Articles, Food for Thought

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: DID IP MAN KNOW WING CHUN?


the more research I do the more it appears that if we are referring to Wing Chun as a genuine martial art that uses one specific way, one specific method then there is no such thing as Wing Chun.

What is Wing Chun?

The biggest problem facing Wing Chun today is that there is no overall consensus on what Wing Chun is, it appears that every lineage is coming from a different place to the extent that they are almost different styles.

How did this happen?

If the majority of Hong Kong Masters were taught Wing Chun by the same man how do we get such differences in appearance and application? Even between the 2 lineages that come down from the genuine closed door students Wong Shun Leung and Chu Shong Tin there are major differences.

After his death in 1972 Instructors such as William Chung, Leung Ting, and his own son Ip Chun started to rewrite history to suit their own agendas, I am not saying that they did not have any Martial skill, I have never met the men so I have no idea of their skill level, but each has a different version of the historical records regarding Ip Man and his Wing Chun, they cannot all be correct.

In more recent times there has been another rewrite of Ip Mans history to suit the series of semi biographical movies that tell a story that is totally removed from the truth of Ip Mans life, but this is now being accepted as fact.

Something that must be considered is that this problem started with Ip Man himself, perhaps he never knew or fully understood the complete Wing Chun system, he was only a teenager, 13 or 14 when his Sifu Chan Was Shun passed away, and it appears that his future training was spasmodic and with a variety of teachers who themselves were teaching different variations of Wing Chun.

As we know Ip Man lived in Foshan which was a melting pot of Southern Fist Kung Fu perhaps we should ask ourselves what did he actually learn?

Once Ip Man fled China after the Cultural Revolution he found himself in Hong Kong with no means of support so he started to teach Wing Chun publicly so that he could eat, perhaps he was still trying to sort Wing Chun out himself and used his students to approach what he knew from different perspectives, this could of easily been seen by his students as tacit permission to go in different directions with what they were being taught.

I am not suggesting that Ip Man was not a good Martial Artist, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest he was, but did he know the full Wing Chun system?

In recent years several other lineages of Wing Chun have surfaced, all sharing a common ancestor with Ip Man,  the Chinese Cultural Revolution caused a scattering of Southern China’s middle and upper class, Wing Chun was the Martial Style of the middle and upper class so Wing Chun itself was scattered, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, the one thing all these lines have in common is that they all appear to be hybridised with other southern fists, elements of Ba Gua, White Crane, Hung Gar and even Tai Chi can be observed in the different lineages so even before the more recent departures from Ip Mans Wing Chun there was already quite a divergence in the approach to Wing Chun.

There are some modern day researchers, such as Henrik Santo, Robert Chu and Sergio Ladarola that are trying to create a ground swell to unify all Wing Chun based on Chinese historical texts, in short claiming that they know the original IDEA of Wing Chun and everyone else is getting lost, this IDEA is of course creating uproar in the general Wing Chun community, after all if they are right we have all been hoodwinked and wasting our time, perhaps they are right, but the more research I do the more it appears that if we are referring to Wing Chun as a genuine martial art that uses one specific way, one specific method then there is no such thing as Wing Chun.

If this is even just partially correct, what are we all involved in, including  Henrik Santo, Robert Chu and Sergio Ladarola and how can we tell if any of it is any use, more importantly does it even matter?

PAUSE FOR 10 SECONDS TO THINK ABOUT THAT STATEMENT.

 

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