s: What really drew you to Wing Chun enough to make you eat it? WSL: It all started because my dad had friends who practiced it; One of them was Zhao Qin Wah (Chan Wah Sun), who watched him fight. I didn’t believe in Wing Chun at first. The first day I went to Yip Mana School I ended up fighting with him. I was seventeen at the time and Yip Man was over fifty, and I had to admit without a doubt that he beat me. What surprised me most was the efficiency with which he did it. I knew what I was practicing at Yip Manâ?? It’s Wing Chun, but I didn’t associate it with the system that my father told me Chao Chin Wah practices. I was aware that Yip Man was from Fachan, as were Zhao Qin Wah and Leong Gan. Soon after he entered his school, I asked him if he had heard of these two men and the system they practiced, as my father told me that they were very good fighters. Yip Manna’s answer was: “They practice the same art, you idiot!”
s: When did you start teaching? WSL: I started teaching as an assistant after three years at Yip Mana School.
s: How long have you owned your school in Hong Kong? WSL: Since 1969.
s: Before you joined Yip Mana school you did some boxing, right? WSL: Yes, I loved anything related to combat.
s: Interested in commenting on any experiences you’ve had? WSL: Look, many journalists asked me the same question. Initially, when I started doing seminars in Australia, many people were more interested in my personal fighting experiences than in Wing Chun. It doesn’t matter who you fight, you don’t have to show how brave you are. It is always possible for your opponent to be better than you think. I do not like to talk about such things. There are many people who talk about them when they were old, and it’s always possible that what they might say isn’t quite right. If what you did was right, a lot of people already know that it is. If I were to talk about the way I was fighting, it might seem like I meant I could no longer do that. If I can still fight, there is no need to talk about my past.
s: You always say you don’t consider Wing Chun an art. In this case, what is yours? WSL: I consider it a skill.
s: Then, as far as you are concerned, does the concept of martial arts exist in relation to any system, Japanese Karate, Chinese Kung Fu, Indonesian Pencak Silat, etc.? WSL: In martial arts, as in the art of war, if it is an art, no one will win or lose. Let’s imagine two paintings of two different people; One part of the audience will love one and another part of the audience will love the other, but when it comes to a fight they will never say the person on Earth is the winner. Many people use martial arts for demonstrations, which is not its purpose; In this case it is a “dance”. The most you can say is that they use ‘energy’???? So “dance”.
s: What do you think of the fighting systems that have proven to be sports and which nowadays belong in the real sports competition? WSL: Let’s take boxing, for example. In the old days they fought with a bare fist. Later, certain rules were set, and finally gloves, wraps, mouthguards, etc. were introduced. In full contact, they wear gloves and protective gear and there are a set of rules regarding what you are and are not allowed to do. In such a situation, one fights for points; it’s a game. This method of fighting is not complete, because many techniques have to be modified to adapt them to the rules. One would have to find a martial art in which the techniques are ‘adaptive’???? for that sport. All these fighting forms follow the path of sport. If we take the example of two people racing against each other, one wins and the other loses, but within the framework of a clean confrontation in which one does not cheat the opponent. But in real combat you have to cheat. You may learn martial arts and practice them all your life, but that does not mean that you will have the opportunity to use it for real. In the ring, you have to fight, but you depend on the rules and protective equipment. Throughout my years of teaching experience, I had met many people who just wanted to fight before practicing Wing Chun, but over time their attitude changed. As they became more advanced in the art, they looked at combat from another point of view.
s: Are illegal closed-door fights or street fights between different kung fu schools common in Hong Kong? Do you think the teacher should encourage his students to participate in it? WSL: Look, if you have a student who doesn’t want to do that, you shouldn’t force him to, but on the other hand, if he likes to fight, he will even if you tell him no. All you can do is give him advice.
s: Nino is your representative in Europe. Do you have reps elsewhere? WSL: I have students in other countries (USA, Australia, etc.) and some of them have created associations. What we would like to do now is unite all of these associations and create a world association.
s: Are you satisfied with your operation with Wing Chun? WSL: Initially, Wing Chun was not well known in Hong Kong, and Wing Chun’s presence is known all over the world mainly thanks to Bruce Lee and his work. If a martial art does not make sense and practical, you cannot promote it as a fighting system. Long ago there were nations that no longer existed; Likewise, when something is useless, it disappears in time. Wing Chun is becoming increasingly well known all over the world.
s: Do you think Yip Man would be proud of how Wing Chun has evolved since his death? WSL: This is a very difficult question to answer. I am sure that if all of China played Wing Chun, he would be very happy. Yip Man had his own way of seeing things; If he was alive today, he would most likely have changed his views. Maybe he’s going to talk to us here by now.
s: How do you feel when you go to the seminar circuit and come to a country you have never visited before and discover that there are people practicing your Wing Chun branch? WSL: I feel very satisfied because it proves that I am somewhat successful. But in fact, if Wing Chun is practiced in a country I’ve never been to before, it’s thanks to my students. Remember that if you have 100 or 500 students, it means that 100 or 500 people trust you.
s: In order to better understand the art itself, how important are the student concepts, Si-fu, Si-kung, etc., in the teacher-student relationship? WSL: We have to form a culture of people and work as hard as possible to teach and then develop commitment between students and teachers. This is a theory I learned at Wing Chun. I ate and drank with my Si Fu, and sometimes he would invite me to smoke his cigarettes, and we were good friends, but I never named him, not even now after his death. Families in China respect parents and grandparents very much, but they never call them by name, but only in a referential way.
s: This is the second time you have come to Spain. What do you think of the seminar? WSL: I don’t think I’m the one who should answer that question. It is the people who attended the seminar who should give their opinion. We have no doubt that those who attended the seminar are just as satisfied as we are. We expect you to be with us again soon.
Thank you Si Kong.
JosÃ©, Santi and Jaime
Coaches â???? The garage?? ????