Just Enough

The other morning at breakfast, my wife said this little throw away comment.

She said, “You know I find that when you eat slowly whatever you have is plenty.”

I didn’t think much of it at the moment. But it came to my mind again while I walked to the gym to train.

“When you eat slowly whatever you have is plenty.”

Is this not true for our whole lives?

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When we slow down and live more mindfully, putting an end to all the ceaseless craving, wanting and chasing, we can realize that whatever we have, right here, right now, is plenty. And in keeping our lives simple and straightforward we can be happier and more free.

When we make our lives more complicated, with all the doing, with all the many possessions, life becomes more burdensome. We spend all our time working and chasing the dollar to keep it all going. Life feels less simple and we find ourselves more stressed and live less mindfully.

I look at it like I look at the art of Ving Tsun. It’s a simple art and should be kept that way. You do only what’s necessary in terms of offense and defense. You economize everything. Your motion, your energy, your time, your footwork, everything. You do just enough to get the job done. No more, no less.

As the years pass in your training, you should be trying to make your Ving Tsun more and more simple. Not more and more complex. If you are making it more complex you are doing it wrong.

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This is true in our lives as well. As we get older we should be making it more and more simple. Not filling it up with things that make it more and more complex. Things that make us have to run around and keep the juggling act going. We should have and do just what’s necessary. Have and do just enough. Realize that whatever you have is plenty.

When you put this simple Ving Tsun philosophy into your daily life you will be able to get down to what really matters to you. Whatever that might be for you.

In Ving Tsun we have a very simple formula that tells us how to use the system. A formula that teaches us simplicity.

Try to bring this formula into your daily life and see that what you have already is plenty.

Three simple rules:

  1. Accept what comes
  2. Follow what goes
  3. When the way is open always go forward.

 

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Chi Sau Seminar Success and Events!

We really want to thank all of you who came from near and far for our January Chi Sau Seminar. It was a great way to kick off 2016. A lot of Aaron Heath’s students came from our Champaign school which was super cool.

We had a lot of fun and everyone learned a lot. So stay tuned because there’s much more to come!

We’re thinking the next seminar may be a combination of Wooden Dummy material, Mo Duk (proper code of conduct for martial arts practitioners) and kung fu culture.

And as always, we appreciate you sharing our news, events, Intro classes and so on. Don’t forget to tell your friends that they can come in and visit us anytime. Just call Sifu Matt Johnson at  773-301-6257 and we’ll get you set up.

You can follow us on Facebook too! This is a great way to hear about our monthly events like pot luck suppers, movie outings, (we went to see Ip Man 3)

or this Saturday’s celebration of Chinese New Year. (Year of the monkey!)

Or our Jan. 29th Haiku Writing Workshop
 led by William Seiyo Sheehan and reading by Gerry Stribling author of Buddhism for Dudes. (and please note, you don’t actually have to be a dude to totally love this book.)

The school is located in the heart of the Chicago Arts District at:
1839 S Halsted St. Chicago, IL 60608
Phone us at: 773/301-6257
Please note the CTA bus Route 8 stops right in front of the building.
There’s also plenty of free street parking all within short walking distance.

 

Matt Johnson Ving Tsun Kung Fu is Growing!

Just had to share how psyched we are to welcome two more brand new folks to our Intro class on Saturdays and two new sign ups for our regular open classes!

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We love to see new people coming through the door and see the look on the faces when they get started learning and getting to know their fellow students and feeling how different this place really is.

So thank you for joining us and please help spread the word! Don’t forget our Intro classes on Saturday! There’s still plenty of time to sign up for a whole month of kung fu for just $50!

The school is located in the heart of the Chicago Arts District at:
1839 S Halsted St. Chicago, IL 60608
Phone us at: 773/301-6257
Please note the CTA bus Route 8 stops right in front of the building.
There’s also plenty of free street parking all within short walking distance.

 

Find Matt Johnson Kung Fu

Hi there kung fu folks! Since we recently moved, we are still awaiting the completion of the update to Google maps which had led to a teeny but of confusion for all you new students trying to come see us!

