Yip Chun Seminar


Some brief notes taken during a seminar April 29th and 30th, 1995 at the school of Chris Chan (Chan Shing) in San Francisco. Martin Eng translated during Yip Chun's talk; Dan Lucas wrote and edited these notes (with apologies to Yip Chun).

To Begin

If you could choose, which would you prefer: to be a good fighter, or to have good health? Most people would choose good health. So, if you teach Wing Chun, I would like you to emphasize the health aspect of the art.

How does a cook cut with such precision? Because he practices every day. Because the bricklayer does his work every day his lines are straight and approach perfection. This is the meaning of "gung fu." Although Wing Chun is not our profession, we still have to do it every day in order to improve. After you reach perfection you won't change. Martial arts training is more dangerous than learning a trade, so we have more reason to train with diligence.

Your Fook Sau is at the same angle whether you put strength into it or if you keep it soft. So you don't need to use strength. When I need it I use it, when I don't need it I don't waste it. You may have a lot of money, and I may not. You may not know how to use it, or how to invest it, but you spend it anyway. Then, when you need it, you don't have it. If I have very little money I don't waste it. When I need it I take it out and use it. In this way I always have some when I need it.

At the point of contact is where the opponent feels pain. Until then force is useless. Force is needed only at the point of contact. The time you need force is very little.

We do a lot of air punching to strengthen the arms and increase speed. But if you hit someone in the head it can hurt your hand unless you work on the sandbag. With practice on the bag it's like walking around with a hammer. To develop a heavy hand, therefore, you should practice both air punching and sandbag punching.

Chum Kiu

There are two main points in Chum Kiu: to avoid by turning, and to be stable. I practiced the Lahn Sao turning movement in Chum Kiu every day all day for three months, but my father wouldn't teach me the next movement until I got it right. "You think three months is a long time?" he said, "I followed my master for three years!"

Wooden Dummy

There are three main points to remember in practicing the wooden dummy:

  1. Never treat the dummy as a dummy.
  2. It's purpose is position and hand movement, not strength.
  3. The hand stays as close to the dummy arms as possible.
Don't practice to use power on the wooden dummy, but practice to learn how to control your opponent.

When I face the dummy the wooden leg is in my way and I can't put my leg forward. In reality, the farther I extend my leg towards the opponent's center the more power I have in my attack.

Some people call the wooden dummy leg techniques "Baat Geuk", the eight foot movements, because the form has eight different ways of using the kick in combination with a step.

Toward the end of the dummy form, after the Gum Sao, the footwork is wrong. It's been passed on this way though we don't know where it came from. People are people, they're not 100 percent correct. You believe your own wisdom. Everything you learn you should think about and try out, that's the proper way to learn. Fifty percent you learn from your teacher, the other fifty percent you add yourself. After the Gum Sao in the form we cross over, then come in. In reality a Gum Sao is used to push or press away from you and you can't cross to the other side, instead you should go in on the same side as the Gum Sao.

Chi Sao

Chi Sao isn't fighting. Chi Sao is like a bridge between the forms and actual situations. You'll be in trouble if you use Chi Sao to fight with.

You can do Siu Lim Tao 1000 times and each time it's the same. Each time you do Chi Sao it's different. Free style fighting is about winning and losing. Chi Sao is for training with your Wing Chun brothers and sisters. You can't do Chi Sao with students from other schools.

Other styles teach you the movements and then you go out and try to apply them. You can learn this way but you have a high price to pay. Chi Sao provides a way to practice while minimizing injury.

Chi Sao teaches:

  • Good hand movement.
  • Good feeling/reflexes.
  • How to use force (when to let go, when to pull, and so on).
  • Good position.
When you use these four you use all four, not just one at a time. Which of these four do you think is most important? What you see is easy to learn, what you don't see is hard to learn. Therefore the easiest of the four to learn is the hand movement, because you can see it. The proper way to use force is harder to learn because you can't see it. Proper position is the hardest to learn.

It doesn't matter whether 's offense or defense, the good position has the advantage. Speed depends on position. To increase speed try to find the shortest distance to your opponent.

For me Chi Sao is like a game; an adult game. Chi Sao gives your mind rest, so it's good for your health. If you're tense you lose its purpose, so it's best to treat it like a game.

Of course there was much more, but this gives you a taste of what was served.

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