The Path To Wing Chun
(Second Edition), by Samuel Kwok
Book review by Wing Chun coach David Jarrett
This book first appeared in 1985 but has gone through several reprints and a new edition appeared in 1998. The book is introduced with a tribute from Linda Lee, the wife of the late Bruce Lee, and a recommendation from Great Grandmaster Ip Man’s son, Grandmaster Ip Chun, one of Samuel Kwok’s teachers. The book then provides a short and very readable summary of both the history of Kung Fu and of Wing Chun Kung Fu in particular. A brief section entitled “About the Author” is then provided, detailing Samuel Kwok’s progression and achievements within the Wing Chun system.
The book then gets down to business, with a number of annotated pictures explaining the exact positions of both the basic training stance and the fighting stance. Careful descriptions and a number of pictures are also provided to explain the correct methods of turning, stepping, punching, turning punching and holding the guard. A careful explanation of the Centreline Theory in Wing Chun is also provided, with images showing how the theory is applied in practice. The book then introduces the first form of Wing Chun, known as Sil Lim Tao or Little Idea. An explanation of all of the purposes of practicing the form is provided as well as tips for mastering the form. There are then 45 pages of pictures capturing each movement in the form, most accompanied by insightful annotations. A further page is provided entitled “Notes on Sil Lim Tao Training”, which provides useful insights for the practitioner.
The book then provides introductions to a number of other aspects of Wing Chun. The Dan Chi exercise is introduced, again with a large number of carefully annotated pictures to help the reader. The basic front kick is similarly covered. Pictures and notes on fighting applications of the first form techniques are then provided, marking the end of the main content.
At the end of the book there are a number of interesting photographs of Samuel Kwok and his Sifus, Ip Chun and Ip Ching, as well as their father, Ip Man. A tribute from Danny Connor is also provided as well as a family tree of the Wing Chun system’s instructors, including many of Samuel Kwok students. The book ends with a list of the names of the Wing Chun techniques and their English translations.
The book can best be described as a little classic. Even 25 years after publication and the explosion of Wing Chun DVDs and Youtube videos, the book remains a must-read for any Wing Chun student, especially beginners. The positions are explained in brilliant detail, making it easy for the student to learn and understand. There are also plenty of ideas to consider for even advanced practitioners. One example is the section on wrist action when punching. Similarly, several of the “basic” applications provided are techniques which are overlooked by many Wing Chun practitioners but are well worth attention. The words of Ip Chun are suitable to conclude with. This book is “well worth recommendation.”
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