1999 SEMINAR WITH MASTER HO KAM MING
INTRODUCTION BY CURT JAMES
Master Ho Kam Ming was a senior student of Grandmaster Yip Man. He was one of the few to complete the Wing Chun system under his watchful eye. Master Ho is known for many outstanding qualities including his knowledge of Wing Chun, adherence to fundamentals and the training of full contact fighters. His fighting teams have received considerable recognition in the past, bringing notoriety to Wing Chun in Southeast Asia. Master Ho is now retired from teaching. Passing on Wing Chun to the new generation are senior students John Xie, Augustine Fong, Lui Ming Fai, Anton Tou, Philip Hoi, Louisa Chow and Henry Ho, to name just a few.* Ho Kam Ming Wing Chun is very much alive in Macau, Hong Kong and the West today.
This introduction does little justice in presenting Ho Kam Ming. However, knowing a little about him and his past accomplishments can help us to understand aspects of the present discourse. His ideal of perfection and adhering to Yip Man's teaching lies at the heart of many of his comments. Master Ho explains Wing Chun has been "watered-down" by many after Yip Man's death. He scolds those sifu "making money" from Wing Chun, not caring if the student improves or not. Yet Master Ho also maintains all are doing their best with what they received. "I consider all Wing Chun practitioners family members."
There were a number of highlights during this seminar. His opinion on weapons work and their non-influence in the development of hand combat caught many off guard. Regarding Turning Stance (Chor Ma) he said: "You turn to generate power as a force; the whole body turns, not just part of the body." "After you got that right, then you need to speed up more so that you can generate the power. You don't want to stay in that kind of (slow) stage forever." This observation is a key point and can change the way Wing Chun forms are executed in the future. Master Ho sums up his aim for this special weekend: "The purpose of this seminar is to show the most correct way to practice Wing Chun..."
Sifu Augustine Fong began the seminar by introducing Master Ho Kam Ming as one of the best students of Grandmaster Yip Man. He says, "Well, I can say that because this is a fact." "And everybody else in Wing Chun would say so too." His classmates in attendance were then introduced: Buddy Wu, Randy Li, Cuu Long and Kenneth Kwok. As noted, there is a Macao contingent present today and many of Master Ho's students are teaching all around the world. Augustine Fong acted as translator for most of the seminar, fielding questions and translating answers from Master Ho to the awaiting group. Later sifu Fong's classmates assisted in this capacity. What follows should be considered a loose translation of a dialogue with Master Ho. It is at this point Master Ho Kam Ming begins to speak...
Master Ho: I've been here in Tucson three times already. Many of you have heard me speak on principles and theories of Wing Chun. Most of you might be new, so you can ask me about Wing Chun. Later on, we are going to show you some demonstrations. Do you have any questions? If you don't know any principles or theory now, there is a chance to ask me, I will answer you the best I can.
Question: In the Siu Lim Tau form, what is the simple idea that we are trying to emphasize or practice?
Master Ho: In Siu Lim Tau the main thing is to learn how to control your own motion. If you are able to control your motion, in the future you will be able to control anybody (the opponent) as you wish.
Question: Can I ask about the "five elders" going around talking about Wing Chun? Are you part of them?
Master Ho: (Chuckles) Oh, I am not qualified. If you ask me about the five elders, that is before the Qing dynasty, (laughter).
Question: No, I mean the people in Wing Chun right now going around doing seminars: Yip Chun, William Cheung...
Master Ho: I don't know who are considered the five eldest Wing Chun people right now. I learned from Yip Man three and a half years, and taught for him for another three and a half years, totaling seven years. During that period of time I didn't see Yip Man teach anyone. Where do the (five) elders come from? Nowadays, Wing Chun is watered down to the point that it can't be watered down any more. I would like everybody to go back to the line and do right Wing Chun; don't water it down any more.
Question: What are important practices for internal development?
Master Ho: If you are talking about Wing Chun, Wing Chun is just a fist (style), you learn offense and defense.
Question: For full contact application, in tournaments they make you wear these big plastic (gloves), how do you apply... it makes it harder to apply Wing Chun when there are gloves on your hands. How do you apply it?
Master Ho: Just practice more. The opponent has gloves too, you just need to practice. You will be able to use it.
Question: Can you talk a little about the movements for fighting as represented by the three forms Siu Lim Tau, Chum Kiu and Biu Jee?
Master Ho: Three forms in Wing Chun are equally important. If you just know the first form, your level is first level. If you know the second form, you just apply the application a little bit more than the first. It's like that.
Question: There are so many lineages that claim they have their own different kind of Wing Chun. When Yip Man became so good, how much of that was he himself, and how much was it the unique tradition that he came from? Compared to other kinds of Wing Chun?
Master Ho: Wing Chun passed down to Yip Man. He is the best one because he is the only one to learn the (complete) system. His classmates did not finish it. Yip Man had sixteen classmates, fifteen are learning inside mainland China. Yip Man's latest learning is in Hong Kong. What Yip Man learned in Hong Kong was not from Chan Wah Shun; it is (from) Leung Bik. Leung Bik is the one that finished the system for Yip Man.
Question: Some of the critics say that Leung Bik did not exist. That it was a made up story.
Master Ho: That's not true. Leung Bik is the second son of Leung Jan.
Question: He is the second son, but they claim he didn't learn Wing Chun.
Master Ho: Chan Wah Shun is not an educated person; he just knew how to apply Wing Chun. And when he taught Yip Man, Yip Man did not learn the principles that good. But Leung Bik, in Hong Kong, he is an educated person. He taught Yip Man theories and principles. That's why Yip Man can put the two together and make it work. The older generation, like the big (dai) si-hing, the oldest classmates, are not necessarily the best to learn from. When a teacher comes up to teach, from the beginning, he might not have enough experience (to teach). That's why the people in the first generation are like testing the water. Later on, when the teacher teaches long enough, he gets more experience. Then the people learn better in later generations. Now, everybody here is a Wing Chun practitioner, no one will be exactly the same in Wing Chun skill. Because (your) Wing Chun is like an individual fingerprint (of the person), everybody interprets Wing Chun in their own way. That's why (your) Wing Chun won't be the same as everybody else. But the foundation of Wing Chun-that has to be the same. Otherwise you won't be able to develop that skill. Now, as I stand here in this room, everybody's basic foundation is not the same. One person learns one year and becomes a teacher, another learns three years and become a teacher; every teacher is at a different skill level. And Yip Man teaches everybody, not everybody learns the basics the same way. Some people learn faster and some slower. But today I wish to show you how the basics of Wing Chun should look; I hope you can catch it.
Question: Is there a closed door kicking form or set?
Master Ho: There is no such thing as closed door, if it is a closed door, how can you kick? (laughter) Do you mean by "closed-door" like people giving money to sifu, taking him into the room and closing the door, to see what they teach him?
Master Ho: If you have the principles, the truth of what I teach, you don't have to close the door to keep people from seeing. If you don't have the truth, then you have to close the door so people won't see you teach. The way I teach, it's not for money; if you are up to the level, if you are ready, I will advance you to another level. But outsiders, for money, you will learn something, and tomorrow, you pay more, they will teach you more. They don't care whether you can do it or not. If you have the money, they will teach you. If you can do it, I will teach you, if you can't, you will not advance (for yourself).
Question: I've heard it said a lot of places that Wing Chun was designed to learn more quickly than other martial arts. It seems to be that is not true; it's a life study as much as any other martial art. Was there a time in Wing Chun development when it was simpler, or less developed than more recent times?
