Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sifu Garry's 5th "Roots of Wing Chun" China Trip - Starting in Beijing Nov 2012

Sifu Garry's Blog
My 5th "Roots of Wing Chun" China Trip
Starting in Beijing
Nov 24th 2012
Finally, my head has come back down to Earth! It has taken a while to readjust back to normality, but, I am back.
What an outstanding trip to china, this time. It was our 5th tour and we always say; how can we surpass the last trip. But, to say the least, this was so far the most outstanding and spectacular trip I have had the pleasure of organizing, so far.
This trip was twice as long as the last 4 and we did cover a lot more territory. Nearly 3000km, travelling from Beijing to Hong Kong.
From Beijing we rode the fast train for 750kms, to Zhengzhou (Yellow River and Shaolin Temple). From Zhengzhou, we travelled about 1500 kms South by airplane for around 2.5 hours to Guangzhou. Then, we had the luxury of a chartered Bus, travelling around southern China, finishing in Foshan. For the last leg of our journey, we caught a public Bus from Foshan through Immigration into Hong Kong, where we stayed for 4 days.
Beijing, the ancient city of Peking. All I can say is, “WOW”! Over 5000 years old. How can a culture of people be so intellectually smart and clever? There engineering prowess has to be seen to be believed.
Understanding Feng Sui and 5 Elements of Nature is fundamental to understanding and appreciating how the Ancients designed the engineering fundamentals of Beijing.
When we travelled to the Hutong (ancient, original narrow roads of Beijing), we visited a local residence where the Lady explained the design concepts of her house, following the 5 Elements of Nature principles. We visited the infamous Bell Tower and went to a Tea House where the host demonstrated making and explaining the ritual of tea making.
Atop the Bell/Drum Tower you can see the Forbidden City. There is a straight road, being 7.8 km long, which represents the back bone of a Dragon (Earth Dragon) and to the East there are 3 major lakes, which represents the Water Dragon, protecting the Emperors of China at their place of residence; the Forbidden City.
The Rickshaw ride around the Hutong was superb!
The Bell Tower and Drum Tower is an ancient form of time keeping which was destroyed by wars and rebuilt several times. There is still an original Drum to be seen there.
Our Hotel was a quick walk to Snack Street, which is notorious for their unusual selection of food. From scorpions, worms, centipedes to Tarantulas.
I was courageous enough to eat Scorpions on two occasions. A little bit of alcohol helped, though.
2 other Students were also courageous enough to eat some Scorpion.
Tian an Men Square is 800mts x 500mts, totalling 400,000 mts square. The biggest public square in the World, holding several million people. Opposite Tian an Men Square is the Forbidden City. So Big, so Grand, and very Opulent. Photos would better justify the grandeur of the Forbidden City, instead of words.
The Forbidden City was walking distance from our Hotel complex, so it was a good experience to walk the streets with the general populace, in the morning.
We were also very lucky to see a Kung Fu Live theatre show at the Red Theatre in Beijing, which was extraordinary. It was a story about growing up and the temptations along the  way for a small shaolin monk, with spectacular martial arts performances, during the show.
The markets were also exciting but some items were a bit expensive. I was saving my shopping money for Shenzhen, south China's shopping Mecca.
Visiting the Great Wall was a highlight of our stay in Beijing, We went to the Mutianyu section which has a Cable Car ride to the Wall and a Toboggan ride down the mountain to the little village at the base of the mountain, where we all had a marvellous lunch together. In the middle of nowhere, at this village, there was a subway shop.
Walking along the Great Wall of China was enthralling. We performed some wing chun forms and played some chi sao in our travels.
Beijing was mind boggling. I would suggest to everyone, to visit the Capital of China, Beijing.
On the morning of our departure from Beijing, we will be boarding the Fast Train for a 750 km ride south bound, to Zhengzhou.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wing Chun China Tour Sifu Garry

