My Way of Wing Chun

The Learning Curve

Moving Away from “Traditional” Wing Chun

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.

13 responses to “Moving Away from “Traditional” Wing Chun

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  3. Akaalis April 30, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    What do you mean no “forward pressure”? are you referring to the approach of walking and rushing into your opponents center? not a wise thing to do(in my experience), especially if your opponent’s physical stature is bigger and much stronger than yours.

    Other than that TWC actually does teach forward energy ESPECIALLY in chi sao, which is clearly illustrated in the video below by Sifu Phillip Redmond(one of Cheung’s most decorated students)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FbRfyWx1uE

    • Wooden Dummy June 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      Hi Akaalis,

      No, I was not referring to the approach of walking and rushing into your opponents center. Thank you for providing the link to Sifu’s Phillip’s video. Do you notice how rigid their chi sao implementation is? Its very difficult to develop sensitivity in your arms for opponents energy when you are that rigid. In response, I would like to show you a video from WSL school: http://vimeo.com/44136249 , please let me know what you think?

      I never studied under Sifu Phillip nor I am questioning his skills or/and abilities. My opinions are merely based on my own experience and observation of teachings in WC HQ school in Melbourne, Australia. Thats why I felt such a big difference in chi sau after I visited WSL school near by.

      Akaalis, I respect your opinion and I do not want this discussion to become a heated exchange of links (I am not implying that it will). I simply would like to make you a suggestion: how about you try to trace a WSL school in your area and see by your self their implementation of chi sao. This way you can really compare objectively. I was able to compare on my self teachings from those two particular schools and to deduce my personal conclusion about the chi sau difference. I really keen to hear your observations if you do proceed with my suggestion.

      Thank you

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  5. Mathew Rich July 16, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Master Phillip Redmond has learned both styles of WC. He left Ving Tsun and started his TWC training with GM William Cheung in the early 80tys. He’s a brilliant Sifu and down to earth kind of guy. You could learn something from him. He has a good perspective of both styles and/or lineages. Btw, he’s a respected Sifu in the Wing Chun world. He is also a good friend of Sifu G. Lam.

    • Wooden Dummy July 16, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      Hi Mathew,

      I don’t disagree? I am sure Sifu Redmond is a great person and a great teacher, and as I said in previous comment: I am not questioning his skills or/and abilities. I know that he started studying under W.Cheung in the 80s, as I read enough about Wing Chun to capture that…

      • Mathew Rich July 20, 2013 at 4:44 am

        I am very much interested in your WC experience. If you have knowledge of why cerain Sifus left TWC, like Julian and Dana.., I love to read their reasons.

        I also was a Ving Tsun practitioner and crossed over to the TWC way. Yet, TWC works for me but doesn’t work for my Ving Tsun brothers in Philadelphia. To each their own but I’d never point out what I disagree with.., without accepting some positive or negative feed back.

        • Wooden Dummy July 20, 2013 at 9:03 am

          Ralph Herde also has left recently, or he was asked to leave, not sure which one.

          Matthew, I cannot speak for Dana or Julian as I really do not know all of their reasons (also, if I would know, I would not tell as I do not want to start rumors or gossip), but one thing I can say – W.Cheung is simply hard to deal with. You can describe him using words like “Its either my way or the highway”. He does not have the most easy going character. Plus also keep in mind, these days he is over 70 years old, so the old age does get the best of him (as sometimes I have observed while at his school). I am glad TWC worked out for you 🙂 What Ving Tsun lineage is in Philly? Wong Shun Leung?

          • Mathew Rich July 20, 2013 at 11:37 am

            Thank you for your explanation about former Sifus. I don’t have blinders or naivete. I am always curious about why people do what they do. Of course, I wish them all the best.

            That being said, Pete Pajil under Moy Yat. I also studied under Art Eng who studied under Terrance Yip. That would be my Philadelphia experience. I even studied Ving Tsun a bit in Salt Lake City, UT & Orlando, FL, but I returned back to TWC. It’s just a personal skill prefrence but all past Sifus had something bo bring to the table and add to my Wu Shu. I just like to play dumb when the WC experts come around. 🙂

          • Wooden Dummy July 20, 2013 at 11:27 pm

            Well said about past Sifu adding something new – its just many different pieces of the same big puzzle

  6. Nathan (@WingChun_Penang) December 6, 2014 at 4:39 am

    Moving away from so-called traditional Wing Chun. What means exactly /traditional/?

    Well, let’s move away radically! Let’s come back to the roots of Wing Chun as a realistic Combat System.

    I used to learn some “traditional wing chun”… After few years and personal experience I had to accept the truth. There is something wrong with all those wing chun’s principles. Myths have nothing to do with Combat. Wing Chun’s theories look nice on the paper, but it does not work at all for realistic self-defence. This is common sense, no one can fight being “relaxed” or by borrowing the force of the opponent. In a real fight, there is no agreement, thus, no borrowing process!

    5 years ago, I get rid of all the portraits on the wall, (Yip Man included), everything regarding those fragments of nonsense martial art. I restarted everything from Zero. I thrown away my old useless diplomas and re-learn from the beginning.

    If you really want to learn self-defence, this is the best thing to do. All the softies and relaxed approached of so-called traditional Wing Chuns are not usable in real situation. When I write /real situation/ it means, to defend against real attackers (not just a good bros imitating another style, or a weak opponent. 99% of what we see on Youtube is technically speaking> rubbish)

    “WingChun is bone-hard training. Whoever can sustain a training Class or a complete Seminar is anyhow strong.- To believe the fight begins with a touch and the assumption that one can react correctly after the touch is schizophrenic. (~ Sifu Klaus Brand)

    You want to move away from “modern traditional Wing Chun?” Do it really! Visit the IAW group and academies. Learn something really different.

    Learn the History of WingChun, the most radical departure from “traditional” wing chuns.

    Malaysia website:
    http://wingchun.my

    International link:
    http://www.iaw-hq.com/indexse.htm

    Greetings,
    Nathan – Sihing

    • Wooden Dummy January 1, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      Thank you for your opinion and your gentle way to advertise your school in Malaysia 🙂

      What “traditional” means? I do not know. It was one of the marketing tricks used by W.Cheung for self-promotion. I am glad that you found Wing Chun style that works for you. At the end of the day what matters how hard you trained and whether you can apply it in real life situation.

      A general problem that I see with Wing Chun today, regardless of style/sifu is not enough sparring and preparation for real life situations. You can study the theory in kwoon & light spar with your Wing Chun brothers & sisters all you want, but when you on the street – it is a totally different ball game.

      Listen to this 7 min rant by Sifu Richard Guerra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uphc42xSfOs, apart from some of the self-related comments he makes, he brings up several very very good points about Wing Chun today and real life situations. I am on the same page with him in terms of thinking. Listen to him & tell me what you think.

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