After some technical difficulties we finally got into the studio and wasted no time getting down to chatting about the unique style of Kung Fu that the Ip Man Wing Chun society practice.
Kate Bullivant and Alix Roberts asked former Chairman and Instructor, Oliver Von Herder, about the interesting history behind the Chinese Martial Art. He explained how ‘it was developed in secret about 250 years ago in the Shaolin temple. China was under occupation at the time and rebel monks wanted a style that was lethal and could be quickly taught to fighters. They supposedly put together the most effective techniques from all the styles in the temple. Today, the whole point of Wing Chun is to do away with any inefficient movement and to keep everything as simple and as direct as possible. It is this emphasis on technique over strength that makes Wing Chun so effective for street combat – its original founder was not a monk, but a nun. Wing Chun remained a secretive art for a long time and only a few people at a time ever knew about it, and this is common for a lot of styles of Kung Fu. It wasn’t until the 1950’s in Hong Kong that a Grandmaster called Ip Man began teaching it to the public. Ip Man taught a lot of people, including Bruce Lee. One problem with Wing Chun today is that a lot of people have positioned themselves as the head of their own variations of the style so there are a lot of “flavours” of Wing Chun. Unfortunately only about ten percent of these schools are any good, in my opinion. It is important to me to teach Wing Chun exactly as Ip Man taught it to Bruce Lee. We even go to Hong Kong each year and train with Ip Man’s son’.
Gemma Presky who was member of the society but has since graduated, also spoke to us and said that quite a few girls practice Ip Man Wing Chun, especially in comparison to other styles of Kung Fu. She said, as well as being a great work-out it is also a good self-defence skill to learn, and is fairly easy too as it doesn’t rely on strength. She also said that when practicing, full force isn’t applied anyway and you do not get hurt.
Ip Man Wing Chun relies on grounding the lower half of your body, providing a good solid base so you can use your hands freely. To demonstrate how powerful this technique is, I had a go at the stance that is to be adopted when practicing this kind of Wing Chun and found that it was hard to lose footing, even when strength was applied against me.
To give us a further idea of the unique style of Ip Man Wing Chun, Oliver and current Chairman Joseph Butler showed us the impressive “one inch punch”, which demonstrates a tremendous amount of force from a very short distance. In one move, Oliver was able to send Joseph flying across the studio with from just one inch away from his body. When asked how it felt Joseph said that he’s ‘had worse’. I was unconvinced.
- The Ip Man Wing Chun society on Fuse FM
If you would like to have a go at Ip Man Wing Chun, they meet several times a week for different kinds of classes and any level of experience is welcome. The schedule and contact information can be found at manchesterstudentsunion.com/groups/ip-man-wing-chun-kung-fu.