Wing Chun Kung Fu - Schools & Teachers

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While the success of one's training depends heavily on the quality of one's teachers, with sharp initiative and due perseverance one can usually ensure the maximisation of their own potential.

This page introduces some Wing Chun schools and teachers of past and present, including some based in the UK. The schools and teachers featured on this page do not necessarily endorse the content of this website.

Grandmaster Yip Man

Grandmaster Ip Chun (China)

Grandmaster Ip Chun is the elder son of Grandmaster Ip Man. Grandmaster Ip Chun is the joint leading authority in the world for Ip Family Wing Chun alongside his younger brother, Grandmaster Ip Ching.

See Grandmaster Ip Chun practicing Chi Sau here:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9204306976720106945.

Grandmaster Ip Ching (China)

Grandmaster Ip Ching is the younger son of the late Grandmaster Ip Man. Grandmaster Ip Man was most famous in the west for being the Wing Chun teacher of the movie star Bruce Lee.

See Grandmaster Ip Ching in training here:
http://www.ipching.org/vticaa/modules/smartmedia/folder.php?categoryid=1&folderid=1.

See Grandmaster Ip Ching practicing Chi Sau here:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4386761922943427792.

The following teachers are featured in descending order of when I met them. It's impossible to say who's the best because each has their strengths and weaknesses and unquantifiable qualities.

The descriptions below are my own observations - and my own personal opinions - which are intended as neutral (neither very complimentary nor very critical) and with time may be or become outdated.

Sifu Billy Davidson (Manchester, UK)

Sifu Billy Davidson wasmy first Wing Chun teacher, and has studied under Sifu Samuel Kwok. Under Billy I trained for a few hours per week, over about 7 months. I could see from the very first day that this was the kind of stuff I wanted to learn. Having previously practiced Karate for 7 years, I could see that Wing Chun was comparatively 'sensitive' and thus 'made sense'; although I've never to this day met a teacher of Wing Chun who emphasises sensitivity as much as I personally would. Sifu Billy Davidson placed a lot of emphasis on bending the wrist back during the Three Prayers to Buddha in Siu Nim Tao in order to strengthen the wrists and build all surrounding muscles. Sifu Billy Davidson described the Wing Chun punch as a "piston" action; and he said that it's important to face the opponent square-on, tracking their movement like a heat-seeking missile, with all your "guns" pointing at them. Sifu Billy did some interesting exercises for testing kicking ability - including kicking with the front leg to stop dead a person who's charging at you (holding a Makawari, of course). Sifu Billy seemed to prefer using Fak Sau for blocking wide hooks; his classes often involved pad work and usually involved plenty of Chi Sau.

Visit Sifu Billy Davidson's website:
http://www.chingmo.co.uk/.

Sifu Samuel Kwok (Blackpool, UK)

I first met Sifu Samuel Kwok in a seminar in Manchester, hosted by Sifu Billy Davidson, and a year later I attended a similar seminar in Nuneaton, hosted by Sifu Stephen Dyde. I've since had several sessions of private tuition with Sifu Samuel Kwok who, as the teacher of my teachers, was surely one of the best guys to learn from.

Sifu Samuel Kwok is familiar with applications of Wing Chun techniques in ways that few otherteachers have seen before. With ample experience of studying under both of Yip Man's sons (Grandmaster Ip Ching and Grandmaster Ip Chun), there's no substitute for this man's knowledge of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Sam says that Chi Sau is the most important training exercise in Wing Chun; but I would personally say it's even more important than this, in such a way that "free" Chi Sau should take nearly all of your time when with a training partner.

Visit Sifu Samuel Kwok's website:
http://www.kwokwingchun.com/.

Sifu Steve Dyde (Nuneaton, UK)

Upon leaving Manchester and moving to Birmingham, I found that Samuel Kwok's Wing Chun association had no school in Birmingham, and one of the nearest places to train was Nuneaton, under Sifu Stephen Dyde.

I trained nearly fortnightly with Sifu Steve over about a year, and during this time I practiced some interesting drills. One of my favourites was when the students listen out for which direction to turn, how many steps to take (forwards or backwards), and which techniques to use. This drill is used in various martial arts, and when associated techniques are varied regularly enough, this drill is great for practicing general coordination in all directions as well as the self-decipline required to instantaneously do exactly as instructed. Sifu Steve Dyde has studied under Sifu Shaun Rawcliffe as well as Sifu Samuel Kwok; and Steve placed a lot of emphasis on building stamina while toughening the knuckles, with knuckle pushups on hard floors between rounds of chain punches during warmups. Sifu Steve hosted various different martial arts classes besides Wing Chun, and his classes often utilised padwork.