Master Ho: It's based on how much you practice. Wing Chun is easy to learn, but hard to get good, everybody knows that. It all depends how much you practice and how much your sifu teaches you. Is he teaching you correctly? Are you practicing correctly?
Question: Let's say, I learn ten more years-I could never be as good as my master, right? And then 20 years down the road, I bring somebody up, and supposedly they can never be as good as me. How does over a hundred or two hundred years, how does a style keep from getting lost?
Master Ho: There is no such thing as you can never be better than you sifu. You are not better than your sifu because your sifu does not know how to teach you. It's supposed to be the student is better than the sifu. That means the sifu is good. Some good teachers know how to teach people, but can't get any qualified students to observe their teachings. Some good students improve fast, but can't find a qualified teacher. Supposedly, when you learn Wing Chun, it's "one to one" teaching; one person can't teach 80 people in one group. Look at Sticky Hands, the teacher must be one to one. If you can do that, it's guaranteed that student can be better. He can improve in one year.
Question: When the student becomes better than the teacher, how does the teacher improve?
Master Ho: The teacher must figure out how to make the student better than him, more (than the reverse). That improves him as a teacher.
Question: Chi Sau is important part in Wing Chun. Is there anything else important?
Master Ho: The Dummy is important. Assume the Dummy is your opponent--you can adjust the (center) line, and learn how to close the gap. That also can bring improvement.
Question: In what way does the weapons skill help your boxing skills?
Master Ho: The two weapons cannot help your form, because the forms are internal, (part of who you are), the weapons are external, (an extension of you). (Regarding) the form, you must digest it for yourself, the weapons cannot help you.
Question: But doesn't it help you with your inch power, like the Long Pole?
Master Ho: There is no such thing called "inch power." In Wing Chun, if you can generate power in any position, even if you touch the subject, you can generate real power. So, you don't need even an inch, (even) zero can be used.
Question: What is the difference between Wing Chun and other martial arts?
Master Ho: The main difference between Wing Chun and other martial arts is the other martial arts "shoot" out the other hand, but Wing Chun explodes the power. That's the difference in the techniques. The application of all the technique in Wing Chun is not using muscle, but bone joint power.
Question: Over the past few years, a lot of Chi Sau competitions have started to come up. Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing?
Master Ho: That is not what is called Chi Sau, that's only kid play.
Question: Is the Bot Jaam Do equally applied against long weapons and short weapons?
Master Ho: In the old time, the long weapons were not executed on the ground, but (mostly) on horseback. That's why they used long weapons. Later on, in the opera, in movies, they changed it to use long weapons on the floor; but before it's (mainly) on horseback.
Question: Is that the reason why the Long Pole form has such a broad stance? Not like traditional Wing Chun stances?
Master Ho: It's not about the big stance, because, for example, you are a short person, no matter how much you stand up, you are not bigger than the tall person. But the weapons, the main thing they talk about is the distance to the attacking point. (It's about) how you reach the target. You can use no stance (if you choose).
Question: When you are doing the Siu Lim Tau, in order to build up your internal power, as time goes on, doing it longer and longer, is there a limit to standing there, an hour or two hours doing the form?
Master Ho: The main thing is how good you can control your hand. If you are able to control your hand in three minutes, that's enough. If you are not able to control your hand, then even an hour is not good enough. Fifteen minutes is standard. If you are the teacher, you should be able to do it for 45 minutes.
Question: There has been some speculation about Bot Jaam Do, the origins of it, and the fact that it was developed later on in the Wing Chun system by Yip Man?
Master Ho: The Bot Jaam Do form already existed in the Yim Wing Chun generation. Does anybody know (who is) Fong Sai Yuk? The Butterfly Knives are from Fong Sai Yuk's grandfather, Miu Hin-one of the Five Elders of the Shaolin Temple. The Butterfly Knives come from the meat cutter. It starts from there. And then Miu Hin is the one who taught the Butterfly... the meat cutter method to Yim Wing Chun. Yim Wing Chun combined the knife method with Wing Chun to form the Wing Chun Butterfly Knife. Some people say the Butterfly Knife comes from Leung Yee Tai generation, but before that Yim Wing Chun had the knife form.
Question: I would like to elaborate on what someone had mentioned earlier: he was asking about the weapons and how they relate to boxing skills. Is it true that if you do the weapons forms, even though one is inside and the other outside, it adds additional coordination which helps with your boxing skills?
Master Ho: No, because with the forms, you already have that kind of ability. You don't need the weapons to help. The weapons, in the old times, people carry weapons for protection. Just like now, people carry guns.
Question: Doesn't the footwork of the weapons form help the fighter?
Master Ho: No, because the hand forms, you go forward; the Pole form you go sideways. How can sideways be better than a forward stance?
Question: But what about the Butterfly Knives?
Master Ho: Yes, it helps a little bit. But you can't rely on the Bot Jaam Do to do your Wing Chun the same.
Question: What is the reason then for completing the weapons nowadays? If they don't help our footwork and they don't help our hand work, and they are not good enough for protection anymore, why do we continue to study them?
Master Ho: That's the art of the style or system. If you are buying the picture, you are buying the art. If, the way you say it, the weapons are no use, then with guns existing, why (even) study boxing?
Question: Since people have limited time (and lacking a partner), what's the best thing to work on?
Master Ho: By yourself, you can develop your own footwork (ma bo), how to do the punch right and do the dummy. If you have no partner to do Sticky Hand with, that's what you can develop.
Question: In Chi Sau, where should your mind be? What should you be thinking of when you do Chi Sau.
Master Ho: Feeling (sensitivity), if you feel you can hit, then hit. If you can feel not to get hit, don't get hit. Don't think about what you are going to do, otherwise you lose. You see the little thing, but lose the bigger picture. If you think about how to hit people, planning your technique, you are too late.
Question: How do you deal with an opponent that is trying to...(inaudible)
Master Ho: If the guy is bigger than you, to beat him you can use distance, timing, position, structure. Don't face force against force. You will be able to do it.
Question: Along the same line, I find in Chi Sau that you can use all those techniques and motions against somebody who is a lot stronger. How about when there is a gap, and they are just charging in? And the whole intent is to get on top?
Master Ho: Depends on the skill. Just like the bull fighter, the bull comes in so strong, you are able to use positioning. Duck away from the bull; then you can kill the bull. That's the same idea. In other words, you need more skill to do that. A lot of people say I can use four ounces of force against your thousand pounds. You know, leverage one pound against your ten pounds. But in Wing Chun, you don't need any (force); zero can equalize peoples force by using structure, by letting him go.
Question: How about side stepping? Is it usually better to step back, or to the side or does it not matter?
Master Ho: That's not quite right. If you go sideways, you are not attacking the person. Like Chum Kiu form, you walk sideways (like a crab), but in application you are not walking sideways; that is used forward. (One more thing), like the development of Chum Kiu, you step sideways and do Bong Sau, why do we go sideways? Because if you do it to the front, you become hopping, you are not touching the incoming force. But sideways you make yourself very steady, you stay in position. In application, when you meet the force coming to you, then you go forward, you won't be able to walk like this, you go straight forward. That's why we walk sideways.
Question: In the Chum Kiu "turn" (Chor Ma) the body is supposed to act as a unit. But beginners often have trouble. How should the beginner initiate the turn until they unite the body?
