A Lesson in Patience

Before Yim Yee passed away he told Yim Wing-Chun that she should be sure to complete Leung Bok-Lao's instruction and teach him everything. Yee "Gung" said that although his sifu had only taught the style to him, he would not want it to be lost to the world. He thought Wing-Chun, as a woman, could not spread it by herself, but that perhaps Bok-Lao could expand it.

Leung Bok-Lao thought a husband and wife should have no secrets between them and thus thought his wife should show him all her martial arts, so he was very happy and practiced all night. He asked Wing-Chun to teach him quickly but she smiled and said there was no rush. She told him to finish the Siu Lin Tao first and then practice heavy power on the Wooden Dummy until his bridge was strong enough. She maintained that until then she could not show him more. She reiterated that he should first master the basics before moving on. Bok-Lao was not happy to hear this. He told her that husbands and wives should not keep secrets. He was upset that she wanted him to repeat the same movements again and again, like his first Choy Ga sifu had done, without teaching him more. He thought that even though he was her husband she still regarded him as an outsider.

Wing-Chun was not strong, so Leung Bok-Lao thought he would test her. He had learned a lot before and worked hard to be able to use his Choy Ga, so if he could already defeat her there would be no use to learn more. Bok-Lao reminded her that her father had asked him to spread their style but he had died before being able to finish teaching him, and so had asked her to continue his lessons. He continued, saying that it had been a long time and she had not taught him anything new. He maintained that this was not good for a couple. Wing-Chun held firm, and said again that Bok-Lao should not rush - martial arts must be learned step by step. She said she was continuing her fathers will, having him practice his bridge and the Siu Lin Tao. She stated that this was the first step. After this was completed they could move on and start learning techniques. Until then, it was not possible. Bok-Lao grew angry and could not contain his words. He told her that the truth was he had learned martial arts from a young age and worked very hard developing a good stance and bridge, although not of a high quality. He demanded that from now on she teach him only new material. Wing-Chun smiled again and told Bok-Lao that he was too proud. She understood that he thought his bridge and stance were strong, and that she could not beat him in combat. But she explained that every system was different, and that in truth he could not yet match her in combat. Wing-Chun said he need not take her word for it; they could have a friendly test of skills.

Yim Wing-Chun told her husband Leung Bok-Lao that she had not known he had previous experience, and thought that perhaps a little comparison would be a good thing. She maintained that since they were husband and wife, they should not try to hurt each other, so they agreed not to put much power into their techniques. In the end, since they were married and did not desire a fight or to harm each other - only a friendly competition - it was decided they would touch bridges, and then they would know who had the higher skill.

That night, after finishing the tofu preparation, Yim Wing-Chun and Leung Bok-Lao touched bridges. They had reasoned that when they punched there was no need to use power and hurt each other. If a touch occurred it would be enough. Bok-Lao attacked. Because they were in contact, however, his Choy Ga was not effective. Step by step, each punch he tried was dissolved by Wing-Chun using her hard and soft method. Soon Bok-Lao was covered with sweat. He thought to himself that because they were in contact his Choy Ga, which worked better hitting and running from a distance, was not of much use. He decided to change his tactics and disconnected his bridge. Wing-Chun understood, and told her husband he could try any of his techniques. Bok-Lao knew her upper body was well guarded, so he decided to try a low attack and came in with two uppercuts. Wing-Chun, seeing this, realized she must hit him to show the real quality of her martial arts. Using a Chum Kiu (Sinking Bridge) to stop his attack, she countered with a Biu Jee (Darting Finger) strike. This made Bok-Lao's body sink. Wing-Chun then struck his hip with a second Biu Jee. Because his arms had been moved down, Bok-Lao could not defend himself. When Wing-Chun withdrew, there was no need to continue - she had won the contest. If she had used internal power, Bok-Lao's bones would have been broken. Wing-Chun then asked Bok-Lao what he thought.

