Ip Man’s Win Chun Rules of conduct, Wing Chun Jo Fen 葉問詠春祖訓

 

Yip Man or Ip Man葉問 (1893 – 1972) was a master of Wing Chun kung fu, 詠春 or 永春, and was most well-known for one of his students, Bruce Lee.yipman_brucelee In fact, Wing Chun was an unknown kung fu style until Lee became world famous and mentioned that Wing Chun was his martial arts background.

Today I am not going to write about Ip Man or Bruce Lee as their biographies have been written by many others who are probably much more qualified to write about them.

What I want to write about is Ip Man’s biggest contribution to the martial arts world, the introduction of Wing Chun rules of conduct. Unless you have practiced Wing Chun this Jo Fen should be new to the readers. We have studied Funakoshi’s Niju kun. I believe it is interesting and educational to learn and study this code of conducts.

Wing chunBut first I would like to touch on a little history and the origin of Wing Chun. The exact origin and the accurate date of this style are not known nor historically documented. Due to the particular age and period during middle of the 19th century, when this fighting art was created I suspect it was impossible to create and keep such a document. The time of creation of Wing Chun is said to be in the period after the destruction of the Southern Shaolin temple by the Qing army that attacked and burned the Monastery. According to the legend, the originator is believed to be the young woman, Yim Wing-chun 嚴詠春. She had supposedly learned a fighting style from a Buddhist nun, Ng Mui, who was one of the Shaolin Monastery survivors.

This fighting style is said to be inspired by the nun’s observations of a fight between a snake and a crane. So you can easily guess the techniques of this style. Wing Chun is a striking art, utilizing kicks, punches, elbow strikes, knee strikes and open-handed techniques, primarily used for close-range combat. It is very interesting to examine the style Lee created, Jeet Kune Do 截拳道 and compare it with the techniques of Wing Chun. You will find that there is very little resemblance to his original art. Jeet Kune do coverAs this is not an article about Lee nor Jeet Kune Do, I will not go any further than one statement. I know there are many blind followers of Bruce Lee and my statement may not please them but I dare to reveal this because of the great respect I have for Ip Man. His deviation was not based on the technical discovery or improvement as Lee wanted us to believe. It was mainly because he needed to adapt the style to look good on the screen. This is not to blame Lee for having done this as he was a movie actor before a martial artist. It was a very natural thing to do and he was very successful with what he did. He should receive the rightful credit for what he did which was to popularize Asian martial arts around the world through the movies he starred. But I must stress that we should never blow up his image more than what he really was and create a god.

OK, let us look at Wing Chu Jo Fen that consisted of nine rules.

Ip Man’s Win Chun Rules of Conduct 葉問詠春祖訓:

Code of conduct

We will examine each rule. I will put the original Chinese rule then the translation underneath. The rules are fairly straight forward so there will be little added explanation over the translated sentences.

Chinese writing for rule 1

codeofconduct1

Remain disciplined and uphold yourself ethically as a martial artist.

 

Chinese writing for rule 2

codeofconduct2

Practice courtesy and righteousness, love your country, honor your family and respect your parents.

 

Chinese writing for rule 3

codeofconduct3

Love your fellow students, be united and enjoy working together in a harmony.

 

Chinese writing for rule 4

codeofconduct4

Control your bodily desires, preserve the sound spirit and stay healthy.

 

Chinese writing for rule 5

codeofconduct5

Train diligently and keep practicing, keep your skills throughout your life.

 

Chinese writing for rule 6

codeofconduct6

Learn to develop your chi (ki), avoid the attitude of arguments and aggression.

 

Chinese writing for rule 7

codeofconduct7

Your character in your daily life should be always moderate, kind and gentle in your manners.

 

Chinese writing for rule 8

codeofconduct8

Help the weak and the disadvantaged (old and young), use your martial skill to keep the justice.

 

Chinese writing for rule 9

codeofconduct9

Pass on the tradition, preserve and uphold these Rules of Conduct.

 

In addition to these 9 rules there are three things the martial artists must refuse or avoid. I found them to be interesting so I will list them.

1. Refusal to teach government officials.

2. Refusal to teach local bullies (gangsters)

3. Must not have dis-respectable employment.

What do you think of Wing Chun rules of conduct? Can they be useful to you? By the way, Ip Man died from the throat cancer and it happened coincidentally in the same year Lee died, 1972.Ip man and Bruce Lee It is very true that Ip Man became a legend and made Wing Chun a well- known style. I also consider Wing Chun Jo Fen is a valuable teaching code and we all must respect it even if we do not practice Wing Chun. Despite all these, I must end this article with this sad fact that Ip Man was addicted to opium. One of his former students revealed that Ip used tuition money to support his opium addiction. He created many students and Wing Chun became famous but I wonder how he coped with his deviation from the rules of conduct particularly of Rule #4; “Control your bodily desires, preserve the sound spirit and stay healthy.”

