China Post - Taipeh 2012

Master carries on Wing Chun kung fu style

2012 - China Post TAIPEI, Taiwan — A semi-biographical movie, “Yip Man,” (葉問) tells the life of the first martial arts master to teach the Wing Chun (詠春) kung fu style openly. Yip had several students who later became martial arts teachers in their own right, including kung fu superstar Bruce Lee (李小龍).

Although Chinese kung fu has risen in popularity since the time of Bruce Lee, the film also showed how the renowned master established a training system for Wing Chun that eventually spread across the world and, of course, Taiwan.

Master Lo Man-kam (盧文錦), the nephew of grandmaster Yip Man, is the only grandmaster teaching Wing Chun on the island.

As a youth, Lo spent much time living with his uncle in Canton Province, China. Later in Hong Kong, he was among the first of Master Yip’s students and studied with him for nearly ten years, before joining the Taiwan military in 1960. On re-entering civilian life in 1975, Lo opened a school in Taipei and has taught and promoted Wing Chun ever since to local and international students.

The master’s expertise in combining Wing Chun with other close-range combat techniques makes him a sought-after instructor by intelligence, police and military bodies, both at home and abroad. For instance, the King of Brunei and his brother and sons have reportedly studied under Lo. “Imagine that you have five lovers. You have to feel which one loves you the most. In a sense, it is similar to Wing Chun kung fu” said Lo.

Marc Debus, a visiting member of the Lo Man Kam Wing Chun Association in Germany, added: “you have to feel what the other do (sic) and you have to act on it.” This martial art, which literally means “Spring Chant,” aims at using as less strength as possible, and to defeat the opponent through a state of relaxation, he explained. Back to the origins of Wing Chun, the legend has it that this martial art was created by a woman, Yim Wing Chun, under the Qing Dynasty, after she defeated an opponent in a martial art fight.

In Lo Man-kam’s apartment on Bade Road where he resides and teaches, pictures of Yip Man practicing stand by others of himself with personalities from all around the globe. As a teacher at the Chinese Culture University, the Taiwanese master also trained experts from the French police and the U.S. Army in the defensive art of kung fu.

Today, students come from all around the world to meet the well-known Sifu (師父) to improve their knowledge … or to start all over again! Another member of the German community, Frank, admitted that his first encounter with the master was very frustrating: “I had learnt Wing Chun for many years. When I met him, he said that my kung fu looked like Wing Chun, but that I should start from the beginning.” ...."Ever since, we come back every year for two or three weeks to practice and learn the main system,” he added.

Indeed, learning Wing Chun in Germany triggers a real challenge, he remarked. The basic knowledge is minimal; therefore it is crucial for a teacher to create something new along the way. “Finding a good teacher is very difficult, and expensive. Finding a very good teacher is impossible! That’s why we are here!” he concluded.

German Association teachers Ole Nahlen, Frank Kuhnecke, Marc Debus and Dominik Dertinger with Sif Lo Man Kam in Taipeh

Updated Sunday, August 9, 2009 1:56 pm TWN,  By Clara Darrason and D. Bruyas, The China Post

Interview with Sifu Lo Man Kam

Interview with Sifu Lo Man Kam in Taipeh 

Interviewer was Will for the Fountain Magazine….Thanx

 

I interviewed Master Lo Man Kam last year for Fountain magazine. He is the nephew of Yip Man and easily the most famous wing chun teacher in Taiwan. This interview is pretty basic as it was meant for general readers and not for martial artists. Here is the interview.

Wing Chun Master Lo Man Kam
On Yip Man, Bruce Lee and the art of wing chun

Wing Chun is a relatively young martial art originating in southern China that was made famous worldwide by Bruce Lee. It is known as a aggressive close-combat martial art without fancy moves or adornments. Despite being as common as dim sum in Hong Kong, it is almost nonexistent in Taiwan. There is, however, one Taipei rooftop that attracts Wing Chun students from all over the world: the school and residence of Master Lo Man Kam. Lo is the nephew of perhaps the most famous Wing Chun master in the world, Yip Man. He has taught Wing Chun for over 30 years, acted as a combat instructor for the Taiwan Investigation Bureau and is the founder of the Lo Man Kam Wing Chun Kung Fu Federation which has numerous branches in the US and Europe. 

 

 I interviewed Master Lo at his school one morning surrounded by yellowing photographs, certificates and calligraphy of his own creation. He is a small, older gentleman with a spry step and enthusiastic smile. His size seems appropriate for a marital art reputed to have been created by a woman and known for redirecting power. As he sat down to answer my questions I could hear the thump of one his students on the rooftop upstairs pounding away at the wooden dummy.

 

Fountain: How did you first get started studying martial arts?

 

Lo Man Kam: I began studying Chinese gongfu around the age of 13 until around 18 when I started Wing Chun.

 

F: Why Wing Chun?

 

Sigung Yip ManLMK: Around the year 1950, my uncle Yip Man [Lo Man Kam’s sister’s younger brother] moved to Hong Kong from. He had been a policeman and couldn’t find work so he began teaching Wing Chun on the rooftop of the Kowloon Mess Union to earn money. Five or six of us started studying there. 

 

F: Yip Man was a legendary Wing Chun teacher. What was he like? 

 

LMK: He was very welcoming and laid back. There were so few students that we all got lots of personal attention. We paid 20HK a month rather than the 5HK that most people paid to study other kinds of gongfu but it was well worth it. Studying with Yip Man required an introduction which also kept the number of students small. I ended up studying 10 years with Yip Man at a few different locations.

 

F: One of Yip Man’s most famous students was Bruce Lee. What do you remember about him?

 

LMK: He started studying after getting an introduction from William Cheng, I believe, in around 1956.  He studied for a couple of years and then moved on. He liked fighting and moving as fast as possible, but wasn’t the most experienced. I think he learned the first couple of forms while there [Wing Chun has three open hand forms, a wooden dummy form, a staff form and a butterfly knife form].

 

F: You hear a lot about fights between various styles during that time. Did you ever see any of those?

 

Sifu Lo Man KamLMK: Not really. Actually, at that time many people studied different styles of gongfu. We all got along and would talk to each other and trade information. Most people were more concerned with learning than trying to determine who was the “best”. We were more like gongfu scholars than guys trying to outdo each other.

 

F: What originally brought you to Taiwan?

 

LMK: I was originally studying electronics and decided to go to Taiwan to be a soldier in 1960. I joined the military and did special forces military training for over three years in Taichung and later became an Army Major. During that training I learned a lot of hand to hand offensive and defensive tactics. I also did a lot of judo and qin-na [joint locks] and the like. I incorporated much of what I learned there into the training that I now do for the police.