Master Ho: The main thing is the center of gravity. If you can control that, then when you turn, even if you do it slow in the beginning, it is ok. By the time you can control that center then you will be able to generate force. The perfect Wing Chun Chor Ma, it has to be straight. You see a lot of people leaning back; that is not the correct position. If you go like that, then that means your center of gravity is moving. And some people you see leaning forward, and doing that. Both are not the correct position. The perfect position is just straight, in the center, perpendicular to the ground; and then when you turn, you don't lean anywhere. That's called straight turning. That's the perfect turning position.
Question: Master Ho, is there any real Wing Chun in Mainland China today?
Master Ho: There is absolutely nothing there?
Master Ho: No one has learned the Wing Chun system in China. There is Wing Chun, but not perfect Wing Chun. Even in Hong Kong, Yip Man's very correct form, nowadays Hong Kong's Wing Chun, compared with Yip Man's Wing Chun, is totally different. The beginning of the watering down of Wing Chun came during Bruce Lee's time. When Bruce Lee became famous, everybody knew that Bruce Lee learned Wing Chun. At that time a lot of people started to teach to make money. And no matter how long they learned, they came out to teach to make money. That's when it all started. Nowadays, in Wing Chun, not many people can tell you why you do Siu Lim Tau like that. They can just teach you the motion. But they cannot tell you really why they do that motion.
Question: Has Master Ho ever met Sum Nung?
Master Ho: Yes I have met him. He's not correct Wing Chun. I have touched hands with Sum Nung. To me he's just like a kid. I controlled him, Sum Nung, going forward and back, I controlled him totally. He (also) got together with Yip Chun to teach Wing Chun. Yip Chun started learning Wing Chun when he was 57. At that time I was teaching already for over ten years. Wing Chun is like a sport, (endurance is a factor)--at the age of 57 how can you be that good? Yip Chun was teaching Wing Chun to make a living. That's why the classmates said nothing, because he is making a living. In the whole world, how many people can (really) teach? Now if you come here, I'm not going to tell you are wrong, but I want you to listen to what I have to say about correct Wing Chun.
Question: Is there anything being done to unify the Wing Chun styles of the world, to create one style?
Master Ho: Impossible. Unless you can come to me so I can tell you what is right and what is wrong. A lot of people are egomaniacs. They won't listen, so it's impossible to unite Wing Chun. Like (when) some of the Grandmasters are not correct, you cannot tell them, "This is not correct". Only the ones that come to these seminars, I can tell you: "That's not correct, that's right, that's wrong." If any of you wish to learn the right way, don't be shy, come out here, show me, I will correct you. But if you are shy, I can't tell you.
Question: After all these years, I felt the chi moving in my hands.
Master Ho: You shouldn't have too much of that (feeling). If you have some of the chi, you can feel it a little bit.
Question: After a half an hour I feel the chi. Do I go with it, or control it?
Master Ho: It all depends on how you think. If you think you can (feel or) do chi, you feel it. If you don't think that way, you don't feel anything.
(Siu Lim Tau demonstration)
Master Ho: The first motion (downward, double cross block), do you know what this motion is for? If people kick you... you use that to block. This technique is (used) when you are losing your balance, falling (forward)--when people try to kick you, that is when you use this. If you are standing (straight up and apply this), you won't be able to block (any) kicks. Some people think that is just a beginning movement. But that is the purpose. When you are losing your balance, and people are kicking you, your hands are like a paper cutter. Chop into the opponent's leg, to maintain and regain your balance.
Master Ho: The second motion, rolling upward, if people are holding your hands, punching, that's when the rolling hands (quan sau) come out to block. If you never practice rolling, your elbow will not be able to roll in that position. Then you will only be using muscle. If you are trying to force your way upward, you won't be able to block the punch. The rolling hand has to be rolling from the inside going out, to be able to free your hand. If you go straight up, you won't be able to free your hand.
Master Ho: Taan Sau: The hand should be open in the position, (moving) like a (straight) piece of stick. When the stick moves forward, there is no force or power at all. It's controlling the stick moving forward. From the beginning to the end (taan sau), the right position, when you circle up that is called wu sau. When you bring back the wu sau, don't just bring it back-use the elbow, bring it back in, pulling. Then fok sau, going forward; don't use muscle, use controlling. Three times, you do fok sau. After three times, you finish with paak sau, straight palm, etc.
Master Ho: The second part of the Siu Lim Tau: When you go down (gum sau), do not use the shoulder muscles; like the stick (analogy above), use the hand to stick to the ground. Do not use muscle. If you go straight down to the ground, your structure lines up, perpendicular to the ground, just like you use a stick to stick to the ground. Then the form (technique) penetrates. If you use muscle to hit down, it's only force from the muscles. You cannot penetrate the force if you are tight.
Master Ho: The double push in the back position: Look at this position. Why do you have to lift the hands up slightly? When people hold or grab you from behind, this is the break their hold. If you force your way out, you won't be able to do it. When you raise your hands up, it creates some distance for you; then there is room for you to attack. You press on the soft part of the opponent's body.
The double push to the front position: Also these motions are for shoulder attacks. If you don't do this motion right, when you push down, it's easy for people to break your arm. When you practice this movement (you execute it to the front); but when you apply it, it is to the side. If you apply this sideways, the opponent won't be able to break your elbow. That's why you need to practice these small details, otherwise if you do it wrong, you will hurt "yourself" and you don't even know why. When you practice, you see the motions in a certain position. But it's not necessarily the right position when you apply it.
Master Ho: The double fak sau (or fun sau): This is not for hitting two people at once. This is for shooting to people's neck to the front. This motion will help you to loosen up the joints. If you hit sideways, you will use the shoulder muscles. The application is to the front, but you develop or practice this to the side. When you do all these motions, it's not necessary to have an opponent (hitting him every time). It (sometimes) can be like a set up for the second (next) motion.
Master Ho: Double sinking Jaam sau: When you are blocking people with bong sau, the lower part of the body is open. This motion is for protection. When you see something attack you down, you have to put the elbow down first to protect the line.
Master Ho: Shooting fingers: In this technique the force penetrates to the fingertips. Then go down (haan sau). Sometimes when people punch you, your hand is on the top, you have to bring it down first before you can block. This motion, when (after) you hold the hand down, to learn how to stick to people's hand (ding sau), the hand go up together. That's the end of the second part of the Siu Lim Tau.
Master Ho: The third part of Siu Lim Tau: (He is skipping the pak sau and straight palm, ed). There is a Taan Sau and a Gaan Sau. Gaan sau is not to bump (block) people's hand away. Just go down to the position. Then you get that line, you block people's hands. When you have the inside line, then you can go up to attack.
Master Ho: Bong Sau: Bong Sau does not mean "to tie", like tying a knot. (It means) something like a birds wing. Bong sau is a "wing block". A lot of people think Bong sau is tying up the (opponents) hand. (There follows an analogy of an eagle fighting; when the attack is too close to the mouth, he must use his wing to block.)
Master Ho: Every Wing Chun technique goes to the centerline. The human hand (arm/sau) has three joints: shoulder, elbow and wrist. If people attack this section, the hand must be able to block. If you use a "wing" block, then you won't block the centerline attack.
Master Ho: Twit sau is brushing hand. Twit sau is not for hitting (escaping) peoples grabbing hand. It's like sharpening a knife. When the hand is grabbed by people, you won't be able to get away. When you do twit sau, you have to turn one hand while you cut down. You have to bring one hand up or back while the other goes down; both should be done together.
Question: Which joint of the arm is the most important in Siu Lim Tau.
