I often hear remarks or read introductions on the Internet to the extend: "We teach traditional Wing Chun, not a modified version." or "Our school features original Ving Tsun, not a modern abridged copy." Besides the pure buzz words 'traditional' and 'original', their placement is usually intended to exclaim some form of animosity against certain competitors on the market.
On one side wing chun is always portrayed as extremely adaptive Kung Fu system, yet nothing should be changed? Look at how boxing, wrestling, judo, karate and many other martial arts have changed over the decades. You could turn it around now and say only ‘modified’ wing chun has gone with the times. Meaning a school, which is still ‘traditional’ or ‘original’ uses outdated tools. Too rebellious?
The late Grandmaster Yip Man for example has been known to change his teachings quite a bit throughout his different periods. Check out the available footage of the known senior students of Yip Man. Why do they all perform very different?
The truth is as always somewhere in between. What most people forget, martial arts are man-made. Nothing is cast in stone. ARTS have to, must change, adapt, and evolve. Otherwise a martial ART would be a dead re-production, a mere copy.
Wing Tsun is function par excellence. And yes, the basic principles, the concepts must be maintained. Well, some issues can only be barely touched in this brief form of a blog.
I had the luck to learn from several teachers, some are better fighters; some are better teachers, who also taught me how to teach. Shouldn’t this be one of the most important characteristics? What good is a great fighter, a traditional Sifu, a original student of Yip Man, what good would they be, if they cannot TEACH you, if they cannot bring out the best in YOU.
With all due respect, just because somebody learned from a martial arts legend, in whatever line of the family tree, it doesn’t mean a single thing, because it doesn’t make them a qualified teacher, who is educated in different learning and teaching methods.
More on Friday, March 30th in the final third part.