False teaching and secret knowledge

Discussion in 'Wing Chun' started by turninghorse, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. turninghorse

    turninghorse White Belt

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    I was reading this article linked in another thread:

    http://www.twc-kungfu.com/articles/ikf_june_1997/1.html

    I found it interesting. As I am training Duncan Leung lineage, which seems quite "traditional" in concepts, I can only assume that Duncan Leung was being taught the traditional system in private when the students in the regular class were being taught the "Chan Wah Shuen" version. This is the only way I can make the timeline presented make sense.

    Regardless of the veracity of the article, I find myself again confronted with another example of the one thing I find most distasteful in martial arts, and which is encountered all too frequently, specifically the selective teaching and witholding of "secret knowledge."

    I believe this is slowly changing, but I still encounter it from time to time. I think it only hurts martial arts, as it leads to internal inconsistencies being propagated as truth which detracts from the art (though not necessarily the effectiveness)

    The success of the student depends on dedication, training, and hard work, not the acquisition of knowledge of techniques.

    On the other hand, in the case of Wing Chun, this dissembling ultimately gave us JKD, so maybe it is a force for evolution.
     
  2. hunt1

    hunt1 Green Belt

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    Your assumption is wrong. Duncan learned the same basic wing chun as everyone else. William Cheung story is his own and only pertains to what he teaches. The story is very questionable but stories don't matter only results. Only William learned Tradional Wing chun from Yip Man according to the story no one else.

    The most interesting part of his story is that while he was living with Yip Man and learning the special version of wing chun Tsui Seung Ting was also living with Yip Man in about a 300 sf area. In fact TST lived with Yip Man longer than anyone else. So for Williams story to be true Yip would have taught him while TST was sleeping in front of them. A heavy sleeper that TST never to have been awakend even once during all that time.
     
  3. turninghorse

    turninghorse White Belt

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    Wonderful. History is fascinating, and often the truth is stranger than fiction.
     
  4. profesormental

    profesormental Brown Belt

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    Greetings.

    What I find interesting is that it is not enough for some people to get by by their own merit, and have to make up stories to legitimize their standing.

    Lineage and such should be used only as points of reference for the development and the foundations of the "style" of the person. Also, to give credit where it is due.

    Yet it is not a measure of skill. And skill is gained through personal effort, not given by a teacher, though if the teaching is good enough, it can certainly help a lot.

    As I've stated before, I've seen many practitioners with "proper" and/or distinguished lineages that have nothing to offer except basics; I have witnessed practitioners with no lineage or a "mutt" like me, that have a lot to offer.

    Interesting and entertaining stories. History is somewhere in the mix and in between all these stories.

    What I do know is whoever put together the empty hand forms had a LOT, and I do mean a LOT of martial knowledge. And that is a fact.

    And the names... Sil Lum Tao... the "Little Idea" form. Think about it...

    What is everything made up of? The smallest things put together!

    Fundamental particles. So that is why I translate Sil Lum Tao as the "Fundamental Form".

    That is just ones of the secrets given to me by my "Secret Master" who is the one and only descendent of the True Wing Chun.

    Want to know who that is? Ok... I'll tell you... you might know him.

    Hard Training. He still teaches with his Kung Fu brothers Continuous Study and Real Experience.

    I've learned a lot from them. And I guess many of you too.

    Juan Mercado-Robles
     
  5. mook jong man

    mook jong man Senior Master

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    I know them , I studied under their two cousins Trial and Error.
     
  6. Trueblood

    Trueblood Yellow Belt

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    I wouldn't put a lot of historical stock in anything printed in Inside Kung Fu. There are a lot of stories, and a lot of people telling them.

    To your second point, if a student isn't ready to learn something, I can't teach it to them. I can teach a concept a dozen times to a student and they won't be successful until they're ready to learn it (physically, cognitively, etc.) -- am I withholding a secret if someone isn't ready to learn it?

    It goes for me, too... there are things that I _know_ I don't know, for example the weapons forms. I trust sifu's judgment to teach me those things when I'm ready. Are those forms being kept secret from me? I don't think so, I'm just not to that point yet.
     
  7. turninghorse

    turninghorse White Belt

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    That was my way of saying I didn't believe it.

