Samuel Kwok – All Points on a Triangle
Article originally published in 2012 and was written as a response to the article in Wing Chun Illustrated Issue #3 named. “The Wing Chun Evangelist” and written by Stephen Dyde.
They’re calling him “The Wing Chun Evangelist,” and they couldn’t be more spot on. Grandmaster Kwok is tireless in his passion for spreading the word of Ip Man Kung Fu. He is relentless in his pursuit of the truth according to Ip Man. And one touch of his hands will convert you. Make you a believer of an art that has been ridiculed by “fighters,” and thought of as an art that is only stand-up or just for women.
Sifu Kwok’s Wing Chun not only works against other Wing Chun artists, but against all manner of hands-on fighting. At sixty-three years old, he still fights to this day with men a quarter of his age from all walks of the fighting arena and from all over the world. The ultimate evangelist, he always teaches the lesson. In short, his Wing Chun works.
But why? I spent eight days with him earlier this September. I’ve only just entered into Chum Kiu form and am just learning to Chi Sau, but I found myself wanting to understand what it takes to be a Master of his level – a Grandmaster, clearly one of the best fighters in the world. And though, admittedly, my perception would be much different than that of a more experienced fighter, I think it is also unmarred by preconceived notions. I had no expectations of how a master should act (unless of course you count the influence of the infamous characterization of Pai Mei from Kill Bill on my psyche).
So after spending more than a week with Grandmaster Kwok, in and out of the Wing Chun classroom, I discovered that his passion for Wing Chun and its effectiveness in fighting permeates all aspects of his life. It is his gospel, his way of life. He wakes and thinks about Wing Chun, he eats and thinks about Wing Chun, he posts Facebook updates and he thinks about Wing Chun, but ironically when he’s practicing Wing Chun, he doesn’t think at all.
There is no time to figure out what works and doesn’t work in a fight. All he needs has already been processed by his brain. His cells have already absorbed the information he needs. He never uses his Wing Chun. Never reacts to a situation. Instead, he becomes his Wing Chun.
Grandmaster Kwok reminds me of the greatest artists. And all of the best artists become their art. Their is no separation between Monet and his Water Lillies or Van Gogh and his Sunflowers. Samuel Kwok is no different than they are. The force that is thrown at him becomes the paint for his canvas. His body is the brush. His mind becomes the stroke. And the spirit that animates his movement is pure Wing Chun.
Every movement by his opponent provides a new opportunity for him to strike. Bong sau, tan sau, pak sau are simply tools to open his opponent’s center-line. This mindset is innate to all that he does, in all aspects of his life. He creates his opportunities. Life does not create him. He has visited over fourteen countries this past year, met with ministers from the governments of Abu Dabi and Mauritius, and has affiliate schools on six of the seven continents.
Anyone who touches hands with him will understand it when I say that you cannot perceive where he is. His movement is so economical, his touch exactly enough to bridge to you and control you. There is no wasted energy. But when he strikes, a jolt of electricity surges through your body. His intent exact, and his ability to direct power profound.
So much in fact, that he is quickly becoming known for his ability to heal energetically. His time with us in Long Beach has allowed him to work with a young child named Brandon. When Grandmaster Kwok first met him, Brandon’s left arm was stuck in medial rotation, lifted at the trapezius muscle. Brandon’s doctors had no explanation for his condition and left his parents with one option: exploratory surgery. Grandmaster Kwok, with just a few minutes of Chi Kung energy transmission, traditional Chinese bone setting and massage, was able to release Brandon’s trapezius and greatly release the medial rotation. After one more treatment, Brandon was able to reach his arm straight above his head. Grandmaster Kwok’s latest visit with us in Long Beach met him with Brandon again at Grandmaster Kwok’s insistence, and resulted in the complete release if the child’s arm. And when he transmitted energy to my injured hip, from across the room, the ball and socket joint vibrated, palpable to not just me, but others who held their hand on my hip.
It seems, then, that truly mastering Wing Chun is clearly not just a physical achievement, but is a perfect blending of the trinity – the physical, mental and spiritual. It is the joining of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Who better, then, to evangelize authentic Ip Man Wing Chun, than Samuel Kwok, a man who embraces the culmination of all points of the triangle?