Sifu Garry’s Blog

“Roots of Wing Chun”
China Tour November 2012

Only one week to go before my 6th trip to China. The 2012 trip will be much different than our previous tours to China. Generally, the Jee Shin Wing Chun group start from Hong Kong, travel around southern China visiting and performing with wing chun schools in China.
This trip will be a whole new adventure for Linda and I, as we have never travelled to the north of China.
Beijing is around 5000 years old.
Starting from Beijing, we will be there for 4 nights; taking in sights and visiting the great wall, where many Emperors fought ancient battles from.
The MutianYu section of the Great Wall is about 80km from Beijing. It will take about 90 minutes travel by Coach. This section of the wall also has cable cars for your convenience.
While in Beijing my jee shin group will be going to see a kung fu show, enjoy a Rickshaw ride through ancient parts of Peking and then visit the Forbidden City and Tian an Men Square. These ancient monuments are the cultural heritidge of China epic history.

On out 5th day, we will be travelling 800kms by fast train to the ancient City of Zhengzhou. Zhengzhou is one of the ancient cities of China, which is about 10000 years old.
While in Henan I will take the group to the Yellow River about 30 minute drive from Zhengzhou. The following day, we will travel to the Shaolin Temple, the birth place of all martial arts.
The Shaolin Temple is around 2000 years old.

Guangzhou, formerly Canton is our next destination. During our stay in Canton I will be taking the group to Wong Ni Yim’s Anniversary Party for his Father. Generally, wing chun Sifus from all over southern China attend. This function will be akin to the “night of stars” in Hollywood.

From Guangzhou we will be travelling to Foshan, the birth place of wing chun kung fu.
When the Manchu’s invaded China in 1644, the south of China was the main area of refuge. All the arts, academia, medicine, and martial arts fled to the South.
Southern China became the centre of intelligence.
There were many revolts in the south against the Qing during the 1800 to 1900’s.

An outer area of Foshan is Shunde. The legendary Bruce Lee was born in Shunde, and today, the Chinese dedicate an entire paradise in his honour, namely the Bruce Lee Paradise.

The last leg of our trip we go to Hong Kong for 4 days.
Hong Kong’s martial arts legacy is Yip Man.
Apart from sightseeing and shopping I will take our group to visit Yip Man’s grave site in the New Territories and we are very lucky to be able to visit Donald Mak and Yip Ching’s school. Ip Ching being the youngest son of Yip Man.
By the time we all get to Hong Kong, we will have travelled over 3000 miles, by train, airplane and bus.
The north will be cold and the weather will progressively become hotter as we move deeper into the South of China.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 interview with Sifu Garry Baniecki

Sifu Garry's Blog

Martial interview with Sifu Garry Baniecki

Several months ago around June 2012, I was approached by Martial Life for an interview about my wing chun experience and especially about the altercation between William Cheung and Emin Bozepe, from 1987.

In my response, I have endeavoured to relate the truth as experienced and perceived by me.
I have the utmost respect and courtesy for William Cheung. I believe he is a Master's Master of Wing Chun Kung Fu and the wing chun community should be very grateful and honoured for Sigong William's contribution over the last 50 years.

The interview revolves around  the current state of wing chun kung fu.

Sifu Garry coaching prowess and involvement with wing chun tournaments and competition.

Competition includes National All Styles touch contact tournament with wing chun forms and weaponry. Full contact fighting, wing chun training methods and fitness conditioning.

My experiences in China and my interpretation on wing chun history and lineages.

My adventures in Heshan county and Gulao Village, the residence of Grand Master Fung Chun.

Sifu Garry has been involved with wing chun kung fu since 1985. Since then, Sifu Garry has committed himself to the Chinese martial arts on a full time basis.

Sifu Garry and his wife, Sifu Linda own and operate two full time wing chun schools, one in Abbotsford and the other in Greensborough, suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.

