giving way to counterattacks, and thus causing his own demise.
(Quotations selected by Laozi: Az Út és Erény Könyve [The Book of Road and Virtue] by Sándor Weöres.)
Master Yu said:
“There are few who have developed themselves filially and fraternally who enjoy offending their superiors. Those who do not enjoy offending superiors are never troublemakers. The noble man concerns himself with the fundamentals. Once the fundamentals are established, the proper way appears. Are not filial piety and obedience to elders fundamental to the actualization of fundamental human goodness?”
Chinese martial arts are characterized by a strict sub-hierarchy. The style family system, with the family-specific constraints is where Si Fuh the “father” stays the “father”, even if his pupil's knowledge over time becomes greater than his own; this is the typical respect that is always due. Traditionally, these family ties are indissoluble, and the disciple selects for himself a master for life.
Of course, this relationship is reciprocal if the master accepts the disciple; the disciple is duty-bound to take care of his master (It's not infrequent that he/she often lives with his master, and it is often a common practice that he/she even cares for his/her master throughout the master’s old age.), and to pass on that knowledge, of what readies the inclusion of the physical and spiritual. Of course, even in the East, such close ties are rare, but the nature of the connections has preserved a lot of the traditional forms.
(Many of the quotations are of Kung Fu-Confucius, and translated by A. Charles Muller, at the University of Tokyo.)
The sacred Numbers
The interesting thing about the building of the style is that the elements of Wihng Cheun regularly contain the sacred numbers of Buddhism and Taoism. For example: 4, 8, 9, 12, 18, 36, 72, 108. (They're mostly products of 4, 8, and 9.). From it 4 gates were created, and 108 kata movements (Yihp Mahn's 108 “Puppet Form” movements were created, which is also said to have added 8 additional moves, thus becoming a 116 movement form.), based on 8 principles.
To the practice in the East to today the numbering system has been maintained.
The 8 Principles of Wihng Cheun
1. The Principle of the “Center Line”
The Center Line is the pivotal theory of Wihng Cheun. It plays an important role in understanding both the basic movements, both the defense and the attack. The center line is an imaginary axis running through the human body.
The movements and rotations are executed around it, and during the exercise it is of paramount importance that the center line be in the right position. At the same time, along the line there are the body's vulnerable internal organs, thus in the course of attacking, this area is attacked, and these are the areas to be protected the most.
This is the most impotent part of the body, so in the case of an attack, if our side is attacked, we can neutralize that attack with one turn, while the attacks on the center line are countered primarily by hand. The opponent's center line may vary depending on the direction in which we are attacking, and what kind of angle we stand on. It’s also important that the body and back are straight. Wihng Cheun is not characterized by such movements as stepping straight forward into or straight backward from the attack. The representative of the style doesn't duck from the attack, but moves away from it.
2. The Principle of “Movement of Economics”
Wihng Cheun strives for the least amount of movements during a fight. When attacking, we always move in the most direct direction. There are no misleading movements or gimmicks. Only the most necessary moves should be carried out at time of defense, a defense that diverts the attacker's hand, so that he can’t reach us. An executioner only responds to an actual contact threat, so unnecessary maneuvers won’t be found.
The combat distance is less than the usual in other styles, and likewise makes the movement more thrifty — smaller steps, and smaller turns; the attack of the opponent only needs to be responded to when it comes within fighting distance. The smaller the distance also reduces the amount of applied force needed to be used (less leverage force); thus, it is with a weaker body weight, and a strategy that women can exercise.
It's important that we always use the right amount of energy. The use of too little or the use of too much alike is a mistake. It's essential that the fighter learns to relax. If any part of the body is tense, it will make the whole of it rigid, and the opponent will be able to use it against us.
3. The Principle of “Facing-off and Versatility”
In Wihng Cheun, a stance is designed so that the hip always looks ahead toward the opponent. (“The Dan Dian looks at the opponent's center line.”) This requires the same — and equal — use of the two hands. At the same time, these holdings are never rigid. When attacking, we always try to attack the opponent's more vulnerable, weaker side; on the flip side, when protecting oneself from the opponent's energy we neutralize it by pivoting, using turning defenses, and small steps.
The two basic positions: Yih mah and Choh mah
The hip looks in the direction of the adversary in a side poise, and rolling out is not just precautionary, either.
4. The Principle of “Fixing the Elbow”
The poises are designed to form an entire seal. Normally, the arms protect the body, and don't rise from it; the elbows remain within the body line. If the hand position is incorrect, the technique won't work. Implementation must always be accurate and smooth. (Grand Master Yihp Mahn's two sons were named Yihp Jeun and Yihp Jing. Jeun means “smooth” and Jing means “accurate.”)
(See the two basic poises in the previous section.)
5. The Principle of “Simultaneity”
As an enhancement of efficacy, Wihng Cheun masters rejected the “give-and-get” fight. The counter-attack, or the defense that occurs simultaneously (with one hand we counter, and with the other we strike), or an attack immediately after the defensive action, or with the deflection of the attacker's hand movement the attack is transformed into a counter-attack.
6. The Principle of the “Four Gates”
From the viewpoint of defense, the body has been divided into three heights, or levels, and four gates. The upper level is from the rib cage and above, which is only defended by hand. The midrange extends from the ribs to the sexual organs, and is usually defended by the hands, but may also be defended by the feet and legs. And the lower section is below the genital area, the place where we only defend with the legs and feet. Gate 4 is formed with the intersection of the so-called heart line through the midline and the rib cage. Gate 4 symbolizes incoming attacks from four different directions, and with the arm is truly the most economical counter method of attack (slides below). (There are a number of different kinds of techniques in the martial arts branches that execute countless varieties of attack modes; however, one thing always remains constant: an opponent needs to be approached in some way, and its directions are closely linked to anatomy. Thus, it is not primarily the technique that is to be tackled, but the “orientation of self” that must be learned to be defended.
