Author(s): Wayne Belonoha
Publisher: Blue Snake Books (2005)
Sifu Wayne Belonoha has been studying Wing Chun for nearly 20 years in Canada under the tutelage of Grandmaster Sunny Tang (Ip Man lineage) and is the Founder and Head Instructor of the Canadian Wing Chun Academy.
The first thing that strikes you about The Wing Chun Compendium: Volume 1 is the sheer magnitude of the book: over 500 pages! The book’s size reflects the author’s aim of going beyond describing Wing Chun as merely an effective fighting system by giving the reader an understanding of the philosophical and cultural aspects of Wing Chun.
Belonoha begins by describing Wing Chun theory. While this section describes common Wing Chun theories, such as the centreline, he also gives his views on Gung Fu Life and the philosophical aspects of Wing Chun. These views provide a fascinating insight into the heart and soul of the author. As well as solid practical training advice, Belonoha is an inspirational writer; my favourite line is, “Do not worry about the recognition of others; worry about your own lack of ability,” a sentiment well worth remembering.
The middle section covers the bread and butter of Wing Chun: techniques, drills, Chi Sau, and forms. Belonoha describes his interpretation of the Wing Chun fighting system in this section (almost 300 pages!), using sequences of photographs with supporting text to describe the technique or drill and why these techniques and drills are important to the Wing Chun system. (For example, he tells us that drills should serve a specific purpose and not be over complicated or lengthy.) As a Wing Chun practitioner, I appreciate this, as it provides context for why we train drills/forms/Chi Sau, etc.—something often omitted from Wing Chun texts. Thank you, Wayne.
Although I try to steer clear of questioning the author’s interpretation of the Wing Chun system (everybody’s Wing Chun is different), a negative point for me is Belonoha’s statement: “Training to trap the hands will also train to trap and stop a knife. A knife in the hands of an unskilled individual is equal to a three-year martial artist,” and a photographic explanation of how to defend against a knife attack using Bong Sau. I would urge the author either to provide more detail to justify this belief and technique or remove references to Wing Chun being appropriate for defence against a knife (or any other weapon).
The final section of The Wing Chun Compendium: Volume 1 gives us a deeper insight into the knowledge of the author by describing Pressure Point targets and ways of improving the practitioner’s health and fitness to benefit their Wing Chun. I must confess the detail in the Pressure Points chapter, regarding traditional Chinese medicine meridians and how these relate to Pressure Point targets, went a little over my head. However, this should not be a negative aspect, but instead, shows the author’s passion for Wing Chun and his belief that Pressure Point targets “may be a lot to keep in mind during a battle but with practice, as like anything else, it will become natural.”
The chapters covering health and fitness are a real bonus. The author looks at all aspects that could enhance your Wing Chun, including diet, strength training, aerobic exercise, and flexibility. These activities are often seen as supplementary to Wing Chun, so it is great to find a book that gives them the due attention they deserve.
Overall, this is a great Wing Chun text. Wayne Belonoha’s writing style is easy to follow, and he delivers his knowledge with passion. And if that’s not enough, there’s Wing Chun Compendium: Volume 2 as well! More about that in the next issue…