“”When I emit my power, the ghosts and gods are all afraid.”
(attributed to) Dong Haiquan
Dong Haiquan (or Dong Hai Chang) was born in 1813 in the Hebei Province of China. Late in life, possibly in his forties, he travelled south and spent a good deal of time in the mountains. At some point, he joined a sect of Daoism called Quan Zhen (Complete Truth/Reality). This sect used a circular walking meditation. This was to help calm the mind and realize stillness in motion. The method was meant to help the practitioner move toward enlightenment.
Dong Haiquan was “discovered” working in the Imperial Palace. His martial abilities had somehow become supremely developed during his travels. He was able to defeat all comers. He was made the Head of Security and put in charge of training others in martial arts. He started teaching around 1870, when he was in his fifties, and taught until his death in 1882, twelve years later.
This story was told to me by my teacher in this context (don’t blame him if I am remembering this one wrong!) – the thing about Dong Haiquan was that he didn’t teach beginners a new “system.” He took already proficient martial artists and upgraded their skills. He taught them something that made what they were already doing better and my teacher suspected that this special sauce was structure.
This is why there are five or more styles of Bagua (eight trigram palm) – these are the schools that have been passed down to us that were already existing styles that Dong enhanced with his knowledge of structure.
I talk about structure a lot on this site because my teacher has shown me that this is one of the pillars of high level martial arts. Others pillars are angle and timing.
Structure is the use of the ground connection for power. The upper body is supported by the lower body through a power chain created by the flexation of joints: the ankle, knee, hip, and elbow.
Its important to note that structure that you create in yourself to generate power cna be destroyed in your opponent to steal their ability to create power, as we see in many of the techniques in the above video. The Masters use their own structured stances to apply power to the bodies of their opponent’s in such a way that their opponent’s structure is destroyed.
Steven Moody says
Repost of a comment which somehow broke on WordPress:
Author: Neville Burns
I hope this finds you well and training hard. So often on various forums I see negative comments about Sifu Gary Lam from people who show no respect for his years of experience and skill. Comments like ‘ he is fat’, ‘he is only good against students who aren’t trying to hit him’ etc etc etc. Anyone who knows anything about Sifu Lam would be aware that in his younger days he was a full contact fighter and a very successful one. I remember master Wong Shun Leung asking once if the coaches of Olympic athletes are as fit as the people they train. Obviously not, but it is their knowledge and skill that is of greatest value. Sifu lam has proven himself in his earlier days and now gives generously of his hard won knowledge and should be lauded for that. My Sifu Barry Lee trained with Gary and has great respect for him. We all get older and Sifu Lam has every right to enjoy an easier life style than a younger man who is engaged in hard training.
Another comment often seen is that Wing Chun will not work against a boxer. Master Wong was a western boxing exponent before taking up Wing chun and had great respect for western boxers but Preferred Wing Chun as a fighting art. As we are aware, Wing Chun never seeks to merely stop or redirect an attack but looks for a way to attack the opponent when they strike. At a seminar in Australia I witnessed Master Wong demonstrating a tan sao against a hook punch. The man throwing the hook was muscular and fit and when Master Wong stopped the strike we could see that he was thinking ‘If I had really tried i think i would have got through. realising this, master Wong turned to this young man and said ‘You try again, you really try.’ He did and Master Wong once again used the tan and punched him lightly in the chest . The man went backwards and then grabbed his arm where the tan had connected swearing in agony with a cherry red mark on his striking limb. He said it felt like he had slammed his arm into a tree. Master Wong had appeared absolutely effortless!
On another occasion I arrived at training to find a fit looking young man skipping and it was immediately apparent that he was a boxer. The son of the man who rented Barry the training venue had brought him to meet Barry and he was saying to Barry that he had sparred with karate men and had little trouble with them . Barry explained that Wing Chun was somewhat different to karate and asked me to start the class on a warm up while he went outside to say goodbye to this young man. Suddenly one of the students, looking out the window yelled ‘They are into it’ and we all ran to the window. It was impossible in the poor light to see details but within seconds the boxers friend stuck his head in the door and yelled ‘ my mate is covered in blood.’ Barry had decided that as the boxer was very respectful in his request to spar that he would accommodate him and had regretfully broken his nose. The boxer took it very well and made the comment that he would hate to fight Barry full on as this was just a light try out of styles. Barry had enjoyed the exchange and said he was sorry he had injured the man and they parted very amicably.