So, if you are looking for Matt Johnson Ving Tsun and the Ving Tsun Self Defense Academy, this is where we are:

The school is located in the heart of the Chicago Arts District at:
1839 S Halsted St. Chicago, IL 60608
Phone us at: 773/301-6257
Please note the CTA bus Route 8 stops right in front of the building.
There’s also plenty of free street parking all within short walking distance.

Thanks so much, and sorry for any inconvenience this might cause. See you round the school soon. And bring friends!

Overcoming Obstacles in Kung Fu Training Through Teaching

 

Almost inevitably, as time passes and kung fu training continues, day after day, hour after hour, after endless sweating and working of sore muscles, a practitioner may feel they’ve run into a brick wall or a plateau in terms of building and improving their skills. This is likely to manifest differently for each of us. We might experience a feeling of staleness, of boredom, or sense of lack of excitement which we associate with progress.

These plateaus are crucial times. When we don’t progress, we may have a tendency to worry. Many a kung fu player simply throws in the towel and quits. I’ve seen it time and again. During the last 27 years I’ve spent immersing myself in the art of Ving Tsun, I’ve definitely experienced some of those moments myself.

So what did I do? Well, in the years before opening up my academy and teaching students, it was sheer determination that kept me going. But in the years I’ve been teaching when it’s happened I find that just teaching to the best of my ability, breaks me through any barrier. Partly, it’s a matter of inspiration. Teaching inspires me because it always sends me and the student back to the basics. Revisiting them makes our kung fu better. Every. Time.

The Chinese have a saying, “to teach is to learn twice.” By going back and teaching beginners a practitioner teaches themselves as well. This is one of the keys to constant forward progress. Help teach. I know it works. I’ve seen it in myself and I’ve seen it in many students. So my advice to mid-level and advanced practitioners when they come to me with this problem is this: come into the class and help teach the junior students. Sometimes when I offer this advice the students don’t understand. They may wonder how teaching a student more junior to themselves will help them get better. But I tell them to just trust me, to trust the process.

Helping beginners helps us find where our own understanding of a technique or form may fall short. That leads us to ask our Sifus questions that gives us the missing concept or understanding and fills in that gap. And this can start a whole new growth spurt for you. So if you are an advanced student don’t be selfish with your knowledge. Help teach the junior students and watch your own kung fu take off again!

 

Teaching Women Self-Defense Reduces Rape 50%

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Check out this article from the Globe and Mail about studies which shows that when women learn self defense it reduces successful sexual assaults.

And please God, let’s keep in mind that this in no way places the onus on women alone for preventing rape. But it just makes sense to be prepared to prevail if need be.

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Interested in learning? Check it out.

Thanks for stopping by. We hope to see you in the school soon.

Sifu Matt

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Introduction to Ving Tsun Kung Fu

We are super excited to announce a new class at the Academy.

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Introduction to kung fu!

This is a four-class series beginning on the FIRST Tuesday or FIRST Saturday of each month. You will be introduced to basic elements of ving tsun kung fu (stance, hand techniques), theory (principles of ving tsun), meditation, and kung fu philosophy (Mo Duk). Elements of the kung fu are explained in easy to understand pieces — with emphasis on developing correct fundamentals, posture, and mindful execution of techniques. If you have any physical limitations, special conditions, or injuries, please advise us, so that we can help you learn to practice effectively and safely. This series is appropriate for those who have never been to a martial arts or kung fu class before, those who have completed the series and would like to continue their education, or those who desire a refresher on the fundamentals.

The tuition cost for the Intro class is $50 per month. Select either a Tuesday series 6pm-7pm, or a Saturday series  12pm-1pm

Sign up for the Tuesday series

Sign up for the Saturday series

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Contacting Us Via Email

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Good morning kung fu brothers and sisters,

It has come to our attention that there’s been some kind of issue with the capacity of the WordPress site when you all use a contact form to let us know you’re interested in coming for a visit. That’s a real bummer and we’re sorry.

Please know we are working on getting it fixed. We think that all the forms now include a mandatory email entry box. But please, do us and yourself a favor. When you use the form add your email inside the text box at the end where you can tell us about yourself a little, your interest in ving tsun kung fu or martial arts generally. That way, no mater what, we will be able to respond to your kind inquiry.

Thanks so much and train on!

