I understand Lau Gar remains the most practised Chinese Martial Art in Britain. For that reason I suspect that some other forum members will have done it at some point. It was my first art. My Sifu was Vince Lewis. If everything I'm lead to believe is true, Vince reached 6th degee (teh highest grade) under the head of style in Britain, Master Jeremy Yau. However, Vince had already become unhappy with the training or with Master Yau (or both) so on passing his grade he left to form his own organisation. He never collected his 6th degree certificate so advertises himself as 5th degree.
I reached White Sash (the first grade) in January 1991 in Lau Gar. Thereafter came the split and my subsequent grades were in Vince's modified system.
Over the years I've become glad of my training in Lau Gar as it gave me solid fundamentals. Yet I've also come to regard the system as highly flawed (in the same way as Taekwondo and "punch/kick/block" Karate) and incredibly limited. Yet it remains popular.
Yesterday the first-syllabus DVD arrived and I watched it last night. I just had a desire to revisit this system despite my feelings about it. Quite a lot is different to how I was trained. Yes, the memory plays tricks on you and it's quite possible that I don't remember things correctly. Yet I know for certain that I was taught the traditional horizontal punch from the hip. This isn't how it's done most of the time in the DVD. This makes me question:
- Did Vince have a complete grasp of the system, or were things withheld from him?
- Did he start making modifications even before splitting from the association?
- Given that he split from them twenty-one years ago, have they continued to evolve the style? Was Vince therefore essentially caught in a timewarp of teaching what he knew at the time? I certainly hope that the style has evolved.
Certainly I was taught the forms simply as they were. No heed was paid to their application (dispite me asking) and suggesting any deviation was heresy. Yet in the DVD Master Yau is openly advocating playing with form shown to find application and also performing it in different ways, for example with stance shifting rather than static.