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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An Interview with Jim Roselando, Coach of MIT Qigong

Jim Roselando Sifu, of Ku Lo Pin Sun Wing Chun: www.apricotforesthall.com
Yun Hoi of Yuen Kay San Wing Chun: www.yunhoiwingchun.com

Yun Hoi: Thanks for the time from your busy schedule, sifu. May I first ask how your great love – noi gung training for the average guy or gal, which you teach at MIT, is going?

Sifu Roselando: MIT is a great place to share Yang Sheng and Yiquan Chi Gung.  It is the top science university in the world and there is a lot of interest in the healing process and technology of our art.  I get to meet people (students & professors) from many different disciplines (Taijiquan, Yoga, Buddhism, etc.) and am always happy to see how our art affects them in a positive way.  On average we have from 20-25 people every Monday night.  The training is simple but effective and thanks to the results of our Chi Gung I have had an amazing response.

Yun Hoi: What’s your aim in teaching noi gung, divorced from gung fu, to the general public?

Sifu Roselando: I made a promise to my Chi Gung teacher that I would share the process and conditioning of natural Chi Gung with anyone who needed it or was willing to train. I only share Pin Sun Wing Chun boxing with a few friends.  Anyone who is looking for healing, meditation or even something to boost their athletic performance levels I am happy to help guide them in this process.  Medical Yiquan Chi Gung is formless and core so it is a great platform of Noi Gung that anyone can gain benefits from its practice without creating foreign or odd habits so it is excellent for cross training or on its own.

Yun Hoi: How were you first accepted into Ku Lo Pin Sun Wing Chin, sifu?

Sifu Roselando: I trained martial art and Wing Chun for about twelve years before I located and performed the disciple ceremony with Master Sifu Henry Mui.  This was in April 2001.  From that moment on I discarded all my previous training and devoted myself to his teaching.  This was a special time as we were at the right time and place to absorb, train and then promote this rare system properly.  My teacher specifically asked that I help rebuild his art and clean up many misconceptions by sharing more information on the art with the public. I trained regularly with Sifu for about seven years to learn his entire art and still maintain close contact.  I am lucky to be his pupil and respect him tremendously.

Yun Hoi: Could you tell us a little about your sifu, Henry Mui?

Sifu Roselando: Mui Sifu is a very rare breed.  In all my travels and research I can honestly say that few people have his skill and knowledge.  Mui Sifu is one of the few authentic masters of Pin Sun Wing Chun in the world.  Mui Sifu was a close student of the late Master Sifu Fung Gen Ju.  Fung Sigung was regarded as the top fighter from the 4th generation in the Ku Lo family.  My teacher trained with him when he relocated to Hong Kong in the mid 60's to early 70's.  Mui Sifu has been training and teaching Sigung's Pin Sun Wing Chun for almost 50 years!  He is a Pin Sun Wing Chun treasure, in my opinion.

Yun Hoi: What impressed you most about Ku Lo Pin Sun Wing Chun? What makes you so passionate about it?

Sifu Roselando:  Many things but none more than the results of our training!  The art is a refined masterpiece of solo, partner, sticking and other Wing Chun methods, and, because of this the training hits the body in a very rapid way.  In many ways Master Leung Jan did to Wing Chun what Master Wang Xiang Zhai did to Hsing Yi & Chi Gung.  Cut out the frosting and focus on the cake! This is one of the reasons I am very passionate about Pin Sun Wing Chun.

Yun Hoi: Can we ask you to tell us a little about your visit to Ku Lo village and time with Sigung Fung? What impressed you most?

Sifu Roselando: Grandmaster Fung Chun is a living legend in the Wing Chun family and when you are near him you can see that his love for this art is as strong today as it has ever been, but, the one thing that impressed me more than anything is that Grandmaster Fung Chun is always eager to show you via "hands on" coaching.  If he has something he wants you to know he will perform it on you so you get to feel how and why it is done.  I hope to have a third of his love and skill when I am his age.

Yun Hoi: It seems that some people have “discovered” Ku Lo village, maybe make a brief visit and take some photos, and seem to be using their visits to promote themselves, to be frank, with some fairly poor material. What is your feeling about this sort of commercial exploitation?

Sifu Roselando: The Fung family are happy that their art is getting more popular as tourism is good for Ku Lo but like anything you need a lot of exposure and direct training to grasp any art.  So, while a little training/exposure is better than no training/exposure I always prefer to see the inner family members promoting the art.  Every art has similar levels of players but as long as people are honest about their training that is all anyone can hope for!

Yun Hoi: Could you comment from your first-hand knowledge, on the origin of what is called “twenty two point” Ku Lo Wing Chun and why it was devised after Leung Jan and Wong Wah Sam had passed on?

Sifu Roselando: The Ku Lo 22 San Sau art was developed by Sifu Fung Lim and taught to some public pupils.  All Ku Lo 22 lineages can be traced back to Sifu Fung Lim but it is does not have much in common with Master Leung Jan's Pin Sun Wing Chun platform, training and principles.  It should be known that Sifu Fung Lim's own son (and student), Sifu Fung Sang, who was also trained by Sifu Koo Siu Lung, was taught and then preserved the Pin Sun Wing Chun art.  In 2010 I interviewed the late Sifu Fung Sang's family and senior student (Fung Ho Chiu).  They confirmed that Sifu Fung Lim was the founder of the 22 San Sau art.  I have not found any 22 San Sau in Ku Lo but did have contact with Sifu Fung Lim's grand student from Canada.  To the best of my knowledge this art is mainly practiced by a few in Canton.

