My Journey Toward Wing Chun

My Journey Toward Wing Chun

My martial arts training started late in 2006 at Dan Parrish’s Taekwondo school.  The sole purpose of me training there was for it to be an outlet for my anger issues. When my training first started, my attitude toward others, school, and life in general was horrible. At the same time that I was practicing Martial Arts, I was also regularly seeing a “Guidance counselor“ . With the help of my “guidance counselor“, my instructors at my Martial Arts school, and my parents… I was able to reduce the amount of anger I’ve always had and calm down as much as possible.

Introduction to Ip Man

As years went on I became a black belt at the same martial arts school but under a different instructor who’s name is Master Gary Hernandez. Around that time is when I watched the first Ip man movie. That’s when I wanted to start to learn any new style of Kung Fu, but Wing Chun in particular. Something terrible occurred I was working towards my 2nd degree black belt. A near fatal incident happened to my mother and now ex-stepfather.  Once that happened, my training drastically went downhill. I wasn’t wanting to throw a single punch or block a single strike.


After a while, when I knew my mother would be OK I began to start training again. But this time I was traveling with a friend every Thursday and Saturday to Zephyrhills to continue my training. I was also training and teaching as one of the head instructors at my Lakeland taekwondo school. As 2014 was coming to A conclusion, my taekwondo school and Lakeland shut down because of financial issues which allowed me to become A full fledged student under Gary Hernandez. Once I became a student under Gary Hernandez I started training in the super foot system and earned my 2nd degree black beltSoon after I received my next rank, I moved further away to the city of Winter Haven which kept me from training because of transportation issues.

Lakeland Wing Chun

Fast forward towards 2016, I stumbled across the Wing Chun school in Lakeland. At the time I was very hesitant about walking in and asking questions because of the simple fact that I did not know how I would be able to make it to classes without there being A problem. I am glad to say that I do not regret walking into the front door. I met both the manager, Timothy Kittelstad, and the owner, Sifu Justin OchThey immediately made me feel welcome.

sifu justin och, ip chun, hong kong, florida, son of ip man, masterOne of the many reasons why I love to train at this particular school is because of the authenticity of the Wing Chun that is being taught. There’s no place else like it, and there’s no other place that you can learn wing Chun from one person that’s been certified under multiple lineages. So far what I’ve gained and hope to continue gaining is the realness of Wing Chun and how the principles of Wing Chun affect more than just a persons martial art aspectbut also different aspects of every day life and activities. I’ve also learned and have gained many different techniques that is and will be always important to any true martial artist.

Wing Chun’s Greatness

Lastly, one thing I’ve gained since I’ve signed up at Sifu Och’s Wing Chun is the love and care that he provides and all of his students. Anyone who signs up will be able to experience the greatness and directness and effectiveness of Wing Chun. They will also be able to see how family oriented the school and the atmosphere is. They will also how hard and dedicated all the students are to their training.

Tony Plasse: Becoming an Orange

Here on Tony Plasse: Becoming an Orange I explain my story but first, some history. Wing Chun a southern Chinese martial art mentioned during the period of the Red Boat Opera in the Late 1800s. Developed by southern Shaolin monks to help combat the Manchurians. It is influenced by other Fujian martial arts that preferred short steps and close fighting, with arms placed close to the chest and elbows close to the flanks offering protection. A simple boxing form quickly mastered by dedicated practitioners.

Two key figures keeping Wing Chun system alive after the burning of southern temples were Yat Chum Dai Si, 22nd generation Siu Lam Grandmaster monk, and Cheung Ng, also known as Tan Sao Ng within the opera. It was taught to other rebels taking refuge with the opera. From there it spread along the coast and rivers of south-eastern China by people who lived by and on the water. The Shaolin nun myth was most likely created to protect the identities of the creators and perpetrators of the Wing Chun system. Wing Chun translates to Spring Chant or Spring Praise.

Tony Plasse: Becoming an Orange

I remember my first introduction to Wing Chun Kung Fu was an Ip Man movie three years ago. Did not know much about it, but the movie inspired me to research it. I liked the theory behind and thought it would be more practical for myself. High flying kicks, although cool looking, are not my style. When I finally had the opportunity to attend a class near my house I thought to myself, “this is great”.

My Reaction

I have spent the last year training with Sihing Garret and I have noticed improvements in myself. Garret emphasizes physical training at the beginning of each class. I have improved muscle tone and stamina. Wing Chun techniques taught to me have improved my reflexes much to my surprise. Not just in wrist against wrist but in everyday applications. I react to things such as doors flying at my face. I caught one once with a Jum Sau action. The lady next to me said “Wow! That was like a ninja!”. I also catch the items knocked off shelves with a lot more ease.

My Confidence

Tony-Plasse-Wing Chun Kung Fu Tampa Bay FloridaThe wrist against wrist drill has helped my sensitivity improve into reaction. It has given me more confidence in handling myself. I always knew my normal movements gave me power. But now I am learning to channel that power more efficiently through stance and technique. I am more confident that I’m more prepared for situations when I’m out on the town or at work. I believe there are many applications I could have used previously in my life as a football player. Namely the footwork and center line punch drill. Both would have greatly helped me as an offensive lineman and coach. It also adds to my overall scariness.

My Future

As the days grow closer to my son’s birth, I look forward to sharing Wing Chun with him. I hope he will benefit from Wing Chun training developing skill, balance and confidence. I see Wing Chun as an opportunity to develop father and son bonds.

The instruction and encouragement I receive is outstanding. Sihing Garret and Sifu Och inspire me to dedicate myself and continue training. I hope to be an inspiring instructor one day. I look forward to progressing and to be a good representative of Tampa Bay Wing Chun Kung Fu and Sifu Och Wing Chun.

Your Black Belt Journey

There is a reason the title is “Your Black Belt Journey”, it’s YOUR journey. No one else can walk your life. You were created for a purpose and it’s your job to walk it to the best of your ability. That being said, too many times we see students comparing themselves to another student. In this article I will discuss what it means to walk the journey on the road to a black belt.

