The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step
In honour of my late Father, Robert Lim Weng Yew for without his spark of putting me into Tae Kwon Lessons when I was 6 and bringing me for endless gradings through the ranks, I would not have been able to travel thus far.
Bertrand Lim, Tuk Ngin (13 January 1974) is a Chinese martial artist born and bred in Singapore.
Reminiscing on nearly 40 years of martial arts immersion is no easy feat, but I shall do my best to reiterate this journey through the various Acts and I hope the readers will find their own rewarding journey. In this play, I endeavor to honor the various teachers who have been a blessing to me, and to whom I owe a lifetime of gratitude to for imparting their knowledge and skill to me.
I started training martial arts in 1980 in the Tae Kwon Do club at Ulu Pandan Community Centre when I was 6. My parents had the impression I was being bullied in Nanyang Primary School, so my father, Robert Lim Weng Yew, enrolled me for my very first Tae Kwon Do lessons under Instructor Sunny who would become my teacher for the next 6 years. What my parents did not know was that they had started a fire and this small spark was to grow into an ever consuming fire that still envelopes my life today
I vividly recall the frequent times I had to visit the Principal's office and give her a CID Police form with my photo attached for her endorsement which basically stated that I was a weapon licenced under the then, M.A.C.U, Martial arts Control Unit. I grew to be love all things martial, this resulted in weekly trips to Queenstown library and a cycle of borrowing martial arts books, reading them with a vengence and photocopied them for reference. By an act of fate, I picked up a book by a man called Bruce Lee, whom I endeavored to emulate in life and fighting movements
It was with the Late Master Lee, that I would understand the word combat and earn my first Senior Black Belt rank.
In those days, he was a force to be reckoned with. He often recanted on stories of him partipating in World Tae Kwon Do Championships against the Koreans and winning medals and how he learnt Hung Kuen for punching power. He was famous for his back hooks which he could spin and kick rapidly down a line. He was also the reigning champion for The Singapore National Pugilistic Federation back in the date and that predates Wuzong that we know of now. He would tell us that the only reason he lost his reigning title after a winning streak of 3 years was because he did not know the art of throwing or shuai-jiao.
To recall a memorable teaching by Master Lee- There was once I was sparring and my partner and me had kicked at each other and both our shins clashed. I was limping when I tried to change stance and lamented it to Instructor Lee. Instead of sympathy, he said, "if your legs are injured, use your hands. If your hands are injured use another weapon. " Today many people who dabble in martial arts expect sympathy or pep talks from their teachers, but it was Master Lee who taught me what it meant when an opponent stands in front of you and what it took to overcome the adversary. He taught me the word "Warrior" and instilled a sense of "Integrity" and "Honor" in everyone of his students.
Australia. For the longest period of time, I had wanted to study the art of Ninjutsu. I even resigned to studying the local of art of Ninja-Do. In Junior College, I was on the School Track Team and managed to win myself a Silver Medal in the Flash Meets for Sprinters, second to the National 200m Champion. This training phase taught me alot about explosive power, relaxation and dynamic range of motion which would influence the way I train in the future.
After Military Service, I embarked on studies in Australia Queensland, I found my first Bujinkan Ninjutsu school 2 hours away from Uni in Beenleigh and travelled weekly for these classes. I trained voraciously daily with Ukemi, Kihon Happo(basics) and Weapons. I also trained the striking art of Muay Thai with Ian Jacobs, undefeated Muay Thai Champion, whose poster you see on the wall.
I chanced upon a magazine called Blitz, and it listed a martial art called WINGTSUN, and it favoured lightning fast punching and aggressive striking. That was my first introduction to the art of Ving Tsun Kungfu.
During the years of Learning under Master Lee Kwang Peng, together with me was a good martial arts brother- Linus Lim. And it was our friendship since 727 Bukit Timah Road, Evangelical Free Church when we were 6, that led us to become good friends in Tae Kwon Do in Chinese High School under Master Lee. We both graded to Senior Black Belt under Master Lee. When Linus returned from studying in UK, we met up to train together in various martial arts that we picked up overseas.
Enter the Wooden Dummy and the beginning of the History of "Firsts". I chanced upon a website that was teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu and the Sifu was called Ken Lau. He was a Master under the Ip Chun lineage, and we seeked him out in 1999. We became Sifu Ken's "First" students. Back in that day, Sifu Ken had a small antique shop in Tanglin Mall and many of the personal trainings would be done at Botanical Gardens or at Jurong West where he resided.