Regardless, I hope you agree that all of us can learn some important teaching from Wing Chun Jo Fen and we may want to adapt it in our karate discipline to improve ourselves. 

 

For the additional reading;

Yip/Ip Man: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yip_Man

Wing Chun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wing_Chun

Yim Wing-chun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yim_Wing-chun

Jeet Kune Do: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeet_Kune_Do

 

2 Responses to Ip Man’s Win Chun Rules of conduct, Wing Chun Jo Fen 葉問詠春祖訓

  • Re; Ip Man’s Win Chun Rules of conduct, Wing Chun Jo Fen 葉問詠春祖訓 (Reply).

    A straight talking brief article which gets straight to the point of a couple of topics which could be whole articles all of their own. However, I feel it helps bring to light a reminder that we are all just human and are all capable of having the same traits as one and another. Life can offer the same opportunities or misfortunes to us all, regardless who you are and when or where you lived.

    I suppose you could say all throughout the ages there have always been a myriad of temptations and deviations placed upon us all at one time or another and I suppose that sometimes things can just present themselves right in front of you which challenge or upset the balances life that you have at that moment. From that moment in time your journey onwards is not written, and you have to accept and agree that you are your own author in the grand scheme of things.

    Regardless of what we think or opinions we hold towards Ip man or Bruce Lee and please understand that under no circumstance am I attempting to, nor have any intention or want to judge them but within the article they do share several similar traits and have things in common which I find interesting as an individual and take note of;

    1, They were both put on a pedestal and held up high by others and probably had to work hard afterwards to maintain themselves once up there…
    2, They both made considerable contributions to the promotion and practice of martial arts…
    3, They both clearly had a great passion in what and how they did…
    4, They were both famous in their own right in what they were known for…
    6, They both had to deal with the highs and lows of being who they were…
    7, They both always stressed the importance of personal development and outwardly encourage it…
    8, They both had their own flaws and demons to conquer…
    9, They both tried to pass on various rules of life using the martial arts as their medium…
    (Please note! The nine points listed above are not intended to represent or mirror the 9 rules of conduct)

    My point is, just like many individuals regardless of era, place or culture they both never stopped stressing upon the point that a strict code of personal conduct and discipline is necessary to try and live by and it is always of the upmost importance to try and maintain these codes, guides, rules etc covering how you should try to conduct yourself in your daily life regardless.

    Of course we can learn some important teaching from the “Wing Chun Jo Fen” which we can adapt to improve ourselves, but have we not already done that as in the code of Bushido, Dojo & Niju kun or the many other examples personal conduct of wellbeing, correctness, responsibility and life disciplines etc belonging to other karate styles?
    The 9 rules of conduct which I have listed again below so I can read again to spur me to ask the following questions in a reflective ponder;

    Ip Man’s 9 Win Chun Rules of conduct, Wing Chun Jo Fen 葉問詠春祖訓

    1) Remain disciplined and uphold your-self ethically as a martial artist.
    2) Practice courtesy and righteousness, love your country, honour your family and respect your parents.
    3) Love your fellow students, be united and enjoy working together in a harmony.
    4) Control your bodily desires, preserve the sound spirit and stay healthy.
    5) Train diligently and keep practicing, keep your skills throughout your life.
    6) Learn to develop your chi (ki), avoid the attitude of arguments and aggression.
    7) Your character in your daily life should be always moderate, kind and gentle in your manners.
    8) Help the weak and the disadvantaged (old and young), use your martial skill to keep the justice.
    9) Pass on the tradition, preserve and uphold these Rules of Conduct.

    If we are a teacher of any style of martial arts should we not always be trying to maintain them or a form of something similar? …. I think so!

    Are we allowed to make mistakes…. Of course, because if we didn’t how would we find the importance that a little self improvement is necessary, and let’s face it they are not a science and too difficult to understand.

    Do we have to learn Wing Chung Kung-fu or Karate to be able to apply or benefit from them? … I don’t think so, simple common sense, courtesy and manners shouldn’t be so difficult to find.

    Lastly but probably the most important pondering question is; Are we not all really the same evolving from the same origins but we choose to forget this and the respect for others (different styles), or have we really lost our way and the essences of the “Martial Arts”….?

    I enjoyed the article, thank-you for posting.
    With Respect – Always
    Mr Andrew JM Nightingale

    • Sensei Nightingale,
      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and ideas. I agree fully with the two important points you brought up. One is that they (Ip Man and Bruce Lee) contributed to Martial Arts greatly. Secondly, we must never forget that the our arts evolved from the same origins. We are all in the same family of martial arts.
      We must not waste our time in criticizing the others but rather spend that effort to better ourselves. Let us take our next step forward and try to bring all martial artists back to one family.
      Regards,
      K. Yokota

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