Shaolin Jee Shin Wing Chun Kung Fu Association teaches traditional wing chun kung fu, wing chun wooden dummy, chi sao, wing chun weapons, wing chun forms, medical qigong, shaolin hard qigong and tai chi.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Interview with Sifu Garry Jee Shin Wing Chun

Sifu Garry's Blog

Interview with Sifu Garry Baniecki

Conducted by Sify Riccardo Di Vito

Today we meet Garry Baniecki, Founder of Shaolin Jee Shin Wing Chun academy of Melbourne, Australia.

Can you tell us anything about your life? 

I was born in 1954. My parents were repatriated to Australia after the second world war. A lot of Europeans were resettled in Australia in the early 50's. My father was Polish and my Mother was born in Germany. My mother was a teenager during Hitler's reign and my Father fought the War.
Growing up in the 50's and 60's with a non Australia background was very hard. Melbourne was a tough place to live, full of racism, against the Italians, Greeks and Germans.
During the seventies, I became of age to drive a vehicle, which exposed me to more of Melbourne's sub culture of gangs and violence.
In the 50's we had the Mods and Rockers. In the sixties we had Sharpies and in the seventies we had Skin Heads.
After the Vietnam war finished in 1972 for Australia, the Government repatriated the Vietnamese into our Society and Vietnamese gangs started to proliferate.
It was easy to avoid these Gangs. You just had to stay at home and not venture out. Being a teenager, I wasn't about to stay at home as there were dances to attend and girls to meet.
Being exposed to a lot of street violence led me to start martial arts at an early age.

Before I started my wing chun training, I had attempted various styles of martial arts, including, Goju Kai karate, Taekwondo, Escrima, and JKA (shotokan).
I trained these styles in the sixties and seventies.
When the eighties began, my martial arts took a back seat and in 1980, I started the first motorcycle courier business in Melbourne, which I operated for 10 years and sold the business in 1991. By 1988, my passion for wing chun started to engulf me and my absence at work was starting to take its toll. By 1989, I would leave work at 11am and return around 6pm. Wing chun was now my preoccupation.

When did you start with Martial Arts?

I started my first foray into Martial Arts when I was 12 years old. I started training in Ju Jitsu and Korean Karate. That was in the mid sixties. I trained for about 3 years, but only once per week, on the weekends.

With who did you know Wing Chun style?

In the mid sixties, the Bruce Lee mania came to Australia, and he became my Idol. Wing chun was not in Melbourne until William Cheung introduced it here.
Wing Chun made its debut in the late seventies with William Cheung, but I did not start wing chun until the mid 80's.

Who were your Masters in the past?

Rolland Dante (escrima) and Tino Cebrano (goju kai) were my teachers in the early days.
William Cheung, David Cheung, Professor Shan Hui Xu, Master Fung Keun from China.
I studied medical qigong and shaolin hard qigong with Professor Shan Hui Xu for nine years.

And now?

I own and operate an independent association, named shaolin jee shin wing chun.
At present I have an afinity with Kulo wing chun. 

 How someone can become SiFu in your association?

A student must achieve a Gold Sash (1st Dan Instructor level) under my wing chun system, plus, with the new government regulation on the martial arts industry, a Student must also study martial arts sports coaching with minimum level of certificate 111, but one can aspire to a Diploma in sports coaching or sports development.

Can you explain us the origin of your Wing Chun family?

William Cheung studied wing chun under Ip Man in Hong Kong during the 50's. William Cheung came from Hong Kong to Australia in the sixties and went to Canberra and studied Marketing. In the seventies William decided to settle in Melbourne Australia. When Ip Man passed away in 1972, William proclaimed Ip Man had taught him a "secret" system of wing chun. This different expression of wing chun became known as the Leung Bik/Ip Man system.
David Cheung studied with Wong Shun Leung in Hong Kong for 10 years. In 1982 David came to Australia and studied William Cheung's wing chun system for the next 2 years and then started teaching at the William Cheung Academy in 1984.

