Hung Fa Yi Workshop review
by VTM Curator Benny Meng
Master with two indoor students (l/r) John Murphy, Garrett Gee, Benny Meng
First off, I would like to thank Sifu Gee for the workshop and the support of my extended Wing Chun family. This represents the second workshop presented to the public on the Hung Fa Yi system by the Ving Tsun Museum. Our time with Sifu Gee began with a dinner Friday night at one of the few 4 star restaurants in Ohio. Sifu Gee began the workshop at 9 am on Saturday and finished at 1 am with only 4 hours for lunch and dinner. The dinner was an outside BBQ with the entire school in attendance. On Sunday he began at 9:30 and continued until 4:00. The workshop was a total of 18 1/2 hours over two days. This was the longest workshop at the VTM to date. His passion for Wing Chun is obvious. As long as we were awake, Sifu Gee wanted to teach and share his Wing Chun.
His overall format was to explain a piece of information and ask for comments or an exchange of knowledge, examine and explain from HFY's point of view, then we would practice. Afterwards, we would review, take questions and comments, and then move on to the next piece. He and his students moved through the room during the workout time offering corrections and touching hands.
In attendance were members of:
1) Hung Fa Yi from San Francisco, CA
2) Moy Yat (Yip Man) from Dayton, OH, Rochester, NY and Saginaw, MI, Phoenix, AZ
3) Randy Li (Yip Man/Ho Kam Ming), Kansas City, KS
4) Leung Ting and Pan Nam (Pan Nam/Eddie Chong), Saginaw, MI.
List of Topics
The workshop began with a presentation by myself on the 4 stages of evolution of Wing Chun. I also presented the latest research and information being conducted by the VTM.
Harmonizing with Space and Time
One of Sifu Garret Gee's students, Benny Wan, demonstrated the Chahm Kiuh form of Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun. This lineage's CK contains 5 sections and looks very different compared to the Yip Man lineage. It involves movement in multiple directions in addition to hand and leg techniques in various heights and ranges.
Next, John Murphy demonstrated the Muhk Yahn Jong of HFY. Each side of the HFY dummy is different. For example, if one side is to teach application on the inside of an opponent, the other side teaches the application on the outside of the opponent. The facing and body structures are wider than Yip Man lineage.
Saam Sau discussion
Below is a general, outline report of the workshop. Please understand that Sifu Gee's explanations referenced three dimensional space and time factors. Describing much of the workshop is very difficult given the limited medium of text. I urge anyone interested in HFY to come to the VTM or visit Sifu Gee for a more detailed explanation and demonstration of HFYWC.
1) Saam Mouh Kiuh
Sifu Gee began the workshop with a discussion of the Saam Mouh Kiuh, meaning Three Connecting Bridges. This represents the three stages of existence in life and martial arts. According to the history of HFY, this set of concepts originated with the group that were active during the Wing Chun Tong timeframe.
The first stage, called Fou Kiuh or Floating Bridge, is the stage of Wondering. At this stage, one has no idea what is going on or why. In martial arts, this represents the stage of a novice - s/he has a natural instinct for fighting, but in reality that s/he has no real idea about fighting. To HFY's thinking, this person fights with no idea of Time or Space.
The second stage, called Saan Kiuh or Separate Bridge, is the stage of Awareness. At this stage, one is aware of why and how things occur, but one does not possess a clear focus and understanding on the connection between how and why - things are still operating separately. In martial arts, this stage represents the stage of education, the level of most martial artists - one understands and is aware of the importance of timing, power, balance, and other attributes in addition to technique, form, structure, concept, etc. To HFY's thinking, this person fights with control of either Time or Space but not both.
The third stage, called Wihng Kiuh or Eternal Bridge (Eternal as in Eternal Spring, the original name of Wing Chun according to HFY), is the stage of Focus. At this stage, one has an awareness of one's own identity - one's purpose in life. In martial arts, this stage represents one understanding fighting in terms of the relationships between oneself, the opponent, and the environment. One knows exactly what to do in terms of one's structure in harmony with Time and Space, acting in a precise fashion - so precise it is a science. To HFY's thinking, this person fights with control of both Time and Space. At this stage of Science, attributes such as power and speed become secondary to structure and position.
After presenting the Saam Mouh Kiuh Concept, Sifu Gee discussed the Jung Sin, or Center Line. The Jung Sin, in relation to oneself, refers to both a vertical component traveling down through the center of the body as well as the horizontal component between the hands - the hands should maintain a certain width. The Jung Sin, in relation to one's opponent, is the shortest line between oneself and one's opponent. The hands must cover the Jung Sin at all times.
3) Taan Sau example of Time and Space concept
Sifu Gee used Taan Sau as an example of the Space and Time Concept. He invited several members of the audience to come up and demonstrate their respective understandings on the application of Taan Sau. Each demonstration was different. Sifu Gee then explained workings of Taan Sau in the HFY system. In HFY, there is only one Taan Sau. It is trained consistently from Saan Sau to Forms to Chi Sau to application. If one were to use Taan Sau at the wrong space, one is not in a position to offer an immediate attack. This gives the opponent the chance to offer a challenge. Therefore, only one Taan Sau, in one specific space and at a specific time, would allow one to defend and attack in one motion while the opponent cannot do the same. The use of precise positions in relation to space and time proved to everyone present the reasoning of only one "true" Taan Sau in the HFY system. In HFY lore, this was the reason for Cheung Ng having the nickname of Taan Sau - he used one technique, the Taan Sau, to express the science of HFY Wing Chun. To everyone present this seemed to be the best reason for Taan Sau Ng's nickname - rather than beggar's hands or crippled hands.
