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The Logic of Ving Tsun

There is one form of self defence that is quickly gaining popularity because it is more suited to our urban environment from the very beginning and teaches sound fighting principles.  It is a Chinese form of Traditional Martial Art called Ving Tsun Gung Fu (or Wing Chun Kung Fu).  Ving Tsun had remained a secret for a couple hundred years until it was decided to be taught  publicly by the late Grand Master, Yip Man. Bruce Lee was also a student of Yip Man and incorporated a lot of Ving Tsun’s theory into his now famous fighting system (called Jeet Kune Do).  This system was made famous by the late Great Master Wong Shun Leung, who single-handedly fought countless challenge matches against numerous styles and…

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Bruce Lee and Kung Fu

I recall going to Hong Kong airport and, in a glass case neatly scribbled in pencil in Chinese script, was a letter from Bruce Lee to Wong Shun Leung.  The two have an interesting history that extends into the stories that teachers tell their students behind closed doors.  They include stories such as the time that Bruce Lee would come to the stoop first, tell other students “Wong is sick today” so that, when Wong Shun Leung came, he could monopolise Wong’s time- until he received a drubbing from Wong for his deception!   Bruce Lee put Kung Fu on the map in the United States and the glamour of the silver screen rubbed off to this mysterious Eastern tradition where the unknown became alluring and…

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Martial Arts and Kung Fu

The thing about oriental martial art is the romance that swirls around it, about chi, ancient combat forms and weapons, and some “death touch” (dim maak) or mystical quality.  It is tied in eastern religion, rituals such as tea ceremonies and has the concept of discipleship and family titles tied into its practice.  Your master is your “father” in the system, and he dispenses what he knows to you on his own schedule, based on how hard he sees you work and how diligent you are in your practice. The senior disciples are your older brothers, and those who come after look to you as an example in the gwoon.    Yet Martial Arts itself is a business to the degree that rent, and equipment…

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“Self Defence” and Martial Arts

“Defend yourself” has this nice ring to it. You just have to do just enough to avoid the bad guy trying to mug you, hurt your family or do worse things. Just enough. It’s true that most assailants and criminals aren’t particularly well trained. They are bullies looking for an easy mark, not a pitched battle. You’re not going to run into Morihei Ueshiba, Mohammed Ali or Huo Yuanjia in the street. You’re just defending yourself, so you’re not that bad guy who picks a fight with an old man you can underestimate. We’re good people- good people aren’t predators. The point of the book On Killing by David Grossman is the fact that the vast majority of people- more than 90%, do not want to kill and will take…