MightyBands, home gym system

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Why Wing Tsun?

Anyone watching two wing chun students train and must think, "What the heck are they doing?" or "That's self-defense???" Many people I've run into ask me why I decided to choose Wing Tsun - with the hardcore-ness of thai boxing, or brazilian jiu jitsu, or kyokushin karate, why go with an art that was (supposedly) created by a woman?

Well, my path started out with Shito-Ryu karate. This lineage is pretty popular out in Vancouver - with many schools around the lower mainland. I loved the traditional karate aspect of things (the culture, mannerisms, the teaching philospophy, as well as the fellow students and the senior students that gave me that guidance and encouragement I needed. But as I progressed two things bothered me:

1) Point sparring was the primary mode of "fighting"
2) Tournament training was heavily emphasized

There was no focus on realistic self-defense. I felt a plateauing effect - I realized that as long as I pay my fees, learn my katas and perform satisfactorily during sparring matches, there's nothing stopping me from obtaining my black belt. More importantly, I asked myself how would point sparring help me in street combat (beyond the adrenaline rush and stress) - all i had was a reverse punch in my arsenal.

So I moved on to kung fu - thought i'd take a stab at my roots and go for some Shaolin kung fu at a school in the local Chinatown. The class completely lacked leadership, nor any real skill in terms of sparring (which by the way was kickboxing). Yes, the forms training was intense - the movements were hard for me to adjust to (smooth and fluid vs. stiff and rigid) but eventually I got it. The lack of structure in the class, as well as class attendance was a huge turn off.

Moved on to Choy Lay Fat kung fu. Wanted to stay away from the fancier forms where lots of kicking and jumping were involved (I hate jumping and too much kicking as I've always been a hefty guy growing up). Wow, I have to say props to those studying this art. The amount of horse stance was insane and the power of the attacks can be tremendous. I gave myself 3 months to get into it before I decide to leave. The classes were huge, and very well structured, very traditional. The workouts and stretching regiment was incredibly intense. Once sparring came about, I was so excited to see what this would be like for CLF. Well, to my displeasure, it was kickboxing. And not even that good because my karate skills were able to hold its own incredibly well against senior CLF students - LAME. Why the hell am I learning tiger claw if I don't get to use it? and instead have to resort to some sloppy right hooks and jabs - I met as well go to a good kickboxing school!

So, during all this time, in the back of my head, I always wanted to learn wing chun. I know there was a guy by the name of Fred Kwok in town but never heard good things and his class schedule didn't line up with mine. Luckily, Wing Tsun as taught by Sifu Ralph Haenel did line up with mine. Walked into the open house and was just blown away. Everything made sense to me - the kung fu learned in the forms was applied in the self-defense situation on the spot. No pre-determined attacks, no holding back on my end - and I pretty much got my ass whooped. I noticed the actions of Wing Tsun are re-actions to the attack (whether they're long range kicks, grapples, or punches), stance was upright but incredibly rooted, and the best part - no jumps and very few kicks! I only had one thing to say at that point:

"Where do I sign-up?"

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