Grandmaster Yip Man had two sons, Yip Chun and Yip Ching. We all know Master Yip Chun, his high level Wing Chun skill, his gentle attitude and healthy body. However do you know his brother, Yip Ching, is also a very honest and sincere gentleman who also possesses a very high level of Wing Chun skill?
Yip Ching was born in China and like many others he had some bad experiences during China’s Cultural Revolution. During the Cultural Revolution he worked on a farm (everybody had to) and so he has experienced a lot of hard work in many difficult situations. His father, Yip Man, left China for Hong Kong where he began to teach his Wing Chun Kuen and left his two sons to finish their education and to work. However, Master Yip Ching never forgot his Wing Chun training, even though practice of any traditional Chinese skill was banned during the Cultural Revolution, including Wing Chun Kuen. To get round this he would stay up late at night to practise his forms right up until the day he left for Hong Kong with his brother. Once they reached Hong Kong they continued their Wing Chun studies.
Unlike his father and brother, Yip Ching is quite tall, big and strong and because of this he is very confident in the fighting side of his art. In particular, when people came from other schools he would take the opportunity to fight against their style. Many of the challengers found it very hard and many eventually joined Yip Man’s school. This was very common in Hong Kong. Other styles of martial an would come to challenge your school to test your standard and to see if you could open a school in the area. When a new school was set up, the master would send a letter to all the other schools around to politely inform them his school was opening. The master would then visit the neighbouring schools to greet them. This is the correct way. Today, even in the west any school could be challenged by another school, particularly if one school does not behave well or puts down the others.
On one occasion three people from another style, came to Yip Man’s school. The three men came in shouting for Yip Man. Wing Chun was still a new style in Hong Kong and some of the other schools were quite jealous because of Wing Chun Kuen’s special training method ‘Sticking Hands’ which the others did not have, so many of them wanted to find out how good Wing Chun’s sticking hands was. Unfortunately, Yip Man had just left the school and Yip Ching was on his own practising. Yip Ching is very clever and he knew the men wanted to challenge Wing Chun Kuen so he was already prepared to deal with them. Yip Ching said, “Do you want to study or do you want to cause a problem?-One of the men said, `I want to learn Sticking Hands!’ This meant he wanted to challenge Wing Chun people. Yip Ching said, “All right, who would like to learn first?” The biggest of the three came forward and after a formal greeting, punched at Master Yip Ching. Yip Ching just contacted his fist with a ‘Tan Sau’, lightly testing his opponent’s energy. The big man knew he could not win any advantage with his first punch, so he continued attacking with his other hand. However, although Yip Ching moved quite slowly and looked very open, using the same Tan Sau he grasped the man’s other hand and controlled him quite easily. Although he was being controlled, the big man continued his attack. However, Yip Ching still dealt with him using just one hand and received all his blows. Afterwards the big man knew Yip Ching’s sticking hands was very good. Eventually all three men joined Yip Man’s Wing Chun school.
Yip Ching used one hand to prove his Wing Chun sticking hands skill was much higher than their skill and secondly, he did not want to hurt anyone. Therefore he won over their skill and their hearts. This way he could prove Wing Chun was good and give it a good image in the eyes of the other schools. Yip Ching (I call him Uncle Ching) told me more about his father’s high level skill and about some of the challenges he faced when he was in Foshan.
When Yip Man was in his early thirties a martial artist came from North China. He was a master of White Crane Kung Fu and was particularly famous for his Phoenix Fist (this is like a normal fist, except the second knuckle of the index finger is pushed out to form a sharp point) which could badly damage your acupuncture points.
The White Crane Master had comeb down to Foshan to challenge all the different kinds of martial artists. However nobody dared to accept his challenge. Yip Man was still quite young and every body knew his Wing Chun Kuen was very good and he would be able to accept this challenge. If no one would face the White Crane Master then Foshan would lose face, so the people asked Yip Man to meet him.