7. The Principle of the “Threatening Hand”
For defensive purposes, we strive to shut down the opponent's arms in order to disarm him and render him defenseless.
8. The Principle of “Adhesion”
This is one of the most peculiar Wihng Cheun techniques. During the fight we strive to control the limbs of the opponent. To achieve this, we often reach for the opponent's arm so that it'll be easier to feel movement and respond faster. In that attack, we strive for the “jam”, which is designed to “open up” the protected area to expose it to a counterattack. (According to one slogan: “If it comes, stop it, if it retreats, follow it, depose of the hand, and break it, steady as she goes!”) To learn how to do this, there are special “sticky hand” and “sticky foot” exercises. (See also later chapters)
One series of moves is Chi sau (the “sticky hand”), and Chi geuk (the “sticky foot”) exercises — implemented attacks based on basic movements.
The “Murkiness” of Wihng Cheun
In the China of old, most of the teachings were not written down, but were instead spoken orally. Owing to to this, there are several known martial art forms in the style, one being Kyuhn kyut. Kyuhn kyut (Quan jue, denotes a martial arts song, and a proverbial expression) is a short, collected form facilitating memorability, and a principle associated with style. The sayings played the role of being an “identifier” among those belonging to the school (In the secret societies battling the Manchurian, much of Wihng Cheun can be found.). Therefore, over time, several rumors have, due to obsolescence, or lack of applicability, disappeared (e.g. working as a password, Faan Ching fuk Mihng — Fan Qing fu Ming, meaning “Le a Qing — with a dynasty, going back to the Ming Dynasty”). What's left is that this indeed points out the essential elements of the system. Yihp Mahn had collected the rumors he knew, and jotted them down. To ensure the longevity of the documents, and to give an artistic form to the work, it was decided to carve the sayings into a stamp rock in a form that documents the history of Wihng Cheun from the founder himself. (Traditionally, in China, the personal stamp served as a "signature", and a practice that is used today, although nowadays only between painters, calligraphers and among martial artists.) The work was executed by Muih Yaht, one of the students, and a nephew, Gwong Jeh Nam. They had already spent four years choosing the stones. 51 stones were finally formed to make the full collection. Each piece was carved with great care, with the calligraphic type of the era it represented. The whole range spans the whole history of Wihng Cheun. Some of the stones contain the information that at that time contained the most important points in the development of the lives of the masters, while still other stones included the names and most important points of the forms. The work of the carvings lasted for six years, and was completed under Grand Master Yihp Mahn's control before his death. The stones are now exhibited in an Ohio school, part of which serves as a museum The locution of the Wihng Cheun Kyuhn kyut-sign can be divided into 4 types:
• The Result
• The Forms
• The Warning
• The Quality
• The Forms
• The Warning
• The Quality
• The Result
These locutionary operations, or movements of outcome tell the story. For example: “Da sau jik siu sau” (Da shou ji xiao shou) “The simultaneous strike is also a defense.” (Literally, this tells you to depose of the hand with your striking hand, or that you can depose the hand wih your striking hand.)
The Various Counter Blow Forms
These are the equations for the conformations: “Loih lauh heui sung. Lat sau jihk chung” (Lai lou gu song, tuo shou zhi chong). “If it comes, stop it! If it retreats, follow it! Depose of the hand, then break it straight away!”
These sayings warn the disciple to avoid particular mistakes while practicing or fighting: "Paak sau gei noih muhn" (Pai shou ji nei men). “Protect yourself by avoiding the inner door!” (Paak sau may become self-defeating if it is a poor implementation.)
The opponent's inner gate is defended with a hit by the palm of the hand.
With the protecting hand we can attack by affixing Lahp-da.
These sayings determine the quality of certain techniques, or principles, within the system: “Yahn hahng gong, ngoh hahng yihn” (Ren hang gong wo hang xian). “Others are on the bow, I'm on the string.” This is Wihng Cheun's economy; the endeavor of the shortest line of attack prevails.
An opponent kicks with a circular arc, while simultaneously we attack the supporting leg with a straight kick.
We protect ourselves from the opponent's round-shot by using Taan da.
Master Rankings in Classical Chinese Martial Arts
Even up to today a significant bit of the traditional Chinese martial arts mirrors the old Chinese family system. The father hands over his knowledge to his son — naturally, we have here just a word about the direct handover — and the boy passes it to his grandson. The disciple-chain is unbroken as long as the family still exists.
But this peculiarity endured when the art was no longer just a family system. The most common “style” translated Ga (Jia) is to mean one word, family. My “instructor”, or my “master” is my Si Fuh, that is, my dad, or maybe Si Jou, that is, the “Ancient Founder.” Likewise, my disciple Touh Yih, that is, my son, and so on. This, of course, also means that in classical styles the names are always compared to someone else.
Accordingly, my direct instructor — independent of the degree — is always my Si Fuh, my instructor instructs my Si Gung, and so forth. (This is the family system that has already capsized to a large degree. As with in Karate, in general, Sempai, Sensei, and etc., it's just a graduator counter, with no other underlying content.)
The “family” is hierarchically structured, and only rarely changes. Someone can only get into one (This is practically relevant for today, too!) if “the family admits you into it.” And the handover here can only be direct. From studying books or videos, even today, the person can not “become a member of the family” either.
The structure of the family is shown in the following figure.
Most of the Wihng Cheun styles include a total of seven positions. At the basic level, only three of them are used. These are the following: the Yih jih mah, or Yih mah, the Choh mah, and the Bik mah.
