22
Jan
09

A Week of a Lifetime- IKF March 2008

ikf-march-2008Inside Kung-Fu

“Week of a Lifetime Part 1”

By Joseph Simonet

March 2008

Pg. 24

In the spring of 1986, I saw an ad in Inside Kung-Fu magazine offering a weeklong workshop/seminar on wooden dummy training. The location of the seminar was at a lodge on Whistler Mountain, British Columbia, Canada. The seminar was to be taught by master Wang Kiu, an original core student from grandmaster Yip Man himself. Finally, I thought, a unique opportunity to train hands-on with a real kung-fu master from China. I jumped at the chance.

By 1986, I had been dabbling in non-classical wing chun for about three-to-four years. I built my first wooden dummy (crude as it was) in 1982. At the time, Seattle, Wash., was a melting pot of martial arts practitioners, especially wing chun-based arts.

James DeMile was teaching his Wing Chun Do, as were some of his students. There were several derivations of Bruce Lee’s methods being taught by local legends such as Jesse Glover, Ed Hart and Taky Kimura. I never had the opportunity to train with any of these teachers. However, I trained with some of their students.

The non-classical wing chun being taught in those days was heavy-loaded chi sau, thousands of straight punches and a general attitude of aggression. Some of the classes were taught in closed-door, underground perversity. The word was that these men were tough with a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners kind of approach. This, of course, fell right into my perspective of training at that time.

Nevertheless, I was limited (if not blackballed) in my ability to train with the top guns. In some cases, I was flat-out denied even an opportunity to meet these men. So, I decided to go around them. Whenever people, situations or any particular obstacle confronts me, I become more resolved in my pursuit of my ultimate goal to evolve and succeed. After all, success is the best revenge, and it’s the only one that pays.

So , when the wooden dummy training seminar became available, I was elated to say the least. The weeklong training camp was hosted by Dr. Khoe and his staff from the University of British Columbia. Dr. Khoe was a professor of engineering at U.B.C. The training with master Wang Kiu and Dr. Khoe was a stark contrast in comparison to Seattle’s non-classical approach. These men were highly educated, esteemed professionals in their own right, exemplifying competence and humility.

For five days, Dr. Khoe and his staff patiently assisted us beginners every step of the way. Master Wang Kiu was as highly evolved a teacher as he was a practitioner of wing chun. On one occasion, I was getting upset and impatient with myself, letting my ego get in the way. Wang Kiu came up and assisted me with great agility. He calmed me down and corrected my movement, I thanked him for his help and he said, “Just relax, don’t worry, there are 1,000 doors to the same room.”

The original form taught was the 108 classical mook jong. There are 10 sections, with each of the first nine sections having 10 movements and with section 10 having 18. We were taught two sections per day. Learning this form was a huge challenge for me; most of the movements were quite different from anything I had done before.

Thankfully, the sequences were taught in a linear and logical order. I as able to mimic the entire form by the time I left Friday night. To ensure that I wouldn’t forget it, I stopped along the way home to seattle (a four-hour drive) and practiced the 10 sections in the air. One of the places I stopped to work the form was atop a waterfall in the mountains of British Columbia. I hiked along a river and found this incredible waterfall. Being energized by the week’s rich experience, I hiked up to the top of this waterfall and did the 108 Mook Jong 10 times in the air (without a dummy). In between sets, I did 100 straight punches. I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time I was done. After that workout, I made a promise to myself: I would never forget this treasured form and I would always practice it.

So, for an entire year I performed the 108 classical set at lease once for 365 days straight. Without a doubt, the event of that week’s training and the ensuing 365 continuous days of training had an indelible impact on my training and my entire year.

Note: In part II, which will appear in the May issue, I will examine the physical differences between wing chun and non-classical wing chun. I will also share some of my training experiences and commitment perspectives.

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