Interview with John, Wong Hong Chung (ENGLISH ONLY)davejohn2

(originally helt for Wing Chun Illustrated magazine, but never published)

‘Son of the legendary master Wong Shun Leung’

Hong Kong, January 15th, 2012

By: Dave


Dave: Your father was the legendary Ving Tsun fighter Wong Shun Leung. What made you decide that you want to learn Ving Tsun?

Hong Chung: I started to study Ving Tsun when I was 13 years old. My sister and me started our training during the summer holiday.  [Laughing] There was no choice; we did not decide to learn Ving Tsun by our selves. My father just started to teach us. We didn’t train regularly as we were also still studying in school, so there was not much time. I continued learning Ving Tsun more seriously from the age of 16. I trained a lot together with my brothers in the early 90’s.


Dave: How do you feel to be repeatedly confronted with the fact to be ‘The son of…’ Do you feel any urge or pressure that you need to prove yourself?

Hong Chung: First, I really am the son of Wong Shun Leung and feel very proud of that. Secondly I don’t really experience that much pressure. My personal goal is to hopefully become as talented as my father. I was quite young while my father was practicing with me, but I remember he was really powerful. [laughing] Also, I have a close relation to many good si-hing and they help me to improve myself and teach me what my father taught to them. My father really left a treasure for me here.


Dave: If you had the chance and money to create a martial arts movie, what would the movie be about?

Hong Chung: Well about my father of course. Actually somebody already is working the idea. [smile] The first time I have seen the movie ‘Ip Man 2’, with the actor who played my father, I was really proud but it also was a bit funny, as the character, the actor played; Wong Leung, didn’t really feel like a good impersonation of my father. Yes, I would definitely make a movie about my father, but also with the purpose to promote our Ving Tsun.


Dave: I know you and Si-mo actively promote your father’s legacy. What in your opinion can we do to actively promote it within our family?

Hong Chung: I know that a lot of people, especially in Europe are training my fathers Ving Tsun system/ideas. I would like to establish a worldwide association for the Wong Shun Leung, Ving Tsun family. A group where we all can promote my fathers legacy. Especially trough the Internet I guess we can easily spread this idea. So I really hope I will have support for this idea from the elder students of my father, so we can have a firm foundation for our future.


Dave: Would you encourage people to also participate in ‘Beimo like’ fights today?

Hong Chung: [laughing] Well I guess that is impossible to do today. Even in the period my father tested his skills, it was very illegal to do rooftop fights and many times I wondered why he didn’t accidently kill somebody. [laughing] Now many things have changed. I would encourage the comparison and testing of skills with other fighting systems, but there should be some rules I think and perhaps in a less aggressive way than the original Beimo.


Dave: What do you think is the big difference on learning Ving Tsun in the 70’s & 80’s and learning Ving Tsun today?

Hong Chung: The main difference I think is the change of society. In the 70’s and 80’s people were training very hard, but now people don’t seem to have the time because they have to work and experience too much pressure. After work people are no longer keen on training and are very tired. In Ving Tsun training physical condition and technical skills are very important. If you don’t have the physical condition, you won’t be able to learn or use the technical skills of Ving Tsun. That’s the main difference with the 70’s. Not enough training. On the other hand people seem to be more intelligent and learn easily to get the concept. But still…not enough training.

In the 70’s and 80’s people were training on a daily basis and also much harder, so the fighters were better conditioned and skilled. What we can learn from this today, is that we should train more and harder, and work on the basics.


Dave: What do you think about the worldwide quality of Wong Shun Leung lineage Ving Tsun nowadays?

Hong Chung: Thanks to the Internet we now can see how everybody is training. There is a lot of activity out there and we see training methods and efforts that are very well developed, or we might even say that the average is better than before. Your training partner is the most important factor in your development. Unfortunately the Internet is also full of methods (non Wong Shun Leung) that are very doubtful. For example Chi Sau competitions… Chi Sau is not for fighting. It’s a training exercise that helps you and your training partner to improve your skills.


Dave: Is the best Ving Tsun quality still found in Hong Kong today?

Hong Chung: My father expected that there would be a move of quality on Ving Tsun, from Hong Kong to Europe as training efforts are taken more seriously in Europe. Also there are many different Ving Tsun systems in the world. Even in Hong Kong and China. Except Wong Shun Leung, many students of Ip Man now have developed their own ‘style’. You know, when you teach the same thing to two different people, their interpretation and presentation will always be different. No person is the same. The Ving Tsun theory, on the other hand, should not change. You are always allowed to look further, as long as the guidelines still match.

In my knowledge, Ip Man taught exercises differently to different people. He tried to teach Ving Tsun in a personalized way, where students had direct feedback to their specific and personal needs. He also taught his students to be free. Free, but ‘within’ the system.


Dave: Do you have an interesting story that you’d like to share on Ip Man and your father?

Hong Chung: Oh, yes. A very interesting thing to talk about is the story on how my father was responsible for an important change in Siu Nim Tau. One day my father challenged another fighter. That fighter was very tall and powerful. I don’t remember the style he practiced. At that time my fathers weight was just a little over 100 pounds and it was like he had to fight a giant. My father told me that this guy, ‘played’ his Kung Fu very well. And he was strong like having the power to break a wall with his bare hands. In one moment this fighter suddenly launched a very low attack. Even though my father was a very short guy, he wasn’t able to use the Jum Sau effectively. Jum Sau didn’t work as the attack was aimed below his elbow. So the other fighter was able to hit my father. The Jum Sau turned out to be useless in this specific situiation.

After the challenge, my father discussed this with Ip Man. Ip Man suggested to handle such an attack with Gaang Sau.

In the time when Ip Man learned the system from Chan Wah Shun, who was a tall guy, the Siu Nim Tau taught to Ip Man already contained the Gaang Sau section instead of the Jum Sau section. As Ip Man was a small person, even shorter than my father, Ip Man changed this section to Jum Sau.

Because of my fathers experience Ip Man changed the specific section in Siu Nim Tau back from Jum Sau to Gaang Sau. So for that reason, today you see some students of Ip Man only do the Gaang Sau section. In our system we kept both Jum Sau and Gaang Sau sections in Siu Nim Tao.


Dave: You told me that Ip Man used to be very famous for the strength of his kicks…

Hong Chung: Yes, inside Ip Mans school, Ip Man trained his kicks very intensively. He used to ask someone to catch and hold his leg. He would than change that leg into a side kick where the student eventually flew trough the room, all the way towards the wall. He was really powerful. Everybody wondered how he could do it like this.


Dave: Is there anything you’d like to add to this interview?

Hong Chung: Like I said before. I really like to bring all people of our lineage together and group our selves in a new international association for the Wong Shun Leung Ving Tsun family. I hope that everyone involved can have an open mind in this so we can really make this happen.

My father also said that Ving Tsun will not stop developing. I heard him saying this. He didn’t mean changing the system. People should stop claiming that their system is the best. People have different ideas and interpretations on Ving Tsun as all people are actually different. Ving Tsun is a system that can be personalized and adapted to a persons specific needs and structure.  You own ‘your’ Ving Tsun. We might have to be more open to accept that.

By grouping ourselves we can honour my fathers legacy, his ‘point of view’ and original ideas. So in 10 or 20 years, people will still ‘read my fathers words’ and work ‘his’ ideas. Even as the student has his space to adapt, the theory will never change. That’s inspiration is very important. To master the Ving Tsun system and not be its slave. That idea was already taught by Ip Man.


FaceBook  Twitter