The Original Wing Chun

I’m looking for the original Wing Chun.

I’m looking for the complete Wing Chun.

This is a common goal/question I’ve encountered over the years talking to prospective students and art lovers regarding Wing Chun Kung Fu (aka Wing Chun Kuen). It’s a very reasonable question— but a question with no answer. Wing Chun has its history, just like everything else in life.

To illustrate my meaning, let us start with the premise that Wing Chun Kung Fu, as taught by Yip Man is the original and complete Wing Chun. Yip Man had hundreds of students who learned Wing Chun. So who learned the original and complete Wing Chun? Let’s say for the sake of argument, the best of the best learned the original and complete Wing Chun. Does this mean they learned everything Yip Man knew? Does this mean they would do everything Yip Man would do? The answer is obviously no. Yes, they learned Wing Chun. Yes, they learned what Yip Man taught them. But it is never original or complete. The student will take the concepts and drills they learn, study, and apply them to the situations they face. They will learn from their mistakes and improve upon what they learned, and always continue learning. It is in this way that Wing Chun is constantly developing and evolving.

Repeat and apply this to every generation and the situations they encounter, and you will quickly see that its hard to know what is the original and complete Wing Chun.

For those curious to know how large the Wing Chun Pai (family) really is, read [amazon_link id=”0804831416″ ]Complete Wing Chun[/amazon_link] by Robert Chu, Rene Ritchie and Y. Wu. The Yip Man side of the family is one branch of a long and broad family tree.

Yes there are many great SiFus out there that come from a stellar lineage and training history. Yes there are many SiFus that are world renowned and famous in their own right. They all have my highest respect and gratitude for learning and passing on the art of Wing Chun. Yet, in regards to prospective students seeking the art of Wing Chun, my recommendation is, and will always be, to be less concerned with names and more concerned with substance. Wing Chun is an applied martial art. So the questions you should ask yourself are, “What will I learn?” and “How applicable do I think this is in what I might encounter?” Having the proper questions will keep you true to Wing Chun.

Find the Wing Chun Kung Fu for you and sing the coming of spring…

SiFu James Sasitorn

What Yip Man Taught Me About Speed – SiFu Duncan Leung

Students always ask me the best way to develop speed. I believe this article from my SiGung’s website provides a good starting point on this subject. Enjoy!

SiFu James Sasitorn

What Yip Man Taught Me About Speed by SiFu Duncan Leung
Originally Posted:

Recently an acquaintance gave me a copy of QiGong/KungFu Magazine, the March 1999 issue, which featured an article written by Master Ron Heimberger. My friend did not quite understand the principles that Master Heimberger was trying to elucidate. Because of my background as a private student of Yip Man, and my subsequent involvement in Wing Chun Kung Fu, he thought I might be able to throw some light on the subject. I ask the reader’s indulgence for my attempt to explain what Yip Man taught me.

Since my English is not very good, I read the article several times. I am glad that Master Heimberger is kind enough to take the time to educate the public. If all Wing Chun instructors possessed an open mind like him, amenable to reason, and were willing to go to the trouble of explaining their ideas and experiences to others, I am sure it would benefit everyone interested in the art. However, there are some parts in Master Heimberger’s article with which I do not agree. Certain points that the author makes are somewhat obscure to me, particularly his references to Jacob Bronowski and Albert Einstein. For example, Master Heimberger mentions that Bronowski — commenting on Newton’s Second Law of Motion — said that force equals mass times acceleration squared. This confuses me because, as I understand it, Newton’s Second Law states that S F = ma, which does not square acceleration.

Since Mr. Heimberger discusses speed in Wing Chun, I would like to take the liberty to share my interpretation of the principles and theories about speed based on what SiFu Yip Man taught me and on my own experience. Naturally, what I write here is filtered through my own perceptions and prejudices; I certainly do not claim to speak for the Wing Chun family, and would welcome any correction that is offered. That certainly would help me improve. It is my hope that many Wing Chun members will share their ideas with all of us, no matter who they have learned from. The experience of using the Wing Chun techniques in fighting is what counts. After all, no single fight is the same. We can always learn something new, or — win or lose — find out something from each encounter.

What makes the Wing Chun style so interesting is that one does not have to rely on physical build, but on a logical sequence of economic movements. Certainly speed is extremely important in fighting. However, no matter how hard one trains, how long one works to improve, there are always physical limitations. You can always meet someone faster than you. Some people are simply born with more talent. Wing Chun allows one the possibility of overcoming an opponent’s inherent superior speed by applying the principles of the art. Yip Man taught that in Wing Chun, there are several types of speed. If you cannot overcome your opponent with one type of speed, you can beat him with another. In other words, if you can apply the Wing Chun theory of speed, you can actually become faster. In this regard, there are four areas of concern:

1. SPEED OF TRAVELING: This is the type of speed we normally refer to, that is, a punch or kick, a speed which speed can be calculated in feet per second. With consistent practice, one gradually improves the speed of the movement.