Yih jih mah
The style's basic stance is based on the Yih jih mah, or Yih mah (Er zi ma; Er ma, that is to say, the Two Scripts Stance, or the Two Stances). Basic movement patterns are always performed from this position. In Yih mah, weight is distributed equally on both legs. The stance is approximately the width of the hips, a width that is sufficient to be sufficiently stable, and one which the executor can easily move in any direction, and enables great usage of the legs. It allows the equal use of both our hands when we face the adversary (Of course, what this means is that it's necessary to be able to use both hands in Wihng Cheun in order to use a level of response equal to both a suitable defense and a suitable offense.). The practitioner here finds the practical use of the Yin-Yang principle for the first time, namely Yin, which is soft, resilient, and nimble, to use our hands freely and swiftly, and to use Yang from our waist down, which is solid, firm, and stable, that we should create the techniques for a strong foundation. If the principle is violated (where the hold isn't strong enough, or the upper body is overly rigid, whether it's the arm, or the back) the attacker’s power sweeps away the practitioner.
A Snapshot of the Stance:
We should stand upright with closed legs in a loose poise (Figure 1). We then take our closed fists and rest them beside our hips (Figure 2); thereafter, we lift them straight up to our chest.
With our knees bent, we turn on the ball of the foot, pointing our heels outward (Figure 3), then on our heels we open our feet (Figure 4); we once again turn our heels outward, so that the feet are slightly pointed inward (Figure 5).
The Yih jih mah side view.
The Choh mah (the Zuo ma; the Seated Horse Stance) uses the Yih jih approach when we pivot away and parry, or when we move away. It also lends itself to a modified stance: Simply, after the initiation of Yih mah, we can turn up to 45 degrees in any direction. The bulk of the body weight is in the pivoting leg.
The third basic poise is the Bik mah (Bi ma, a.k.a. the Chasing Horse or Pressing Horse). Basically, there are two ways to apply it. Using Yih mah (Choh mah), we turn in a direction, or move forward along our midline, in a way that the hip simulates the Yih mah, and the bulk of the body weight is on the back leg.
In truth, the following fourth position is related to higher-level forms of Wihng Cheun; up to the present, many of the Wihng Cheun branches have only been teaching progressive levels. The Diu mah (the Hanging Stance) is the first in Biu Ji, the Paah mah is in the Muhk Yahn Jong Faat form, and the Mah bouh and Gung mah have emerged as weapons forms.
The Gung mah (Gong ma; the Bow Stance) is the southern version of the offensive stance, which is a shorter, rough version of the northern hip-width stance. The Yih mah is essentially used as a forward or a back step. During a fight, it is the most commonly used basic stance.
The Mah bouh (Ma bu; the Horse Stance) is rather only in use for armed exercises. The bare-hand application is thrusted at the shoulder, and some liberation at the hand occurs. Likewise, it's assumed to be like the Yih mah, but the feet are opened up parellel to each other, then the center of gravity is lowered.
The Diu mah (Diao ma; the Hanging-Horse Stance) is used in the same manner as with Bik mah (Bik ma; the Jamming Stance). The difference here is that with Diu mah, the weight is slightly on the back leg, and the front foot only touches the ground with the toes.
The Paan mah (Ban ma; the Turning Stance) is the least used stance in the style. A frontal attack can quickly be evaded by using it, but its usage should not be long-lasting because it can be vulnerable to attack too easily. Any kind of stance can be assumed with a cross step. Most of the body weight is transferred to the crossing leg.
Mahn sau-Wuh sau
The basics of Wihng Cheun is the hand position. They consist of two defenses in all. One is the Mahn sau (Wen shou; the Asking Hand, or the Greeting Hand), which is consequently the name of the first encounter with the opponent's technique; and the second one is Wuh sau (Hu shou; the Protecting or Guarding Hand), which is most likely to play a role if the opponent's hand fails to be stopped at the first instance. The Mahn sau is located in front of the body in front of the Jung sin (the midline), and jung sam sin (the mid-heart line) juncture, that is, at the center of the Four Gates. Thus, we can move it easily in every direction. Likewise, the Wuh sau is located on the midline of the body, but above the Mahn sau, in front of the chin and throat.
With the Paak Sau (Pai Shou; the Palm Defense) the opponent's arm is led away, either sideways, or backwards (especially for the inner gate defenses, which can be seen in the picture), or the energy is averted back toward the opponent (mainly when defending the outer gate).
The defense moves across the front of the body to the shoulder line.
The Taan sau (Tan shou; Tan sau; the Splitting Hand; the "Spreading-hand" Deflection; “Dispersing”-Throwing off mass and force from Center) is one of the most common Wihng Cheun parries. It best serves to parry straight line, or perhaps even slightly arched attacks. We push the defense through the center line and drive it forward. Here, too, we strike out the hand to the shoulder line.
The Bong Sau (Bang Shou; the Wing Hand) is perhaps the most well-known Wihng Cheun style technique. Its usage is forward and to displace the opponent's attack laterally.
We mostly use Fak sau (Fu shou; the Subduing Hand) when attacked laterally, or if we want to gain space against the opponent, and we want to distance ourselves from it, to prepare for a kick, for example.
Using the Jaam Sau (the Zhanshou; the Cut or Cutting Hand), as the name indicates, we drop our hands with a cutting motion on the center line. This defense serves mostly against straight-line attacks.
The Gaan sau (the Xian shou; the Splitting Hand) is started just like the Jaam sau, but we don't stop on our midline, we divert the opponent's attack away from us. We mostly use it against foot techniques and the more powerful hand techniques.
