Tan, Bong, and Fook....The "3 families."

Discussion in 'Wing Chun' started by KPM, Dec 22, 2017.

  1. KPM

    KPM Senior Master

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    In Ip Man Wing Chun hand techniques are often classified into 3 "families" or categories said to be either Tan, Bong, or Fook. As far as I know, Pin Sun Wing Chun does not classify hand techniques this way, and it never made much sense to me when I was studying Ip Man Wing Chun. So I thought this might make a good topic for discussion.

    Anyone want to elaborate on what this means and how it is used? Do people find it useful? Or not?
     
  2. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    - Boxing talks about jab, cross, hook, uppercut, ...
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    Most MA systems don't talk much about their defense. Why does WC only talk about Tan, Bong, and Fu that are used for defense? Do we only look at WC from the defense point of view and not from the offense point of view?

    Should we also talk about punch, kick, lock, throw that are used in the WC system?
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
  3. DanT

    DanT Black Belt

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    From what I've experienced, Bong, Tan, and Fook are simple classifications for wrist and elbow positions.

    Bong: Makes contact on the Radius and Ulna bone and rotate so only the Ulna is in contact

    Tan: Makes contact on the Radius bone and maintains contact

    Fook: Makes contact on both bones and maintains contact

    I'm not a huge fan of this classification system.

    ALSO:

    Bong: Disperses force via rotational torque
    Tan: Disperses force via Shearing energy
    Fook: Disperces force by pulling or sinking

    I usually use these classifications to make it easier for students to grasp fundamental positions. For example:

    - the elbow and wrist position in Fook Sao is the same as chum Sao.

    -the elbow position in bong Sao is the same as man sao.

    Making connections allows them to pick things up faster I find.
     
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  4. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    We say that tan, bong and fook are the three "seeds" of our VT that are practiced in Siu Nim Tau. But such distinctions are not nearly as meaningful as training what they do. In the end, there is no bong, no tan, no fook. whatever. Everything we train is designed to help us apply this concept.

    ...Got that from a WC fortune cookie ;)
     
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  5. KPM

    KPM Senior Master

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    Hmmmm..... This thread didn't get much discussion! Do people's Ip Man lineages not all use this teaching/concept? As I was taught and have seen stated many times since, the "3 families" of hand techniques goes like this: "Tan family" technique is anything the uses the thumb-side edge of the forearm to block, "Bong family" technique is anything that uses the pinkie-side of the forearm to block, and "Fook family" is anything that used the palm-side of the hand or forearm to block.

    I never liked this way of classifying things and never found it particularly useful. A Gan Sau uses the pinkie-side of the forearm to block, but is nothing like a Bong Sau....including elbow position. It functions more like a Tan Sau. A Bong Sau doesn't actually use the pinkie-side of the forearm to block at all, it uses the back surface of the forearm to block. A Tok Sau uses the palms to block, and is nothing like a Fook Sau....including elbow position.

    However.....Tan, Bong, and Fook ARE the "3 seeds" of Chi Sau! That part makes sense! But to try and equate every hand technique used in Wing Chun to Tan, Bong, and Fook makes not sense to me. So if your Wing Chun is very "Chi Sau centric", then this may be useful. Otherwise......?
     
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  6. Marnetmar

    Marnetmar Black Belt

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    I mostly hear it coming from WSLVT guys. I don't find much use in it myself.
     
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  7. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    Tan, Bong, Fook...we say they are the 3 major hands. Don't associate them as families. Tan-is on the furthest position one can go in one direction without distorting the structure of the body, Bong-is on the opposite end of movement and again is the furthest the arm can twist without distorting the body structure, Fook is midway and is where the elbow position changes.
     
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  8. wckf92

    wckf92 Master Black Belt

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    I'd never heard of the WSL guys using these terms. The only family or lineage I've seen use it is of the Augustine Fong branch as far as I can recall.

    It's also interesting to note: when your fist leaves the upper rib cage where is is held during forms, as it leaves to "spiral" out to a Bong, it passes through the shape(s) of Tan, then Fook, finally coming to rest in Bong. All in one smooth motion. ;)
     
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  9. Callen

    Callen Green Belt

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    It isn’t about the categories that make taan, fook and bong the most prominent or give them purpose. The focus should be on how they influence the overall core principals of the system, and become part of complete Wing Chun actions when trained properly. Shape is not as important as structure.
     
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  10. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    I believe I've also heard these terms used by Augustine Fong's students. In our Yip Man VT we do not use those terms. In fact tan and bong are not separate "families", but instead are seen as flip-sides of the same "bent spring" defense. If your opponent's attack drives across your arm it can either roll your arm into bong, or bend it to the opposite side into tan-sau, or, better, your arm may slip free and spring forward to strike. This is our application of Loi lau hoi sung, lat sau jik chung.
     
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  11. VPT

    VPT Green Belt

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    Here's Cheng Ji Ping talking about the said idea. Not that I understand anything in Cantonese, but the video is titled as such:

     

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