Kung Fu Southside

Training with Grandmaster

The early days of Hong Kong Wing Chun

 In this series of articles I will recount some of the lessons and stories that have been shared with me during my training and also Yum Cha with Sifu. We discuss many things relating to Wing Chun Ling Tung Gong and I’ll begin with a short history of how Grandmaster Choi started Wing Chun under the legendary Yip Man and the knowledge of Wing Chun Ling Tung Gong that was passed to him.

Grandmaster Gregory Choi (Tsoi Siu Kwong) began his training with Wing Chun Great Grand Master 葉問 Ip Man in 1954  at 東莞新街 Dong Goon San Gaai.  Yip man had only been in that location for a short time after moving the club from 飯店公會 (Restaurant workers union).  The name of the street was later changed to  利達街 Lei Dat Gaai which is how it is now famously remembered as the place that Bruce Lee came to learn Wing Chun.

Yip Man taught in a traditional way and gave each student what they needed based on the individuals nature and also the strengths and weaknesses of the disciple. Just like in todays modern Wing Chun schools, there were different levels to the clubs student base. Most paid the standard fee of $30/month and as such were taught in the group class environment with the Sihings doing the majority of teaching. Private lessons were given by Yip Man but there was no set fee, you gave him a red packet with what you could afford to pay. While it is true that the amount given to him was then reflected in what you were taught, it didn’t guarantee that you would learn everything. There were many other factors that Yip Man took into account when teaching students. Some of the students from this time period were taught how to use the martial aspect of Wing Chun over the internal aspect. This was because they showed interest and ability in this field and they would be good candidates to promote Yip Man’s school and the efficiency of Wing Chun in challenge matches. GM Choi was not interested so much in proving himself in these challenge matches, but he would spend every afternoon/evening and weekend training at the Lei Dat St club. Yip Man saw this talent & unbridled enthusiasm for Wing Chun in the young Master Choi and shared with him 4 books to copy detailing the art of Wing Chun Kuen and also Wing Chun’s Qi Gong & Dit Da.

Some of these books were written in 古文 Gu Man which is Classical Chinese prose or poems. And as it was, Grandmaster Choi’s  early years of schooling happened to be in a school that taught the old style of Gu Man 古文. This gave Sifu Choi the knowledge to not only read the text contained in the book but also be able to understand it’s meanings and further develop the Ling Tung Gong system. Without this understanding and

 early guidance from Yip Man it would’ve been easy to misinterpret some of the words and meanings  that could change the outcome and understanding. Yip Man gave GM Choi the book that was passed down through the generations detailing the internal art of Wing Chun Qi Gong. And with the knowledge contained within these books,  GM Choi has continued to develop the Qi Gong of Wing Chun Ling Tung Gong into its current form. 

Grand Master Choi emigrated to Australia in the late 1959 and at the time only taught a few friends privately. But after a visit back to Hong Kong early in 1972, GGM Ip Man asked GM Choi to open a school here in Australia, reluctantly he agreed as he had no interest in teaching formally, but as his Master had requested it  he diligently obeyed, but said that he would teach only for 5 years then pass the school over to his students. Which is exactly what he did, and so the first Australian Wing Chun school opened as the VCK Kung Fu Centre in 768 George Street Sydney. This school closed in the late 1970’s.
Since then he has continuously studied and refined Wing Chun Ling Tong Gong and has privately taught only a handful of students who sought him out.

Now these teachings are being translated into English by Grandmaster Choi and myself  through many hours of lessons and numerous Yum Cha. I am humbled and honored to have been chosen as Grandmaster Choi’s last student and as the representative for Wing Chun Ling Tung Gong,  I look forward to showing the world another facet of the Wing Chun system  & helping many other people gain the multitude of health benefits through this wonderful art if they choose to want it.

If you are interested in learning more about Wing Chun Ling Tung Gong,  send me a message at sifu@kungfusouthside.com.au 

Relax, Be Happy, Concentrate, Don’t Worry & Persevere.

Sifu Dave

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