2. SPEED OF DISTANCE: Wing Chun straight-line theory states simply that a straight line between two points is the shortest distance. Therefore, punching straight is shorter and quicker than a hook punch or a swing. To bring your foot with a roundhouse kick to the head covers a greater distance than a shorter and quicker punch to the head. It is the same as trying to punch to the shin; that is, it is much shorter and faster to kick to the shin. To use an analogy: if you and I both stand in front of a building and have a race to the back door and you go around the building while I go straight through the building from the front door to the back door, you may be the faster runner, but I may get there before you because I have less distance to cover.

3. SPEED OF READINESS: From a resting standing position, when one tries to throw a heavy punch or tries to kick with power, it is typical to cock back the leg or arm before executing the movement. This not only telegraphs the move, but also wastes valuable time in the extra motion. In Wing Chun, the power is not generated just by the moving hand or leg, so there is no need to cock. One uses the other side of the body to pull back as he or she rotates to push out the punch or kick simultaneously. For example, if one is going to throw a left punch, one initiates power by pulling the right arm and shoulder back as fast as he or she can, while punching with the left hand at the same time.

4. SPEED OF REACTION: In general, people spend most of their time practicing their techniques in their forms alone until they are very good with all the techniques, but in actual combat the application is ineffective. This is like learning to ride a bicycle by sitting in a chair moving the legs and arms simulating the bicycle experience. When that person actually tries to ride on the bicycle, he or she will surely fall. This is because the proper reflexes and feeling of balance have not been developed. Yip Man used to say if you want to learn to swim, go down to the water; don’t just move your arms and legs and think that you are a swimmer. A fight requires at least two people. You can train and fight with yourself all day long, but unless you apply the techniques with another person, you will not get very far.

Wing Chun has only three forms. After learning and understanding the first form, one trains with Chi Sau, which requires two people, and from which one develops the feeling of contact and reflex. Then there are the technique drills which also takes two people. When you work with the drills over and over, month in and month out, they become habit, second nature. When an attack comes you will react to it without thinking. Fighting happens so very fast and you may be upset, angry, unprepared or even scared. There is no time to think.

Such are the Wing Chun Theories of Speed that I learned from Yip Man.

SiFu Duncan Leung

Wing Chun for Inner Strength

Wing Chun Gave Me The Stregnth To Overcome My Addictions

In the nineties, Robert Downey Jr. was arrested multiple times for drug and alcohol-related crimes. He was quoted as saying,

“It’s like I have a loaded gun in my mouth and my finger’s on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gunmetal.”

Whether it was driving naked with a loaded gun down Sunset Boulevard or breaking into his neighbor’s house by accident, Robert Downey Jr. was out of control.

In 1999, the actor was arrested once more and spent the better part of a year in jail. He was such a loose cannon that filmmakers who wanted to hire him were forced to take out massive insurance policies or withhold his salary to get their films made. He was fired from Ally McBeal after another drug infraction and chose to take a few years to get his life together and re-evaluate his priorities.

It was during 2002-2003 that he began practicing Wing Chun, a form of kung fu which he credits for giving him the strength to overcome his addictions.

Sometimes referred to as “a martial art for the mind,” Wing Chun is a powerful new (yet very old) Chinese art known to increase focus, concentration and relaxation.

In 2003, Downey started working again, and released a string of well-received movies like The Singing Detective, Fur and Zodiac before landing the key role of Tony Stark in Iron Man, which was released in May of 2008 to record-shattering returns.

With Iron Man, the resurgence of Robert Downey Jr. is now complete. He’s on top of the box office with a blockbuster franchise, clean and sober, and happily married. With his drug demons behind him, his legend is only beginning. Downey is now working on Iron Man II which is set to be released in 2010 as well as starring as the Victorian-era detective in the upcoming Sherlock Holmes film.

The concepts and philosophies found through Wing Chun training bring about a new way of looking at life’s challenges helping you to deal with situations in whole new way – things you don’t usually find in other activities.

But what is this Chinese martial art called Wing Chun? Wing Chun (Wing Tsun / Ving Tsun) is a highly effective combat-tested system of self defense, fighting skills and defensive tactics. It has been taught and integrated into the training programs of hundreds of military & law enforcement agencies around the world such as the US Navy Seals, FBI, CIA, French RAID and German SEK units.

