Famous Wing Chun Practitioners: From Ip Man to Bruce Lee
Discover the fascinating Lives and Lasting Legacies of the most Legendary Wing Chun Kung Fu practitioners, including Yip Man and Bruce Lee, in this Captivating Article.
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A few weeks ago everyone was talking about a Jeet Kune Do versus Wing Chun video that went viral, and after I posted about the fight, the whole thing made me reflect on the things that I've learned during the short time that I spent studying Wing Chun.
I came across this line from the Tao of Wing Chun that said: "If he's clever enough, a good Wing Chun practitioner can walk away with a win-win situation without any punches being thrown".
In that viral video, it's hard to tell what the actual outcome was. Master Hercules has been pretty cool about it, but we'd have to find out where Waldo is to find out if he learned anything from the experience. I think they could have resolved things without it coming to blows, but the truth is that sometimes you can't resolve every conflict peacefully. Sometimes you have to stand up ready to defend your castle.
So, that's what I want to talk about in this video. I want to talk about how Wing Chun fights are not like what you see in the movies, because... well I feel like a lot of people have this big misunderstanding when it comes to Wing Chun.
My name is Prince and this is Goldenbell Training where it's my goal to promote Chinese martial arts and encourage y'all to become better martial arts athletes. I also practice martial arts every day.
In this video, we're going to revisit the backyard brawl where it was Jeet Kune Do versus Wing Chun and I'm going to use the confrontation between master Hercules and Waldo to begin a series of videos looking at the problems that I see with Wing Chun.
Now, if this is your first time here, then you probably didn't catch my breakdown of what happened between master Hercules and Waldo, and if you want the full rundown you should check out the video where I covered everything already.
Master Hercules commented on the other video that I posted and he said that this kid, who everyone has been calling Waldo, is actually about 34 years old and he was invited as a guest of one of master Hercules's old students. Waldo was having these little side conversations throughout master Hercules's lesson that day. He said that Waldo was being very difficult throughout the 90-minute lesson. That led up to the confrontation that was captured on the video and, before everything that was captured on video, Waldow had been hitting the punching bags and kicking the Wooden Dummy. So, when master Hercules gave Waldo the floor to show his stuff, well he was already anticipating that things might get hostile between the two of them.
Now, after Waldow was asked to leave, he attempted to file a police report and the police report made master Hercules the victim and Waldo was named as the aggressor because of this move. Now, what happened was an invitation for a physical confrontation, as you're invading someone's personal space, and that's based on the local laws (southern California).
Now, in my video, I said that things look really ugly and it reminded me a lot of the fight between master Hercules's teacher William Chung and the fight that he had with Emin Boztepe. But what I meant was that it was not a graceful moment for master Hercules or for traditional Wing Chun. The truth is that if you teach martial arts long enough, you're probably going to have some situations where you have to deal with difficult students. It's part of training and these are learning experiences for us to learn and to grow no matter what level we have or what rank we might reach.
Now, in that video it hit Facebook the Jeet Kune Do people were saying that Waldo didn't show any Jeet Kune Do and I commented in my video: "Well, I don't feel like master Hercules didn't show any Wing Chun." Now, I was being very tongue-in-cheek with that remark because the truth is that, even if Waldo has any actual Jeet Kune Do experience and training, he didn't get to show any of it because of master Hercules. Because he was completely controlling him, meaning master Hercules did display his Wing Chun skills. I know people feel like this fight is proof that Wing Chun is pointless, none of that stuff works, there was no trapping and no chain punching, and all this other stuff. My response to that is that, if you feel that way, well it's probably because you don't know what Wing Chun is.
Wing Chun in a real fight is not the stuff that you see in the movies. Wing Chun is not trapping and chain punching people like your Donnie in fighting against 10 karate black belts. Look, I talked about everything I'm saying right now in a video I posted two years ago called chasing hands is bad - Wing Chun. The reason you can't see anything that resembles Wing Chun in the fight is that Wing Chun is in all this stuff that people do in the movies. Real Wing Chun is something you have and it's in everything you do once you have it. Wing Chun isn't about looking like Donnie Yen or Dennis To. Wing Chun is about applying the principles in a real fight. Wing Chun is about developing the proper structure so that you embody the principles.