I started learning Pien Sun Kulo Wing Chun in 2007 under Master Fung Keun and since then I receive some instruction from Sifu Lau at Fung Chun's school in Shapin, during our stays.
I have also learnt Kulo wooden dummy practise and some Kulo wing chun forms.

Master Fung Keun sanctioned my wife and I to teach his Father's system of Pien Sun wing chun kung fu in Australia.

Grand Master Fung Chun has also adopted my wife and I into his wing chun Clan.


What are your thoughts on other SiFu and their methods of teaching, on others associations and Wing Chun's families?

When one starts wing chun, one will assume that all wing chun is the same. Eventually, the practitioner realizes not all wing chun is the same.

There are 7 different lineages stemming from China.

The main influences that shaped wing chun in China are;

Leung Jan - Yuan Kah San - Chan Wah Shun. Most stem from these three Masters.

Some Sifus teach hard wing chun, some teach soft wing chun, and some teach hard and soft wing chun.
The stances vary a lot from system to system.
There are many different families of wing chun around Hong Kong, China and Australia. I have touched hands with many practitioners and sifus. I have found that all wing chun schools have one thing in common; All have a very high skill of wing chun kung fu. Chi Sao among the various systems and schools are of a very high standard, as well.

Due to my trips to Kulo, I have realized that Pien Sun has many similar principles to Traditional wing chun kung fu. This leads me to believe that my lineage has its place in early wing chun ideas and concepts.
Kulo wing chun comes from Yim Wing Chun - Leung Yi Tai - Leung Jan
Traditional wing chun comes from Leung Jan - Leung Bik - Ip Man.

Can we know what are the differences between your Jee Shin Wing Chun and others interpretations?

My Jee shin wing chun originates from the Leung Bik Ip Man system. Lun Kai and Kwok fu, 2 of Ip Man's first students in Foshan, state that the Leung Bik/Ip Man system is the true "Attack fighting system of wing chun"
We have high kicks in our system and an attack entry system that I haven't seen in China or Hong Kong.
Most wing chun systems have the 3 empty hand forms but we have 4 forms. The fourth is called advanced SLT.
Our other 2 empty hand forms, chum kiu and biu gee are very different from what you see in China and Hong Kong.
Most forms are similar with slight variations, but our forms a totally different.
Our weapons forms are very different also. Our Jong form is very different as well.

The Chan Wah Shun legacy of wing chun in Shunde, China is the most unusual style of wing chun. It also differs greatly from the mainstream wing chun.

What are the fighting concepts that are focalized on into your School?

Our fighting concepts concentrate on Attack method. In Australia, due to multi culture, there are a lot of "big" people, Africans, middle Easterners and Europeans, so we spend more time on learning techniques against charging, boxer attacks, muay thai fighters, kicking and defenses against attacks with sticks and knives.
Chi Sao also plays an important role in developing close range fighting skills.
Initially the practitioner will learn all the basic skills in self defense and then the system turns to attack and control to dim mak targets.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

