To the past, present, and future students of Southern Kung Fu.
by Anthony Revill
The single most important training habit I learned from my
sifu, Kevin Earle, was to do my Form every morning. In fact, the Form (Sil Lum
Tao) is essential for me in starting each day. It affects how I am in the
world, and imbues my day with qualities that have become indispensable to me.
When Kevin became my sifu, I recognised that I was in the
presence of an unusual kind of self-defence instructor. Kevin wasn’t the only
guy around who could knock people down or throw them to the ground. However,
early on, I felt there was something more to him. It was this recognition of a
difference that helped me become receptive to what he was really teaching me.
It’s true that I heartily embraced the business end of Ving Chun Kuen kung-fu:
the intercepting, deflecting, entering, punching, striking, stomping, and other
ways of engaging with the enemy. Nevertheless, this external manifestation of
Ving Chun Kuen’s methodology, despite being fun and challenging to practice, is
merely the flowering of a more fundamental essence.
So it is that when prospective students walk through my
door, this is what they are looking for. They want to learn how to engage an
enemy. And that’s all well and good; I can teach them that. Yet, by the very
nature of their desire, they are focused on the external – and with the
external they shall remain for some time. Because of this, the Form puzzles
them. It’s an anomaly. It will begin to make some sort of sense as knowledge
flows into it, as ongoing training informs it. However, to a beginner, I can
accept that the Form is simple, slow, and tedious – something they copy in
class because they’re told to. To them, it’s as external as any of their other
training; and, considered externally, it makes little sense.
Furthermore, the Form does not look combative. A student may
wonder what place it has in a self-defence class. As some sort of solitary,
contemplative exercise, it smacks of downtime – a mere indulgence on the part
of the instructor. (In class I have said, “What does the Form have to do with
fighting? Nothing… and everything.”) Accordingly, I have little doubt that some
of my students cannot wait to skip through the Form in class, so they can get
to the good stuff. Legion are they who do their Form in class because they have
to, and at no other time. I had to learn to love the Form, and I persisted with
it because my sifu valued it so highly. He reinforced its importance by his own
My challenge, then, is how to facilitate a student’s
interest in the Form. Newer students underestimate its value, while I cannot
overstate its value. One reason for this is the experience of depth. For
beginners, Ving Chun Kuen kung-fu is broad, containing many disparate elements,
like a wide but shallow lake; while for me the art is like a very small pond,
with such depth that I can step into it and disappear. This is the quality of
Ving Chun Kuen that holds my interest. Over time, as the student navigates the
lake, gradually understanding that the elements are all qualitatively alike,
the lake begins to shrink in diameter, and it starts to deepen.
Essentially, the Form is a felt experience. Possibly it can
be understood and discussed intellectually, but in practice the student has to
come out of the head and into the body, so to speak. Thoughts running
continuously through the mind are formations in themselves, competing with the
exercise for attention. Memories, imaginings, old conversations, possible new
ones, ongoing issues and the problems of a busy life – they all vie for the top
spot in the student’s awareness. Nevertheless, the student must come to realise
that training while distracted in this way is counter-productive. I do have
suggestions and strategies for my students regarding this, but none of them
involve the suppression of thoughts. Rather, a shift in awareness can be
useful, guiding the attention away from the unfettered activity of the mind.
Once this is accomplished, the mind can be recruited effectively, with its
powers of intentness and focus of force through the gaze of the eyes – but
empty of words, pictures, the past, future, and other formations. In this way
the Form is grounded in the present moment, with the mind and body inseparable
in purpose. Put another way, cultivation and projection of force involves the
awareness, engagement, and unification of body and mind.
