Trip to Holland by Townsville Weng Shun Kuen and Taiji Academy

by Anand Pillay

Holland is a land known to many as a country of dikes, bikes, windmills and canals. However it was none of these more well known attractions that drew our merry band of Kung Fu brothers from Australia to travel to Europe. Our goal was to meet and train with Grandmaster Rien Bul and his Wudang Weng Shun Kuen school based in Heerhugowaard, North Holland. From the moment of our arrival in Holland we were struck by the generosity and enthusiasm of our hosts and their willingness to cement the bond of friendship that has developed between our two schools since our association began, almost two years ago.

Wudang Weng Shun Kuen, the Netherlands

From our very first training session we realised that we were in company with a very knowledgeable teacher who, much to our delight, was more than willing to share his knowledge and provide us with the building blocks to understanding his art. While there were some differences in philosophy and application, which served to enrich our general martial arts understanding, many of the practices were certainly comparable.

We began all of our training sessions with the Siu Lum Tao, generally practiced three times. The framework of this version of the form is remarkably similar to the way our Sifu Ian Garbett has taught us it but there were differences in the way it is practiced and the way some of the techniques were performed. Our initial few training sessions focused on the use of the man sau, which is one of key techniques in Wudang Weng Shun Kuen. The application of the Man Sao ("Asking Hand"), which results in the opening bridge with the opponent, sets the tone for the remainder of the contact. This is the first stage in the three stages of combat as taught by Grandmaster Bul.

Following on from training man sao we learnt the different stepping and positioning methods that are intend to flow smoothly from initial contact to position the Weng Shun Kuen practitioner outside his opponent. This "bridging of the gap" generally represents the second stage of combat. This was great timing for us as it coincided with Sifu Ian Garbett teaching us the entry techniques known as the "asking hands", just prior to us departing for Europe.

Once control of the opponents centre through the bridge is established we are ready for the final stage of combat which is to control the opponent, disrupt his balance and finish.

The Wudang Weng Shun Kuen we learned is a style that encourages a relaxed body and sharp mind. The ability to yield, redirect and control made the art feel similar in some ways to the Taiji Quan and Baguazhang -Tui Sao and Chi Sao taught by our Sifu Ian Garbett.

Not only did we visit Holland, sample some of its delicacies, view some of its famous sights and walked many of its cobblestone streets but for a short time we lived its Wudang Weng Shun Kuen. For a time we learned from and trained with Grandmaster Bul and his students and only now upon reflection do we realise exactly how fortunate we are and how allied they are with Grandmaster Andreas Hoffman of Germany.

Chi Sim Weng Chun Kuen, Germany

Indeed Grandmaster Bul provided the opportunity for two us to visit Grandmaster Hoffman and his Weng Chun Kung Fu school in Bamberg, Germany. From Heerhugowaard we travelled to Bamberg, via Frankfurt. The anticipation of the day ahead in Bamberg was almost tangible for Alan (Newitt) and myself. Once we got there and met Grandmaster Hoffman we were privileged to witness him demonstrate sections from some of the Chi Sim Weng Chun Kung Fu forms, as well as a few wooden dummy and pole techniques. The day just kept getting better and better for us when Grandmaster Hoffman invited us to join him for lunch and then gave us an afternoon of personal instruction, in which he taught us the opening section of the Fa Kuen form. A fantastic experience.

We left Bamberg with a taste of Chi Sim Weng Chun Kung Fu, a basic knowledge of its history and principles and the sense that we were two very fortunate Kung Fu students. For the time, generosity and willingness to share information we are grateful and for the warm hearted and friendly nature with which we were received we are thankful. We sincerely hope that we are given the opportunity to repay these some day in the near future.

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