You love Wing Chun.

Hey, I get it.  Me too.

You train hard and you train often and yet you can’t seem to shake that slight twinge in the pit of your gut; that annoying little “what-if” voice that burrows in your brain like a tick and pops back up whenever you think about ever having to use your skills should anything ever really, you know, happen.

  Sound familiar?

If you’re really honest with yourself, you know the answer.  No worries-you’re not alone.  I know the feeling all too well.

The good news is this: if you are serious about making your Wing Chun work for you, either for combat sports or for protecting yourself and your loved ones (which as far as I am concerned should be your A #1 reason for training in ANY martial art style or system) you have landed in the right place.

Who Am I (And Why Should You Listen to Me)?

Ving Tsun training footwork balance rooting structure
Training in the Appalachian mountains. There’s nothing like uneven ground to really focus on structure and balance-and the scenery ain’t too shabby, either.

Good question! If you are asking that to yourself it means you have the power to reason and think for yourself, which is exactly the mentality one needs to make Wing Chun work for you.

My name is Robert Bartkowski, or just Bobby to both my classmates and my students (I prefer use the title of Sifu or “Instructor” sparingly and only for formalities’ sake, much the same way I prefer to use the term “training partners” instead of students).  I began my training Wing Chun for one reason only: personal protection.  Through years of training, studying and thinking about all things Wing Chun related, I came to realize that structurally, in both theory and concept, Wing Chun really is the perfect system of fighting – however since it is people who apply the system, people are the one aspect of the equation that make or break Wing Chun insofar as effectiveness is concerned.

The long and the short of it is simply this: it is up to each person to train in such a way that the art of Wing Chun serves them, not the other way around.  As Grandmaster Wong Shun Leung, patriarch of my lineage of Wing Chun (or Ving Tsun, as we tend to spell it) and undefeated challenge match fighter on the rooftops of Hong Kong during the so-called “blood and guts”era of the 1950’s and 60’s, said, “be the master of the art, not its’ slave!”  It is in this spirit that I am speaking with you now.

That’s me in the back row middle with some of the toughest dudes around who taught me what TRUE Wing Chun is all about & how to make the art work for me.

Let me just say right off the bat that Wing Chun folks have gotten a bad rap for years when it comes to being able to use their skills in real world application, combat sports and fighting in general.  Now much of this criticism is unwarranted-but a lot if it is.  Sad to say, the majority of Wing Chun folks out there couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

That’s right, I said it.

Now that’s not because Wing Chun as an art, style or system sucks- not at all.  It is because they never adequately address-if at all- the main purpose of Wing Chun, and here’s a news flash for all of you: it isn’t winning a forms competition at a tournament; it’s not becoming some kind of a chi sau magician who can do all sorts of fancy stuff with one hand tied behind your back, blindfolded and with your tongue super-glued to the roof of your mouth; it’s not making the arms of the wooden dummy go “clack-clack,” whipping the long pole around or mad blade swinging, and it sure as hell isn’t striving to achieve “enlightenment” or “inner peace.”

True, those may come to you but they should never be your end goals.  They are byproducts of proper training, nothing more.

Wing Chun for combat sports
Applying Wing Chun theory and technique to combat sports for more effective results and training sessions.  If you want a shortcut to getting good at Wing Chun, here it is: learn to take a hit.

So you run through all your forms every day?  Good for you-we all should.

So you’re the chi sau Shogun of your little class?  Here’s your trophy and gold star for your fridge.

So you run 5 miles a day, do 1000 pushups and meditate for an hour after training to harness your chi?   Great.  I’m going to go grab a burger and catch up on my recorded Jeopardy! episodes.

Chi Sau training for self defense: when in doubt, shoot it out.

The main purpose; the driving force behind training in ALL systems of Wing Chun should be self-preservation through simple, direct and efficient action in the most precise and barbaric way possible.  Period.  The good news is that the path to real-world application of Wing Chun is a straightforward, progressive process and a lot simpler than most people may think.  You’re already dedicated to the art and you already practice hard and often.  You’re well on the way.

Sharing, Not Showing

Now I’m not saying all of this to you as some pontificating “Guru” or “Grandmaster.” I’m just a regular guy who loves the art of Wing Chun and has reached a point in my own martial journey where all that concerns me is combat effectiveness and where I feel comfortable in sharing my approach to training with others.

Every idea, concept or training method I suggest or urge you to make use of is not me pointing a virtual finger and saying “you should do this” or “you should do that.” It is a window into my thought process; I am not showing anyone anything.  I am sharing my way of training, my thought process and my journey through Wing Chun with you.


Taken after a long day of getting my ass kicked in Chinatown by my kungfu family, ready to hit the cafe downstairs for some cheap food, shenanigans and the enjoyment of each others’ company. This is where I began the path to real Wing Chun. Spotting me here is a bit easier than finding Waldo in one of those books.
Fast forward a few years: Sifu Phil Ng, Grandmaster Sam Ng and members of the Ng Family Chinese Martial Arts Association paying a visit to my class. To say I am proud and honored to both know and to train under them is an understatement of the truest form.

I have trained hard.  I have trained stupidly at times and have since learned how to train smart.  I have bled, laughed and shed more than a few tears on more than a few occasions. I have fought and won matches. I have fought and lost matches. I have gotten my ass kicked more times than I can count and if my ego would let me I’d say I kicked more than a little ass myself.  The most important thing I have done in my many years of Wing Chun training is LEARN.

  • I have learned how to approach my training to bridge the gap between the school or practice session and reality.
  • I have learned through self-exploration exactly why I train and why I will continue to do so.
  • I have learned how to share my ideas with others seeking the same from their training
  • I have learned to trust my inner voice to guide me to express and experience the ultimate truth in my training: self-perfection through self-preservation.
Wing Chun training for the street: steamrolling my opponent’s center with forward pressure until he is taken out of commission.  You just can’t beat triangular structure and forward pressure.

Let me share my experiences, ideas and thoughts to help you fill in those missing links to tie everything together and finally make Wing Chun work for YOU the way it was designed to do.  In doing so I grow, you grow and all those who practice our art grow.  It’s really a win-win here.

I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of reading all those keyboard ass-clowns saying over and over that “Wing Chun people can’t fight!”

 Funny thing is, as much as all that smack talking rubs me the wrong way, I am ten times as sick and tired of all of the Wing Chun folks out there who give the nay-sayers all the ammo they need by training the art in such an ineffective and unrealistic way.

Truth be told, I don’t blame the critics near as much as I blame the practitioners who make us all look like chumps who pay more attention to rank, title and what so-and-so did and said 300 years ago (which doesn’t matter anyway) than actually being able to fight and apply the art.

If we as a Wing Chun family are to turn this misconception around, we’re not going to do it engaging in some back and forth banter with all those keyboard warriors or dilettantes who yap and yap but never jock up and train out there (and who far too often look like a stand-in for Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons); that is a waste of our valuable training time.

We need to recognize that the main focus of our training always needs to be attaining combat proficiency through dedicated, focused and purposeful training in our beloved art of Wing Chun.

So stick around, stay awhile and let’s train the right way.  I can promise you this much: we will grow stronger together and through our dedication, vigilance and attention to the essence of what our art was founded for, the TRUE spirit of Wing Chun will be perpetuated and shown to the world.

If you ask me, it’s about damn time.

Let’s do this.  Are you in?