Book Review: Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen

Cthulhu

Senior Master
Founding Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Sep 1, 2001
Messages
4,526
Reaction score
28
Location
Florida
Well, at long last, I'm getting around to the review I promised quite some time back of Rene Ritchie's Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen. Here we go..

Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen, by Rene Ritchie. Copyright 1997, published by Multi-Media Books. ISBN 1-892515-03-2

Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen is a look at this little known branch of Wing Chun gung fu. The book can be seen as an expansion of another book, Complete Wing Chun, written by Robert Chu, Rene Ritchie, and Y. Wu, that covers several systems of Wing Chun, some known, some very rare.

The books first part, titled 'Origin', looks into the legends and history of Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun, including passages on figures prominent in the backgrounds of many Wing Chun systems, like Ng Mui, Yim Wing Chun, the Red Junk Opera, and others. While many of the stories match those of other Wing Chun systems, there are differences unique to the history of Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun that the reviewer leaves for the reader to discover.

The second part of the book deals with the fundamentals of the Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun system. A key fundamental principle of the system is the meridian line, which many will be familiar with as the center line in other martial arts systems. The concepts behind the meridian line seem to be the same as the center line, just termed differently.

The next topic covered under fundamentals is Yuen Kay-San's '12 Methods' (sup yee faat). These area group of concepts and ideas that are central to the system, such as jeet (to intecept or cut off), chum (to sink down), and tong (to press). Tactical advice and training principles are also covered briefly, as well as the body structure a Yuen Kay-San practitioner should have.

The next part covers forms of Yuen Kay-San. An opening form is shown and explained, which seems to be done before all the forms in general. Yuen Kay-San shows a distinct difference from 'Yip Man' Wing Chun with it's '12 Forms'; 12 sets of short exercises that each teach a specific technique or concept.

The siu lien tao (little first training) form is then shown. It would be foolish to try to describe the form in a review, but it's enough to say that it is quite different from the sil(siu) lum tao form most people have seen from the more popular Yip Man branch of Wing Chun. There are several moves that clearly show the snake influence on the system, with short, flowing serpentine movements of the hands.

The 12 Forms and siu lien tao form contain names most people associate with other kung/gung fu systems to describe techniques, like 'White Crane Seizes the Fox', 'Single Dragon Punch', and 'Three Prayers to Buddha'. Finally, a closing form is taught. Like the opening form, it is done at the end of all Yuen Kay-San routines.

The final part of the book deals with training in general, covering solo, partner, and advanced training. The chapter on advanced training lists and briefly describes other Yuen Kay-San forms: Chum kiu (sinking bridges), Biu jee (darting fingers), mook yan jong (wooden dummy), Sun hei gwai yuen (kidney breathing invigoration), luk dim boon gwun (six and a half point pole), and yee jee seung do (double knives).

The book closes with an afterword by two of Ritchie's training partners, a Wing Chun family tree, and a glossary.

I enjoyed this book very much, finding the differences between Yuen Kay-San and other systems of Wing Chun to be fascinating. The author writes very clearly in terms any martial artist, or even non-martial artist, can understand. The pictures, though all black & white, clearly demonstrate the techniques discussed in the text, often from different angles and with picture of technique applications.

The only thing that could really be improved would be the layout of the text and pictures, as some text descriptions would bleed over to following pages, with pictures of different techniques. This is probably a method used by many publishers to save money, though, and if you read the text, it isn't hard to follow.

The book is a must-read for any Wing Chun practitioner as well as martial arts bibliophiles like myself. I only wish the other forms were covered as well, and hope that Mr. Ritchie authors more books on this system to share it with the rest of us.

Cthulhu
 
T

theneuhauser

Guest
thanks cthulhu

i think its great to have literature reviews to add to the culture of martial talk, and i hope to see more, or maybe even write one myself!!!




one question,

Tactical advice and training principles are also covered briefly, as well as the body structure a Yuen Kay-San practitioner should have.

do you mean that ritchie actually identifies an appropriate morphology for a wing chun practitioner? similar to when we talk about long legs that are good for kicking arts? or do you mean posture and/or physical conditioning?
 
OP
Cthulhu

Cthulhu

Senior Master
Founding Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Sep 1, 2001
Messages
4,526
Reaction score
28
Location
Florida
Originally posted by theneuhauser

thanks cthulhu

i think its great to have literature reviews to add to the culture of martial talk, and i hope to see more, or maybe even write one myself!!!

one question,

do you mean that ritchie actually identifies an appropriate morphology for a wing chun practitioner? similar to when we talk about long legs that are good for kicking arts? or do you mean posture and/or physical conditioning?

No problem. I meant to put this review up long ago, but got lazy :)

By body structure, I meant that they cover how one should position the upper and lower body in terms of limb placement and overall 'feel'. There's nothing suggesting an 'ideal' anatomical morphology. I'm at work at the moment, but I believe the 'body structure' term I used was the title of that particular chapter/section, so I was just using their terminology.

Cthulhu
 
S

shawnm

Guest
Cthulhu,

Great review.

Rene has written two books (Complete Wing Chun and Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen) and many articles.

I know Rene (we live in the same city) and have had the pleasure of training with him and the people you see in his books. He is a class act and knows more about Wing Chun, its history and practice than anyone I have ever met.

Its nice to see other people discovering his work.
 
OP
Cthulhu

Cthulhu

Senior Master
Founding Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Sep 1, 2001
Messages
4,526
Reaction score
28
Location
Florida
Originally posted by shawnm

Cthulhu,

Great review.

Rene has written two books (Complete Wing Chun and Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen) and many articles.

I know Rene (we live in the same city) and have had the pleasure of training with him and the people you see in his books. He is a class act and knows more about Wing Chun, its history and practice than anyone I have ever met.

Its nice to see other people discovering his work.

Thanks for the compliment, shawnm!

I'd just like to clarify and mention the other authors of Complete Wing Chun, Robert Chu and Y. Wu. Excellent work by all three authors.

Cthulhu
 
S

shawnm

Guest
Good save, Cthulhu.

I didn't mean to imply that Rene was the only writer on that book.


take care,
 

arnisador

Sr. Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 28, 2001
Messages
44,563
Reaction score
441
Location
Terre Haute, IN
The March 2003 issue of Inside Kung Fu has an article on Sam Nung and WCK written by and featuring photos of Rene Ritchie (as uke, or whatever it's called in WC).
 
Top