 

F: When did you start teaching and how many students have you had?

 

LMK: I started teaching in 1975 after retiring from the military. I had a few Taiwanese students and got my first foreign student later that year since I could speak English. Since that time I have had thousands of students from Taiwan and all over the world. I also do a lot of seminars abroad.

 

F: What do you think is unique about Wing Chun and its training?

 

LMK: Many martial arts emphasize techniques and forms. Wing Chun is designed to improve a student’s actual reactions. It develops your feeling and ability to react to situations rather than depend on your memory of a series of techniques. Chisao [a form of fast push hands with punching] is non-cooperative so that students learn to react to any situation as it arises rather than simply doing choreographed movements. 

It also helps improve circulation and overall health. Since Wing Chun focuses on skill rather than brute force, it can be practiced by anyone of any size at almost any age.

 

F: Are there other martial arts that you find interesting?

 

LMK: Of course there are many martial arts that are interesting and effective. Most martial arts are really trying to accomplish the same things, and the basic principles of movement have to be followed by everyone. I try to follow the natural movement principles and go as long and as deep as possible using the Wing Chun way. I don’t have time to use a variety of approaches.

 

F: You hear a lot about “internal” and “external” martial arts? What is the difference?

 

LMK: Most are really a combination of both. The external is the obvious part of what you do. It can be measured, copied or taught. The internal is what you are doing inside to make the external actually work. Science can’t measure or determine that. That is the art.

 

F: How does one go about learning Wing Chun?

 

LMK: When a student first learns Wing Chun, he or she learns a few movements and aSifu Lo and Gorden form. The Wing Chun form is not flowing like the forms of most martial arts. It is more like a dictionary that provides the most basic movements. These movements act as “words.” Later the student does chisao with other students. This exercise is non-cooperative and is similar to learning to talk. The student is soon forming “sentences” and later having full “conversations”. Just as every person talks and communicates in different ways, so too does each person learn to chisao and fight in different ways. During chisao, the students also learn to trust the feeling in their bodies rather than their eyes. This improves the fundamental reactions in the body to any new situation. These improved reactions help you when it comes to fighting at the most basic level.

 

F: What do you think most attracts students to Wing Chun?

 

LMK: Of course they come to learn to fight. They start out that way, but Wing Chun can change the way you think. Wing Chun looks aggressive, but it is actually an extremely conservative martial art. It teaches you to only hit when you can’t be hit. The philosophy behind it is that you can never lose if you never get hit. I mean, you might see two guys fighting back and forth and trading blows until one goes down. The guy still standing might say, “I won! I won!” Yeah, you won maybe, but…well…look at your face. Winning is not getting hit.

 

Lo Man Kam narrates

Lo Man Kam narrates

by Sifu Lo Man Kam

 

Yip Man’s real name was Ki Man. He came from Fo Shan in the Kwangtung (Canton) province, and was the second child of a family living on Fook Yin Road in the Mulberry Gardens of Fo Shan. The family was well-known in the area. Next door to this house were the famous Fo Shan tea-rooms, Tou Yun Gue. Next to that was a renowned bakery, Gow Hing Long. Mulberry Gardens was a prestigious area of Fo Shan, and the houses in Mulberry Gardens were all very large.

Sifu Lo Man KamI was born in Hong Kong and grew up there. My mother was Yip Man’s sister. Because of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II, I went to Fo Shan to live with my uncle in Mulberry Gardens. At that time, I was with my uncle every day and learned with him. My mother had told me many stories about Uncle Yip’s great fighting accomplishments. As a youth, this inspired me, especially in view of the difficult times in which we were living. At the age of seven, my uncle had been one of the students of Master Chan Wah Shun. Master Chan was already very old at the time and rarely taught students himself. Yip Man was his last pupil. Since Master Chan had accepted Yip Man as his “closed door” pupil, Master Chan developed a great liking for him. Yip Man’s elder fellow students, Ng Choun Su, Lar Ru Chi, and Chan Ru Man, all took care of the young Yip Man.

The fee for Master Chan’s tuition was very high: each student had to pay a few ounces of silver. The average man could not afford such fees at the time, so Master Chan’s students numbered only in tens. This is also why Wing Chun is known as the rich person’s kung fu.

Six years later, Master Chan was near death. Before he died, he ordered his student Ng Choun Su to teach his younger students. Master Yip Man trained with his elder fellow-student for three years. At the age of sixteen, Master Yip went to Hong Kong to study English at St. Steven’s College. There he was introduced by a classmate to the second son of Leung Yan, Leung Bik. The two studied together for three years and perfected the art of Wing Chun.

Among his fellow students, Yip Man got along best with Yun Ke Shan, who was a student of Ng Choun Su. Yip and Yun were of the same age and spent a lot of time together. While at Yip Man’s house, Yun met Yip’s son, Yip Chun. Yun was very impressed by Yip Chun, so he taught him the first form of Wing Chun, the “Siu Lim Tao.”

During the early years of the Chinese Republic, Fo Shan had a yearly festival called “Autumn Scenes.” One year Yip Man and his wife went to the festival. While there, an officer of the military tried to take advantage of Mrs. Yip. At the time, Yip was wearing a long Chinese gown withYip Mans passport cloth shoes. He was a small man, and he looked more like a gentleman than a fighter. The officer assumed he was weak and helpless, so he became ever more daring and offensive. My uncle immediately resorted to the “simultaneous attack and defence” technique of Wing Chun, and the officer was knocked to the floor immediately. The officer then took out his revolver, but before he could fire uncle grabbed it by the barrel and used the strength of his thumb to break the trigger, rendering it useless.

When the Japanese occupied Fo Shan, their military police heard of Yip Man’s reputation and invited him to become their coach. But he refused because it would have been against his principles. That angered the Japanese greatly, to the point that they ordered another Kung Fu master, with the surname Leung, to challenge Master Yip Man. Yip Man only accepted after having being asked many times.

Master Leung thought his punch very powerful and used it against Master Yip. Yip Man immediately used the Wing Chun ‘horse stance’ and Quan Sao to defend himself, and then turned around and kicked Master Leung to the ground.

After this occurrence, Yip Man left Fo Shan due to increased harassment from the Japanese. However, he still continued to help the Chinese government in resisting the Japanese. After the Japanese occupation, Uncle Yip did not teach Wing Chun, but worked for the police. In order to rid the area of criminal elements and protect the people, Master Yip solved many crimes, including the Fo Shan Sar Ton Fon Street Robbery, and he caught the robbers in the Sing Ping Theatre. Master Yip Man later became leader of the military patrol of south Kwang Chow (Canton) until the collapse of Mainland China.