Master Ho: All the joints can generate power. There are six joints: the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. Totally six joints to generate power. If you are not using the six joints (bone joints), you are not using the power right (from the ground). Like jumping, you use the ground to jump up. When you explode your power, you use the six joints, together. In this way you perform explode power. Your punch will be solid, stronger. If you are using your own force or muscles, that's not as good. Wing Chun uses the ground along with the joints and full body unity. That's why it's much better.
Master Ho: (Also) if you lean forward, close enough to touch the opponent, it is wrong. Even if he is blocking you, the attack should not reach the person. Now, when you do single Sticky Hands, even as he is blocking you, you are not supposed to hit him. That's the right position. Why is this? Because that is how you learn to generate power. If you want to (actually) hit, then you can step forward. This is only an exercise. Do you understand? Single Sticky Hands is for developing and feeling the motion.
In the first motion (Taan Sau/straight palm), you hit and the hand goes down, for balance, do not lean forward. If you lean forward you lose the structure and center of gravity, you lose your balance. If you do this, break this habit. (In this exercise) you are not practicing to hit people. No matter how strong your partner hits, you must equalize his force to block him. Even though your hand blocks downward, your body will remain straight. That is the right position. If you reach the person and your fingers touch (the partner)--that is not the right position. This is the way to develop your Single Sticky Hands; the purpose is to learn to generate power. When you use force, to develop your motion, when you punch, don't go all the way.
Question: I notice after the palm strike, my partner blocks and his hand goes...
Master Ho: You relax and still maintain the "touch". This is how you control people's hands and attack. (But you need to open that up.) It's like a singer, if the singer opens his mouth so small, he can't make a good song. But the good singer will always open his mouth, and make a good, loud song. That's a good singer. In Single Sticky Hands it is the same. If done too small, you won't be able to do the right position. If you let yourself "open up," you will have a better sticky hands position. This doesn't mean you elbow flies out (fay jong).
Question: Where does the power come for drilling (force)?
Master Ho: Everybody has it. You just have to learn how to use the right force. No matter how much force is coming in, you learn how to equalize it. That means controlling your hand motion. It's about controlling.
Question: Does the drilling power to equalize come from the elbow pushing forward?
Master Ho: It's not only the elbow, but the entire body unity (structure).
Question: On a Taan Sau, should the position be flat, some people do it with the fingers pointing upward?
Master Ho: It should be flat, horizontal. This is called a "bridge hand". If the Taan Sau is like this (pointing up), there is nobody on the road anymore. If a semi-truck goes on the road and comes to a point like that, with the leverage, the road will collapse. If the bridge curves up like that, that is not Taan Sau. You can hit yourself (in the face) easily. Doing it right will retain your structure, not doing it like that. It has to be horizontal. Then you can focus the force on the wrist.
(Demonstration, Master Ho corrects one of the participants Single Sticky Hands. He notes that he must feel the power to correct a person's sticky hands. He gives various instructions to different students to correct their execution.)
Master Ho: If you want to be good, focus on Sticky Hands. Work on the punch first, that is the foundation. (When practicing the punch) the main this is don't use force; put your hand and touch the target. Make sure you reach the target. This is the right position to punch.
Question: How about my stance?
Master Ho: Your knees do not go in. A little bit more. The knees go inward, but not tight (in), flexible. That is why we call it Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma, the knees have to go in. The correct stance is based on your size. Keep your head straight.
Question: (The basic punch in Single Sticky Hands) When you are striking, are you dropping your energy, center of gravity, or bringing it up?
Master Ho: The forearm should be straight, stabilizing. Don't use any force. The whole forearm pushes out, steadily. Use the elbow to push out. Control your hand. Sink the elbow and push. The elbow controls the whole thing.
Question: Can I ask about how some (Wing Chun) styles lean back? Which is correct, to drop (the center of gravity) straight down, or (to lean back)?
Master Ho: If you have the three forms, and you feel completely balanced, if you are straight down, you won't fall anywhere. If you lean to one side, you will fall (easily). That's the center of gravity you must learn.
Question: I have a question. Several people asked me last night to ask you this: Can you talk about anything you know about how Chi Sau started? Who got the idea for it? It's such a strange exercise and everyone always wonders how it started.
Master Ho: Chi Sau was created by our founder Yim Wing Chun. First of all, she had the three forms. Then she started looking at those three forms and how to apply them in combat. From there, with this idea, she developed it (Chi Sau).
Question: Does that apply to Single Sticky Hands, or only to Double Sticky Hands?
Master Ho: Both single and double Sticky Hands has the basic concept of combat. However, Single Sticky Hands is mainly for learning how to use force. Double Sticky Hands is about how to gain control and use it. Single Sticky Hands is how to apply the force.
Question: But both began with Yim Wing Chun?
Master Ho: Yes. Everybody knows that Wing Chun is famous for Sticky Hands. However the correct idea of Sticky Hands is not just sticking your hand to your opponent. But you use Chi Sau to feel and know what your opponent is doing.
Question: You talked about the one inch punch, and that there is also zero inches. Where does that explode power come from?
Master Ho: The force comes from the joints. Just like holding a snake, the snake is very flexible. However, when the joints are put together, it can spring up. That's where the force comes from.
Question: I know all the joints work together like a wet towel, but...
Master Ho: It's not quite similar to what the towel is doing because the towel does not have that springing power. You generate that springing power. That spring power comes from the joints.
Question: And you squeeze the fist at the end to generate the power?
Master Ho: That is correct. You send out the force at the last minute. If you tighten up there is no way you can generate that force.
Question: Chen style Taiji people like to say they also like to explode with fajing. How does Wing Chun bone joint power differ from fajing?
Master Ho: The fajing is the same. However the difference between the two is that in taiji there are lots of theories. They have the theory but we need to see if people can do it. In Wing Chun we see people that can perform. That's why, for example, people say they can actually jump up to the roof from here. But can they actually do that? Reality verses what is in writing.
Question: You mentioned that in Chum Kiu the reason you move sideways was you would bounce too much if you were going front to back. Does that mean when you are practicing by yourself, without a partner, you should not practice stepping bong sau going forward because it would develop a bad bouncing habit?
Master Ho: Later on we will perform Chum Kiu. Then I will explain it to you. (Right now) I would like some of you to perform the one inch punch and describe what you feel?
(There are various comments at this point)
Question: When you are doing the lower part in Siu Lim Tau, are you more concentrated on the elbow holding up the line, or the hand?
Master Ho: You focus on the entire arm, everything, not just on one part.
Question: What is the main thing you are supposed to get out of it?
Master Ho: Control. You learn how to control yourself before you attempt to control other people.
Question: Is the hand always in motion (first part of Siu Lim Tau)?
Master Ho: It's always in motion, slowly, and make sure everything is under control. It doesn't speed up faster, or anything like that. Everything is under your own control.
Question: What are the general Wing Chun ideas about "closing the gap"?
Master Ho: You have to have the appropriate distance, whatever you want to find. You have to have the proper distance and that is within your range. Whatever you do make sure that whatever technique you want to apply, it is within your range of what you want to do.
Question: Is there a difference between closing the gap in training and closing the gap in actual fighting?
Master Ho: There is no difference. The most important part in Wing Chun is Sticky Hands. If you cannot close the gap, then it's ok to touch the persons hand or bridge. Closing the gap is to get close and eventually try to do Sticky Hands.
Question: I have a two part question, maybe it's the same question. Conceptually, what is the significant difference between Yip Man Wing Chun and other kinds of Wing Chun, and Ho Kam Ming Wing Chun and other kinds of Yip Man Wing Chun?
