Believe that You Can. Decide that You Will.

Believe that You Can. Decide that You Will

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I hear a couple of phrases from students on a regular basis:

 

I can’t.

And –

I’ll try.

 

What they don’t realize is that when the say these kinds of things they’re only defeating themselves. What we think becomes reality.

 

When we think we can’t do something, no matter what other stories we may tell ourselves, we make failure become reality. It’s a vicious spiral of frustration.

 

There are variations on this sad theme:

 

I can’t find the time to practice; I’m just too busy; I’ll try to get into class; I can’t make it in to class, etc.

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On the flip side, if we tell ourselves that  we can, and we will, that becomes our reality and we make real progress in our ving tsun.

 

It’s a fact that kung fu takes a lot of deep practice. That’s what kung fu means – hard work over  a long stretch of time, like a lifetime. It takes daily practice. In order to have good skill, a practitioner must change this mindset around their practice.

 

If you think with a negative, I can’t  mindset you’ll just keep finding things to fill your time, and you won’t practice. You can’t, “FIND” the time, you must “MAKE” the time. Change the I can’t into I can and I will.

 

I will make the time for my daily practice.

I will make it to class today.

 

If you are always waiting to find the time to practice, you never will. You have to MAKE the time to practice. Set your intention in your mind. You might ask yourself, how you’ll feel if you don’t do your practice. Because it’s all a matter of priorities. If it matters to you, you will MAKE the time to do it. All kinds of things come up that you don’t have time for, and yet you do them. Think about it. How do you want to spend your time? What kind of person do you want to be? Ving tsun has the capacity to transform every aspect of your life for the better but you have to do the work, wishing won’t make it so.

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Practice of ving tsun must be a daily thing you do, like brushing your teeth. Finding the time is self defeating. Make the time. Make that commitment to yourself.

 

I also hear phrases like this during practice:

 

I can’t do the technique.

I’ll try to do my form better.

 

Again, if you believe you can’t, you will never try harder.

 

Kung fu practice is hard. It does take a lot of time and effort. Don’t make it harder on yourself with these self defeating phrases.

 

My students hear me say this all the time:

 

“ If you want to have good ving tsun, you must take the I can’t and I’ll try out of your vocabulary.”

 

It’s true. See for yourself.

 

Remember Yoda’s famous line, “ Do or do not. There is no try.”

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THIS WEEK IN VING TSUN

Lots pf great training at the school last week. Here are a few snap shots of what folks were up to. Notice, the notebook! Taking notes is a really good idea.

 

Also note the long pole, which is very advanced practice.

 

Photos by Hillary Johnson

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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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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Kung Fu in Winter

Yes, yes, polar vortex. Whatever. We know. In Chicago, it’s wicked cold. That’s winter for you!

But here at the Ving Tsun Self Defense Academy, the training goes on, no matter what. Class is still under way right now and despite the freezing temperatures outside, the wing chun kung fu training is going on like crazy!

We thought you might like a few photos of class. We’re extra excited because we have a number of brand new people in the school today as well as many veteran students. The senior students help the new ones learn the basics which is part of how we create such a supportive, friendly, family-like atmosphere.

So, here’s the pics. Enjoy!

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Women’s Kung Fu Self Defense Classes

The Ving Tsun Self Defense Academy is excited to announce a new ving tsun (wing chun) kung fu self defense class just for women! Learning kung fu not only builds self defense skills but also develops fitness, strength, patience, determination. (It’s also a great stress reliever!)
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We know it can be intimidating to walk into a martial arts school. That’s why we’re now offering a class just for ladies. You’ll get the same excellent instruction as in our open classes but being in an all female self defense class makes getting started fun and easy.

The VSTDA is dedicated to helping anyone who wants to learn ving tsun (wing chun) kung fu self defense, to be able to  learn it. It’s important to get access to classes where you can feel comfortable and really able to learn. That’s our goal at the Ving Tsun Self Defense Academy.

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Whether you’re brand new to kung fu or have trained in a martial art before, you’re welcome here. This class will emphasize solid fundamental wing chun kung fu skills and practical self defense applications. Questions are highly encouraged. Our school atmosphere is friendly, non-competitive and familial. We want you to understand exactly what you’re learning and how to apply it. As you learn the basics in this simple, highly effective self defense system, you’ll gain confidence and skills that will prepare you to step out more safely.

Classes meet Saturdays, 11am – noon starting in December so you can get a jump start on your 2015 resolutions! Tuition is just $80/month. You can also try out a drop in class for $25.
Drop Sifu Matt an email or call the school to learn more and sign up. And bring a buddy! It’s always more fun to train with a friend.
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