Your Black Belt Journey

Anything worth having takes time to get. Earning your Masters degree in Engineering, finishing Ranger school, a successful life long marriage. All of these things have something in common, they took a long time and a lot of hard work to achieve and/or maintain. People tend to treat martial arts different. As if learning to defend yourself from a threat is easier then one of these skills. Defending your family while fighting off multiple attackers or maybe even just one is not something you can learn in a weekend seminar. Yet, people continue to say they’ll “give it a try”. Or they will “do some Wing Chun” as if it were finger painting session with their friends.

Building a lifestyle

contact sifu och wing chun, kung fu, lakeland, florida, sifu och wing chun, contact us, kung fu lakeland, wing chun lakelandTo really learn self defense you must embrace it as a lifestyle. The same thing that is said about being healthy is true here. If you “go on a diet” you will eventually go back to your un-healthy ways. You must change how you live as a whole. You must become a healthy person. They choices you make a the grocery store, restaurants, and gym time. This is who you are and what you do. Not an activity you participate in for a few weeks. The same is exactly true in training self defense.

But I’m High enough ranked I’ll be ok

In my previous article 3 cycles of martial arts I explain that there are 3 main stages to training: Programming, Application, Reaction. Advanced Wing Chun classes sparring trainingAll 3 take time to develop in reference to a technique. But the most important thing is they must be maintained. If you do not keep up your training then you will NOT BE ABLE to respond to a threatening situation. Reacting to an attack takes split second reflexes as well as a situational awareness that maximizes your time. You may remember techniques from your training time but applying them quick enough will be very hard to accomplish.

The proof of this is many previous higher ranking students will come back from a hiatus and will struggle greatly with sparing and gor sao and lower ranking current students. That being said, setting goals and reaching them is a huge help when it comes to training as you go. But you should not have a rank as an end game. Living your life like a Black Sash is the key.

You Must Change

The Sash itself is NOT the goal in martial arts. It is the person you become while trying to obtain it. When you envision a person who is a “Black Sash” you typically picture someone who is wise, patient, hard working, compassionate. You must become the person you envision as a Black Sash. That transformation into something new only happens under the heavy anvil of rigorous, consistent training. Be reaching for small goals (i.e. your next rank) you have something you can slowly move towards and develop those characteristics on the way.

Nobody else can walk this path for you. You must accept where you are as a human. Recognize the type of person you must become. If you were a Black Sash how hard would you train? How compassionate would you be towards others? How loving would you be towards your family? These characteristics are what make a Black Sash. What are you doing to become that?

3 Training Cycles of Martial Arts

If you have just begun your training in martial arts you know it can become very frustrating. You can feel lost in the material. Confused on a technique. Or you feel like you are behind where you should be. All of the these factors make starting martial arts difficult for the newbie. In this article, 3 Training Cycles of Martial Arts, we will explain a concept that will hopefully help you push past the first slump.

The 3 Training Cycles of Martial Arts

There are 3 basic stages of learning a new technique. Once you understand these stages you will be able to identify where you are and what you need to work on. What you must understand is everyone develops different. Some learn the initial technique faster than others. Yet those same students may struggle in applying it. Everyone learns different. You must accept where you are so you can focus on YOUR development. Don’t stress about the progress of others. That being said, lets look at these 3 stages.

Stage 1: Programming

learn self defense nowThe first stage of training begins with programing. This is exactly like installing a new system into a computer. It takes time. When a new technique is shown it comes with a new set of motor functions the body is not used to. To overcome this the body needs time to “program” the new function into the “hard-drive”. Some students are more prone to certain techniques. Maybe they grew up doing a certain sport that had a similar movement to what they are learning now.

For instance, in Wing Chun there is a lot of rooting through the heels. If someone spent a lot of time lifting growing up they might be able to grasp that concept a little quicker. As opposed to someone who played soccer for instance. They would have been taught to always be in their toes. Therefore, they would need to spend more time teaching their body to draw power from the heels then the first person.

Stage 2: Application

Developing the Student MindsetSecondly, after you have learned what the new technique is and how to perform it you must learn WHEN to perform it. This is called application. One technique can have many applications and then variations from that original. Applying the technique must also be treated like the programing because you are learning how to time it against an attack. You must be attacked over and over again to get the timing down.

Along with timing the technique another very important part of application is learned and testing: structure. Without structure a block or attack will be ineffective no mater the timing. Just like gold is refined in fire so must the structure of a technique be refined through the fire of pressure. Pressure testing your structure helps develop your shapes that shadow training (or practicing in the air) can never do. Real attacks must be thrown and you to really develop your structure. Combining the timing and pressure training will give you the ability to fully apply your techniques.

Stage3: Reaction

Thirdly, the final stage of developing your technique is reaction. You have could structure and timing, but how will your fair when you do not know when the attack is coming? Reaction is the hardest part of training. You must build one technique at time. Learn how to react to one certain attack. Once you have dealt with that you build again from step one. Program a new technique; apply it to real attacks; react to it in a sparring scenario. You must learn how to deal with skilled and un-skilled attacks. Single attackers and multiple attackers. As well as Feinting, counter striking, grappling, High-low hit combos. All of these things and more must be thrown at you.

In conclusion, this cycle must be repeated over and over again. Day by day, technique by technique, this must be done. Consequently, if you stay consistent with your training you will master every technique given to you.



Lost Qualities of Modern Martial Arts

The world of modern martial arts is full of commercialized schools with watered down training. In an attempt to please the masses, martial arts has become what people want it to be and drifted away from what it was. The following is a list of common Lost Qualities of Modern Martial Arts. Some of these are either severely lacking or missing entirely.

Lost Qualities of Modern Martial Arts

  1. The art of manipulation

    Throwing your opponentThe ability to make your opponent do exactly what it is that you want them to. This may mean causing them to react to something that you throw and then exploiting their reaction. Or using their previous attack to your advantage by controlling it and guiding it into your next attack. Manipulation also involves the use of feints and other misleading maneuvers that end in a desired response.

  2. The art of timing

    Timing is an essential martial art skill, and most learn it through trial and error. The problem with this approach is that it takes a very long time for the practitioner to be able to execute proper timing and even longer to understand what they are doing. Timing training can and should be supplemented with drills that specifically target the skill.