Wing Chun emphasizes aggressive tactics, direct/scientific movement and realistic training. It prepares its trainees in the subjects of self-defense, self protection, fighting and combat skills, as well as skills to defend others. A practical and scientific system, Wing Chun teaches how to prevent, deal and overcome all kinds of violence and attacks.

But what really seems to have caught the attention of Robert Downey Jr. is the art’s ability to go well beyond fighting. It encompasses the full mind, body & spirit of martial arts. The concepts and philosophies found through Wing Chun training bring about a new way of looking at life’s challenges helping you to deal with situations in whole new way – things you don’t usually find in other activities.

Hope all is well.

Happy Holidays!

Adam Williss

Stretches and Warm Ups

Wing Chun is known as simple and effective martial art for self defense. As such, there is no need for high kicks, splits, or intense back bends in Wing Chun, or any other system of simple and effective self defense. Wing Chun is a martial art that can be studied and used by anyone of any size and athletic condition.

As with any and every athletic routine, training should include proper warm ups, stretching, and cool down, as necessary. Warm ups and stretches should include general exercises for the entire body as well as exercises specifically targeting key muscle groups and joints essential for the workout.

At the Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy, our whole body warm ups and stretches include:

  • Vertical Stretches / Folds
  • Spinal Twists
  • Squats
  • Push Ups
  • Sit Ups
  • Low Horse

Targeted exercises include:

  • Neck Circles
  • Shoulder Circles
  • Ankle Circles
  • Wrist Bends
  • Rotator Cuff
  • Hip Stretches
  • Runner’s Strech
  • High / Low Lunge

Our goals in our warm ups are the following:

  • Warm up the body and key muscle groups
  • Improve athletic performance over time
  • Loosen up the joints and muscles to prevent against injuries
  • Prepare the body for postures and conditioning in training.

If you have any special concerns, physical conditions, then its important to be mindful of your own limitations. If there are additional warm ups you need to do, then do them. Safety first. Then you can focus on learning Wing Chun Kung Fu…

SiFu Sasitorn

Progressively Unnecessary

“A great teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” – Thomas Carruthers.

At the Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy, our focus is to teach practical and effective applications for self defense. Of course, everything we do is taught from our core Wing Chun concepts, engaging the student’s body, mind, and spirit.

Students learn to protect themselves in any and all self defense situations. The most meaningful of these are of course based on a student’s own experiences and life. In other words, not only must they be learning a martial art that is practical and effective, this martial art must be applicable in the student’s life.

Unfortunately, as teachers we will not always be by our student’s side. We will not always be able to provide them the exact answer to all the problems they will face. In other words,

Drills, patterns, and technique are not enough.

At the Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy, we do not simply teach techniques and drills. We teach underlying concepts that help a student simplify potential self defense situations, and help foster their own intuition and reactions. This mental development is backed by physical application (drills and simulations) and mental and spiritual drills (reaction training, awareness training, relaxation development).

This approach is designed to cover the gamut spanning:

  1. Physical, Mental, and Spiritual
  2. Theory and Application
  3. Technique and Instinct
  4. Setups and Mess Ups (and how to recover)

So, yes, there is a learning curve in Wing Chun. But once you get over that bump, Wing Chun Kung Fu will be as deep and vast as you need it to be, and will grow as you grow. The art lives on in the next generation…

SiFu James Sasitorn

Wing Chun Poetry

Wing Chun Kung Fu was named after the girl Yim Wing Chun, by her instructor, the Shaolin buddhist nun Ng Mui. People who have heard about Wing Chun understand that it is a martial art developed by these two women over 300 years ago, and is simple and efficient martial art, that can be used to protect you and your loved ones against bigger, stronger, and more powerful attackers.

Typically when people think of Wing Chun they think of Yip Man, Bruce Lee, and the symbols of Wing Chun: the crane and snake, and also the double knives.

Yet, Wing Chun is more than a person, school, or image. It is more than a collection of techniques and concepts. Wing Chun is a martial art, and as with any art, develops creativity, presence of mind, and most importantly, the spirit.

Here is one of the lesser known symbols of Wing Chun, the Wing Chun Poem. It’s meaning is not one of words, but of concepts and ideas, and the spirit. This is true in both English, and the language of its writing, Chinese. The Chinese version is shown below, as well as a rough transliteration of the poem in English. Study the meaning, and share your interpretations of this artful symbol.

SiFu James Sasitorn
Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy, Houston

Sing of the coming plum blossoms,
Heaven’s wonderful way,
Spring engenders peaches and plums,
amazing, fragrant forests.

