May 5-6, 2001

Michigan Friendship Seminar report

Sifu Benny Meng - Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun / Yip Man Wing Chun
Sifu Eddie Chong - Bak Mei / Pan Nam Wing Chun / Leung Sheung Wing Chun
Hosted by Robert Hannon, representative of the Ving Tsun Museum in Saginaw, Michigan on May 5th and 6th.

(l/r) Speaker Benny Meng, Host Robert Hannon, and Speaker Eddie Chong

During two days and 16 hours of instruction, Sifu Benny Meng and Sifu Eddie Chong covered many aspects of two different systems of Southern Shaolin martial arts. Saturday morning, Sifu Chong spent 4 hours on a foundational form in the Bak Mei system called Sap Jih (character 10). The name of this form comes from the footwork used; this form covers North, South, East and West. The form was practiced many times. Sifu Chong used his training and understanding of both the Yip Man and Pan Nam lineages of Wing Chun to show the similarities between Bak Mei and Wing Chun. Numerous times throughout the day, Sifu Chong would show how the two styles would approach the same situation in Chi Sau.

After lunch, Sifu Meng started with classifications of martial arts. There are four: martial fitness, martial sport, martial arts, and martial science. Each type of martial training offers different amounts of information and serves to satisfy different goals. People interested in martial fitness programs might not be interested in combat applications or training. The focus of their program is on fitness. On the other hand, people interested in martial sports must have a well-developed level of fitness to remain competitive. Once an individual retires from active sports competition, they might stop training. Alternatively, one might become involved in teaching one's style of fighting developed through competition experience. This moves into the realms of martial arts. Martial arts serve to give an individual a vehicle to express certain fundamental truths about life or fighting based on their subjective experience. Martial science focuses on the reality of combat and the reality in nature. Each classification serves a unique purpose; when one attempts to mix up the purpose of each, it causes problems.

Following this foundation focused on science, Sifu Meng used the Time and Space concept of Hung Fa Yi as an example of Martial Science. He used the technique of Taan Sau to explore three-dimensional space relative to one technique from the Hung Fa Yi system. Following this technical discussion, Sifu Meng had his student, Jeremy Roadruck, talk about the history of Hung Fa Yi and its relationship to Shaolin kung fu. After this discussion, the workshop ended for the day.


Sifu Benny Meng explaining a basic stance of Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun

Sunday morning began with Sifu Chong reviewing the material he presented the previous day. The focus of the second day's activities was to show the ranges of combat trained in the form. Using separate exercises and chi sau, Sifu Chong took participants through many combinations of techniques and reaction drills. In closing his portion of the workshop, Sifu Chong emphasized that Bak Mei utilizes soft power rather than strength. Through the proper release of energy a practitioner is trained to strike to the vital points, making this a very deadly art. However, it is a Buddhist art so combat should be hard whenever possible.


Sifu Chong demonstrating an application of Baak Mei, White Eyebrow Kung Fu
Sifu Benny Meng - Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun / Yip Man Wing Chun
Sifu Eddie Chong - Bak Mei / Pan Nam Wing Chun / Leung Sheung Wing Chun
Hosted by Robert Hannon, representative of the Ving Tsun Museum in Saginaw, Michigan on May 5th and 6th.

Workshop group photo

After lunch, Sifu Meng reviewed the material he presented the day before. Following the discussion on Time and Space, Sifu Meng went on to talk about Combat Space in terms of Positional Space and Structural Space. Positional Space refers to the positions between one's own limbs while Structural Space refers to the alignments and structure of one's body. To make this information clearer, workshop participants were taken through a series of progressions in training the punch. The first step was to train the upper body. Once that was understood the lower body because of the focus. As an understanding was reached in regards to the lower body, the final progression put the two parts together. Due to time constraints the progression stopped there. The progression starts with knowing oneself by training first the upper body, then lower body, and finally putting the two parts together. Once one understands one's own reality, one must learn to live in the outside world. The progression continues by working with first a stationary target, then a moving target, and finally a moving person. The last step in the progression details learning the proper angles of attack to apply the weapon.

After the physical training, Mike Mathews, a student of Sifu Meng, spoke about the origins of the Time and Space concept. The Time and Space concept originated in the Southern Shaolin Temple with the Chan concept of Saam Mouh Kiuh or Three Connecting Bridge. The Saam Mouh Kiuh concept points to three levels of reality: 1) Fou Kiuh, or wandering, 2) Saan Kiuh, or separate and 3) Wing Kiuh, or eternal. At the Fou Kiuh stage of realty, one is not aware. In terms of combat one is not aware of time and space. At the Saan Kiuh stage of reality one realizes reality but is separate from it. In terms of combat one can recognize time and space, usually referred to as timing and distance. At the Wing Kiuh stage of reality, one is aware of time and space and maintains harmony with it. In terms of combat each motion is in harmony with time and space, there is neither wasted time, wasted space, nor wasted energy.

The workshop ended after a question and answer session with Sifu Meng. Group Photos were taken and everyone agreed that the information presented was well worth the time. More workshops like this will be offered in the future. As members of the martial arts community reach out to teach other in brotherhood and spread the knowledge of the myriad Chinese styles, it is hoped that a sense of community will evolve.


Out at dinner after a hard day's workshop!

The Ving Tsun Museum would like to thank Sifu Eddie Chong for his time and effort in promoting the traditional Chinese styles of Bak Mei, Pan Nam Wing Chun, and Yip Man Wing Chun.

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