Leung Bok-Lao fell to his knees. He told Yim Wing-Chun that there was no one to blame for his failure but himself. He requested that she complete his training so he could spread this great art in furtherance of her father's wishes. Wing-Chun told him not to worry, that she must continue his lessons and finish his training. She told him his job was to learn; but only when he had successfully learned, should he spread the style. She added that he should not forget her at that point. Bok-Lao reassured her saying, of course, when he finished and spread the style he would remember her by calling the system Wing Chun Kuen. Wing Chun was flattered but stated that her desire was not for fame, but only for the truth to be known. Bok-Lao reiterated that he would never dare take the style as his alone, and said again he would call it Wing Chun Kuen.

Yim Wing-Chun reminded Leung Bok-Lao that he must be patient and learn step by step. Bok-Lao realized that his bridge and stance were not strong, so following Wing-Chun's instruction he practiced hard every day. Later, when he began to improve, Wing-Chun introduced him to more advanced techniques. She explained that the foundation was the Siu Lin Tao. On the surface it appeared very simple, but it was very flexible and each motion had many different uses. Although easy to learn, if there was no sifu to explain every detail, the many aspects could not be used; the form could be learned but not fully used. The style was different from that of other systems and the stance was not the same. Other systems used Say Ping Ma (Square Level Horse) while this one used Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma (Character Two Goat Pressing Horse). The stance was opened only 2.5 feet, with the knees facing each other and the thighs close to protect the groin. While other systems used the bow, this one used the arrow. When Wing-Chun explained the theory, Bok-Lao understood the difference between this system and others, and knew why it was so special. When he had completed the Si Lin Tao (Little Beginning Training) she taught him the Chum Kiu (Sinking Bridge), the Biu Jee (Darting Fingers), and the Wooden Dummy. Before he learned the Dummy form he had to work very hard. At that time he was only practicing the bridge, but then she began to teach him the techniques.

When Leung Bok-Lao was finished, Yim Wing-Chun said that now his quality was better then hers and that he could go out into the world and spread the style. Bok-Lao was puzzled. He said that his was only surface knowledge and wondered how she could say it was better then her own. Wing-Chun explained that he had a good foundation and much previous experience in the martial arts, and now he also knew all her techniques. Wing-Chun, however, did not understand Bok-Lao's Choy Ga techniques, so he had more available to him then she did. Bok-Lao asked her if she would like to learn his Choy Ga Kuen. Wing-Chun confided that it would be no use for her to learn since she didn't need it. If that had been her only goal she would never have shown Bok-Lao all her techniques. She felt that because she was a lady, she did not need to go out and fight - she only needed to be able to defend herself. Wing-Chun also stated that she no longer needed to spread the style, because now she had Bok-Lao to do so. Wing-Chun informed Bok-Lao that she hoped he could keep her father's dream alive and spread their family's martial arts.

Leung Bok-Lao asked Yim Wing-Chun if he should begin to spread the style in their area. Wing-Chun replied that if it was just this area, she could do it herself. She had no great desire to travel either, and told Bok-Lao that it would not be convenient to go with him. She hoped that Bok-Lao would go off and spread their art, and said that if she had the chance she would teach some students of her own. If Bok-Lao taught elsewhere, and Wing-Chun taught at home, they wouldn't waste time. Wing-Chun knew that Bok-Lao's dreams were not small; he was an ambitious man who would not be happy staying where he was. She told him to go off while he was still young and keep her father's dreams as well.

Yim Wing-Chun wanted to keep the tofu shop, and told Leung Bok-Lao that she would hire a lady to help her, since she was still strong and could do much herself. Bok-Lao was worried about them separating, but Wing-Chun consoled him saying it was not about separating a husband and wife, but about fulfilling the wishes of her father and spreading their martial arts. She informed him that she could take care of herself, but she asked that no matter where he went or where he was, that he send her letters with news of his life so she would not worry too much.

Yim Wing-Chun hired an elderly lady to help her at the tofu shop and Leung Bok-Lao began his travels. Before he left, Yim Wing-Chun gave him as much money as she could to aid his travels. Bok-Lao told her he thought he would begin in Guangdong. Wing-Chun liked the idea because the style was Nam Kuen (Southern Boxing), so it was only right that it be spread first in the south.

Part 7: A Tale of Two Wings

These stories were translated by Rene Ritchie, and have been included here with his permission. Visit the Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun home page to see the originals.