In December 2006, when the Jee Shin wing chun group arrived at the Red Fortune Restaurant in Kulo.
There were around 20 to 30 people there to greet us.
Unknown to our group, the Chinese people that met us were a combination of wing chun practitioners from the surrounding area.
Apparently, there are 5 wing chun schools in Heshan County, which encompasses Kulo village.
The commercial city named Shapin, has around 300,000 inhabitants.
There are more small villages around, but I am not familiar with them.
After all the introductions and handshakes we entered the Red Fortune restaurant to commence our feast of fish, herbs and vegetables.
A group of Kulo practitioners rallied around to sit at our table.
Fung Leung, a son of the legendary GM Fung Chun sat at our table, as we were told later on.
We all had a great feast of fish and vegetables before we went outside onto the gravel car park, where we exchanged demonstrations and did some random chi sao sparring.
It was a new experience to witness Kulo wing chun
The Kulo wing chun practitioner’s chi sao left an impression on me.
In this province, food is cooked in the middle of a concrete table. There is a hollow in the centre where coals are heated.
A Wok is placed over the coals and the vegetables, herbs and freshly caught fish are added and cooked.
This style of preparing food is very unique in this part of the World.
When we finished feasting and fighting, we all went for a short trip to Dr. Leung Jan’s house and school, in the heart of Kulo village.
Leung Jan retired back to his native village of Kulo and taught 3 students before he passed away.
Kulao village is around a thousand years old.
Our itinerary did not include seeing Fung Chun.
GM Fung Chun, head of the pien sun wing chun clan in Kulo, must have heard we were in the village, because he walked to Leung Jan’s house to greet us.
While there we were lucky to get some group photos and talk to him.
When you first watch Kulo wing chun in action, it is extremely soft, but there are 3 ways to train.
Soft – Intermediate (using K1 shifting) – with Jing. (power and intention)
Most people see this soft version and actually laugh at it, thinking this is very weak and soft.
They couldn’t be further from the truth!
When I touched hands with several kulo practitioners, I could sense their power and intention.
They practise an empty hand form called, “sup yi lo” 12 fist set of kulo.
This is the fundamental solo practise of the Pien Sun wing chun system.
In the early days, one would practise each move for 3 months.
There is also a two man set called, “Dai Guk”
Basically, it is using the moves from the sup yi lo set and creating a continuous flowing training drill.
Pien Sun wing chun chi sao practise is very different from the “normal” wing chun chi sao.
When they practise 2 man chi sao drills, they lock arms and rotate in circles, quite different to “rolling arms” chi sao.
Kulo wing chun stems from Dr. Leung Jan on his retirement back to his native village of Kulo, around 1895.
He decided to teach a 72 point synthesised version of wing chun. Most wing chun is based on the 108 point system.
72 point system, translates from the 12 moves of sup yi lo training.
The 12 moves are broken down into left and right side, which gives us 24 points.
Then there are upper, middle and lower gate areas, which gives us 3 times 24 equalling 72 points.
I genuinely believe that the Kulo Pien Sun wing chun system stems directly from Yim Wing Chun.
Her husband Leung Bok Chow also taught Red Boat member Wong Wah Bo.
Leung Yee Tai and Wong Wah Bo were both teachers of Leung Jan.
Leung Jan learnt two systems from the Red Boats.
The Wong Wah Bo wing chun system was taught from Foshan and the Leung Yee Tai version went into Kulo village.
GM Fung Chun says that Leung Jan didn’t introduce Sil Lim Tao into the Kulo system.
It's uncanny, but all the practitioners in Heshan County can perform SLT.
Kulo wing chun has very similar concepts to Traditional wing chun.
Central line theory
Centre line theory
Parallel leg approach to the opponent
Circular foot work
Balls of the feet stances and moving
Incorporating qigong into their practise
Sup Yi Lo training can also be incorporated into wooden dummy training.
All my thoughts are based on my experiences with the Fung Chun Clan.
