Way back in the summer of 1987, when I was seventeen, I was a young martial artist in Reno, NV – USA. I had been involved with martial arts for a number of years by the time I was introduced to Wing Chun. It happened in my local Chinese curiosities shop called Dragon Spring. There were a stack of flyers and the one that caught my attention was “Learn the art that made Bruce Lee great”, or something to that effect. All hoopla aside, my first lesson consisted of sitting in a stance for thirty minutes, then getting a bit of footwork. There was something familiar about this art. It was featured in one of my favorite Shaw Brothers’ films, Unbeatable Dragon… a.k.a. Invincible Shaolin. I had found one of the arts from the movie, and I was instantly in love. It was in 1989 when I was told that I needed to take a few of my own students, and then my Wing Chun grew by leaps and bounds because it forced me to think more deeply about the art and grow.
The training I was doing was very traditional, and I recognized that. The stance training was my least favorite part of practice, but I embraced the suck. My Sifu was a special sort, a bit of a roguish type. I have good memories of training with him and a few bad. My time with him wasn’t wasted. In the early 90s, he hooked up with some of the JKD Concepts crowd, and eventually with Dan Innosanto. We made the transition from Wing Chun to more JKD training. It was around this time when I moved away.
I went on to train in Chen Shi Taijiquan (陳式 太極拳) and Bujinkan (武神館) Budo/Ninpo Taijutsu. Both are personally important and precious to me. I trained with my Shifu in Taiji for about three years, and earned my Shodan in the Bujinkan in that amount of time. These arts don’t combine with Wing Chun, but they inform my expression of the art. From Fajin (explosive power) to Ukemi (receiving), these arts are an organic part of me and my Wing Chun Kuen (詠春拳). I don’t set out to merge this and that, I allow them to come and go without conscious thought.
Maxims of Wing Chun
- Retain what comes in, send off what retreats. Rush in on loss of hand contact.
- Do not be lax when your opponent is not advancing.
- Once your opponent moves, his center of gravity changes.
- Make the first move to have control. Attack according to timing.
- Timing is achieved through practice.
- A strong attitude and posture gives an advantage over your opponent.
- Being alert and adapting to the situation allows maximum results for minimum effort.
- The body follows the movement of the hands. The waist and the stance move together.
- Complement the hands with posture to make good use of the centerline.
- The eyes and the mind travel together, paying attention to the leading edge of attack.
- Charge into the opponent. Execute three moves together.
- Strike any presented posture if it is there. Otherwise, strike where you see motion. Beware of sneak attacks, leakage attacks and invisible centerline attacks.
- Soft and relaxed strength will put your opponent in jeopardy.
- Coordinate the hands and feet. Movement is together.
- Do not take risks and you will always connect to the target.
- Have confidence and your calmness will dominate the situation.
- Occupy the inner gate to strike deep into the defense.
- To win in an instant is a superior achievement.
- The Yin Yang principle should be thoroughly understood.
- The theory of Wing Chun has no limit in its applications.
- Be humble to request your teacher for guidance.
- Understand the principles for your training.
- Upon achieving the highest level of proficiency, the application of techniques will vary according to the opponent.