MASTER HO KAM MING
COMPILED BY CURT JAMES
During his first visit in
May 1989 to the United States, Wing Chun master Ho Kam Ming provided valuable
insights which clarified numerous aspects of HK Wing Chun Kung Fu. During
a two day seminar in Tucson, Arizona, master Ho warmly received questions
for about eight hours! With sixty or more visitors in attendance, each and
every one making inquiries, this was a remarkable event to behold.
Joining Ho Kam Ming was classmate and close friend Hawkins Cheung. The seminar
was hosted by sifu Augustine Fong and assisted by Mr. Pak Chan. During this
event Mr. Chan translated questions while Augustine Fong related Master Ho's
detailed answers to literally hundreds of queries. In the transcription
presented various exchanges are paraphrased and edited where necessary. A
most sincere attempt has been made to maintain the integrity of the discussion.
Master Ho was a past vice president of the Hong Kong Ving Tsun Athletic
Association. On his first visit to the U.S., he lectured on many subjects
including Wing Chun forms and fighting theory. Ho Kam Ming is from Macao
and Hong Kong area and studied Wing Chun Kuen with late Yip Man for nearly
twenty years. As a leader of the Wing Chun clan, it is not surprising that
master Ho's knowledge and experience excels beyond that of the ordinary
instructor. Hawkins Cheung was quick to appreciate Ho Kam Ming's excellence
in Wing Chun and remarks, "He received all the best information."
Master Ho is in his late sixties and has spent nearly forty years studying
and researching the fighting principles of Wing Chun Kung Fu. His motivation
for sharing this wisdom is summarized by him thus: "The future of Wing Chun
is based upon you!" At this event and prestigious gathering, Ho Kam Ming
demonstrated many fighting techniques and concepts. As inquires were quickly
answered and explained, it became apparent that he possessed a profound
understanding of Wing Chun Kuen.
Augustine Fong, Master Ho's leading student in the west, began the seminar
with a traditional genealogy of Yip Man Wing Chun Kuen: Ng Mui,
Yim Wing Chun & Leung Bok Chau, Wong Wah Bo & Leung Yee Tai, Leung
Jan, Chan Wah Shun & Leung Bik and Yip Man, the Hong Kong school, etc.
The Wing Chun Basic Stance (Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma) was then demonstrated and
explained; "The knees and toes are held inward, the spine erect, and hips
pushed forward." It is here that master Ho Kam Ming begins to accept questions:
YEE JEE KIM YEUNG MA
Question: Does one use the Yee Jee
Kim Yeung Ma as a fighting stance?
Master Ho: It is not necessary; use a natural fighting stance.
Question: What is the best way to check your stance to know the correct distance
between your feet?
Master Ho: The stance is based on one's body height. A tall person has a
wider stance; a shorter person's would be smaller.
Question: Why are the toes inward in our stance?
Master Ho: If your toes point inward, when you practice turning or changing
angles--it is easier. If your toes point outward--turning is inhibited.
Question: Should the spine be held straight?
Master Ho: Generally, your spine has got to be straight. If not, when you
turn you will swing your center out. If it is straight, when turning, everything
Question: When you practice the basic stance, are you developing energy by
Master Ho: The stance helps you to find your center of gravity. When you
know how to feel your center then you know how to move your body. As for
Internal energy--no matter what, if you are standing here, you already have
Internal energy. When you raise your hand you also have Internal energy.
Question: What is the main purpose of Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma?
Master Ho: The main purpose of Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma is to practice your stance,
to find your center of gravity and to balance yourself. When you have the
ability to find the center, then when you fight, you can stand in any position.
When an external force comes toward you, that is the time to use your
balance--that's when your stance comes into place. If you can't control your
balance, it doesn't matter how good your hands are; an external force coming
in will knock you down.
Question: When you practice a long first form--say a half an hour or so--and
you start to shake, does this mean you are weak or are you in the wrong
Master Ho: If you shake that means you can't find your center of gravity.
You are using the wrong muscles.
Question: Is there any differences or improvements that you see in the forms
since you have come to the United States?
Master Ho: The principles are the same but maybe the teaching methods are
different. The foundation is the same but people teach differently.
Question: How significant is the knee position and is there natural tension
somewhere alone that area? If you are tense, is that wrong?
Master Ho: If the muscles are tight then it is wrong. It should be natural,
natural tension. Any motion, as long as it's natural is fine. Do not tighten
Question: A question about the hip--you don't lock the hip then?
Master Ho: The hip is not held inward and tight. Just stabilize the hip and
Question: About the center of gravity, usually this is indicated by a vertical
plane. Is there a horizontal plane for the center of gravity and does it
Master Ho: The vertical center of gravity should be straight in a vertical
position. Whenever you move forward the whole vertical line should move as
Question: I notice that other systems seem to utilize wider stances. Can
Wing Chun be practiced with a wider stance?
Master Ho: If your stance is too wide then you lose your flexibility to move.
If it is too narrow then you can't move quick enough. The best position is
your own natural position as based on Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma. Wing Chun does
not use a wide stance, you lose mobility with a wider stance.
Question: How wide should the stance be?
Master Ho: The width of the stance is based upon your shoulder width. Also,
in this stance your weight should be evenly distributed.
Question: To move one must raise the stance, correct? Does one's height remain
Master Ho: When moving don't bounce your stance. Keep the height even and
try to stay stabilized.
Question: How do you know exactly how to sink the weight? For example, how
far do you sink?
Master Ho: Sink to the point that you feel natural and flexible. Sink enough
but don't sink too much.
Question: Could you explain a little about basic pyramids and how they relate
to the stance?
Master Ho: The pyramid stance is based on balance. If an external force comes
in, it is dissolved accordingly. However, that's just talking about the stance,
when you use the hands--they should be utilized with the structure.
Question: About the weight distribution, if the weight is evenly distributed
upon the feet and a burning sensation if felt on the bottom of the foot,
how does this relate to the direct weight upon the heels?
Master Ho: The weight is distributed upon the whole foot. If you feel heat
then that is a good sign for that means you have found your center of gravity.
Later, that feeling will go away--that is, when you learn to control better.
But that is a good start. Also, both feet should be equal; if you feel burning,
then you should feel it equally on both feet.
Question: Does it matter if you practice with bare feet? Or is it better
to practice with shoes on?
Master Ho: If you practice with bare feet you will feel your toes grab the
Question: Should you always practice a long first form?
Master Ho: It depends upon your energy level. If you feel bad that day, then
you shouldn't do it too long. For example, if you try to study a book and
you don't have the energy, it won't go to your mind well. Thus, it depends
on your energy.
Question: So, unless your basic foundation or balance is good, anything you
build on top of that is weak, correct?
Master Ho: Right.
Question: Is there a best time to practice Siu Lim Tau. For instance, before
or after practice?
Master Ho: When you practice Siu Lim Tau, the best time is before you are
tired. This way you can find your center easier.
Question: Again, about practicing barefooted, is it true then it is best
to practice this way?
Master Ho: It doesn't matter. Practice many ways, for in a fight you will
be wearing shoes. But bare feet are better.
Question: Do you ever sink your weight more for certain techniques?
Master Ho: Don't emphasize sinking all the time. Just try to dissolve the
incoming force. You may have to brace or sink at that moment. But don't sink
all the time.
Question: Could you elaborate on the natural curvature of the spine; as opposed
to what was said about the spine being straight?
Master Ho: It should be natural, naturally straight.
Question: Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma is not a fighting stance correct? What happens
in a real fight, what stance do we use?
Master Ho: Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma is the foundation of all stances. When you
practice, you use this stance to develop balance. But when you fight for
real, you use mobile stances.
Question: How does the shoulder relate to overall balance?
Master Ho: The shoulders should be straight down; pull them down equally.
If your spine is straight then your shoulders will be down.
