Los Angeles, CA
This is a review of the 4th Friendship Seminar, held in Los Angeles, California the weekend of January 12-14, 2001. The featured speakers were Sifu Benny Meng, Sifu John Crescione, Sifu Jerry McKinley, Sifu Marty Goldberg, Rene Ritchie, Dave McKinnon, and Dzu Ngyun.
The workshop began Friday night with an information gathering at the location for the workshop. A group of volunteers helped clean and prepare the workshop area for the next days' activities. After cleaning for several hours, the volunteers went out to dinner, discussing many Wing Chun topics late into the night.
Saturday Morning breakfast outside the hotel.
Saturday morning began with last minute preparation of the room. The day's workshop began with an introduction of the hosts, speakers, and participants. It was pointed out several times that the purpose of the Friendship Seminars was to gain an understanding of what other people do. An open mind and a willing attitude to learn were asked of all participants. Many lineages of Wing Chun have different points of view in regards to history, teaching, training and combat. The goal of the Friendship Seminars is to help understand the differences in the various lineages and build friendships and understand history, teaching, training and brotherhood in the Wing Chun community.
Following introductions, each lineage in attendance demonstrated their first
form or its equivalent. The demonstrations were
Crescione Wing Chun by John Crescione
Sum Nung by Rene Ritchie
Wong Sheung Leung by Jerry McKinley
Traditional Wing Chun "Advanced" Siu Nim Tau by Marty Goldberg
Robert Chu Method by Dzu Ngyun
Ving Tsun Museum Curriculum by Benny Meng (Chahm Kiuh), Mike Mathews (Siu Nihm Tauh), Jeremy Roadruck (Biu Je)
Hung Fa Yi by Benny Meng, Alan Kong, Mike Mathews, Jeremy Roadruck
Yik Kam's Siu Lim Tao by Hendrik Santo
After the form demonstrations, the first speaker Sifu John Crescione discussed body positions as trained through forms according to proper skeletal and neurological function. According to Sifu Crescione, stances must be based on maintaining proper body function. An improperly aligned stance created a weak structure. When our skeleton is properly aligned, the ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle are all in alignment. Wing Chun stances should maintain the same alignment. In a proper Yi Jih Kihm Yeuhng Mah, the knees are the only part of the body to change. The bending of the knees matches the tilt of the hip. When standing normally, one's weight should be felt between the middle of the foot, directly below the point where the ankle joins the foot. He used participants and applied kinesology (muscle testing) to demonstrate strong vs. weak alignment. The waist is the connection point between the upper and lower body. If the tailbone is "locked" under the hips in an extreme fashion, the spine is curved and the body is functionally disconnected. Overdeveloping the muscles at the front of the shoulder can also create this curvature. One of the reasons to pull the hands back in Siu Nihm Tauh is to maintain equal muscular development between the front and back of the shoulder. This can also be accomplished by doing pushups with locked elbows and moving the shoulder girdle up and down rather than pushing up with the arms.
Also included in Sifu Crescione's talk was a demonstration of a type of stretching known as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). In this type of stretching, pressing in the opposite direction exhausts the muscles that pull the body part to be stretched. A more detailed description will be included on the videotape of the workshop to be produced at a later date.
Following Sifu Crescione's lecture was Sifu Benny Meng of the Ving Tsun
Museum with two assistants. Jeremy Roadruck discussed the political history
of China from the transition of the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. This
was followed with the oral history of the Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun lineage.
Jeremy Roadruck discussing Wing Chun history
Sifu Meng interjected with additional details throughout the lecture. Mike Mathews followed with a discussion of the Saam Mouh Kiuh (Three Connecting Bridges) concept of Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun. Sifu Meng provided additional comments and examples of the Saam Mouh Kiuh concept. The progression from historical/political development through philosophical discussion was aimed at covering the reason for Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun's creation in the late 17th century and its eventual spread from anti-Qing secret societies out to the public through the Red Boat opera in the mid-18th century. Following the discussion of Saam Mouh Kiuh, the group took a break for lunch.