Finally, Yip Man agreed to the challenge and a date and place was fixed for a competition between White Crane Fist and Wing Chun Kuen. Before the competition, the two opponents met at one of Foshan’s most famous restaurants. Whilst they were talking the White Crane Master turned and hit the wall with his Phoenix Fist. The impact made a very loud noise and left a hole in the wall, every one around was scared at the sight of this. Then everybody, including the White Crane Master turned and looked at Yip Man to see how scared he was. However, Yip Man just smiled and did not show any sign of fear and this surprised everyone. After listening to the rules of the competition Yip Man got up and left without saying a word. On the day of the competition Yip Man went and met the White Crane Master at the agreed place. After all the usual formalities the fight started. The White Crane Master wanted to hit Yip Man with his Phoenix Fist and beat him quickly. However, he found he never got close enough to Yip Man. After two attacks Yip Man blocked him with his Tan Sau and stayed in contact. After the contact, the White Crane Master found that any attacking movements he made, or any energy he tried to use was easily controlled by Grandmaster Yip Man. It was like he was tied up and he did not know what to do, suddenly he fell to the floor.
The White Crane Master tried to get up, however, Yip Man’s heel was already touching his face. It was very obvious that Yip Man had won. The referee rushed over and stopped the fight. Everyone had seen that Yip Man’s skill was much higher than the White Crane Master’s.
From then on everybody in Foshan called Yip Man’Sifu’ out of respect and appreciation for what he had done to maintain Foshan’s standing. However, Yip Man never put himself up in front of other people and carried on with his carefree and relaxed life. People would always ask him to teach them, but he still refused as he did not want to be in competition with his Wing Chun brothers.
During the fight with the White Crane Master Yip Man had used a high level of Sticking Hands. When he made contact, the White Crane Master could not use any of his energy, no matter how strong his phoenix fist, he could not use it. Then when he tried to use too much energy to throw off Yip Man’s contact, Yip Man used his sticking hand to control him and then used the Wing Chun dummy technique,’Po Pai Chueng’ and pushed him to the ground. Then as he was coming up, Yip Man moved forward and used a Wing Chun kick towards his face to let him know he had lost instead of seriously beating him.
Wing Chun’s Sticking hands training lets you know your enemy’s energy through the contact. So Yip man was never afraid of the Phoenix Fist as long as he kept in contact. So during Sticking Hands you do not need to worry about the other styles power, just concentrate on your sensitivity and contact during fighting so you can control the other person’s energy.
Uncle Ching continued to tell me more stories of Yip Man when he was in Hong Kong. Yip Man liked to go to a Chinese restaurant for tea early in the morning. Most of the time he would go with his students. One morning when they arrived at the restaurant, they found that a newspaper stand had been set up by the door. Yip Man stopped and leant down to pick up a newspaper. As he was buying his paper he suddenly felt someone behind him trying to pull his fountain pen out of his pocket. Without thinking, Yip Man automatically kicked the person without turning his body and the pick pocket landed in the road and ran away. This was all observed by his students. They knew their teacher’s skill was very high, he could defend himself without needing to see the person. Afterwards, Yip Man went into the restaurant for his morning tea.
Whenever we talk about Yip Man, the subject of his most famous student Bruce Lee always comes up.
Once Bruce Lee was finishing his sticking hands training, Yip Man was watching his movements and then said, ‘Bruce, you should be careful, you always walk on your toes. This is not good for your energy and mind. Do more Sui Lim Tao to bring down your energy, otherwise you will have too much energy in your head and you will not live long.” Bruce listened, but he did not change, he continued to walk on his toes and even used it in his fighting style. Eventually he did die at an early age due to a problem with his brain.
Therefore, when we study, we should always consider bringing the Qi down to theDantien. Do not have too much energy in your head, do not keep yourself ‘high’, you should calm down and be more relaxed.
by Michael Tse