Of any martial art or sport Wing Chun is the most obsessed about lineage; who was your sifu, who was his teacher etc. If I am honest I think that this has a lot to do with marketing. There are many people in the UK who will tell you that they teach pure traditional wing chun as taught to them by their sifu, in many instances saying their own sifu is a son of Ip Man. But if they were acting within the rules of traditional Chinese culture they cannot make such claims. Your sifu is the person who first taught you the art, your martial father. Even if you go to Hong Kong to train you cannot at some point skip a family generation and pay your grandfather to become your father. You can learn from anyone, but it is disingenuous to claim that particular connection to an individual by bowing a few times and handing over a packet of money.
I like to think about lineage as being part of your DNA, it shows where you come from and points to where you might go. What is at least important as that is where you are now and your direction of travel. There is no point trying to recreate some long gone ideal (which may never existed), but an understanding of the past is vital to help us know where we are going. We can therefore think of those who come before us as people who trained and made mistakes on our behalf. They have shaped an art and refined it, but it is our job to continue that. Ip Man was not fixated with the past, he changed and refined the art continuously whilst in Hong Kong, yet others want to recreate what he taught in 1950 or even what he learned in 1920. At Sung we have many students who have previously trained in other lineages but decided that the direction of travel they have set on is not right for them. For me this is a good sign of self awareness. I am happy to be their teacher/coach, but I will not claim a title to sound superior.
Mindfulness is a very popular phrase at the moment; to live life in the moment. This for me is the key in progressing in wing chun. Chi sau is not a set of mindless drills, it teaches how to remain alert and responsive at all times; no set patterns. Most people struggle with the idea of mindfulness as they are constantly obsessing about the past, or planning for the future; the present is lost to them because of continual mental chatter. Chi sau is a microcosm of the mental battle. What we need is an awareness of the past, an idea of where we want to go and then just let it be and allow our minds sort it out for us.
We are very proud of our lineage at Sung, that should be evident from our website. Having connection to a wing chun genius like Chu Shong Tin cannot helps but shape our perspective on the art and what it should be. But our true obsession is not about history, it is the NOW, working on developing what we have at the moment and where we want it to take us. That should be evident to all of our students.
Before I start, this is is not me trying to say we are better than other clubs, because different does not mean better. The truth is that the majority of students who start a first lesson never return, and for those that do only one in five will still be coming a month later. I have given up trying to work out what people want, I explain it to them straight and let them decide.
Over the last two weeks we have had over 20 different students come to class, each with widely different backgrounds. I know at least 5 with over a decade of wing chun experience each, others are brand new and the rest have backgrounds in all manner of martial arts. What is amazing is that over the months they have been introduced into an art where they are not being asked to mindlessly follow drills, they are learning how wing chun actually works, how their body works and crucially how the mind has to be involved at all times. Previous experience and lineage is put to one side at the door, all are welcome to share and experience. There is no criticism of techniques learned previously, only guidance on how they can be developed to be done with less effort and more efficiently. This is a revelation for most, instead of mindlessly competing with each other, virtual strangers are now discussing and actually marvelling at how counterintuitive wing chun can be; being truly relaxed can match the results of muscular contraction and speed. It is great to see female students starting as well, a good sign that macho posturing is at a minimum. For us to be part of this is amazing, to create a group and work together without ego.
I always say that this type of wing chun attracts good people, others struggle to let go of their ego and competition long enough to understand the difference. My hope is we become a home for all those interested in the essence of wing chun, regardless of previous lineage, to come and share with an open mind.
Keeping you up to date with what is happening in class