Hung Nguyen: Reaching Orange Sash

Born and raised in Vietnam, I have known Wing Chun as “Vịnh Xuân” which carries the same meaning of “eternal spring”. However, my knowledge about Wing Chun was limited. I assumed that it is just another Chinese martial arts with fancy moves but not applicable in a modern day situation. Not until recently, the Ip Man movie series ignited my interest in Ip Man and the history of Wing Chun. In my paper, Hung Nguyen: Reaching Orange Sash I will tell you my story.

Hung Nguyen: Reaching Orange Sash

I came to find out that Wing Chun is a martial arts that emphasizes in realistic defense, economic motions, and bodily structure. Since Wing Chun was initially developed for women, it focuses on “getting the job done” rather than fancy flying kicks or breaking wooden blocks. It uses body mechanics with minimal movements to simultaneously strike and defense.


I have always wanted to improve my health, strength and overall wellness. However, like many others, I failed to stick with the mundane routine gym work outs. I knew at that time that I need to make a change. I wanted to do something that is interesting and beneficial for my health. The combination of my personal goal and interest in Wing Chun leads me to look for a Wing Chun school in the area.

My first impression of Tampa Wing Chun Kung Fu is the dedication and friendliness of the instructor, Garret Brumfield. He took the time to explain the basic moves and concept of Wing Chun, helping the students to have a better understanding of Wing Chun. He created a friendly environment which is built upon the enthusiasm of Wing Chun and the respect for each other. Over the past year, my strength and health have improved significantly due to Wing Chun. Garret has always pushed me to work harder not just in Wing Chun technicians but also other aspects such as strength, cardio, and endurance.

The Difference Here

While I have never trained in any form of martial arts previously, I have heard many stories about bad experience with martial arts schools. Many schools focus on pushing students through the systems for financial reasons. Students from those schools can quickly earn a black belt in relatively short amount of time. However, they quickly forget what they learned or don’t know how to apply in real life situation. The students are left little training and most importantly with a false sense of security. In my opinion, it is more dangerous to over confident about your ability to self-defense.


Unlike many other Wing Chun schools where they focus chi-sao but little in real life situations. The curriculum of Sifu Och Wing Chun is detailed and vast in techniques. Sifu Och Wing Chun emphasizes on basic techniques. It also teaches students to be efficient in attacks and defenses in realistic scenarios. The curriculum is built to ensure that the students can master the techniques. This is done through constant repetition and deep understanding of the concept. Sifu Och has traveled the world and trained under many direct lineages of Ip Man Wing Chun system. He distilled his knowledge to a curriculum in which the best of traditional Wing Chun meets self-defense techniques. This even includes other forms of martial arts.


Finally, Tampa Wing Chun Kung Fu and Sifu Och Wing Chun not only have helped me physically but also mentally. Garret and others have motivated me to keep coming to class even at the times when life gets in the way. They helped me to build up my discipline and determination to make a change and improve my overall well-being. At the end of the day, there is no substitution for dedication and time to mastery in Wing Chun or anything else in life. I am glad and very grateful that I have found Sifu Och Wing Chun and Tampa Wing Chun Kung Fu. It has had a positive impact in my life.

Difference in Wing Chun Swords Lineages

What is the difference between different Wing Chun Swords within different Wing Chun Lineages?  Without reading a ton of books or travelling all over the world, What are some quick differences between lineages and how they use the sword?  This is what we are about to answer.

The principle of the Wing Chun Swords also known as Wing Chun butterfly swords form, eight slashing knives or eight-point-slashing-swords, (baat Jaam Dao) is akin to that of the hand-to-hand system. The core philosophy is to overcome the opponent with fast, simple, and straightforward strikes. However, there may be differences in how the form is properly performed. Some within the lineages of Wing Chun may have opposing views on certain actions in the form of its entirety creating the different “Baat Jaam Dao Lineages”.

