January 27-28, 2001
by Andy Kalish
Discussion of Chi Sau
Workshop group photo including students from the New York and Michigan VTM branch clubs.
This workshop was held at the Ving Tsun Museum (VTM) in late January of 2001. Unfortunately, sadness was over the VTM community with the untimely passing of Grandmaster Moy Yat less than a week prior. In light of this, Sifu Meng started the weekend's events with a tribute to his late Sifu. Dozens of pieces of artwork, artifacts, and memorabilia from both the VTM as well as Sifu Meng's personal collection were displayed. Sifu Meng then gave a thorough and heartfelt recounting of the Grandmaster's life and accomplishments. No matter how much exposure any of the attendees may have had to their Sigung, they undoubtedly gained significant additional insight as a result of Sifu Meng's talk.
With that accomplished, the workshop itself got underway. The previous two "Marathon Workshops" that had been held over the preceding few months took an approach of focusing on the Yip Man system and gaining additional insight into it by comparing it to some of the aspects of the Hung Fa Yi (HFY) system. This Hung Fa Yi / Chi Sau workshop was a two-day event that took the complementary approach of focusing on the Hung Fa Yi system and viewing it with the Yip Man system as a comparative backdrop.
Sifu Meng started his discussion on Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun by covering some very foundational ideas, including Hung Fa Yi history, the Saam Mo Kiu philosophy, the time & space concept, and subjective versus objective systems and their expression. These general, conceptual ideas were followed up with a discussion of the means by which the Hung Fa Yi system explicitly expresses them physically: the Wing Chun formula. This is a critical notion. Since Hung Fa Yi has its roots in Zen, physical experience and physical expression are vital. The Wing Chun formula is the basis for this expression.
Next Sifu Meng spent some time going over the details of the Yip Man system' s Siu Nim Tau (SNT) form and training exercises, followed by a similar treatment of HFY Level 1 Siu Nim Tau. Each of these was then compared and contrasted relative to each other in terms of structure and reference points.
The focus then shifted completely to the Hung Fa Yi system. First, the details and the fighting applications of the opening of the SNT form were discussed and trained. Afterwards, Sifu Meng led us through the HFY Jong Sau training progression exercises, providing conceptual information in support of the methods as we went along. This is a detailed training progression of the foundational stances and footwork of HFY. Day 1 of the workshop then concluded with some summary level discussion of the day's events.
The second day of the workshop started with a brief review of some of the Yip Man SNT level training methods (Paak Sau, Laap Sau and Daan Chi Sau) before segueing into an overview of Hung Fa Yi history, philosophy, and idioms. The focus then shifted to another HFY training progression: Kuen Jong. This series of exercises develops the three main hand strikes of Hung Fa Yi. These strikes are then layered on top of the stances and footwork found in the Jong Sau progression.
The last SNT level training progression of the day was HFY Paak Sau. The Paak Sau exercise is an excellent example of the difference between the Yip Man system and Hung Fa Yi. The practitioner can clearly see the 3 dimensional considerations of HFY Paak Sau. After discussing and training some of the Paak Sau training exercises, Sifu Meng concluded the workshop by covering the fighting applications found in the first section of the HFY Siu Nim Tau form.
Overall, the workshop was very successful in that it provided a look at the foundation of the Hung Fa Yi system from a slightly different perspective than in previous workshops. This was highly beneficial for the following reason: Although the reality of Hung Fa Yi does not change based upon your viewpoint, the more ways and angles that you can look at it the more focused your understanding of it becomes. This workshop went a long way towards increasing people's focus and insight into Hung Fa Yi.