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Some reflections on the kungfu system of Vietnam Wing Chun
Recently I have received some comments from friends who expressed their esteem to our branch and school. In this letter, I would like to refer to some of the questions that are frequently asked:
  1. Why is the basic training program of the school lasting so long over 2 years? What results would be achieved after completion of the basic training?
  2. What are pre-conditions for learning nei-kung (inner strength)? What are the learning stages? How does breathing relate to nei-kung?
  3. Did Su- to (The Founding Father) Nguyen Te Cong (Yuen Chai Wan) teach  Chum Kiu (Seeking Bridge - “Tầm Kiều”) and Biu tze (Darting Finger - "Tiêu chỉ"), which are being exercised in several wingchun schools in Vietnam today ? Did GM Tran Thuc Tien teach “Chum Kiu” and “Biu tze”? What are common elements between “Chum Kiu”, “Biu tze” and themethods and techniques system of the Vĩnh Xuân Nội gia Quyền school?
First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks to your appreciation to us. This encourages us to try our best in many aspects in order to deserve your trust. In fact, I have answered some of your questions on this website and in several articles published on newspapers. However, I would try to further explain the mentioned questions:
  1. Wingchun kuyen is an internal style, which place the requirements of combat in close range as the main principle in trainning. For fighting in a close distance, it would not be possible to learn and use separate strikes. Instead, the students have to experience a period of time for learning basic kung-fu and develop fighting skills. Obviously, close combat skills cannot be developed within several months or one year. For example, the “loose” and “soft” status of muscles would require at least several months. Therefore, a period of around 2 years will be required for the commencement of necessary elements for kuen system of Vĩnh Xuân Nội gia.
  2. Nei-kung (Inner strength) is the highest technique of Vĩnh Xuân Nội gia. In order to have nei-kung, the students of Vĩnh Xuân Nội gia have to achieve and fulfill kuen techniques (for instance, smoothly exercise the 108 form system, and at a certain level of Nei li - inner force, etc.) Then the students would acquire the fundamental elements, which are the basic foundation to help receive the nei-kung to be transferred by the teacher. Nei-kung is the technique that is taught directly by the teacher and must be under personal special instructions. In accordance to our branch’s principles, nei-kung is only for training those who will take over the responsibility of the branch development. Breathing is an important method in building the necessary foundation, which ensures the pre-conditions for receiving the training of nei-kung from the teacher.
  3. Regarding your question of whether Chum Kiu and Biu tze, which are being exercised in some of wingchun schools in Vietnam, were taught by Su-to Te Cong, I do not have enough information and knowledge to give an answer. However, I am quite sure that in our branch (of GM Trần Thúc Tiển) GM Tien did not teach “Chum Kiu” and “Biu tze”. These two fist forms are not in the techniques and methods system of our branch. My Si-fu never mentioned these forms over the period I was tought by him, even in the last months of his life when he explained to me the most important principles of our kung-fu system. I have pointed out this fact in many articles about our branch’s system of techniques and methods. I myself just know these two forms when I explore the Hong Kong and China’s Wingchun after 1980. I recognized that these are the two important forms in the system of methods and techniques of these branches, and they are really studious training. In terms of movements and shapes of the body, these two forms also have some aspects which are similar to our branch’s system of methods and techniques (e.g. between Siu Nim Tao and Thu Dau Quyen). However, “Chum Kiu” and “Biu tze” have a part to train kicks and body exercises and have some very different featutres. This is just my initial observation, due to my litmited knowledge about the deeper nature of these forms, I cannot have more specific comments. You can learn more by examining the recent documents (newspapers, magazines, documentaries, etc.) or directly ask the schools that are teaching the two above mentioned forms.
Each branch and sub-branch has its own characteristics. This enriches the mankind’s treasury and makes it more profound and perfect. Each of us, with our own situation can find for ourselves the most appropriate style and diligently pursuing. For sure we will achieve some certain levels. Wish you all the martial art lovers find the one you love.
My sincere thanks to all of you. Wish you all happiness and success.
[Translated by Tran Nam Binh]
Hanoi, Vietnam, September 04, 2005
Si-fu Nguyen Ngoc Noi