Question: About punching straight
or slightly upward--you have stated that punching slightly upward will uproot
the opponent and that punching straight will just knock the subject backward.
What about the concept of explode power where the opponent should drop straight
down or even forward after being hit? In this case what does it matter if
one punches straight or upward?
Master Ho: If performed correctly, the punch should drop the subject right
there. In case you're not good enough, however, a straight punch may allow
the opponent the opportunity to strike you. Punching slightly upward will
eliminate this possibility.
Question: Is it too much to practice a thousand punches a day?
Master Ho: Do what you can do--don't force progress. Otherwise, you won't
get good results.
Question: Should one lock the elbow out when practicing punching?
Master Ho: Yes, but when you lock the punch and release the power, don't
tighten up on the elbow.
Question: Should one practice both high and low punches?
Master Ho: You can practice high, middle, and low punches. But don't practice
too much until you can control your fist. This means that you should be able
to punch with a minimum of muscular tension first.
Question: Could one pick out, for example, the double punches and practice
Master Ho: Yes, but only up to a certain point. Actually, one could drill
any motion of the form.
Question: Could you comment on the opinion that other styles seem to have
on the Wing Chun punch? For instance, many believe this type of punch has
Master Ho: The more force you feel or see in the punch, the more chance the
power will stay in the body and not be released. The less you feel, the more
release you will have. Like shooting an arrow--the arrow has no power; but
the result is forceful. In Wing Chun, the punch is based on speed, not muscle.
If you don't feel power or muscle, then that means you can punch faster.
This will promote explosive power.
Question: Could you talk about Bone Joint Power?
Master Ho: Bone Joint Power involves a minimum of muscular use. The less
muscle, the more flexible the joints can react. Like a snake, the punch will
be fast and quick.
Question: In the vertical punch, the little knuckle is susceptible to damage,
correct? What can one do to avoid this?
Master Ho: Actually, the lower knuckles are aligned to the largest bone in
the arm. This position will produce a stronger punch. If you feel pain in
the last knuckle, perhaps your structure is wrong.
Question: When punching, do you snap the wrist upward upon contact?
Master Ho: When you practice, do not emphasize snapping. Later, this will
Question: It is said that the knuckles are like a tack supported in cotton.
Could you comment on this?
Master Ho: When you punch, focus on the knuckles. When you connect, the whole
fist will sink inward. The power is in the knuckles.
Question: Could you comment on the use of the wall bag?
Master Ho: The wall bag does not develop power; that is the purpose of the
empty punch. Punching in the air can develop more and more power; but the
wall bag can help to develop focus. The wall bag is like a target that can
help train the fist.
Question: How about a moving bag? As opposed to a stationary bag?
Master Ho: In Wing Chun we practice hand development in a different way.
If you use a swinging bag, then the power is held in the arm--it won't release.
It would be better, in this case, if one held a wall bag and then moved around
the room (to practice chasing). That is better than using a moving bag. A
moving bag is not practical.
Question: Is the one and three inch punch something separate or do you develop
this with a regular punch?
Master Ho: According to Wing Chun, you should be able to generate power even
closer. One inch is already too far.
Question: Can the Wing Chun straight punch be used with gloves on--in say
a full contact setting?
Master Ho: Yes, but you have to practice for a while first. One must get
used to the gloves.
Question: How does one generate power from a close distance? For example,
how can one strike when one is already in contact?
Master Ho: If you use Bone Joint Power it can be done. In this way you can
use explode power.
Question: Do you have to use turning to make the punch more effective?
Master Ho: Not necessarily, the elbow can still punch... But there are six
main joints which may be utilized in punching: The wrist, elbow, shoulder,
hip, knee, and ankle. These joints work together to produce what is called
Bone Joint Power.
Question: Is it safe to assume that since most Wing Chun practitioners only
use the straight punch, that there are few advanced exponents around?
Master Ho: Perhaps they have not reached that level yet.
Question: Any comments on western boxing?
Master Ho: Boxing is a sport, not a martial art.
Question: Should one coordinate breathing with punching?
Master Ho: One should breath naturally. If you need to breath hard, then
SIU LIM TAU
Question: From the Fok Sau position,
some people perform a Taan Sau before moving to Huen and Wu Sau. Is this
Master Ho: When you turn the hand over in this manner that is an application.
When you do the basic form, don't do Taan Sau for it can tighten up the muscles.
In the form just circle into Wu Sau.
Question: When you hold the fist at the side of the body, doesn't this promote
Master Ho: As long as its natural, it's all right.
Question: If one wished to teach someone the Siu Lim Tau that was well built,
how would you go about it?
Master Ho: Tell him not to use excessive tension, just do the motions--don't
Question: What is the application for the downward Cross Hand (Sup Jee Sau)
position at the beginning of the form?
Master Ho: This motion is useful for when you are losing your balance and
falling forward. If someone is kicking up while I'm falling, this motion
Question: Could you talk about the elbow line?
Master Ho: The elbow line is close but don't force the position. Just bring
it in as close as it is naturally possible. Some people, with larger muscles
can't bring the elbow in too far--that is all right. Bring it in as much
as you can. It really depends upon the build of the individual.
Question: There seem to be two schools of thought on the Taan Sau position.
Could you comment on the true position of Taan Sau?
Master Ho: If the Taan Sau is held pointing upward, you have no control of
the motion, it's weak. If it is held horizontally it is braced--it's like
a bridge. A Taan Sau position which points upward is wrong.
Question: Could you comment on Chi Kung practice. Wing Chun is a Buddhist
style, correct? Also, what do you think about Taoist Chi Kung as practiced
in Siu Lim Tau?
Master Ho: When you do the form, don't worry about Chi Kung. Just work on
the position, worry about the technique.
Question: After Pak Sau, why does one bring the hand back to the center before
executing the straight palm?
Master Ho: Basically, one learns one motion at a time. When you get used
to the technique you can execute the palm strike from Pak Sau. Like the basic
punches, you bring the punch to the center first. But once you know this,
it is not necessary---just punch out. The form teaches one step at a time;
later, one can edit the motions. At the beginning it's important to learn
the correct line.
Question: What is the significance of going in-and-out in the first part
of Siu Lim Tau?
Master Ho: Well, Taan Sau is executed once because it is a strong position.
Fok Sau is performed three times to allow more practice. Fok Sau develops
the elbow by bringing it inward--this needs to be practiced more.
Question: After the Cross Hand position at the beginning of the form, some
people come straight up while we "roll" up an out slightly. Why is this?
Master Ho: If you come straight up, when people trap you, you have no way
out. If you roll from the inside out (Quan Sau) you can easily get away.
This is better than coming straight up.
Question: I understand Fok Sau develops the wrist. Is there other
Master Ho: The Fok Sau motion stabilizes the arm. This promotes a strong
Question: What is the proper height for Taan Sau motion?
Master Ho: The perfect position for Taan Sau is the palm flat and the forearm
slightly upward. Taan Sau should be on the centerline, not too high or too
low. If it is too high it will make the shoulder muscles tight. However,
if your arm is larger, it may be higher, if you have a shorter arm, it may
Question: What is the relationship between Siu Lim Tau and the practice of
Master Ho: If you clear your mind when you practice it is much better. You
can concentrate on what you are doing; nothing will bother you.
(Master Hawkins Cheung notes: "Ho Kam Ming began training when he was about
29 or 30 and therefore concentrated on theory. This is what he is best at.
He received all the best information." Cheung questions the listeners, "The
Wing Chun style is based on what? It is based on feeling, sensitivity. And
what do I mean by sensitivity? Information--do you have the correct information
or not? Wing Chun (boxing) uses what? Unity. Earlier today stances were
mentioned... We don't fight with separate movements, we fight with unity.
That is the key. And yet, theory is very important. You can't copy anyone...
Ho Kam Ming will teach you the correct motions, theory. This is better than
learning a lot of movements. If you start good, you learn good. If you start
no good, you learn no good, understand?")