Hong KongWith the mainland lost, my uncle left Fo Shan for Hong Kong. There he was introduced to Mr. Lee Min, who later helped Yip establish a Wing Chun school at the Restaurant Union in Da Nan Street, Kowloon. At the beginning, the students were Lee Min, Leung Sheung, Lok Yiu, and myself. There were never more than ten students present. Mr. Lee was not only a student but also a good friend of my uncle’s. Later, Tsu Sheung Tin and Yip Bo Ching also joined us.

The number of students kept increasing to the point that in 1954 Master Yip Man left the premises of the Restaurant Union to establish a larger Wing Chun school at Hia Ten Street, Deep Water Bay, Kowloon. The other students and I followed him there and continued our training. At that time, uncle also gave tuition two or three times a week to students of a union on Hollywood Road, and at the Tai Wong Temple at Queen’s Road, East Wanchai. 
The number of students continued to increase, so uncle moved the school from Hia Ten Street to Lee Da Street, then to Lee Jenwou Village and finally to the Hing Ping Building. Yip man never had to advertise for students. One had to be introduced to him or to know a follower. Bruce Lee was introduced to him by Cheung Jwo Hing (William Cheung) when the school was on Lee Da Street.

Yip Man’s method of instruction varied for every student and depended on his degree of knowledge, interest, natural ability, and personal routine. Yip Man’s great innovation was to personalise instruction by giving individual attention and making each student’s progress dependent on his own ability and will to succeed.

The strength of Yip Man was equal to that of a man half his age. At this time robberies occurred frequently in Hong Kong due to the largeLo Man Kam and Yip Chun number of gangs operating there. One night when Yip Man was taking a walk, two thugs with knives tried to rob him. It only took Yip Man a few kicks to chase them away.

In 1956 my uncle encouraged me to go to Taiwan and establish a Wing Chun family there. In this regard I also received support from President Chiang Kai-Shek. I was representing the young people of Hong Kong.

However, I began to miss my home in Hong Kong and tried to return, but my uncle scolded me for coming back. Yip Man thought the opportunities in Taiwan too great to turn one’s back on. So in 1960 I returned to Taiwan and made it my permanent home, and I have remained here ever since. To serve my new country, I enrolled in a military school and learnt the art of war. I became a field commander.

Sifu Lo´s regiment with Chiang Kai Shek

I am the only licensed Wing Chun Sifu in Taiwan, and have as one of my students President Chiang Kai Shek’s grandson. Now that I think about it, I realise Yip Man’s intention in sending me back to Taiwan was that I should devote myself to this country and develop Wing Chun Kung Fu here. His wishes have been fulfilled. I am currently teaching students from France, America, England, South Africa, Australia, East Africa and Germany, who all come to Taiwan to learn Kung Fu.

During the Asian and International Kung Fu contests, the members of the Wing Chun Sport Team have received high honours, thus helping the Wing Chun style to prosper around the world. Because of my obligations in Taiwan, I was unable to attend my uncle’s funeral, which I greatly regret.

Lo Man Kam and Yip Chun on Yip Mans graveWhat the people from outside our area do not know, is that only the authentic disciples of Yip Man, such as myself,were entitled to wear the black band of mourning around their waists. Indirect students, such as Leung Ting, were entitled only to wear black bands around their arms. Since the death of Yip Man, much confusion has existed concerning all matters associated with Wing Chun. I have great respect for the traditional Chinese ethics and to honour my uncle’s memory I have avoided all argument and conflict with those people who have claimed to be the new leader of the Wing Chun Clan. My uncle taught that Wing Chun is not for sale. Students may apply for lessons, and each student can make his own decision about which teacher to learn with, depending on whose style of teaching suits him most. Kai Sai was the first to earn a full teacher’s licence from me. Since he left Taiwan, I have encouraged him to spread the art of Wing Chun that I learned from my uncle. I welcome serious students from around the world who desire to come here and study Wing Chun. They may contact me at my address in Taipeh.

 

Marc Debus and Dominik Dertinger on Yip Mans grave

Sisuk Wang Kiu describes the legendary fight between Wong Shun Leung and Master Wong Tik San

Sisuk Wang Kiu describes the legendary fight between Wong Shun Leung and Master Wong Tik San

from the book "The Lo Man Kam Wing Chun System" by Marc Debus

 Language: English   ISBN-10: 3865824706 ISBN-13: 978-3865824707

 

These problematical events arose through one of my work colleagues. We were both in the same business. Every day we worked in the new suburbs outside the city. We worked in road inspections. My colleague’s family were refugees from the Canton region. At this time it was very Wang Kiu in Hong Kongdifficult to find an apartment or a place to live in fast-expanding Hong Kong. The accommodation situation was so severe that my colleague was renting a very small space on the roof of a house, where he lived in one room.

The houses in Hong Kong have flat roofs and are not individually designed. Every house has an area on the roof which can be used by all the inhabitants of the building.

In this house lived a man who was the boss of a Chinese organisation. This man was also the owner of the room which my colleague was renting. At the same time he used the communal roof to teach Kung Fu, and to be more precise, the Bak Mai Pa style. In addition he practised a training method called „Iron Palm“.

The „Iron Palm“ training method I want to explain in more detail. This involves the use of a form of Chinese medicine, a liquid, in which the practitioner soaks his hands to soften them. Then he hits logs and sticks with his hands, in order to harden them up. The practitioners believe that this process will make their hands as hard as iron. This is where the name of this training method comes from.

The man himself was very tall and was well-known in the art of fighting. He had fingers like small bananas. Due to his „Iron Palm“ training his hands were completely blue. He never washed his hands. He was washed by his two wives, since it was believed that water would damage the hardened hands. Therefore most people in the area had great respect for him.

When he held training sessions on the communal roof, all the students had to come up the stairs to reach the training area. They therefore had to pass the little room which my friend and colleague rented. Now the problem was that my colleague had a small dog which always barked when anyone went past. The students complained about my colleague’s dog to their teacher. The teacher, named „Wong“, told him that he should keep the dog quiet when his students arrived for their training sessions. He answered that he could do nothing to counteract his dog’s instincts, and that furthermore he had no idea how he should prevent the dog from barking when strangers passed by. To this Master Wong rejoined that he would kill the dog. My colleague replied that if this were the case, he would go to the police. After this there were frequent disputes between my colleague, the students and Master Wong.

Master Wong constantly threatened my colleague with violence due to his anger with the dog. One day my colleague replied to Wong that heWang Kiu and Wong Shun Leung was not versed in the martial arts and therefore he could not understand why Wong wanted to fight him, instead of finding an opponent who was his equal. At this point Wong asked him if he knew anyone who practised a martial art. My colleague did not answer him immediately. Then Master Wong told him that he would count to three, and if my friend had not named anyone by then, he would hit him. By the time Master Wong had finished, he could only think of my name, Wang Kiu. Wong told him that he should tell me that he wished to see me that evening. Equally, he gave my colleague to understand that if I did not appear, he would beat him up anyway.