Here I have chosen to write primarily of the formless, and
the irony of using a form to develop the formless is not lost on me. Yet there
is no better method I know of that can impart the real depth of Ving Chun Kuen
except that the student consistently practice their Form. And this is the
aspect of my training that has made all the difference for me, namely, my
commitment to practicing every morning, as inspired by Kevin. The Form is far
more than a set of positions and actions that the student learns by rote,
performed exactly the same way thereafter, repeated in a mechanical, unvarying
fashion. The Form is actually a process, continuously progressing day-by-day,
much like the human being practicing it. Initially, the student may see the Form as something
separate from themselves which they have to conform to, but, really, there is
no Form until they enact it. It’s a matter of perception. At first, their
method of positioning, breathing, moving, focusing, projecting, etc., is
imposed upon them by me. I am giving them the seeds of an idea, an idea that is
not tangible until it finds expression in the kung-fu practitioner. Moreover,
this aspect of training is never brought to a conclusion, for the Form
represents the continuing evolution of the student; it is not only a doing, but
Nothing I have written is meant to imply that the Form is a
closed system all of its own. It does not exist in a vacuum. Indeed, all of the
other training within Ving Chun Kuen begins to inform the Sil Lum Tao and flesh
it out. The Form begins as a small number of copied movements and positions,
without any real internal substance. This has to change. Left to its own
devices, it simply does not encompass enough experience on the part of the
student to enrich it. Therefore, every other exercise in class is important,
particularly partner work and the practice of the other forms. The student’s
growing awareness, skill, and knowledge, developed from the ground up, is
incorporated into the Form, there to be refined and improved – only to be
returned to the training exercises in class once more. Effectively, this
constitutes a cycle of enrichment, without which Sil Lum Tao would remain
impoverished, its efficacy limited. Furthermore, like a sapling subjected to
the elements, the idea must be put under all types of pressure to develop its
resilience and vigour, as in the practice of sticking hands for example.
Having said that, there comes a time when the Form begins to
give more than it gets. It remains the linchpin of Ving Chun Kuen’s combat
practices, yet also moves beyond this, becoming a personal process towards
self-mastery. More specifically, it is about switching on to internal
definition, bringing the locus of control increasingly towards centre, away
from the manipulations of external threat. In light of this, there is a stage
of maturity to be reached in kung-fu training where the obsessive focus on
dealing with perceived enemies gives way to more of a focus on dealing with
ourselves. The Form’s cultivation of structure and posture, groundedness and
stability, relaxation and expansion – along with awareness and intent – comes
to signify assertiveness rather than aggression. And that is how I sometimes
describe the Form, as an act of assertiveness; that is, a daily renewal of our
attitude, confidence and determination.
To sum up, I have written about Ving Chun Kuen directly from
my own experience, and touched on some of the ways in which the Form holds
meaning for me. In doing so, I am aware that I am still going through the daily
discipline of this training, and that my views may change – possibly as early
as tomorrow morning. The day-by-day renewal through Sil Lum Tao is what keeps
my kung-fu growing, much like an everlasting springtime.
An 18-year-old international student fought off her attacker as he attempted to kidnap her on Thursday night.
Detective Sergeant Will Loughrin said the student was studying in
the library of the Eastwest College of Intercultural Studies in
Gordonton, north-east of Hamilton, when she was grabbed.
"...as she was working at a computer, she was grabbed around the
neck and dragged by an attacker who we believe was trying to get her to a
car parked on the grass outside an adjoining room," he said.
"Unable to scream very loudly due to being held round the throat,
the woman has kicked and lashed out, scratching the man with her
fingernails before breaking free."
The young girl ran for help and the attacker fled in the car.
"This victim has obviously been quite traumatised by what has
happened and we are ensuring she gets the support she needs from Victim
Support and from translation services," said Loughrin.
Police are looking for a description of the vehicle which they describe as a white, older model station-wagon.
"The only description we have of the man is he was Maori or Polynesian and aged in his early twenties," said Loughrin.
Police were also interested in hearing from anyone in the Gordonton
area who may have seen this vehicle in the few days before the attack
because they believe it had been loitering around the Eastwest campus.
Alternatively, people who have information and want to remain anonymous can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
"People who find themselves in similar situations are advised to try
and make as much noise as possible and defend yourself by using
sufficient force to prevent harm to yourself or those with you. If
someone does attempt to take you away, go to the nearest place other
people are to raise the alarm."
armed intruder who tried to rob his dairy yesterday.
ANDY JACKSON / Fairfax NZ
A would-be robber got more than he bargained for when he pointed a
knife at a Waitara dairy owner in Taranaki yesterday afternoon.
A man walked into the Raleigh St Dairy at about 2pm and made his way
behind the counter to where owner Pran Sharma was sitting, making up
orders, Sharma said. The intruder pointed a knife at him and demanded
money and cigarettes.
But Sharma was having none of it. He hit the intruder with an
electric kettle and as the man moved backwards Sharma grabbed a jar of
lollies and whacked him again.
"I was not scared. I tried to grab the knife," he said.
"He was lucky to escape. I was really angry."
The exchange lasted less than a minute, before the man took off out the door with Sharma after him.
Sharma chased the robber across the road, yelling at him to stop and come back. But the man disappeared up a side street.