Question: What is the main thing that
Chum Kiu develops? What is it's purpose?
Master Ho: Chum Kiu teaches you how to control your motions while turning.
Siu Lim Tau develops techniques in a stationary position. In Chum Kiu, even
though you are turning, you still can control that motion--much like a stationary
position. This will develop turning, balance and unity. Chum Kiu means "Searching
for the Bridge." The bridge refers to the persons hand or arm. When you face
an opponent and go in, you go in the center. When his hands come into play,
you can touch or feel for the hands; then you can control him--that's "Searching
for the Bridge." Remember, if the opponent doesn't block you, or bring his
hands up--just go in the centerline.
Question: If you have a powerful opponent and he comes after you with wide
swinging motions--how would handle this? How would you end the fight?
Master Ho: If your opponent attacks you in this way--according to theory
you should be able to use a straight line punch to beat the wide motion.
This is because the timing is longer. But if he is already in, you may be
able to deflect his power. If he is too strong then just step away. (Master
Ho demonstrates how to deflect power left or right by using Bong Sau or Taan
Question: How do you deal with a flicking attack or a fake?
Master Ho: Just attack, go right in. (Master Ho demonstrates how one may
simply attack when faked). Also, some people try to scare you by stomping
on the floor; just strike out with your fist.
Question: Do you look at the eyes if confronted or the hands?
Master Ho: If you look at the hand, you lose everything. Look at the eyes.
Question: So, moving inward can effectively jam a technique?
Master Ho: Do not just run into the opponent. You must adjust the distance.
If the distance allows you to go in--do so; don't go in blind. If you can't
control the opponent don't go in. Close the gap and strike when you should--don't
when you should not. (Master Ho demonstrates an "inside facing" punch). Some
people duck when punched. In Wing Chun you can attack by changing the
Question: Could you comment on the concept of "Sinking the Bridge." Doesn't
Chum Kiu also mean this?
Master Ho: Sinking the Bridge is an application. (Master Ho demonstrates
how to drop the elbow in defense of a body punch). Searching for the Bridge
is the name of the form. Chum Kiu, or "sinking" bridge, is a technique. But
the meaning of the form is "Searching for the Bridge." Do not confuse this.
Question: Why does the Wing Chun style always teach one to look at the eyes?
Other styles teach to look elsewhere.
Master Ho: For example, if you look down while I punch, you will miss what
is coming. By looking at the eyes you will see the whole picture.
Question: What is the difference between the Pai Jong (Hacking Elbow) and
Lon Sau (Bar Arm)?
Master Ho: Lon Sau can help you to get out from a grab. By turning, you use
the whole body to bring your hand up. (A demonstration follows in which master
Ho easily brings his hand back from a double grab position).
Question: Where does the power originate in the turning position? Is it the
Master Ho: It is not just the knees; the whole body assists in the turn.
If you turn the whole body as a unit--you can get more power. This is better
then using just the hip or knees, etc. The idea here is unity.
Question: But where does the turn originate? How do you turn?
Master Ho: You can not say exactly where the turn originates for the whole
body turns. The feet, knees, hip, and body all work together. You can not
say, that's where the turn originates. This is why you have to practice.
In order to know exactly how to generate power, you need to practice in order
to feel your motion. This is the only way to know these things.
Question: Is the Turning Elbow (Pai Jong) technique lower than the same technique
in Siu Lim Tau?
Master Ho: No, it is about the same. But, when you perform the Turning Elbows
it is important to learn how to turn the technique with the body. In application
you need to control your motion. You see how close the subject is and therefore
how much to turn. This, you need to adjust, you can tell how much by experience.
Question: Toward the end of Chum Kiu, are there not two circle side kicks
Sifu Fong: In the beginning, we use all front kicks. If you can not do a
front kick right, you can not do a side kick. The front kick is the basic
kick for the Wing Chun style. At the end of the form there is a "left" circle
Master Ho: According to human behavior, everyone uses the right leg
automatically. In Wing Chun we develop the left leg. If you concentrate on
the left leg, you will be able to use both legs equally. It is the same principle
behind developing the punches, left, right, left in the forms. Develop the
left more than the right.
Question: In Chum Kiu set, why does the Drilling Punch go upward, like an
Master Ho: Has everyone seen Mike Tyson fight? Well, I feel he is the first
fighter to effectively use the Uppercut. Yet, in Wing Chun, we already had
this punch a couple a hundred years ago. You see, under the chin is a point,
and when hit, causes an immediate knock out--the brain is sent to the top
of the head. It can even kill.
Question: How many triangles are there in the structure? And does that change
with the movement of the opponent?
Master Ho: (Here, master Ho demonstrates how to use triangles in group fighting).
Question: How many triangles are there in one's own structure?
Master Ho: (Master Ho demonstrates how changing the line also changes the
triangle). No matter how many triangles there are, they all focus or lay
on the centerline.
Question: How do you get power in your front kick? Other arts use a kind
of wind up to generate force.
Master Ho: The Wing Chun kick uses Bone Joint Power. It comes directly from
the floor and goes forward. If you bring the leg up first and then kick,
there are two motions. Anyway, the Wing Chun kick is not used all the time,
only when necessary. This is because when you use a kicking technique, you
have only one leg on the ground. You can be attacked easily. If you kick
me, I can avoid the kick by moving one inch. When you miss, I can get you;
I can go in.
Question: What is the purpose of the Fok Sau technique in Chum Kiu?
Master Ho: From an outside position, Fok Sau will cover your opening. The
purpose is first to bring the elbow in to cover oneself. If you bring the
hand in only, you will miss the block. Learn how to control your elbow. Also,
Fun Sau (which is applied before) is executed toward the side in the form.
But this technique can be applied to the front.
Question: Wing Chun does not advocate ducking. Many styles know this and
use this against us. Is there a reason for this? How can you fight against
other styles if you don't duck?
Master Ho: According to Wing Chun theory, we don't duck, we keep our position.
If your position is right, no one can get into your area. In Wing Chun, the
whole structure is protecting your body; that is, as long as you play your
own game. In Wing Chun we have a saying, "Glass head, tofu chest, and iron
bridge." The bridge protects the head and body--the glass head and tofu chest.
If you get hit in the head, it's like glass; in the chest and it's like
tofu--smashed. The hand is like an iron bridge--the hand is the guard.
Question: But don't you think it is a disadvantage that other styles know
our methods? Shouldn't one do something different?
Master Ho: No matter what system you are facing, just play your own game.
Your own game is to adjust your distance, timing, etc. You will win.
Question: At the beginning of the second section of Chum Kiu, you turn with
Lon Sau and form a fist. Is this for attacking? Is this a punch?
Master Ho: It is a fist, but it is not for striking. This motion allows one
to stick and follow the opponent's hand.
Question: Is the Arm Catching (Jip Sau) motion for breaking an arm, controlling,
Master Ho: This is an arm break, but the way you are demonstrating it is
lousy. If I do it like you, with the elbow down and in, the punch will get
through. (Here master Ho is discussing the hand closest to the body). The
elbow has to be out; this way you can catch the arm. In Wing Chun not all
the techniques have the elbow in. You have to know this.
Question: What is the best way to fight a group of people?
Master Ho: When you fight, use hand techniques more than kicks. Use the hands
80% of the time; especially when you fight more than one person. Use the
legs to move the center, adjust the angle.
Question: How does the eye power of Chum Kiu differ from that of Siu Lim
Master Ho: In both forms, learn how to control the eyes. Look straight forward,
that is the main idea. Learn to develop periphery vision.
Question: If one initiates an attack first in a fight, where is the best
place to strike?
Master Ho: Strike the weakest point--the chest. If you attack the head you
may cause a cut, but if you attack the chest it involves the heart. This
is a killing point. No matter how big you are--one good punch here and you
can not take it.