  3. Ducking, bobbing, and weaving

    Too often do we choose to rely exclusively on the blocks that our art has taught us, while completely ignoring the fact that we don’t actually need to even make contact with the attack. Not only does this eliminate the blow, but we are also able to keep both of our hands up and ready to attack at will.

  4. Development of senses

    This quality refers to both improving our natural senses and becoming more aware of our surroundings. Improved senses naturally increase our situational awareness and both lend themselves to increasing our personal safety. Allowing us to be able to effectively use our martial art skill.

  5. Conditioning

    Kung Fu Training
    Shaolin Conditioning

    Though highly prized by some schools, many others choose to ignore the benefits of conditioning. The body should be able to withstand a good degree of abuse in order to have the confidence to be an effective fighter. Odds are that you will get hit, what counts is that you are able to come back from that hit and power through – causing more damage to your opponent.

  6. Developing intent over instinct

    Many fighters prove to be either overly intentional in their movements or overly instinctual. A good martial artist will develop a fighting style that balances these two traits, and develops the muscle memory required to execute it. To a point where they are strategic, yet also reactive with good instincts.

  7. Proper breath control

    Developing appropriate breathing supports each and every martial art technique. Allowing for more focused and powerful strikes. As well as better cardiovascular function and endurance during a match.

  8. Familiarity of pressure points

    When all else fails, it is always nice to know how to exploit pressure points. Often times it is the more muscular men that are more susceptible to this exploitation, due to the greater surface area and nerve endings the muscles bring.

  9. Simultaneous blocking and attacking

    my lakeland wing chun journey deep patel florida
    Tan Sao Punch

    Many martial arts will focus on blocking an attack, and then following that block with a strike. Instead of choosing to defend and attack at the same time. They get stuck on their traditional blocks while the opposite hand just idly sits and waits.

  10. Development of character and personal strength

    Finally, martial arts is not in its’ entirety about fighting. A true martial artist aspires to better themselves in every area of their life, from their character to their physical fitness. They choose to respect themselves and others, and strive to pass on the great knowledge that the martial arts has taught them.

All martial arts were designed during times of strife in order to combat the ugliest parts of humanity. You must keep these in mind during training to ensure the original intentions of these arts are not forgotten. Does your school incorporate all, some, or none of these qualities?

The Infinite Wing Chun Difference

wing chun difference

The wing chun difference for me started at Sifu Och Wing Chun about a year and a half ago and couldn’t be happier that I did. Prior to Wing Chun, I had practiced Karate for ten years and had already fallen madly in love with the martial arts. The Karate that I do incorporates a mixture of Tung Su do, Aikido, and Jujitsu and is infinitely different than Wing Chun. But when I moved to Lakeland for school, I knew that I had to find somewhere new to practice. As a broke college student, I also knew that I couldn’t really afford to train, but I really couldn’t afford not to. After doing a trial month at Sifu Och Wing Chun, I decided that I had to make it work.

First Weeks of Training wing chun difference

wing chun difference lakeland floridaThe first two weeks of training I was extremely cautious and suspicious of everything that Sifu taught. It was so different from everything I knew, that at first it felt like it couldn’t possibly be right.

But over those two weeks I grew to trust Sifu and appreciate Wing Chun as a martial art. Now whenever I feel like something isn’t right, it’s usually because I’m doing it wrong. Wing Chun is so different than Karate that it took a lot of getting used to. I constantly wanted to use my legs and felt trapped in all the hands only combat that they focus on in beginner Wing Chun.

Though I was reluctant to rely heavily on them, hand work was something that I desperately needed to improve. Another major difference that messed with my head was how Wing Chun fights squared up instead of sideways. I had to constantly force my back shoulder into a square position effectively distracting me – but I quickly learned to love having both hands up and in front of me.

Karate girl Learning to Love Wing Chun

infinite wing chun difference lakeland floridaLearning to love Wing Chun was a struggle at first. Because some of the techniques were contrary to my first love of Karate, it felt a little bit like betrayal. I had been training Karate for ten years! For the past five years, I had been teaching and instructing the art that I love. Now suddenly I was at the bottom of the food chain, knowing absolutely nothing about Wing Chun – it was a hard transition to say the least, but one well worth making. I was soon able to respect and appreciate each art for their differences, and have started down the road of incorporating them both.

First couple of months in Training

Learning Wing Chun in and of itself is hard. For the first couple of months I was very confused in my training.  Trying to keep up with all the Chinese terminology and different techniques. It took about 2-3 months for my confusion to subside and for me to feel comfortable, performing all the moves that I’d learned.

Too many give up to quickly

Unfortunately, a lot of people give up in those first few months feeling like they won’t ever get it. Every single person that I got my first sash with has left as well, and it is so sad! What I have learned from Wing Chun has been exponentially beneficial to almost every aspect of my life. karate vs wing chun difference kung fu lakeland flMy overall health and fitness has improved including strength and endurance. My mental health improved as well, relieving the stresses of daily life in class every night. This year I started a very emotionally draining internship dealing with girls that have been sex trafficked.  Wing Chun allowed me to refrain from going insane and relieve my frustration.

I would recommend Sifu Och Wing Chun to anyone that wants to be able to protect themselves.  If you want to better their health, and make friends – and who doesn’t want that?  You should be down here training.

Written by Sarah L. (recently passed her year and a half mark!)


For information on classes contact us at
call us now at 863.800.0171
116 east pine street, lakeland florida 33801
With classes 6 days a week for Adults, teens and kids ages 3 and up.

Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook Takedown Combo

Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown

Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown was a question a beginner posted for anyone to answer on a Facebook group. He asked for the key to using Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown Combo. Sifu Justin Och and Senior Instructor Garret Brumfield posted a video titled “Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown Combo”.

In this article we will address some of the finer points. Stopping this combo is no easy task but Wing Chun does have an answer.

Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown Combo

The Jab

If you are to deal with an attack you must understand it. To understand strikes you must make a distinction between committed and non-committed strikes. A committed strike could be defined as a strike that has the entire weight of the body fueling the power for the strike. Alternatively, a non-committed strike will be much faster but won’t have the power. A jab is a non committed strike. That being the case, the counter must be equally fast. As you can see in the video Sifu Och uses his paak sao but immediately follows up with a straight punch. This allows for quick adjustments where needed.

