So, what is training Wing Chun in Hong Kong really like? First of all, more than any other place in the world, Hong Kong probably has the most variety of Wing Chun styles and lineages. More variety does not necessarily equate to better quality, but I did find one school that was simply amazing. In this last part, I’ll describe the class structure at the schools I visited, what the training was like, my thoughts on particular schools where I received training, and the one school that stood out among the others I visited.
First, let me repeat my disclaimer. I just speak from my own experiences and judgment. I am not perfect. Do not take what I say here as the gospel truth. My opinions and analysis could be wrong; I will try my best to be fair and accurate. However, someone may get offended at what follows. I intend here to tell you the truth as I understand it based on my 5 day visit to Hong Kong. You may have your own experience which differs greatly. This is just my experience and perspective. Please don’t be offended. This is written from the perspective of one Hong Kong visitor to others who may be in similar shoes wanting to visit Hong Kong. Ok, here’s the rest of my story…
As previously stated, I visited 7 Wing Chun schools in Hong Kong over the course of 5 days, training with them about 4 hours a day. Based on that experience, Wing Chun in Hong Kong is not much different from Wing Chun anywhere else. Before visiting Hong Kong, I had studied Wing Chun under 3 different lineages over 5 years, so I had an idea of some of the variety of styles that exist. Most of the schools in Hong Kong emphasize Chi Sao heavily as this takes up the majority of the class time. The classes at the VTAA were largely informal. You show up, do the forms on your own and any solo drills you like, then find a partner to do Chi Sao with. Having never visited Hong Kong, I expect the Chi Sao there to be much better than my previous Wing Chun schools. The reality is you can probably find equally skilled Chi Sao partners in your own school or the schools in your area. I only experienced one school where their understanding and application of Wing Chun and Chi Sao was far beyond anything I’d ever seen previously. I don’t know if it was due to that school’s lineage, or their Sifu’s teaching ability, or some combination of both.
In part 2, I described my experience at 4 of the schools I visited. In this section, I’ll describe my experience at the other 3 schools with Sifu Ip Chun, Sifu Leung Yin, Sifu Mark Wong, and Sifu John Wong Hong Chung. Like the previous schools I described, I have nothing negative to say about any school or Sifu, I only hope to detail to you my experience.
When I visited Sifu Ip Chun’s class, I was warmly welcomed into the class by his students. Sifu Ip Chun seemed to be a very gracious and kind man. I am honored to have met him and grateful for the opportunity to train at his class. Like the other classes, this class was also relatively informal. I started warming up on my own and doing the forms. As the class filled up, I eventually found a few Chi Sao partners. One was just a beginner with only a few months experience. My other partner had been doing Wing Chun for 7 years. The latter was very skilled, but smaller than me. I don’t know if my size was an advantage or not, but he seemed to have difficulty countering my movements. While some people make Chi Sao into a competition, I prefer to use it more for training. What I noticed from my Chi Sao partner was that he lacked mobility in his stance. He was too static. Since I was larger in size and he did not move his structure, his structure collapsed whenever I applied pressure. In the end, it was a good learning experience for us both, but I did not see any weaknesses in my Chi Sao from that exchange. I was hoping to meet someone who would really mop the floor with me that I could learn from.
Sifu Leung Yin also teaching in the same building as the VTAA, although he does not teach at the VTAA. He was a student of Leung Sheung and Ng Wah Sum. His class is on the same floor as the VTAA, but a few doors down the hallway. When I visited his class, he happened to be using the VTAA to teach in for some reason. He was very welcoming, although he did not speak any English. As we tried to communicate, he eventually called a friend to translate for us. I spoke to his friend on the phone and told him I wanted to take a class. His friend translated for Sifu Yin and told me the price was HK$ 1000 for one class. I told him I could only pay HK$ 500 and to teach me what he could. He agreed. Sifu Yin seemed to be a wonderful person who loved taking pictures! All through class, we took a lot of pictures together. So, I appreciate his warm heart and courteous character. There was a bit of a translation issue as we went through the class until one of his English speaking students showed up. The training was fair, despite the translation barrier. I felt some of the things we did were impractical, but again, there was a translation barrier and I only did one class. Overall, it was a good experience and I’m grateful for Sifu Leung Yin’s caring heart and gentle demeanor.
Finally, I went to Sifu John Wong Hong Chung’s class at the VTAA. Sifu John Wong is the son of Wong Shun Leung. Let me say that I had never visited or experienced training with anyone from Wong Shun Leung’s lineage previously. I am in no way affiliated with WSL lineage or schools, but Sifu John Wong’s school was the best Wing Chun School I’ve ever seen in terms of understanding principles and the ability to apply the concepts. Here I found the floor mopping experience I was looking for. I contacted Sifu John through the school’s Facebook page to inform him of my visit. He welcomed me to visit his class. On the first day I visited his school, he was in Beijing and Sifu Mark Wong was running the class. On the second day I visited, Sifu John Wong was back and it was great to meet him. This was the only school I visited twice just due to the many things that were different about this particular school.
Many things surprised me about the class. The first thing that surprised me was that he charged less for a single class than any other school I had been to. The second thing that surprised me was how welcoming his students were to me and how gracious they all were. I was blown away by the atmosphere, comradery, and friendship among the students. There was no ego or presumptuousness among the students which I found amazing. One of the students even graciously applied some “Chinese medicine” to my arm after it cramped up and he saw me on the sidelines massaging it out. The third thing that surprised me was the skill level of the students and teachers. It wasn’t just Chi Sao, Chi Sao, Chi Sao. No, they worked on techniques from Chi Sao, getting the proper position, used of the elbow, proper energy, alignment, and body structure. We drilled movements over and over again from Chi Sao. We did free Chi Sao also, but the drills were the most helpful for improvement. It was also my first experience with Gor Sao which helps to improve both your Chi Sao and your fighting ability. The fourth thing that surprised me is that Sifu John Wong and Sifu Mark Wong were the only Sifus I saw who touched hands with their students.
My purpose for going to Hong Kong was to train Wing Chun. I didn’t care about visiting the Bruce Lee statue or seeing tourist attractions. Above all, I was looking for quality training that I could not get anywhere else in the world. If I ever go back to Hong Kong, this is the only school I’d like to train at. I wish I had the chance to visit the Pure Ving Tsun School as I believe Sifu Mark Wong teaches there also. Again, I studied under multiple lineages of Wing Chun, but I’d never experienced that level of understanding and application previously. So, if I had to sum up my experience and give you a recommendation, check out Hong Kong for yourself. Go visit the schools of the famous Sifus and take pictures. If you want quality training, however, visit Sifu John Wong Hong Chung at the VTAA and Sifu Mark Wong. I’ll always remember that training experience and value it. Thank you, Sifu John and Sifu Mark.
I hope this series has been helpful to you and given you some insight into Wing Chun training in Hong Kong. Again, many people have different experiences. Many just go to train with one style or lineage of Wing Chun. I attempted to write this from an un-biased perspective. So, I want this to be of value to you. Thank you for reading.
Wishing you peace, compassion, and safe travels.
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