London Kestrel
Shooting, writing, hustling.
Angel Series 2-14.jpg

Documenting the experience.

Documenting the photography experience

Fight like a girl!



Master Leo

Fight choreographer and trainer for the Ip Man movies and the Iron Fist series.

In the street - your assailant, in most instances is always going to be bigger, stronger and faster than you.

Facing an aggressor who has obvious physical advantages - are you comfortable and ready combat this? If you’re a certified ninja you can probably stop reading here, but for the rest of us - I would advise continuing to read….

The majority of competitive martial arts, involve fighting your mirror. Boxing and other martial arts involve fighters being paired with similar weight, same sex and similar experience levels. This is sport, and although brutal you won’t see a boxing tournament where someone is battling an opponent twice his or her bodyweight.

In internal Wing Chun - bullying the big bully is born into its DNA since inception. From the ground up, the architecture of this art is to tackle the bigger, faster and stronger foe.

It’s not about, flashy acrobatics, winning tournaments or what looks cool (Wing Chun does look cool though!) - it’s about getting the job done. Mastering self defence is about keeping calm like a sloth in a flurry of chaos, and acting fast with the a graceful execution of practised adaptive techniques.

As the fable goes - Internal Wing Chun is the only martial art known to be created by a female - Yim Wing-Chun in the later 1800s to fight opponents bigger, stronger and faster opponents, and that has continued into the current day. If you had to learn one martial art - wouldn’t you focus on one that’s designed to defeat the bigger, stronger and faster foe? One of the latest teacher’s of this style, Master Leo Au Yeung discusses his thoughts on internal Wing Chun:



Alp: Master Leo, please give us a brief introduction to your system.

Master Leo: Sure, we use an internal engine to power this art not an external one. The beauty of an internal engine is that no matter how strong your opponent is we can absorb their energy and redirect it, usually upwards, downward or to the side where they have no resistance.

When a person applies force like a punch or a push the force is only strong in one direction, like person on a motorbike at full speed, but if an object hits the rider from the side, the rider will lose his or her stability fast. Internal Wing Chun is about causing this instability to an incoming force from an opponent. Wing Chun practitioners do this by positioning their centre of gravity lower than their opponent whilst being in contact with their opponent, and then moving forward to unleash their finishing moves.

Instead of meeting force with force, where the stronger person always wins, Internal Wing Chun focuses on attacking where the strong person is weak - either by pushing them up or to the side. Self defence is at the heart of this art, where the aim is to finish the fight quickly, with minimum movement and maximum effect.

Alp: Thanks for that. How did you come about to teach and experiment with this system?

Master Leo: I trained under Ip Chun, the eldest son of Ip Man, Grand Master Ip Chun for many years and acted as the English translator to Ip Chun’s foreign students who came from all over the world to learn from him. It is from this training and close working relationship, that I was able to learn and understand Ip Chun’s style of Wing Chun which I use today to train my students.

To further improve my internal Wing Chun, I spent the last 15 years sparring with and learning from teachers from many different styles including Muay Thai, Chinese Kick Boxing, Systema, Tai Chi, Hung Gar and various internal styles.  By doing this I gained a lot of experience, specifically - how to make wing chun much more practical. This is also one of the major reason why I got invited to become a fight choreographer for the Ip Man movies.   

Alp: Alright - let’s move on to teaching. How do you teach students to work on their internal engines and strikes? Especially as the art is internal and therefore much more subtle than hard arts like Karate or Krav Maga.

Master Leo: Unlike harder arts which begin with actions and then principles. We begin the other way around. From the first day we practice the principles including amongst others, “taking” - the ability to hold the energy on an incoming force, and “pushing” - the ability to push an opponent up or to the side when they send an incoming force”  which are then applied to self defence applications. Every class begins with the principles which are then applied in different ways and to different scenarios.

We have also developed a syllabus that focuses on 15 core Internal Wing Chun skills which are mapped to three levels. In any given class this development map allows students to work on their weakness when the class is split two sections each working on a different principle.

Alp: That sounds pretty comprehensive and modern. As we live in London, which is a busy place -what do you have for students who find it hard to make class?

Master Leo: We realise that the more you put into training the more you get out. We are developing the entire syllabus on video broken down in the 15 cores skills and the three levels of development for each skill, all in bite size chunks.

When complete in the next few months we will give this to students to help them develop their skills with an excellent reference to refer to. It won’t replace attending class but it will help for self-study.

Alp: That’s great - can you give us your top three tips for students developing their internal wing chun?

Master Leo: Sure - like with everything you have to work hard at Internal Wing Chun to get the most out of it. The moves are seen as very simple, but the execution of that simplicity is quite complex and takes time to learn. If you can only do three exercises outside of class they would be:

  1. Hard chi gung (5min daily)
  2. Pushing against a wall (10min daily)
  3. Horse stance (30min daily)

Alp: Many thanks! So when do you teach and where in London?

Master Leo: Sure - I teach multiple times during the week at the following times and locations:


8:00pm – 10:00pm

South Wimbledon Community Association
78 Victory road
SW19 1HN


7:00pm - 9:00pm

Russell square center
Camden Chinese Community Centre
9 Tavistock Place


7:00pm - 9:00pm

Russell Square

Russell square center
Camden Chinese Community Centre
9 Tavistock Place

First, lesson is provided free of charge.

And please see my website for further information:

Alp: That’s great - thank you for your time.

Sifu Leo: Thank you.