All that sticking, trapping, and chain punching stuff really doesn't matter if you don't have the proper structure and elbow power behind your movements. Quite frankly, these Wing Chun people out here, getting beat up in these viral videos probably have no structure. They wasted too much time playing with the Dummy and making viral videos of choreographed routines and thinking their sloppy cheese sal would make them a real fighter.
Master Herc tossed Waldo like a ragdoll and completely dominated him, regardless of what a lot of people might think of traditional Wing Chun. I mean, a few decades of training is going to give you a solid Wing Chun foundation and structure that will be part of everything else that you do. So, master Hercule actually did use Wing Chun to destroy this alleged Jeet Kune Do kid and I owe master Hercule an apology for presenting a case against him.
But I was trying to criticize both of them in the other video to really talk more on the problem with showing up to challenge teachers. Now, I mentioned that I used to study Wing Chun just south of master Hercule in San Diego and that was back when I was stationed in coronado island in the Navy, about 15 years ago aboard the USS Mighty Ronald Reagan.
Now, I never witnessed this incident. I'm going to tell you all about, but I've heard two stories about my Wing Chun teacher getting into fights in the middle of a class. I'm sure this isn't something that Renee was proud of, but it did happen.
One of the fights was when someone from the Wushu class got into it with Renee while he was teaching his Wing Chun class. My school where I study Wing Chun is known for its Wushu program. Some of the kids who came through there worked with Jackie Chan's student stunt team and some of them are probably working on all these Marvel movies coming out that feature a lot of Kung Fu, like the Shanghai movie.
Since the Wushu program is basically what pays the bills there, some of the Wushu kids felt like that they're the big shot callers in the school. But it wasn't happening that day. I forgot the details but Renee told this Wushu student to step outside and he dusted him up pretty easily.
The other time... all I know is there was some really big guy who challenged renee while he was in the middle of teaching somewhere out in town in San Diego.
The story I got was this big muscle-bound guy took a swing at Renee. He grabbed him with one arm and tossed him across the room like he was a child. I have a feeling to onlookers who might have seen that big guy get thrown like that, but it didn't look like anything that resembles Wing Chun, whatever that means.
But here's the thing. Just like with master Hercule, when it really goes down, it shouldn't look like Wing Chun in the movies. Wing Chun is not the stuff you see in the movies, it's something you are because it's about your structure and your ability to embody the principles. Knowing the principles doesn't matter at all if you can't do them.
If you don't come away with anything else from this video you're gonna remember this: Wing Chun does not look like the movies, it's not supposed to look like the movies. Movies are fun, that doesn't mean the stuff you see in the movies is gonna work in a real fight.
Keanu Reeves uses a lot of what looks like Wing Chun blocks in The Matrix. Do you think someone is just gonna stand there and let you block about a hundred punches like your Neo? I mean, I don't even think the air bender would try to do something like that. In UFC I keep hearing people say: "Well, this doesn't look like Wing Chun, therefore it can't possibly work. It's got to look like Wing Chun."
But I mean, go look at these real Wing Chun fights where some guy is out here holding up his baijong and it's Tan Sao right...Who's he gonna stop looking like this? That's why some of my friends who grew disillusioned with Wing Chun keeps saying Wing Chun only works against Wing Chun, it doesn't work in a real fight.
But if that's true, then what does that say about Wing Chun's origin story? Now, if you don't know the origin story of Wing Chun, it goes like this:
How can Wing Chun only beat Wing Chun if it was originally meant for this small woman to have a chance of beating some guy who's physically stronger than she is? I'm guessing that they weren't coming out in some position like Donnie Yen in the Yip Man movies and they weren't trying to throw 10 chain punches per second. It's someone's head that lacked any kind of power. We're talking about a small Chinese woman here, she'd break her hand trying to hit someone that many times. Mike Tyson is one of the greatest boxers of all time and he broke his hand punching someone in the head.
