Adam Chan (Martial artist with over 30 years of experience. He studied Wing Chun and learned from other combative styles such as Gung Fu and Yi Quan.):
Alright guys, I’m gonna talk to you about the weird history of Wing Chun that I always contemplate on and I can never figure out.
In China, there are many different groups or subgroups or tribes or whatever you want to call it. One of it’s the Cantonese, which is very popular because of rural immigration, and two is the Hakanese, which is definitely not popular. Each group has their own dialect, their own language, their own way of life, their own customs, their own food and of course, their own martial art.
If you look at the Cantonese martial art, like Choy Lee Fut, you’ll notice that they’re very big frame movements, really wide stance, really low stance, really big swings, a lot of pointy like strikes, like a leopard fist, tiger claw, snake, that kind of stuff. Really really big frame movements, right?
If you look at the hakka people, the hakka people were the nomads of China. Originally, they came from the North and they immigrated to the South. Hakka literally means, hak means a guest and ka means family; guest family. So, they’re outsiders. So, wherever they go in China as nomads, they always get beat up. People always attack these guys, right. And they’re little guys. So, the hakkas actually invented a lot of martial arts and they’re very very secretive about it because they’re always getting attacked by other villagers. And the hakka techniques and the arts are actually direct contrast, direct opposite of the Cantonese arts. The Cantonese arts were really really big and gigantic but the Hakka arts, if you look at it, like Bak Mei or “White Eyebrow” longing or dragon um loman, gao. There’s a lot of hakka arts, right.
And when you look at the hakka arts, they’re very very small. The stance is very small. They’re very narrow, they use very short arm movements right. So, they’re very opposite of Cantonese. This is really intriguing to me because Wing Chun is a Cantonese martial art, near the facade regions where it originated, right. And, even though it’s a Cantonese martial art, it doesn’t resemble most Cantonese martial art at all. Wing Chun also uses very narrow stance, very upright stance and very small arm bridging movements, which actually resembles hakka movements, like 90% more than it does Cantonese movements, even though it is a Cantonese martial art. I always wonder about that considering the chances of someone inventing something that’s almost identical, the probability of that is very low. So, how did the ancestors of Wing Chun actually learn or cross train or absorb Hakanese arts in order to invent Wing Chun. And I think one of the major reasons is because Wing Chun came on the red boats in China in the Red Boat Opera, and there were a lot of different martial arts, including Hakanese arts as refugees on the boats, in the Red Boat. And maybe the ancestors of Wing Chun learned the Hakanese art. That’s the best guess I have, because I’ve been getting a lot of questions about people asking me on the history of Wing Chun, and that’s my best guess.
When I say Hong Kong Wing Chun, sometimes I talk about on my clips, we’re talking about grandmaster Yip Man. Grandmaster Yip Man was, his teacher was Chan Wah-shun. Chan Wah-shun’s teacher was Leung Jan. Leung Jan’s teacher was Wong Wah-bo and Leung Yee-tai. Both of them were also Red Boat members on the Cantonese Red Boat Opera. So, and another thing, even though the Wing Chun doesn’t really resemble Cantonese frame arts, it actually resembles more to Hakanese art, it seems to me that they only absorb the hakka knees movement, but it didn’t absorb the energetics. And I’m going to talk about that when we get back.
Alright. Hey Chris, can you please come on in.
So, we were talking about how Wing Chun is a Cantonese martial art. But it’s really weird because it actually doesn’t resemble most Cantonese big frame styles. It actually resembles Hakanese martial art because it uses very small movements and narrow upright stains. But another weird thing is, even though it absorbed the Hakanese small movements, it did not take the energetics, which I always thought was weird. For example, in Wing Chun, let’s say if they do an arm style, it looks kind of like this, right? But if I do it from like a Hakanese point of view, one of the major energetic concept is [inaudible], which means as soon as you touch, it shocks the arm, and the other parts, I have to translate, so I’ll leave it out. If I do a Pak Sau in Wing Chun, it looks like that. But if I do it from the Hakanese shotgun point of view, it looks like this.
Adam Chan: “Yeah, sorry.”
Chris: “That’s alright.”
So, even if you do, it, like, damages the chocolate guy’s arm, right. Or, even if you look at a ganza, from the Wing Chun point of view, if their flexes aren’t hit which is a great technique, but if I do it from like a Hakanese point of view called for example [inaudible] which means pulling the sword from the back. So, it’s got a pretty cool name. From a Hakanese shotgun point of view, the same technique will look like this. Yeah. It damages the guy’s arm. Okay, one more. Just one more. If he punches high, let’s say if you do, like it jumps out, it looks like this, right. But if you do it again from a Hakanese point of view, the same technique if I do it, it kind of hurts the arm. Okay, let’s stop here.
Now, what I like about it is, if you don’t shock the guy’s arm, if I do it like a normal ancient way, he can block his arm. And then I have to trap and stuff. But if I’m damaging his arm, it serves as a great distraction, because he’s too busy being in pain here, he’s not even going to think about stopping by attack. So, that’s the first thing I like about it.