Master Ho: All the Wing Chun families came from Yip Man. The difference is whether the sifu learned everything. Also how much experience he has and how much experience in teaching he has. That makes the difference. Some of them did not learn it correctly. That's the difference between the correct system and the incorrect system. The biggest difference between Yip Man's generation and ours, Yip Man once told me, is that I am successful in teaching because there are all kinds of tournaments and the students learn by touching hands and even fighting with other styles.
At Yip Man's time, there were not many tournaments. So I see that giving others tournament experience is going to benefit our students and benefit those teaching them. The reason Yip Man made that comment is because, he also wants to emphasize the fact to be a sifu, a good sifu, that you have to produce a student that is equal to you or better than you. Then you are a successful sifu. In that respect, Yip Man's comment, that we are showing our students a new horizon, that they have a change to go outside the Wing Chun world, to go to other tournaments and win. However, I want to emphasize, as sifu and also as students, the emphasis is not on winning. We have to look at how much time we have in our own practice, how much time that our students spend in practice. Also, each of us has a different age difference, and also health wise, we are different. So, we all want to learn everything correctly, so that within our limitation, we can show other people how Wing Chun has influenced our lives. That's the most important thing. Instead of always thinking about how winning is the best thing in the world.
Question: Yesterday I inquired about a standardization of Wing Chun. And because of the diversity it would be basically very hard to do so. As far as tournaments are concerned, if people were part of a governing body in establishing parameters of Chi Sau competition, whatever, would that not assist in the consistency through the styles?
Master Ho: A lot of times people have the wrong concept of looking at the outward movement, the outside movements. Every year I went to China to demonstrate the forms. What happened was when I finished the whole Siu Lim Tau, nobody even realized I was finished, because I was stationary. In other forms (styles), people (watching) are clapping their hands. A lot of people have misconceptions about martial arts itself even.
To design rules for Sticky Hands (competition), it's just depending on the people (in charge); it's a thing about having that feeling of accomplishment (for participants). However, there's no particular way I see that we can make up (genuine) rules for Sticky Hands. If you are good in Sticky Hands, if you lose, you will know that you lose. The person that wins, you know that you win. You don't have to have people to judge that.
Question: I understand that. But last year at the martial arts (AAU) competitions, they had a Wing Chun division, and the schools that were creating the rules for it was not one of the higher ranked schools for knowledge. So this is what I'm inquiring about. If they are creating the governing rules for how to participate, then it's a lesser quality of what should be.
Master Ho: A lot of times the people that make up the rules, we cannot change their minds. And if you look at what they did, even in some of their forms, they are already doing something wrong. They cannot change. What we can do in the Wing Chun system is we want to teach it in the correct way. In what has been done before in Southeast Asia tournaments, in Hong Kong and Macao Wing Chun circles, they have selected our teams--everybody competes within the Wing Chun circle. So there have already been enough fights around the Wing Chun circles to prove that our system is the one that always represents the Wing Chun to go out. So we don't have to stand up again to prove that we are right and other people are wrong.
Master Ho: We are the ones to represent all the Wing Chun systems. We are the ones that won all in Southeast Asia.
Question: You mentioned how Yip Man evolved (as a teacher) and Wing Chun evolved, but how have you evolved as a teacher over the years? Can you share that with us?
Master Ho: With my teaching experience Wing Chun as a system has improved more.
Question: As far as methods, how has it changed?
Master Ho: The system is improving in several different ways. One is that while you have a good master, you cannot be a carbon copy of your master. When you learn from a master you have to also think about what you have learned and know how to use it. It's very much a mental process. Also, you learn from your students. Students may ask questions about how you should do this and that. So by teaching, you try to analyze each of the movements very carefully so you can teach and your students can understand. Grandmaster Yip Man didn't have the time, because he has so many students, he didn't have the time to teach you everything in detail, and teach you how to teach. Through teaching experience, he also learned the different meaning of Wing Chun and what is behind it, and so on--through teaching and through the questions from students and also from classmates. Sometimes you may understand one aspect of the system and your classmates may think of some others. So you always have to have an open mind so to see what is better.
Question: Would you say that competition is bad for Chi Sau practice or do you think it is a natural part of Chi Sau?
Master Ho: Chi Sau is an exercise in Wing Chun and this is designed for the Wing Chun system. It's not designed for tournaments. If you want to have a Chi Sau tournament, you cannot use tournament rules to limit Chi Sau. Otherwise, that will be watered down. In a tournament, in Sticky Hands, by the very name, you are supposed to stick to your opponent. If that is one of the rules, then that is not the entire Sticky Hands. Sometimes you may not want to stick to your opponent. He may want to stick to you, but you may not want to stick to him. In that case, because of the tournament rules, you will be limiting yourself. Remember one thing: Chi Sau is designed for the Wing Chun system, not for tournaments.
Question: Under (the concept of) all motions can be applied in Chi Sau, if you want to get better at a certain motion, should you intentionally practice it in Chi Sau?
Master Ho: The movements that you pay attention to are the three forms. Those are the basics. Then there are some, like "closing the gap," that may not be in the form itself. However, your sifu should demonstrate how those other steps need to be emphasized. If your sifu cannot demonstrate those, and he doesn't even know, then first pay attention to the form itself. A lot of techniques are limited to your sifu's ability. If your sifu never learned this, than he will never be able to teach you that. If you take a person that only teaches high school and even if he teaches forty years of high school, this will not make that person a college professor-because he does not have the qualification to do that.
Question: Can you talk about the floor and the connection of the joints, and how to maximize the use of the floor for your force and structure?
Master Ho: First you have to have the correct posture, before you think about such relationship. Your sifu can help you to see if you are in the correct posture. Then you have to have experience with yourself to see if, every movement you have, whether you are stable or not, that the topic, you have to experience yourself-and if everything is done right, your posture is right then every movement will be supported by that. Then to this experience, you have to add on experience to it, with more practice. Then it will be good.
Question: Well, if we have great teachers, obviously we have Wing Chun martial arts brothers and sisters that we have a great deal of respect for, because great teachers produce more than one. Obviously, Yip Man is looked on as the greatest teacher of the twentieth century. Can you tell me who are the brothers and sisters you respect the most?
Master Ho: I respect all my Wing Chun brothers. All of them are sifu, maybe some of them may have less years (than others), but that does not disqualify them to teach, those that have less years. The purpose of this seminar is to show the most correct way to practice Wing Chun. And that's what I wish to do. I do not want to say who is better or who is worse because we are all in the Wing Chun circle, depending on how many years that you have. I don't want to comment on those people that may have less number of years, criticizing them that they are inferior. They are doing their best.
Question: I know we all have some heroes in our training. I was just curious which ones he felt helped him the most?
Master Ho: I consider all the Wing Chun practitioners family members. I did not develop a special relationship with one person or another. Of course, I looked up to Grandmaster Yip Man. Anybody else that practices Wing Chun I also respect and appreciate the help.
Question: If you are defending against an attack, can you discuss a little bit the advantages of as soon as you feel something, kind of get off and attacking? As opposed to letting him in a little and cutting him off at the last minute?
Master Ho: Why does someone want to attack you? (Are you talking about) in street fighting or Chi Sau? You need to determine yourself and the timing. Whether you can manage to block and attack. That's your counter point.
Question: So, you are saying pretty much as soon as possible?
Master Ho: It depends on what is the comfort range.
Question: I was lead to believe that sometimes in order to work on your own timing, to sometimes let the attack come in, and then at the very last possible moment cut it off?
