The distinctive Yun Hoi crest designed by Sifu contains a great deal of symbolism. Sifu’s Tibetan Buddhist name given to him by his lama, world famous Tibetan Buddhist scholar and meditation master, Lama Choedak Rinpoche, is Zopa Gyatso. This means Ocean of Patience. As well as his English name, Sifu, like many Chinese sifus and martial arts masters, now and in the past, has several names. These have been given to him by various teachers over the years. Yun Hoi is simply the translation into Chinese of Ocean of Patience.
Our crest portrays three ocean waves. The vastness of the ocean is hinted at in the three waves extending back into space, reminding us of Sifu’s great patience in learning his Wing Chun and teaching us and of the patience we must have in learning it correctly. The vastness and depth of the ocean reminds us of the same features of the art we strive to learn.
The maroon and gold colors of the crest reflect the fact that sifu is a Tibetan Buddhist and believes that gung fu practitioners ought to pursue the development of their character, mind and relationships with as much diligence as they pursue their gung fu training.
Further, there is great significance attached both to the number three and to water in Chinese and gung fu culture. Let’s elaborate a little on the three idea first then later on the water idea.
Numerals have always been thought to reflect cosmological significance for Easterners. To the Chinese, numerals represent the nine “xing” which symbolise the underlying essence of the universe; the five elements by which the ancient Chinese classified everything on Earth; and the eight basic process symbols of the Ba Qua of the Yi Jing, Book of Changes.
Three is a yang number and is regarded as a lucky number. The trio of Heaven Earth and Man were regarded in Taoism as representing all energies. Taoists proposed the three treasures of Man as body, mind and spirit and divided all universal energies into three types. To the Taoist, the mind is also divided into three functions. The three values: kindness, simplicity, and humility were highly regarded in old China – and still ought to be by modern gung fu practitioners.
In the old days a supplicant wishing to learn anything had to request the master they wished to teach them three times. Each time they bowed to the master they had to bump their head on the ground three times.
So, as you can see, there are many examples of three aspects to things in Chinese tradition. Following are some that relate to practising our Wing Chun gung fu.
The concept of three has been reflected in numerous gung fu systems as in Wing Chun. We characteristically have three empty hand forms (if we exclude the hong jong and muk yang jong forms). Even in Koo Lo Pin Sun, which has no forms as such, the art is taught through twelve sik (a multiple of three, as is the mystic number 108) which contain three moves each. It is an ancient saying that if you train every day you can master a form in three years – “One form, three years”. Wing Chun originally had three weapons – seung dao (double knives), look dim boon gwan (long pole) and fei biu (throwing darts). These recognised three distances of combat. Sadly, no-one today knows how to use the darts as the last master of them, Yuen Kay San, did not pass on this skill to his only disciple, Sum Num.
There are also three phases of defence – the threat period prior to actual attack, the attack itself, and the period following the attack during which the defender must remain alert. These reflect the three times of past, present and future. The body is divided into three aspects in Wing Chun – stance, center and hands. The upper body can be divided into three levels of “gates” through which attacks may enter. Some say that there are three terrors in Wing Chun – bong, tan, fook. We have saam sing choi – three star strike as a Wing Chun hallmark. There is a Wing Chun saying – attack three times in one move. Finally, Sifu has learnt three lineages of Wing Chun.
The imagery of water too, is important for us in Wing Chun gung fu.
Water is a staple of life and can take many forms. It can sustain us, wash us or drown us. It can exist in three states and can be still and calm or torrential and sweep away everything in its path. A dripping flow of water will bore a hole in rock over time. Water flows and takes the shape of the space into, or through which, it flows. A common Chan or Zen Buddhist notion is that the mind ought to be like water. It ought to reflect what appears on its surface whilst its depths remain unchanged. It will absorb what is thrown into it. When a stone is tossed into a pond it creates a splash and ripples, then calm returns and it is as if nothing had occurred. The crest is also inspired by the poem:
“The body moves like a dance of waves
Like the flowing dragon and the white crane in play
Like the twisting of the frightened snake
Intent and strength move as if sailing on the waves”
by the famous Wang Xiang Zhai.
These sorts of images teach the gung fu practitioner important ideas to reflect upon.
So, these are some of the ideas our symbol can generate.