Land of Confusion 5

Wing Chun is supposed to be an intelligent art. So why then do so many practitioners learn it in an unintelligent manner?

I can understand it if you are a total newbie and believe everything served up to you. But when you get to a certain level you should be able to discriminate between that which is true, that which is false and that which is dodgy.

Let me give you an example. At one time the Bil Jee form was not something you can read about easily, much less see what it looks like. Not helping was the fact that it is a form that is not supposed to go out the door.

Then articles on Bil Jee started appearing and before long one could even find books on it. I remember one author proudly proclaiming that he was laying waste to the saying that Bil Jee should not go out the door by exposing the form in his book.

I read the articles. I read the books. I have to agree with these authors – there was nothing fantastic about the Bil Jee form. One famous master even said that it is a form best not used. If its not a form to be used then why learn it?

So this master explained that the techniques of Bil Jee is to deal with emergency situations. One good example was when your elbow is controlled. In the Bil Jee form there is a technique to overcome this attempt to control your elbow. Point taken.

But somehow there is a nagging feeling that there is more to Bil Jee than what these masters were saying.

One question I can think of is this – why is the form called Bil Jee? One master who learned under Ip Man wrote that the form is like a compass. Huh? I didn’t quite get the point. Some might point to the fact that there are a number of finger strikes in the form hence the name. Perhaps this is the case.

Except if this were so then it would be an anomaly. Look at the name of the first form and the second form. Philosophical names wouldn’t you think? If so, when then is the third form named after a technique? Why not a philosophy. Maybe what this master said about the form being a compass is correct.

Even today I see people asking questions about Biu Jee. Some are beginner questions, something that can be answered by feeding them those information that are already out there. Whether the information is correct, partly correct or wrong is another matter.

If the Bil Jee form is just a form to deal with attempts to control us or about the finger strikes then truly I don’t see what the big deal is. Why then have the saying of the form not going out the door? Something does not quite make sense here. Could it be that the truth is that the true meaning of what Bil Jee is about is lost and what the explanation coming from these masters are either based on what they heard, their own experiences or their own guesses.

Bil Jee is truly a landscape of confusion. I have not read or heard a satisfactory explanation from anyone in the Ip lineage. Same goes for many of the other non-Ip lineages. I was resigned to always having this nagging question.

Till that one day when I finally heard what Bil Jee was really about. Suddenly a glimmer of understanding. Was this explanation made up? Something specific to Wing Chun? No, in fact it is a traditional principle, not one that I have heard about at that point in time. But later, a famous master from another southern style explained it. Same explanation from two different styles. When you know what this rationale behind the name is you would understand why this form should not go out the door, particularly in those days in Fatshan when Wing Chun was a closed door art.

It is a paradox that today when Wing Chun is an open, popular art practitioners know even less about it than in those days when the art was kept within a small circle of disciples. The erosion of knowledge began long ago. I doubt anything can be done to prevent the loss of knowledge that is passed along in an authentic lineage as such practitioners tend to be conservative and not keen to open up to the public. I guess we have to learn to live in a land of confusion.

P.S. – that technique for dealing with your elbow being controlled? It does not really work. Or perhaps it does against people who are not that skillful. I tried it once against a non-Ip Wing Chun master. It didn’t work. I got an explanation of how silly the technique was. This is what happens when someone makes up an explanation, not realizing that even principle-wise the technique as used is impractical.

Moral of the lesson – not everything a famous master says is correct. Learn to discriminate between that which is true and that which is false. Believe no one. Find out for yourself.



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