I was longing to study Chinese Martial Arts since I was a kid. Originally, I come from Eastern Europe, and we as kids, were greatly influenced by old Chinese martial arts movies about Shaolin temple and of course Bruce Lee.
Is it enough wanting to study martial arts because of some movies? I guess not. But during that time as a kid, I knew only one thing – it looks cool, it is highly efficient and I want to do it.
As I grew older, I learned to respect not only the fact that its “looks cool”, but I also started to see the philosophical side of things. The importance of body and mind connection. It was not just about looking cool anymore, I started to recognize the efforts needed to master a style or at least to become comfortable enough in it and concepts one learns along the learning way. Some of the things that impressed me is the amazing control over the body one has, the discipline and the dedication.
Around ten years ago, some of my friends started learning Northern Praying Mantis style. Somehow one of my friends came across some middle aged guy who learned the style while serving in the Soviet army along the Sino-Soviet border. I am not sure how good or knowledgeable the guy really was. I went for a few lessons with my friends, but I have not persevered with it. I don’t know why, I guess I was still not matured enough to learn martial arts. From that original group of my friends that started with the mantis style, only one still continues with it until today.
After I arrived in Australia, during my university days, I got introduced to Wing Chun by a University friend of mine where I was studying. I think “got introduced” sounds a bit strong. That guy (who was originally from Malaysia) was taking lessons from an old friend of his late grandfather who lived in Melbourne. So my friend started telling me about Wing Chun, its concepts and its philosophy.
The old man that was teaching him, had only two other disciples apart from my friend and did not want to take on any more. My friend even did a tea ceremony to acknowledge the old man as his Sifu. In brief, this ceremony is a traditional way of the disciple to pay respect to his master by acknowledging that the master is the only master for the disciple for good or for bad. On the other hand, it also means that the master officially accepts the person as his disciple.
My Wing Chun introduction did not continue for a long time, as my friend stopped practicing after some time due to personal reasons. But, Wing Chun got me interested. I got a bit more exposure to the style after watching a movie The Prodigial Son (and of course few years – Ip Man the movie).
I began doing some research on my own, and I have discovered that Melbourne has a number of Wing Chun schools, vast majority of them led by ex-students of the direct well known disciple of Ip Man, W. Cheung. That was about the time when I was heavily involved in my studies. So once again, I had to postpone the idea of studying martial arts, due to my studies and some personal circumstances.
Finally, on 24th of November 2010, I made my way into one of the Melbourne Wing Chun schools for a free introductory session. The next day I signed up and took a proper class …