The Jab, Cross

If your opponent crosses immediately after his jab you may not have time to follow up off the initial strike. Sifu chose is one of the most direct options to counter although there are many variations. The hand that was used to paak the initial strike simply follows its trajectory to the face. In conjunction, the back hand paaks the next strike. This results in and immediate strike to your opponents face.

The Jab, Cross, Hook

Let’s say that your counter does not damage your opponent enough. As a result, he follows up again with a hook. The hook that Sifu Och Demonstrates is a very tight “rabbit” hook. Theses types of hooks are very hard to deal with. A Bui Sao, Bui Jee, Man Sao will be very hard to execute in this scenario. You must be able to fully extend these techniques for them to become effective. When the opponent throws this hook, it will be very tight to the body with a lot of torque. Torque equals power, and if you are unable to fully extend your technique it will crumble. In this scenario Sifu chooses to utilize upward elbow to cover the opponents strike. He is now able to strike with is other hand and move on with his attack.

The Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown

wing chun vs jab cross hook

Finally, we moved on to dealing last part of the combo. None of your counters have successfully stopped your opponent but because you are in so tight he feels the need to shoot in and take you down. There are two scenarios to be address when an opponent shoots in on you. If he gets under your elbow or not.

If he does not get under your able a you can simple remove the foot he is attacking and stop his forward motion with a Gum or Jum Sao to the neck\head. This is addressed in our article Fighting Footwork where we go into a little more depth. However, if he does get behind one of your elbows you must sprawl back or you will be taken down. Once you have sprawled you can then establish a line of defense again with your Jum or Gum Sao. This line allows you to regain your structure and move on with your attack.

End the fight

At each stage of the attack your goal as a Wing Chun practitioner should be to the end the fight. When you respond to an attack you should be immediately seeking to follow it up to finish your opponent. You would only utilized these counter techniques if you are unable to flow into and 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc. follow up. So in theory, your opponent will never get to his takedown, or his cross for that matter. However, that is why we as martial artists should always be prepared. If the worst happens, you will be ready.

Sparring Weaknesses: A Checklist

Almost every martial art will include sparring in one way or another. Some may start it right of the bat, while other schools may wait until the student is more familiar with techniques; but either way, it is very often incorporated into training. Sparring can be a great tool for applying techniques learned in class in a less rigid and more organic activity. Despite its usefulness, many of us are not as skilled at sparring as we would like. Here in Sparring Weaknesses: A Checklist are some of the most common sparring weaknesses and how to avoid them:

Sparring Weaknesses: A Checklist:  

Dropping your hands

This one is a no brainer but happens way too often. Fighters will drop their hands when they back away from the opponent, thinking that they are safe – and then get hit with a kick. Or, even more likely, they will drop their hands while kicking. Focusing on the legs and forgetting about the arms, making you a bigger target for a follow-up attack or even a simultaneous one. Keep your arms up at all times and check to make sure that those arms aren’t telegraphing any of your moves (i.e. twitch or downward movement before a kick, pulling back or clenching before a punch, etc.) 

lakeland fl advanced martial arts classes sparring

Pendulum fighting:

This is when the fight swings back and forth like a pendulum. One fighter will attack, then the other, going back and forth as if the opponents were taking turns. In any sparring match, you want to avoid getting into a predictable rhythm. If your opponent is more experienced, he or she will exploit that rhythm and attack off-beat catching you in the middle of a sequence. To counteract this weakness add more variety to your attacks. Maybe charge the opponent without giving them the opportunity to hit back, add in combos, or dodge their next attack and move in.


Single attacks

Too many people come in with a single jab or front kick thinking it’ll get the job done. While it is okay to employ some single attacks throughout your match, make sure that you aren’t relying on them. Try adding in a low and a high strike, or a combo that includes both hands and feet.


All defense/offense

Many of the more timid fighters may focus on their defense in the beginning, looking to minimize the damage rather than gain advantage over their opponent. This may be a good place to start but if you are looking to improve your game, their needs to be a good balance of both defense and offense. Other people, however, may focus more on offense and neglect their defense. This weakness may not be much of a problem in the dojo, but would certainly be in a real fight. Increasing your awareness of the problem should lend to solving it. If that isn’t enough, shift your entire focus to the opposite problem. If you are a defensive fighter, try to go a round entirely offensive and vise versa. Your muscle memory should kick in and make it a fairly balanced fight of what you know and what you are focusing on.


All hands/feet

Similarly to the offense/defense problem, some people find that they are more comfortable with either their hands or feet and will focus in on one or the other. It always comes down to balance. Entire martial arts will prioritize hands over feet or vise versa. It is really up to the individual to find what works for them within his or her style. If you feel like you are too frequently using your hands or feet, find a good technique you like and drill it like crazy. If you are more of a foot sparer, find a good hand technique and practice until it flows in easily with your sparring. From there it will be easier to add in more techniques, creating balance.


Sparring with an ego

This one is probably the most dangerous of all the weaknesses. Sparring should be used as a tool to learn and better oneself, not as a means to assert dominance or ‘win’ a match. When you focus on whose better or winning a match, the focus shifts from inward improvement to outward comparison. And although competition can be healthy and helpful, if it’s used in the wrong way people can get hurt.

Consider the last time you sparred. Do any of these sound familiar? Frequent assessments of your strengths and weaknesses are healthy in order to develop as a fighter. Don’t ever settle for average, constantly strive to be better.

The Fatal Flaw in Testing

Getting tested in martial arts can be nerve racking but also invigorating. Your abilities are all laid out to bare for all to see. No more excuses just reaction. This is quite exciting. Along with that is the satisfaction when all your hard work does actually pay off. Attaining the next level feels great and if you earned it you should feel proud. However, “The Fatal Flaw in Testing” is what I would call the Sprint Mentality.

Sprinting for your test: The Fatal Flaw in Testing

Finals week, the week before the last set of tests for college students. Energy drinks, microwaved food, and zombies with backpacks become rampant on college campuses. Students will “cram” in those last extra hours of studying to strive for that grade at the end of the semester. This is the same as I call it, the “Sprint” in martial arts. Martial art students will train for months but many times you will see a tendency to really step up the training right before a test. Even though this does encourage that extra training at the end of a section there is a fundamental flaw to this process.

