Lee Moy Shan

Interview with Sifu Lee Moy Shan on Ving Tsun Kung Fu

The following interview was held with Sifu Lee Moy Shan in 1980 who has been teaching Ving Tsun Kung Fu in the metropolitan area of New York City since 1974.

Q. Mr. Lee, who taught you Ving Tsun?

A. My sifu is Master Moy Yat, who is a close disciple of the late Grandmaster Yip Man.

Q. Why have you decided to teach VT over the other martial arts you.have studied?

A. Until I was introduced to VT, I had never come across another martial art that was as direct and true in application, and most of all, in tune with life itself. I am deeply grateful for the profound change it helped produce in my physical, mental, and emotional structure. I hope my students can benefit from VT as much as I have.

Q. What can a student learn from martial arts?

A. There are many things one can learn. Most importantly, one must know vhat he wants to learn in order to create the desire to learn. One should not ask what the martial arts can do for him, it is what he wants out of martial arts that counts. We call this "Little Idea or Little Imagination".

Q. In your classes, I noticed your students working out individually as opposed to in groups. What is the reason for this?

A. We train individually because each person has his own uniqueness - no two persons learn in the same way. Actually, the training method is similar for everyone, but each person will grow according to his own structure, way of life, and what they actually want to learn.

Q. Why do you promote a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere in your school?

A. We are living in a civilized society. In order to incorporate kung fu into this structure we teach peacefully, as a sport. When one chooses to fight and reaches that stage, he is taught,in an aggressive and violent manner.

Q. VT is taught systematically. Is there any room for creativity after one learns the basics?

A. What you are given during the learning process are the tools and methods to learn VT - this is not VT itself. The system becomes as creative as one makes it.

Q. What role does the concept of hardness and softness play?

A. We explain these concepts in terms of degrees of energy. Hardness means that a person uses energy. Softness means that a person does not use energy. There is no set time when one is in either state - it all depends upon the situation.

Q. Why do you stress spontanaeity as opposed to learning specific techniques for specific situations?

A. Since there are thousands of situations, you would have to develope thousands of techniques and learn, practice, and remember each one separately. in fighting, if you must think of which one to apply, it might be a split second too much time wasted. If you learn more spontaneously, you will cope with any situation that arises.

Q. How does one learn in such a spontaneous manner?

A. By getting hit unpredictably until one's hands and feet develop what we call minds of their own.

Q. How important a role does a persons emotional state play in fighting?

A. The emotional aspect is the most essential in fighting. We have a saying, "A fist comes from the heart". If you have a strong emotional desire to win, you are increasing your chances. The same applies to your opponent. This all comes from knowing who you are. If you know who you are, you will know your opponent. If you know your opponent, you will know your abilities, and your chances of winning will be greater.

Q.Why are leg techniques stressed only in the latter stages of the hand and foot training?

A. Leg training starts from the first day one learns VT. He is then taught the proper stance, which is the foundation for his footwork. Hopefully, when his hand techniques (which are stressed initially) become proficient, his stance will also have become strong; he then could further progress to the kicking stage.

Q. Which would you prefer to use in combat, hands or feet?

A. There are no set rules. When it is practical to use your hands, use then. The same applies to the feet.

Q. When one is in a combat situation, what should he think of?

A. He should think of what his heart wants. If he wishes to fight, he should fight. If he chooses to run, he should run.

Q. What part of the body should one look at?

A. The total shadow. If you look at the face, you will get kicked in the groin. if you look at the feet, you will get punched in the head.

Q. Can the VT system be improved upon?

A. You can only make it as perfect as you are. If you do not master the movements and concepts, this could be the worst system (for you).

Q. What future role will you take to promote VT?

A. It is very difficult to say what is in store for the future, but what I can say is that I will promote it as far as my abilities will allow.

Q. Thank you Sifu Lee Moy Shan.