Question: When is the best time to strike? When the subject is breathing
in or out?
Master Ho: This kind of timing does not matter, you can go in anytime.
Question: In the proverbs it states, "Use escaping hand to turn around the
situation." What does this mean?
Master Ho: If you can't do it, don't worry. For example, books say you can
jump ten feet high! But this is only writing; can I do it? That is a different
story. If you want to understand a thing, learn to do it. If you can apply
the theory, that is good, that is what you should concentrate on.
Question: Again, what is the fist for in the Lon Sau technique? Is this a
Master Ho: This allows one to stabilize the bridge. If it is open here, it
won't be correct or stabilized.
Question: So it is not a grab?
Master Ho: No, and when you grab someone you must be careful--it is very
dangerous. If you grab my hand, I will break your wrist. In China, these
locking techniques were quite popular. Today they practice Tiger Claw or
Wu Shu but won't allow the citizens to practice Wing Chun and such. This
is because they don't want ordinary people better than those in the government.
This is one reason why Wing Chun is being lost in the Chinese mainland.
Question: Could you explain the application of the Low Wing Block (Bong
Master Ho: (Master Ho demonstrates how a punch is deflected downward from
a regular Bong Sau position, thus forming a low Bong Sau). The low Bong Sau
follows the power. If the force is too heavy, just go with it. Do not block
the punch upward; you should flow down. Also, in the form, two low Bong Sau's
are applied together. But by the time you apply the Bong Sau, use only one
hand. Remember, when you apply this, never use two Bong Sau's at the same
Question: Why does the "Inside Line" punch (from Lon Sau) come from the elbow
rather than the centerline?
Master Ho: From a slight sideways position, the centerline is here. (Master
Ho indicates that one must use this motion to regain the centerline). If
one punches from the center, there is no control--the opponent's punch gets
in. Use this motion to clear the line of attack.
Question: What is the meaning behind the "Step Forward" Double Palm technique
in the third section of Chum Kiu?
Master Ho: This push allows the whole body to move together. This develops
unity; it teaches one how to move the entire body forward.
Question: Should the Front Kick be practiced more than any other kick?
Master Ho: The Front Kick is the most important kick in Wing Chun. When you
fight, your opponent is facing you. The kick to use is the front kick. If
you turn or use a side kick, you may lose everything.
Question: Could you explain the difference between Siu Lim Tau and Chum Kiu
techniques in relation to distance in fighting?
Master Ho: When you are talking about forms, since there is no subject before
you, it is difficult to speak of distance. Distance only applies when you
have an opponent in front of you.
Question: After the Stepping Bong Sau, you "drop" the hands (Chum Kiu) crossing
them. Do you maintain the same line?
Master Ho: Yes, when you drop, since you are turned, it looks like you are
off the centerline. But really the centerline is still here (toward the center).
In this motion the elbows should be slightly out. Don't squeeze them inward.
But yes, the intersection of the hands is on the centerline.
Question: What is the correct angle for the Brush Hand (Tuit Sau). How far
away from the body should the hand be?
Master Ho: Go straight down. The hand should be close to the body. You can
use this motion to dissolve a grab. If you go forward you can not dissolve
Question: Could you talk about Huen Sau (Circle Hand)? Is this a grab?
Master Ho: In Wing Chun forms you see inside circling, but not outside grabbing.
The circle is inside, we don't use an outside circle (Grab Hand) too much.
If you use an outside circle (Grab), your opponent can just snap down and
break your wrist. But Huen Sau is really for regaining your position or line.
(Master Ho demonstrates a Huen Sau followed by a low side palm).
Question: What is the application for the dropping Chum Kiu (Cross Hand)
technique which follows Stepping Bong Sau?
Master Ho: When you apply Bong Sau, your lower gate is all open. This motion
allows you to drop the hands to protect the body.
Question: Could you explain a little about the Backward Step (Toi Ma) in
the Chum Kiu?
Master Ho: When you step Backward here, it allows you to regain your balance
easier than by going forward. Remember, Chum Kiu teaches one how to control
the balance in movement.
Question: Do you snap both wrists when you execute the Jip Sau (Arm Catching)
Master Ho: Yes, both hands snap at the same time. The timing must be right.
Question: What is the application for Gum Sau (Pinning Hand) near the end
of Chum Kiu form?
Master Ho: Gum Sau teaches you to block. When you use it, though, don't just
use the hand, use the entire arm. Remember to bend the elbow; don't lock
Question: When you execute the Double Palm and push both feet together, it
doesn't seem to be a strong base, does it?
Master Ho: The purpose of this technique is first, to practice moving forward
while maintaining the center of gravity. Second, so you can execute a turn
kick. For example, the legs must be close together to perform the kick. In
the form you practice the basics, in fighting you can do whatever you wish.
Question: Could you explain the application of the Rising Punch from the
Gum Sau position?
Master Ho: (A demonstration is presented in which a Rising Punch follows
a blocked kick--Gum Sau). Remember, the elbow should be bent. Also, after
the block, you should punch immediately--attack right away.
Question: Where does the gate end for the hands and the legs take over? Does
it end where the Gum Sau position is?
Master Ho: If a kick comes into your hand area, fine. But don't chase the
leg. Keep your hands in position. If the attack is lower than the waist,
use the your legs. Don't follow the kick with your hands. Also, if the knee
is used to block a kick, don't bring it straight up--use a circular knee
Question: In Searching for the Bridge is the idea to destroy and control
the bridge? Or perhaps just to feel for it?
Master Ho: In the real meaning for Chum Kiu, it is not breaking or controlling;
that is the application. Searching for the Bridge is the name and meaning
of the form.
Question: Is there a meaning and application for the double Taan Sau before
and after the Stepping Low Bong Sau?
Master Ho: Not really, this is only to set up for the next Bong Sau. (Here
master Ho indicates nobody has asked about the main point of Chum Kiu. He
asks, "What is the main technique in the form?")
Question: Is it the control of the center of gravity; maintaining the
Master Ho: That has been discussed already. What is the main motion Chum
Kiu develops? That has not been brought up as yet.
Question: Is it the Bong Sau motion?
Master Ho: Which one.
Question: The Stepping Bong Sau (Tor Ma Bong Sau replies Dan M)?
Master Ho: Yes, right (applause). This motion uses a side position and goes
sideways. But in application you go forward. The purpose for going sideways
is to develop and maintain your center of gravity while moving. If you practice
going forward in the beginning, you lose your balance; so you step sideways.
Remember, in application, you go forward.
Question: Could you talk some more about Bong Sau? I have never heard that
Master Ho: When you are attacked, it is difficult to tell where the attack
is coming from. The Bong Sau only protects your body. When the punch comes
in, that is the time to use it. Other then that, you can use Taan Sau or
Pak Sau. Bong Sau is applied after touching; when you feel something, then
you use Bong Sau. Bong Sau and the "elbow up" is used for close fighting--to
save your position. You use Bong Sau after the hand is already in. Don't
use it if the attack is still outside.
Question: Then is Bong Sau considered an "emergency" block?
Master Ho: In a way, yes; when you are in danger. Also, Bong Sau controls
the force of others.
Question: Could you show how Bong Sau is used moving forward?
Master Ho: When your opponent attempts to change attacks, you can jam his
motion. (Master Ho demonstrates) Use the body to step in; it is not the hands
so much as the body moving forward.
Question: For a high punch, how would you block?
Master Ho: In Wing Chun, "offense is defense." (Master Ho demonstrates an
Inside Rising punch to deflect a punch. He then executes a strike over a
low blow controlling the attack. These are examples of Searching for the
Bridge.) Also, a lot of people step back in defense of an attack. In real
Wing Chun, we go in--get the right structure, position. One should attack,
don't move away--move in--go forward. If you don't do it right--you will
miss the block and you may get hit. If your timing and position are right
then you will be all right. That is why you need someone always around, pointing
out your mistakes.
