“Original”, “traditional”, “orthodox”… Those are the words how (traditional) Chinese martial arts are often described. What does it mean? Same as hundreds years ago? Dated?
The word “traditional” comes for a latin word tradere, “to hand over”, “hand down”, from the Master to the apprentice, from one generation to the other – not only the techniques and sets, but concepts, principles and training methodology, often unique to a specific system or family.
So called “traditional” martial arts have always changed and evolved a lot. Just look at the system which s today called Hung Kyun – just a small part of it is “old” Hung Kyun. As many of the Chinese systems, it is in fact “MMA”, in Chinese Jaap Ga, mix of various families (Hung Ga, Choi Ga, Hap Ga, Mog Ga etc.).
Does “traditional” means that the students are supposed to be the exact copy of their teachers? Well, no. I remember my sihing giving me once a very wise advice: “Hey, look, Sifu is not teaching you to move like him, but to move like YOU”.
“Traditional martial art for a modern world”, that is the motto of my school, “practical”, “functional” Hung Kyun – revolution (in the original sense of the word, ie. going back to the roots of the art and paying respect to our ancestors) and evolution at the same time. Yes, we do not live in a Ching dynasty anymore (or even worse, in the movies about Ching dynasty).
Although i am a Hung Kyun practitioner and teacher, i have many friends from the Wing Chun community. Below is a nice short clip to the topic from a movie (i know, movie) The Legend is Born – Ip Man. Leung Bik is played by Grandmaster Yip Chun, son of grandmaster Yip Man, and i can tell he really enjoys it. Watch the choreography and listen to the wise message…
…and do not take me wrong – stop doing that jumping 720 degrees tornado kick in your Siu Nim Tau or Fu Hok, just because you think “it is cool”, that is not what i meant. Work your basics, do your homework, as your sifu told you, otherwise he is going to punish you with a stick!
About the author: Pavel Macek sifu (Hung Kyun), a disciple of Grandmaster Lam Chun Sing, is currently teaching in Central Europe (Prague, Czech republic). His system of teaching puts emphasis on a practical application of the art, reality-based self-defense, strength and conditioning as well as research of various Southern Chinese Martial Arts. Please visit his website at HungKyun.com and facebook.com/hungkyuncom.