Sifu Ken inducted me into the art of Ving Tsun Kung Fu and brought Sigung Peter Yang to Singapore for Internal Arts Seminars. It was through Sifu Ken's introduction, I was able to learn from Sigung Peter Yang for the next 6 years. I travelled to Hongkong for the First time to meet Grandmaster Ip Chun, the older son of Grandmaster Ip Man, for his 80th birthday celebrations
Sigung Peter Yang was one of the Highest Level Grandmasters in Internal Arts and he taught me many systems of Internal Arts including
Yiquan Zhan Zhuang, Small heavenly circle, Big Heavenly circle, Ba Duan Jin, I Chin Ching, Bone Marrow Washing, Alternate Nostril breathing aka Pranic Energy Channelling, Meditation, Hsing I Santi Si Reverse breathing, Taoist dissolving practices, Opening and closing exercises of Spine, Shoulder, Kua, Hsing I Rise, Drill, Overturn Fall, Spinal exercise Willow drinks water. Laogong, Dantian, Yong Quan circling, Chen Style Silk Reeling Yin Yang Taiji Circle, Bagua Walking and Neigung, Ling Kong Jing Push Pull Hands.
I trained weekly in Ip Man/Ip Chun wingchun for the next 7-8 years and became the first person in class to complete Sil Lim Tao, Chum Kil, Biu Jee, Mok Yan Jong and Bart Cham Dao of the Ip Chun Lineage. It was also in these years that I would study with Lama Dorje, Sigung Peter Yang in the internal practices. Like every warrior, I looked to enhance my fighting ability and "test" my art. I sought out various striking disciplines. I asked myself questions such as, How does Wing Chun fight a Boxer or How does Wing Chun fight a Muay Thai Stylist? And the answers I found were not satisfactory. I resolved that the only way to find out was to actually train in the said arts.
I trained extensively in Kadir's Boxing Gym at Mountbatten, and it was an arduous routine of X rounds of skipping, 2km run, X rounds of Shadow Boxing, X rounds of Bag Work coupled with X rounds of Pad Work and Sparring. No one spoke, we only moved to the sound of the buzzer that told us to rest or train. Kadir's Boxing Gym has trained some of the best people, one of them being Muhamad Ridhwan
It was here that I found my art of Chi Sao, Sticky hands and Forms different in timing, rhythm and function from the combative aspects of Boxing, Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts.
In 2010, I brought Grandmaster Samuel Kwok to Singapore for his "FIRST" South East Asia Seminar. I attended another of his seminar in Kuala Lumpur, bringing the "FIRST" Singapore Contingent overseas to participate in a Wing Chun Seminar, and also Co-Taught another seminar in Kajang, Malaysia. It was at one of these seminars that I met Sifu Aaron Boey and we became good kungfu brothers.
It was at the Kuala Lumpur seminar that I would meet a Qigong Master by the name of Tan Soo Kong, who had learnt from Grandmaster Anthony Wee. I would later on study Medical Qigong from this lineage through Sifu Nicholas Chia who was the Chief Instructor at that time and become his private student for the next few years.
I brought the "FIRST" and only Singapore contingent to Foshan, for Ving Tsun Athletic Association Third World Conference, doing Siu Lim Tao in front of Ip Man Tong. I also brought the Singapore contingent to Grandmaster Ip Chun 88th Birthday.
For my Wing Chun skill, I was awarded the VTAA, Ving Tsun Athletic Association Instructor Certificate. This also recognized my contributions to the art of Wing Chun Kuen growth in Singapore
In 2010, it was also the year I met my late Sifu Lim Kwee Hiong, a Master in Yang Style Taiji under the lineage of Grandmaster Huang Sheng Shyan.
Sifu Lim taught me the Fukien White Crane system of Ming He, or Singing Crane. The sound of the breath and Babulian which trained the explosiveness of Shocking power. He also taught me his system of 56 Style Taiji. To my knowledge I am one in two people in the World he taught.
Amongst the skills he imparted to me were Pai Da Gung, Taiji Zhan Zhuang Qigong, Ming He Fukien White Crane Sam Chin Qigong and 5 loosening exercises, Song Sheng Wu Fa
He also taught me the Huang Sheng Shyan system of Iron Shield, Neigung that allowed one to take blows to the body.