Master Ho: My advice is don't wait till the last minute because you really don't know that persons timing.
Question: How are you able to get so much power sitting down (doing Chi Sau)?
Master Ho: I didn't use much force at all. (laughter) The secret is the gravitation of force, I'm using that, if you push in or down, I just transfer it to the ground.
Question: Can he give some pointers on Kicking?
Master Ho: In theory the kicks are better than hands because they have longer range and also are more powerful tools. However, we should not forget when we are kicking, we are only standing on one foot, and that's vulnerable. So my advice is to practice the hands first. And wait till we (have that), then we do the kicks. Otherwise if your hands are no good, your kicks will be worse.
Question: Does the knee perform the same or similar function in kicking and Chi Gerk as the elbow does in punching and Chi Sau?
Master Ho: In the hand technique the elbow is the most important because that's how you shoot the force out. However, the knee cannot be compared to the elbow; when you kick you have to relax and use the whole leg to kick. The difference between kicking and punches or hand movement is that the punch goes pretty much straight while the kick comes from the ground and goes up, uses an upward movement.
Question: What is the most recent or last thing that you learned in the art of Wing Chun?
Master Ho: The last thing is that after you know how to control yourself, then you know how to control the other person. If we can control the other person, we can do ok.
Question: What is the role of the triangle in Wing Chun. Wing Chun is based on the triangle?
Master Ho: Although a lot of people talk about the triangle, when the triangle moves, the vertices of the triangle moves. It goes around as a circle to protect the upper body. Concerning the Bong Sau, and down from here, look at how the elbow travels. It covers in a circle fashion. It will be like a cone shape.
Question: Can you talk about the practical ideas in training for full contact as opposed to street fighting?
Master Ho: Again, if you practice the form really well, there is special training that we have in Wing Chun called Sticky Hands which makes it different than other martial artists and their forms. They only have in their system everything you need "before" you make contact with your partner or opponent. However, they do not have anything similar to Sticky Hands that allows you to experience what happens after you are in touch with your opponent. From that point on the Sticky Hands part takes over, and you go from there. My advice is to go back to the form, practice the form, and also practice Sticky Hands because that will give us the before and after contact experience.
Question: How do you apply the Sticky Hands if you are wearing gloves?
Master Ho: You have to have good skills because you have to adapt to the fact that you are wearing gloves. So you have to modify your skills a little bit. You have to have the skills first, then you can apply them to (wearing) gloves.
Question: Are there any similarities between Pushing Hands and Stick Hands like other styles have?
Master Ho: Taiji mainly goes in a circle movement to Push Hands. When we are doing Sticky Hands, it's going in a circle (Taan, Bong, Fok), however Wing Chun also has the ability to shoot out. That's why we have the circle and the straight, at the same time. That makes the art a little bit superior.
Question: I'm not Chinese, so I can't speak Chinese but I see a lot of plaques up there with a lot of Wing Chun sayings and a lot of Wing Chun principles. Can you give us some of those principles and demonstrate how they work, the importance behind them?
Master Ho: It's like this: after you learn how to write, everyone will write a letter that is (a little bit) different. So there are a lot of Wing Chun principles. However, we can also select the one that you think is most important. Some of those that you think may not be that important, you can ignore them. There are lots of those principles; you can select the ones that are more important.
Question: When you are not in contact, certain styles are trying to close the gap. Other styles seem to be more comfortable while not having contact. For that reason should you wait until they come into (your space) with you or go ahead and try to initiate?
Master Ho: We should move forward to close the gap because a lot of other styles, they are afraid to do Sticky Hands with us (engage us), so we want to ask them to play our game--we play our own game.
Question: Do we walk in straight, side step, or triangle walk?
Master Ho: What you need to do is go in step by step (correctly). That is my experience. You shouldn't (just) rush in. Otherwise you lose your benefit, sensitivity, etc. You walk in, but you force them to do Sticky Hands.
Question: In the Thirteen Keys of Wing Chun, "If you move, I arrive first," is there a reply after?
Master Ho: That principle, that actually comes from Praying Mantis (Tong Long). However, for practical use, you should go in and force them, instead of waiting to hit.
Question: What's your opinion of combining or mixing different styles with Wing Chun?
Master Ho: You will end up worse than learning just one style. By mixing those up you... (don't get it). Suppose you learn ten different styles, and learn from ten different sifu, when you are in real combat, which style are you going to use? You have to make a decision, and that is the consideration part. Suppose you are in a fight and then you think, well, I'll choose to use another style than Wing Chun. Suppose that person is a Wing Chun person. Then your hands will be outside and their hands inside; your worse (off) than sticking to Wing Chun. A lot of us sitting in here have learned something else besides Wing Chun. In a real life situation when you have just a split second to apply something, you have to choose one, you cannot choose two, to defend yourself. In that case you want to focus on one thing that is the most efficient; you pick one style and focus on that. You have to believe in the system. When it comes down to a fight, or in practice, you're just trying to hit your opponent, and your opponent is trying to hit you, at the same spot, no matter how you hit it's going to be the same place. You don't really have to care if something is coming in, you don't have to analyze it. Know that something is coming, and how to solve that problem. Some people have a misconception that the more styles I learned the more secrets I know, and then the better I am. I want to emphasize that no matter what they are doing, or what style is coming, it's part of their body. You have to just know that, and that's enough. So you don't have to know a secret to counter that.
Question: When Grandmaster Yip Man taught the Bot Jaam Do did he teach it in sections, like training sets or one form?
Master Ho: I was taught section by section because you have to understand some of the beginning part to understand the other parts. So that's how you learn everything-step by step. A lot of people want to jump into the Bot Jaam Do early in their Wing Chun practice, and it's really dangerous. You are holding a weapon and you don't know how to control it. There is also a difference between the positioning of the hand movements in our three forms and the Bot Jaam Do. Using your hands to protect yourself is here. If you are using the same position for Bot Jaam Do it's going to be wrong. (Reference to size of blades) If you hold the knife here, it will be correct. If you use it in (like) the hand, you are opening your center up. If you see the hand and knife are (not) the same thing, you would know.
Question: Are there sectional differences between your Knife form and Wong Shun Leung's Knife form?
Master Ho: When I learned Bot Jaam Do, through Grandmaster Yip Man, I learned it all by myself. Wong Shun Leung had not learned his Bot Jaam Do, at that time. I have never tried to find out when and where he learned his Bot Jaam Do. I'm not going to comment on that. I have the opportunity to watch video tapes of Yip Chun's Bot Jaam Do. In his tape he shows the Do goes sideways like a rolling bowl.
Question: What do you think of twirling the Bot Jaam Do backwards?
Master Ho: Not twirling it, but actually it is a Knife technique.
Question: You know, twirling, (turning the Knife backward)?
Master Ho: That's not a technique I've learned before. The disadvantage of holding the Knife that way is you are holding the weapon here (back). The weapon is not standing out. So that is a disadvantage.
Question: How do you practice or execute pow sau (palm up atacking)?
Master Ho: When you do that movement, a lot of people just raising their hand straight; that is incorrect. Even there are books that talk about this for hitting the chin, and that is incorrect. The application is for po pai (butterfly palm) instead of hitting the chin.
Question: How did the nun that created Wing Chun, how did she go about doing that? What did she put into it?
Master Ho: Probably you have to ask an historian. I just learned Wing Chun and the lineage, and I don't know what was in her mind to create Wing Chun.
Question: Bot Jaam Do is a very formidable weapon but if a person was using a very small knife in self defense, would the principles of the Bot Jaam Do apply?
