Sihing Cathy Morgan – 3rd Level Wing Chun Instructor
I started my training in MMA (mixed martial arts). We would train on various types of kicks and ground techniques. My training there was very short lived (2-3 Months), due to an injury to both of my ankles. First I injured one doing a spinning back kick against a swinging muay thai heavy bag. Once the pain eased up a little I decided to try with the other leg. I was determined to get it right. I do not recommend this particular exercise. In less than half an hour I had injured both ankles and made it very painful to walk for a very long time. I still wanted to become a martial artist. It was one of my dreams from childhood. However, it was several years before I tried it again due to the pain in my ankles. I was very nervous that I would not be able to do what I needed to do.
When I came to Wing Chun it was a very different story. Sifu Och was willing to work around my injuries and never required me to do any techniques that I did not feel comfortable doing. After a few months I was actually able to use my ankles to almost full capacity with only occasional painful moments. I have become a much stronger and more confident individual. I am now in the best shape of my life.
I joined in January of 2008. The first thing I noticed was the caring family atmosphere. I was going through a rough period in my life and the school became an oasis for me away from all of the cares and worries that were dragging me down. I soaked it up like a plant in the desert when it rains. I was made to feel as if I belonged. I felt like Sifu and the other students cared about me, not just about how I was progressing with my techniques in class, or just a wing chun instructor course , but how I was doing as an individual. Even though I am not a very social individual I simply could not get enough.
The first 6 months were the most difficult. It was something totally new to me and I was completely out of shape. Since then things have just sky rocketed. I love training in Wing Chun. It was like a breath of fresh air in my life. It gave me confidence and made me realize that I was capable of so much more than I ever gave myself credit for. My training here has made me believe that I am capable of doing anything, if I am also willing to put forth the time dedication and effort. No matter what life throws at you, whatever you gain here stays with you. The more you put into your school and training the more you will get out of it. One thing I know, any time, money or effort that I might put into Wing Chun, will never be wasted.
It is possible sometimes to get into situations where you just accept the status quo and don’t even look for change, because you don’t even realize just how bad the situation actually is. Then something new comes along and it makes you sit up and say “Hey, wait a minute, why am I just sitting, when things could be so much better.” That is what happened to me. Wing Chun, Sifu Och, and the family here at the Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy have helped me to realize that I am a much stronger individual than I ever would have believed possible.
As the saga continues, a couple of years after I began training I discovered that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. This is an auto-immune disease that attacks the joints and causes a great deal of pain and discomfort. I try to continue training between 12 to 16 hrs a week. It hurts, but I know that if I just give up and give in that it will be so much worse. The more I move the more I am capable of moving. If I stop then my joints will just freeze up and even determination would not do me a whole lot of good. There are some days that I leave in tears just because it hurts so bad, I’m not sure how I manage to keep pushing myself sometimes. It has to be some kind of miracle, that I continue to find the strength to keep going. Sifu has been a major source of encouragement and support for me. On the days when I can’t do the regular exercises he lets me do some that are more isometric and easier on the joints. Without his encouragement and support I think I might have quit a long time ago. Instead, I have made it to brown and am now working towards red. That is definately a miracle in my book.
Here is an example of how much more confident I have become. The other day I was getting the oil changed on my car. The mechanic was trying to sell me everything that could possibly be done on my car. He made it sound as if it was about to fall apart completely. He also acted as if I didn’t have a brain cell in my head. I finally had enough and told him to “just change my oil and not to try to sell me anything else.” I didn’t not yell or even raise my voice. I just said it matter of fact like. He acted like I had punched him in the face. This may not seem like a major deal, but for me to do something like that was completely amazing.
As students have moved away and then returned to re-join the school I have had many compliments regarding my training and progress in Wing Chun. Recently, a returning student from Orlando, Florida saw me training, and said that it kind of scared him, because of how hard and fast I was training. This guy is twice my size and much taller than me, a football coach at that! Here he is watching me train and telling me he isn’t sure if he wants to spar with me. When I look at myself, I don’t see the vast improvements that others do. Don’t get me wrong, I see improvement, but I never would have imagined someone telling me that!
Here is another example. The other day, I was wrist to wrist or reflex training with a 5yr judo and karate practitioner who works as a security gaurd. As our fight progressed he kept getting faster and faster, trying to get anything in, I just kept reacting to his attacks. I would get in punches towards his chest or touch his throat or face just to show him I could strike there. I never would have believed that I could do this, but I did and I do everyday.
When I was invited to experience the Black Belt Hall of Fame as one of Sifu Justin Och’s students, it was an eye opening experience. I was able to see how other students related to their Sifu’s and how they related to our Sifu. Many schools from all over the world were putting on demonstrations. The skills level of these masters and grandmasters was great to see. On the third morning (Sunday) Sifu Justin Och had us put on a demonstration to show our skills and fighting abilities when sparring. We did some quick (non-choreographed) one-on-one fighting to show what Wing Chun provides for realistic Street self-defense. Most of the people there were not really sure what to do or say to me, I guess, because they did not really approach me. From what I understand it is highly unusual to have a female at my level in Wing Chun. What can I say? I am woman, Hear me roar!!!!!! I did however, see them approach Sifu Och. I heard them tell him that it was really good and that he disproved alot of the myths about Wing Chun not having speed or power. I also saw them giving us a completely different type of respect after the demonstration than before it. Sifu Och had many of the instructors, masters and grandmasters who attended the seminar train in some of the Wing Chun techniques. The one thing they kept having trouble with was trying to use more than one hand or leg at a time. Blocking and attacking simultaneously was a very new concept for them. They kept trying to do just one block then one attack. overall I noticed the high level of respect and skill they saw in my school and our training.
Our school contains a welcoming and uplifting environment. Not only is it fun, but it feels like family. If I quit I would feel like I had lost my family. I would feel like I had lost a piece of myself.
See ya later,
Sihing Cathy Morgan
3rd level Wing Chun Kung-fu practitioner