Wing Chun Swords – Baat Jaam Dao By Dr. Smith

According to Dr. Joseph Smith,to identify an ideal Wing Chun Swords ( butterfly sword ) look at the “ear”. Which might also be referred to as the guard or D-guard, of the sword. Similar to that of the tsumi (wing tip) on a sai the D-guard of the butterfly sword is curved and not flat. The reason behind this is because not only is the D-guard used for trapping and locking-up weapons it is also used as a means of rotating the blade; one cannot successfully rotate the blade with a flat D-guard as it will catch on your thumb. Allowing rotation of the blade provides one the ability to reinforce their blocking by aligning the blunt top edge with the forearm; it can also be used for slashes and elbow smashes. Additionally, by rotating the swords and aligning them together (handle to handle) one will create a greater blocking area.

Wing Chun Swords – Baat Jaam dao by D. Gibson

Contradictory to Dr. Smith, Alan Gibson states in his book Wing Chun: The Works, “…There are no actions that flick the knife into a reverse grip as this is too risky”. This may be true in cases of an actual fight where rotating the swords can mean a matter of life and death. However, in Baat Jaam Dao, rotation is a routine part of the form.

In his book, Gibson mentioned that there are no stabbing movements with the swords (only slashing, as the name implies). Gibson’s explaination is if one were to stab another you risk the chances of immobilizing the sword; thus, rendering it useless. It is understandable to consider such a concern, even more so if facing multiple opponents, but the probability of it occurring is low. Despite its name (eight-point-slashing-swords) the form does not exclude any movements or actions that identify with thrusts or stabs. Actually, the first and second of the eight sections in Baat Jaam Dao ( Wing Chun Swords ) requires thrust actions—though some lineages may have the sections ordered differently.

Similarities in Wing Chun Swords Lineages

Despite several of their performance differences their principle and several methods of Baat Jaam Dao come together. For instance, unlike the stance for the dragon poles Luk Dim Boon Kwun where a low “horse stance” (giving a low center of gravity) is needed for balance and to create a power base, the Wing Chun Swords ( Baat Jaam Dao ) stance is quite opposite. The performed stance in Wing Chun Swords ( Baat Jaam Dao ) is the small circle triangular footwork, similar to the Wing Chun fighting stance but with a more upright posture and less bending of the knees. This will make the body’s center of gravity higher adding to faster movements. The footwork is altered in that in the form as a way of stepping called gote ma; using the step. One will be able to turn their body sideways facing the opponent, directing their body off the opponents center-line. Doing so minimizes the chance of being stabbed or cut. In conjunction with courage, timing and speed one will be able to easily narrow the gap between them and opponent; granting access to the opponent’s weapon hand and their bodies vital regions.

Grandmaster Yip Man and WSL

As a matter of fact, even one of grandmaster Yip Man’s top students, Wong Shun Leung’s form of Baat Jaam Dao differs from the son’s of Yip Man’s form. Differences being the importance of certain moves over others and what order they appear in. The bottom line is that though some lineages of Wing Chun may differentiate in their form performances, even training performances for that matter; they still hold the same principle, teaching and reasoning.


Smith, J. W. (2011). Wing Chun Kung-Fu: A Complete Guide. Tuttle Publishing.

Gibson, A. (2011). Wing Chun: the works. Place of publication not identified: Peacenick Press.

Wing Chun Weapons

Wing Chun teaches only two weapons formally. The Long Pole and the Butterfly swords, both showcased in the Ip Man Series of movies, are powerful weapons that have very interesting pasts. While they are both very effective, neither of them were design originally to kill. This is due to their Shaolin roots. We will present the history of both the Long Pole and Butterfly Swords to better understand them.

Shaolin and the bo staff

The Shaolin staff, also called Bo staff or Dragon staff, dates back to China’s early Sung Dynasty (960-1279). Favored among Shaolin monks it served as weapon and multi-purpose tool. They used the staff not only for self defense but also for extending reach, moving objects, walking stick on travels. Bound by their philosophy of understanding and helping people, monks used the Bo staff to defeat the opponent without inflicting fatal injury.