Yun Hoi: Could you also comment from your first-hand knowledge, on the origin of what is called “forty point” Ku Lo Wing Chun?

Sifu Roselando: I visited this lineage a number of years ago.  In all honesty there are a great many similarities between the 22 & 40 San Sau arts which makes me believe the 40 San Sau is just an expanded 22 San Sau system but this is just my own speculation.  Similar to other Ku Lo San Sau arts the 40 San Sau has very little in common with the Pin Sun Wing Chun platform, training and principles of Master Leung Jan.  I have not found any 40 San Sau in Ku Lo.  The Ku Lo 40 San Sau art is mainly known today because of one book: “Complete Wing Chun”.  This art is mainly practiced by a few in the USA.

Yun Hoi: Yes, I've not been impresssed by any of the so-called 22 or 40 point sytems I've seen. It seems that Ku Lo Pin Sun is being taught, even in China, to varying degrees of correctness and comprehensiveness? There seems to be at the same time some secretiveness and a closed door approach to the genuine art and at the same time some mixing of other Wing Chun into the art taught more openly. Could you comment?

Sifu Roselando: The basic protocol of any family system is: "The art is to be passed on and not openly taught!".  Now, even though the art has gained considerable popularity lately, thanks to the internet, one can see that outside of Sha Ping Town, Heshan (and Boston, USA) there are no public schools for Pin Sun Wing Chun anywhere in the world and only a handful of qualified instructors from each generation.  The private nature of this art has not changed in over 100 years but Wing Chun in Ku Lo is similar to Soccer for the Italians.  Just about everyone plays it for a few years (it’s cultural).  So some of these odd arts were developed for those who are looking for a crash course in some Ku Lo Boxing and some are just a teacher’s own modifications.  Knowing this you can see that a few odd systems coming out over the years is normal for any art and actually can serve a purpose.  Luckily this art has not been around very long. Its evolution and main players are well documented which helps avoid lineage debates. 
My grand-teacher was a bit different with regards to his public teaching.  For example: In Hong Kong Sigung mainly taught the 1st 4 hands, footwork, a few drills and some Chi Sau/Sparring.  Sigung told my teacher: “If you give them more they will have a better chance of doing more stuff wrong but if you keep their training to a core you will have a better chance of helping them develop.  It’s better to do a few things well than a bunch not so well”.  Sigung was a fighter and it is clear that he wanted his people to develop a strong base which is a little different (and more important) than some of the other people who taught odd or expanded San Sau systems to the public.  Sigung was also very proud of his Pin Sun Wing Chun boxing.  He would often say: Do not teach anyone who will make the art look bad!  This may sound odd.

Yun Hoi: Not at all! I hold the same belief and wish my students to also believe this! There is too much rubbish out there, I’m afraid! Some, sadly, from bogus sources, other equally poor material comes from people in a legitimate line of transmission!

Sifu Roselando:  OK. For the Ku Lo people their Gung Fu is very special and Sigung wanted to make sure a certain level of quality was to be maintained by his lineage which explains why he focused on the core for his public class rather than a simplified or modified number of odd skills. 
Mui Sifu was a little different than most others with his public school.  For example: In his early teaching his art would be only known as Juen Ma "turning horse" Wing Chun and his teaching was organized into three small mini sets each containing four skills.  Sifu taught in this method as most were expecting "three forms" in Wing Chun training.  Mui Sifu's schools were not open very long but some of his later students that spent more time with him were taught a little differently - in a more traditional or classical platform.  How much difference was there?  Not much. And, if you ask, Mui Sifu will tell you, It mainly depends on the amount of time a teacher and student are able to spend together.
All of these arts have similarities as all Wing Chun has similarities but I prefer my Sigung's approach but don't tell my Sifu that!  (Winks) By teaching the way Sigung did you are able to share the core of the art while not having to tweak the art.  I firmly believe that none of us have the training, teaching and fighting experience of Master Leung Jan.  Knowing this you can see why I prefer to be a modern traditionalist by not altering or expanding Master Leung Jan's system that allows everyone to develop properly and then they can base their application on their own body type! Remember, there was only one Gung Fu King so I trust his system. 

Yun Hoi: What would you most like to tell everyone about Ku Lo Pin Sun Wing Chun?

Sifu Roselando: The art and teaching of Master Leung Jan is not just a few actions for self defense.  This is the biggest misconception about our art.  Master Leung Jan developed the Pin Sun system of Wing Chun that is a comprehensive art built around a "modern core training platform" rooted in twelve skills or stages of cultivation.   Essentially a compressed or refined Siu Lin Tao, Chum Kiu & Biu Jee that would focus on the art’s principles, development and dynamics.  The Pin Sun boxing art is rich with training.  In all honesty I can tell you that most arts do not have a third of our Choc Sau, Chi Sau & Jau Sau training.  The Fist, Dummy and Pole are all designed to develop your empty hand boxing/fighting skill.  I often tell people the Pin Sun art is Master Leung Jan's final masterpiece and is  "Wing Chun on steroids".  This soft internal system of Gung Fu is one of the rarest in the world and gives us a deeper look into the training and applications of the famed Gung Fu King as preserved by his own family.