Benny Meng discussing the Hung Fa Yi's creation
After returning from lunch, Sifu Meng continued the discussion of Hung Fa Yi, placing the Saam Mouh Kiuh concept into combat through the Time and Space concept. Using Taan Da, Sifu Meng demonstrated and discussed the depth, height, and width (three-dimensional space) of Taan Da as it exists within the Hung Fa Yi system and its relationship to Jeung Ng's nickname of "Taan Sau".
Next up was Sifu Jerry McKinley, speaking on trapping and throws in Wing Chun. In a relaxed manner, Sifu McKinley demonstrated several different types of throws available through various techniques and related the techniques back to the three forms of Wing Chun. Using the laahp sau drill as a platform, Sifu McKinley took the workshop participants through several exercises from trapping to throwing. According to Sifu McKinley, any strike is a throw and any throw is a strike. One does not look for a strike or throw; one merely takes the opportunity presented by the opponent. If one were to focus on just striking or just throwing, one might miss the opportunity for a "more appropriate" technique, the opposite of what is sought. Trapping entails more than merely crossing the opponent's hands, to trap an opponent one must control the opponent's body and/or center of gravity. Each of the hand forms link to the weapon forms: Siu Nihm Tau equals the Dummy, Chahm Kiuh equals the Pole; Biu Je equals the Knife. Each of the motions taught in the weapon sets can be applied with the weapon or as a form of lock or throw when empty-handed. A small booklet of notes was provided for workshop participants detailing different places to grab the opponent's arm as well as angles to throw and body placement.
Following Sifu McKinley, Rene Ritchie spoke on training progressions in the Sum Nung system. Covering much the same material as in previous Friendship Seminars, Rene began with proper stance placement as taught in the Sun Nung system. After learning to root the body, participants were given a progression to train "linking" and "de-linking" energy within the body and structure. The progression began with a redirection of an opponent's punch by using a laahp sau motion. After gaining some proficiency with the motions, the punching partner was given a way to counter the grab by "de-linking" his punching energy and structure and changing it to a bong sau. Variations on this exercise were also provided.
Sifu John Crescione spoke once again Saturday night covering Dim Mak in Wing Chun. The material presented was an overview of major Dim Mak classification systems combined with an exercise on aim. Sifu Crescione has conducted two workshops on Dim Mak and the material presented at the Friendship Seminar was an introduction to the same material in less than two hours. Supporting his lecture were notes detailing major acupuncture points for Dim Mak as well as the energy cycles in the body through the organs as defined in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Sifu Crescione's talk ended the first day's workshop activities. The group went out to dinner and several participants continued discussing Wing Chun late into the night.
Los Angeles, CA
Second Day (in the morning)
Sifu Robert Chu conducts a regular class for his students on Sunday mornings. Participants of the Friendship Seminar were invited to attend that morning's class. During the class, Sifu Chu covered his approach to Chi Sau, iron palm liniment recipes, his views on internal and external martial arts, and his usage of the term "Wandering Knight"
The Friendship Seminar proper began Sunday with Dave McKinnon and Dzu Ngyun talking about Wing Chun structure as taught by Sifu Robert Chu. In the Chu method, there are four tests used to demonstrate linked body structure. The first test on one's structure is from Yih Ji Kihm Yeuhng Mah. While holding one's horse, a partner places pressure on one's chest by pushing with one hand. One is seeking to link the body and prevent being pushed off-balance. The second stance test involves standing in a side stance with both arms in the laahn sau position as taught in the Yip Man lineage. The partner will pull on the arms. One is seeking to maintain a root and connection to the ground. The third test involves the same stance, with the partner pushing on one's arms. The last structure test using the side stance and a bong sau as trained in the second form of the Yip Man lineage.