The next day my colleague and I met at the office, as usual. As we left the office to go off and do our work, I got on my scooter and drove off, but as I drove through the gate of the compound he suddenly jumped onto the back-seat of the scooter and told me to drive on. Although we were colleagues and friends, we were not close and so I was a bit surprised. In addition he was very agitated and so I drove to a nearby street where there was a food stall. A little stall, as was common in those days; the stall sold coffee, tea and snacks. We sat down and ordered a coffee. I asked him why he was so agitated and then he told me the whole story. He explained to me that he had no other options regarding the situation with Master Wong and that he had given my name because he was frightened. At the same time he insisted that I must come to the meeting that evening as otherwise he would be beaten up. Therefore I arranged that when I had finished work and had a shower I would meet him so that we could go together to Master Wong.

Wang Kiu Later during my work I met Wong Shun Leung: at this time he also worked for the same company. I told him about this incident since the two of us also trained together under Sifu Yip Man. Wong Shun Leung at once said that he would come along too.

In the evening we met up at Yip Man’s school before going off to the meeting with my colleague. Our fellow student Raimon Lee was also there; when he heard the story he was also keen to come with us. And so it came about that the three of us set off together.

We went to a man called Henry Chung, who had a small cafeteria nearby, in order to meet up with my colleague. We asked him to tell Mr. Wong that he should come down and that we were waiting for him. At this point we did not realise that the cafeteria was actually situated in the building that belonged to Master Wong. But we thought that it was a good idea to sit there and wait for him. Then he approached us.

At this time we were very young; still in our twenties. Master Wong was considerably older than us. I think he was around forty. We sat at the table and the cafeteria-owner introduced us to Wong Tik San, as he reached our table. Master Wong at first said nothing at all. The first thing he did say was: „You crazy young people, you’ve been sold by someone“. I asked him to take a seat. Initially I didn’t go into the problem with my colleague but simply introduced myself. I explained to Master Wong that I was the one who had been asked to come and meet him and that I had heard that he was a great fighter who used the „Iron Palm“ method. I told him that we were learning Wing Chun, which was relevant to the current situation, and that I and my two friends Wong Shun Leung and Raimon Lee had come to see him as he had wished.

Master Wong pointed to my colleague and asserted that he had tricked us, and asked if we had heard what the problem was. I said that I hadWang Kiu and Wong Shun Leungs with their wifes and family nothing to do with the problem and was only there because I was interested in the fact that he used the “Iron Palm“ method. I said I would like to see the "Iron Palm" because it was completely different to our Wing Chun style. Then Master Wong began to recount the story concerning my colleague. Again I made it very clear to him that this was not my problem. We were simply here because we did not want to pass up on the chance to learn something from a great martial arts master. He next asked me why we had come as a foursome. I replied that my two friends were also learning Wing Chun with me and were equally interested in his art. But he only asked very directly which of us he could challenge to a fight.

The three of us were very different in stature. Raimon was a bit smaller than Master Wong, but taller than Wong Shun Leung and I. We two were of equal height though Wong Shun Leung was thinner than me. At that time I was still very sportive. We said that he should choose one of us and he chose Wong Shun Leung, since he was the smallest and slimmest of us all. Wong Shun Leung consented and immediately asked Master Wong where the fight would take place.

We were all in agreement that it could not take place publicly. Further, we did not want to fight it out in Master Wong’ school, so we chose a hotel which I knew and which had a balcony. The Sam Che Bo Hotel: I don’t know if it still exists.

Marc Debus Wang Kiu and Olaf BuschkeI can remember precisely that I paid 20 Hong Kong Dollars for the room. I paid it because I was earning well at the time. Most people then earned no more than about 160 or 170 Hong Kong Dollars a month. Master Wong requested though that three of his friends also take part in the fight, so that it would be quite fair. We had nothing against that and so he called his three friends and we all went off together to the hotel. Meanwhile Master Wong put his arm around his opponent Wong Shun Leung many times and said to him, grinning, that he was on his way to fight with him. In this way he was trying to make clear to Wong Shun Leung that his own victory was assured.

I tried to negotiate with the hotel staff over the cost of the room but had to pay for a whole day. We went up to the room. The next question concerned who should be the referee for the fight. It was a role I played fairly often at that point in time, but in this case I was personally involved. Two of the companions of Master Wong were the sons of his Kung Fu teacher. One of these two pointed to Raimon and said that he should be referee.

Before the fight began, it was decided who should attack first. We agreed on two rounds each of two minutes duration. Only if it should remain indecisive would a third round be fought. Next a coin was tossed and it was decreed that Master Wong would attack and Wong Shun Leung should defend himself.

Master Wong fought from a stance which was very low in comparison to the Wing Chun position. We stood in fighting stance with one handWang Kiu with 20 forward and the defending Wu Sao hand further back. This was called Fat Si Man Lo, where the fingers were aimed at the attacker. This comes from the legend. The index finger of Buddha is called „Fat Si“ and „Man Lo“ means „to ask the way“. Therefore in Wing Chun one always orientates oneself towards one’s opponent. This was Wong Shun Leung’s stance.

In the Bak Mai Pa Style a different stance and a different hand-position are taken. This is called „Mo Kap Sao“. This was used by Master Wong from his first attack. Due to this position he came so close to Wong Shun Leung that he was not able to use his fists for attack but instead he grabbed Wong Shun Leung by the throat in order to throttle him. He forced him against the balcony structure: Wong Shun Leung had his back to it. The balconies in Hong Kong are generally constructed to give shelter from wind and rain and the upper part is mostly made of glass. So Wong Shun Leung stood with his head pressed against a pane of glass. The son of Master Wong’s teacher shouted that the fight should be interrupted and Master Wong let go of Wong Shun Leung. This should actually have been Raimon’s duty, but he had little experience as a referee. Master Wong looked as though he had every intention of coming out of this fight the winner.

The fight began anew. Master Wong again made contact with Wong Shun Leung’s arms. Because he had a lower stance, this time he hit Wong Shun Leung in the side. Although Wong Shun Leung defended himself with a Cham Sao, he was hit nevertheless and he drew back. We observed this in mirror image in the glass of the balcony, as there was only a small door to the balcony and therefore there was not enough space for us all to watch there. Shortly afterwards the first round was over.