Sifu Steve said that it doesn't matter where you generate power from, so long as you can get it from somewhere; and that the classic way to punch is not the only way worth considering.

Visit Sifu Steve Dyde's website:
http://www.wingchunpro.com/.

Sifu Shaun Rawcliffe (Birmingham, UK)

Upon meeting Sifu Steve Dyde in Nuneaton and explaining that I've had to travel from Birmingham, Sifu Steve didn't hesitate to recommend I train under his knowledgeable old teacher – Sifu Shaun Rawcliffe – in Birmingham.

Sifu Shaun Rawcliffe placed a lot of emphasis on assertive forwarding, and gave ample explanation of the mechanics of various techniques. Sifu Shaun Rawcliffe would ensure his students had lots of practice with the basics before teaching them much about advanced Wing Chun techniques; which instilled plenty of discipline into his students and was great for swiftly routing-out the less-then-serious students. Sifu Shaun Rawcliffe has trained under Sifu Samuel Kwok as well as Grandmaster Ip Chun. Once a bodyguard for Jackie Chan, Sifu Shaun Rawcliffe seemed keen to give down-to-earth, easy-to-understand explanations of technical concepts.

Visit Sifu Shaun Rawcliffe's website:
http://www.wingchun.co.uk/.

More Schools & Teachers

For details of other schools and teachers, check out the websites of those featured above!

Real Martial Art

These days I try not to talk too much about "Wing Chun", or any other style name. My martial art is just martial art. No style. Rather than names of styles, I try to focus on sentitivity.

In explaining the value of "Mun Sau", one of my teachers once told me that at the highest level of full-contact sparring in Hong Kong, the guy who attacks first is nearly always the loser. This may be difficult for some people to understand, but an hour of practice with a great master of Chi Sau (sticking hands) should go a long way towards proving it.

See my latest martial arts website: Real Martial Art – martialart.birminghampr.co.uk

A critical perspective on modern wing chun

Originally published: 2 Mar 2009; Last updated: 29 May 2009

As you would expect, there are pros and cons to every teaching; not least my own. But I've tried to avoid speaking critically about specific teachers. What I'd rather do here is talk about the most debatable issues in common with the techniques of most Wing Chun teachers in the world. It may all stem from Yip Man, or one or both of his sons, or another of his senior students, or from some generations before him; but I want to put my foot down here and say that there is something I don't agree with. How dare I? Well, I would not encourage you to blindly follow my advice either.

The things which I don't agree with include punching at a target based in any direction other than that which is perpendicular to the shoulders at the point of impact. It is a common mistake in Wing Chun all over the world, when people do turning punches whereby the body turns 45 degrees away from the opponent, with back foot possibly still square with opponent, and the punch still aiming at the opponent. The body simply does not support this punch in the balanced way of true wing chun kung fu. If you must strike in this direction: either keep the body perpendicular (square-on) to the target and use any technique (punch, palm strike, side-palm...etc); or turn the body inline with the target (90 degrees from square-on) and in this case use only the side-palm.

If throwing a punch, avoid leaving the punching arm extended — keep the elbow bent except perhaps for a split-second at time of striking. But if the punching arm is fully extended, don't put the guarding hand near the punching arm's elbow – it should be back under the armpit (100% out & 0% out; not 100+50 because that's leaning forwards too much).

I do not agree with turning 45 degrees while leaning back (and pretending you're not leaning back) to dodge the punch with your turn. This does not work, unless your attacker is very slow and very stupid, in which case he will no doubt feel embarrassed and ever more ready to throw a harder & faster punch. Although in mid-2007 I wrote about possible advantages to dramatic shifting of the centreline I feel comfortable enough now to say that I do not advise this in application (although it may be worth a little bit of practice, for flexibility purposes, like when generally stretching). In application, I advise using your hands to absorb and deflect oncoming force rather than distorting your body in the slighest way to debase your long term ability to handle the unfolding and probably heightening situation. If it's a ball, dodge it; but if it's a punch in a fight, there will be more coming so do not sacrifice your balance for silly dodgy manoeuvres.

This page was last fully-revised & updated on 29th May 2009.

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