When you think about Wing Chun in a real fight you need to block that stuff out of your mind. If you see a Wing Chun person get in a fight and they win, if they look like someone from a movie I'm just gonna say that this person got really lucky or they're just a fighter and it wouldn't matter what they did they'd still win.
And see here's the thing about why Wing Chun people are always getting beaten in these viral videos and it's the biggest problem with Wing Chun, as a whole Wing Chun principles are grossly misunderstood. What I'm about to say right now is considered blasphemy in the church of Bruce Lee. But Bruce Lee wasn't exactly this Wing Chun savant, and the same can be said for most of the young men who studied around the same time as Bruce Lee, who went on to teach and open their own schools before they were ready.
It's not a diss, it just is what it is. The problem is there are so many people who miss the idea that there are a lot of people who think they know what Wing Chun is because they saw it in a movie or a popular person on youtube. But they don't really know the principles. Sure, we all hear about this center line theory stuff, and this stuff about triangles and wedges, but what do you really know? Master Hercule throws hook punches at Waldo and people said that's not Wing Chun because it's not a straight punch. Master Hercule takes Waldo to the ground and they say: "well, see you should just learn BJJ" because they don't know the throws and takedowns are on Wing Chun. They don't recognize that at no point mass article was not in control of the fight because they think the whole center line thing means you're supposed to take a Wing Chun structure and attack the literal center line of the guy that you're fighting. And why do people think that? Well probably because some of them saw a picture in the Jeet Kune Do where Bruce Lee wrote about the center line theory.
What's the difference between attacking the center line versus taking and controlling someone's center? The difference is trying to follow a principle versus actually doing the principle. If i tell you about how to dribble a basketball between your legs and then you do it based on your interpretation of what you think that I'm saying versus going out there and putting the killer crossover or the shaking back on someone. They took an idea and made it completely their own because they were able to embody the principle. Kung Fu is about learning and understanding principles. Some of what Bruce Lee said is right: on the money, about this classical mess disorganized nonsense stuff, when he's talking bad about forms, he's right about how people become robots and believe what they're doing is the gospel truth. They miss the idea you can't make Wing Chun work in a fight because there's no understanding of the principles.
You can't understand the principles if you have no structure. You have no foundation. So when you see someone who appears to have that structure, you can't say: "well, I see nothing that resembles Wing Chun". How do you know? Just because everyone doing Wing Chun doesn't look like master Wong doesn't mean what they're doing is not Wing Chun. And the only way that you can really know is to test their hands. I still think master Hercule was caught in a less than the glorious moment when he smacked down Waldo. I wish that he could have resolved the situation in a way that was good for both of them. But maybe this will make Waldo a little bit more humble in life going forward. Master Hercule will know how to handle a difficult student the next time it happens, or at least maybe he won't let it go viral on Facebook and on Youtube.
But this opportunity also gave me a chance to address a big problem that I see in Wing Chun. Wing Chunners don't really understand the principles and people who have never trained Wing Chun to think that it's supposed to look like the Donnie Yen movies. Now, if you want to do Wing Chun and look cool. there's nothing wrong with that but if you're a Wing Chunner and you feel like you need to be stuck doing it only this one way or else it's not Wing Chun...you're also contributing to the problem. With Wing Chun, you need to understand the principles, embody the principles, and then make the arch your own.
If you think what I'm saying is a bunch of bs, I'm just going to leave you with this thought. Augustine Fong is one of the most famous Wing Chun teachers in America. So why does he teach kicks from troiley foote Kung Fu? Because he took what he got from his master and made it his own.
Why does my friend Ali up in Kentucky teach Wing Chun and boxing together? Because he was coaching boxers. His Wing Chun was already amazing, he made it his own. When you understand the principles and you embody the principles, you can do this. So, go learn the principles, and stop contributing to the problem with Wing Chun.
I actually have a lot more to say on Wing Chun-related topics so you might want to check back for future videos on this topic.
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