During the break I asked Wong Shun Leung how he was as I had seen that he had been hit. He said that he was in some pain but that he wanted to continue to fight. At the same time he confided that he had seen a way in which he could get at Master Wong.

Wang Kius seminar for the German Lo Man Kam AssociationThe second round began. Now it was Wong Shun Leung’s turn to attack and Master Wong was ready for him in his fighting position. Wong Shun Leung used a Pak Sao on Master Wong’s hand which was to the rear in his defence position, and subsequently punched Master Wong in the face. There followed two or three bouts of fist-fighting. The next thing to be seen was a tooth of Master Wong’s skittering across the floor of the balcony. In addition he was bleeding from the mouth, but he kept it firmly shut. He again took up his defence position and waited. Wong Shun Leung attacked again. We began to notice that Master Wong was stepping back somewhat fearfully when Wong Shun Leung attacked him. During his next attack he again broke through Master Wong’s defence with the same sequence of movements, and landed two further punches to his face. Wong had kept his mouth tightly shut all this time but now the all the blood he had held in his mouth spurted out, all over Wong Shun Leung, whose clothes were covered in it. I went through the door onto the balcony and said „Stop!“.  I told Master Wong that it would be better to end the fight now, as otherwise one of the combatants would certainly be badly injured and then the police would be called, which would not be a pleasant experience.

He said: „Very good, very good!“ and shook my hand. He was clearly confused due to his injury during the fight, and I held on to his hand. Wong Shun Leung came up to us and I had the two combatants shake hands together.

I then told Master Wong that there was a tea-house on the other side of the street by the name of „Wang Tin – Cloud of Heaven“ and that we would wait there for him, while he cleaned himself up, and then drink a cup of tea together. We went into the tea-house and waited for him there. We wanted to end the whole affair positively, since because of his position he had many friends in Hong Kong, who could otherwise cause problems for us. We had not previously given consideration to this aspect of the matter. However as soon as we left the hotel we realised that Master Wong had not only been accompanied by his three friends, but that many others were waiting for us outside on the street. The entire front steps of the hotel were full of people and they all grinned at us menacingly. In addition we were in an area of the city where Master Wong was very well-known.

Master Wong came across to the tea-house and we ordered tea. I said to him that we had not known each other before this fight but that now we would remember each other very well. And that the question now needing to be asked was why should we not be friends? Master Wong was very impressed by our behaviour and affirmed that this would not present a problem for the future. Later I often bumped into him and we would chat or drink tea together. He always greeted me even when I passed him on my scooter.

The next day – the fight took place on a Saturday evening, so on Sunday - we went to Sifu Yip Man’s school. Yip Man was himself there, since he lived at the school. We described the fight to him. Yip Man said that Wong Shun Leung should have used a Gan Sao rather than a Cham Sao to defend himself from the punch which had hit him. But I think that it is always very difficult to make the correct decisions during a fight: afterwards one often finds better solutions to any problem. However this is the reason why the Gan Sao gained its place in the first form, instead of the Cham Sao, with many of Yip Man’s pupils.

 


The history of the Wing Chun system

The legend of the Wing Chun System

There are many versions of the Wing Chun legend. We have tried to integrate all those different aspects into this report.

Usually one refers to the legend of Wing Chun as written by Yip Man. Today there are many interpretations of the origin of the Wing Chun System. Some maintain that secret Chinese societies invented and spread the Wing Chun System, others say that this propagation was due to the actors of the Chinese Opera, who travelled the rivers of China on their ships.

It will in all likelihood never be known which version is the correct one.

 The following story is probably at least in part based on the truth. Today many different variations of the story exist and we have tried to take them all into consideration. As for the era of Yip Man, we can no longer refer to a legend as historical facts can be verified.

The Sung Mountain Monastery

 

The roots of the various martial arts we know today can be traced back more than 250 years to the Shaolin monasteries of China. One of these monasteries was at the foot of the Sung Mountain in the Hunan province of central China. During the reign of the emperor K`anghsi, of the Ching dynasty, the monks of this monastery were practitioners of Siu Lam Kung Fu and they were very famous for their fighting style. The stories about the monks travelled so far as to reach the court of the Ching emperor and caused the government much concern. Thus they decided after much deliberation to destroy the monastery and all the monks living in it. They sent government troops to raze the monastery to the ground. But contrary to expectations the monks were able to hold the monastery against massive attack by the heavily armed government troops.

Shaolin monestryThe tenacity of the monastery’s inhabitants led a high civil servant to submit a plan to the government for destroying the Sung Mountain Monastery. This government official, by the name of Chan Man Wei, expected to thereby win the government’s favour. To execute his plan Chan Man Wei himself went to the Sung Mountain and conspired with some treacherous members of the monks’ community. One monk in particular, Ma Ning Yee, agreed to covertly set fire to the monastery buildings. A short time later, the conspirators put their plan into action and destroyed the monastery down to its foundations.

The survivors of the monastery fire fled to all parts of the country and hid to avoid government persecution. Among these refugees were Ng Mui (Wu Mei), a Buddhist nun, master Fung Do Tak (Fung Tof Tak), Master Chi Sin, Master Miu Hin and Master Pak Mei.  In some versions of the legend other individual pupils are named, who likewise had left the monastery. Some of these masters, and also the nun Ng Mui, had begun to develop new forms and techniques of fighting in the monastery. They had feared for some time that there were traitors among them. The new combat techniques were designed to defeat these potential attackers. The Nun Ng Mui fled to the Temple of the White Crane at the foot of the Tai Leung Mountain, also called Chai Hau Mountain, on the border of the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces.

Ng Mui

During this time Ng Mui thought about how she could develop a new combat system that would be superior to the old, better-known systemsMonks. The philosophy behind her new system resulted from her observation of a fight between a crane and a snake (other versions report a fight between a crane and a fox) during meditation. The behaviour of the crane, which always faced its opponent while defending the body with its wings and countering with its bill at the same time, gave Ng Mui the inspiration for her new system.

In some versions it is reported that Ng Mui thereby developed the method of the Bak Hok Kuen (White Crane Kung Fu). She is said to have travelled to the Guangxi province to train with the monk Miu Sun. The new system developed from the combination of their two combat styles. Miu Sun later taught this new system to Yim Lee.

Other completely different versions report that Ng Mui came from a Taoist temple in the Wudang Mountains of Hubei to the Shaolin monastery and that she brought the knowledge of the new system from there.

 
 
Yim Wing Chun

 

Yim Wing Chun lived with her father Yim Lee (Yim Yee) in the Kwantung province in China. Yim Wing Chun was to be the bride of Leung Bok Chow, a salt dealer from the Fukien province. Yim Wing Chun’s mother had died shortly after the engagement of the two and her father had been indicted in the Kwantung province for unknown reasons. To escape possible arrest, Yim Lee fled with his daughter to the Tai Lung Mountain and settled there. Yim Lee worked in the tofu commerce in this area. During this time Ng Mui and Yim Wing Chun first met, as Ng Mui often bought tofu in Yim Lee’s shop.

