Fascination of WingTsun
You are in the cinema watching a martial arts film, and are amazed at the ease with which the star makes his moves. At his elegance and speed when executing his defensive moves, high kicks and hand techniques, all of them smooth and precise. It all looks so easy, and every blow finds its target.
Of course you know it is only a film, but you are still fascinated. You want to emulate this on-screen hero, you identify with him. In my case – and I suspect for many others too – it was the legendary Bruce Lee.
He certainly had a hold over me. As a 12 year-old you are not that critical, and are open to new things, new dreams. My fascination with Bruce Lee gave me no rest. I collected all the information I could about him, and owned practically everything that was available at that time. I devoted myself completely in my enthusiasm, watched his films countless times and hung posters on my walls. I wanted to become as good as Bruce Lee. I wanted to move and fight as effortlessly as my idol.
I soon found out that Bruce Lee had learned WingTsun. At the time there were no WingTsun schools far or near, so I rented a small training room and practiced alone for myself. What motivated me was my enthusiasm.
Finally I found a place that taught WingTsun – a school far away in Kiel, northern Germany. For me as a 16 year-old living in Switzerland, that was quite a distance to travel. Accordingly I was very proud when I undertook the long journey in January 1979, and was able to practice WingTsun under the instruction of a Sifu for the first time. For me this was an absolute stroke of luck: it was my SiFu Keith R. Kernspecht. At that time he was the only person teaching WingTsun/Wing Chun in the German-speaking countries.
WingTsun fascinated me from the very start – of course because it was the martial art of Bruce Lee. At that time WingTsun was taught very differently from today. We has to perform the same exercise for hours on end, which was very tiring. That did not bother me at all, I was glad to have a SiFu to teach me and become a living example to me. I was no longer alone. I was able to fulfil my dream!
As I was hardly able to travel to Kiel more than once a year, I continued to practice for myself. I wanted to understand more and more about what I learned from my SiFu's classes, so that I could adapt it to my own body and do it efficiently. At first these were the forms, basic footwork and chain-punches. I practiced everything hundreds, no thousands of times without ever getting bored.
Today, many years and thousands of training hours later, my initial inspiration – Bruce Lee – has somewhat faded into the background. However, my enthusiasm and fascination with this martial art remain unbroken. I continue to practice regularly for myself – for the joy of performing the movements, and constantly trying to improve them further.
I am fascinated by this way of moving, of being able to activate and use my body increasingly precisely, and feel my body even better. It quite simply makes me happy, happy to practice, intensify and develop what I have learned.
I am sure that many other people start WingTsun because of a similar outside impulse, e.g. through the Yip Man films or others who practice WingTsun. Some become real WingTsun fans, but it is not the same for everyone. Everybody has to find his own thing, what makes him or her feel good and captivates them. Nothing is absolutely right for everyone.
But the fans love it, want to learn this art in detail and master it. They want to find all the nuances. When teaching, I see it in their bright eyes when they have understood something and are able to use it.
I love developing exercises to improve single details. So that I can show students how to optimise their movements and become more effortless and efficient. It motivates me when I receive feedback from students that they now understand something better, and are even more enthusiastic in working on it.
I also love to see that the same enthusiasm can be found everywhere, whatever the age, physical fitness, nationality or religion.
That is why it is important for me to give the student what he/she wants to learn, just as I have received what I was looking for. I personally still feel that I have only scratched the surface. There is still a great deal to discover. That is what makes it so exciting, and drives me to continue researching and seeing where it might lead, what new findings are still out there.
After all, it is curiosity and joy that really bring us progress in what we do. They are like the wind blowing into our sails, so that we do not need to row.
I am looking forward to seeing many of you in Hockenheim, to carry on the flame of our enthusiasm.
Above all, I wish you joy in your WingTsun!
Your Giuseppe Schembri