The Gam sau (the Jin shou; the Pressing Hand) is always relatively narrow, leading down next to the body. In this defense, it is especially important to use the elbow and the body properly. Exclusively using an elbow alone, this defense will can be useless.
With the Hyun sau (the Quan shou; the Circling Hand), we divert the opponent's strength, and then lead the hand away. In the first half of the movement, we protect ourselves by using the forearm and wrist, and by diverting the opponent's energy in toward us, then changing the energy's direction, and leading the hand out to open up the opponent's body before attacking it.
In the execution of the Jaht sau (the Zhi shou [Jut Sau]; the Jerking Hand), we reach out toward the opponent's attack, and then we attack into it with an arm, then divert it downward. Proper use of elbows is important for its proper application.
After the Lahp sau (Lap sau; La shou; the Clamp Hand), we simply stick to our opponent's hand, and then lead it away by pulling it downwards while we attack the free part.
We mostly use them for stronger attacks or double attacks.
The Gwan sau (Kwan Sau; Gun shou; the Rotating Hand) is actually a Taan sau and a Bong sau jointly performed. We mostly use it against strong circular attacks, so we always turn away (mostly in Choh mah), thus facing the attack of the opponent.
Seung gaan sau
The Seung gaan sau (Shuang xian shou; the Double Splitting/Dividing-hand) is a lower and upper Gaan sau combined. We use it against double attacks, or to close the attack line (providing cover).
Yaht jih kyuhn
The Yaht jih kyuhn (Yat Ji Kuen; Ri zi quan; the Sun-character (Basic Vertical) Fist/Punch) is the best-known strike type of Wihng Cheun. Its name comes from the fact that the front the fist is held vertically, and resembles the form of the Sun-character. It was the first to be taught as the most basic type of strike, and is the basis for all other types of hand techniques.
When using the Faan cheuih (Fan chui; Flipping cover punch; the Uppercut), we hit the median line upwards while we screw our elbow inward toward the hit and get the punch to be supported from underneath. We usually aim for the head, mostly the chin, but the ribs and chest can also be targeted.
The Ngoh jeung (Waang Jeung; Wo zhang; the Laying Palm Strike) is one of our most used palm strikes. When using it, the palm of your hand (from the full arm) is turned sideways, so it is better to “lay into” the attacked surface. With this strike we target both the head and torso.
The Yan jeung (the Yin zhang; the Straight Vertical Palm Strike) is executed with a simple straight hit with an open hand. With it, we primarily attack the head.
The Fak sau (the Fu shou; the Whisking/Whipping Hand" Attack) is a hand technique used as both a defense and an attack. With it we can attack the vulnerable points of the body and head, and the arms equally.
The Biu ji (the Biu Jee; Bue Tze; Bil Gee; Biao zhi; the Shooting or Darting Finger, or the Marking Finger) is executed by the thrust of a fingertip, which is primarily used to attack vulnerable parts of the body.
The Wihng Cheun typically uses a southern solution that is mostly used as low-altitude kicks, and from them this is just one type of the stomping variants. Here, we primarily attack vulnerable parts of the body (e.g., the knees).
The Jihk tek (Jik tek; Zhi ti; the Straight Kick) is the most commonly used kick technique style. We first lift our knee, and then stretch out both the leg and the foot straight forward with a stepping motion. The hip does not lean forward during the kick.
The Jak Tek (Ce ti; the Side Kick) starts off by flinging the knee out like a straight kick, but then simultaneously turns sideways and expends the hip toward the direction of the kick, but it doesn’t turn completely over.
The execution of the Yauh tek (Rou ti; Jeet Juk Tek; the Treadle Kick; the Kick Counter; is the same as the Jihk Tek, but the target is the leg, usually the knee).
We characteristically protect the stronger energy of an executed kick attack with two hands. These are the two-handed versions of the well-known basic defenses.
This is a rear hand Taan sau, and front hand Paak sau combination defense, that we generally use against a high round-house kick. With the Paak sau, we defend at the knee and we try to stay close to the opponent so that he can not lay out the full force of the kick.
The Gwan Sau is a Taan sau and a Bong sau combined. We mostly use it against strong circular attacks, which are why we always turn away (mostly to Choh mah); with it we turn away with the opposition's attack.
Seung gaan sau
The Seung gaan sau is executed in concert with a lower and an upper Gaan sau. It is used against wheel kicks, and double attacks.
Sat Saan Cheuih
Sat Saan Cheuih (Sa san chui; the Separator; the Splitting Hand) is an exercise and move with simply two hands and movement (we first rotate, then step forward and backwards), which assists in mastering the correct use of your own body. There are several variations of it, two of which I introduce.
In its basic form, the hit is executed with a simple rotation, where the two hands move together, and help in the rotation.
In the later variant we initiate a high outside blow from our one hand, while our other hand initiates a strike from below (as if we would want to execute the Jaam sau), lunging the strike into a circular motion, and then turning it back to the outside. (The two hands move simultaneously; only for training purposes do we separate the movement for the sake of the pictures.) You can use the move to break the opponent's defense, and to fight hands and feet attacks.
Saam Baai Fat
The Wihng Cheun Katas
In Kung Fu, the purpose of katas is designed to provide distortion-free techniques with various stylistic concepts, and the needed acquisition of the necessary body skills. In the Wihng Cheun system, the three bare-handed forms “thread” the guidelines for the material movements.
The first form of Saam Baai Fat (Siu Nihm Tauh) — and its associated exercises — includes the basic techniques of the style, helping to master the needed basic principles in practice (laxity, the midline principle, etc.)