Student’s who are training hard consistently will have no need to sprint at the end because they will already be prepared for the test. But for this to be realized your goal must be analyzed. If your goal is to simply achieve belt ranks, then cramming is a perfectly legitimate way to achieve that. However, if your goal is to be prepared at all times for combat, then you should train as if you had testing every day.

One Breath

Grandmaster Ken Chun, from Wing Chun Dynamics in California, visited our school and gave a great tip on mindset. He explained that in an encounter you have one breath to channel all of your training to defend yourself. In that one breath you must focus your mind and your body to one task.

He also explained that this should be trained every single day. In other words, you shouldn’t wait for the week before testing to snap into that “one breath” mode. Every single punch, every single kick, every single takedown should be done with the same mentality. If you don’t accomplish this attack it could be the end, not of your opponent, but of you! So as you train, take in that one breath mentality every single time you move.

Your actual goal

Attacks on the street may have indicators. However, indicators do not come a week ahead of time. They may only be caught a moment or two before something happens. That being the case, if you do not keep yourself optimally prepared you could be overtaken. If preparing for testing is your ultimate goal, you are in danger of getting caught. Testing should not be used as your goal. Your goal should be your training regiment. Each day you should seek to improve and upgrade that training. The result of this shift is that your perspective changes on your testing. Instead of looking at that as an end game, it is used to evaluate whether or not your training is effective to keep you prepare.

The importance of keeping your training up is even emphasized in martial arts business circles. Even with these successful million dollar schools the owners understand that their training is top priority. John Kovar, found of Kovar systems lists Training first, then Teaching, then Business. You don’t know when you are going to be attacked so every training day is vital to you surviving an attack.

So ask yourself, what are you training for? Have you fallen prey to the The Fatal Flaw in Testing? Are you training for a belt? Social standing? Sense of accomplishment? Or are you preparing yourself for real, terrifying, messy combat?



What is Kendo – What You Need to Know

What is Kendo? Kenjutsu, founded on the principle of setsunin-to (life-taking sword) was the base for Kendo historically. Katsujin-ken (life-giving sword) and Katsujin referred to as “the sword that animates the sword fighter” are now the modern principles for Kendo. In essence, the focus shifted from taking a life to improving ones own life through Kendo’s Practice.

What is Kendo: The Practice

In classical bugei [traditional Japanese military arts] parlance, the connotations are concrete. The “sword” refers not to the weapon itself but to its usage. When referring to combat the opponent’s responses and fighting spirit taken, not his life. When a combatant uses force of will to overpower, immobilize, and strike down an opponent before he can react, this is called “setsunin-tõ” (i.e. “sword[smanship] that transfixes”, or ‘swordsmanship that kills response”). “Katsujin-ken” (“Swordsmanship] that animates”), on the other hand, involves drawing out the opponent, inducing him to strike, and then going inside his technique, countering it either at the moment of origination or at the point of its most complete extension. Setsunin-tõ is an egoistic and risky approach to combat – the slightest miscalculation will result in the swordsman walking straight into the opponent’s counterattack. Katsujin-ken, by contrast, involves a sophisticated manipulation of the opponent and his actions by means of utter selflessness, properly conducted, it is virtually undefeatable.”

Taken from: “Karl F. Friday, Legacies of the Sword: The Kashima-Shinryu and Samurai Martial Culture, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1997: p. 31″.

The Tools of Kendo: SHinai and Kendoka

In short, The concept of Kendo is to apply the principles of the katana to discipline the human character. Consequently, seldom does kendo ever use the actual katana. Kendo practitioners, called Kendoka, utilize a Shinai for full contact sparring practice. The Shinai formed from four bamboo staves and leather. Alternatively, Kendoka would use a bokken or bokuto made from solid wood to practice basics and forms (or kata). 


Karate, Taekwondo, and Kendo, etc. Employ a system of detailed patterns of movement or Kata. Moreover, each form of Kata deeply illustrates numerous aspects of the art. Kendo’s Katas are usually performed with a bokken as previously noted. Overall, each of the Kendo katas “…studies a single set of concepts in a very pure setting allowing the practitioner to delve deeply into these concepts” (kendo-usa, 2009). Kendo kata is performed with two people, the Uchitachi and the Shidachi. The Uchitachi always sets the pace and distance. In addition, the Uchitachi is also the first to attack and the Shidachi initiates the proper response to it. Participants demonstrate the first seven Katas equipped with a long sword. Finally, Kendoka perform the last 3 with a short and long sword. The short sword demonstrating the proper defense against a long sword attack.

All things considered, Kata is only a part of the training in Kendo. Like our training here at Sifu Och Wing Chun, as well as many other martial arts, Kendo requires a great deal of discipline and dedication to its training. From its teachings one will learn etiquette, proper sword handling and different postures and foot work. With these instructions and training one will be able to define their way in life as well as develop a rich outlook on it—“they will be able to put the culture of Kendo into use, thereby benefitting from its value in their everyday lives through increased social vigor (AJFK, 2007).

What is Kendo

The purpose of practicing kendo is:

To mold the mind and body,

To cultivate a vigorous spirit,

And through correct and rigid training,

Strive for Improvement in the art of Kendo;

Hold in esteem human courtesy and honor,

Associate with others with sincerity,

And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.

Thus will one be able to love his country and society,

To contribute to the development of culture,

And to promote peace and prosperity among all people.

Karate Classes vs Wing Chun – Differences in Training

We not only love Wing Chun and its many forms. We love the training practices. While these differ from sifu to sifu, the way training takes place in Karate classes vs Wing Chun classes matters. In “American” Karate, the focus is often on moving through a series of belts in order to progress. With a good teacher, point scoring and belts will be less important than mastering techniques. The same goes with Wing Chun, emphasis should always be on mastering each technique until it is second nature and reflexive. Sashes are achievable, and progression is important, but testing should be strict and progress must be deliberate. It’s clear Karate and Wing Chun share origins, but there are also lots of differences.