When Sharma returned to his shop a neighbour told him he had called the police.
Sharma has owned the dairy for more than two years and has only had
one other problem, when a man tried to get into the dairy when it was
He was caught on the security camera, recognised and went to jail, Sharma said.
And he was confident the police would catch this intruder.
Detective Mike Thorne of Waitara CIB said police were still looking for the offender.
They had footage from the dairy's surveillance system and he was confident local knowledge would produce some information.
In the last fortnight, two shops in South Taranaki had been targeted by armed robbers wanting money and cigarettes.
On September 1, Hawera's Subway Dairy owners were allegedly
threatened by a teen armed with a small pistol. An arrest has been made
in the case and a 17-year-old Hawera man is due to reappear in court on
And last Saturday, the owners of Chris's Dairy in Opunake, were confronted by a man wielding a large kitchen knife.
Police are investigating a violent daylight sexual attack at Waikato University this morning.
A 20-year-old woman was confronted by a man aged in his 20s at the
maths and sciences block about 8.30am, before being punched and dragged
into a secluded area of the university grounds, Hamilton police said.
The woman screamed and "vigorously resisted" the man throughout the
attack and eventually managed to flee her attacker, police said.
The offender was described as dark skinned male about 160-170cm tall and of medium build.
He had shoulder length black hair off his face and was wearing dark
trousers and shoes, and a white long-sleeve sweat top with two
distinctive black lines down the full length of the sleeves.
If anyone saw a person matching this description or has any
information they are asked to call the Hamilton police or Crimestoppers
(0800 555 111).
Footage shows a man entering a Christchurch dairy before pointing a knife at the shopkeeper in a robbery.
A Christchurch dairy owner scared off a knife-welding robber by threatening him with a can of pepper spray.
She also had a pool cue behind the door if she needed it.
Police have this week renewed calls for public assistance to
identify the hooded perpetrator, who fled as soon as she held up the
But they warn dairy owners have few legal grounds to justify arming themselves.
Security footage of the June 23 incident at Avenues Dairy, on the
corner of Worcester St and Fitzgerald Ave, shows the hooded man walk
into the dairy and put a can of beer on the counter.
He requests cigarettes, and the dairy owner asks him for ID.
The man then pulled out a large knife, which Detective Hamish Beer said "has that cheese knife look about it".
The female attendant responds by grabbing a can and holding it up.
Beer would not comment on what it was, but a visit to the dairy
found it was a can of pepper spray, which the small, friendly woman,
still had handy, but out of a customer's reach.
She did not need to spray the offender that day. She just held it up and he ran, she said.
The dairy had been robbed only a month earlier, when two intruders,
one holding a knife, threatened the female shop attendant, demanding
cash and cigarettes. She called out to an associate, and they fled
She is not the only city dairy owner taking matters into her own hands.
In June, a Yaldhurst dairy owner wrested an air rifle off robber who
demanded cash and tobacco pouches. Alexander William Edward Cottrell,
17, ran off empty-handed.
In October, another dairy owner fended off knife-welding robber
Carly Denise Laughton, 27, with a chair. She was jailed in March after
confessing to the robbery.
Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Warner said dairy owners could
justify arming themselves only if they had recently been robbed and
feared it might happen again.
Otherwise, they risked prosecution for possessing a restricted or offensive weapon, he said.
Whether or not a dairy owner would face charges for fending off a
robber with a weapon would be assessed on a "case by case basis", he
Dairy owners should instead consider security measures such as
automatic doors and panic buttons, Warner said, but he conceded these
came at a cost.
Offenders had little to gain for robbing dairies.
They often left with nothing or "very little", yet police and the judiciary took the offence "very seriously", Warner said.
Anyone with information on the June 23, Avenues Dairy robbery was asked to phone Detective Beer on (03) 363 7400.
"Carjack victim turns up at police station - told to ring 111"
By Kristin Edge, Hannah Norton
Tuesday Jul 29, 2014
The woman drove straight to Whangarei Police Station, pictured, after an
attempted carjacking but says she was told to ring 111 instead.
A woman who drove straight to Whangarei police station to report an
attempted carjacking is appalled she was told by a constable to ring 111
to get a police officer to attend.
Police yesterday apologised
to the woman, saying the officer was inexperienced and in the wrong. It
was the second attempted carjacking in the city in less than a week.