The second kata form is the Chahm Kiuh (the Cham Kiu), which means “Bridge Quest.” In Chinese martial arts a bridge is another name for the relationship between the arms, which is why we should also translate the expression to the “Arm Quest”, or “Finding the Arms.” This form teaches highly important movements in Wihng Cheun, and the adaption of hand and foot techniques during movement. In addition, it also serves for us a method to perfectly learn how to track the movements of the opponent, with the enrollment of the connection and management of the hands. The Saam Baai Fat and Chahm Kiuh collectively cover most of Wihng Cheun's material of movement. The Chahm Kiuh represents a more difficult degree compared to Saam Baai Fat. Here, the precise techniques were mastered in Saam Baai Fat, and the balance of movement must be maintained. Finding and maintaining our balance (both physical and psychological) is one of the cornerstones of Wihng Cheun.
The third form is the Biu Ji. The Biu Ji is actually a “collection of ideas” in the event that we are in a difficult situation during a fight. We can only use the Biu Ji properly if we have already mastered the Saam Baai Fat and Chahm Kiuh, and we have understood them in depth. And actually, it is only then that we will often understand the considered basic forms of Saam Baai Fat and Chahm Kiuh, even if we already have other forms under our belt. The Muhk Yahn Jong Faat (the Wooden Dummy kata) is a kind of summary of various forms of motion. The use of the puppet helps to improve the technical accuracy and the ability to sense distance (since we need to constantly move “in relation to something else”).
The weaponized forms, in addition to intrinsic weapons handling craftsmanship, help to enhance the style of movement and the skills needed (balance, laxity, and strength).
As a matter of fact, all of the forms are master forms in the style; that is to say that there are no special practicioner and master kata exercises assigned to one or the other, but only movements that are understood and realized at a higher level. In this sense, in all of its forms there is the unfolding of a fundamental idea. Saam Baai Fat is the principles, Chahm Kiuh is the movement, and Biu Ji (Biu Jee) is the close-range form of the use of its energy. If someone neglects the practice of the Saam Baai Fat and Chahm Kiuh on a more advanced level, then their own Wihng Cheun will be weakened.
Saam Baai Fat
The Saam Baai Fat and its exercises are the first that we encounter in the course of the mastering of Wihng Cheun. Therefore, this form contains the basic techniques of the style, and it helps to master the style's basic principles (laxity, and the midline principle, etc.). Perhaps the most important step in this is the accurate implementation of the form. Obviously, if the groundwork is bad, it'll be much harder to fix somebody's mistakes. The Saam Baai Fat is a kata of the Qigong series of the Wihng Cheun. In the course of the exercise, we circulate the energy of our breathing, thoughts, and physical movements with the regulating of the Small and Big Circle. The purpose of this exercise is to learn how to drive energy into the limbs, and to control both every correct movement with the mind, and the circulation of Qi.
The timing for doing a workout is important; that is to say that the katas in the mornings and evenings diverge. While exercising the form, our body must be kept loose, and only those muscle groups that are exerting energy should be strained. There are slow and vigorous parts of the form that alternate with each other. Quick and powerful movements are always followed by a mellowing. The pace of the kata and the alternation of the use of force and the alleviation of that force are extremely essential for the adaption of the style to prevail.
The Saam Baai Fat name references the start of the Taan-Hyun-Jaam-Wuh series executed with both hands, where the Wuh sau hold, and in part, movements, are in accordance with those used by the applied salutations of the old Buddhist priests.
Let us bring our fists to our hips...
...next, raise them vertically to the sides of our chest. Then we bend our knees, turn on the balls of our feet, and spread our heels.
...next, raise them vertically to the sides of our chest. Then we bend our knees, turn on the balls of our feet, and spread our heels.
Next, on our heels we open and spread our feet, and then we expand our heels once again.
We take both hands straight down into a double Chaap sau (Sahp jih sau; the Thrusting Hand), then we loosen our hands, and bring them up into a double Taan sau (the "Spreading-hand" Deflection).
We close our hands and make a fist, and pull them back to our chest. Then we punch with the left fist at chest level.
From the picture on the previous page. Our fist is opened into the Taan sau position. The elbow should be stretched, and the dorsal side of the hand kept at shoulder height.
From the picture on the previous page. We finally twist the dorsal side of our hand inwards into Hyun sau...
...then the whole arm is dropped loosely with Muh sau.
We end the movement by pulling our hand back to the chest. And subsequently, we now strike in the same manner with the right hand.
We open our fist so that the palm faces upward into Taan sau. Twisting our dorsal inwardly we implement Hyun sau (the Circling Hand).
By loosely dropping our hands with Muh sau we protect our arm.
Our arms fall loose with Muh sau (the Wiping hand)…
...then we bring our hand back to the basic position. Open our left fist into a Taan sau...
...and bring it forward on our centerline, then open it to the body line.
Turn our hand into a Hyun Sau, and we are protected by a downward Jaam sau.
From the picture on the previous page. We pull our hand back to the center line in front of our body, about a fist away, and then...
…we pick up Fuhk sau with our loosely dropped dorsal side of our hands, and push them forward on the center line.
We then turn our hand into Taan sau, and follow it up with Hyun sau and Jaam sau. Thereafter, we pull our hands back to the center line in front of our body, and then loosely drop the hand and bring it back up to the Fuhk sau position again.
Holding the Fuhk sau position, push our hand forward on our center line and stretch it out into Taan sau.
Once again, it is followed up by Hyun Sau and Jaam Sau, and then we bring our hand back to in front of the chest.
We protect ourselves with Paak sau, then bring our hand back to the center line...
...and let's punch foreward with Yan Jung. Then turn our hand to the Taan sau position...
...then we execute Hyun sau, followed by a drop of our hand into Muh sau...
