Wudang Weng Shun Kuen - by Grandmaster Rien Bul
The WUDANG style of Weng Shun Kuen was unknown to general public until recently, when Grandmaster Rien Bul opened public schools in the Netherlands and Australia. He also started a much debated website
on wich he revealed knowledge that was regarded 'secret' by other Sifu. It is a completely 'soft' style that contains NOT ONE 'hard' technique, wich makes it attractive to people of small build and aspecially women. Where does this miraculous style emerge from? The following article tells all...
A secret Shaolin style
When one was trained in the Shaolin temple one was first taught the 'hard' or 'external' forms. The forms that followed would gradually soften. The main filosofy behind this way of teaching was that it was harder for the novice to understand the 'hard' principles than the 'soft'.
The most advanced forms and techniques were kept highly secret and would only be taught to disciples who had already proven their rustworthyness. According to legend these last two 'secret' forms were taught in a hidden hall, called the 'Weng Shun Tong' (Hall of eternal spring). These forms were the Snake-form, a form that taught the disciple spirit, intent and deceptiveness. The other was the Crane-form and it taught the ultimate softness.
From Shaolin to Wudang
When the Shaolin temple was burned down once again by imperial troops some of the Shaolin monks who had studied the highest knowledge of Kung Fu were scattered over China. It is said that some Shaolin monks saught refuge in the Daoist Wudang temple and taught their Kung Fu knowledge to the disciples of the temple. For some reason they taught the soft styles immideatly, maybe because there was little time.
Through the centuries the Kung Fu practised in the Wudang temple aquired its own distinctive Daoist flavour. Wudang Kung Fu became known for it's softness, wich was little understood by outsiders. To this day, Wudang styles are schrouded by a sort of mystical veil.
In time a lot of the knowledge behind Wudang Kung Fu got lost and it fell apart in different styles, that all believe to possess the gospel truth on soft-style Kung Fu. The most well known of these styles are TaiJi Quan, Hsing Yi and BaguaZhang. But there are many more little known styles.
Other styles filled the gaps in their knowledge with easier to understand 'hard' techniques. One of these so called soft/hard styles is the modern version of the original crane style. There are many different versions of this style. Some versions have more 'hard' techniques than others. Some of them have managed to mainly stay 'soft'.
The Ching Dynasty
The last imperial dynasty to rule China was called the Ching. The Han majority of the time weren't very happy about being ruled by the Manchu minority. They did all they could to bring down the Ching and restore the rule of the Ming dynasty that preceded it. The monks from both the Shaolin temple and the Wudang temple weren't very fond of the Manchu government either. They taught their knowledge of warfare to rebels who were out to overthrow this government. The widest spread styles among anti-Ching rebels were the Wudang- and Yong Chun versions of (White) Crane Kung Fu.
The 'Red Junk' period
Many rebels hid on opera boats. These boats, that were recogniseable by their red colour travelled from city to city on rivers and canals. On arrival they would build a stage to perform their operas. The arrival of an opera troupe was quite an event that attrackted all kinds of people engaging in commercial activeties. There were merchants, quaks, thieves, fortunetellers and of course, prostitutes.
Those prostitutes mostly worked on so called "flower boats". Many times the flowerboat-girls also hated the Manchu and worked with the red junk rebels. And sometimes, when a Ching official would visit such a girl, a rebel would be hiding in a closet.
When the official had dismissed his bodyguards so he could be alone with the prostitute, the assasin would suddenly kill the unsuspecting victim. In other cases the rebels would ambush people they wanted out of the way in the narrow alleys of the Cantonese cities. They specialised in making this narrowness of both boats and alleys work in their advatage. To this end a style of fighting was created that suited the rebels' needs. The movements of this style would be modified to take up very little space. The techniques were designed to finish off an opponent in the shortest possible time. They called their style Weng Shun Kuen (Everlasting Springtime Fist).
This version of the style is the one that is still mostly practised on mainland China. Another version, wich name was in time accidently changed to 'Wing Chun Kuen' (Springtime Song Fist), was brought to Hong Kong by Yip Man and aquired world wide fame. Recently, the mailand versions are stepping in the spotlight as well. The most well known are 'Chi Sim Weng Chun Kuen', 'Chan Yiu Min Weng Chun Kuen', 'Pang Nam Weng Chun Kuen' and 'Wudang Weng Shun Kuen'.
Wudang Weng Shun Kuen is a so called "soft" style of traditional Chinese Gung Fu. This means that no muscular force is used to deflect an oncoming attack. Instead a fluent movement is used to direct an opponent's force back to him to defeat him. This is how a person of lesser strenth is able to defeat an attacker of larger, stronger build.
