- Alan and Kwan playing Gaw Sau
Training at Sifu NG Chun-hong’s school is an experience I can’t recommend enough to anyone interested in learning from, in my opinion, the very best in Hong Kong. Having studied with JIU Wan, LOK Yiu, and WONG Sheung Leung, NG Sifu’s own interpretation of the art of Wing Chun is consequently extremely rich and unique.
His school is located in the bustling commercial neighbourhood of Mong Kok, Kowloon. I arrived there for my first evening class, managing to cut my way through the sea of people shopping in the stifling August heat. After scaling two floors, a small sign for Foshan Wing Chun was the only indication that I was in the right place, together with the familiar sounds of trainers squeaking on the floor and the clacking of the Muk Yan Jong. The feeling when entering Sifu NG’s school for the first time is one of stepping into a truly old-school authentic kwoon that may not have changed much since it was founded.
Sifu NG was sitting at his desk with a cup of tea, watching his students as they ran through their forms and began pair-work. I was invited to sit with him for a while. I explained to him the reasons for my visit, whilst we watched his students at work. He came across as a good humoured, friendly man but you could sense in him an underlying intensity. Nothing seemed to get past him, both in our conversation or in what his students were doing in the background. He then asked me to run through some forms and individual drills so he could assess my level. The look in his eye made it immediately obvious we had work to do!
Sifu spent some time with me, helping me to reassess some of the finer details in my foundations, which I would need to develop in order to better my structure and improve my technique. This would be something I needed to work on throughout my stay, with Sifu NG reminding me whenever I strayed back to my old ways. Later as I began working with some of his students, the issues that Sifu had pointed out to me really began to show themselves when pressure tested.
- Alan and Kwan playing Gaw Sau
The atmosphere in the kwoon was fairly relaxed, but it was obvious the students were not there to mess around and were totally focused on their training. When working together, they collaborated with each other in harmony so that both parties progressed freely and constructively. This style was somewhat different to what I was used to in general from students in the west, where there is a tendency to end up battling each other during the drills, generally missing the point of the exercise and developing poorly as a result. Due to these misinterpretations, bouts of Gaw Sau in the west tend to be reliant on speed and strength, as opposed to technique and structure. However when Sifu NG’s students practice Gaw Sau, you can see 100% of the proper authentic techniques being applied with perfect form, timing, and energy. For those who have seen some of their videos on YouTube, although this gives a hint of the way in which they express the art, it is really no substitute for practicing with them and witnessing the real thing first hand.
The drills and exercises I was introduced to were laid out in a very structured and methodical way. Some of these were familiar to me from my previous training, while others I was experiencing for the first time. Sifu NG created these drills so that his students steadily develop the qualities that they require to fully express their art. Newer students would be introduced to techniques by their Sihing or Sifu NG and then be required to repeat these until they felt they had a good understanding of them. They would then try to use the technique on one of their Sidai until they were sure they could use the technique with ease. The true test would be if they could then use this technique effectively on their Sihing during Chi Sau and Gaw Sau, to show that they truly owned the technique.
All of the people I worked with whilst at Sifu’s school were very welcoming and helpful, correcting me wherever possible. I had the fortune to train with students of all levels, each day getting to cross hands with whoever was there as Sifu felt this would give me a wide range of experience. Each student had their own personal style and attributes, but you could tell they had all been through the same rigorous formation process.
In my opinion you can tell a good teacher from the standard of his students and this standard is what really sets Sifu NG’s school apart from the rest. Though not great in numbers during my visit, the students that Sifu NG has are all extremely good. Their ability is thanks to the watchful eye of their Sifu, whose demand for the highest standards and focus on the finest details has meant that they have been constantly challenged to better their abilities. Indeed during the 2 weeks that I spent with them, I felt like I had developed my standard as a result of their drive for perfecting the foundations. If this development was not immediately obvious, I’m hopeful that the seeds of a finer awareness that I was introduced to will continue to grow, being more aware of what I need to focus on now.
- With Sifu Ng Chun Hong and his students, Kwan (to the left) and Alan (to the right)
With this in mind I would like to thank Sifu NG for allowing me to visit his school, it was a fantastic experience. Thanks also to the students I had to fortune to train with including Alan, A’Kwan, A’Gum, Gerard and Fai, amongst others. I hope to return and visit you all soon.
Anyone considering a trip to Hong Kong and wanting to train in an authentic Wing Chun school should get in contact with Sifu Ng through his website http://www.wingchun.hk.com/