I am a student of Wing Chun kung fu. No matter if I become a teacher of kung fu, a master, or (someday) a grandmaster, I will always be a student. I have felt this way since the beginning of my training in Wing Chun, under my first Sifu. The lessons that I learned about the art and about myself or how much I learned, there would always be a next level. The totally awesome part of Wing Chun is that while you can continue improving your skills forever, you can also apply the skills you have right now. Both of these ideas, the “next level” and the “right now”, have become even more clear to me as I began my next level Wing Chun training under my new teacher Sifu Justin Och.
Next Level Wing Chun training
I came to Sifu Justin Och after a six year hiatus from Wing Chun training. I had been through a rough slice of life that moved me some 1,600 miles from my original home. This next level Wing Chun training was a bit hard for me at first. I was badly in need of training, discipline, exercise, and friends (not necessarily in that order). Within weeks I had all of these things. Sifu Och was willing to train (and even retrain) me in the art of Wing Chun. Here at Sifu Och Wing Chun I had regular excercise which dramatically dropped my blood pressure and kept me from needing medication. The other students, sihings (senior student instructors), and Sifu Och were friendly and welcoming. I even became a bit more disciplined, though I’m still working on that. Better still, Sifu Justin Och opened up new avenues of thought for me, concerning the “next level” and “right now”. Having already studied Wing Chun for five or six years under a different teacher, I thought I knew “how things were done”. Sifu Och would show me a different way of standing, moving, or using a given skill that I was used to, and I wanted to argue that it should be “this other way” I was taught. (As a side note, never argue with your Sifu. They don’t deserve disrespect.) Sifu Justin Och was great at showing me the “why” of the techniques and slowly I began to understand. There is more than one way to practice Wing Chun. Getting to this next level Wing Chun, while hard, was worth every hour I spent.
This was a new “next level wing chun” in my understanding. Now I eagerly look forward to the times when what I learned before and the Wing Chun I am learning now don’t match, because it means I get to understand even more. The best part of this process is that Sifu Och has never once said, “Because I said so”. He has only ever told me to try it both ways, and see which one is more effective. He has also given me a new benchmark by which to measure a technique’s effectiveness.
The “right now” was not as tough mentally, but it still took some getting used to. At Sifu Och’s Wing Chun school, we fight. Of course we put on gear (gloves, chest piece, headgear), but we then proceed to go at it. In the five to six years I had trained I had never sparred before, since I held the belief that because we can’t use “all” Wing Chun techniques with sparring it wasn’t an appropriate practice venue. I do, however, like to fight, so I went ahead and sparred—and almost immediately found out what skill I was, and wasn’t, good at applying in a fight. This showed me for example, that “right now”, I can effectively pak sau a straight punch most of the time, and that my footwork is still in need of more work. I now know there is a world of difference between applying a technique during drills and getting it right with a roundhouse flying at my head. I have also learned just how effective Wing Chun can be against any type of attacker, which only serves to deepen my appreciation for this marital art. Mostly, I am supremely grateful for the opportunity to train in an art that I love, under an awesome instructor with many other encouraging and motivating students. I will always be a student of Wing Chun, but I am honored, thankful, and proud to be a student at Sifu Och’s Wing Chun Kung fu school in Lakeland, Florida.
Thank you very much for your time. Now, please, excuse me, I have to go train.
Greg Deibert, student