The first of Wing Chun Weapons: Long pole

The use of the Bo staff continued well into the Qing Dynasty (1644-1922) eventually becoming a military training routine taught by adept monks. Among the weapon experts was one monk by the name of Ji Sin (Gee Sin), a shaolin monk of the Sil Lum Temple. One of the Five Legendary Elders of Sil Lum, Ji Sin was an expert in various martial arts styles including the Dragon staffs Luk Dim Boom Gwan form. In 1723, political differences resulted in destruction of the temple and its residents by order of the Qing government; fortunately, Ji Sin was able to escape. Coincidentally Ng Mui, another Buddhist monk, also escaped. She later passed on her knowledge of martial arts to Yim Wing Chun: the source of Wing Chun’s, the martial art’s, name.

To avoid the government, Ji Sin laid low as a cook aboard the Red Junk1. Among the members of the Red Junk was the pole man, Leung Yee Tai. Already accustomed to working with the long pole Leung Ye Tai became interested in learning martial arts from Ji Sin. He then taught Leung Yee Tai the form of the Luk Dim Boom Gwan.

Later, Leung Yee Tai met and befriended Wong Wah Bo, an opera performer and also a master in Wing Chun. The two then became both student and master to one another, teaching the knowledge of their martial arts and learning the others martial arts. Through their mutual sharing they discovered that parts of the Wing Chun system perfected the form and technique of the Luk Dim Boom Gwan. After this discovery the two officially incorporated the Luk Dim Boom Gwan into the system of Wing Chun as one of its two weapon forms.

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How the Baat Cham Dao came to Wing Chun

The history of the butterfly swords incorporation into Wing Chun is not as clear as the Dragon staff and its form: Luk Dim Boom Gwan. The earliest historic reference of the butterfly swords date back to the 1820’s, but this is debated. Shaolin monks highly valued the butterfly sword for its means of training and defense. Their Buddhist philosophy heavily influenced the dual swords design. Strictly prohibited from taking a life, the monks used the swords to disarm, parry, and cut opponents, incapacitating them. Aside from the first 3 inches of the blade, the blade was dull on both sides and for several reasons: first, it strengthened their caution of killing the opponent; second, the dull blade added extra support to the swords structure; third, a heavier weapon could easily damage a sharpened edge .

The Butterfly Knives Creation

According to history, the Fut Pai Hung Mun (Buddhist Hung Mun), a secret society that operated within the Southern Shaolin Temple, created the Kung Fu double butterfly knives. The sole purpose of the society was to oppose the Ching Dynasty and restore the Ming Family to the throne. Cheung Ng (Tan Sao Ng), a member of the society, was a highly educated man with much knowledge in both military and literary skills. He also a master of the butterfly swords and the art that was to become Wing Chun.

Unfortunately, Cheung Ng was forced to flee to Guangdong Province after the Southern temple fell to the Qing forces but continued the society’s goal. It is said that Cheung Ng then remodified the butterfly swords taking away its non-lethal characteristics and creating a more practical battlefield weapon. Trimming the front of the blade giving a curvature and sharpened point, giving off the appearance of a large dagger, accommodated stabbing and thrusting motions. After a while the swords form continued to evolve.

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Mondern Day Baat Cham Dao

Swords took their modern form during the 19th century. The Butterfly swords are no exception as they took on their current form during this time. As previously mentioned the butterfly swords and form, Baat Cham Dao, and their incorporation to Wing Chun is unclear. Regardless, the swords are seen as a valuable part is the Wing Chun system increasing one power, strength and flexibility.

1Junk – ancient Chinese sailing ship. Used as early as the 2nd century AD then showed a rapid increase during the Sung Dynasty, and evolved through later dynasties. Regularly found throughout South-East Asia and India. Sailors believed they could persuaded dragons in the clouds to help them instead of harming them if they sailed with bright colors. They also believed that red was the best color for this.


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