21-year-old Whangarei woman, who did not want to be identified, was at
the front counter of the Whangarei Police Station just after 12pm on
Thursday when she was offered a landline to call police but opted to go
outside and use her cellphone.
Only minutes before she had been
in her car and stopped on Otaika Rd waiting to turn into Tarewa Rd when a
man standing on the central traffic island tried to open her driver's
She described him as of Maori descent, aged in his late
teens, of a stocky build, and dressed in a black hoodie with a blue
T-shirt or collar.
"He yanked the door and looked at me," she said.
Fortunately her car door was locked and she was able to drive away.
"I went to the police station straight away and was told it would be faster to call 111 and they could dispatch a unit."
Whangarei/Kaipara Area Commander Inspector Justin Rogers said the
officer who served her had less than six months in the force, and had
limited front counter experience.
"This is not the preferred
response from police and he should have called 111 himself on the radio.
We have spoken to the officer about the matter," Inspector Rogers said.
the call to 111 a patrol car was dispatched immediately but, as more
than 10 minutes had passed, the man could not be located, he said.
would like to remind people that if a crime is in progress they should
call 111 immediately. If you are in a car, you can call 111 from your
The woman said she chose to go into the station
rather than ring 111 as she was only three intersections away and was
distressed after the incident and wasn't thinking completely clearly.
"They should have seen that I was distressed. I would have expected a better result," she said.
police are investigating an incident at the BP Wylies Service Station
on Maunu Rd last Monday where a man tried to get into a car parked on
A woman, who was in the passenger seat of the car,
said while the driver had gone to pay for fuel a man came into the car
and began searching for the keys in the ignition.
Police had not
received a complaint regarding this incident, but due to the serious
nature of the allegation contacted the service station and viewed the
The footage shows a man in a hooded red jacket opening the door, reaching in and then taking off.
Anyone with information can contact Whangarei Police on 09 430 4500.
I made these 20 photographs in May 2002 at Earle's Academy. The camera I
used was my old Nikon FG 35mm manual focus SLR, with a standard 50mm
lens. Thank you to my
regular training partners of the time for allowing me to photograph them
in the kwoon: Jacim T., Trevor J., Sean J., Ben G., and Chris M., all
skilled wing chun men. And thanks also to Kevin.
Left to right: Ben, me (self-portrait), and Trevor.
Ben (left) and Jacim.
Jacim (signing in).
Jacim (left) and Ben.
Jacim (fook sau) and Trevor.
Left to right: Sean and Chris.
Left to right: Maria and Sean.
Foreground: Sean and Maria. Background: Trevor and Jacim.
Left to right: Sean and Trevor.
Left to right: Trevor and Jacim.
Foreground: Trevor (left) and Sean.
Background: me making the photograph, reflected in the mirror.
A teenager attacked in her Hawke's Bay home last night escaped with
scratches and bruises after the man fled when she screamed and fought
him off, police say.
The 16-year-old Napier girl had left the front door of her family
home open for her parents when she arrived home around 11.30pm, as they
were following her in a separate car.
The girl noticed someone come through the front door of their home
on Logan Ave, Marewa, and reached for a phone when she saw it was not
her parents, but a male intruder.
The man described as "part-Maori in his 30s", threw the teenager up against a wall, Detective Ross Alexander said.
She screamed and tried to fight him off, and the man fled just minutes before her parents arrived home.
The girl was shaken, and suffered scratches and bruising in the attack but was otherwise unhurt.
Nothing was taken from the house and there were no sexual overtones to the attack, Alexander said.
"We believe this may have been an opportunistic attack and is a
timely reminder to everyone to keep their houses secure at night and be
mindful of strangers in their neighbourhood.
"We are very keen to speak to anyone who saw a person acting
suspiciously in the Logan Ave area last night. Someone may have seen
this man walking along the street or perhaps in nearby streets,"
The man was described as being of stocky build with short dark hair, and about 1.7m tall.
He was wearing a dark-coloured hoodie and pants, and fingerless gloves.
- Anyone with information about the man should contact Detective Alexander at Hawke's Bay police on 06 8310806, or information can be left anonymously on Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.
A dairy owner bravely wrestled a gun from a masked man who walked into his store and demanded cash and cigarettes.
Police are looking for the would-be robber who fled empty-handed
from Yaldhurst Discount Dairy, on Yaldhurst Rd, Christchurch, about
An air rifle was left at the scene.
