There are many ways to get martial arts “certifications” online. Options range from eBay to online courses in Wing Chun Kung Fu, Brazilian Jiujitsu, or a host of other styles. In this day and age, it can be as easy as paying a fee, taking some online courses, and getting your Instructor level sash. Do you consider online certified sifus to be real, genuine teachers? We don’t. If one opens a school and begins teaching, how do students know if this is the best person to give their money to? We have some suggestions.
Online Certified Sifus – Would You Like Fries With That Sash?
Is there a real check and balance on these online certifications? Are they truly doing any real training? Or, are they simply “buying” their certification and then coming out the other end as a “certified” Wing Chun instructor? Online certified sifus represent an unfortunate, growing, problem in martial arts.
My sifu, Sifu Justin Och was trained in person by each of his Masters through weekly group classes and private lessons. Typically, I have a hard time believing that you can get the same full understanding without touching the hands of an advanced instructor on a weekly or even daily basis. However, does that mean that online Wing Chun training can’t be beneficial? No, but getting “certified” as a Sifu through online training doesn’t seem to be worth much more than the paper it comes with.
We can all agree it’s getting too easy to buy your way (or even fraud your way) into everything from certifications to Hall of Fames. But does that make online training certifications and weekend seminar courses “fraudulent”? Does this make your sifu a fraud? That depends on what questions you’re asking, and what answers you’re getting in return.
Do Your Research
Some instructors are out for the rank, but they aren’t willing to put in the years of work, time, effort, and devotion to truly earn their title. Do your research. Don’t be afraid to run a background check on your potential instructor. You need to know who you’re going to be devoting yourself to as your sifu. Be informed, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If your sifu’s certifications are reputable, then the next thing you need to look at is how the instructor teaches. Some martial arts instructors have been trained extremely well, but are not gifted with the ability to communicate that training to others. This is an unfortunate situation. It’s not going to be a productive environment for you if you cannot learn or properly understand the techniques. Unfortunately, some instructors try to hide this lack of teaching ability by having their assistant instructors teach the classes. Don’t be afraid to ask who actively leads the classes that you’re interested in taking. If you’re paying for a quality sifu level instructor to teach you, then be sure that’s what you’re getting.
Personal Training and Improvement
If you can see your sifu is qualified with legitimate certifications and has the gift to be able to teach others, then the next thing I would look for is how the Sifu trains and keeps his own skills sharp. If I’m seeking Wing Chun training from an instructor, then I expect my sifu to take his own training seriously. Does he still train on his own to keep his skills fresh? Does he meet periodically with other sifus so they can exchange ideas and learn from each other? If your sifu is still showing personal motivation and devotion to his own development and growth in Wing Chun, then he will be able to pass this same dedication on to you!
I did the same thing I’m telling you now before I began training with my instructor, Sifu Justin Och. I checked his background—all of it. Next, I contacted the people he got his sifu level from. Finally, I even checked on his overseas visits with other grandmasters and instructors.
After my research, I have no doubts that my Sifu, Justin Och, is the real deal. He was not trained online. Sifu Och was trained in person through weekly group and private lessons for many years. He was tested and certified under master’s from 4 different Ip Man Wing Chun lineages (Moy Yat, Ip Chun, Ip Ching, and Simon Lau) after years of arduous training according to his master.
The World Ving Tsun Athletic Association, a group of Wing Chun Kung Fu masters and grandmasters appointed him as the Regional Director for the Southeastern USA. Sifu Och trains in Jui-Jitsu with black belts in BJJ and has had a professional MMA fighter and black belt in BJJ as his coach for years. Sifu Justin Och has traveled to 11 countries seeking out the full understanding of Wing Chun Kung Fu. This is on top of being three times certified as a Sifu in the Wing Chun system.
His travels have expanded his own Wing Chun training, and he brings that training back home to his Lakeland, Florida students. He has even met and rolled Chi Sao hands with Ip Chun (eldest son of Ip Man).
Sifu Justin Och is by all means the real deal when it comes to Wing Chun. His constant strive to grow and learn pushes me to no end.
Sifu Och Wing Chun Kung Fu Studio
World Ving Tsun Association Regional Director for the Southeastern USA
116 East Pine Street, Lakeland, Florida 33801