    This is not exactly that with which I am concerned. It is more the holding back of specific techniques or ideas to certain students, or worse teaching "wrong" for some and the "true way" only to others.

    I am sure this does not occur in your school, but it does happen from time to time.

    Since Hard Training, Continuous Study, Real Experience, Trial, and Error are the true teachers, it makes no sense to me not to share knowledge, as knowledge without mastery gained through hard work is no more substantial than a blue print compared with an actual building.
     
  8. yak sao

    yak sao Senior Master

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    I have also found Pain is a very good teacher.
     
  9. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Well it sure happened with my old Chinese sifu, and I think its more common in WC branches than most of us would care to admit. At least when I first met my former sifu in 1980, he openly admitted that certain movements and interpretations of his system were his own and that was why he deliberately chose a different way of spelling his WC. I thoroughly respected this openess.

    But later I found out that he was cagey and almost paranoid in the way he would withold information... Sometimes from us --his senior disciples (especially if we were short of cash or time to devote to promoting him) --and more often from lower ranked students and the general public. He published books and posters with deliberate errors, "just to fool the other WC people", he falsified photos and documents to suggest a closer relationship between himself and GM Yip Man than actually existed, flaunted a PhD degree purchased from a diploma mill, and so forth.

    The irony is that these unecessary shenanigans lost him many devoted students and gave him the appearrance of being a total fraud in the eyes of many outsiders. Yet, the fact was that he had incredible skills, a unique and valuable system of WC, and a legitimate, if not especially close relationship with GM Yip. But by trying to be so clever in his excessive efforts at self-promotion, he lost credibility for himself and for his students.

    Since I left that instructor in the early 90's I've encountered similarly ...er... unreliable claims and statements made by many other WC sifus and organizations, including many of the best known names. At least in retrospect, I realize that my former sifu did have terrific skills. Some of the other big names in WC don't. But what good are a sifu's skills anyway... if he won't honestly share them!
     
  10. profesormental

    profesormental Brown Belt

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    Greetings.

    I've enjoyed the messages in this discussion, because withholding information and training methods, and comparing the results and working to improve them is a sure way in which the system will weaken over time.

    Open discussion and examination of training and working to improve results, not maintain "how it was taught", should be priority. This is eternal growth. Eternal Spring.

    For some reason, people don't get that hoarding secrets and not disseminating them is a sure way to be forgotten. Wing Chun thrives now because it was taught to a wide audience.

    Now, with easy access to communication, it is the best of times and a great opportunity to increase our skills and knowledge. I don't know about many here, but I know that I've benefited greatly from the pooled knowledge from the discussions in these forums.

    Keeping things secret would get us nowhere. In the 1960's, because there were so few, many shared knowledge. this led to the enrichment and improvement of many practitioners and their methods.

    Doing this is the only way to surpass the ancient Masters, who most probably did the same.

    Juan Mercado-Robles
     
  11. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    This is a great point. Another thing that is harmful to the development of a WC is the dogmatic attitude the "this is right and that is wrong" when assessing how others approach technique, form, or training method. Certainly certain approaches yield better results than others, and may offer safer, more efficient solutions. But why can't we objectively discuss the differences in our systems from that perspective. In other words, when you see a technique or strategy that you disagree with, you would discuss it from a sort of risk vs. benefit perspective, rather than a dogmatic and authoritarian "you're wrong and we're right" attitude, or worse, from a "we know the secret and you guys are clueless" attitude.

    I guess this could be a good topic for a new thread. I hope you guys will chime in.
     
  12. Poor Uke

    Poor Uke Green Belt

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    "There are no secrets in Wing Chun, just better use of basics" - Sifu Ward

    A philosophy that I apply to my training reguardless of style (or sub style).
     
  13. profesormental

    profesormental Brown Belt

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    I couldn't agree more.

    I would just add not only better use of basics, but improved and more optimized execution of basic movements. That is one of the most important aspects regardless of art, system, style, etc.

    To me, that is what it boils down to.
     
  14. profesormental

    profesormental Brown Belt

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    Greetings.

    Actually, geezer, I tend to use comparisons between stability in movements, and when I find a more stable, efficient, effective way to execute a movement, I adopt the training method to get there.

    THe thing is that sometimes the differences are so small, they are imperceptible, except if I point them out. For example, the way I practice SLT, you wouldn't notice many differences except in the execution details... yet they make a WORLD of difference if tested under resistance and load.