Detective Sergeant Hamish Wilson said the dairy owner initially
complied with the gun-toting man's demands but took matters into his own
hands when he realised it was not a high-powered rifle.
"When the robber has pointed the firearm over the counter the
[owner] grabbed the barrel and wrestled it off him," Wilson said.
"Whilst the dairy owner was lucky on this occasion to escape without
injury we would recommend that anyone in that situation comply with the
demands of the robber and contact police as soon as possible."
The alleged robber was described as a European, of medium build,
1.8m tall and wearing a grey jacket over the top of a black hoodie. His
face was covered with a black cloth.
Anyone with information is asked to call Christchurch police on 03 363 7400 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
A Sydney man has been charged over an assault in
which he was repeatedly hit over the head with a saucepan by the woman
he followed home.
Police say the 23-year-old followed a woman to her unit block in
McMahons Point, on the city's north shore, on April 9 and grabbed her
But he ran off when his victim smacked him several times with a large pan she was carrying.
Police have linked the man to two other incidents earlier the
same day, with one woman allegedly followed from Milsons Point Railway
Station and another from the street into a building in North Sydney.
Police arrested the man at a home in Oxley Park, in Sydney's
west, on Friday and later charged him with three counts of stalking. He
was also charged with assault with intent to rob and trespass.
He was refused bail and is expected to appear at Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday.
A man who broke into a rural Manawatu property demanding
drugs left with a pair of scissors embedded in his stomach
after his intended victim fought back, a local farmer said.
Police said the 45-year-old woman got up about 6.40am
yesterday at her Opiki property to investigate a noise she
thought might have been her partner returning from milking.
Instead, she was confronted by a man armed with a knife.
The owner of a number of farms in the area, including the
property where the attack took place, Helen McAloon, said she
and her husband Michael rushed to the victim's aid after
receiving a call from her partner.
"He was milking the cows and he had to race home ... he just
informed us that there'd been a home invasion and his partner
"She was a little bit hurt and obviously very distressed.''
The two men broke in demanding drugs, Mrs McAloon said.
"She put up a bit of a fight and they took off.
"She just said that two guys had broken their way in. I think
they must have gone through a back door. She said she [had]
locked it, but some of those old houses, the locks aren't as
good as they should be,'' Mrs McAloon said.
"She fended them off with a pair of scissors, they're still
in their gut ... [Police] will be trying to comb the
hospitals to see if someone came in.''
Mrs McAloon said it was the first time she had heard of
drugs-related offending in the area, and the attack had
shaken up the close-knit community.
Palmerston North Detective Sergeant David Thompson said the
attack escalated when the woman couldn't comply with her
"We understand that during this time he [the attacker] has
received a wound to the stomach with scissors,'' he said.
Following the attack, the offenders fled in a vehicle and the
injured woman barricaded herself in her room and called
The victim was being treated at Palmerston North Hospital for
The offenders were still on the run. Police wanted to speak
to anyone who saw a vehicle speeding and driving dangerously
in the Opiki area between 6.50am and 7.15am.
The first offender is described as Maori, with a noticeable
missing tooth. He was wearing dark clothing. The second man
was described as Pakeha with blond hair.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Constable Nick
Parlane on 06 215 4962. Alternatively information can be
provided anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The Bible that a US bus driver kept in his pocket saved his life after
it stopped two bullets from piercing his chest, stunned police say.
Rickey Wagoner (Ohio RTA)
"There was obviously some kind of intervention involved in this
incident because he probably should not be here," Sergeant Michael
Pauley of the Dayton, Ohio police told reporters on Tuesday.
Wagoner, 49, had stopped his bus to fix a problem in the early hours of
Monday morning when he was approached by three teenagers in what
appears to be gang-initiation attack, WCPO news reported.
"He heard one of the suspects say it was time to kill a polar bear to get into a club," Pauley said.
"He fought for his life."
Wagoner was shot twice in the chest but managed to stay standing and struggled to wrestle the gun away from his attackers.
"I had a book in my pocket," Wagoner told a police dispatcher in a call released to local media.
"At first I thought it went through. It just feels like I've been hit with a sledgehammer in the chest."
of the teenagers slashed him in the arm with a knife while he fought
for the gun, which went off during the struggle and shot him in the leg.
But he managed to get both weapons away.
"I stabbed one in the leg with my pen," Wagoner said in the 911 call.
"He hollered and that's when they all ran."
Wagoner picked up the dropped gun and shot after the fleeing teens but told the dispatcher he didn't think he hit them.