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Kung Fu skill takes daily training and living the “Kung fu Life”

Yes the title says it all. Kung Fu means what? “Hard Work”. Thats right. Hard work. If you let other things take your attention away from training, attending class, taking your lessons, etc. then don’t expect to have very good skill and understanding. It takes two things to have good Kung Fu..sweat and time. If you dont sweat, you won’t have good Kung Fu. If you don’t put in the time, you won’t have good Kung Fu. Plain and simple. The formula is easy. Getting the most out of Kung Fu training takes effort. Then the Kung Fu will work it’s way into your bones. Then you will truly know what it means to live the Kung Fu life. See you in the Kwoon.

Sifu Matt

Never Miss an Opportunity to Learn From Your Sifu

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No matter what style or family of kung fu training you follow, the path can be a long and hard one. In our school, we’re on a  ving tsun (wing chun) kung fu path. As the days go by and our training continues, injuries and setbacks, possibly arising from training or from conditions outside of school, are inevitable. However, they don’t need to keep you from learning from your Sifu. I always tell my students, even if you’re injured or sore, or just tired, you should still attend class. 

Why? Sitting, listening and watching we can still learn a great deal.

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A lot of what we learn from our teacher in kung fu, has nothing to do with martial art technique. Students need to learn to live the kung fu life; to learn about kung fu culture; to learn to apply the art of Ving Tsun in daily life. Students need to learn how to live according to the Ving Tsun Jo Fen, or the rules laid down by our ancestors in the Ving Tsun system. These rules show us that kung fu is mostly about how to live a good life and use kung fu to make ourselves better people and for the benefit of society; Not to create more trouble.

These ideas involve subtlety and detail, which can only be passed on in close relationship with your Sifu. Spending a lot of time around him or her, is essential to your learning and absorbing these ideas. Of course, there’s all the physical techniques a student needs to learn as well. 

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You’d be surprised what you pick up by just sitting by and watching the way your Sifu teaches. You can pick up subtle things that maybe you overlooked before, or forgot about or maybe didn’t catch the first time it was taught to you.

There have been several times in my years traveling to Hong Kong that I was injured or sore from the long hours spent training, or maybe I was just plain too tired from jet lag or whatever. ( it seems every time I go it gets harder and harder to get over the jet lag and time difference.) At these times, I always still go to my Sifu’s classes at the Ving Tsun Athletic Association. I’d just sit and talk with my other kung fu brothers, or I would talk with Sifu Ip Ching at his desk. Many times the conversation would not be about kung fu at all. We talk as friends about life in general. Sometimes he would tell a story about Ip Man, or something from his years spent closely with him. I would ask about Simo. He would inquire about my wife and life back in the United States, how my school was going etc. he’d offer tips on teaching gleaned from his own years of experience.

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Sometimes we’d talk about kung fu. If he got up to teach or show something, I’d be close by to watch the way he’d teach. I’d Listen closely to his explanations. Every time this deepened my own understanding, or spark a question for me to ask him when we sat back down.

Times like these are invaluable. I’m always glad I went to those classes because of the things I learned.

Whenever I’m in Hong Kong I spend as much time around Sifu as possible. Sometimes going for dim sum after training in the morning. Sometimes going to his home to sit and have tea and talk. And when we traveled to Fatsan to visit the Ip Man Tong and other places, we had three meals a day together. Plus spending all the rest of the time together for two or three days. It was good times and I wouldn’t change any of it.

I know that I’m a better teacher because of the time spent closely with him.

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So to get down to the real Kung fu and Kung fu life you must learn to cultivate your relationship with your Sifu. Try to attend class at every opportunity. Try to be around your Sifu whenever you have the chance. You never know when he  or she will  come out with a bit of wisdom that changes everything for you.

This way you learn that to be good at Kung fu means the training and learning never stops. Even after you’ve learned all the forms of the system, etc. that’s just the start; you’ve just begun to walk the path. There is so much more to learn from your Sifu, not to mention all the hard work you will be doing to master what you’ve been taught. It’s a never ending journey. Your Sifu is your guide in that journey, and building a close relationship with him is very important. This is why year after year, even though I’ve learned the entire ving Tsun system, I still go back to Hong Kong to be with my Sifu.

So next time your sore or tired or not feeling like going to class, remember these words. Go spend time with your Sifu. You never know what you’ll learn.

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