Three Reasons Why Traditional Kung Fu Training is Important Today

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Is this you?

  • Sometimes the fast pace of life feels like too much?
  • Stress at work can really get to you?
  • You’ve thought about learning a martial art but are put off by “gladiator academies” and competition?

Here’s a short video of Sifu Matt Johnson talking about why he practices and teaches ving tsun kung fu just as it was taught to him by Sifu Ip Ching.

If you were nodding yes to any of the above, perhaps our school might be right for you.

Give us a call or email to arrange a visit where you can ask Sifu Matt questions, observe classes and even try a few for free.

773-301-6257 Please leave a message with your name and number so we can call you back.

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Sunday Siu Nim Tau: Keep Your Eye on the Ball

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Sunday Siu Nim Tau

In Ving Tsun we have Siu Nim Tau, the first form, which can be translated to Little Idea or Little Beginning. It’s from this first form, this little idea, that everything else in the system comes.

Every week Sifu Matt offers these blogs, these little ideas, as reflections from his practice to help support yours.

Thanks for reading

February 3, 2019

_DSF4129photo by Hillary Johnson

Recently my wife got the job of taking photos of a remarkable man named Jack. He’s 91 years old and still plays tennis nearly every day. My wife needed an assistant but nobody was available so I went along.

This guy really impressed me. First of all, he didn’t look anything like 91. More like 61. Watching him play tennis was like watching any master. He made it all look easy. He moved across the court with the grace of a man who’s taken most of his life to master this game. I was blown right out of my shoes watching him.

We had lunch after the photo shoot, so I was able to sit and talk with him a bit. During our conversation he said something that’s stayed with me ever since. We were talking about the game of tennis and he said, “In tennis it’s all about keeping your eye on the ball You take your eye of the ball and the game’s over.”

Wow, I thought. Isn’t that true.

Later when I was sitting at the cafe having my usual cup of coffee before teaching my evening class, those words came back to me with such force I had to write them down in my journal to reflect on.

“Keep your eye on the ball.”

My dad used to say the exact same thing to me when he was trying to teach me how to hit a baseball. I was very young, maybe seven or eight years old. We stood together in the front yard, in the pools of shade of the giant red maple my dad had planted years before. I clutched a yellow plastic bat in my hands. He stood about six feet away and would toss the white wiffle ball to me underhanded. “Don’t take your eye off the ball,” he’d say as he tossed it. When I would miss it, I’d get frustrated. He’d say, “ Don’t get frustrated, that won’t help. You just have to keep your eye on the ball.”

So, it’s not like I hadn’t heard it before.

But this time, when Jack said it, it was different. It resonated deep within me. It occurred to me that this is something that applies not only to sports like tennis and baseball but to everything, to life itself.

Setting goals and having the discipline to go after them is one way of keeping your eye on the ball. Staying focused and not letting anything pull you off the path you’ve set for yourself is keeping your eye on the ball.

In kung fu practice, keeping your eye on the ball means making sure you make the time to practice most, if not all days of the week. It must be something you do every single day. Skill in kung fu is cumulative. It builds slowly over time with consistent practice. To have good skill, one must make it a daily routine. You must keep your eye on the ball. This is how you progress in Ving Tsun. And this is how you progress in all aspects of your life as well. 

Because the way we do one thing, is the way we do all the things.

DSCF5691photo by Hillary Johnson

 

 

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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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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Stuff Sifu Says

“You must practice more!”

(Truth be told, Sifu Matt first heard this in Hong Kong from his good friend and older Ving Tsun brother, his “Sihing,” Sifu Albert Chan.)

And it’s true. The solution to nearly any problem in kung fu is more practice. When you come visit the school, you’re sure to hear that a lot!

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