Question: Besides Bong Sau (Wing Block), are there other motions that are
Master Ho: All techniques are important; each can counter one another. But
it is vital to touch and then apply the techniques. This is why we have Sticky
Hands; you touch and apply. This is called application after touching.
Question: How can you get away from an outside grab besides applying Biu
Sau (Shooting Fingers)?
Master Ho: You don't need a big motion--just turn the hand over and apply
Taan Sau. (Ho Kam Ming demonstrates how Taan Sau can easily break an outside
Question: About a Step/Slide (Tor Ma)--Do you drag the back leg?
Master Ho: Slide the back leg.
Question: Are you pushing off also?
Master Ho: Yes, when push yourself forward, you also control your center
of gravity. If you push two inches--you step two inches. Keep the distance
constant between the feet.
Question: Could you talk about mobility. For example, in application, when
is the right time to change your stance?
Master Ho: Mobility depends upon the opponent--try to adjust to his movement.
If you do it by yourself--you can not develop any kind of ability. You need
a target to really develop mobility.
Question: Could you show some examples?
Master Ho: Yes. (Master Ho demonstrates some angling steps, Saam Gok Ma,
Question: Could you comment on "front body" verses "side body" fighting?
Master Ho: Wing Chun is a natural system. If two birds are fighting, and
one bird faces away, he will get it. Better yet, if two dogs fight and one
turns away, the one turning will get bitten. It's the same for two boxers--if
you turn sideways then you will lose--you lose one side, one hand. When you
punch with that hand, you have to change your center. When you move, I can
punch you right then. Or if I want, I can just control you by holding your
shoulder, keeping you from turning toward me. Because of this, Wing Chun
does not fight sideways. Basically, Wing Chun fights front on (one leg forward).
This way both hands can be used equally.
Question: If I am like this (Side Neutral Stance), is this considered Pin
Sun (Side Body)?
Master Ho: No, this is still Front Body (Jing Sun).
Question: Should we combine horizontal and vertical leg positioning in
Master Ho: (Master Ho moves forward and backward and has sifu Fong execute
combination stances). When you are beginning, you can use a flat stance (Yee
Jee Kim Yeung Ma) in practice. If you can not control your stances (if you
can not do it), don't fight with one leg forward. This way you can move to
both sides equally. If you can not be flexible with your stances, when you
stand this way (forward leg), you may have only one way to go--you can't
Question: Does height matter? If I fight a taller person, do I have to angle
Master Ho: No matter--tall or short--they have to come into your position.
Just play your own game.
Question: But, do I need more footwork for a bigger person?
Master Ho: When you fight, it's better to stabilize your movement. The more
you move around, the more room you give to the opponent to attack.
Question: Could you talk about the Wing Chun principle, "If you move, I move
Master Ho: Well, in order to move faster--the first thing you need is correct
structure. If your structure is right, you can attack right away. But if
your structure is not good, even if you are faster, your opponent will get
Question: As a beginner, I don't understand the pivot (turning stance). When
would I use it?
Master Ho: Turning allows you to get your center of gravity. If you turn
too much you lose the position--not enough and you lose your balance. Correct
turning allows you to be strong--the structure will be perfect; then no one
can move you so easy.
Question: Why is it that so many exponents turn incorrectly? They put all
the weight on their rear leg and move the vertical axis line "to and fro?"
Master Ho: It is because that person or the person who taught him didn't
know how to find his center of gravity. It's really like spelling a word;
if it is spelled incorrectly you don't pay attention, you keep making the
same mistake. You keep spelling the word wrong.
(With a demonstration of Biu Jee set
completed master Ho inquires, "Does anybody perceive any difference in this
Biu Jee set?" After a few moments the discussion shifts to questions concerning
the "Buddha Palms" at the end of Biu Jee. In this movement both hands form
a prayer and dip down; as the hands press upward the body rises. The hands
then open over the head and swing back returning to the prayer position.
This is repeated three times and the set closes.)
Question: Because of the Wu Sau's or single Buddha Palms in Siu Lim Tau,
I thought the first form was once known as Saam Bai Fut or Three Bows to
Buddha. Could you comment on this?
Master Ho: It is the Three Buddha Palms at the end of Biu Jee which are Saam
Bai Fut. Saam Bai Fut is not associated with Siu Lim Tau; it is a technique
of Biu Jee.
Question: What is the meaning of this motion?
Master Ho: Let's assume you are falling forward, losing your balance and
someone is trying to strike you from above. Your hands go up first to regain
your balance; this motion then opens above the head to deflect incoming attacks.
Remember, when you learn the forms, don't practice them too fast. Perform
them slowly, one by one. Learn to control your motion, control your center
of gravity. It is best to practice slowly and to be aware of your moves.
At the beginning, if you practice the movements too quickly, you will lose
everything, you won't develop correctly. In the Buddha Palm technique, if
you perform it incorrectly, if you don't think about where the hands are
placed, when and how the body comes up, if you miss the timing of this
motion--instead of blocking you may get hit on the head. In order to time
this correctly you open the hands after you are up. You must feel and control
the motion; practice it slowly. When you get use to the motions, you can
perform them faster.
Question: Is there some relation between the Saam Bai Fut and a Buddhist
Master Ho: That is only the name for the motion. People say, ah, it looks
like you are worshipping the Buddha. But there is nothing significant in
Question: Near the beginning of the Biu Jee set, you wiggle the fingers after
the Huen Sau and before you close the fist. What is the purpose of this?
Master Ho: This allows you to relax your muscles and wrist. When you turn
the hand (Huen) and squeeze, you tighten up the muscles of the arm. Thus,
you never have a chance to relax the muscles. This motion allows you to relax
the whole hand before going on to the next move. I bet you have never seen
anyone perform Biu Jee with this motion. This particular motion, Yip Man
taught me only. I doubt if you will see this motion elsewhere.
Question: What is the meaning for the snapping hand (Jut Sau) at the beginning
of the set?
Master Ho: This develops wrist power. In this way you can generate snapping
power from only a short distance. (Here master Ho asks why in the Buddha
Palm, at the end of the set, the hands actually come a little behind the
body?) You see, the purpose for this is to regain you center of gravity.
The main thing is to keep your balance.
Question: What is the application for Fak Sau (Whisking Hand)?
Master Ho: Fak Sau can be used as a type of "asking hand." When someone's
hand is in the way, you can use this motion to break open the centerline.
In the form, Fak Sau is performed sideways, but in application it is executed
Question: At the beginning of the Buddha Palm motion, what is the purpose
of leaning and dipping the hands forward?
Master Ho: This motion assumes you are losing balance. That is why you make
yourself go down in this manner.
Question: What is the meaning of the term Biu Jee?
Master Ho: A lot of people think Biu Jee (Shooting Fingers) is for attacking
people. But the real meaning behind Biu Jee is not really attacking. Biu
Jee promotes and develops many emergency techniques.
Question: Is one of the main purposes of Biu Jee for close fighting? Many
of the motions seem to be quite large.
Master Ho: For example, Gwai Jong (Diagonal Elbow) is used like this--you
feel and then use it. Like Bong Sau, you don't use it from the outside.
Question: So are most of the motions of Biu Jee for in-close fighting?
Master Ho: They are mostly for emergency use.
Question: After you execute the Biu Sau technique, you turn and chop. Here,
you execute the chop with the elbow bent. Why is this?
Master Ho: If the elbow is down, the hand will be solid. For example, with
the hand fully extended, the hand is weak. If you keep the elbow in, it is
stronger and you can cover yourself.
Question: What is the correct position of this chop? Is it like the Taan
Master Ho: It's a little bit higher, but according to your own structure.
The flowing power from this technique is chopping in, it is not going outward
like a Taan Sau. Do you know why you use this kind of motion? Say you are
fighting someone in front of you and you are attacked also from the side.