Shaolin monksAt the age of fifteen Yim Wing Chun was considered ready for marriage according to the customs of the time. The beauty of Yim Wing Chun attracted the attention of all the young men around. A boastful and arrogant young man who was particularly interested in Yim Wing Chun tried to force her to marry him. As her fiancé Leung Bok Chow still lived in the Kwantung (Canton) province, he was not there to help her and confirm that Yim Wing Chun was already promised to him. Her unwanted admirer did not let a day pass without letting Yim Wing Chun know that he intended to marry her, whether she was willing or not. His constant threats were a great concern to Yim Wing Chun and her father Yim Lee. One day Ng Mui heard of these constant threats as she bought some tofu in Yim Lee’s shop. Ng Mui wanted to help the young Yim Wing Chun and promised to teach her the art of fighting, in order to help Yim Wing Chun to see off her unwanted suitor and thus enable her to marry her fiancé.

From that day on, Yim Wing Chun trained with her teacher Ng Mui every day to learn the art of fighting. Yim Wing Chun was a good student and practised all the techniques Ng Mui showed her with enthusiasm. Soon she had learned all the movements of Ng Mui’s fighting system. The next time her suitor attempted to threaten her, she challenged him to a fight. He scornfully accepted her challenge, as he was sure he would win against such a weak woman and believed that his goal of marrying Yim Wing Chun was finally within his grasp. On the day of the fight, however, reality did not live up to his expectations. After a short fight Yim Wing Chun triumphantly defeated her opponent. Shame and humiliation forced him to give up his campaign to make Yim Wing Chun his wife, as he realised that he could not enforce his will upon such a competent fighter. Ng Mui heard about the fight and realised that her young student had perfected her art and could put it to good use. After this fight, the nun Ng Mui left Yim Wing Chun and resumed her travels as Yim Wing Chun no longer needed tuition. However, before Ng Mui left she made Yim Wing Chun promise to maintain their fighting style and teach it to all patriots wishing to bring about the fall of the Ching Dynasty and restore the Ming Dynasty.

All reports agree that the completed Wing Chun System owes much to the nun Ng Mui.

After Yim Wing Chun married her fiancé Leung Bok Chow she taught him the art of fighting she had learned from the nun Ng Mui. In honour of his wife he gave the system the name Wing Chun Kung Fu (other versions of the legend maintain the name comes from a training hall inside the Shaolin temple, which was called Wing Chun Hall).

Sifu Lo Man Kam told us some time ago that the basic movement structure of Wing Chun Kung Fu suggests that the system was developed by a woman, as all movements can be carried out in traditional Chinese women’s clothes. This is particularly clear with regard to the kicks, because they are exclusively used for low attacks and would have been feasible in the robes which Chinese women wore in former times.

Leung Bok Chow later taught this martial art to Leung Lan Kwai. He in turn taught Wong Wah Bo, who at the time was a member of an opera group living on board a Chinese river junk (It is reported that this refers to the legendary "Red Junk" opera group, whose existence from the beginning to the middle of the 18th century is historically documented). Among the people who lived and worked with Wong Wah Bo on board the junk was a man named Leung Yee Tai, who had learned the long pole fighting technique (Luk Dim Boon Kwun or six and a half point pole) from one of the ship’s cooks and was a true master in this style of fighting.

Later they found out that the ship’s cook was none other than master Chi Sin from the Sung Mountain Monastery. The close friendship between Wong Wah Bo and Leung Yee Tai and the innumerable training hours spent together brought them to exchange their knowledge of martial arts and to teach each other their different techniques. This is the reason why the long pole fighting techniques have been included in the Wing Chun Kung Fu System. It was probably at this time that the wooden dummy (Muk Yan Jong) and the art of fighting with butterfly knives (Cham Dao, form: Bard Cham Dao) were also included in the Wing Chun Kung Fu System.

Leung Yan

Leung Yee Tai passed this much broader system of Wing Chun Kung Fu on to an extremely well-known and highly esteemed doctor who lived in the city of Fo Shan in the Kwantung province. Leung Yee Tai taught him all the secrets of the art and after some time his pupil attainedLeung Yan perfection in the skills. The reputation of this pupil, named Leung Yan, spread throughout the whole country. Contenders came from all the different regions of China to challenge him. But none of those whom Leung Yan fought were capable of defeating him and indeed were usually easily beaten by him. This gave him the title "King of Wing Chun" (Wing Chun Wong or Yongchunwang). A journalist named Au Soy Jee even wrote a book about him.

Leung Yan was a rich and well-respected man in Fo Shan due to his profession (though other sources say he was not a doctor but merely a herbalist) and despite his success in the art of fighting he did not want to give up medicine in order to devote himself entirely to the Wing Chun Kung Fu System. He trained his two sons Leung Bik and Leung Tsun and only a few other pupils, as his profession only allowed him limited time.  Leung Bik, Leung Yan’s eldest son,did not possess the ability to perfect the skills of the Wing Chun Kung Fu Style sufficiently in order to pass them on, so this task fell to Leung Yan’s best pupil, Chan Wah Shun. Chan Wah Shun was an extremely hot-tempered fighter who achieved many victories, though he owed most of his successes to his tempestuous manner of fighting. However, he very much neglected the techniques of the system, and he did not have the necessary understanding required to analyse his own fighting style or the various techniques precisely. Leung Bik, Leung Yan’s eldest son, was better than Chan Wah Shun at this sort of analysis. In spite of this Chan Wah Shun gained greater respect in Fo Shan because of his many spectacular victories and as a result Leung Bik left Fo Shan and went to Hong Kong.

Chan Wah Shun did not have many pupils in Fo Shan, as his training fees amounted to several ounces of silver and only very rich people could afford such a sum. Pupils of Chan Wah Shun worth mentioning are: Ng Siu Lo, Ng Chung So, Chan Yu Min, Lui Yu Chai and Yip Man, whom he taught for two years.