Following the discussion of structure testing, the Dave and Dzu continued the discussion of structure. Having developed static structure, students are taught to link the structure with a strike. Using a forward stance, one leg about a shoulder width in front of the other pointing at a target, the student is taught to punch with the back hand and link the structure of the whole body into the strike. Everyone tried this exercise for a while, both left and right hand.
Following this lecture, the group broke for lunch.
(VTM staff no longer present)
Sifu Marty Goldberg discussed grabs and throws.
Workshop Group photo
Several participants comments about the workshop are below. If you ever have a chance to participate in one of these workshops, it is worth the time to expose yourself to new ways of thinking and making new friendships in the Wing Chun community.
My one quick rundown...
I met up with Marty at about 2pm Friday and got a quick bite to eat. Peter came by and then Dzu, Dave and their classmate Adrian (sp?) showed up and we walked over to the seminar site to check it out. Thanks again to Peter for providing that space as well. We cleaned up some only to find out the area we cleaned seemed to be one with no functioning lighting. So, like good WCK people, we broke off and went back to the hotel in time to meet up with Tom Parker and, soon thereafter, Jerry, Eric, and some of Jerry's students. Jerry had, apparently, brought the posse to ensure we complied with his wishes for food and lots of it, so, when John C. showed up a short time later, we went off in search of dinner. After dinner we went back over to the seminar site and talked and talked and talked.... Then talked more at the hotel... then more in the hallway... then more in the rooms...
Saturday we hooked up with Benny, Mike, and Jeremy in the lobby and got some quick hotel breakfast, then dashed across the street for some Chinese buns, and then headed over to the seminar site again. We all pitched in and moved everything from the non-illuminated room to the illuminated room and when Hendrik showed we began with the demonstrations of Siu Lien/Nim Tao. Once that was done, John C. started his Anatomy talk and we went into Benny's segment which featured Jeremy's talk on Chinese History, Mike's discussion of the three bridges, and Benny's tying of all the history and philosophy together. After lunch, Jerry went through WCK locks and throws and I did an overview of YKS/SN four basic punches, crashing punches, and waist turning. We then rapped up with John C's Dim Mak talk. Jerry and Eric and the rest of Jerry's group had to leave midway through, but surprisingly enough, we still decided to go for dinner Dzu & Dave's teacher, Robert Chu came by to join us for dinner and we went for Chiu Chou food. After that, we talked, and talked, and talked at the restaurant, then back at the hotel, then in the rooms, until Marty and I finally picked Hendrik up and dragged him out.
Sunday Robert Chu invited anyone interested to attend his usual Sunday morning class before the seminar started and he went over Dit Dat Jow/herbology, structure, chi sao methods, and his views on internal/external. That segued into Dzu and Dave's section on structure and punching which prefaced lunch. After lunch, Marty went over joint locks and throws then I did some more YKS/SN basics, with barring arm, cultivating arm and grasping arm. We wrapped up around 4-5 p.m. and said our good byes.
Sifu John Crescione
What I always find interesting about these things is that when in person, we get along so well - and how much I do and don't know. I left early Sunday so I can't comment. Jerry's got a nice set of ideas about his system and how he works it. Benny, Mike and Jeremy were more then well received in their excellent presentation of HFY history, principles and techniques. Benny ran well over the alotted time, but we felt this was important to see, so I shortened my presentations, as did Rene on Sat. night. We went into anatomy, structure, weight bearing and some strength training exercises to enhance your WCK performance and the Dim Mak section. I tried to cram a 2 & 1/2 day seminar into an hour. Robert gave an informative session on how to make a dit da jow formula, what were the base ingredients, etc and how to alter it for different problems. He then segued into his structure tests and other goodies.
