China 2019 Part 6

Buzzing with Memories

The first full day in Foshan was very, very exciting and I feel it set the scene for the amazing trip that had just begun. Today was the seminar with Tai Sīgōng! My lasting memories of the seminar include grins and happy smiles on everybody’s faces. The wonderment of seeing Tai Sīgōng at the age of 96, doing Chi Sáu with Sīgōng (Master Tse) and Siba (Darryl Moy). The minimal use of energy and subtle movement of Tai Sīgōng were such a testament to the way in which we have all been taught.

After a great session of listening to Tai Sīgōng ’s teachings, we practiced some drills and worked on using less energy. I felt the seminar coming to an end and it was question time.

I felt the need to ask how Tai Sīgōng was able to handle himself so comfortably in close to his chi Sáu opponent. What better way to explain than by demonstration – I felt so lucky to be called up and my question was answered by Tai Sīgōng showing me how he used different parts of the forearm for different purposes. Again I was amazed when he used the contact of his elbow to push me back a few feet. The rest of the day we were all buzzing

by Tom Rogers

Essence of Wing Chun

My favourite day of the whole trip. This was the day I had been looking forward to for months. To be in the presence of my Sīgōng Ip Chun again. To watch him at the age of 95 move in the way that he still can and impart wisdom with such clarity. It is and was truly awe-inspiring.

I was inspired in the first instance to begin Wing Chun training over twenty years ago by Ip Tai Sīgōng, his father. Watching Sīgōng at 95, his movements remind me so much of his father in the old black and white cine-film we students will all have watched over and over again during our training.

One of the things I’ve always loved about Wing Chun is its deceptive simplicity. Sīgōng embodied for me the very essence of Wing Chun during the seminar by teaching us all a seemingly simple technique that he had been working on for ten years!

I have been energised by that one seemingly simple technique to want to begin my own class. To further my skill. So that one day, I too can I hope get someway close to mastering that very technique. Thank you Sīgōng for sharing your skill, the true Wing Chun skill with us.

by Clive Stanton

Honoured to See Him

It was our first morning in Foshan. We got up early and had a substantial dim sum breakfast on the 4th floor of the hotel, the first in a series of 10. We then met our amicable Foshan coach driver that made every effort to help the group get on and off the coach safely and efficiently. His enthusiasm was so great that helping us off the coach felt more like a Laap Sáu, however, his friendly attitude fully compensated for this small misunderstanding.

The coach took us to a hall where Sīgōng demonstrated some new applications, including a new Bóng Sáu technique which I tried to apply with a relative degree of success during Chi Sáu sessions throughout the trip. It was great to see Sīgōng holding up well. Today, he doesn’t normally do seminars but due to his special relationship with Sīfú we were lucky to receive direct instruction from him. Despite having this great skill, Sīgōng remains to be a humble and approachable person. It was an honour to see him again and I am very grateful to Sīfú that he gave us this opportunity.

After taking a few group pictures, we had lunch in a local restaurant and then went to visit the Ip Man Museum and Ancestral Temple of Foshan where we witnessed a traditional lion dance that originates from Foshan. After a heated Chi Sáu session at the hotel and a very spicy dinner at a Sichuan restaurant we all retired to our rooms, looking forward to the following day.

by Alex Kalinin

Ip Man Museum and Temple Complex

Later in the afternoon we visited the Ip Man museum located within the Ancestral Temple complex in Foshan. The entrance was within the red coloured walled grounds topped with traditional green tiled slopping roof, flanked by two stylized lions. There was also a costume performer dressed as the Monkey King welcoming in visitors.

Once we entered the complex we could see the Ip Man museum to the right, a two-storey grey bricked building, with same green roof, topped with two dragons facing each other with a red pearl between them. As we entered there was a bust of Tai Sīgōng Ip Man on a small plinth, it was the ideal place to take some photos with Sīfú and members of the groups!

The museum on the upper floor rooms depicted key stages of Tai Sīgōng Ip Man’s life through the decades from his time in Foshan to his move to Hong Kong, showing some of his personal items, family and friends photos to re-creations of some his home settings within Foshan and Hong Kong. On display were also items of Wing Chun used by Ip Man, like the wooden dummy, Baat-Jam-Dao and 6 ½ point pole. It was a fascinating experience to be able to look at the history of Wing Chun through the life and personal effects of Tai Sīgōng.

The museum then led to an area showing how far Wing Chun practice had spread across the world showing pictures of the various schools with their Sīfú’s and students.

Obviously being biased the photo of Sīfú and our schools in the UK were the main highlight. I couldn’t help thinking that as I stood next to Sīfú looking at his photo how surreal that moment was, with the general public walking by and not realising the person they were looking at in the photos was there in person and being shown as part of the Wing Chun history and future on display there. It was an amazing moment to witness!

Outside the museum, the temple grounds opened up with a number of builds housing deities in impressive decorations, structures and dotted with trees. With one particular two-tiered temple having black and gold panels housing golden statues within had small bonsai trees in the courtyard on display with large water filled vessel of pink and purple lotus flowers.

As we moved around the temple grounds there was the sound of drums and symbols playing, which as we got closer was a demonstration of two teams of lion dancers. It was amazing to see the teams, one in green the other in red performing their dance with leaps and acrobatics.

The highlight was when a one lion in white (a team of two guys) performing leaps on top of posts of varying height with incredible balance, precision and strength. It was particularly impressive as they were leaping between posts holding the lion head and having limited view of where they were leaping, especially for the guy in the back of the pair.

The day at the museum and temple complex was completed with a delicious sweet milk desert at small place next to the complex.

by Ajay Patel