Karate Classes vs Wing Chun Training

In Karate there are three stances, including the natural, or walking stance (shizentai-dachi), the front stance (zenkutsu-dachi), and the cat stance, or back stance (nekoashi-dachi). Each has its uses, of course. The Wing Chun stance and Wing Chun rooting is the key of all movements and balance. Everything builds on those well-rooted foundations. One way in which the stances of Wing Chun and Karate classes are similar is that they both have a good center of balance.

The modern Karate belt came about as a badge of honor. Students initially donned a white belt (obi) as part of their uniform. As a natural result of hard training, effort, and time, belts—which were never washed—became darker and darker. Soon, the “black belt” became the status symbol of a student who engaged in years of hard work and commitment.

Wing Chun vs. Karate Classes and Blocking

You’re likely to experience a different way of blocking when taking Karate classes vs. Wing Chun. This mostly has to do with the direction the blocks take. In Wing Chun, you’re constantly blocking back towards the body while Karate blocks flow away from the body. Both require a solid structure in place behind the blocks, so that balance is maintained.

The main difference in Karate blocking is that karate classes typically teach you to “cock” your arm back and prepare it for a strike. With Wing Chun, you simultaneously attack with the non-blocking arm. Both Karate and Wing Chun deflect attacks with their blocks, relying on good structure to avoid injury and redirect energy from an attack.

Which is Right for You?

So which classes are better? That’s a loaded question. We obviously prefer the slow, deliberate progression associated with Wing Chun training. We’re not about awarding belts to keep the interest of students with short attention spans. Rather, we want to train, train, and train some more until your skills are your own. We want you to learn practical self defense skills that will stand up in the real world.

Watch Out for Online Scams!

There are several places that offer online Karate classes. Some even promise a “black belt in 12 months”. The same could be said for any Wing Chun system that claims you can move through the ranks quickly. Remember, there are no shortcuts! With both Karate and Wing Chun, online classes would be a ridiculous waste of time. Only under the guidance of an experienced teacher can you make true progress in learning practical self-defense skills. Constant and regular evaluations are key to progressing. That’s something you can’t do online!

Developing the Student Mindset

I first met Sifu Justin Och almost two years ago. I came into Wing Chun classes with a swarm of new people. Immediately, a swarm of colored shirts and sashes overloaded my senses. The first few months simply delivered a shocking mix of strange movements and the excitement of starting a new martial art. With no previous exposure to martial arts, I amazed myself using simple techniques to block punches. Punches that would not have truly made impact. Moving forward almost two years, I received my green sash and blue shirt. The most important roadblock that I had to overcome involved developing the student mindset behind learning Wing Chun. Without this student mindset, no student will never be successful. Anyone can practice sloppy techniques, but until you develop the student mindset, your martial arts training will never reach the depths of appreciation and effectiveness it deserves.

Developing the Student Mindset Quickly is Key

After attending the school for just two years, I’ve seen hundreds of people walk through the doors and never come back. This usually occurs within the first 6-12 months. They come, participate, and walk away thinking they have studied Wing Chun. The truth, however, is that they have simply been exposed to Wing Chun. Far too many people make the mistake of associating exposure to Wing Chun with actually training in Wing Chun. The crucial difference lies in the mindset of the student. When a person has developed this correct mindset, they truly begin to train.

For the first time ever, after developing this mindset, the student will push their hardest.

What is the Student Mindset?

This student mindset goes above simply just reproducing various techniques across various lines done in class. This mindset is about making every single thing you do in class matter. How you train, is how your Wing Chun becomes programmed into your reactions. When you step into class, you are surrounded by an incredible wealth of knowledge and skill. The only thing that can keep you from becoming your best is yourself. Very few people come into this school with the right mindset, but everyone can develop it. The choice is yours. I believe this mindset develops into 4 things: Sweat, Perfection, Blood, and Tears.


You can’t succeed if you don’t push yourself. These techniques will not mean anything if you just throw them out there and hope for the best. No techniques ever will. When I began developing through the very beginning ranks, I noticed that the upper sashes always seemed to be dripping in sweat. The rest of us were barely out of breath though, we complained about our arms being sore. I then realized that this was even the case when they were doing the exact same thing we were doing. I soon realized that this difference was due to how they trained. The more advanced the student, the harder they trained. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they could punch harder, but rather, they would give it everything they had.

A line that a lower student would do looks lazy in comparison. After a few lines, the upper sash would be breaking out in sweat. This doesn’t at all relate to their endurance, but specifically relates to how they are training. This same exact illustration can apply to workouts. When assigned to give 500 chain punches into the focus mitts, the easy method rushes through without giving much focus behind the strikes. You probably won’t even break a sweat. But what if, instead of just faking your way through the 500 attacks, you made every single one of those punches as hard and fast as you could? By the end of it, you’d be dripping in sweat. How much more did you gain from those same 500 punches? If you’re not sweating, you can be sure you’re not working your hardest.


There becomes a crucial difference between giving a technique everything you got while still doing the technique, and just hitting as hard as you can. When you are drilling techniques, your focus should first be on perfection. If you train a particular block 100 different times, but 50 of them are sloppy, then when you draw from that “reflex pool” you have a 50% chance of successfully completing that technique. In other words, you have a 50% chance of getting hit by a knockout punch. Those are not the odds you want to be training. When you first learn a combo for example, of course you aren’t going to remember everything. You’re going to have to think about what comes next. So it is important to slow it down for perfection.

Don’t ever excuse a repetitive mistake. If it’s sloppy, if it feels rushed, or if something seems off, fix it. If you don’t know how, ask. There is a wealth of information around you, so use it. Don’t allow yourself to train imperfection. You have to learn how to balance power with perfection. If you go too hard or fast and lose the precision of perfection, you’ve failed to perform the technique. You can perfectly perform and land a technique but fail to make it have damaging power. That means you’re just tapping your opponent. Neither of these does you any good.


You have to accept the fact that you’re going to be hit. You’re going to bruise. If you can’t perform your techniques against resistance, then they’re not where they need to be. If you can use it against someone punching you, how can you defend yourself? It should also be noted that you are learning a new martial art: including your own body. This goes above just reproducing a technique. You have to condition your body for this art. It won’t necessarily be the greatest feeling in the world, but if your arms can’t hold up to training, they won’t when you need to defend yourself. Of course, this doesn’t mean that this school is a brutal death cage like gladiator school.