...and we pull it back to our chest, returning to the basic position. Now open our right fist to make a Taan sau.
Bring it forward on the center line, and we open it up to the body line.
Turn our hand into Hyun Sau, and we provide cover with a downward Jaam sau (Centering Elbow; "Sinking Elbow").
We pull our hands back to the center line in front of our body, roughly a fist away, and we pick up our loosely dropped dorsal side of our hand into a Fuhk sau position.
Push our hand forward on the center line. Turn over to Taan sau ...
... then again follow it with Hyun Sau and Jaam Sau. We pull our hands back to the center line to in front of our body.
With our loosely lowered dorsal side of our hand, we pick up the Fuhk sau position, and push it forward on the center line.
Let's open to Taan sau, followed again by Hyun sau and Jaam sau.
Thirdly, we put our hand back in front of the chest, and we protect our side with Paak sau.
Let's put our hand back onto the centerline and push forward with a palm in Yan jeung.
Turn our hand over to Taan sau, then execute Hyun sau. Let's put our hands down into Muh sau, and pull it back to our chest.
We turn our left hand palm downward and protect our body with Gam sau.
Now let's turn our right hand palm down and protect our body with Gam sau.
We put both hands on our hips and knock them back with dual Gam sau.
We again bring both hands back to our hips, and now we execute a double strike forward with a Yan jeung.
We send both hands into a Laahn sau, so that our left hand is on top and then we blow both hands to the side.
Let's bring our hands back to Laahn sau so that we have our right hand is on top, and then we raise our hands...
...and we defend downward with Jaam Sau. We raise our hands into a double Taan sau...
... then we pull back our elbows and protect ourselves with a double Jaht sau (Juht sau), and push forward at roughly face height (eye and throat may be the target).
Next we loosely drop our arms, and defend a double Muh sau, then with a decisive move we rip open our arms...
...and bring our hands back to the basic position. Now we open our left fist and defend it with Paak sau about 45 degrees forward.
then put your hand back onto the center line, and punch forward with Ngoh jeung. After a strike, we turn our hands to Taan sau, and make Hyun sau...
then we close the movement with Muh sau.
Now open up our right fist, and defend with a Paak sau. Let's get our hands back on the center line...
...then we'll strike forward with Ngoh jeung. Let's turn our hands back to Taan sau...
...let's now do a Hyun sau, then we block the motion with Muh sau.
With your left hand we defend in forward with Taan sau.
Release our hands and drop iinto Jaam sau. Let us lift Taan sau again...
... then drop it to Gaan sau. Third, defend with Taan sau ...
... then drop our hands and protect ourselves with Hyun Sau ...
... and we should attack forward at hip height with jeung. Then, as usual, turn our hand into Taan sau...
...and we close with the Hyun Sau and Muh sau.
Now, with the right hand, we defend ahead with Taan sau.
Release our hand and drop it into Jaam sau, then lift it back up to a Taan sau again.
Let's drop our hand into Gaan sau, and then defend for the third time with Taan sau.
Let's drop our hand again and defend Hyun sau
We attack forward with Ngoh jeung at hip height, and open our hand into a Taan sau.
As usual, Hyun sau and Muh sau close the movement.
Let's put our hands down, with the dorsal side of our hand hanging down next to the hip...
... then with a slow move to the other side, then pull our our hand back,
Let us punch forward with the palm, and as usual we turn our hand into Taan sau.
Hyun sau and Muh sau close the movement.
Now we lower our right hand.
Let us slowly move to the other side, and pull our hand back.
Üssünk előre tenyérrel. A szokott módon fordítsuk Taan sau-ba kezünket.
Hyun sau és Muh sau zárja a mozgást.
Throw out our left hand and defend forward Bong sau at chest level.
Then drop it down to Jaam sau, so that the palm faces up this time. Then we strike forward at hip height with Din jeung.
Turn our hand over into Taan sau, and as usual with Hyun sau...
... and, we close the movement with Muh sau.
Now, lift our right hand out, and defend forward at chest height with Bong sau. Let's drop our hand, pointing our palm upward into Jaam sau...
...then we'll strike forward at hip height with Din jeung. Turn our hand over to Taan sau.
Then we close the movement as usual.
With the left hand we stab straight ahead downward with Chaap sau, and we place our right hand over our left forearm.
Then with our right hand we pierce downward, and bring your left hand back to our right arm. We again jab straight downward with our left hand Chaap sau...
...then with the right hand, but this time our left hand is in a fist pointed forward. With our left hand we strike straight forward at the right chest, while our right hand comes back to the center line...
...then we hit with our right hand, and then again with our left, but this time we pull our right hand back to base position.
And as usual, Taan sau, and Hyun sau...
...and with a Muh sau series we close the movements.
Then we close the form.
The Kata Form of Applied Potential
There are many variation possibilities and levels of interpretation in the elements of form exercises that exist; so the exercises presented herein is only an introduction to a few of those applications.
• Counter Strikes
In Wihng Cheun, the strike doesn't just serve as an attack, we can also stop the opponent's attacking hand with it (Or we can strike with a defense.). Counter strike the opponent's strike (figure 2), then while pulling back our striking hand, we lay it on our opponent’s striking hand and pull it down, and simultaneously attack the head (figure 3).
If our opponent dips his free hand into our attack (picture 3), we pull it down in the same way, and then attack the head at the same time (figure 4).
• Hyun sau
The opponent hangs on to our wrist (picture 1). In a Fuhk sau hold, with a twisting movement, we lead our forearm into the opponent's direction (Figure 2), and when the hand is on top of the opponent's hand, we push down the hand with our wrist to break the hold, and attack at the same time (picture 3).