Here, you turn and chop to cover yourself. That is called an "emergency
technique." If you turn and face the attacker, it is too late. You simply
turn and strike. In application, wherever your hand is, that is where you
attack from. If it is up or out here, that is where you start your attack;
do not come back to the center and then punch. In the beginning, when you
practice the basics, you come from the center. But in application, if your
hand is here, that is where you start from. If your hand is down, you punch
from there; don't bring it back up and then punch. If my hands are down like
this, and you punch me, it is too late to bring my hands up--just block from
there. (Master Ho executes a long hand wrist snap--Ding Sau.) In this way
you save time.
Question: Why are there Fok Sau techniques in Chum Kiu and then Jaam Sau
techniques in Biu Jee? These motions look similar, why is this?
Master Ho: Any motion that comes from below is Fok Sau; but from the top
is Jaam Sau. For example, from Fak Sau (Whisking Hand), you execute Jaam
Question: Why in Chum Kiu set, from Fun Sau (Horizontal Chop), do you execute
a Fok Sau technique? Fun Sau is a high position and then you execute a Fok
Sau. Why is this?
Master Ho: In Fak Sau (in Biu Jee set), the elbow is up, therefore you simply
go down into Jaam Sau. In the Fun Sau motion, the elbow is already down,
it is low, so you just bring it in--Fok Sau.
Question: If the Biu Jee set makes your fingers strong, why loosen them up
in the way you described earlier? Would it not be best to develop iron
Master Ho: Remember, Biu Jee (Shooting Fingers) is not really for hitting
people. Many people think this. This motion you are asking about loosens
up the wrist--not the fingers. Anyway, if you think Biu Jee is that way,
it's already like that in Siu Lim Tau.
Question: Developmentally, don't you want the wrist strong and tight. Why
loosen the wrist?
Master Ho: When you try to make it strong like that, it is not strong--it
is stiff. If you want it strong you need to be flexible. If the wrist is
stiff, it will break easily; you may break your hand if you hit something.
Do you know why when practicing Wing Chun forms we don't use much muscle?
In the beginning, if you can control your muscles and motion, if you can
develop that ability, this is good. If you can control your power and motion,
later you can weight lift with good results. But if you lift weights before
you can control your muscles, then you become to stiff, you become like a
robot. You won't really be able to apply power.
Question: So, just to make sure that I understand this correctly, you never
strike with the finger tips?
Master Ho: This is not for hitting, this is for emergency use.
Question: Can you use finger techniques once you are already close?
Master Ho: For example, (from Gwai Jong), if you just use the hand to shoot
out, its not enough. After you touch your opponent's hand, you shoot your
hand in and step forward--slide the fingers to the throat. This technique
you can apply to the throat. (Master Ho demonstrates a Biu Jee to the throat
from a Gwai Jong position). Before, I was not allowed to teach this technique.
But now, I let this information out, but this is not so you can go out and
fight with people.
Question: What is the right time to apply such finger strikes?
Master Ho: The timing is based on your opponent and his movement and position.
Question: Are there any knee techniques in the Biu Jee?
Master Ho: The leg and knee techniques come after the Dummy form. Right now,
we are studying Siu Lim Tau, Chum Kiu, and Biu Jee. This is still the basic
foundation. Until you can do this right, you can't improve your level.
Question: What is the correct position of Gaan Jaam Sau (Upper/Lower Chop)?
Master Ho: Gaan Jaam is applied with the turn of the body, just go with the
body--don't emphasize power. Gaan Jaam Sau is an emergency motion. This clears
the area from the head to the groin. Sometimes you don't know where you are
being attacked--what section, the head, chest, etc. Use the Gaan Jaam technique.
By the time you touch the hand and block, then you know what to do next.
Question: So, is using a punch in most cases better than using a Biu Sau?
Master Ho: A straight punch is for attacking on the line. Just punch. But
Biu Jee Sau (Shooting Fingers) is for regaining the line. If I have you trapped,
you have to regain your line to attack. Here, you can use Biu Sau to regain
the line first.
Question: After Turning Elbows, at the beginning of the form, you then repeat
almost the same motion omitting the Stepping-In Elbow (Tor Ma Gwai Jong).
Why is this?
Master Ho: The first set of turning elbows develops flowing from one elbow
to another. In the second, your elbow drops and you immediately get away
from that situation.
Question: What is the application of the Huen Sau/Pak Sau motion in Biu
Master Ho: If the power is coming in too strong, I can not block it. (Master
Ho shows how to deflect a punch with a hooking Huen Sau). So, I just hook
the punch away; this is an emergency technique. For example, if the punch
is too close, if you can't block, you can use your body to circle the attack
out. Use your structure to deflect the punch. It is just like a bull fight;
you move slightly and the bull passes you by. That is why in Wing Chun, you
use technique. If a stronger force comes in, use your technique to deflect
the opponent. Do not use muscles.
Question: What is the correct order to learn the forms? Do you learn the
Biu Jee first and then Mok Yan Jong? How should one learn the sets?
Master Ho: The right way to learn is this: after the three forms, then you
learn the Wooden Dummy set. You learn step by step--after the three forms,
you learn Mok Yan Jong.
Question: What is the application of Biu Jee Ma or circle stance (Seung
Master Ho: When your opponent moves toward you, then you can circle around
his leg. Also, remember this, if you are standing forward and you punch out--this
is only "hand power." If you use your stance when you attack, you can discharge
the opponent more effectively. The stance and hand technique, when combined,
is much better. In ordinary technique, people just use the hands. People
don't know how to employ the stance to destroy an attackers center. In Wing
Chun Kuen, if you can use the stance and hands together, you can destroy
the opponent and his center of gravity.
Question: If the opponent's foot is not in the way, do we still use the circle
stance (Seung Ma)?
Master Ho: It is not necessary.
Question: Why does the circle stance in Biu Jee return to the Yee Jee Kim
Yeung Ma position? Why doesn't it move forward?
Master Ho: The idea is that the foundation is built step by step. Before
you perform moving stances, you must be able to find your center of gravity.
It's the same as learning the ABC's before being expected to write a composition.
Question: If there is a Gaan Jaam Sau in Biu Jee, why is there no Quan Sau
Master Ho: You already have that at the beginning of the form, when you roll
up from the cross hand position. That is a rolling hand (Quan Sau). You already
have that principle; there is no need to repeat it.
Question: What is the most important motion in Biu Jee?
Master Ho: All the motions in Biu Jee are important.
Question: What is the most important concept in Biu Jee?
Master Ho: The main thing is that Biu Jee is for emergency use.
Question: What is the correct position for the Gwai Jong (Vertical Elbow)
technique? Exactly what is the line of attack?
Master Ho: The elbow should come straight down.
Question: Does the back of the hand touch the chest?
Master Ho: It should barely touch, do not press the hand against the chest.
Question: Why is the hand open and in this position?
Master Ho: The hand is open for protection. Also, if you don't loosen and
open the hand, you can't use the elbow. If you make a fist, you can't swing
the elbow down.
Question: Is there any thumb techniques hidden in Biu Jee set?
Master Ho: No, I've never learned anything like that. If you know some perhaps
you would like to teach me.
Question: What is the rising Pushing Hand (Pow Sau) for in Biu Jee?
Master Ho: This motion is executed upward in the form, but in application,
you use it low--a low palm. This motion stretches the muscles and teaches
one to generate elbow power.
Master Ho asks: "Do you know why you have to swing the Fak Sau technique
all the way down and then up?" Fak Sau, when necessary, clears one's entire
area. This is an emergency technique. In the old days, the martial artists
usually fought very low to the ground. (Master Ho shows how a fighter, crouching
low, attacks inward using a low blow). If you shorten the Fak Sau motion,
you miss the block; you miss the lower section. Fak Sau swings down and then
up. In this way, everything is cleared.