Want to challenge?
The group was led through the Siu Nihm Tauh form several times. While many details were covered, it is almost impossible for me to express them here. With that in mind, I will explain the first concepts in the SNT form.
For Wing Chun to be a science based on Time and Space, it must have a formula that gives one an understanding of precise structure, three dimensional space, and time relative to the outside world. This formula is called the Wing Chun Formula. Each motion in the Siu Nihm Tauh form demonstrates key points of the Wing Chun Formula.
The first motion exists in most all lineages of Wing Chun. The practitioner stands with feet together and simply brings the hands up to the area around head height with the arms extended. In HFY, this simple motion actually expresses three very important concepts - the Three Dimensional Space, Structure, and Energy.
The placement of the hands describes the vertical, horizontal and depth (range) planes used in application of HFY structure. In HFY SNT, the hands are placed on the high reference point, palms facing down, with the elbows on the yin lines. This gives the practitioner a three dimensional outlook on all hand positions.
Next, the practitioner focuses on the proper energy in the joints. The hands are curled into a fist and brought to the "lock" position. The striking point of the fist is placed between the high reference point and the middle reference point on the centerline. The elbow in on the yin line. This gives rise to the Triangular Theory of HFY - an understanding of the strongest structures of the human body.
Next, the hands are drawn back to the sides of the body by applying Jaang Daai Lihk, or elbow connecting power. This motion also introduces the methods of redirecting energy away from the body.
5) Application of first four movements of SNT
Following the form, the first four movements of SNT were put into application. Each movement in the HFY forms are designed for application as well as demonstrating concepts and principles.
6) Kyuhn Jong
Kyuhn Jong, or Fist Post, dealt with examining the basic fighting stance of HFY. In addition to learning the body and hand positions relative to the concepts introduced by SNT, the Kyuhn Jong also introduces two additional concepts: the Saam Dim Yat Sin (3 point 1 line) Concept and the Saam Dim Bun Kyuhn (3 1/2 Fist) Concept.
The Saam Dim Yat Sin Concept deals with the relationship of the centerline, elbow, and knee when delivering strikes. HFY never steps to the center of an opponent's feet, but instead, takes a position to the side of the opponent. This angulation allows the practitioner to align the knee, elbow and centerline as the base of a triangle with the striking hand as the tip. Because of this angulation, only the most efficient strikes can be delivered without violating HFY structural laws and maintain the triangle shape in striking.
This gives rise to the Saam Dim Bun Kyuhn Concept. The Saam Dim Bun Kyuhn Concept outlines the three major hand striking tools of HFY: the punch (three points are the knuckle of the fist), the side palm, and the chop (the 1/2 is the half of the palm used in striking with these two techniques).
7) Application of Kyuhn Jong
Once he had covered the Kyuhn Jong and its supplemental concepts, we were given a chance to put it into application. This exercise focused on how to enter into another's boundaries precisely. If any distortions were present, one partner attacking with too wide or too narrow an angle of facing for example, the other partner could offer a challenge - potentially turning the tables and counterattacking in one motion.
8) Daan Chi Sau
The HFY system has Daan Chi Sau, or single stick hand, in two formats. The first is called standard Daan Chi Sau and the other is called crossed Daan Chi Sau. The standard Daan Chi Sau was covered at this workshop. The first stage of training is finding one's own structure in realms of three dimensional space and understanding energy. The second phase deals with a more dynamic form of energy. The Third stage deals with developing structure. Once structure is developed, the fourth stage deals with breaking the structure. This is done through the use of "Initials." Each position in the Daan Chi Sau sequence can be challenged if the structure is not correct. This drilling serves two purposes: 1) it trains the student to recognize structure or lack thereof on contact and 2) the positions trained are the same as those used in fighting. This gives the student reactions that are geared for combat. In HFY, the exact same position in Chi Sau training is used for fighting thus requiring each stage of training to be applicable for combat in addition to preparing the student for more advanced levels of training.
9) Geuk Jong
The placement of the legs and the use of footwork also utilizes the Saam Dim Yat Sin Concept using the heel, knee and tailbone for reference points. As footwork is applied, the practitioner must cover the space immediately in front of the body to prevent potential challenge.
outside barbecue after a fun, exciting and informative day's workshop
At the end of the workshop, everyone came up and gave testimony as to the impact of the workshop on their perception of Wing Chun. Everyone stated variations on the same theme: their perception of Wing Chun and martial arts have been forever changed by this workshop.
With Sifu Gee's approval, the VTM and Meng's Martial Arts of Arizona are now offering classes on the HFY system. Please call (937) 236-6485 for more information about Museum Classes, or (480) 820-2428 for Arizona class information.
Group photo in front of the Ving Tsun Museum