    More later, so I could give some examples.
     
  15. dungeonworks

    dungeonworks Black Belt

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    That is a GREAT point when speaking of ANY style of Martial Arts. In my Martial Travels, I have seen many students (seasoned and beginners alike) be so eager to get to a high technical level that they will speed through the basics to get to the percieved "good stuff". The "good stuff" IS the basics, or at the very least relies upon a thorough understanding of them.

    My ego aside....and for the record, at one time or another I have caught myself in that boat too. :mst: The older I get (37 yrs old now), the more appealing the basics become. ;)
     
  16. dungeonworks

    dungeonworks Black Belt

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    Hahahaha...I posted almost the same thing before reading this! :uhyeah:
     
  17. Tensei85

    Tensei85 Master Black Belt

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    I think this Kuen Kuit is a good example;

    手脚相消無绝招 Sau Gerk Sheung Si Mo Jut Jiu - Hand against Hand and Foot against Foot, There is no "unstoppable technique".
     
  18. El_Nastro

    El_Nastro Yellow Belt

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    As soon as I saw William Cheung's picture in that article, that was enough to dismiss the article as worthless. You can't believe a word Cheung says.

    I wouldn't have a problem with Cheung if he was honest about what he teaches & where it comes from, but he's not.

    William Cheung is in the same category as Frank Dux, Count Dante, or Ashida Kim.

    First, what are Cheung's claims? Just in case some people don't know exactly what the controversy with him is, let's start by summarizing what Cheung's deal is....

    Cheung's forms look radically different than all of Ip Man's other students, and his "Wing Chun" in practice is very, very different in terms of application. His Siu Lim Tao looks somewhat similar, but the resemblance stops there. What he calls "Chum Kiu", "Biu Jee", & his dummy form look nothing like any of Ip Man's other students. Why is that? Here's where things start to get fishy....

    Cheung says his WC is so very different because he, and he alone, was taught a secret version of the system by Ip Man.

    According to Cheung, at some point Wing Chung was modified from the real, traditional, more-effective system of Wing Chun into a watered-down, less effective, simpler, weakened version of the system, and it is this "Modified" system that Ip Man taught to EVERYONE.

    The "real", "traditional" Wing Chun was just too precious, and too deadly to teach publicly, so Ip Man taught a fake version to his commerical students.

    Eventually though, Ip Man met a young, 10-year old William Cheung, and at long last found someone Truly Worthy to whom he could pass down the Traditional Wing Chun. Cheung says Ip Man invited young William to live with him, and it is there that the young Chosen One was SECRETLY trained by Ip Man in the One True Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu. Young William lived under Ip Man's roof training in secret for several years. Eventually, after the young man had mastered Traditional Wing Chun, Ip Man told him that now HE was the Sole Inheritor and Master of Traditional Wing Chun. Ip Man made young Master Cheung take a Secret Vow to not speak of his secret training, nor to teach anyone the Traditional Wing Chun until after he (Ip Man) died. When Ip Man had died though, William was free to speak of his training, and teach whoever he wanted. Then, at about the age of 18, the new Master of Traditional Wing Chun left Hong Kong for Austrailia.

    Meanwhile, while William was being secretly trained by Ip Man, Ip was teaching EVERYONE else the less-effective "modified" system, for NONE of them were worthy of learning the Traditional system, even guys who started before William. Even Wong Shun Leung, who started before William and added to Ip Man's school's reputation by competing in illegal bare-knuckle fights was unworthy. Even Ip Man's own sons were unworthy. No one was worthy except for William Cheung. ALL of Ip Man's other students were trained in the Modified system, and none of them even knew it. They all thought Ip Man was training them as best he could. He was not, for none of them (repeat: NONE of them) were good enough.

    So that's how Cheung explains the difference between what he does, and what everyone else does. And yes, this really is Cheung's story. He ACTUALLY claims this happened, in REAL life.

    What's wrong with these claims? Well, if you really think about them, they just don't make sense on any level.

    Consider what would have to be true, if Cheung was telling the truth:

    1. Ip Man was a sleezy jerk who deliberately ripped off ALL his other students, including his OWN SONS. He taught all of them wrong on purpose. That makes Ip Man a jerk, doesn't it? How would you feel if you paid good money to someone for what you thought was effective fighting technique, but it turned out the guy was teaching you less-than-effective stuff on purpose?

