History and Philosophy
According to Grandmaster Henry Leung, Fut Sao Wing Chun Kuen came from a very old system of martial and healing art believed to pre-date Shaolin. Fut Sao is a subset of an original Taoist internal system, that was kept within it’s own sect, but was lost and forgotten until it was rediscovered by the Venerable Hsu Yun, GM Henry Leung’s Sifu (a Buddhist monk. The original name of the art was called Gu Yee Kuen or Ancient Fist). The Gu Yee Kuen system is thought to be the core or root system, on which other arts also came about. GM Henry Leung named the subset Fut Sao or Buddha Hand in honor of his sifu.
The Gu Yee Kuen system was originally comprised of a single long and complex form, but due to its complexity and difficulty, the form was simplified into 4 sections, to make it easier for the student to learn. These are the current Fut Sao forms. Fut Sao is a traditional Martial art in that it comprises all three areas of human development, the physical, mental, and spiritual. The Venerable Hsu Yun, one of the most respected, and well known Chan master of modern China, was not known for his martial arts or healing skills. In a matter of fact, some will go to great lengths to say that there is no documentation or proof regarding his martial art and healing skills. Yet if you read his autobiography written by his disciples, he is constantly traveling , from temple to temple, thru out China, by himself. Imagine the survival skills one must have, to *venture out alone, on foot, in the wilderness, of the late 1800′s thru early 1900′s.
Hsu Yun passed down his martial arts to only a few disciples. One of those was Grandmaster Henry Leung (first generation disciple), who spent 10 years, from age 9 −19 under the tutelage of the Venerable Hsu Yun. Grand Master Henry Leung was the first person, to take Fut Sao System, from China, and spread the art to the U.S. It was here that GM Henry Leung taught the Fut Sao system, for the first time, in the basement of his restaurant in New York. One of his last students’s, by the name of Joseph Ng, became a disciple and “The Keeper of the Temple”… (Receiving all the ancient knowledge and herbal formulas). Besides being a skilled martial artist, Joseph Ng is also very talented herbalist and knowledgeable in T.C.M s
The Siu Lien Tao (romanized Sil Lin Tao) form looks 60–70% similar to other Wing Chun first forms. The similarity though, is only on the surface, where as the ideas and concepts are totally different. The Chum Kiu and Biu Jee forms are completely different than other Wing Chun systems. The Siu Bot Gua does not exist in other lineages. The Wooden Dummy, Knife and Pole forms, look similar, but once again the applications are completely different. Fut Sao emphasizes Chi Sao, where as a lot of other Wing Chun systems, see little value in this area. Fut Sao does not practice or have two man forms or sets, as seen in other systems like Southern Praying Mantis.
The ideology, methodology and concepts behind Fut Sao, are truly deep and amazing. They are something which should be experienced and discussed peacefully, as Fut Sao in it’s own name, comes from Buddhist teachings, which promote Peace and Love. This is the principle behind a non-aggressive form of combat, which emphasizes that passiveness, is to be interpreted as a strength, rather than a weakness.
By Sifu Michael McIlwrath
Source: Sifu Joeseph Ng