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His mastery of Wing Chun's devastating 'thought force' or 'nim lik' is legendary in martial art circles. An example of this was his famous one-inch-punch, in which his fist - placed just one inch from its target - could send an opponent reeling backwards by up to three metres or more.
Grandmaster Fung was a top student of Sigung Chu Shong Tin, a closed door student of the legendary Yip Man. This lineage prides itself on its adherence to the 'pure principles of Wing Chun' which can be directly traced back to the art's founder, Ng Mui. In stressing the importance of preserving the system's authenticity to pass onto future generations, Grandmaster Fung often commented:
"There is only one genuine Wing Chun system which is the correct system. Because of the scientific and mathematic basis of Wing Chun's principles, the way it is practised can only be right or wrong. There is no in-between."
His Early Years Training
Grandmaster Fung's first martial art was Tai Chi, but he changed to Wing Chun after witnessing a fight in which a classmate learning the art easily overpowered a school bully. He began private lessons with Sigung Chu Shong Tin in Hong Kong in 1960.
As a teenager, Grandmaster Fung was sent to Australia to study and began training a small group of friends in his backyard. He later attended Adelaide University and graduated with honours in accountancy. All through his student years and later when he was working, he returned to Hong Kong up to three times a year to continue his training with Sigung Chu.
His First School
He opened his first school, the C.K. Martial Art School (using the initials of his Chinese name, Chuen Keung), in Adelaide in 1973 with an enrolment of 100 students and an after-hours training programme. At the time, local knowledge of Chinese culture in Australia was limited; there were no other Wing Chun schools and no formal training materials available on the art.
Grandmaster Fung quickly gained a reputation as an exceptional teacher and his ethics, morals and genuine love of teaching forged strong bonds between himself and his students - reflecting the traditional Chinese master-student relationship.
Over the next 34 years, as word of his expertise spread, he used his considerable business knowledge to establish Headquarters and Branches throughout SA, NSW and QLD, and commence international connections by setting up Affiliated Schools overseas. At the time of his death, the International Wing Chun Academy had become one of the largest and most reputable martial arts establishments in Australasia.
Building his Reputation
Tireless in his promotion of Wing Chun and the health benefits it offers, Grandmaster Fung was in constant demand with the Australian and international media. He published his first book, Wing Chun Kung Fu, (later to be chosen as the official training manual of the Hong Kong Wing Chun Association) in 1981. His second book, The Authentic Wing Chun Weapons, the only complete Wing Chun weapons book ever written, followed in 1984. His teaching video, Wing Chun, was released in 1985 and was voted top martial arts video of the year by Inside Kung Fu magazine.
In 1987, Grandmaster Fung was officially commended by the Guangzhou Martial Arts Council for his efforts in promoting Chinese Kung Fu. The following year, he was chosen as the sole representative of Australian Kung Fu to participate in the International Grandmasters Exhibition held in Adelaide during the South Australian bicentennial celebrations.
Also, in 1998, the Academy was officially recognised by the Chinese Government and world ruling body for Chinese martial arts in its inclusion in the All China Martial Arts Register. This honour was shared with only two other martial arts schools from outside China.
Grandmaster Fung was conferred the title of Grandmaster (Sigung) by Sigung Chu (who then formally became a Great Grandmaster (or Dai-Sigung)) in 1999.
His Unique Training Programme
When first establishing his school in Australia, Grandmaster Fung realised that the traditional Chinese manner of teaching Wing Chun - where a student might spend months or even years practicing the same form or technique - would not be readily accepted by westerners who expected instant results in their training.
To accommodate this, he developed his own unique training programme, Grandmaster Jim Fung's Wing Chun Kung Fu™, which underwent many changes and improvements before reaching its present form.
This programme, officially approved by Sigung Chu, remains true in every way to the Wing Chun taught by both Yip Man and himself, yet instead places emphasis on the realistic application of the Siu Nim Tau form. The method of gradings designed by Grandmaster Fung is also unique in the Wing Chun world.
In 1989, the Academy's professional approach to teaching enabled it to become the first Australian martial art school to offer Nationally Recognised Training through its nationally accredited courses. These courses have attracted interest worldwide because of Grandmaster Fung's reputation, and their standing as the first courses anywhere to raise martial arts to the tertiary level.
His Qualities as a Master
Grandmaster Fung is remembered by his many students for his extraordinary skill, his humble nature, his ability to draw together people from different cultural and societal backgrounds, his generosity in freely sharing his knowledge and his genuine love of Wing Chun Kung Fu.
Explaining his feelings behind all the years he spent training in Wing Chun he said: "The reason I signed up for Wing Chun all those years ago was because it doesn't rely on brute strength. Instead, it takes skill, speed and positioning to overcome your opponent.
"Wing Chun is a skill which mixes physics, maths, logic and biology all into one. Even at my level, there is always something new to learn."
The Future of his Academy
Grandmaster Fung passed away on March 18, 2007, at the age of 62 after a three-year battle with nasopharyngeal carcinoma.
A Memorial Service for Grandmaster Fung was held at Sydney Town Hall on April 14, 2007, which was attended by many of Grandmaster Fung's past and present students, friends and fellow martial artists. Tribute speeches were made by those close to Grandmaster Fung, including his Master, Sigung Chu Shong Tin, his oncologist, Dr David Dalley, and his eldest son, Senior Instructor Tristan Fung.
It was Grandmaster Fung's wish that the Academy continue after his death. The International Wing Chun Academy is now owned and operated by his wife, Simo Linda Fung and their son, Senior Instructor Tristan Fung. His training programme continues under the guidance of his Chief Instructors and with the support of Sigung Chu Shong Tin.