    2. Ip was crazy.

    Why in the world would Ip Man only teach the "secret" kung fu to one guy with the stipulation that the secret stuff can then be taught to anyone and everyone after he died? That makes no sense whatsoever.

    If the system was so deadly that Ip Man only trusted ONE person (Cheung) with that system, then why is it ok for Cheung to sell it to anyone after Ip Man dies?

    Either Ip Man didn't want the system to get out, or he did.

    If he did not want the system to get out, he wouldn't have told Cheung he could teach it commercially.

    If he didn't care if the system was sold publicly, then he would have taught it himself.

    It makes NO sense that Ip Man would say; "Here is a secret, deadly martial art that only YOU, William Cheung, are worthy of. I give this to you, and you alone! Teach whoever you want, but only after I die!"

    Makes NO sense. Ip Man must have been crazy.

    3. Ip was senile and crazy.

    About a week or two before Ip Man died, he committed the forms to film. You can actually see Ip Man doing Siu Lim Tao, Chum Kiu, the dummy form, and the pole form on youtube.

    If we believe Cheung's story, then Ip Man climbed out of HIS DEATHBED, in the throes of cancer, and put a watered-down, modified, commercial, crap-version of Wing Chun on film, so it would never be destroyed.

    One would think if Ip Man was going to do such a thing, he would've committed the "real" version of WC on film wouldn't he? After all, didn't he say it would be ok for Cheung to teach it after he (Ip Man) died?

    If Ip Man wanted the "traditional" system taught after his death, and he knew he was dying when he made the film, then why wouldn't he record the real stuff, and send it off to Cheung for posterity? Why did he record the "modified" system?!?!

    Again, Ip Man must have been insane.

    None of these things make sense. In order for Cheung to be telling the truth, Ip Man was a jerk who ripped off and lied to his students. Ip was also probably crazy.


    But what if Cheung made the whole story up?
    Then all of these things are perfectly explainable:


    1. Cheung's forms look different because he never learned any WC beyond Siu Lim Tao. What he wasn't formally trained in, he made up.

    This is consistent with the fact that Cheung's Siu Lim Tao looks basically the same as everyone else's, but his other forms do not. If Ip Man really taught Cheung a whole different version of WC, shouldn't Cheung's Siu Lim Tao look as different as his version of Chum Kiu and Biu Jee? It probably should, but it doesn't. Cheung's SLT looks basically the same, but his more advanced forms are radically different than everyone else's.

    Cheung was trained in SLT, but probably received little or no formal training in Chum Kiu, Biu Jee, or the dummy.

    Cheung's versions of the other forms look like he cobbled them together based on what he could remember from occasionally glimpsing the activity more advanced students.

    2. Ip Man didn't rip off anyone. He trained everyone as best he could, and did right by his students, giving them all the best instruction he could. This is consistent with every account of Ip Man as given by those who knew him. The consensus is that Ip Man was an honest, honorable, humble, genuinely nice person who would never pull the sort of stunt that Cheung claims.

    3. Ip Man wasn't crazy at all. Cheung made up the thing about how "You can only teach the secret system after I am dead!", so Ip Man couldn't refute Cheung's claims. Cheung's whole story hinges on Ip Man, so if Ip Man's dead, he can't exactly set the record straight, can he?

    4. Ip Man climbed out of his deathbed and committed REAL Wing Chun to film, because it was important to him that there be a record of his system as he taught it. It was his life's work after all, and it makes perfect sense that he would want to record it for posterity. Makes perfect sense if Cheung is lying.


    So these are all the reasons that anyone can logically see that show Cheung is lying. But there's more than just logical reasoning. There's testimony.

    Except for Cheung's students, NO ONE backs up Cheung on any of his claims. NO. ONE. I've been into Wing Chung for about 15 years now. I'm in an Ip Ching school right now, but I've hung out with some Leung Ting guys too. After 15 years on this scene, I've talked to a lot of people. Plenty of these people have been into WC longer than me, and NONE of them back up Cheung. ALL of the people I have known through the years who are plugged into the Wing Chun scene....ALL of them know, from conversations they've had, that Cheung is a liar. He started when he was about 14-15 years old, not 10. He never lived with Ip Man. He learned a little bit when he was a teenager, and then moved to Australia.