Second thing I really like about this, it doesn’t take much force. It’s not like I was taking his arm, and like I was going to do a big movement, even a little movement is enough. Like even if you move a little. Yeah. So, that’s what I like about the Hakanese art, one thing I really love about it.
Another thing that I don’t understand is even though that is so good, I was wondering why when the Cantonese people absorb the Hakanese techniques, why didn’t they also take the shocking energy? That kind of, I couldn’t figure out.
So, so far we’ve talked about the difference between the Cantonese and the Hakanese martial art. There’s many, many differences. I just underlined one major difference, which is the obvious one, the big frame movements versus the small frame movements, right. But there’s also a lot of similarities, a lot. But one of the similarities we’re going to talk about, because we have a limited time today. It’s the fact that both traditional Cantonese martial art and traditional Hakanese martial art like to use very pointy techniques, like, you know, fingers, like snake, or leopard fist or tiger claw or dragon, right. Or, crane. They’re using very pointy stuff and people laugh at it because it doesn’t work, right. Because you’re imitating animals and more important than that, if you hit a guy with a pointy technique such as your fingers, in the eyes or in your throat, but you miss and had a hard bone, like the guy flinching, you got his forearm and you get his forehead, you shatter your hand, right? So, people laughing and going: that stuff doesn’t work. And both Cantonese and Hakanese martial arts like to do it.
Like Hakanese martial art, for example, Bak Mei, “White Eyebrow” or [inaudible] except from praying mantis, they use a lot of pointy techniques as well, like phoenix-eye fists, claws finger strikes. People tend to laugh at that. What they tend to forget is that people that invented these arts, they weren’t like modern people, that are laughing at it. Most of the time, when people laugh at these things, they don’t train. They’re just typing, right? But the guys that made this stuff up, they train full time. And that’s why they hide their arts. They’re being attacked by other villagers all the time. So they were training full-time martial art guys, like you know, 5-6 times a week, alright. And they’re training really hard. So, they condition their hands to the point where, of course, it works, of course, their hands won’t break because they did the work to condition their hands, right? That’s why if you look at most traditional Cantonese and Hakanese arts, our palms training is very very common. It’s hand conditioning, right?
So, does it work? Well, no it doesn’t. If your hands are normal then of course, you’ll break your hands, so it doesn’t work. But if you’re like those guys, and you’re training full time and your hands are really hard then of course, it works. And it’s better than a fist, of course. If I step on your foot with my foot, it doesn’t hurt that much. Whereas if someone has high heels on and steps on your foot, it’s going to hurt a lot, right? The pointed the object, the more it hurts. Same thing, if it hits you with a butt of a screwdriver, it hurts. But if it hits you with the tip, the sharp part, it hurts a lot more. So, it’s common sense. The sharper you make your weapons, the more it hurts. But there’s a catch. If you’re not training full time and your hands are a normal human being’s hands, they will shatter. And the founders thought of that.
So, when you laugh at these guys, you tend to forget the historical context. These guys didn’t have a job. They farmed a bit. Hakka people were famous for farming. And they maybe work like what, 4 hours a day. The rest of the time, they’re training. So, when you train that much of course, your hands are hard enough. And of course, it hurts, right?
And that brings me to my second point on the internet. A lot of times, people are talking crap, right? But, and then, people ask me what I think. What I think doesn’t matter. It’s just an opinion. What matters is you. Test your stuff and my opinion is, you really shouldn’t listen to anyone that’s not a professional. It’s like if you’re getting a plumber to fix your house, you’re not going to get an amateur, especially, if something like plumbing is important, you get a professional plumber, right? Same thing, if you’re sick, you go see a doctor. You’re going to see a professional doctor with an actual medical license, right? So, everything or car mechanic or whatever. So, we want professionals. So, martial art is the same. A professional is someone that trains at least 5 times a day. Maybe 5 times a day, 5 times a week. It has about and at least 10 years, and at least have 10 or 20 real fights behind them, right?
If someone is not a professional, who doesn’t really train full-time, and never had to use this stuff for real, and didn’t even train at least for what, 20 hours a week for 10 years, then they’re not a professional. So, why would you listen to them? And this is important because you want to be careful about your mental diet. Because all the results that you live with, in martial arts and in life, comes from your behavior and action. All your actions come from your decision, all your decision comes from your emotion, and all your emotions, not logic, comes from your values. And most of most people’s values come from their conditioning. And conditioning is important. That’s why you got to watch out for your mental diet. If you continue to listen to what dumb people say, you’re gonna get dumber. Study successful people, study professionals, right? So, when people are insulting, for example, pointing techniques, they’re forgetting they’re not average people. These guys were professionals. They are training full time. So, if you look at it from that historical context, it changes everything. Anyways, that’s it for today. Stay safe, train hard.
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