• Gam sau
Your opponent wants to jam our elbows with a grab (Figure 1). We step out a bit to gain space, and with Gam sau we release our wrist from the grab (Figure 2). Then we retaliate with a shoulder shot (Figure 3).
• Gam sau
Your opponent wants to jam our elbows with a grab. We step out a bit, and at the same time we free our wrist from the hold with Gam sau laterally (Figure 2). Then we step our leg behind the oponent's leg, and we take him to the ground (Figures 3 and 4). We end the exercise with a punch (Figure 5).
• Gam sau
Our opponent puts his arms around us from behind (picture 1). Drawing our arms forward, we make a little space for the attack (Figure 2), then we fix our adversary's arm with our right hand, and we strike some sensitive areas using the Gam sau (genitals, loins, the inner thighs) (Figure 3). Then we reach up, lie on his arm and throw it off by flipping our hips (figure 4). We use our knee to lock his arm (picture 5), and finish the exercise with a punch (Figure 6).
• Paak sau-Ngoh jeung
The opponent's punch is defended by an external Paak sau (Figure 2). The next strike is parried by retracting the the hand to the center line (figure 3), and then we are ready to attack (Figure 4).
• Taan sau-Gaan sau
We parry the opponent's strike with an outside Taan sau (Figure 2), and then the next strike to our torso is defended with Gaan da (Figure 3).
• Taan sau-Hyun sau
The opponent's strike is defended by an external Taan sau (Figure 2). The next sting to the body is parried by Fuhk sau (Fig. 3), and then we'll immediately continue the movement, and while we remove his hand to the side with Hyun sau, we counter attack (Figure 4).
• Bong sau-Jaam sau-Din jeung
The opponent's strike is parried with an external Bong sau (Figure 2), and next, a strike to the body is defended with Jaam sau (Figure 3), and we counterstrike with a palm hit under his hand (4. picture).
• Chaap sau
Our opponent grabs our hand (picture 1). We defend ourself with our free hand using Chaap sau (2. picture), while our other hand pops out of the clasp by moving backwards (Figure 3). We then counterstrike with a hit (Figures 4 and 5).
Chi Sau-Lahp Sau
What is Chi Sau? Chi Sau (a.k.a. the Sticky Hand) is a special form of teaching and practice form. The instructor can use this practice to work out his student's techniques. This makes for a good opportunity to teach the pupil applicable contingencies, and some common mistakes, and provides ideas to the individual applications; and most importantly, to demonstrate how Wihng Cheun's principles work in practice.
In China it is said that Wihng Cheun is composed of two parts: the Way and the Sensation. The Way is a technique that is elaborated precisely, and the Sensation is what we provide to the disciple with different exercises. If I explain to you how to “borrow the power of your opponent,” you still won't be able to make the techniques work unless you practice them and learn how to make them work in the real world. As another saying says, “teaching always goes from one hand to another”; that is to say that it can only be learned from a more experienced party. Two inexperienced practitioners, if no one controls them, only deepen their own mistakes.
During the first exercise, with two hands we first press your partner’s hand, and then "clamp" onto it; by being able to observe his other movements more directly with this clamp, we can now try to break through his defense more effectively, and divert his attacks to overcome his strength. The grip doesn’t only mean a grip on the arms, but if your partner tries to “break free”, we can also follow the opponent with various vigorous exercises. The essence of Chi Sau is to “give strength” to the partner in order to practice diverting and suppressing the strength of the attacks; it’s a “strength rendering” in order to learn to circumvent it, and to redirect it back to its source.
So here’s a word about the exercise. This isn’t a fight! The attack is instructive, and doesn't serve to overcome opponents, but to assist them in learning. The instructor doesn't have to show how much better he is than his disciple, but to teach what works from his ideas in a melee combat and what doesn't. The ultimate aim of Chi Sau is to completely free a hand, and the use of the body, to make the most of our potential. There is nowhere where there are two identical people, so there can never be two combatants using Wihng Cheun identically. Only basic techniques that are bound sets of forms will necessarily be the same. Students must find the best body use appropriate for his or her aptitude, and this is the difference for each individual.
In the course of teaching, first the practitioner come across the one-handed sticky exercises (as a base on Chi Daan Sau, then its various forms and exercises, and then its unrestricted use). Then there are various "leads", or preparatory elements for the two-handed exercises, during which each technique joins additional simple exercises, whereby the use of the given technique is learned. This is followed by Puhn Sau and Puhn Sau Wohng Sau, which teach the precise execution of two-handed movements, and keeping the proper distance and balance (both the body and hand positions alike). Then the Puhn sau is combined with the other practices (Lahp Sau, Paak Sau), and we try to apply different elements with less and less confinement. Finally, Chi Sau becomes completely free and no longer focuses on the practice of the techniques but on the development of our own movements and balance.
Chi Daan Sau
In practice, using the Saam Baai Fat elements, we execute a simple, one-handed set of movements. This will help you to understand how to control your opponent's movements, to break through his defense, to drive away, absorb, to overcome and to reverse his attacks. It also teaches how to implement the most economical use of force. Practicing is not supposed to be a fight; the goal isn't to really hit your partner. And it's rather important to move continuously, but it's not necessary to strive for overzealously fast movements.
The exercise starts from the Taan sau-Fuhk sau hold position (Figure 1).
The first practitioner throws up his hand forward from the Taan sau stance (Figure 2; practitioner on the left starts) into a palm strike (Figure 2) that is then defended with Jaam sau (Figures 3-4). Thereafter, the second practitioner attacks the chest that his partner defends with Bong sau (Figure 5), and then we return to the starting position (Figure 6).