Sifu Jerry McKinley
On Friday Jan. 12th, 2001, Eric & I along with two other of my students went to the Dragon Inn in Chinatown to meet some people from this list. We got a call on the cell phone from Tom Parker and told him we would be there in 1/2 hour. Traffic was slow, but we got there at about 7:15. In the lobby we met Tom, Marty, Rene, Dzu, & Dave McK. We had to wait on John C. to get it together after his flight in from NYC. When John C. came down we left to eat. We did all the Introductions again over dinner. Dzu, Rene, Marty , Dave & John took over to the room where we were to have the Seminar on Saturday. It was very nice and had a lot of room to work out in. We stood around and talked until around midnight. We then walked back to the hotel and talked for awhile longer in the front of the hotel. We finally said our good-byes and went home, to return the next day for the fun and games.
Arriving back at about 8:30 a.m. that morning, we meet more WCK folks. Benny Meng introduced himself to us and also his Si-Hing and some of his students. Rene, Marty, Dzu, Dave, & John C, and the rest of us went through the introductions again. We got started late. All of the presenter, introduced themselves and did a small demo of their SLT. Benny's Si-Hing showed HFY's first form. As it was a long FUN day, with a lot of knowledge given out it's hard to not have this rumbling of Ideas going around in my head. John C. Started off with a discussion on anatomy & structure. I found this not only enjoyable, but a nice confirmation on what I have been doing with My WCK. As John brought up, we use a lot of different terms to describe things, and argue about things. But when you get together in person, you are doing almost the same thing, just calling it a different name. I found that we all see the same things in WCK, but have just a little different angle on them. This is all IMHO.
After John was finished, Benny and Jeremy talked about HFY's history. We then broke for lunch. Benny talked about the Tan- Sao defense of HFY, and the 5 gates, Space & Time. After Benny's explanation, I gave a short talk on grabs and throws. After that Rene showed us the SNT on Sum Nung WCK. He then walked us through some hand exercises and stance work. Rene walked around and helped everyone get the moves down so they could work on them later if they wished. (I think that was cool) we took a small break before John C. started his talk on Dim Mak in WCK.
John's talk on Dim Mak was not what I thought it would be. The explanations & exercises, with the hand outs, were not what you would expect. There was not mystisim just hard facts. The Dim Mak John showed was not of the Kung-Fu movies. This was all medical facts, there was no WHOOO-Whooo stuff. This was hitting in a fight, real body work things with medical explanations and exercises to help you get to where he is at, and talking about. John walked you through and explained all of what he was talking about. The only sad thing about John's talk for me was that Eric & I had to leave before John was finished.
I know this might seem like a lot of rambling, but I had to get something down before I lose my mind. We had so much fun the last two days with these guys, If you ever get a chance to go to a Friendship Seminar, I think it's the best money you can spend. Hendrik (sp) showed up right from the airport to the seminar He also did his first form from the Cho line. I found the Cho first form very relaxing and another confirmation that WCK has qi-gung in our art. All of this letter is IMHO, and the what I feel I saw and understood at the Friendship Seminar. With all the input that I have just come home with I know that I will be buying the tape that Dzu & Rene, Marty & John C. will be putting together. I missed the last 1/2 of John's Dim-Mak talk as I said above and this is the only way I will find out what to do next. I know that with all that I was given today I have a lot that will help me & my students on out walk down this road of WCK. I did not see anybody give out one single line of BS. This information that these WCK martial artist gave to us I know will help my walk down the road. I am sorry that I can't go on Sunday. I know that it will be one hell of a day.
I just want to give my perspective of the events of the seminar over the last weekend. It was a great experience and I do recommend it to all. There was not enough time to cover all the material and for goofing around, but it was extremely informative and Fun.
Good job to Dzu and David for hosting the event and to Peter for the facilities.
One thing I did not hear was the mention of the earthquake that greeted our non California residents. LOL. Must have been the great demo that was going on at the time that kept most ever one distracted. LOL
Saturday night was mostly a get together, which we did at dinner. We were not as intoxicated as Jerry's photo's might suggest. LOL. There were many discussions going on about many things both Wing Chun related and not. It is always great to have so many people together.