    Also, where's the evidence in support of Cheung's claims? Yes, there is a picture of him standing next to Ip Man, but all that means is that he was his student. There's no question Cheung took lessons for a few years. Having your picture taken with the sifu doesn't mean you've mastered anything - there's a picture of Ip Man like that with lots of his students. It only means the person was a student. There's a picture like that of Ip Man with Bruce Lee, & Lee never mastered WC. I have a picture of me like that with my Hong Kong trained sifu - it doesn't mean a thing.

    Where's the evidence that Cheung was a live-in student? He says he lived with Ip Man for years, so there should be evidence. How about evidence that he actually started training when he was 10 years old? There isn't any. At all. You'd think that if Cheung lived with Ip Man for years, there ought to be a picture him in Ip's house. Or a picture of a 10 or 11 year old Cheung doing WC, or a picture of Cheung's area in Ip's house or the two of them eating dinner, or training, or SOMETHING to indicate he actually was a live-in student. Or maybe some reference from a 3rd party....like a letter from one WC guy to another where they mention "that kid living with Ip Man." If Cheung really started when he was 10, and if he really lived with Ip, someone would have mentioned it at sometime. There should be some form of evidence. But there isn't. Nada. There's NOTHING to support Cheung's story other than his word.

    And, a bunch of Ip Man's former students got together and formally refuted Cheung's claims. Keep in mind these aren't necessarily a bunch of guys that got along well, but they all put aside their differences and came together to refute Cheung's claims. Those guys were: Wong Shun Leung, Leung Ting, Tong Chao Chi, Lok Yiu, Ip Ching, Ho Kam Ming, Siu Yuk Man, Chan Tak Chiu, Tsui Sheung Tin, Koo Sang, Lee Wai Chi, Victor Kan, and Ip Chun. (see http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showpost.php?p=250537&postcount=1 )

    So what do you all think is more likely? That ALL of those guys are lying, or that only Cheung is lying? That ALL of those guys were just jealous, or that Cheung made up this little story, so as to make himself seem more attractive to potential paying students?

    Then there's the Boztepe fight: If Cheung's telling the truth, and he has MASTERED the real, authentic, unmodified Wing Chun that's way more effective than the watered-down version, how come he got beat so handily by Emin Boztepe? I know, I know...."my slippers were slippery! He jumped me from behind!". Excuses like that are weak, especially when it was Cheung who issued an open challenge to fight "anyone, anywhere, at anytime"!

    I've been beat before, and I don't make any excuses. I bet you don't, either. I've heard all the excuses, but it makes a lot more sense, when taken along with all the other information I just outlined, that Cheung lost because he really isn't THAT good, has very little formal training from his elders, and his system is stuff he made up. That's HONESTLY the best explanation as to why he got beat.

    On the issue of Respect: It's not uncommon, when pointing out how full of $h1t William Cheung is, for someone to say something like "Hey, you should be more respectful!", so I have a couple things to say about "respect", and William Cheung.

    William Cheung himself has behaved horribly disrespectfully towards his sifu, his former classmates, and his students:


    Disrespectful & insulting to the character of his sifu:

    Again, it is an insult to the character of Ip Man to claim that Ip would deliberately cheat ALL his students except for one noobie teenager. How would you feel about an instructor who did that? Pretend you're one of the guys who started WC under Ip Man before William Cheung. You pay Ip good money, you work hard, and you trust Ip's training to protect you. You're loyal to Ip, and train with him for almost 20 years until he dies. Then you find out that for all those years, Ip had been teaching you a less-effective, watered-down, crap-version of WC. Ip's been lying to you and ripping you off for almost 20 years! It turns out, he's been lying to everyone except one guy. The only person Ip taught was a newbie teenager who started after you did, and was only around for a few years! According to William Cheung, that's exactly what Ip Man did to guys like Wong Shun Leung and Tsui Shong Tin, and even his own sons!


