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What Sum Nung said about Yip Man The Wing Chun clan seems to have an absolute fetish

for internecine squabbles. Some practitioners have an obsession with often utterly trivial and irrelevant details in differing versions of techniques,. Some have developed strident cults promoting their sifu (often/usually based on utter fictions). Debates constantly rage over history and lineage. One can be guaranteed to be attacked savaged very easily by rabid internet warriors simply by saying almost anything at all about Wing Chun on the internet. Sifu Sergio recently released a video. Hes very keen and quite good but he accepts a lot of people as Wing Chun that I would never recognise as Wing Chun. However, Sifu Sergio speaks the truth about Yip Man. His is the best expose in English thus far! Perhaps there are reasons for the internecine squabbles of our art: Wing Chun is the single most popular style of gung fu. (It seems a lot of quite pugnacious and fragile personalities pursue a study of Wing Chun). A number of very large Wing Chun empires have been developed and their promotion has become not only a business focus but a personality cult of the founder. And of the followers! These personality cults usually rest on accepting myths those with more information reject. The followers adopt the stance akin to religious fanatics. In fact, I was conjecturing recently to one of my students that there seems to be a striking similarity between the profiles of religious fanatics and fanatical promoters of their version of Wing Chun. Historical factors contributed significantly to the Western worlds information on Wing Chun as it first emerged from behind closed doors. To an extent these factors have continued to have a major impact on how many people still view the art and the attitudes they take towards the various arts several quite eclectic or invented and not actually legitimate Wing Chun that go by the name. Several versions of Wing Chun have been devised recently and discovered as old or secret lineages. Once one sees them, they are nothing short of laughable and decidedly mixed or invented! Three factors especially seem to me to have had significant impact on distorting what the West has been told about Yip Man and what was prevented from being revealed to the West even until recently. These were: 1. the migration of numerous young Hong Kong Chinese (most of whom had not learnt even the whole of Yip Mans reductionist version of Wing Chun let alone any other). These chaps had learnt different amounts to differing degrees of proficiency. Many simply devised material to fill in what they had not learnt from Yip Man or his senior students. Others later made up their shortfall, either from their friends who were Yip Man style practitioners or from others. Some were actually very decent people and proficient gung fu practitioners. Some rare few at that time could be considered very proficient indeed. The fame of their name was usually in inverse proportion to their skill back then. This is not the point. Comparing versions of Wing Chun is not the point. Debunking nonsense, sifu idolatory, deification; and ego cults; and, giving credit where credit is due is the point here! Nonsense speculation or unexamined regurgitation of fictitious material; sifu idolatory; deification; and, ego cults ought have no place in modern Wing Chun. My sifu is better/more famous than yours, my sifus art is better/the best are both nonsenses measured against the yardstick of how good is your personal skill level? and how complete is your art? The point I am making is that the young immigrants who took their Yip Man version Wing Chun out of Hong Kong did not have the full art and most had been (carelessly and uncaringly) taught quite different things. Above all, they had been indoctrinated in the story (most of it fictitious) of

Yip Man. They and the Western martial arts media sprouted the nonsense of last master of Wing Chun; last grandmaster of Wing Chun and such nonsensical and incorrect accolades. Bruce Lee and the ego cult he encouraged during his own lifetime - and which has been milked for all it is worth by martial arts media ever since - capped this off; 2. the sensation hungry and gullible martial arts magazine and book publishing industries lapped up anything that would boost sales, readership and distribution so marketed the new, unique Wing Chun system and eagerly published any information offered them by Chinese students of Yip (a reverse racism operated then if the informant was Chinese Western publishers didnt question them. It was assumed all Asians were secret gung fu masters and several took advantage of this); 3. the PRC took control of China, the Bamboo Wall fell and validating information became impossible even for most Chinese speakers. Immigrants from Hong Kong could tell any story they pleased. This was enormously magnified with respect to them communicating these stories to non-Chinese speakers. At least two of Yips students took advantage of this and claimed Yip had taught them his secret system. Funnily enough their two systems are nothing alike! Most Chinese cared not a whit what stories were told to the West or what they were taught. People were far more concerned with respect for legitimate masters, hierarchy and the arts legitimacy in Chinese communities. As time progressed the myths surrounding Yip Man were added to by over-zealous students marketing themselves and their systems. The advent of chat groups added numerous folk with often-times questionable personalities and obsessions - and immense regurgitation proliferated. The ridiculous Yip Man movies have promoted a fantastical image of Yip and added further confusion for the gullible and promoted the Yip personality cult. Given that there are more people coming out with information on Yip Man in Youtube clips lately I thought Id briefly list what information we had from Sum Nung. Sum Nung and Yuen Kay San knew Yip Man well. They knew him as more senior gung fu practitioners. Yip would often sit in restaurants with groups of practitioners listening to Yuen Kay San, as the most senior master in China at the time, talking about the art. In brief summary, then, Sum Nung told me the following: On the few rare occasions whilst he could still catch the train to Hong Kong, Yip would greet Sum Nung at the station with flowers and refer to him as sifu as his senior. Yip Man had not, when Sum Nung knew him, before he migrated to Hong King, learnt the knives. Yip Man himself devised his knife form. There is some question about the pole. Sum Nung said he did not know that either. Lun Kai, a Yip student in Futsan who has attested that the Wing Chun he learnt from Yip when he was younger had some significant differences to the Hong Kong version said Yip did teach him some pole usage. As far as we can assess this was only some of the moves that Yip had seen from the full pole form. We know Yip Man devised several versions of the dummy during his life-time. When Sum Nung first knew him he said that Yip had then learnt only very limited dummy use prior to his departure to Hong Kong. Yip was always wanting to learn the dummy form from Yuen Kay San or Sum Nung. They declined. Sum Nung said that Yip did not know any other version of Wing Chun no secret style that he taught only a few. Yip Chun has validated this, too. Sum Nung said that Yips Wing Chun was always the same style.

