Preserving the Media of the World's Most Advanced Martial Art.


Looking in the Rear View Mirror
by Michel Boulet

When we look back at the classical way of teaching Wing Chun, we can see some big differences if we compare with today’s general practices.

The dedication and patience seems to be gone and have been replaced by promises of quick results and chi sau tricks. Wing Chun seems to have become a commercial activity that has no choice but to entertain its practitioners instead of properly teaching them the basics of the system.

In the old days, the art was taught in a very systematic way. Siu Lim Tao was practiced for a long time before anything else was showed. Then Dan Chi Sau was experimented until some real results in sticking skill were produced. Only then the study of double hands Chi Sau could be initiated. This way, there was at least some rooting in the stance and some valuable body unity to show during Chi Sau and these things take time to develop They take patience and confidence in the system too. Things that are very rare nowadays. It is evident that a school providing such a teaching is bound to have a very modest commercial success A place like this has no choice but to be very modest itself in order to simply exist and the Sifu couldn’t be possibly making a living out of it. This is the price for teaching Wing Chun seriously today. The ones who want to make it and have some commercial success often have no choice but to adapt. They can choose to diversify by proposing Tai- Chi or even cardio workout to attract new or keep old students. This is often done at the expense of quality. Teaching Wing Chun only is also tricky for many and often calls for forced adaptations in the curriculum. The big problem is that nobody wants to lose students and to find himself short of money to pay the rent and all the expenses so, drills are created and moves from other arts are imported to fulfill the needs of the impatient and the insecure. The Sifu often find himself playing the role of the kindergarten educator, keeping little children out of boredom. Before every class, he faces the pressure of finding something new and interesting to keep his students motivated. SLT practice and Dan Chi Sau are often ignored or quickly disposed of at the beginning of the class. Students often engage in some free for all kind of Chi Sau or sparring without any signs of cultivated body unity or even relaxed technique. The Sifu has to beware of frustrating a student ego if he tries to correct a move or an attitude. Some students seems to know exactly what they need to do in order to get better and don’t care at all about what their instructor can say to them. Some Internet forums may have more influence on them than their Sifu anyway.

Considering all of this, it is interesting to see the immense popularity of Wing Chun and sad to witness how often it has become something else in order to please a certain demand. It is sad because Wing Chun is a lot more than a few techniques known as tan/bong/fook and chain punches. The soft aspect of Wing Chun, the engine of the system, is almost completely forgotten or even ridiculed in favor of hard style training. Wing Chun seems to be condemned to a young men’s art status in the short term. Who really knows if it will be able to survive as a young men‘s sport? Could it also survive in its classical form in small clubs devoted to the few who enjoy it this way? Who will preserve it for the future?

Michel Boulet 

Yip Man -> Ho Kam Ming -> Augustine Fong -> Patrick Gordon -> Michael Boulet
About the Author:   Michel Boulet believes that the real mastery of Wing Chun is a life long endeavor, he maintains a humble and open attitude toward his art and does his best in giving his students as much personal attentions as possible, keeping nothing for himself.

Copyright (c) 2006 the Wing Chun Archive and Michel Boulet 5/17/06 

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