    Disrespectful & Insulting to his classmates:

    Again, pretend you're one of Cheung's classmates. How would you feel about Cheung? He says he's better than you. Did Ip Man teach YOU Traditional WC? No, he didn't. Why? Because you aren't worthy. None of you were. Cheung is better than ALL of you. Only Cheung was worthy because only he didn't suck. You sucked, so Ip Man didn't gift you with anything other than a watered-down, commercial product version of WC.


    Disrespectful to his own students:

    This is the real bad part about Cheung's behavior. No one one walks into one of Cheung's schools knowing all the stuff I just presented. Most of his new students are probably new to martial arts, so of course they're going to be impressed and become emotionally invested in the school. Cheung will probably become their Kung Fu Hero. Eventually though, they'll learn about the controversies. They'll learn that their Kung Fu Hero has been lying to them. That's gotta be rough.

    What does a person do when they find out their Kung Fu Hero is full of crap and has been lying to them for months (or years)? 1 of 2 things:

    1. They can admit they've been played for a sucker and drop out of Cheung's school. This means they've just dumped a ton of time, money, & hard work right down the toilet.

    2. OR they can go through all sorts of mental gymnastics to convince themselves that Cheung's not really lying, or convince themselves that somehow his lies don't matter. Basically, they can start lying to themselves. Lying to yourself for years can't be good for a person's mental health. It's horrible for Cheung to put his trusting students in that position.

    Neither one of those is fair.

    So Cheung's lies insult the character of his sifu, they insult his classmates, and it's horrible to lie to trusting students. Totally disrespectful in every way!

    I would submit that if a person behaves like this, they don't deserve our respect. Respect must be earned through honest and honorable behavior, and William Cheung is, sadly, a most dishonorable and dishonest person.

    You know who does deserve respect? The memory of Ip Man & his many honest students. The naive students of Cheung also deserve our respect. We can give them the respect they deserve by not letting Cheung's disrespectful, insulting, and shameful lies go unchallenged.

    We should also have respect for the truth for its own sake.

    And lastly, respect for others is good, but one should have respect for oneself too. Part of self respect is not letting oneself get lied to or played for a sucker by people like William Cheung.

    In conclusion: "Traditional Wing Chun" is a lie, and William's story is complete and utter b.s.

    What REALLY happened is more likely this: William Cheung took Wing Chun lesson for a few years in the '50's, beginning ~age 15 (not age 10). He definitely learned all of SLT, and maybe parts of Chum Kiu and the Wooden Dummy. He moved to Austrailia. He wanted to set up shop as a kung fu teacher, and figured he could make more money if people thought he was a Great Master with some kind of Ancient Secret Deadly Kung Fu System. He made up "Traditional Wing Chun", and came up with a line of ******** about "secret training" & a "vow of secrecy" in order to cover his *** in case a REAL Wing Chun master should ever happen to point out that William's system has nothing to do with anything Ip Man taught.

    What's so stupid about Cheung's approach is that his bu11$h!t is totally unnecessary. Bruce Lee's background was similar to Cheung's: Both learned a little bit of WC, & both moved to different countries before they finished the curriculum. Bruce Lee was honest, though. Bruce Lee basically said "Jeet Kune Do is my own invention. There's some stuff from Wing Chun in it, but I never mastered Wing Chun. JKD is my own thing that I came up with."

    Look how successful JKD is! Does anyone care that JKD isn't a Secret Ancient Traditional Mystery Kung Fu? No.

    If Cheung had simply been honest about what his background was, I wouldn't have a problem with him & might even be interested in his system. He chose to be dishonest though, so screw 'im.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2010
  19. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Man, Nastro, this really got you worked up. Heck I didn't think anybody even cared anymore... especially since that time a zillion years ago when Emin Boztepe cleaned his clock. Really now. Take a few deep breaths and try to think of something pleasant.
     
  20. El_Nastro

    El_Nastro Yellow Belt

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    Lol. No, I'm not especially worked up, but I honestly do think it's important for people to know exactly what this guys claims are, and what's wrong with those claims.

    As far as "no one caring anymore" - sure, for most people all this stuff is old news, but if you ask around it really is surprising how many people simply haven't stumbled across this information. There's plenty of people with a passing interest in WC who just don't know the story. What happens if someone like that happens to walk into a Cheung school? I figure it's best if people hear this stuff before that happens, & there aren't too many definitive "exposes" on William Cheung. So I figured I'd consolidate the whole story/controversy into one piece.123
     

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