Yip Man learnt his chi sau from Yuen Kay San. Yuen Kay San only taught Yip some of the chi sau he himself knew, however. (Yips fathers estate was burnt down an interesting tale in its own right - and the Yips were offered hospitality by Yuen Kay Sans father. He and Yips father were friends. Yip asked his father to ask Yuen Kay Sans father to ask Yuen Kay San to teach him chi sau. It was agreed but Yuen Kay San, whilst obliged to honour and obey his father was unhappy as he said Yip was not a character he would accept as a student. He had asked Yuen Kay San previously but had been refused. Thus, he limited what he taught him. Leung Jan had modified his Wing Chun to teach Chan Wah Sun - who had blackmailed Leungs students in his position as money-changer. He threatened not to change their money if Leung didnt accept him. Leung had refused him initially. (This is also supported by an old biography of Leung Jan in my possession). The notion put forth by the Hong Kong story of Leung Bik ascribed Leung Jans reasons for modifying what he taught Chan was to ensure that the bigger Chan Wah Sun could not defeat the smaller (fictitious, anyway) Leung Bik. According to the Hong Kong story (Yip himself never told it, by the way!) Leung Bik was supposed to have been taught a secret style that could beat Chan Wah Sun. So, the masters son would be taught so that a bigger student couldnt beat him? Thus, the Wing Chun supposedly passed down to Yip through Chan Wah Sun was, whichever version of the tale is accepted, already a compromised version of Leungs own art. That art was passed down in Ku Lo village and is not the same as Yips version! Yip Man taught very, very few students all of the art he had substantially assembled from several sources, and revised and - devised. It was not that Yip actually decided to delete so much of previous Wing Chun that hed learnt , it was that (as Sergio says) he had not learnt significant sections of the art others had mastered. Yip wronged Yuen Kay San on three counts: he insulted Yuens wife (I never managed to get the details of this but heard several versions); he set Yip up in a challenge match with a famous Northern Mantis boxer in which Yuen was jumped due to him not being aforewarned (its a well known story to Yuen Kay San practitioners); and, he never acknowledged Yuen as teaching him his chi sau. (Later Yips jump in skills over his seniors was ascribed to the fictional story of Leung Bik that also served, at the suggestion of a journalist student who conceived of it as a gung fu movie-like mystique to help Yip boost student numbers). Sum Nung said that Yuen Kay San wanted him to challenge Yip and put him in his place. As the senior master, Yuen Kay San could hardly challenge the practitioner ranked, by common consensus, twelfth in the Mainland Wing Chun hierarchy. Sum Nung said that he didnt pursue this for three reasons the Hong Kong police would have had a field day; the PRC would have had more of a field day on his return to China; and, he had a fondness of sorts for Yips impish character. Yip did learn from Chu Chong Man. Chu ended up devising a version of Wing Chun also incorporating many elements of Sil Lum according to Sum Nung. Most of what Yip learnt from Chu he kept for himself rather than pass on. Yip was not the Chinese nationalist (now portrayed in the Yip Man movies). He was said by many in China to be involved both with the Nationalists and not at all unfriendly to the Japanese. Others in China put that view more strongly. Some offer a mix of reasons for him leaving China one being he was quite politically compromised and marked by several factions the Nationalists and the Communists.

This is what I was told and some of which other sources have substantiated. Some may not like it. Thats my point!
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