My History With Wing Chun

Yesterday I posted about my Wing Chun training schedule in a Facebook group, and someone asked me why I do Chum Kiu (second form) 8 times a day, but I do Sil Lum Tao and Biu Jee (first and third forms, respectively) only once. I explained that it’s because I am working on what Chum Kiu teaches you: the ability to generate power through being rooted in your stance and having good structure instead of relying on muscle.

Then it dawned on me: none of these people know my history with Wing Chun, so maybe THAT will be my next blog post. And here we are.

I started Wing Chun in early 1995, when I was still a freshman at SUNY Albany. For the first couple years, I was super dedicated. My responsibilities were not all that heavy then, so it was no problem to show up as much as an hour early to class. I’d practice my forms and techniques in the hallway, waiting for school to open. By 1997, my school workload had gotten considerably heavier. I was able to make it to class less and less. Practicing on my own was nonexistent.

Things did not improve when I graduated in 1998. Although the schoolwork was gone, I still had to go out and search for a job. My degree was in English, and I am sure many of you know a Bachelor’s in that major is not enough to get you anywhere these days. It was a real struggle to find something that I could stomach and would pay the bills.

There were some times when I did make it to class, but I was in some kind of bizarre, depressed mentality. I remember sitting at a red light while I was on my way to class and thinking, “This feels like I’m driving to work. I don’t want to go.” Then I got even more down on myself, because I felt like I SHOULD want to go. I could not understand this change in thought because I loved martial arts as much as I loved writing. It made no sense why this activity suddenly brought me no joy.

SIDE NOTE: Some of you who might have been reading this blog will know I’ve recently parted from my old school. With that knowledge in mind, you might think my mindset had something to do with the way the school was run. Take my word for it when I say that, at the time, things were good there. The funk I entered had NOTHING to do with the bad treatment; that came much later.

In July 2000 I moved out to Denver. My Sifu gave me permission to take up students of my own out there, even though I didn’t know the whole system. I also managed to find an instructor out there who was from the same lineage, but our schedules never matched up. Every now and then I would practice my forms and do whatever solo training activities I could, but it was limited.

I moved back from Denver in late 2001. As soon as I got a job, I jumped back into wing chun. My memory of this time span is hazy though, to be honest. What I do remember is all jumbled up in terms of timeline. I remember that sometimes I would make it to class early but, instead of practicing in the hall, I would either read a book or write. Sometimes I would fall asleep while waiting for Sifu to show up. To be honest, I think I was in some super long extended depression, but I have no diagnosis of that so I can’t confirm it.

I think it was in late 2002 or so when I met the woman who became the mother of my twins. She revealed to me that she was pregnant on June 12, 2003. (I remember this exactly because, even though I had been writing songs since 1998, that was the FIRST time I ever played live.) There are some memories here of me still attending class because I remember her stopping in with the twins shortly after they were born.

Keep in mind at this time I was also trying to get a band going. Plus work out. Plus write. Plus this. Plus that. I was stretching myself too thin. Eventually, wing chun fell by the wayside.

From that point on, my class attendance was very up and down. I would be super dedicated for a while, then drop out again. Eventually in 2010 I got married. At this point I had 4 kids, so going to class was not always feasible. Sometimes Sifu would give me a break, but I felt bad doing that because that was how he earned his living.

Having a difficult time at home also forced me to drop out. Rather than standing my ground and saying “you will not keep me from something I love,” I caved in and stopped going. My life consisted of going to and from work, getting my kids on weekends (plus bringing them home), and errands…and that was it.

My marriage fell apart in the summer of 2014, and guess what I did? Went right back into wing chun full blast. There were a few times when I went a couple days here and there without making it (on occasion I would miss a week), but more or less I was dedicated. Then I moved in with my current girlfriend, and financial responsibilities would just not allow me to go to class. My original Sifu posted something rather nasty and abusive on Facebook, and I realized I had to cut ties with him. Now I learn with someone else.

There was a reason I went on this history lesson, and that was to answer a question that some of my more Wing Chun-savvy readers will have: “If you are working on Chum Kiu level stuff, then how is it that you know Biu Jee?”

Simple answer: as I said above, there was a time when I was more dedicated. THAT was when I advanced to learn Biu Jee. When I returned to the school in the summer of 2014, Sifu said to me that the game plan would be for me to start over, to act as if I were a new student. I agreed because I knew my class attendance had been sketchy, plus he was teaching everything in a new way.

So that, my friends, is how a Chum Kiu-level student knows Biu Jee. This was a bit of a long-winded way to get around to a short explanation, but hey…I had fun writing it! I just hope you enjoyed reading.



About Steve Grogan

I am 40 years old, divorced, and a father of four kids. I am a practitioner of a self-defense system called wing chun kung fu. My other hobbies include writing, playing guitar, reading, watching movies, and listening to music. Recently I have gotten back into fitness, and this time I am DETERMINED to get the washboard abs...whether my metabolism will cooperate with me or not! The purpose of this blog is to write not only about my hobbies, but also about whatever crosses my mind, whether it is something I don't understand or something that aggravates me. So join me as I indulge my tendency to think too much about topics that don't usually cross anyone else's mind!
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4 Responses to My History With Wing Chun

  1. I gotta’ tell you that as a non-martial arts person, I first read your title and thought: Why is he writing about Wang Chun (everybody…). Yes, you see where my brain goes.

    It’s good that you know what works for you when and that you can pick up that thread as you need to in order to be balanced again.

    • wcman1976 says:

      Rose, thanks for the comment! It’s good to see that someone understands this post was not meant to be a plea for sympathy or pity; I was just sharing my story. I haven’t had it as hard as some people, but it hasn’t been easy either. However, I always find my way back to wing chun. That is a TRUE sign of how much spirit I have.

  2. Phoenicia says:

    I do not participate in martial arts. I am intrigued by the discipline required. I recall watching The Karate Kid (cheesy I know!) The instructer Mr Miyagi (excuse the spelling) spoke to the young boy about his mindset. It was do much more than fighting or winning.

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