William Cheung and David Cheung Split

Sifu Garry’s Blog
William Cheung and David Cheung Split.
I started my wing chun kung fu training in mid 1986. In Melbourne's China Town, two of the foremost wing chun masters in the world would at my disposal. William Cheung Sifu and David Cheung Sifu.
Several times a week I would train with William Cgeung and the other times I would have David Cheung for my wing chun tutorials.
In 1989, two of the World’s foremost masters on wing chun kung fu, William Cheung and David Cheung became embroiled in such a comprehensive argument that William Cheung disowned David as his Brother.
As I was walking to China town one Thursday afternoon, going to my wing chun kung fu class at 3pm, I thought what a glorious day it is today.
I owned and operated a Courier business down at Spencer Street and China town was about a 20 minute walk to the other side of the City.
When I entered the Kwon on that day, I could sense a strange mood, something I had not encountered before. I was good at sensing energies.
The 3 pm class was due to start and David Cheung was not around, so a senior student took charge and started the class.
William's office was down stairs and the training hall was upstairs.
I could hear some commotion down stairs, but wasn’t sure what the noise was.
Shortly after, David came storming into the training hall, went to his little office and started to throw objects over the wall into the training area.
There weren’t too many students there but we were all bewildered and stunned, totally.
Not long afterwards, David stormed out never to be seen again at William's school.
As time transpired, I learnt that William was not happy with David’s teachings, stating that he was modifying and changing the system too much. Their personalities were clashing too much, at this stage in their lives.
David Cheung had been teaching wing chun for William since 1981 and now in 1989 it was time for David to move on and find his own identity. 
David rang me the following week and asked me to come and train with him.
As I worked in Town and David would continue to teach in Town I was only too happy to support him.
David Cheung started teaching at the WYCA in Elizabeth St and then at the Art Centre in St Kilda Road. Eventually, David moved out of town, so I lost contact with him, even though he rang me periodically, to inspire me to come and train with him.
During this period, I still stayed loyal to William and became one of his senior students, eventually starting a morning class for beginners and a class for overseas students, at his first Flinders St School, just around the corner from Elizabeth Street.
In 1991, the City school hears that David Cheung was teaching again on Thursday evening at William's school in Dandenong. That was 30 kms away from Melbourne city. Every Thursday I would take my wife and Joe Sayer, to Dandenong after our 4.30pm class.
We had 90mins to get to Dandenong as the class started at 6pm.
David only stayed at Dandenong for several months.
David opened a school in mid 1992 in Elizabeth St. Initially I would sneak up and train with David Sifu, after working for William in the mornings.
Eventually, I got caught out and William gave me the option – “you cannot work for me and train with my Brother”.
So, I had the dilemma of deciding how my future would transpire, with William Cheung or David Cheung.
As William was not teaching full time, anymore, I decided to support David, as I wanted direct tuition from a wing chun master.
That was June 1992.
During my training at the David Cheung Academy, I was instrumental in organising Lion Dance training and performances and was also head organiser with our Demo team.
After Lion Dancing, David and I would do random sparring or chi sao in the streets surrounded by chanting spectators. Those times were so good.
I trained with David Cheung, full time, for the next four years. This completed my 10 years training in traditional wing chun kung fu.
The first six years with William Cheung and David Cheung, the last two years, full time, and then four years full time with David Cheung.
Around early 1995, there was trouble brewing "in the camp" with the Cheung brothers. With my conversations with David, at the time, I was led to believe things would culminate with William and David having a challenge match.
Later in the year, William organised a kung fu tournament and of course his brother David had to attend with a contingent of fighters, for Honour alone.
I also had a chance to enter some of my students, especially my Son.
I said to David, in class one day, "please don't use me as a guinea pig in front of your Brother"
He reassured me he wouldn't.
Well, on the day of the tournament, during an intermission, David Cheung grabbed the microphone and put out a challenge to the entire audience for anybody to come and do some chi sao with him.
You could have heard a pin drop. I thought it was a pretty classy thing to do.
No one took up the challenge. So I hid behind a pillar, because I knew what was coming.
Shortly,  over the PA, I heard my name being called out. Garry, Garry, where are you, being uttered by David.
My wife Sifu Linda saw me hiding and pointed me out.
David made a joke about me hiding.
So, I had to do random chi sao with David, my sifu, in front of William Cheung, several other wing chun dignitaries and about 400 spectators.
I believe, David was hoping his Brother would accept his proposition.
It was a great experience, even though I pleaded with David not to use me.
Ha Ha. The good times.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wing Chun Kung Fu Forms

