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"The Progressive Stages of Development in Authentic Wing Chun Kung Fu"

By Si-Fu Scott Baker, Ph.D.

 

THE PROGRESSIVE STAGES OF A STUDENT'S DEVELOPMENT IN AUTHENTIC WING CHUN KUNG FU

(Si Dei) STUDENT OF:

*Position: The student of position is the beginning stage in Wing Chun development. The new student works within the Sil-Num-Tao boxing form seeking to become proficient in the positions and techniques represented therein. He will practice the paired drills, single chi sau, and lap sau exercises with other students to better understand the correct application of the Sil-Num-Tao techniques or tools. In addition his training will include footwork drills, coordination training, and wall bag training. Once the student is able to react using these positions correctly he will be tested and permitted to move onto the second student stage. (May take from 1 to 3 years to complete).

*Motion: The student of motion is the intermediate stage in the progress of the Wing Chun student. The intermediate student will work within the Chum-Ku boxing form and will seek to develop proficiency in applying the principles and motions represented therein. This student will devote considerable time learning to correctly combine the motions and positions of Wing Chun through the Chi sau exercises. It is in this stage that the student begins to understand how to use his techniques or positions to flow and "converse" with the motions of his partner. This is the most critical stage of a studentís development and requires a considerable degree of patience and discipline to complete successfully. It is during this stage that Wing Chun departs from the training of many traditional martial systems by investing great effort in teaching and perfecting the artful connection that governs the dynamic exchange of movements that exist in combat. (May take from 4 to 7 years to complete).

*Power: The student of power is the advanced stage of the Wing Chun studentís development. He will work within the Biu-Tze boxing form and will seek to acquire the flexible power characteristic of the motions and principles of Wing Chun Kung Fu. His training will include more advanced training in real time chi sau, and fighting practice. He will practice exercises to build and utilize the flow of Chi, training on releasing chi energy within the blows, strikes, and blocks of Wing Chun. Stance and footwork skills are practiced and deepened. Practice of the different palm strikes, kicking power, short punching, and the interplay between the Yin and Yang energy dynamics will be focused upon. When ready the student will be invited to test all skills learned thus far to assess his readiness to move into discipleship. Only those who prove competent in all of the foundation skills of Wing Chun are considered sufficiently disciplined in the "Wing Chun Way" to progress from student to disciple. (May take from 3 to 6 years to complete).

THE PROGRESSIVE STAGES OF A DISCIPLE'S DEVELOPMENT IN AUTHENTIC WING CHUN KUNG FU

(To Dei) DISCIPLE OF:

*Sensitivity: The disciple of sensitivity is the first stage in obtaining a completeness of understanding of Wing Chun Kung Fu. The disciple will work within the Muk-Yan-Chong set (Wooden Dummy) and will seek to obtain advanced skills in understanding and applying the motions and principles of the Muk-Yan-Chong. The focus of this stage of training is upon developing advanced skills in sensitivity and accuracy when applying skills on the Muk-Yan-Chong and within Chi Sau and Nuk Sau (free fighting) practice. (May take from 2 to 4 years to complete).

*Flexibility: The disciple of flexibility is the intermediate stage in obtaining a completeness in Wing Chun Kung Fu. This disciple will work on the Luk-Dim-Boon-Kwan (six-and-a-half-point long pole) form, and will discover the application of all of the long pole techniques and principles. This will include strength training with the pole, the pole form, and Chi Kwan or pole clinging exercises. This training combined with deeper involvement in the empty hand skills will teach the disciple to become more flexible in his motions, thoughts, feelings, aspirations, and judgements. He will learn to be more accepting of the abilities and ideas of others even though they may differ considerably from his own. (May take from 2 to 5 years to complete).

*Energy: The disciple of energy (chi) is the third and final stage in obtaining completeness in Wing Chun Kung Fu. This disciple will learn the Bart-Cham-Dao (eight-slash sword) form including strength training with the swords and the practical application learned within the Chi Dao exercises. Combined with the sword training will be an advanced course in Chi Kung. The Chi Kung training includes an extensive mental and physical discipline, which will enable the disciple to utilize internal power through all of the Wing Chun system and throughout life. (May take from 4 to 7 years to complete).

THE PROGRESSIVE STAGES OF A MASTERíS DEVELOPMENT IN AUTHENTIC WING CHUN KUNG FU

(Si-Kung) MASTER OF:

*Understanding: The first stage of mastery in any kung fu is to obtain a complete understanding of that systems theories, principles, and motions. However, in Wing Chun understanding goes beyond this. The disciple who seeks and obtains mastery in understanding will personify a disposition of genuine humility, gentleness, and kindness. He will be filled with confidence yet have a chronic lack of arrogance. A master of understanding has more than a comprehensive knowledge of Wing Chun; he has a deep understanding of himself and others, and through this understanding he will acquire a deep respect for humanity and life in general. Because mastery requires this attitude of humility, the true master does not claim the title of master; to do so would be arrogant and show himself as one lacking the understanding of a genuine master. Therefore, in Wing Chun the phrase, "he who claims the title shows that he lacks the understanding", capsulates the ideal of a true masterís disposition. Others in the martial arts and within the Wing Chun family may recognize and refer to an individual as a master, but it would be uncommon for him to refer to himself as such. (From 20 to 30 years of Wing Chun experience).

*Imparting: The second stage of true mastery in kung fu is the development of the ability to teach oneís art in its entirety and guide the students through the difficulties of frustration, discouragement, and mediocrity. This is also true of a master of imparting within Wing Chun, however, the teacher of Wing Chun who does not instill in his students the ability to discover and develop insights and understand truths on their own is not a master of imparting in the Wing Chun way. The old saying, "you give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but you teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" exemplifies the approach that a master of imparting within Authentic Wing Chun Kung Fu will have. It is one thing to be able to teach others what you know, but it is quite another thing to be able to teach others how to learn and discover so that they may come to know more than you know. The master of imparting will not only have the complete knowledge of a master of understanding, but he will also teach others how to obtain that level of understanding for themselves. (From 25 to 40 years of Wing Chun experience).

*Performing: The final stage of mastering a kung fu system is the completion of the ability to perform all skills to the highest degree of competence whenever the master chooses to do so. To obtain mastery of this level requires a lifetime of diligent training as is represented by the ancient axiom, "the student practices until he gets it right, the master practices until he never gets it wrong". A true master of this degree will have achieved control over his mind and body, uniting them within the harmonious expressions of the forces of chi. His skills are beyond physical abilities, and personify true mastery of energy in himself, his partner, and the world at large. A master of performing has become the living embodiment of his art. He walks the Tao of Wing Chun, and as a Sage of both Wing Chun and life he lives fully in each moment. (from 30 to 50 years of Wing Chun experience).

About the Author:

Dr. Scott Baker earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from Brigham Young University in 1995. Born and raised in New Zealand, he began his training in Wing Chun there in 1972 under the direction of Master Tam Hung Fun. He is now a member of the Yuen Kay San line under Zopa Gyatso. Si-Fu Baker resides in New Zealand.

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