Sifu Gorden started his formal training when he was age 15. Most of the time he trained with his father’s (Grandmaster Lo Man Kam) regular students and private students. Later, his father also spent a lot of time teaching him privately. His father taught him techniques, but also, passed on “how to teach” Wing Chun.
It was not like Kung Fu movies, with the master teaching his son secret techniques, though. His father told him; “When Yip Man was teaching, he told us there were NO secret about his Wing Chun.
Sifu Gorden,growing up, did you hear many stories of your father’s training under Yip Man?
Of course, there were lots of stories. One story my father told me was that Yip Man spent a lot of time teaching his students the Wing Chun foundations during the early 50s in Hong Kong.
Yip Man also liked to test the students by surprise contact to see how strong their footwork and structure was.
Yip Man concentrated his training curriculum on Chi-sao, because he said “Chi-sao is the Heart” of Wing Chun. He believed that Chi-sao gave you the understanding of Wing Chun techniques. When the Wing Chun practitioner uses Pak-sao in a fight, often the opponent does not even know what happened.
You are teaching in Virginia, USA. Is there much interest in the United States for Wing Chun?
I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. It is a military town with the biggest naval base in the world. In this area, every few blocks you can find one or two martial arts school. But still, a lot of people are interested in learning Wing Chun. Some people who attend my school are priests or school teachers, and others are US Navy Seals or police SWAT.
We have unique teaching methods and my instructor team spends a lot of time with students, one on one. My teaching philosophy is to have the students develop the ability to learn for themselves. I also work with students on a lot of details and hand exercises, so they can develop good feeling and we can guide them to build their own Wing Chun style.
Can you explain to us how “Elbow Power” is developed in Siu Lim Tao?
There are many movements that need elbow power in Siu Lim Tao, but the main idea of developing elbow power is in the first section of Siu Lim Tao.
Siu Lim Tao emphasizes short bridge, and short bridge emphasizes generating the power from the elbow. The first section of Siu Lim Tao with “Tan Sao” and “Fok Sao” (FooK Sao) developes elbow power going forward. Wu Sao develops elbow power going backward. The Wing Chun punch also requires pull and push from the elbow.
The second section where both hands come down also needs elbow power, as do the low palm strikes in section three. And of course, every finishing move (pulling the arm back to the starting position) also requires elbow power.
Please explain how Chum Kiu trains the concept of intercepting. How close should Chum Kiu be applied and how does one close the gap?
One of the main ideas of Chum Kiu is to connect with the bridge (Bridge in Chinese martial arts means the arm) Intercepting is just one of the ideas involved.
Intercepting can happen in these ways:
1. Stop opponent’s movement 2. Distraction 3. Set up the follow up move
Connecting to the bridge by intercepting can be done close to the opponent or far from the opponent. If the distance is close, we jam forward and follow with close range fighting techniques to control the situation. If the distance is more open, we will have some set up movements or overwhelming power techniques. The movement at the very beginning of Chum Kiu is the shooting of two hands out to the upper level. That move is used to intercept.
For this movement, we need to extend the power from the shoulders.
You have stated in the past that that Bil Jee teaches how to generate and extend the power from the shoulder. How is this trained?
The best exercise is the elbow striking movement at the very beginning of the Bil Jee form. When executing the elbow strike in an up-to-down motion with correct stance and structure, it automatically pulls, opens and stretches the back muscles like the Rhomboids, Trapezius (middle and lower), and Serratus Anterior. I also do a lot of push ups to build the muscle for explosive power.
You consider your father, Lo Man Kam, an expert in short bridge Wing Chun, and your “uncle” Duncan Leung, an expert in long bridge Wing Chun. Can you explain what the difference is between the two?
Short bridge generates power from the elbow. Long bridge is from the shoulder. Short bridge is used for close range fighting and emphasizes control and manipulation of your opponent with quick follow up.
It uses push step footwork or triangle footwork to jam forward.
Long bridge is more open. It uses longer motion movements on offense and defence, emphasizing on reach, extension and overwhelming power. It also uses the Wing Chun push kick.
What tips would you give to beginners who want to excel in Chi Sao?
There are many training systems in Chi Sao that allow for quick improvement and movement to next level. But the best way to excel in Chi Sao is to Chi Sao with as many people as possible.
Is your own personal wing Chun still evolving?
I started Wing Chun when I was 15 years old. Wing Chun is not learned by imitating your Sifu. Practitioners need to understand the theories that make the Wing Chun techniques applicable in real life situations. This is how Wing Chun training works.
Each stage cannot be learned by “Copying”. That is why practitioners who learn Wing Chun long enough should develop their own style. Once they know how to build their own style, the ability to develop and adapt becomes endless. My own training went through the same stages. As a Sifu now, I also need to develop good training systems so my students don’t have to spend much time repeatedly doing the same exercises.
Sometimes I need to tailor the training to individuals. Everybody has different characters and my teaching style needs to reflect this.
This is part of my training, too. I am constantly growing and evolving with my students. My Wing Chun will never stop evolving.
What does the future hold for Wing Chun? Do you see the art continuing to grow and thrive in the United States?
I have confidence that it will, even in the US, where a lot of people are looking for “fast food” Wing Chun. It is a unique art , and it willI continue to grow and develop. Ω
For more information go to: vbwingchun.com