Master Ho: It depends on what the other person has, whether he has a weapon or not. If the other person has no knife, and you are thinking about the knife (techniques)-you have all the basics, all the forms, the Bot Jaam Do theory; apply the technique that is applicable, there is no fixed theory. I cannot answer your question and go into detail because I'm not there. I don't know what is the distance, timing, position, etc. That is not something I can answer.
Question: Pardon my ignorance, but who taught Yip Man as far as the Shaolin arts and what styles was he subjected to, to allow him to create Wing Chun?
Translator: Yip Man did not create Wing Chun.
Question: Who did he learn from?
Translator: That was covered yesterday. He learned in China and Hong Kong.
Sifu Fong: He learned in China. His sifu was Chan Wah Shun; his nickname was Jow Chin Wah (Money Changer Wah). When he went to school in Hong Kong he met his si-gung's son, Leung Bik. He then went further and completed the system with Leung Bik. Because Chan Wah Shun was not a highly educated person, he could not explain the theory to Yip Man that good. He could only show him how to move. Then he met Leung Bik, who could explain the principles better. That's why Yip Man learned the complete system through Leung Bik. He understood the whole system like that.
Question: How do we apply the Poi Bai (Butterfly palms) from the dummy form?
Master Ho: The way I would answer this question, it's as if you are calling up the doctor and telling him what's wrong with you. But the doctor has to see you, and understand what situation you are in before he can prescribe medicine. I would gladly explain to you when there is a dummy present, and you show how you apply it. Then I will tell you what is the right and wrong way to do it. It also depends how far you are into the system because, as an example, you ask a question to a professor, a professor can have a lot of answers to that question, but the kid may not be able to understand. So I have to know where you stand in order to tell you how to apply it. The most important thing, when you get up to that level, your sifu will probably be able to tell you the correct way to do that. Also, if you want to ask a question way beyond where you are now, then even if I give you an answer, you still won't understand what is going on.
Question: Yesterday Master Ho mentioned there were 16 students on the Mainland-was that in Yip Man's class, as students, or was it 16 students that Yip Man taught on the Mainland? There were some students that Yip Man taught on the Mainland before he went to Hong Kong. What's the difference between what he taught there and in Hong Kong?
Master Ho: There were 16 of them that learned from the same sifu (Chan Wah Shun)--16 classmates. Yip Man was the youngest one. As he progressed, Yip Man became more advanced than any one of them.
Question: What about the students that Yip Man taught on the Mainland before he came to Hong Kong?
Master Ho: He never taught anybody on the Mainland.
Question: I've noticed that other lines, when they practice the dummy form, there are sections that are not there that our line has. I was wondering if Yip Man deleted some of the sections of the dummy form later on in his teachings when he taught?
Master Ho: Whether Yip Man deleted some or not I cannot tell because I only learned directly from Yip Man, the 108 movements that I learned. That is all I learned from Yip Man. There are some of my si-hings (classmates) that he showed (them) the Wooden Dummy form. However some of them later on claimed that, even told Yip Man that they got 244 movements. That's all that I can comment on.
(Demonstration of Chum Kiu)
Master Ho: Not every movement in Chum Kiu has an application. Some of them are transitional movements. Some of the movements, like this one and this one, don't have an application; they are transitional movements to go to the more important ones.
Question: Talking about the kicks, third section, the inside-kick and outside kick; which way do they go? Are they the same kick, one inside and one outside?
Master Ho: One is a straight movement, when that person is coming in it stops him from coming in. The other one is when they are coming from the side--you throw the kick to stop him from coming in.
Question: What is the main purpose of Chum Kiu? What is the most important thing?
Master Ho: The most important concept in Chum Kiu is to have (or make) hand contact. The Chum Kiu is "Searching for the Bridge", that's the hand bridge. The most important thing is when they come in, you put your hands out to search for the bridge, to keep in contact. That is the most important concept.
I mentioned yesterday that in Chum Kiu we step to the side. But the real application is not to the side, it is forward. I want to emphasize this. I know in the form we have this double low bong (sau). Never "use" them simultaneously, that's wrong. Always use (just) one.
Question: The push (straight palms) at the very end: is the leg pushing the weight at the very end?
Master Ho: In the form it is a strike, it's a push and strike. However, although it's like this, actually in application it can be different. So it might not follow exactly what the form does. You adapt to the situation.
Chum Kiu teaches us how to search for the bridge. However, the form itself is not exactly the application. When you can master the form, and know it correctly, you need to know how to apply it in Sticky Hands. And that's the time when you will know how to adapt to the situation. Don't use just for the form itself.
Question: How do you develop torque?
Master Ho: It's just like a machine gun. The round goes around in a circular movement to turn so that you turn that way. You're doing it in sections.
Question: Is the turning more to develop power or just re-positioning?
Master Ho: You turn to generate power as a whole. The whole body turns, not just part of the body. If part of your body turns and not together, you're in big trouble, but you can still (some) generate power. A lot of people when they first practice Chum Kiu they use their hands to help move the body, but that's wrong because you cannot stabilize.
Question: So the knees are used to stabilize the turn?
Translator: The whole body turns as a whole (unit), instead of one part causing the other part to move.
(Demonstration of Chor Ma Turning Stance)
Master Ho: If you can make sure your stance can stay the same (be stable), and turn that way--that would be correct way. I want to emphasize that although this demonstration is showing how to move slowly and get the right idea, after you got that right, then you need to speed up more so that you can generate the power. You don't want to stay in that kind of (slow) stage forever.
Question: Should there be a training consideration to go faster and faster? Is there a point beyond which that it's not that important in the execution of that technique?
Master Ho: It's not just the speed, but it is the wholeness that is the most important thing-it has to be whole, the whole body turns. So, no matter what speed you are using, it has to be the whole body that turns.
Question: Throughout the execution of the technique (chor ma), the head should stay perfectly stationary?
Master Ho: Yes that is the correct way.
Question: On the Turning Stance, the way you turn, is the weight distribution 50/50, 60/40, or just maintain your balance?
Master Ho: There is no fixed weight distribution because, depending on how tall you are, how much weight you are carrying and also how large is your stance. A wider stance, the weight will be different. The most important thing is to know that... when turning, you can feel it, you know when you are turning right, and turn the right way, and so you don't have to pay attention to the weight distribution. When you turn it right, you will generate power, if it's not right, it's not going to generate. So there is no fixed proportion on how that should be done. As an example, if one opens the stance too narrow, and if they are very tall, then that's not going to be good for them. When you turn you have to look at those factors. Compared to somebody shorter, your horse stance should not be as big or as wide. If you open (the stance) like this, you won't be able to turn at all. It should be natural, so you don't need to pay attention to whether the distribution is 50/50 or 30/70.
Question: Can I ask a question on stance work on the dummy? Should I be shuffling to come to...?
Master Ho: Some of these things even a sifu may not be able to pay that much detailed attention to. So when you practice you want to try to make sure everything is done in the right way--natural to you, and so on.
Question: (Student asking for correction on dummy.)
Master Ho: I'd like to mention, when you are working on the dummy, the dummy is not to show how much power you have. A lot of people try to use that to show their power. The correct way is to learn the distance and the position. That is more important than showing power.
Question: After pressing with the horse stance, I guess it needs to be wider. Where do the shoulders line up?
Master Ho: Some people have wide shoulders. That is like a standard measurement. The most important thing is that you have to feel that it is natural. 90% of this theory is correct, regarding the shoulder and horse stance. 90% of the people are correct. Some people have wider shoulders, and so have to adjust that.