The motto of the style is "Safety above all else". The practitioner is taught to position himself outside of the opponent's reach and to disable him from that safe position. Wudang Weng Shun Kuen uses only simple, natural movements. That is why it can be learned by anyone. The solutions it presents are simple, practical and effective and therefore applicable by one and all.
The three stages of combat.
We perceive combat as a process that has three stages:
Stage one- Setting up the stance.
Do not attack before your opponent does! If and when he attacks, attack his attack by making contact with it by loosely slapping it with one of your arms. We call this technique 'Man Sao'.
Stage two- The 'Contact' stage.
Now you have established contact with your opponent you do not let go. You can feel the intended direction of the attack and you can now lead it away from it. Position out of your opponent's reach and bring him off balance at the same time.
Stage three- Disableing the opponent.
Once you're at the safe side of your opponent you can now easily take him out by hitting the weak points of his anatomy with 'soft' techniques.
'Wudang' Weng Shun Kuen's principles
Some of these styles bear some resemblance to the Hong Kong version, some are really very different from it. The following is an overview of the priciples of the Wudang Weng Shun Kuen style that distinguishes it from most other versions.
-Strictly counter attack-
We never attack. Weng Shun Kuen is strictly a counter-attacking style, for safety reasons. Sometimes, when an opponent comes too close in the first stage of combat, we fake an attack, like a Bil Jee to the eyes, without committing to the movement. The technique should be retractable at all times. This way the opponent is forced into defending his eyes. The instant we make contact with his hand, we change technique and attack his hand. Otherwise we always wait for an attack.
We give the opponent no "form" to work with. We don't stick out our hands in front of us, as most lineages do, so an opponent can't get a hold and, for instance, Lop Sao us. In accordance with the principle "If you see form, strike form. If you see shadow, strike shadow.", we strike at whatever comes at us. We do this with a half circle movement, upward from below, and strike the attack with the back of our Man Sao and redirect it outward. This way we need little footwork to position ourselves at the outside of the opponent's arm, out of his reach. A Lop Sao is frequently used to pull the opponent toward us, to the outside and off-balance.
-Going to the opponent's outside-
We don't confront the force coming at us, but always position at the opponent's outside or back.
-Unbalancing the opponent-
Weng Shun Kuen's foremost concern lies in fighting in the safest possible way. In other words, the first rule of Weng Shun Kuen is Safety First. With footwork (jamming the opponent's leg from the side or back), Pok Yik Jeung, or Lop Sao, we always unbalance the opponent and safely position outside of his reach before even attempting to strike.
-We are never the first to kick-
Again: Weng Shun Kuen is a counter-attacking style. There are only counter-kicks, if any at all. Preferably, we keep our feet to the ground, where we need them. This is for balance, but also because we might suddenly need to change direction or get a chance to jam the opponent's legs. Our footwork is aimed at unbalancing the opponent, while keeping ourselves balanced.
The kicks in the Chum Kiu (Sinking Bridge) form are solely counter-kicks.
-The 'Three Stages of Combat' theory-
This theory is unique to Wudang Weng Shun Kuen and was recently refined by Grandmaster Lin Yi (Lam Yee) and me. It is discussed in full detail in the article of the same name on the official 'Wudang Weng Shun Kuen' website.
-No excessive use of musclepower-
Wudang Weng Shun Kuen is purely a Soft or Internal system. It is designed to suit people of avarage build. We go out of the way of force that is directed at us, redirect it away from us and hit soft spots, so we don't need muscle power in finishing off the opponent either. Wudang Weng Shun Kuen practitioners don't hit as much as those of most other lineages I'm familiar with. In our philosophy, the chain punches of the Sil Lum Tao (Way of Shaolin) form are only meant to teach one to hit on the centerline and are not used in practical application.
Because we aim at weak spots of the human anatomy, we mostly use finger strikes, palm techniques and Phoenix fist.
We don't have a specific form to train the Butterfly Sword techniques. But my Sifu told me to train the Bil Jee form while holding the Butterfly Swords instead. This has proven to be a useful concept.
-Long sword form-
We also have a unique sword form in wich we practice the use of what most would call a "Tai Chi type" (Wudang) sword. The use of the sword is very different from the way it is used in Tai Chi Chuan, even though the principles on wich it is based are very much alike. The only other lineage I know of who also practice a Long-Sword form is the Chan Yiu Min Weng Chun Kuen family.
This devastating style was passed on in Canton untill this day. It was only taught to carefully selected students and kept a secret until recently. It was first taught to a non-Chinese person in 1975. Since recently the style is open to the people of the world. You can find lots of information on this fascinating martial art on the official Wudang Weng Shun Kuen website: http://home.quicknet.nl/qn/prive/wengshunkuen
Copyright 2002 by Grandmaster Rien Bul