There is a great four part interview with Hawkins Cheung by Robert Chu, first published in Inside Kung-Fu magazine starting in November of 1991.
I was pointed to it by an article on Kung Fu Tea, where it was hosted on the USADojo site. It appears that Inside Kung Fu went out of business in 2011. It doesn’t seem as if anyone is offering its backlog of articles and it made me think I better backup the USADojo site’s hosting of this really important article. If Robert Chu or any representative of Inside Kung Fu would like me to take this down, I will do so – my principal aim is preservation.
In this article, an interview with Sisuk Gung Hawkins, many interesting points are made about Wing Chun. Hawkins asks many questions that cut to the heart of the system and bring to light certain questions with the system with which we all contend, and the approaches to answering these questions that were tried by both Hawkins and Bruce Lee (i.e., Jeet Kune Do). One question being how to bridge against opponents who do not “stay” but zip in and out with either/both their body or their strikes. Boxers come immediately to mind, with their jabs and quick footwork.
A system like Wing Chun, which seeks a bridge and uses relatively slow footwork (to preserve the potential for structure), will naturally have to contend with this feature of such fighting styles and every WC practitioner needs to work on their response to attacks such as the jab used by the “outside fighter.” I’ve heard many discussions over the years about how one should handle this issue. The fundamental Wing Chun approach is that we Jeet once we get close enough. But its a high level skill to work against a skilled opponent. Some people take the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach and incorporate jabs into their fighting repertoire. While, as Wong Shun Leung said, Wing Chun is what works, I think people sometimes try to incorporate elements from other systems before becoming competent at the Wing Chun approach, and that sometimes the non-Wing Chun element is brought in to try and plug a hole in the person’s understanding of Wing Chun. This patchworking of systems is a feature of the post-MMA world, but I think with Wing Chun we have a pretty integrated system and we need to truly understand it before starting to cobble together a Frankenstein’s monster of our own devising. We are standing on the shoulders of Giants and they thought a lot of this stuff through. But, once you have become truly competent, then there are some valid discussions to be had about ground game and closing the distance and other aspects of dealing with the strengths of other systems and customizing the system to your own physical idiosyncrasies, such as we find in these interviews.
Beginning in November 1991, Inside Kung-Fu published the following four-part interview with Hawkins Cheung, reprinted below.