Off the Centerline

Centerline is an important concept in Wing Chun Kung Fu. As with all Wing Chun concepts, its imperative to understand the little idea (or big picture) behind the core concept before moving to the details of who, what, where, why, how, and to what extent. Simply stated,

Centerline is a core path/region of influence.

-SiFu James Sasitorn

With this guiding thought, it is then easy to discover and understand the most common incarnations or examples of centerline:

  • Centerline is the imaginary vertical line down the middle of your body, and includes many sensitive striking targets that you need to protect.
  • Centerline is the imaginary vertical line down the middle of your opponent’s body, and includes many sensitive striking targets that you would like to attack.
  • Centerline is the imaginary horizontal line of attack and defense from you to your opponent.

However, there is more to the story than the who and what. Centerline is more than a line that bisects a space or a line that connects two points. The key word is influence. If your opponent is behind you, is it as important to protect your eyes, nose, and throat?

It is.

Yet, you aren’t protecting them from a frontal assault. The fight is behind you, and if the opponent is bridged, he is also all around you, as well… Where is the centerline? Or more to the point, how do you protect yourself? Use your hands or feet to attack the rear or side, and if his attacks are reaching around you, attack his his hands and legs (attack the attack). You can bend and move to place yourself in a better position and angle and your opponent in a worse position and angle. Given enough time, you should always turn around to be best equipped to defend yourself.


There is no time for mysticism in self-defense.

-SiFu James Sasitorn

Now if you are facing your opponent’s side. Should you go for the floating rib, side of the face, or go for a hit to the groin or nose? Apply common sense. What’s the answer? The answer is not known beforehand. Where are you? Where are your hands? Where are your opponents hands? What is open for attack? What region do you have the greatest influence. What path can you inflict the most damage in the least amount of time? Training provides you the experience and understand to analyze these factors. When it is all going down you have to fight for your life.

Rather than chase the shadow of an idea. Seek the core little idea, and then you will never be off center.

Learning isn’t just connecting the dots.  Have a little imagination… and own what you do…

SiFu James Sasitorn



10 Reasons to Learn Wing Chun Kung Fu and its Applications For Self Defense

Now a days, there are as many martial art schools and styles as as there are fast food places. Unlike a greasy burger which hits the spot in seconds, it takes several months to years to get the gist of what a martial art is about. So how do you know which one is the right one to learn FOR YOU?

Wing Chun Kung Fu was developed by two women over 300 years ago to be a highly effective form of combat and self defense able to deal with bigger, faster, and stronger assailants in any and all situations. Here are ten of the many reasons to learn Wing Chun Kung Fu and its applications for self defense.

  1. Reality-based, street tested, and appropriate for today’s world.
  2. Effective against bigger, stronger, and faster assailants.
  3. It works against unarmed and armed assailants.
  4. Works against single and multiple assailants.
  5. It works when you are prepared or surprised.
  6. Works any time and place. Works inside, outside, in the parking lot, woods, living room, bed room, gym, or office.
  7. It is concept based. So it simplifies your thinking, and you can apply it to new situations.
  8. It builds natural instincts and reactions.
  9. It develops situational awareness.
  10. Teaches you to fight for your life— physically, mentally, and spiritually.

There is no one size fits all for anything in life. Each person walks their own path. If this is what you are looking for in a martial art, then seek out Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Just my opinion…

SiFu James Sasitorn

Indomitable Fighting Spirit

My SiFu taught me to always Fight For Your Life, in any and every thing I do.

If you are caught off guard and overwhelmed, find strength in knowing that there is always another move, always something you can do. When your life is on the line, you have no choice but to make the tough decisions. Whether its a split second decisions based on reflexes and instinct, or a calculated and analyzed decision, Fight Without An Ego, and do what it takes to get the job done so that it is you, who is able to go home to your loved ones. Once you have your head on your shoulders, Fight With Your Art— be it Wing Chun or any other style.

Wing Chun is a complete martial art, encompassing all ranges (striking, kicking, “trapping”, grappling, throws, holds, and weapons), and acting with the swiftest, most efficient, and most intense techniques and concepts.

The old adage “Where there is a will, there is a way” rings true— whether your are on your feet, on the ground, or in the air.

Choose Life. Your Life. Fight For It…

SiFu James Sasitorn

The Rise and Fall of the Wing Chun (Ving Tsun) Family?