After assisting Grandmaster Samuel Kwok in one of his seminars, I met a Master called Tan Soo Kong. From him I found the school called Qi Dynamics. I seeked out Master Nicholas Chia and from him I learnt the Qi Dynamics system and also Wu Mei Iron Shirt and Iron Palm. I would later assist Sifu Nicholas in his Qigong Classes that he ran.
The system includes
5 types of Breath= Fu, Chui, Tu, Pi, Xi
Warm up= Hands Flicking (sideways, palms upwards and downwards), Snake Form- Yin version, Yang version, Turtle Form, Anti Osteoporosis
Stretching=Butterfly Stretch, Qigong(Small Crane) Walk, Sword Stretch
Swings=Fong Yang Swing, Mao Swing
Organ exercises= Lungs, Heart, Liver and Spleen, Digestive Organs, Kidney
5 Elements breathing= Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Wood
Meditation= 10 Postures Meditation Zhan Zhuang (Earth Position, Magnetic Ball, Chi to Dan Tian, Standing Zen, Sky Position, Chi to Bai Hui, Chi to Upper Dan Tian / Third Eye, Chi to Middle Dan Tian, Store Chi at Lower Dan Tian, Earth Position)
Power Meditation, Golden Bell Meditation, Small Heavenly Circle aka Inner Orbit, Heat Building meditation, Tortoise Breathing, Block Breathing
Others- Qigong Stance, Unbendable arm, Iron Bridge, Wu Mei Nei Gung Iron Shirt(Warrior's Breath), Dragon Claw, Tiger Claw, Eagle Walk, White Crane Spreads its wings, Carp Position, Yi Chi Kung, Sup Bah Loh Han Sao, Qi Gong Chan Fa, Qi Gong Walk (advance), Magnetic Dance, Gathering Chi or Chai Chi, Fa Chi - Transmitting Chi, Magnetic Ball, Lymphatic Drainage
At the World Ving Tsun Conference in Foshan, I met Grandmaster Ip Ching and it left me with a deep impression. I had the clarity that he was the Sifu(Teacher-Father) I had been looking for to continue my wingchun journey.
I was the "FIRST" SINGAPOREAN to bring a 20 person contingent to Hongkong to meet Grandmaster Ip Ching and introduce for the first time, this great man to a Singapore Group. And later on, on Sifu Ip Ching's 80th Birthday, I would bring the "FIRST" and Only Singapore Contingent to wish and honour the Grandmaster on his 80th birthday.
Grandmaster Ip Ching accepted Aaron and myself as private students and we would continue to learn under him and was awarded the VTAA(Ving Tsun Athletic Association) Instructor Certificate, witnessed by Dai Siheng Albert Chan.
Sifu Bertrand is a 2nd generation Ip Man Wing Chun Master. He is a direct disciple of Sifu Ip Ching, son of Grandmaster Ip Man. Sifu Lim is a member and registered certified Instructor of the Ving Tsun Athletic Association(VTAA) started by Grandmaster Ip Man. He received his training under Sifu Ip Ching. He is also a member of Ip Ching Ving Tsun Athletic Association. Sifu Lim travels to Hong Kong about 5 to 6 trips a year to train with his Sifu Ip Ching in private lesson classes, and also trains with Sifu Ip Ching's senior disciples private lessons and group classes
He has brought the Singapore Contingent to Hongkong multiple times to train under Sifu Ip Ching and also with Dai Siheng Sifu Albert Chan and other Sihengs Senior Sifus to further their skills. He brought his disciples to wish Sifu Ip Ching on his 80th Birthday and continues to visit hongkong for further training and to honor his teacher.
Sifu Lim has trained and was awarded the ranks of Instructor in Military PTK- CQC Close Quarter Combatives under Tuhon Tim Waid, trainer of the US Filipino Marine. He is the first Instructor in Singapore to bring a contingent to trainings in other disciples of Pekiti-Tirsia, Kyusho- Jitsu(pressure point striking), Grappling
As a warrior who walks the traditional path, Sifu Lim is also trained in Healing Modalities via Biotherapy, Longevitology and Medical Qigong. A word of gratitude to my teachers, Sigung Peter Yang, Sifu Nicholas Chia, Teacher Wei, Master Dennis Wang and Ivan Rocca for imparting knowledge and skills that were once considered secrets but taught to me as a natural part of life.