Thursday, January 15, 2009

Oral History of Yip Kin Wing Chun

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Wing Choon Kuen originally was part and parcel of Shaolin’s Buddhist theoretical studies. It stressed mainly the formation of one’s personal character and ethics. Kuen Faat (martial techniques) was initially human’s imitation of the movements of animals and birds. After a long period of in-depth study and trails, those movements were arranged into a series of movements we call forms.
The original founder of the series of Wing Choon Kuen was an intelligent, innovative female disciple of Shaolin called Ng Mui Shi Tai. She studied diligently and humbly at Shaolin and eventually became one of the top Kungfu masters. The objectives of her martial techniques were not only to inculcate the high morality of the learner, but also to provide ample physical exercise for fitness and health, through a series of nimble movements. In addition to building up a strong and tough body physically, it also aimed to prevent diseases and defend oneself against any attack from wild animals.
Fighting Oppressive Regime
During the Qing Dynasty, Ng Mui Shi Tai created and founded this series of martial techniques. At that time, China was ruled by Manchuria from the north, i.e. Qing Dynasty. The Emperor of Qing used all sorts of barbaric means to suppress the people of China. All those who dared to oppose the regime were cruelly massacred. The people of China had suffered miserably due to political suppression as well as shortage of food.
It was indeed timely that Ng Mui Shi Tai appeared on the scene during that critical period. Though the martial techniques founded by her was not yet properly named, it was already widely learned by people as a means to fight the Qing oppressors.
In order to stem any sign of uprisings against the regime, Qing Dynasty banned all forms of martial arts practices throughout the country. They even resorted to setting fire to the famous Shaolin Temple and banishing all the learners of martial arts. Ng Mui Shi Tai also had to evade arrest by the Qing’s secret squads by constantly moving from one place to another. Finally she settled down in Guangdong Province where she recruited students and taught them her . Meanwhile, they planned collectively to overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming.
During that time Ng Mui Shi Tai’s martial techniques was not known as Wing Choon Kuen, but just as Shaolin Martial Art. In Guangdong, she came across a gifted disciple called Yim Sei who became Ng Mui Shi Tai’s favourite student. Ng Mui Shi Tai instructed and trained him until he mastered all that she had acquired in her life.
After inheriting everything from Ng Mui Shi Tai, Yim Sei did not make his great mentor disappointed for he continued her work in uniting all the anti-Qing forces, vowing to fight the oppressive regime of Qing to the end. He recruited many capable people and became the spiritual symbol of patriotism and nationalism in an effort to oust the Qing and restore the Ming.
Master Yim Sei, once a Red Boat coach, trained and taught his disciples in a temple. It was there that his daughter Yim Wing Choon was born.
Naming of Wing Chun Kuen
Yim Wing Chun took martial arts lessons from her father at an early age and became very competent in it. But she realized that Shaolin Kungfu emphasized on rough and tough combat techniques which were not suitable for the weaker ladies to practice. Being a lady herself, she tried to find ways and means to ‘soften’ Shaolin Kungfu so that it would be more suitable for the fairer sex. She began to change the tough and rough movements into tender and graceful movements. She eliminated rough combat techniques, made use of the opponent’s force to fight back, and initiated the so-called” tough and soft combination” of martial art.
The new series included such changes and improvements. It had the good effect of making the learner’s body and limbs soft, elastic, nimble and agile after a round of practice. Its main combat method uses the opponent’s own force to strike against him. Yim Wing Chun had surpassed her father’s achievement in wushu. This series of martial techniques, from the time of Ng Mui Shi Tai to Yim Sei, had never had a proper name. After the improvements and refinements by Yim Wing Chun, Ng Mui Shi Tai decided to name this series of martial techniques after her, to commemorate her tireless efforts and contribution to the development of this branch of martial art.
As a result, a complete series of “ hard - and- soft” Wing Chun Kuen" was ‘handed’ down from generation to generation, from Guangdong to Fatshan and then to Fujian and Yunnan Provinces.
The Spread of Wing Choon Kuen
Wing Choon Kuen was formally named. Then, there lived a man by the name of Soo Kai Ming in Pak Wan San (White Clouds Mountain) in Poon Yue county. Being a martial arts master himself, he took an active part in the campaign to topple the Qing and restore the Ming. His love and devotion to martial arts propelled him to practice very hard and became an expert in Wing Choon. The spread of Wing Choon Kuen in Poon Yue county fell on his shoulders. He was very competent in martial arts and was reputed to be the best martial arts master among the older folks.
However, due to the changes of political situation, this old master decided not to move around too much. He preferred to lie low and settle down to set up school to train students, rather than involving deeply in external affairs. He actively taught and spread the martial arts of the early founders. At that time, a lot of people came to him to learn wushu because of his great reputation. He had indeed trained a lot of capable and competent disciples who then spread Wing Choon Kuen throughout China.
Among Soo Kai Ming's students was one Yip Kin. Yip Kin was tutored by this old master in Wing Choon Kuen. Besides, Yip Kin had also learned Ying-Yang Ba Kua Stick from Master Yip Hong Seng of the Yip Clan Memorial Hall. He also acquired the Five Weapons skills from Master Cho Fei Hoong.
In addition to this, he learned more about Wing Choon and many different martial arts under Master Yik Kam who was a master of a Chinese Opera group during the Red Boat era. When Yip Kin left China to immigrate to the south sea known as Nanyang, he chose to settle down in Kuala Lumpur and began his legendary life history there.
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