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ralph haenel, hänelwingtsun, wing tsun kung fu instructor, author, publisher, self-defense expert Sifu Ralph Haenel, learning and teaching Wing Tsun Kung Fu since 1984
Changing lives, one punch at a time.
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Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver Blog
Friday, 30 March 2007
Traditional, Original, Modern, Modified? Which one is the right Wing Chun?
Part 3
In Kung Fu styles especially, you will often find the reference to the position of the instructor within the family tree as a sign of quality or authenticity. Although acknowledging traditions can be an important part of our learning process, as well as giving respect towards our elders, the family structure of Chinese Kung Fu on the other hand should not be used like an indication of superiority.

The issues, as quickly touched upon in the first two parts earlier in the blog, particularly the clash of “traditional” versus “modern” have been argued to death in many Internet forums. Many discussions are worse than extremist religious disagreements.

Not just in Wing Chun, in martial arts in general, it appears that there are more politics than in politics. The questioning of authenticity, the probing in traditions is frowned upon. It is difficult for many to accept that different opinions can coexist, even more so due to the involvement of large egos plus a supersized portion of testosterone.

The (martial) art in itself requests interpretation. Why? To begin with, the students, the future instructors, differ in size, height, strength, speed, weight, even life experience, just to mention a few factors. Think about the diversities regarding the educational background, even ethnicity, the personality, one’s creativity and even ability to express creativity.

A true master should leave his personal imprint in his martial art, as it is his obligation to hand down the basic framework of a martial art, to allow the next generation to similarly express themselves, to bring a martial art to life. Look in your prospective instructor for an honest willingness to teach openly, instead of old often misunderstand secretive teaching structures.

In the end martial artists, sifu’s are people like anybody else, even though some enjoy a glorification of their positions, even mystification. Quick example … Sifu: “I cannot spar with you my son, my techniques are too deadly.” And don’t think this is Hollywood fiction.

Think about it for a moment how scenarios, situations in which fights are born have changed. Not always for the better, now always for the worse, but morality, laws, society have changed. You cannot seamless transport the culture in which a particular martial art was born to a different time, a different place.

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), a famous composer and conductor once said: “Tradition is the keeper of the fire, not the admiration of the ashes.” Keep it in mind and you have found the right Wing Tsun, Wing Chun or Ving Tsun.

 We have added 16 more photos to our online photo album. Now 52 photos on 4 pages.

Posted by ralph haenel at 8:16 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007 2:51 PM PDT

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