In About page I have mentioned that I have spent several months (six to be more accurate) in one of the Australian Wing Chun schools, that follows W. Cheung (WC hereafter) lineage, and teaches the so-called Traditional Wing Chun (TWC). After the six months of training, when my subscription at the school has ended, I decided to move on. In the following text, I explain my reason for the departure from WC’s school.
The main reason for my move were the high fees. When I decided to undertake Wing Chun training, I chose the school of WC because I got influenced by the marketing – direct disciple of Ip Man and the man who trained Bruce Lee. I thought: I cant really go wrong with this, so long story short – I signed up. I remember my first time when I met WC and shook his hand I thought: “Ooh wow, I actually met the world known grandmaster, direct disciple of Ip Man”.
After around three months of training I started to become a bit disappointed, as I discovered that WC does not really teach public classes anymore, but only does private lessons and seminars (local and international). I did attend two seminars with WC himself including few days from his “Intensive Training” course. Instead of WC, the instructors teaching public classes were WC’s son Andrew and WC’s head instructor Ralph Herde. For me, there was nothing wrong with learning from these two guys, in fact I think they are very brilliant and talented teachers, and I enjoyed their classes very much and I found them rewarding.
Well, if I enjoyed the classes so much, why was I still disappointed? To answer this, I need to get something clear here – the whole reason for me going to learn at WC’s HQ was to learn from WC himself. That is why I was prepared to pay the school’s high fees. If WC does not teach the public classes but his head instructor does, then I might as well shift to one of the schools run by WC’s ex-head instructors like Julian de Boers or Dana Wong in order to get the same for cheaper.
I really did not see the point to continue paying for WC’s name and his marketing fees. The high fees, and some stuff that I have read made me to decide to explore other schools by the end of my subscription at WC’s school. I decided to move away from the lineage and investigate further in order to find someone who is less and/or not so commercial. Dont get me wrong, I was not expecting to be taught for free or peanuts – people do have to eat, but some individuals in Wing Chun world really try hard to cash in on their fame.
After doing some research about what schools/lineages are available in my area, I discovered that Melbourne has a school that follows Wong Shun Leung lineage (WSL hereafter) run by Sifu David Peterson. At the time when I signed up, Sifu David has already moved to Malaysia and the school run by Sifu Darren Elvey, who was David’s head instructor. After the first introductory class at WSL school, I immediately noticed a substantial difference between WSL and WC styles (or way of teachings).
WC style does not use forward pressure in chi sao or techniques (or at least the way chi sao was taught there, it was not clear). This became really evident to me after I attended WSL school. I felt my eyes suddenly were wide opened and I could really look at WC’s style from a different angle and analyze it. Without forward pressure or the ability to deal with forward pressure, you can’t learn how to take pressure, redirect pressure to the ground or how to issue pressure effectively. The WSL way made much more sense to me, therefore I felt that this would be the right choice for me. I spent a few months at WSL school, as much as my work allowed me to train.
These days, as of 1st of April 2012 (I am serious, this is not April’s Fool joke), due to nature of my work I moved to live in San Francisco, USA. I really wanted to continue my training and I was happy to discover that there is a Wong Shun Leung lineage school in my area, run by Sifu Gregory LeBlanc, student of Sifu Gary Lam.