Sifu Garry's Blog
Wing Chun Kung Fu forms
My lineage is from Leung Bik/Yip Man system of wing chun.
In wing chun circles in China, the Leung Bik/Yip Man system of wing chin is referred to as the
“true attack/fighting” system of wing chun kung fu.
The Leung Bik/Yip Man system of forms are very unique, due to the forms being extremely different to the main stream wing chun of today.
The Leung Bik/Yip Man system incorporates high kicks, with knees and elbow strikes, as well as dim mak attacking. Leung Bik was a rebellious teenager who incorporated many of his peers techniques into his wing chun while developing his system of wing chun.
There are generally 6 wing chun kung fu forms, being, sil lim tao, chum kiu, biu gee empty hand forms and 2 weapons forms, dragon pole and butterfly swords.
In the early history of wing chun, there was only one continuous form, which incorporated the concepts of the 3 forms – slt, chum kiu and biu gee.
The red boat member, Wong Wah Bo, was purported to have created the 3 empty hand forms, and his student Leung Jan developed the forms to what we know today.
Another red boat member, Leung Yi Tai was said to have kept the tradition of San Sik. This is a set of fist techniques put together to practise and develop continuous movements in set form
This was a system of practise prior to wing chun forms being developed.
San Sik or Sup Yi Lo is still practised today, mainly stemming from the Kulo village wing chun system.
The Jee Shin wing chun Sil Lim Tao develops short range attacks, introduces one to Biu Gee (dim mak concepts) and side neutral stance. Apart from the afore mentioned, sil lim tao also develops balance, coordination, simultaneous arm movements, forward intention, center line and central line theory, techniques positioning, range and most importantly, chi power.
Through natural Tan Tien breathing we cultivate our energy or chi via our Kidneys and store the enrgy in the tan tien.
When we train the second form “advanced sil lim tao” we then utilize reverse tan tien breathing, which helps to develop potential energy in the arms and enhances our intention.
Sil Lim Tao is like the “alphabet” of the system.
If we have good alphabet we have good English or good numeracy for good mathematics.
Therefore, if we have good sil lim tao we will have good structure with our wing chun kung fu skills.
Chum Kiu form teaches us the concept of bridging the gap and then, seeking the bridge.
This naturally relates to moving in on your opponent, to a practical range where we can strike.
In the Leung Bik/Yip Man system of wing chun, there are 5 ranges of combat.
Non contact – contact – exchange – pursuit and retreat.
In most other wing chun systems, there is no concept of retreat.
Chum Kiu is classified as a foot work form, commonly using side neutral stance and bridging the gap with Bon Sao.
I find this quite contradictory, to have no retreat technique. In wing chun we always assume our opponent is larger and stronger, therefore, we cannot use force against force, as the stronger person will always win.
Therefore, without a retreat step, it would be extremely difficult to avoid the intentions of a larger, angry perpetrator.
Biu Gee develops the concept of pursuit and retreat. It also introduces us to pressure point striking, using the fingers as a deadly weapon.
There is also a reference to the Baqua in the biu gee form, which represents the 8 directions of the Universe. This also covers the directions of potential attack.
Fut sao is the technique used in Biu Gee to demonstrate the concept of pursuit and retreat.
In Jee Shin’s wing chun biu gee form the close range concept for elbow and knee strikes are introduced.
Biu Gee is the pinnacle of wing chun culminating in the deadly art of thrusting fingers, striking soft targets and pressure points to manipulate and control your opponent.
In some wing chun circles, Biu Gee is the “secret” of wing chun kung fu. Some Master regard biu gee as too deadly to teach to the public, so it is very difficult to see biu gee in action.
There are also 2 weapons form in wing chun. In the Leung Bik/Yip Man system we actually learn the 61/2 point dragon pole (luk dim boon gwun) and the 8 slash butterfly swords (bart jarm dao).
In some systems of wing chun they teach the long dragon pole (31/2 point pole). This pole is at least 9 ft long. The 61/2 pt pole is only about 6ft, so it is much easier to manoeuvre. The 9ft pole is used more for structure and strength training.
Even though there are many variations with wing chun forms all over the world, they all teach the practitioner to become more proficient, fluent and skill full with the art of wing chun kung fu.
Abbot Jee Shin introduced the dragon pole to the Red Boats, namely Wong Wah Bo.
The Butterfly Swords was a conventional weapon used from the outset of wing chun kung fu.