 
Yip Man

Yip Man studied the art of Wing Chun for two years with Chan Wah Shun in Fo Shan, until the latter died. He then continued his studies of Yip ManWing Chun with one of Chan Wah Shun’s eldest students Ng Chung So for three further years. Yip Man left Fo Shan at the age of sixteen to go to St. Steven’s School for Boys in Hong Kong. At the time Yip Man was a troublemaker, always involved in fights, which gave him a bad reputation. One day a school-friend of Yip's suggested he fight against an elderly Kung Fu teacher. Yip Man agreed, as he was not used to losing fights and particularly not against men considerably older than himself. It was probably quite an amazing experience for him to realise that the older man had no problems in fending off his attacks and in defeating him within a short space of time. After having reflected on his defeat, Yip Man asked his opponent if he would instruct him. During the conversation Yip Man realised that the older man was nobody other than Leung Bik, the son of Leung Yan from whom his Sifu (master) Chan Wah Chun had learned the art of Wing Chun Kung Fu, and that he thus belonged to the same lineage within the combat system.

Leung Bik’s method of teaching was completely different to that which Yip was used to from Chan Wah Chun, due to his very analytical approach to the techniques of the Wing Chun Kung Fu System. He trained with him for another three years and brought his abilities to perfection. Thus the Wing Chun Yip Man later taught was a product of two very different teachers (according to information from some pupils of Yip Man, Leung Bik was never his teacher: Yip Man and Leung Bik were only friends and everything else is allegedly a jounalist’s invention).

At some stage Yip Man returned to Fo Shan from Hong Kong. Later the Japanese occupied the Fo Shan province. The Japanese military police tried to persuade Yip Man to train their troops, which he refused to do. They engaged another Kung Fu master, of whom it is known only that his surname was Leung, to challenge Yip Man.  After a while he accepted the challenge and defeated his opponent without any problem. As a result he was forced to leave Fo Shan but he continued to help the Chinese government within the resistance movement. After the Japanese had left Fo Shan, Yip Man returned and became an investigator with the local police. As his career developed he became head of the military police. At that time Lo Man Kam was already spending a lot of time with his uncle Yip Man.

When China became communist in 1949, Yip Man had to leave his family in Fo Shan and went to Hong Kong once again.  There he began to teach Wing Chun once more. He held his first class in a back room of the Restaurant Association of Hong Kong. All pupils were members of this Restaurant Union. Among these first pupils were Leung Sheung, Lok Yiu, Yip Bo Ching, Chan Wah, Lee Wing, Tsui Shan Tin (Tsui Sung Ting), Lee Man and Lo Man Kam. Lee Man was furthermore a good friend of both Yip Man and Lo Man Kam’s father. They had known each other for a very long time, since they had all lived in Fo Shan. Soon the room was too small for the fast growing number of pupils. Yip Man then opened a second school in the Yim Wah Restaurant in Stanley Street. As the monks of the "Three Princes Temple" were also interested in Yip's martial arts this became a third training place, and here Lee Han should be mentioned as an outstanding pupil. The school in Stanley Street later had to be moved to the “Public Safety Union” again because of too many pupils, since the premises were larger.

Next Yip Man initiated the "Fu Shan Wing Chun Club" in an apartment in Hoi Tan Street. He did this to enable other pupils, who were not members of the Restaurant Union, to learn Wing Chun. Among the first pupils were Wang Kiu and Chiu Yau. Tsui Shan Tin and other pupils from the first school also trained here. Wong Shun Leung and Cheung Cheuk Hing (William Cheung) were later also admitted to this school.

The number of pupils constantly rose and the school moved from Hoi Tan Street into Lee Tat Street and later into the Shin Yip Building. The young Bruce Lee entered the school in Lee Tat Street, and took lessons with Yip Man for a cosiderable time.

Yip Man later brought his family over to Hong Kong and lived and taught there until his death in 1972.

Lo Man Kam

In 1956 Lo Man Kam’s uncle encouraged him to go to the “Republic of China”: Taiwan. There he represented the young people of Hong KongLo Man Kam and received personal support from President Chiang Kai Shek. On his return to Hong Kong his uncle berated him and advised him to go back to Taiwan. So in 1960 he returned to Taiwan and attended a military school there. After serving several years there, two options were open to Lo Man Kam. He could make a career in the army or open a Kung Fu school.

 

In 1974, following advice from his cousin Yip Chun, Lo Man Kam opened a Wing Chun school in the 31 4F Lane 12, Alley 51, Sec. 3 Pa Te Road, Taipeh, where it still is today. At the time of the opening Lo Man Kam was the only Wing Chun coach in Taiwan. Today he trains pupils from all over the world and trains SWAT (Special Weapon Attack teams) and the FBI in unarmed fighting techniques. Sifu Lo Man Kam visits his schools in many different countries as often as he can, and he has already visited the U.S.A. with his SWAT training programme and trained SWAT units there.

Many well-known personalities have trained under the direction of Sifu Lo Man Kam, including the nephew of Chang Kai Shek. He is at present continuing to train the King and Prince of Brunei.

The Lo Man Kam Wing Chun Association of Germany has been visited by the Sifu since 1996. During these visits Sifu Lo Man Kam mainly trains the school directors, but he also personally runs training sessions for the pupils in the individual schools. Here he endeavours to help beginners in the sport, as well as those more advanced in his techniques, to improve their Kung Fu. Open seminars are also run in co-operation with the German schools and can be attended by anyone interested in the Wing Chun System. Seminar dates and meetings in Germany can always be found on the internet site:

http://www.lo-man-kam.de


From the book

Siu Lim Tao - The little idea

by Marc Debus

Language: Englisch

ISBN-10: 3865821278

ISBN-13: 978-3865821270

 

My training with Sifu Lo Man Kam / by Marc Debus

My Training with Sifu Lo Man Kam

by Marc Debus

 

I began to be interested in martial arts in the middle of the eighties. At the time I trained a great deal with fellow students who had themselves been practising various types of martial arts for several years. The problem with the training was that we were not able to have regular sessions, nor did we have a particular location for our training.

Andreas Zernt, Lo Man Kam, Gorden Lu, Marc DebusI decided to attend a school of martial arts, so that I could have regular training sessions. And so I found a Wing Chun Kung Fu School in the city in which I was studying, and registered there and began my training. I quickly became fascinated by the combat style and therefore began a training programme to teach it myself. My teacher at the time soon encouraged me to open my own school. After a year of preparation I opened my own school in North Rhine-Westphalia with a colleague, and we ran it successfully together for three years.

Meanwhile I had been training for several years and also attending weekly sessions for teachers, lasting two to three hours each time. There we practised the Siu Lim Tao and the Cham Kiu Forms of Wing Chun, techniques, ‘feeling’ training and free combat. However the training basically remained the same over a long period of time, and my questions regarding techniques and applications could not be answered to my complete satisfaction. I therefore decided to find an authentic source to further my knowledge of the Wing Chun Kung Fu System.

My first contact with Sifu Lo Man Kam came during a seminar in 1996. The wonderful training methods and friendly attitude of this Chinese man encouraged me and three teaching colleagues and friends, who were also unhappy with their current training regimes, to renew contact with Sifu Lo Man Kam at the end of 1999.