From our SiGong, SiFu Duncan Leung‘s website

DURING THE EARLY FIFTIES in Hong Kong the Chinese martial arts were very popular to the young people and the working class. There were all kinds of styles available such as Hung Gar, White Crane, Dragon Style and Choy Lai Fut, but Wing Chun no one had heard of. A young man from Foshan, China, Yip Man, was there in those days. He learned the style in China and later on furthered his training from Leung Bik. He began his teaching in the Restaurant Association. Later on he had his own little school in his house in the resettlement area with 100-150 sq. ft. of space. Years went by and he had taught quite a few good students; therefore, the style was becoming known to the public. At that time different styles challenged each other privately and often. Early students from Yip Man like Lok Yiu and Wong Sheung Leung were the most active and did very well in all the fights. The Kowloon Motor Bus Company main service station was located only a few blocks from Yip Man’s school and the workers were first to join the school after the restaurant workers. Then the school kids from nearby St. Frances Xavier started to join including Bruce Lee and Hawkins Cheung. The economy was very bad at that time. Refugees from China entered Hong Kong by the hundreds daily and finding a job for everyone was hard. Wages were low and the hours were long. This made it very hard to find time for students to train. The early students like Leung Sheung, Lok Yiu and Wong Sheung Leung opened their own schools and some like Tsui Sheung Tin began to teach privately.

In 1957 another early student of Yip Man’s, William Cheung, immigrated to Australia. On the way there an incident occurred when he locked himself in the sailor’s cabin and fought more than 10 sailors. This got into all the newspapers and so Wing Chun was even known in Australia then. About a year later, Bruce Lee left for the United States. Americans were exposed to his ability in the martial arts with the start of the television series Green Hornet. He began to teach the Wing Chun style to the celebrities and other famous people in California. Later on he went back to Hong Kong and made several movies that shocked the world. People from all over the world were beginning to hear about Chinese Kung Fu, especially a styled called Wing Chun. After Bruce passed away, a student of Leung Sheung by the name of Leung Ting taught a student named Gainsburg in Germany and brought Wing Chun to Germany. Then Victor Kan brought Wing Chun to England. Yip Man’s nephew, Lo Man Kam, brought the art to Switzerland and to Taiwan, his home country. Wing Chun was becoming the most popular martial art in the world. At about this time when Wing Chun peaked in popularity, Grand Master Yip Man passed away.

Prior to his death in 1972, Yip Man had stopped teaching but was consulted about Wing Chun. He had a hard life in the early years in Hong Kong but in his old age some rich students like Dung Sing and Chan Jee Chu, police detectives of The Hong Kong Royal Police, began to support him. He was considered the head of the Wing Chun family and had a few good years before his death. Unfortunately, he did not name a successor to carry on the leadership of Wing Chun. It is possible that he had not found anyone he liked, may never have found anyone who was worthy, or he was just not concerned with the issue at that late stage of his life. Whatever the reasons Grand Master Yip Man was truly the last Grand Master of the style. After his death and as time passed family members began to realize that they were on their own.

Wing Chun today is a very big family with schools all over the world. Any successful organization needs a leader to unite everyone and to help everyone work together. For a variety of reasons, those heirs and students of Yip Man who would be most qualified to unite and lead us have either been unwilling or unable to do so.

Now, 40 years after Yip Man’s death the Wing Chun family is drifting further and further apart. Without leadership, some begin to teach in their own way and some criticize others who do not agree with their way of teaching. Some even develop theories which Yip Man never taught. There are also those who claim that they are the only “true” teachers of Wing Chun. They suggest that the only legitimate teachers of Wing Chun are those whom they have tested and found qualified. Unfortunately, such claims detract from the credibility of the entire movement and will serve only to divide the Wing Chun family. Wing Chun is a style of martial art we are talking about, an art of fighting. One has to learn and train with it for a long period of time. One has to use it in fighting to gain the applied experience. This is very serious; it can lead to life and death. It is not something you pay me money for and I xerox a copy for you. It is not that simple. Anyone who learned, trained, and fought with it for a long period of time should have understood some truths of the art. How can anyone discredit all other’s experiences and call himself the only “true” artist in the world and try to lead others with such an attitude?

The basics of Wing Chun are exhibited in the forms that Yip Man left us, but principles and theories were verbally instructed by him. Each one may interpret the ideas a little differently. I am sure Yip Man would be happy to know if we, who learned from him, would carry on the benefits he gave us. I learned to apply what Yip Man taught me. So, my style is Applied Wing Chun®. Others have their interpretation of what they learned from Yip Man. If we could have a good leadership to unite everyone together, to exchange and to accept each other’s experience and ideas with open minds then Wing Chun could thrive. Everyone would benefit in the knowledge. Without this strong bonding and support among Wing Chun members the principle and theories Yip Man left us will be diminished from generation to generation and one day no one will recognize the style. Then Wing Chun will be just a name in the history of Martial Arts.

SiFu Duncan Leung