Interview with WingTsun grandmaster Leung Ting
Health & Lifestyle Channel
Hostess Zhao Ling
Hong Kong Cable TV Channel # 27
*The opinions and views expressed are those of the authors and participants of the TV show and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of the trainer team at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver.
LT: After half a year you can enter competitions.
LT: Normally. Now I don’t guarantee that you will win. But basically you should be able to deal with the average boxer. But whether or not, you can take on a huge number of attackers all at once, that is….(interrupted by host)
Host: WT hand techniques are suitable for competition fighting?
LT: Yes. I need to clarify one matter. Many people believe once you put on the boxing gloves, then you cannot use WT. That is wrong. The gloves would get in the way when you chain punch. How about you can space your punches out a bit, right?
Host: Right. So, will a competition fighter improve if he learns WT?
LT: He should.
Host: Why do so many professional boxers in America and from elsewhere they do not consider taking some WT training?
LT: Not only in America. There have been of my students. Look here. This one is the European champion. He came to Hong Kong to learn WT. There were many others.
Host: This one, photo number 16?
LT: Yes. Photo 16.
Host: This is your student?
LT: No. The one on the left. The black man. He is the European middle weight champion.
Host: A competition boxer?
LT: Yes. Frank Bruno. He came to Hong Kong to learn WT from my students. At the time I was not in Hong Kong. My students taught him the first form. I said, “My God, he came here for short period of time and you teach him the first form! That is useless”.
Host: Another audience question: Is there a difference between the movie version of Yip Man and the real person?
LT: There is a difference. A little bit similarities but many differences.
Host: What parts were similar?
LT: For example, the scene where he hit the first challenger at his home and then he asked him if he was alright. Also, while he was in the middle of dinner, he made the challenger wait until he finished his meal.
Host: That was true?
LT: That really happened. He was not like more Sifus. He did not like to pick fights with others (challenges). He really is the kind of person where after he hit you (like in the movie) and then asks, “Are you all right”? He was a funny person who liked to joke a lot. He made nicknames for just about everyone of his students.
Host: What sort of nicknames did he make?
LT: He had a student nicknamed Nuclear (Yuanzi) Chen. (a few seconds spent trying to explain “nuclear” to the hostess because LT cannot pronounce it correctly in Mandarin) because it did not take much to get him hurt or bruised. Another senior student he gave the nickname Tarzan because he looked “ape like”.
Host: He was quite a funny guy. Was he strict?
LT: Not at all. GM Yip Man taught kungfu only because he needed to make a living. Otherwise he would not have done so. The movie portrayed him as having fallen on really hard time but that was not quite accurate. When he came to Hong Kong, he came by himself. At the time, my sifu Leung Sheung was a leader in a labor union. One day he saw the union secretary named Li Wen do a huen sau. That caught Leung Sheung’s attention and he asked “Do you know kungfu”?
The secretary replied “Yes” and asked Leung Sheung, “Have you heard of Wing Tsun”? Leung Sheung was a martial arts fanatic so he was very interested to hear further. After a long discussion, Li Wen told Leung Sheung that a Wing Tsun expert is in town and asked if he was interested in learning from this expert. This was how Yip Man ended up openly teaching Wing Tsun at the labor union office. The first two students were Leung Sheung and Lok Yiu. For the first few months there were only a handful of students who joined. At the time Yip Man was still relatively conservative. He was hesitant towards teaching and held back on what he taught. The students could not figure out the function of the first form. It seemed so slow and boring. Beginning from the mid 1950s to late 1950s, WT slowly became well known in Hong Kong.
Host: One of the audiences asks about the character played by actor Huang Xiaoming in the second Yip Man movie. Did such as person exist? [In the movie, Huang Xiaoming’s character was named Huang Liang who was supposed to represent the famous Sifu Wong Shun Leung.]
LT: Wong Shun Leung was not the “daidizi” (most senior student) but he was one of the very early students. That part is true. But what happened in the movie was false. Wong Shun Leung, when he was young liked to challenge others to fights, so that is how he became famous. He was not Dai Sixiong (“the” Senior Kungfu brother), but you could call him “one of” the senior students. Later Bruce Lee learned sparing from Wong Shun Leung.
Host: I know you have a lot of pictures. Of students.
LT: @9:39 that was taken during the opening ceremony of my school and Yip Man attended. I was very young.
Host: Wow. How many years ago?
LT. That was in 1970. I should be 21 years old.
Host: At the time, Sifu Leung was quite handsome.
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