PRINCIPLES AND TECHNIQUES
(Master Ho demonstrates techniques
against a straight punch. He executes circle step Pak/Low Palm. He shows
the correct position for blocking with Taan Sau. He states, "If the angel
is incorrect, I will not be able to block the strike. The angle should be
braced out, toward the line of attack." He is using the "blocking line" to
deflect the blow while punching. This is called the central line by some.
This is followed by Bong Sau Low Side Kick; Quan Sau Low Side Kick; Guide
Bridge Low Front Kick; Guide Bridge while throwing the opponent; Bong Sau
Chor Ma; Taan Da with a slight angle change. Master Ho then retreats out
of distance as a response to a strike. He executes Quan Sau Chor Ma; Inside
Facing Jaam Sau, followed by a chop; beginning from Lop Sau, advancing Bong
Master Ho: When practicing, one partner should be active and the other passive;
retreat and change angles, then go in after adjusting. You have to get the
right timing. For example, while the opponent is still coming in, that is
when you attack. Learn to avoid the "power point" first--then strike. When
an opponent punches you, when you retreat or angle out, he has a tendency
to continue to come forward, that is when you get him. By practicing the
stance, you know the correct moment to step. Wait until the punch comes all
the way to you before you move. You must practice this kind of timing. Also,
if the opponent comes in too fast, and you can't step back--use turning.
(Master Ho shows how to adjust angels and slip punches.)
Question: Is this Boy Lay Ying Faat or Glass Body technique you are
Master Ho: The term Boy Lay Ying is the title for this. But the principle
idea is to learn how to adjust your distance when fighting. Learn how to
avoid the opponent's power point.
Question: Is this also applicable to "chasing the shadow?"
Master Ho: Yes. When two fighters are facing each other, you "face the shadow."
This is called Chew Ying. If the opponent turns sideways, I am Chew Ying,
he is Bai Ying. He is losing his structure. Front-on facing (Yee Jee Kim
Yeung Ma) is not necessary (to be the Chew Ying concept). If your opponent
is in front of you and you are looking at him--that is Chew Ying. It does
not matter as long as you face the opponent. But you don't have to face front-on
each time with the basic stance. You can rotate slightly, chasing the shadow
(punching the opponent). That is Chew Ying. Many martial artists jump around
like boxers, but in Wing Chun we stay in one point and "face the line."
Question: What about when your opponent flanks you and goes beyond your shift
limit? (Sifu Fong moves quickly right but is easily cut of by master Ho's
Question: Besides chasing the shadow, how about "striking the shadow?"
Master Ho: This is not quite right. What happens if you turn around and see
a shadow and punch a tree? You still have to focus and know what you're doing.
Let me ask you, why do we practice punching a wall bag? The wall bag is just
like a target for shooting arrows. This develops focus for the fist. When
you see the opponent, his whole body is the target. When he attacks, it is
basic Wing Chun technique which protects you. The main idea is that you learn
to see the opponent's opening and how to get in. When you close the gap,
it is not with techniques but with your stance--then your attack comes. Do
not strike when you are closing. If you use hand techniques to close the
gap, you will lose when the opponent moves--it is easy to get hit at that
time. It is best to close first and then to trap the opponent as he tries
to attack you. (Master Ho shows how to slip and withdraw and then attack
using Wing Chun closing techniques.)
Question: So, you make the opponent react to you?
Master Ho: Yes. Also, in Wing Chun we never duck our head around. When you
duck, it's easy to get hit. It's best to use structure to dissolve an attack.
If an opponent ducks alot, I can easily get him. I can hit him anytime I
please. He can't defend himself for he is too busy ducking. When he comes
back up, that is when I will get him. The key word is to learn to adjust
your timing and structure.
Question: Which is better--to close the gap and attack or to wait until the
opponent commits to something and comes into your area?
Master Ho: Closing and setting up the opponent is superior to waiting. If
you wait until the opponent is attacking you, he may be applying this theory
and therefore you will be in trouble. Also, when closing the gap, if an opponent
does not react, if he doesn't move at all, then you can strike him anytime.
Do not wait for a reaction--just strike.
Question: When an opponent attacks, he will usually attack with three punches
or a combination. How would you adjust this concept for this type of
Master Ho: If you catch the opponent on the first punch, he will not have
a chance to throw a second and a third.
Question: Should we then continue with combinations of our own? For example,
should we use just one punch at a time or concentrate on landing
Master Ho: The principle is like this: If you get in with one punch, that
might not be a killing blow. If you have a chance to strike a second time,
fine. But if not, don't do it. Do not try to hit too much. Try to use the
Question: Should we then go back out and start again?
Master Ho: That's not necessary. You just don't have to hit, continue to
Question: So, it is better to punch one, two, three, watching the opponent
than to try to throw three punches at the same time?
Master Ho: In a real fight, you rarely have a chance to punch the opponent
three times quickly like that. When you punch, at that moment, you are
stationary--your hands are faster than your stance. But if you advance and
land solid blows on the opponent, one by one, this is superior.
Question: For systems that use great power like Choi Lee Fut, do you attempt
to get out of the way or what?
Master Ho: Sure. If you understand the distance, it doesn't matter how strong
an opponent's power is. As long as you are just one paper distance away,
you won't accept any force. Learn to adjust your distance and move properly.
Like a gun which shoots a mile--as long as you're a mile and an inch away,
you are safe. Also, in Wing Chun, we don't put our hands above our shoulders.
(Master Ho demonstrates a boxing posture.) If you think this will protect
your head against a strong punch, you are wrong. It will blow right through
your hands. If your guard is high, you can't balance your hands and technique.
Also, for a roundhouse kick, when the opponent executes this kick, all of
his weight is supported over one leg. When you kick like this, you can't
easily change your position. I can move to the other side and in. Do not
use your kicks too much. But if you have the chance, go ahead.
Question: In contrast to hard power like in Choi Li Fut and Hung Gar, what
about soft power? Do you use soft against soft or hard against soft like
Tai Chi Chuan?
Master Ho: In Tai Chi Chuan the center of gravity changes all the time. When
you shift your center like this, it is not good; you are in a poor position
to launch an attack. This may be good for health but not for fighting. Also,
Wu Shu from China; such moves are enjoyable to watch. We can not do this
type of movement. For fighting, the moves we use, they can't apply this either.
So, we can not copy them and they can not copy us. (Master Ho performs a
Wu Shu pose.) These motions have no meaning, like saluting, there is no fighting
aspect. Also, running around and performing splits have nothing to do with
fighting. This may be good for health and movies, it is wonderful to watch,
but that type of martial art is different that what we practice.
Question: Wing Chun employs the Plum Blossom symbol. Could you comment on
the significance of the Plum Blossom within the Wing Chun system?
Master Ho: The Plum Blossom defines the prime attacking areas for the front
body. (The center of the chest, face, higher ribs, lower ribs, etc.)
Question: Does the Plum Flower relate to footwork also?
Master Ho: Yes.
Question: May I ask about the application for the Wing Chun hook punch?
Master Ho: (Master Ho demonstrates guiding the opponent and then striking.)
This punch is best used to the body; there is more protection in this. But
you can use these techniques any way you wish. Like writing, after you learn
how to write, you can write anything you like. But you should use some common
sense. When practicing, if you just punch any old way, after ten years you
will not improve. But if you pay attention to acquiring the right foundation,
correct timing, after ten years you will improve greatly.
Question: Can you explain how we can develop our Sticky Hands from the basics
so we can improve?
Master Ho: In the basic rolling motion the forearm in Taan Sau should be
pointing upward; Bong Sau must be at the correct angle (135 degrees). Your
arms touch at one single point; the rest of the arm and shoulder is relaxed.
You should control your own motion. The power should equalize. If one is
not balanced, then you will be hit by your partner. Also, rolling too fast
is not good for there is no inner control. If there is no control, there
is no power--just the motion. Do not waste your time practicing like this.