The same thing goes with working out. You are going to get sore lifting weights; you might accidentally drop weights on your feet; you will be exhausted; or you could pull muscles. If you’re too afraid of being hit, or you want to train without being hit, then you’re not training an art to defend yourself. You’re going to get hit. It’s how you learn to protect against that hit the next time. I get hit every day, usually multiple times, but it doesn’t bloody up my face or break my bones. If you’re not training against true resistance, you will never know if what you’re doing actually works. Here, I know what works. I know what I’m training works because I can prove it.


You’re not as good as you think you are. You’re going to struggle with some things. You’re going to feel like quitting. You’re going to want to stay home and relax instead of coming to class. You’re not alone in any of these feelings. Every single person above you has felt this way multiple times. The question is whether you are going to push through it or not. It comes down to you. It’s not going to be easy, but you can certainly do it. Just keep pushing. Never give up.


I wasted the first year of Wing Chun training without this student mindset and regret it. When I truly started to develop this mindset, my training exploded. I never felt as close to my Wing Chun family as I have now. I crave each day for the information I get. I am able to better accept my shortcomings because they will help me to be better. Tests are no longer something that I worry about, because I have trained it hard from day one of each rotation. Test days are incredibly fun. Train, and train it with everything you got. Push yourself, and encourage others to push. It’s going to be hard, but it is so worth it.

You will gain so much by training the right mindset. Don’t be afraid to fail because you’re going to. The only difference between a master and you is that they’ve trained it in the right mindset and failed more times than you have even attempted.

Top 3 Reasons to Train at Sifu Och Wing Chun

trtrainIf you’re looking for a place to train in the martial arts, Sifu Och Wing Chun is where you want to come. Here are just the top 3 reasons to train at Sifu Och Wing Chun. These are just the reasons why I would recommend Sifu Och to anyone who is looking for a realistic, supportive, and fun environment to learn the martial arts!

Top 3 Reasons to Train

1. You will get to learn from Sifu Justin Och, the SouthEastern Regional Director of the World Ving Tsun Association!

Earning his Sifu level twice under two different Grandmasters, Sifu Justin Och has been tested and certified to teach under four Ip Man lineages (Ip Chun, Ip Ching, Moy Yat, and Simon Lau). These are directly connected to Grandmaster Ip Man. Sifu Och has trained in over 10 countries, gathering more and more information to perfect and enhance his Wing Chun and pass on this knowledge to his students. His dedication to Wing Chun is truly impressive. Last year he was able to train in China directly with Ip Chun!

Sifu Justin Och Ip Chun Ip Man son
Sifu Justin Och training Chi Sau overseas with Ip Chun, eldest son of legendary Wing Chun Master Ip Man

2. Classes are available six days a week, so there’s always time to train!

Sifu Och Wing Chun has classes to fit your schedule. With classes offered Monday through Saturday, you can find a time to train. We have morning classes, evening classes, Saturday classes, and private lessons (by appointment only.) You have no excuses!

3. We offer Wing Chun, Jiu-Jitsu, and Kickboxing classes all in one location!

Whether you want to focus on self defense, weight loss, groundwork, strength training, or all of the above, Sifu Och Wing Chun can help you. Kickboxing classes will help with strength, endurance, and cardio fitness as well as learning kicking and punching techniques. Jiu-Jitsu class will also build up your cardio fitness and strength, but it will also help you learn to defend yourself from the ground. Learning Jiu-Jitsu can complement any martial artist’s arsenal of techniques. And, of course, Wing Chun is our specialty! This extremely effective close-range self defense fighting system uses simultaneous attacks and defenses against the assailant. Wing Chun is a practical martial art for realistic self-defense.

Top 3 Reasons to Train with Sifu Och family

Sifu Och Wing Chun
116 East Pine Street, Lakeland, Florida 33801
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Never Give Up Quotes for Wing Chun Training

When most people think of the word success they envision someone with lots of money or power. However, success doesn’t apply to only those two areas, it applies to all aspects of life where an individual has a goal to be reached. Contrary to first thought, success is not reaching of the goal, but the growth of the individual towards that goal. Here are some Never Give Up quotes for Wing Chun training.

“Success is not a destination, it’s a journey.”

– Zig Ziglar

As you look at any “successful” person, whether it be in finances, health and fitness, or martial arts, there is one thing in common with their journey, they never gave up. And because they never gave up they grew into a person that was able to achieve the goals they were seeking. They became successful. The next of our Never Give Up quotes may be one of my favorite quotes for Wing Chun training:

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

– Bruce Lee

This very famous quote emphasizes the focus of one’s time towards excellence in few abilities rather than mediocrity in many. Hidden within the little proverb is another truth. To be able to complete 10,000 of anything one must have a character saturated in diligence, perseverance, and patience. Coupled with these characteristics is belief that, in time, any goal can be achieved with persistence and consistent work. No matter what the obstacles, or whatever the challenge. If a person simply decides in his mind that he can accomplish something, and never gives up, anything can be achieved. 80% of people that walk through a martial arts door and a decide to actually begin their journey quit within the first 3 months. Only 3% of students actually make it to the coveted black belt. What’s the difference? Why the huge gap? Because never quitting, no matter how hard it gets, is an attribute that most do not understand.

“The Master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried”.

– Stephen McCranie

More Never Give Up Quotes

Failure is commonly viewed as a negative aspect of life. Growing up in school we are conditioned to avoid failure at all costs which causes much stress. This pressure is actually misplaced because the common view of failure is incorrect. Failure goes hand in hand with success. Without failure there cannot be success. We are imperfect beings therefore there will be imperfect decisions and actions taken. Once this is accepted failure becomes a teacher that one can learn to improve all areas of their life with. Failing a belt test does not mean you are a bad martial artist. If you have put in the time and work. Tests are designed not for the teacher, but for the student, to see where they are in their journey. If that test is failed, that is simply another indicator of what steps are needed to help the student grow and move forward. The pain of failure, in time can become powerful tool in the process of upgrading ones character and abilities. Over time, as one begins to actively use failure as a tool, it no longer brings feels of pain and discouragement, but of excitement and determination. However, to reach that level of mental maturity, one must be patient and allow the growth to happen. We did not learn to walk in one step. We fell down as babies, and ALWAYS got back up. We did not care what our parents, siblings, friends, thought, we simply got back up and kept walking! NEVER GIVE UP!