Lahp Sau is a preparatory exercise and starting point. We often use it as part of Chi Sau. The practitioner learns to divert and use the power of the attack and to coordinate the movements of the hands and feet. Here it is very important that we know how to use both hands equally and effectively. During the first exercise we will be executing the basic movements, and the various variations. Then the same thing is combined with various movements (e.g., rotations, and pivoting steps), and we don't learn the power of the opponent merely by hand, but by the use of the body.
The exercise starts with Bong-Wuh (Figure 1). The Wuh Sau is transformed into Jaam Sau, and we deflect his attacking hand; we fix it with Lahp sau, and we launch our attack (Figure 2-3). Our opponent protects it with Bong-Wuh (Figure 4), and now he continues with Jaam sau-Lahp sau, a blow combination (Figure 5).
The Exercises of Lahp Sau
After imbibing the basic exercises, the next step is to learn the various variations, or combinations. At first these are simpler exercises done in place that we later link to with movements, so that we do not merely drive away the opponent's attacks with arm movements. In the following, you'll be introduced to some of them.
1. Breaking up the kata, we do not do the usual Jaam-Lahp movements, but we are attacked by a blow that our practicing partner defends with Bong sau, and then continues the Lahp Sau base movements.
2. On one hand, with the following exercise, we can check to see if our partner is carrying out the attack properly, and on the other, we can learn to divert a much larger, smashing attack. When a partner strikes, don’t stand firm against the attack, but let the force of the blow lower our hand, and then you’ll need to stop it with a low Bong sau. Once that has been tackled, simply pull your hand through and continue the sequence.
3. Our partner attacks with Paak-jeung, which we defend by averting it with Gwan sau, and then we cross over from the bottom by pulling our attacking hand back, and returning to a strike with basic Lahp Sau.
4. The previous exercise was a version accompanied by a movement. Our partner advances to our center line with Paak-jeung. Keeping the distance, we step back and protect ourselves with Gwan Sau.
5. This is a continuation of the previous exercise. Our partner steps forward to our center line and attacks with Paak-jeung. To keeping the distance, we step back and defend with Gwan Sau, then step forward again with our Yan jeung attack to the chest. Our partner simultaneously steps back from the attack, and leads the forehand strike away by using Muh sau.
6. Here is a variation to the previous exercise. After the Gwan sau technique, we step back, and during the Bong Sau we attack the head Faan cheuih. Our partner simultaneously steps back from the attack, shoves off the attacking hand, and then crosses over and gives a counter whooping to the head with the other hand.
The Paak Sau Exercise
Paak sau is a simple, all-in-one kata exercise of interchanging strikes. Our partner starts with a straight punch, which is protected by the Inner Gate Paak sau (picture 1), and we retaliate with a straight strike under his hand (Figure 2), which he then protects with Paak sau (Figure 3), and again continues the exercise with a strike (Figure 4).
Shift: We can easily change the direction of the exercise. The only thing is that after we have defended ourselves from our partner's attack, we strike with our hand using Paak sau, and he likewise defends using Paak da (Figures 4-5-6).
Shifting to Lahp Sau, and from Lahp Sau to Paak Sau: During the Paak Sau series, we simply protect ourselves from the outside with Wuh sau (Figure 2), and then proceed movements with the known styles Jaam sau and Lahp sau (Figure 3), and then we strike. From Lahp Sau, we can simply step into Paak Sau. After our partner strikes, we simply follow it up with Paak da, instead of Jaam Sau (Figure 5).
The Puhn Sau exercise contains a total of 3 changing parries in a sequence of simple movements. With one of our hands, we execute Taan sau and Bong sau, dropping into one, and then the other. We continuously follow and keep in check our partner's movements using Fuhk sau. During Puhn sau, our hands must be kept loose so that we can execute the movements, and respond flexibly to the movement of the partner, simultaneously keeping the holds correctly, and sufficiently firm to allow the arms to be able to protect the body. This can be checked at times by a loose attack.
Additional Pieces of the Series
Wihng Cheun Kyuhn II. Chahm Kiuh
Our second volume contains the full Chahm Kiuh ("The Bridge Quest" is the second form for practicing the style) and its scope of potentials, as well as the Wihng Cheun foot defenses, and Chi Geuk (the Sticky Foot) exercises, and Seung Chi Sau (the Two-handed Sticky Hand), and practices.
Book + video access on the closed page of the site
Planned release date: August 2016
Wihng Cheun Kyuhn III. Biu Ji és Muhk Yahn Jong Faat
The third volume deals with the higher-level forms of the style. It introduces the full form of Biu Ji and Muhk Yahn Jong Faat (the "Marking Finger"; and the "Wooden Form" in the last two bare hand form exercises, and their applicable potentials.
Book + video access on the closed page of the site
Planned release date: November 2016
Wihng Cheun Kyuhn IV. In self-defense - Street applications
The fourth volume of the series deals with the use of Wihng Cheun in real combat.
Book + video access on the closed page of the site
Planned release date: February 2017
Wihng Cheun Kyuhn V. The weapons of Wihng Cheun
The last volume of the series features two traditional weapons of Wihng Cheun, a long stick and a pair of short swords. It talks about its history, principles, basic defenses, attacks, and full forms of practice, and and their applicable potentials.
Book + video access on the closed page of the site
Planned release date: May 2017
Wihng Cheun Kyuhn Instructions
• Not only will you read it, you will put it to the test in practice
• You will want to know how to protect yourself
• You would like to learn a traditional martial art
• You would like to be part of a great team
• Or you would just simply like to move and feel good
• Not only will you read it, you will put it to the test in practice
• You will want to know how to protect yourself
• You would like to learn a traditional martial art
• You would like to be part of a great team
• Or you would just simply like to move and feel good
Then this is the place for you!
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