"I do Wing Chun because I enjoy it and I love the art. I started Wing Chun when I was six years old as I was getting bullied and wanted to learn self-defence. Since training under Sifu Bee I've been able to stick up for myself, and have been able to teach a few bullies not to mess with me even when they were bigger and older than me. My Mum and Dad also like me training as it has given me discipline and they say I'm less lazy. Also since I've been doing Wing Chun my asthma has improved a lot."
"I have been doing Wing Chun for 4 years now and I have loved every single minute! Getting the highest score when I took my test for the yellow belt is something I am very proud and happy of achieving. I hope to show my warrior spirit and get the highest score when I take my test for the green belt."
"The Way Of The Warrior Is A Way Of Life
And Can Never Be Considered As A Hobby
Unless You Are Seeking Only To Impress
Others With Your Techniques"
- Miyamoto Musashi
Women today are living in fear of unpredictable attacks like mugging, grievous bodily harm and rape. Faced with such circumstances different people act in different ways: for example, some would freeze with terror, others might break down and become hysterical. Trying to defend yourself by attacking vital parts of your assailant's body is not easy in a panic situation.
It is important for us to come to terms with the fact that we live in this kind of unpredictable society and women who learn some form of self-defence are being realistic. The first line of self-defence is natural awareness and this can be improved to the point of becoming second nature with training. Training also helps overcome fear, a stumbling block in effective self-defence.
Wing Chun is a form of the Chinese martial art, Kung Fu. It was begun by a Buddhist nun called Ng Mui some 400 years ago. She had observed a fight between a white crane and a snake and decided to use the movements of the two animals to devise a system of self-defence based on the importance of the shortest distance between two points. The techniques were further developed by her female pupil, Yim Wing Chun, who lent her name to the art. In Chinese the name 'Wing Chun' means 'perpetual springtime'. The system was passed down through generations to the last great Master, Yip Man, the teacher of the legendary Bruce Lee.
Wing Chun teaches the development of strength, posture, correct hand and arm movements, and how to shift the stances of advance and retreat. It also develops the sensitivity of the forearms to the movements of an opponent producing fast reaction in close combat.
Sifu Bee Loh - Save Yourself The Chinese Way
A number of conditioning aids are used for increasing strength - the wooden dummy, for example. This is also a training aid for developing framework, power and co-ordination of hand and footwork, and fluidity of movements. In practice sessions the trainee gradually begins to fight with the dummy as though it were a live opponent - hence its label as the 'silent teacher'.
The sandbag is also used in training to develop the power of the punch and the chop and of elbow strikes, which are very effective at close range: the hardness of the elbow means that little further conditioning is necessary. The two types of elbow strikes are those which travel horizontally and those which travel vertically
Kicking techniques in Wing Chun are divided into three basic 'below the waist line' types, all performed on the sandbag or suspended bag, the front thrusting kick, the side thrusting kick and the slanting thrusting kick. The kicking techniques have two functions - (a) to increase the power in the legs ( which is several times greater than that of the punch ) and (b) to improve the stability of the stance.
Double arm chi-sau ( sticking hands) is an unending process of changing hand techniques. It helps to develop faster reflex actions in the use of the hands and strengthens the power of the elbows.
Wing Chun is just as much a form of defence as it is of attack; the two are not mutually exclusive. Clothing will not restrict the use of its techniques because in many cases minimum movements can produce maximum effect. These easy-to-learn movements suit the female physique as they are graceful yet tremendously fast and powerful - they are based on using the opponent's strength to counter-attack rather than to dominate. Another advantage over other martial arts is that the stature and suppleness of the learner does not play an important part in mastering Wing Chun, which is already one of the most popular styles in Hong Kong today and is gradually becoming so in the UK.
The techniques of Wing Chun have been specially developed to give women an advantage over attackers who are bigger and stronger without necessitating a repertoire of high kicks and turns. The movements are performed in a swift and continuous flow.
Wing Chun contributes towards improving self-awareness and self-confidence in women. Like many other sports it is a social activity and an excellent way to keep fit and lose weight. ( Students are put on a set training program and given tips on general health and diet. ) The period of time taken to master the art depends on the determination of the individual but, learned with the right attitude and in the right spirit, it will effectively transform your personality in a positive way.
Picture of B H Loh in action taken by Maggie Murray for Foundation of Women Martial Artists.