“Pain is Temporary, if I quit, however, it will last forever”.

– Eric Thomas

Do you want to be successful? Do you want to become a Black sash? I have the key—it’s more than just these Never Give Up quotes: NEVER. GIVE. UP.

Seeing Wing Chun Progress During Training

In martial arts, as well as many other activities, students can often get the feeling they aren’t making any progress. They can get frustrated or just feel as if they don’t seem to be picking up on a technique. If you come to class and put forth effort, you’re likely making progress. You just may not recognize that you are. So how can you start seeing Wing Chun progress during training? Well, here are some suggestions:

Seeing Wing Chun Progress Means Looking Back (Literally)

If you do not record yourself training, or you don’t take pictures already, I highly recommend you start.


I’m a big fan of taking lots of Wing Chun photos or videos in training and (if allowed) during testing. Not only is it helpful in that moment to correct mistakes you may not realize you were making, it’s helpful for seeing your Wing Chun progress.

When you record yourself, you can look back later and see how much you really have learned. Even if the picture or video is only from six months ago, you’ll begin seeing Wing Chun progress in the form of positive changes you’ve made in that short amount of time.

Your hand positions, Wing Chun stances—even the execution of your technique—are going to be better than they were six months ago. You are progressing. Even if you don’t move as fast as you had hoped, or even as much as you realized, you should be able to look back at the Wing Chun student you were six months ago and say, “Yes, I am better martial artist then I was six months ago.”

Celebrate the Small Victories Along Your Wing Chun Journey

If you are waiting to give yourself that pat on the back. Don’t wait until you’ve made it to an advanced level sash—you’re selling yourself short. When you’re just starting Wing Chun, and you’re having trouble coordinating a Bui Sao (and stepping forward with the correct foot), capture it. There will come a day (soon) when it just clicks, and you realize its become muscle memory! When those movements are no longer something you have to consciously think about in order to execute, you’re seeing Wing Chun progress that’s huge. It’s not the belt. Enjoy moments like these, and celebrate all your victories!

Keep a daily Wing Chun journal of positive achievements

This may sound a little unusual, but when you reflect upon (and write down) the positive things that happen after every class, you’ll start to see your progress. You don’t have to write down something absolutely amazing that happened. It could be “I didn’t give up when I was chain punching even though my arms were tired.” or “I put more power into my double punches.” Give yourself credit for the positive things you are doing to progress as a Wing Chun student, and seeing Wing Chun progress will be something that happens regularly!

Sifu Och Wing Chun
116 East Pine Street, Lakeland, Florida 33801
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Getting Through Frustrating Times in Martial Arts Training

Whether you’re an advanced martial artist or just beginning your martial arts journey, you’ll have many times where you feel that you’re doing well in your training. Your punches feel strong! You’re confident in your combinations! You feel like the martial arts applications you are learning are being executed almost perfectly! All is well in your world…for now. You must also handle getting through frustrating times in martial arts training as well.

That’s right. Eventually you’ll have a day, week, or even a month or two where you’ll feel like you’re never going to progress as a martial artist. You can’t remember your combinations. The form you knew flawlessly for the previous month is suddenly confusing you. Your fellow students seem to be moving ahead of you in their training. Are you really at the end of your success as a student of the martial arts? Have you peaked? Of course not! You’ve simply hit the notorious “wall of frustration”!

So, what do you do now? The way you choose to answer to this question is extremely important! There will, of course, be the temptation to take the easy way out and simply give up. A devoted student, however, cannot give in to this temptation and will never give up. What are the other options that could help you get through frustrating times in martial arts training and deal with the “wall of frustration”?

Get Through Frustrating Times in Martial Arts Training

Here are some options that have helped me get through frustrating times in martial arts training and Wing Chun classes in general. I hope you will find these options useful as well.

Give Yourself a Reality Check

Take an honest look at your training. Getting through frustrating times in martial arts training involves taking a hard look at your practices. Have you been coming in to class as much as you were before you were experiencing the frustration? Have you been skipping training or leaving early? Are you socializing more than you’re actually practicing? If you have examined your training, attendance, and dedication and can truly say you have not changed your routine, I would recommend that you check your perception of reality with your Sifu (teacher, mentor, master) or your Sihings (advanced students). Sometimes others can give us insight into how we may have changed in our level of dedication or attendance in our training.

Seek Advice From Advanced Students

Getting through frustrating times in martial arts training may mean involve seeking help from above. Yes, that kind of above—but also from others ranked higher than you. It’s a guarantee that the seasoned higher ranked students have been there before you. Whatever walls you are running into, I bet your Sihings will have an idea about how to help you get through frustrating times. Let your Sihings know how you are feeling about your training, and be as specific as you can about your areas of frustration. Since your Sihings are more advanced, they will be able to tell you about how they overcame the challenges you faced when they were in your position. Make sure you are open-minded to what they are telling you. They are there to help you grow and move beyond any obstacles you may have in your training.

Look at the Goals You’ve Set for Yourself

If you have set goals for yourself on your path to achievement in martial arts, which I suggest all martial arts practitioners should, then you may need to review them. Is your frustration a result of setting goals for yourself that are unrealistic? Have you given yourself too strict a timeline to try to meet your goals? You can’t expect yourself to be Bruce Lee or Ip Man overnight! Your training will take time. If you think you should be able to achieve the same level of power and accomplishment in 6 months of Wing Chun that your Sihings have taken 3 years to accomplish, then you are definitely setting yourself up for feelings of frustration. It is difficult not to compare ourselves to others with whom we train, but we have to remember that we train to improve ourselves, not to be somebody else.

Let us know if these tips help you get through frustrating times in martial arts training by visiting us on our Facebook page.

Sifu Justin Och Wing Chun Kung Fu
Regional Director for the SE USA, World Ving Tsun Association.
116 East Pine Street, Lakeland, Florida 33801


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