When practicing you roll "one by one." If your partner presses in too hard,
that's when you attack--go in, use your feeling. Also, if your partner withdraws
his power, attack right away. In a passive position (Taan/Fok Sau), dissolve
the attack by using Bong Sau. Deflect the punch first before you attack.
The main thing in Sticky Hands is to learn how to control your motion. Learn
to feel the equalization point--equalize with both hands. When you feel something
uneven, that is when you know to attack.
Question: Is it a good idea to practice the basic positions Taan/Bong and
Double Fok in the beginning before combining the other two positions Taan/Fok,
Master Ho: They are all important--all four positions. You should practice
Question: Could you please comment on whether the palm in Taan Sau is flat
Master Ho: It should be flat. Have you ever seen a bridge connecting two
land masses that point upward?
Question: I notice that when you execute Bong Sau, and too much pressure
comes inward, you adjust and guide the force away. Is it a bad habit to perform
Lop Sau at this time?
Master Ho: You have to know whether the incoming force is in the center,
up, low, or to the side. That is why you practice for feeling, so you know
which way the force is coming. The technique is applied according to the
direction of force. From Bong Sau, if the force is coming down, you can use
Lop Sau. Now, if the force is coming straight in, pressing your Bong Sau,
do not use Lop Sau. Use your elbow (Gwai Jong). If the power goes to the
other side, use Taan Sau. That is why it is important to have an instructor
to point these things out to you when you practice.
Question: Could you comment on the use of light and heavy power Sticky
Master Ho: Light Sticky Hands is not good; too much force is also not good.
If you can apply the correct power and equalize perfectly, this is excellent.
Question: When you apply an elbow strike, does it come down or across?
Master Ho: If executed sideways it is called Pai Jong. If an elbow is applied
downward it is Gwai Jong. Pai Jong is introduced in Chum Kiu set and Gwai
Jong is found in Biu Jee.
Question: Could you demonstrate the correct Lop Sau exercise? (Master Ho
demonstrates with Sifu Fong and states, "Do not emphasize the trapping motion
too large; also do not stick constantly while applying Lop Sau. These are
Question: When you apply Lop Sau and you meet, are you just touching or do
you hit hard?
Master Ho: You are going to hit down, but when you touch, you release the
power and relax. (Master Ho demonstrates Lop Sau with power and then adds
a few techniques.) If you are good at the basics, you can do whatever you
like. If not, forget it.
Question: If I understand correctly, the purpose for Sticky Hands is to develop
feeling, what is the purpose of Lop Sau?
Master Ho: Also to practice your feeling.
Question: Will you comment on the development of internal energy within the
Wing Chun system?
Master Ho: If you practice correctly and with a good foundation, clear your
mind, emptiness, natural breathing, automatically the Ch'i will run down
to your Tan Tien. That is the foundation of Chi Kung.
Question: Do you have any views about the future of Wing Chun Kung Fu and
of the many branches which are spreading?
Master Ho: It does not matter when speaking about the branches of Wing Chun,
as long as you carry on the correct principles--that is all that counts.
The future of Wing Chun is based upon you.
Question: I have heard that in Chinese astrology there is something significant
about the number nine, which 108 add up to. For example, all the forms have
108 motions. Could you comment on this?
Master Ho: Before in the history, it is said there were 108 fighters who
ascended the mountain to train their students to rebel against the Ch'ing
government. However, the real principle is lost, no one today knows why the
number 108 is so important. Actually, the number is not important.
Question: I have a history question about Leung Lan Kwai. Is he considered
part of our genealogy?
Master Ho: The father of Leung Lan Kwai was Leung Lan Chin. Leung Lan Chin
learned from Yim Wing Chun's husband, Leung Bok Chau. Some historians include
Leung Lan Kwai in the genealogy while others do not. (However) In the Wing
Chun clan, Leung Lan Kwai is considered to be above Wong Wah Bo and Leung
Yee Tai in the history; Leung Lan Kwai and his father are part of an earlier
Question: Do you know of any other Wing Chun lineages, besides Yip Man, which
Master Ho: In his generation, including Yip man, there are sixteen students
(si-hing dai). However, they have all passed away.
Question: Did Leung Bik, Yip Man's other sifu, teach anyone else?
Master Ho: No.
Question: Who is Fong Wing Chun of the Hung Gar legend and is there a connection
between this person and Yim Wing Chun?
Master Ho: Fong Wing Chun is a different person and not considered part of
Question: What is the difference between the Taoist concept of controlling
power and the Buddhist and does this relate to Wing Chun?
Master Ho: Taoist and Buddhist control of energy is based on Ch'i--how to
breath in order to generate internal development. Wing Chun control is based
on the physical. How to control an opponent, etc. This is a different thing.
Taoism and Buddhism are religions. Wing Chun is not a religion.
Question: How much did the Wing Chun art change after Yip Man studied with
master Leung Bik. Was there a modification of the style?
Master Ho: There was actually no change. Yip Man learned from Chan Wah Shun
before. But master Chan died early. Later, Yip Man was introduced to Leung
Bik and discovered he was Leung Jan's son. So he kept learning Wing Chun.
Master Leung Bik is the one who taught Yip Man the details of Wing Chun--more
Question: I have heard that Wing Chun was developed from Ng Mui by watching
a snake and a crane or a fox and a crane. Do you have any comment about
Master Ho: The credit for this system does not go to Ng Mui but to Yim Wing
Chun because the art was improved by her. Ng Mui was Yim Wing Chun's instructor.
Ng Mui developed the Wing Chun art but Yim Wing Chun improved it. What we
practice today is based on the ideas and improvements of Yim Wing Chun. This
is why it is called Wing Chun.
Question: What about the weapons? Are they important?
Master Ho: Before there were guns, the weapons were important. Now weapons
training is not that essential. Today, the hands are more important. But
it is the same concept. Whether it is the hands or weapons, it is the same
structure and position.
Question: How is it that you speak so clearly about Wing Chun?
Master Ho: Well, I've studied Wing Chun and its theory for over thirty years.
I have spent my whole life researching the theory and principles of this
Question: Concerning Wing Chun being just a fighting system, how can we call
Wing Chun a complete system without the religious elements.?
Master Ho: Now if you are talking about a spiritual level like in religion,
then no. But if you speak of a spiritual part of Wing Chun--then yes. For
both the physical and spiritual must improve together. But if you try to
place Wing Chun in the category of religion, with that type of development,
then no. You should not think that Wing Chun is religious and spiritual.
In another way these two elements are balanced within the art.
Question: Besides natural breathing when you are practicing, do you have
different types of breathing exercises for developing you Ch'i?
Master Ho: We do not use any special forms or techniques of breathing. Everything
should be natural to make your Ch'i flow.
Question: Did grandmaster Yip Man teach the students at the beginning of
his teaching career differently than near the end?
Master Ho: Of course there is a difference in the way of his teaching. For
example, when you just graduate from college and begin to teach, you have
little experience. But from then onward, you learn better. Just like teaching
Kung Fu; at the beginning you are less experienced. Your way of teaching
Question: Did Yip Man teach anybody else besides you the complete system
of Wing Chun?
Master Ho: Everyone learned the whole system, but it depends upon the individual
whether he can digest the system or not. That is a different story. If I
give all of you a subject and ask you to write a composition, you will write
your own way. Some will write differently than others. It's the same idea.
Also, it depends how long you learn the system. If one learns the three forms
in two weeks and someone else learns the forms in three years--the difference
is already there. In the Wing Chun system, there is only three forms, one
dummy form, Six and a half point Staff, and Bot Jaam Do set. If you want
to learn the motions, it will take you a half year. But if a good student
takes his time and learns the forms correctly, a little is better than one
who learns too much.
Question: Master Ho, we appreciate your efforts in speaking to us and setting
the record straight. I would like to thank you on behalf of everyone for
answering these questions.
Master Ho: Thank You.