I just realized yesterday that in less than one month it will be 23 years since I received my first black belt. It was July 6, 1996 to be exact. I was 17 years old and I tested for my cho-dan, or 1st degree black belt, in Taekwondo through the ATA (American Taekwondo Association).
I remember training incessantly; running through all of my sequences, techniques, sparring and board breaking. I was ready. The test itself was fairly standard and uneventful as far as tests go: I went before the review board, tested and passed. Afterwards, a group of us went out for an early dinner, as was our usual custom at least once a week after class and after a tournament or a testing; seeing as how it was a Continue reading
As Wing Chun people we are, by nature, defenders of the art against those who question whether or not Wing Chun works in real life, whether or not Wing Chun is effective as self-defense and so on. The problem is this: most of us go about it the wrong way.
Easy. We feel compelled to rebutt or refute all the shit-talkers on the internet (whose belts, if they even train at all, resemble bow-ties), pounding away at our keyboards with the enthusiasm of Ralphie writing his “What I Want for Christmas” Red Ryder BB Gun manifesto for his grade school class writing assignment.
There are literally as many reasons why someone begins their martial art journey as there are grains of sand on a beach. All are valid, and all are equally important as they are what spurns someone into action; into taking that first step. However….the funny thing is, there is only ONE right answer to the question of why someone continues to train, and more specifically as it relates to you and I, why we train in Wing Chun.
Ever had some days where your training seemed “ON?” You felt powerful, strong and productive? They’re the best aren’t they? Yep, sure are.
By that same token, we have all had those days where training seems about as productive and enjoyable as wading through mud when your shoes take turns getting stuck and coming off. God knows I’ve muddled through enough of those. It’s like I would have a voice on repeat-loop in my head that would say to me, Continue reading
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
When the student is truly ready…the teacher will disappear.”
I am a fan of quotes and I’ve always like that one but it was not until I begin my journey of training in true Wing Chun purely for self-defense and combat skill proficiency that that quote took on a much deeper and profound significance for me.
The Most Difficult Aspect of Wing Chun Training
The most difficult part of Wing Chun training, I submit to you, is not in the hours and hours of dedicated, difficult and at times seemingly fruitless training. It is not the facing of one’s fears and mental barriers, it is not the fear of contact or being hit and it is not developing skill through repetition.
The most difficult part of Wing Chun training is finding a true instructor; someone who can, as Bruce Lee once famously said, act as “…a finger pointing a way to the moon,” guiding you along the way to discover the truths of the Wing Chun system for yourself and showing you how to unlock your true potential.
It was in February of 2002 – Sunday, February 17th to be exact – on the day of the Chinese Lunar New Year parade when I quite literally stumbled upon what has become my true home in martial arts.
That day, while looking for anyplace to get in from that winter Chicago wind that slices you like a knife and find a nice cozy spot to watch the parade, I wandered into a school in the upstairs of a 2 tier strip mall on Wentworth Avenue in Chicago’s Chinatown and was first exposed to the art that I have continued to train in and consider to be my root and base in the martial arts: the Wong Shun Leung system of Wing Chun Gung Fu. The school was the the Ng Family Chinese Martial Arts Association. Continue reading
Wing Chun works because Wing Chun is designed to work. It’s not designed to circulate energy throughout the body. It’s not designed to have the practitioner mimic an animal (sorry all you “wing chun is based on the motions of a snake fighting a crane 300 years ago” folks…it’s not. Sounds sexy, I know, but still, nope) and Wing Chun was most definitely not created as some physical portal to higher consciousness.
Everything about Wing Chun-its’ forms, techniques, structure and application-is designed to be applied combatively. Wing Chun was designed as guerilla warfare to overthrow an oppressive regime. Period.
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