Review of Gary Lam's Complete Wooden Dummy Instructional DVD
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Review by: Manuel Bustos
DVD Bought at: http://www.everythingwingchun.com/Gary-Lam-Complete-System-of-Wooden-Dummy-p/gl07.htm
“The Complete Wooden Dummy Instructional DVD” is Sifu Gary Lam’s first DVD on the Mook Yan Jong (MYJ) as taught by the late Wong Shun Leung. Since releasing this DVD Sifu Lam had now released a second DVD on the MYJ, which is complimentary to this MYJ DVD. After learning the empty-hand forms from Grandmaster Yip Man and then going to test his skills on the streets of Hong Kong Sifu Wong altered the Mook Yan Jong as taught by Yip Man by adding techniques and changing the sequence of the techniques as well as rethinking some of the theory such as sticking to the arms during the MYJ form. Sifu Lam documents his Sifu’s form by systematically examining the form, demonstrating the form as well introducing the “air-dummy” and most importantly explaining the reasoning behind the techniques. The DVD is dedicated to the breakdown, examination and illustration of Wong’s MYJ form. Sifu Lam does a very good job of explaining that the form is not quite so black and white as it may appear and that the student or practitioner of Wing Chun must use their imagination when performing the sequence. This is a solid entry for Sifu Lam on the Mook Yan Jong and recommended. Time on the DVD is 1:40:58.
Sifu Gary Lam’s “The Complete Wooden Dummy Instructional DVD” is his first Mook Yan Jong DVD. The late Wong Shun Leung modified the Mook Yan Jong (MYJ) form as taught to him by the late Grandmaster Yip Man. Sifu Wong added techniques, moved some of the techniques and also introduced the form at a different point in the Wing Chun curriculum. Sifu Lam stresses that the MYJ is not to toughen the arms, but rather to show the proper angles as well as to reinforce the idea of facing, not chase hands, but rather center as well as a host of other concepts.
The MYJ is not to be taken literally as black and white. Sifu Lam explains that one must use one’s imagination and the arms of the MYJ can be left or right depending on the technique and the upper arms may or may not be present when one hits the lower arm. Sifu Lam states that the MYJ cannot of course move and hence the need to visualize the specific technique To be specific at times for a particular technique one must take into account that one of the arms on the MYJ would not be there were the opponent human.
The MYJ introduces the Kwan Sau technique, the final kicking techniques of the Wing Chun as well stepping and angle changes. The MYJ form can be broadly broken into two distinct sections. Roughly the first sixty moves up to Pho Phai correspond to the “Sil Lin Tau” and “Cham Kiu” forms and the remaining moves to the “Biu Jee” form. It should be mentioned that Chan Whan Shun, Yip Man’s Sifu, rearranged the form to what is currently taught i.e. the older form had the “Biu Jee” techniques first and then subsequent techniques corresponded to “Sil Lim Tau” and “Cham Kiu” followed.
The MYJ form is introduced in Wong Shun Leung Wing Chun earlier in the student’s training when compared to Yip Man Wing Chun. This is not to say that Sifu Wong did not respect Grandmaster Yip Man, but rather Wong Shun Leung’s MYJ form is better able to communicate Sifu Wong’s ideas about the MYJ form. Sifu Lam is careful when elaborating the details of the form.Some of the techniques are practiced on way one the MYJ, but in practice with an opponent or in application with an opponent in a different manner. Sifu Lam demonstrates this by repeatedly using a student to better explain those techniques that could be misinterpreted. One of the ideas Wong Shun Leung utilizes was the idea of not sticking to the dummy as in Yip Man Wing Chun. This is an important point to stress. Again the genius of Wong Shun Leung is a work which always stem from his experiences in Beimo and also his discussion with his Sifu Yip Man.
The DVD runs approx. 1:40:58. The form is demonstrated more than once to clarify, and most importantly the air dummy as it is sometimes called is introduced. Grandmaster Yip Man believed that the air dummy made the student more smooth in the execution of the form. As far as the presentation of the form the sound is clear, the lighting does not have a lot of flaws, the camera angels are for the most part good, although some are not as clear as they could be, but Sifu Lam does an excellent job of showing those angles that are obscured by virtue of the combination of camera placement and the body placement relative to the Mook Yan Jong. This is a very solid entry for the Wong Shun Leung lineage of Wing Chun.Sifu Lam also explains how training has changed over the years by example of relating how in his time a student was not allowed to train his kicking for fear of breaking the dummy’s leg. However, today since parts are readily available kicking is no longer left untrained on the MYJ for fear of breakage. During the DVD Sifu Lam also explains how Grandmaster Yip Man used control rather than hitting and favored certain kicking techniques from the MYJ. These help to provide an bit of insight into controlling is better than simply striking.
At the end of the DVD Sifu Lam explains that this form he has just covered and the explanations are solely his opinion. Sifu Lam is being modest. During the demonstration of the ideas behind the MYJ form it can easily be seen that Sifu Lam’s skill is very high level. Although Sifu Lam was not only a long time student of Wong Shun Leung, a great figher himself and privy to the likes Sifu David Peterson, Sifu Cliff Au, Duncan Leong and the list goes on. Clearly Sifu Lam is being modest when he downplays his great ability just as did his own Sifu Wong Shun Leung. This is a solid entry for any WC student or a WC student or practitioner from a different clan.