Question: Applications of the form? Can you show us some applications on the dummy or Chum Kiu?
Master Ho: The correct way of doing the Chum Kiu form (jip sau), some people touching the hands, in reality there is an arm between the two hands. So when you want to practice, you want to keep the right distance.
Question: Does it matter if the person is actually punching it? Some people punch like this, and not like that, with their hand position slightly different? (The questioner may be asking about both the dummy motions and Chum Kiu.)
Master Ho: This is adapted to the situation where it is applied sideways. Although the form is done in one direction, it's the same principle in application. So that is an application of the Chum Kiu. (Master Ho continues about another matter.) This is incorrect. Do not use any force, just walk in. A lot of people show power and play with the dummy. Actually that is wrong. If you want to attack him, (Master Ho demonstrates) if the distance is wrong, then even if he has the intention to fight you, he can't hit you. (Put your hands up there, translator to questioner).
(Biu Jee demonstration)
Question: Does this form, or possibly other forms, are they useful for multiple attackers?
Master Ho: It's not designed for multiple attackers, no. Some people have the misconception that this is the highest form of Wing Chun or the most advanced form of Wing Chun. So they think if I get to that form I am a good Wing Chun fighter. However, a lot of the good hands are in the Siu Lim Tau form. The Biu Jee is for emergency use. Whenever your elbow is trapped by someone, you can use the Biu Jee form to get out of situations like that. I want to ask you all a question. Because maybe you've seen Biu Jee performed before. In either performance of the Biu Jee the elbow is coming down from the centerline. This one however is not from the centerline. So, do you feel like this is incorrect? You may want to ask some questions about that. I want to point out that the ones (elbows?) coming down from the centerline is the wrong concept.
(Gwai Jong. Not all executions of Gwai Jong are completely vertical. A few come across horizontal; the Gwai Jong position is maintained, i.e., wrist and hand touching the chest, palm facing outward, but it swings through more horizontally, ed.)
Question: I'm not sure what you are referring to. I'll show it the way I know.
Sifu Fong: That means your elbow does not land on the centerline. It's not level on the centerline.
Master Ho: If the elbow is in the centerline when you step up, you will be off the line.
Question: I have a question. The way you did the form, this... (wiggling the fingers), what is that?
Master Ho: Relax.
Sifu Fong: Try to loosing up your fingers.
Question: And this snapping (Jut Sau) is to develop wrist snap?
Master Ho: That is to make the wrist strong. In some of Biu Jee they hold the fist, instead of like that. That is wrong.
Question: How many times should we do this finger wiggle?
Master Ho: You can do them more than three times if you want to. The purpose is to loosen the joints. And nobody in the Wing Chun system has this. This is something that Yip Man taught only me.
Question: Is he tightening up his wrist when he is doing this all the time.
Master Ho: Don't put too much power on it, just enough to move it, that's all. Relax.
Master Ho: I would like to demonstrate the emergency use (Gow Gup Sau) of Biu Jee.
Question: I see this motion close to my face, it looks really vulnerable? Can you explain that? (Saam Bai Fut at the end of Biu Jee.)
Master Ho: This is for a situation when you are in danger and are falling down--when someone is attacking you--how in an emergency you can recover. Everybody knows how to swim? When you are in the water, are you going to bring you head or your hand up first? You raise the hand up to protect your head. So if you are falling, and somebody is chasing after you, you have to have something to protect your head first. So, this (the hands) comes up to protect the head. Also like everything, when you are building a triangle, this is like a roof for the water to run off. Wing Chun is not just designed to attack, but has movements that are designed in case there is an emergency, how to protect yourself.
Question: Quick question. Why this way, and not this way?
Master Ho: It's a matter of balance. Naturally, when you fall, you don't to put your hands like that, so that your elbow will break when you fall on the ground. So naturally you put your hands in this position, so that is the reason why. If you are putting your hands this way, your fingers will help land safely. If not you can break your wrist and elbow.
Question: Are you going circle or down?
Master Ho: The assumption is that you are falling. However, in the form (you don't want to do that), so that is why there is a skill like that.
Question: What year did you begin your Wing Chun? In 1955 or 1957?
Master Ho: 1956 is when I started.
Question: Some teach the last section, the (double) grab; some teach the Phoenix Eye (punch) and then come out. Some don't and some do?
Master Ho: The purpose of that is just hitting. If you use the Phoenix Eye (Fung Naan Kuen) you just attack one spot. But if you are using all the knuckles you can apply it (the punch) better.
Question: Kind of a follow up on that question. It's just a general question. In terms of strikes, are, would you say, more strikes are closed fist as opposed to open hand or vice versa?
Master Ho: This is of course a general question and I cannot answer any specifics. However, it depends on how that person (the opponent) is approaching. If you see the hand, and of course use the fist, then there is an opening here, the palm would be better. So, it depends on the situation. If you can master the forms well then immediately you know what to do. In the Biu Jee form, this motion here, you have to make sure your motion is from the original position, and comes out from there. If you break it down into two movements, and start in the middle, that is not right. It has to be a continuous movement... just one movement.
Question: What is the difference between just turning with the elbow, and stepping forward with the elbow?
Master Ho: Usually, the case is when the distance is not right then you cannot use your elbow, to get that person. Most of the time when you use your elbow you have to close the distance. So stepping up is useful.
Question: Should the biu jee (sau) be straight or bent?
Master Ho: Straight.
Question: How about in application?
Master Ho: The application is straight too.
Question: Is there a difference between striking and blocking with this?
Master Ho: This is not designed for protection. It's for attack. Biu jee (sau) is for emergency. When the other elbow is trapped, immediately you want to free that one. You want to launch an attack.
Question: I have a question on the actual height of the dummy. Is it the same size for everyone, or can it be adjusted? If so, what do you adjust it to, and how do you gauge the height?
Master Ho: If you want to have Wooden Dummy built in the school, you can build them in two sizes: five to five feet ten (inches) is the tallest, then another one a little bit taller. If (doing) the dummy form, it's not much difference when you stand in the horse stance, you can adjust to the height, by adjusting the horse stance.
Question: What I'm asking is, the top line of the two arms that come out--where should that be, level to ones shoulders, or to ones center?
Master Ho: I don't understand. (Talking about the distance between the arms), eight inches difference.
Master Ho: (Say) there is someone five feet six tall, if you are really looking at that as your opponent, when that person is in the horse stance, he is not five inches taller, supposed to be five feet five, but one or two inches taller. So you don't have to adjust the height of the dummy that much in order to accommodate your practice.
Question: Some of the motions were done slowly, deliberately. Some were quicker with a little more emphasis. What is the difference when you do it slowly and when you do them quicker on the dummy?
Master Ho: For some of the kicks, and things like that, you learn to go faster, and some of the touching hands, when you engage you know when to... I mean although the form may be slow, it actually it can be faster. You have to adjust to the timing, to the real situation. In practice, you may want to practice two different ways, at different speeds, so you can manage it in a real life situation.
Question: After Gaan Jaam do you step forward, do you keep touching the leg or do you step around?
Master Ho: It could be in real application, this hand could be up and this other is down. Although we practice the Wooden Dummy form, assuming one side is up and the other side down, in a real application it could be different. So you must adapt to the situation and know when to use this. A lot of people when training on the dummy, they only know how to hit, however they do not know why and what the application is for.
(Demonstration and discussion continues)
Sifu Fong: We must thank you all.
*Special thanks to Jack Chiu for proof reading and helpful comments.