Leung Jan had 3 students, the most notable being Wong Wah Sam.
Wong Wah Sam had 4 students, several coming from the Fung Clan.
Even though it is a close knit community, the wing chun in Heshan County can differ quite a bit.
I was very surprised!
I realized now, there were differences with wing chun kung fu around China, Hong Kong and Australia.
One wouldn’t think that Leung Jan’s wing chun in Kulo would have so much variation.
I have been back to Kulo 5 times, now, and each experience has been very enlightening and spiritual and better than the previous.
I will cherish the times with GM Fung Chun as he has treated us like his family.
We spend about 2 hours with him, every time we visit him and he tells us many stories about his life and the northern Shaolin temple.
Fung Chun is over 90 years now and our chances of seeing him diminish each year, so, the experiences I have had with him since 2006.
I will cherish them forever.
The legacy of Dr. Leung Jan is still predominant today, around Heshan County.
His grand student, Fung Chun is still alive and GM of his wing chun Clan.
Fung Chun has told us stories about his sifu Wong Wah Sam.
He has related stories from the northern temple about, Ng Mui, Fung Do Duk, Fung Suy Yuk, and Yim Wing Chun.
Fung Chun also met Bruce Lee, after Bruce asked Fung Chun to teach him wing chun.
Fung Chun told Bruce wing chun is not for hurting people and declined.
He related stories about Ng Mui creating the Plum Blossom Poles and how she used them to leap over the walls of the Shaolin temple.
Fung Chun also told us stories about his qigong training, especially Sun Qigong. At 90 years old, he still doesn’t need glasses.
Fung Chun’s house in Kulo Village is very quant. As you enter his courtyard, you are greeted by an ancient fig tree with roots abounding.
Fung Chun greets us with a very warm smile and we all sit in his court yard and drink tea, while listening to his stories.
After about an hour we then walk around Kulo village to a restaurant for Yum Cha.
On two occasions Fung Chun has touched hands with me. I am extremely honoured.
Foshan is the home of wing chun kung fu. Kulo is the spiritual home of wing chun kung fu.
Dr. Leung Jan, the “king of wing chun” set the precedence for wing chun kung fu in both places.
Hong Kong is also a haven for wing chun kung fu.
Due to China’s closed door policy, Hong Kong would receive all the accolades.
We should never forget that contemporary wing chun kung fu has its origins in Southern China from the 18th Century.
Grand Master Fung Chun categorically states:
“wing chun kung fu comes from the Northern Shaolin Temple not the Southern Temple”
The timeline below depicts my interpretation of wing chun Ancestors.
The dates prior to Dr Leung Jan are approximate!
1680 – 1790
Yim Wing Chun
1750 – 1830
Leung Yee Tai
1780 – 1850
Dr Leung Jan 1826 – 1901 – Chan Wah Shun 1836 – 1909 – Ip Man 1893 - 1972
Dr Leung Jan 1826 - 1901 - Wong Wah Sam 1880 – 1930
Fung Chu 1910……..still alive today and living in Kulo village
Fung Keun 1964……….son of Fung Chun
Garry and Linda Baniecki 1954……..Melbourne Australia
Some stories say the Qing Dynasty started in 1644, the shaolin temple was burnt down and wing chun started.
The Qing dynasty did commence in 1644 and prospered until 1911.
Wing Chun more than likely started about 100 years later.
After all the Academia fled to southern China and then the secret societies were formed to repel the Manchus.
GM Fung Chun is a story teller. This is how history is never forgotten.
Stories are told by the Elders and the young ones keep the oral tradition going.
Sifu Linda and Sifu Garry have been adopted into Fung Chun’s Clan by the GM himself.
Photos of sifu garry and sifu linda are portrayed at Fung Chun’s school in Shapin.
Our portraits also ornate Fung Chun’s wall at his residence in Kulo Village.
What an Honour.
In generations to come, we have been immortalised as wing chun practitioners form Australia with a strong connection to Kulo.
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