Sifu Lo Man Kam visited us for the first time in the year 2000 for two weeks, and we used this time entirely for our own training purposes. SifuLo Man Kam with the double knives Lo Man Kam taught, to begin with, the Siu Lim Tao of the Wing Chun System. I experienced for the first time what it was like to have a teacher who could distinguish the tiniest error in practising the Form, and who was able to give advice regarding these problem areas which enabled me to correct my mistakes quickly and effectively. Furthermore for every mistake Sifu Lo Man Kam explained to us the dangers and problems which could arise in a combat situation if we continued in the error of our ways. He reinforced this by giving examples of the differences between the right and wrong forms of the exercise. It quickly became clear to us that the process of learning the first Form would demand more time and effort than we had until then imagined.

At the same time we also absorbed Lo Man Kam’s teaching methods, so that later we could pass on his tips to our own pupils. He showed us various teaching aids and gave us many simple examples which would be invaluable for tuition purposes. Simultaneously we learned the correct execution of the Dan Chi.

The tuition with Sifu Lo Man Kam during these two weeks solved the many questions which had plagued me over the preceding years of my martial arts training and to which I had never received answers. For these reasons we decided to intensify our contact with Sifu Lo Man Kam in order to extend our knowledge of Wing Chun Kung Fu.

The next step was to make contact with long-term students of Sifu Lo Man Kam, so that we could train together with them and build on our new knowledge. At the same time we planned with the Sifu (by telephone) both his next visit to Germany and our visit to the Association’s headquarters in Taipeh, as well as the founding of the German Lo Man Kam Wing Chun Association.

Sifu Lo Man Kam in TaipehBy contrast the training in Taipeh was completely different to the private training we had had in Germany. Many long-term students of Sifu Lo practise the Wing Chun Kung Fu System here daily, in two training sessions. During this first visit to Taiwan, contact with our mostly native fellow-pupils was not as difficult as we had previously imagined. Most of our colleagues spoke good English and were always ready to answer our questions or to give help when we had a problem. Sifu Lo Man Kam himself was always present during the training sessions and corrected his pupils or gave them new exercises when he was convinced that they had mastered the previous one. Many of the advanced students were a great help as one frequently found oneself in untried situations during the training, especially in the Chi Sao. Our colleagues were used to considering and repeating problematical situations arising during training, until one came up with a solution. Furthermore I always received tips from Sifu Lo Man Kam or indeed he would repeat a manoeuvre or procedure himself with me. Here I experienced for the first time a training exercise which kept me busy for many hours. Some fellow-students were quite prepared to practise with me outside the normal training sessions and so I quickly became used to an entirely different training regime.

Becoming familiar with both the living conditions in Taiwan and China and the oriental way of thinking helped me to better understand Sifu Lo Man Kam’s training methods and explanations. Kung Fu pupils in Europe or America behave in an entirely different manner to those of Sifu Lo Man Kam’s school. The pupils practise exclusively that which Sifu Lo has shown them or the exercise he has given them to practise. They then begin their particular training exercise after practising their ‘Forms’ for a short while. The pupils do not ask questions but leave the decision as to what they should practise entirely up to the master. I have rarely seen pupils plaguing Sifu with questions or asking him if they can practise something different. The quality of the Kung Fu which I have experienced in Sifu Lo Man Kam’s school speaks volumes for this style of tuition. One has the impression that the Chinese pupils, or those who have lived in China for a long time, approach their training with greater patience and stamina. The fact that the pupils invest two hours daily in learning the art of combat inevitably means that they learn in a much more intensive manner than in most Western schools.

The criticism and corrections Sifu Lo Man Kam makes are seen positively by his pupils; since they are always appear to be justified. Sifu drew my attention to my own mistakes so often that I began to work independently on the correction of these errors. However I received no praise from him for the success of my efforts. I only realised that I was carrying out my exercises correctly when Sifu stood next to me, watched me complete an exercise routine and then turned away without saying a word. I knew at once that I had performed the exercise correctly. About 10 minutes later Sifu criticised another exercise and then I knew what I should be practising next. At the same time it was clear to me that Sifu Lo Man Kam was keen that his pupils should constantly improve. He achieves this by continually correcting faults and inspiring the pupils in their training. Even small mistakes are not overlooked in his school. It was hard at the beginning, with my Western mentality, to accept this constant criticism. But I quickly learnt that this contributed to a more intensive preoccupation with my faults and helped me to carry out my exercise routines more precisely.

The organization of the school was such that the saying „Wing Chun is a family system“ seemed logical. The respect of the pupils was noLo Man Kam train a studentt limited to a silly greeting or meaningless ritual as one often finds in martial arts schools. The pupils addressed Lo Man Kam principally by the Chinese title „Sifu“(father-teacher). The true meaning of this word only struck me at the moment when I realised that the son of Sifu Lo Man Kam, Gorden Lu (Lo), also used the word „Sifu“ when addressing  his father. There was no sign of any competition between the pupils. My Sihings (older Kung Fu brothers) were always ready to give me help or to answer my questions: they never made a secret of anything. Even when I asked questions about ‘forms’ which I had not yet myself begun to learn, I received polite and informative answers which were always helpful to my later training.

After these experiences I found the teacher-pupil relationship in some European martial arts schools completely ridiculous. Even the interaction of the pupils in western schools was harder to understand in view of the training methods practised in Taipeh. In the past I have heard that one should not show a beginner too much and that as a teacher one must make sure that talented pupils don’t learn too much! (It must be mentioned here that there is absolutely no hierarchy or any belt system in Sifu Lo Man Kam’s school). The teaching method and the way of dealing with the pupils in his school made clear to me that a talented pupil is a gift to the teacher. The art of Wing Chun Kung Fu can only be furthered when we are prepared as teachers to allow others to be as good as or better than ourselves. If in our pupil’s generation there are none who reach our level of ability, this cannot be transmitted to the next generation and ever more knowledge of martial arts will be lost. Thus every teacher should try to encourage new talent in order to maintain the art of Kung Fu for future generations.

Due to the efforts of various western teachers and different associations there are ever more people trying to spread the art of Wing Chun Kung Fu, and undertaking longer training periods either in China or in schools run by pupils of Yip Man. Over the past few years it has been seen that some well-known and long-term Wing Chun teachers have sought contact with former Yip Man pupils, or invited them to attend one- or two-day seminars. They now wish to return to the roots of Wing Chun Kung Fu and forge links with Sifu Yip Man despite turning down such contact for many years. This is a very positive development, since it will lead to a more authentic assimilation of the combat art.