SD: Do you still talk to Grandmaster Swift and Master Roberts?
JY: I’ve not spoken to Master Roberts in a couple of years, but I still speak, off and on, with Grandmaster Swift.
SD: What do you talk about?
JY: All kinds of stuff. Mostly self-defense things, differences in styles of Wing Chun, but life too. Usual stuff, family, things like that. Did you know Grandmaster Swift has started a second school? He has his southern school in Florida, and he’s started a northern school in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Close enough for me and some students to take a field trip, maybe. And, his son plays hockey. He tells me Wing Chun is great for hockey. (Jason laughs.)
SD: You mentioned, earlier, that Wing Chun is misunderstood a lot. Is Kung Fu also misunderstood?
JY: Yes. Really the two aren’t different things. The words mean something different, but real Wing Chun, pure Wing Chun as Grandmaster Moy Yat puts it, is Kung Fu. You see, Kung Fu basically means a way of life. Some people ask, “Why should I learn that? I just want to fight, or defend myself.” A real fight starts before a single punch is thrown. This is hard for beginners or those without fighting experience to appreciate.
Why practice a technique in class, a use of mind and body, just to live your life, use your mind and body, differently the majority of time you’re not in a confrontation with someone else? You know what happens to people like that? They can’t use what they learned in class – they cannot maximize themselves in those situations – limiting their ability to survive.
By the way, do you know what ability is? It is being able to do what you intend to do the very moment you intend to do it. That’s hard enough when we’re by ourselves and working on learning a skill, but to do that while in relationship with someone else in a changing environment – well, that’s altogether something different. If one isn’t honest and dedicated to their own self-development, their way of life, they will find that no matter how may drills or exercises or belts they get that they cannot maximize their skills in response to a threat.
SD: So, you’re saying Wing Chun helps in more ways that just fighting?
JY: Yes. If you use the principles of Wing Chun in your life you can engineer out the stress of work and other activities. This provides you more mind and body – wholeness – and more energy and strength away from those activities. Consider this: You get off work, and you’re sore and tired. While on your way to your car, someone jumps you. Your tension and fatigue will limit your abilities. Now, what if you performed your work differently, so you can have more of yourself in that situation to defend yourself? So, why not learn to use Wing Chun in your life? What do you have to lose?
You see, your questions illustrate, perfectly, the kinds of misunderstandings that exist by those who don’t learn “pure” Wing Chun.
SD: (laughing) Yes. I can see that. So, if I understand everything you’ve said correctly, one can’t learn Wing Chun from a book or a program. Is that right?
JY: No. They can get introduced to an idea of what Wing Chun is, but they cannot learn it, much less master it for their own expression – their own life. This is why schools that teach from a book – a program – fail to capture and communicate the essence of Wing Chun (or any other martial art for that matter). And, why so many martial artists cannot fight, despite years of program-training.
SD: Well, that’s all the time I have for now. Thanks for sitting down with me, and answering my questions today. Before we go, how can people find you and your school, the Yost Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy?
JY: We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (812) 229-4097.
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