Saturday started out with a demo of the various SLTs from various branches. Rene showed us his YKS which was very exciting to see for a second time. Marty did the advanced SLT which I never saw before. I have seen HFY form a couple times and it was a delight to see it again. Hendrik performed the Cho Family SLT first section which was my personal favorite. John, Dzu, and Jerry did the SLT most of us are more familiar with using there individual lineage perspectives. This portion was one of the highlights of the event for me.
Benny and his group did a fantastic presentation of HFY which included a demo of all 3 forms , the history of china and HFY, theory, and application of Tan Da. Some spirited discussions ensued the application section which was healthy. It was interesting to see some of the principles in action for the HFY system.
John gave a talk on body mechanics and structure as well as Dim Mak. His talks were generic to lineage and gave great tips and hints to all that practice Wing Chun. As one of his test dummies I can attest to his ideas of structure and Dim Mak. Both affected my body, which showed their importance. He explained the effects of balance and body position from a bio-mechanical perspective on what we do. He discussed the effects of Dim Mak and tried to explain how it too affects our bodies. He gave several tests that demonstrated the effects. Again first hand experience on my part tells me there is something to this. LOL. John set some wheels in motion in my brain during his discussion. Another one of my highlights.
Jerry gave a talk of Locking and Throwing from a Wing Chun perspective which was very informative. I do not use much grabbing and locking so it was cool to check it out first hand. I am not against it, just don't do it. He showed us were the principles are found in the forms and how to apply them. I liked the fact that he was not preoccupied with the locks. If the lock doesn't work, hit him. LOL. Great ideas and theory.
I can't remember what Rene talked about the first day, my cup runeth over, but it was good. In between lectures he showed Chum Kiu and some rolling which was great. He was always a wealth of knowledge and fun guy. He covered basic Sum Nung drills on day two that were cool to see in action rather in a book. His drills were designed to teach you certain useful techniques, but they advance into a free form pattern so you didn't become too used to the pattern itself. I had a chance to chi sau with him and I thank him for not clobbering me. LOL
Marty covered locks and throws from his perspective. I was his test dummy for a few applications for the enjoyment of others, and I can attest to the pain he can inflict. LOL. he worked with us for a while and gave good instruction. I chi sau'ed with him and he did clobber me. LOL. A great source of knowledge.
Dzu and David gave a great class on structure. They covered the stances and punching with structure. It was a great experience that I think every one really enjoyed. The Stance tests seemed to be intriguing to most people. They did a great job running the event. They were among the nicest guys I have meet.
Robert did his usual Sunday morning class before the event and opened it up to any one that wanted to attend. He covered Dit Da Jow, Structure, and 14 points of Chi Sau. He explained that the secret of the jow is not the jow ingredients itself. They are pretty generic and useless if just mixed together. TCM is a holistic viewpoint and needs to be tailored made to the individual. So my jow may be slightly different than your jow. Seek out a good TCM with your favorite recipe. The structure test was interesting. For the record: I failed miserably. But it am still confident that my lines methods are sound, but that I don't posses those skills. Even though my Sifu or Sigung would have no problem, the bottom line was I did and that is what counts in the end. So back to the drawing board to see what I did wrong. He covered the 14 points which included sinking, spiting, swallowing, floating, leaking, stealing, and several others. He made a comment that we all use these ideas and they are not unique. He went on to say that we all do Wing Chun and we do it well, but we just don't have the right timing. This I tend to agree with for many people. I want to thank him for his time and effort.
My highlight was meeting Hendrik. He was not a presenter but was a wealth of info. He gave me some advice and tips which although I may not understand at the moment, they set my brain churning again. He shared some of his Cho family Wing Chun and Choy Lay Fut as well as some other stuff like White Crane. I recommend people to meet him when ever they get a chance, He was a very nice guy and I want to thank him for his effort and time he gave me. Thank You.
Whew you guys made it this far. LOL. Back to work....
I also want to say I enjoyed meeting all the attendees. I learned a little from every one there and had a great experience. I can not remember everyone 's names but I remember all of you. You guys made this a great experience. I recommend all you list members to attend if possible in the future.