I was in a Facebook group for wing chun practitioners. I hadn’t posted in there in a long time because I hadn’t been going to class, so I had nothing to talk about. Then I started going again, and I learned that Sifu had completely revamped how he taught the system. Now he had a strict focus on the first form (Sil Lum Tao) and single “sticky hand” training (dan chi sao), along with a lot of attention paid to “elbow power,” or jarn di lik.
I posted about this in the group, mentioning how I felt class was better this way because it wasn’t so overwhelming. Instead of wondering what to work on, I had just the three things I mentioned above. Sifu had it all laid out for us, not necessarily as a strict curriculum, but there is definitely a progression that he follows. That first class was like a revelation to me, and I was so excited to share it with my wing chun brothers and sisters.
I was stunned by the ignorant responses that greeted me.
First of all, none of them even knew what jarn di lik was. (If you have been training in this style for any length of time and don’t know this concept yet, good luck to you!) Second, I had one fellow respond with this: “That sounds boring and completely inapplicable to self-defense.”
How is this statement rude? Let us count the ways!
(1) It’s rude to insult the way another school is run, period. (2) Even if we don’t do “self-defense applications” in class, Sifu IS still teaching us wing chun. (3) The guy who made that comment is a wing chun instructor himself. Therefore, he should be a little more enlightened when it comes to different training methods. (4) Not everyone trains in wing chun for the same reason. Some people train because they believe you really CAN elevate it to an art form. Judging by this guy’s reply, some people train to gratify the alpha male asshole part of their ego. (5) In time, my understanding of the style will be deeper than his because we focus on the nuts and bolts of the system.
People like that really ought to try “emptying their cup” from time to time. Maybe they could learn something and grow not just as a martial artist, but as a human being. In fact, he is more in need of growing than any other person I have met.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what some internet tough guy says. I’ve been going to Cichon’s Wing Chun for a long time. I know he is the real deal. Based on my interactions with this other “instructor,” I believe I could learn more from Sifu Cichon if he were in a COMA than I could from the other guy if he was on some kind of medication that kept him awake 24-7, or even 25-8.
Long story short: as long as you are at a legitimate wing chun school, there is no right or wrong way to train. It’s up to what YOU want to get out of it. Now as for what constitutes a “legitimate school,” I will be honest and say that is beyond the scope of this blog. Many people (who are more knowledgeable than your humble author here) have written MANY books on the subject, and despite this wealth of literature it is STILL being debated.
I’ll leave them to the theoretical discussions. As for me, I’d rather just train.