In November 2005 the UK Wing Chun Kung Fu Assoc. was invited to attend Hong Kong for the 2nd World Wing Chun Conference. It was the first time in 17 years that James Sinclair had visited the home of modern Wing Chun, and it would be interesting to see how the cultural and developmental changes in China had affected Wing Chun locally and around the globe. James was accompanied by his students Mark Phillips, Eric Wilson, Nick Martin, Ashley Phillips, Gary Cooper, Mandy Lam, and two of Marks Phillips’ senior students Chris Cranie and Neil Cousins.
The trip was a long overdue opportunity for James to meet up and drink tea with Grandmaster Ip Chun, who has stated that he is considering retiring from public teaching, but is remarkably robust despite his 81 years!
DAY 1 – VTAA 2nd World Ving Chun Conference
On the first day in Hong Kong James and his students went to visit Ip Chun Si-Gung at the VTAA headquarters. There were already a number of people training in chi sau skills when they arrived. James gave Si-Gung some ‘lucky money’ and James caught up with Si-Gung and had a little chat. Old friends re-united after 16 years.
Later James and his students did some very simple Chi Sau with some of the students. The UKWCKFA students all represented Wing Chun to a high level and despite some differences in approach and intention with regard to Chi Sau there was respect between the practitioners.
At the UKWCKA we do not particularly favour the term ‘playing chi sau’. It is true that we all should train together, and not fight. However, we should remain focused on the intention and be able to work at a higher level with safety and control. This is ‘training chi sau’ with the intention of testing each others skills through co-operative effort and mutual respect.
DAY 2 – VTAA 2nd World Ving Chun Conference
The Saturday meant a move to the YMCA centre for the weekend VTAA conference. The first day of the conference began with a series of demonstrations, with practitioners showing their versions of the forms. One outstanding display was by a student of Donald Mak Sifu, Anatoly Beloshchin Sifu, , from Russia, who performed the pole with great control and power.
The day was broken up with an opportunity to attend a classroom seminar with various teachers. James and his students attended Patrick Leung Ting Kwok Sifu‘s “Soft Wing Chun seminar”. It was an interesting approach and showed how important relaxation is in the application of skills.
DAY 3 – VTAA 2nd World Ving Chun Conference
The Sunday was very much the same with lots of stage demonstrations.
At 11:30am Master Sinclair and Mark Phillips Sifu were to conduct a seminar in one of the classrooms. However, James did not wish to lecture people who already knew Wing Chun to a good level, so they took the class outside and taught/demonstrated on a Q & A basis.
They had over 200 people watching and enjoying the seminar. It was very well received, with some old masters stating that here was an Association who had made the transition from forms to fighting.
There were a few of the ‘old school’ fighters present and they came and offered their hand and respect to James and Mark, stating that as far as they were concerned, this was Wing Chun taken to the next level.
On Sunday evening Master Samuel Kwok kindly saw to it that the UK Wing Chun Assoc. students attended Si-Gung Ip Chun‘s 200 person chi sau event.
The event was held at the town hall in Shatin a location Si Gung Ip Chun teaches every week. The atmosphere was relaxed and it was great having so many hands to work out with. A number of people came forward to ask us to test our chi sau and once again the UKWCKFA did very well in demonstrating their skill and control.
DAY 4 – VTAA 2nd World Ving Tsun Conference
Foshan is the town with the ancestral roots of Wing Chun. It is also where the new Ip Man Tong Wing Chun museum is situated, and that was our next stop.
Ip Chun Si-Gung had asked Gary Mackenzie Sifu and James Sinclair to demonstrate Gworr Sau outside the Ip Man Tong for the national Chinese newspapers.
James and Garry decided it was best for Si-Gung to take centre stage. The only photos guaranteed to get in the papers were going to be of the venerable old Grandmaster controlling a younger student, outside the museum that celebrates his family name.
However, Mark Phillips Sifu and Nick Martin Sifu accepted the opportunity to demonstrate some chi sau skills for everyone and it was a beautiful demonstration of their ability to move from stick to break to roll and back.
It was also requested if any of the Wing Chun ‘tourists’ could put on a demonstration the following day at the Chin Woo School as the School was prepared to demonstrate a number of different versions of the Wing Chun lineage.
Day 5 – VTAA 2nd World Ving Chun Conference China
On Tuesday we decided to take part in the demonstrations at the Chin Woo School in Foshan despite the other teams bringing preset formats from the VTAA Conference demos. We felt it would be exciting to liven the demo’s up with a simple fight sequence and a modified demonstration version of the Cham Kiu form.
Gary Cooper and Ashley Phillips Sifu performed their fight sequence to great appreciation and Nick Martin’ Sifu’s Cham Kiu was well received by the panel and audience alike.
Please keep an eye on our video clips page as we will be posting some highlights in the coming weeks.L-R Albert Lee, Master Fung Man & James Sinclair and Raymond Cheung.
In Foshan James met a very gentle and knowledgeable Wing Chun Si-Fu, Master Fung Man.
Master Fung Man was taught originally by one of Ip Man’s early students, Law Bing, and later by a close student of Wong Shung Leung. He is one of the the most generous and decent Wing Chun practitioners we have had the pleasure to meet.
Master Fung is a man who does not let ego and politics interfere with his love of Wing Chun and he offered to open his doors and share his experience with us.
Fung Man Sifu invited us to attend his school in the New Territories and along with Gert-Jan Ketelaar Sifu, of the United Ving Tsun Kung Fu Society in Holland, we had an informative lesson in his aproach to the art.
The session focused on the fundamentals and was interspersed with explanations of the forms.
During our session Fung Man Sifu was informed of a personal tradgedy and had to leave the session. He returned to complete the teaching. Our reason for mentioning this is simply that Fung Man Sifu felt we had travelled a long way and he did not wish to let us down.
We wish to add that he neither asked or wished for anything in return. Need we say more on the manner of this real gentleman and Master?
On our last day Garry Mackenzie Sifu took us to see Grandmaster Wan Kam Leung.
GM Wan Kam Leung was the first student of Grandmaster Wong Shun Leung. It was evident from the outset that this was a man who not only talked the talk, but walked the walk.
GM Wan is special, his skills and knowledge undeniable, his experience obvious. This is a man who could deservedly put himself on a pedestal, but not this man. He was affable, approachable and totally humble. He was prepared to open his school up and share his vast wealth of experience, without even knowing us.
GM Wan demonstrated his Chi Kung power with James pushing a tapered pole into Master Wan’s body so hard that James’ feet were sliding back on the floor!
After sharing some of his considerable skills and knowledge, Master Wan took the entire UK Wing Chun Assoc group and Garry Mackenzie Sifu‘s ‘Wing Chun School’ students for a meal.
During this meal Master Wan was very complimentary about the UK Wing Chun students and their ability. As we had to head back to our hotel and leave we reflected on the trip and were amazed how the tenor of the trip had changed so much just in just the last two days.
However, there was one more experience to share.
Master Chen Chi Peng was escorting us when we passed his Kwoon. It was a last opportunity to visit another Wing Chun school. Here Master Chen demonstrated a little with a beautiful strong but flexible pole. It was apparent here was another fighter who had nothing to hide and he opened his doors and made us feel completely welcome.
We would like to thank all the people we touched hands with, shared stories and who made us feel so welcome.
The UK Wing Chun Association is indebted to Garry Mackenzie Sifu. He was completely selfless in his efforts to help James translate his feelings. He also used his linguistic skills and ambassadorial talents to open doors that were simply not available in other circumstances. Many many thanks.