My Wing Chun Journey, by Isaac SG12
Isaac recently completed the Student Grades of our Wing Chun syllabus so we asked him to write a few words about his journey to give other people an insight about what it’s like.
"I started with CKF when I was probably about 4 - in the youngest class they had at the time, I wasn't really sure what to expect, I just remember my brother talking about joining and thinking it sounded cool. Over the next 15 years of training with CKF, I met some incredible people I hope to stay connected with for life, was inspired to take on more challenges outside of class and learned a lot about myself in the process. Having to leave regular classes to go to uni was sad, but it also felt fitting that part of what pushed me towards uni were some of the things I had learnt in Wing Chun. Kung fu did genuinely help to both physically and emotionally strengthen me - applying some of the lessons learned in my time at CKF still help push me towards doing more challenging things, helping me focus on the right things rather than those that might drag me down. It's difficult to summarise 15 years into a few paragraphs, but I'd like to try.
The kids classes were always good fun; there was never a class where we didn't play a good game or learn something cool and new. Ending the class with a game of silent masters was a smart way of getting us to calm down and meditate a bit before leaving class, and starting practicing mindfulness. Even being very young, I remember class leaders getting us to lie down, shut our eyes and visualise things like doing the forms up on stage in front of hundreds of people, performing at your absolute best in front of the crowd, then trying to bring that back into the training. Being kids, everyone would laugh at the wrong times when someone broke the silence to make a dumb joke or when someone thought of something else funny and set the rest of the class off without having to say anything. But that was part of what made the kids classes great - nothing was too formal, but just focused enough to be able to learn something interesting and have a good time while doing it. Going from that to Youth Kung Fu was a quite natural progression as well - the more work focused classes mixed in with games was a good combination. Dodge ball was always my personal favourite, and the younger people in the class always looked up to and tried to copy how hard the older kids threw, and it was probably the best moment in class whenever someone caught a ball thrown from Liam or Ben, the best dodgeball players in the class at the time.
Towards the end of Youth Kung Fu and moving into the adults class, we all started taking things a bit more seriously, getting much more motivated by the Kung Fu and the ideas behind it. Especially moving into the adult's class, we started thinking about and discussing how some of the things we focus on in kung fu are actually quite easy to see reflected in more general life. Staying focused on what you've got and not what you haven't might sound like a cheesy motivational post you find on Facebook, but it's such an important lesson in self-defence, and life in general as well. In a self-defence situation if your attacker grabs your neck and holds it so you can't breathe as well or even at all, it's easy to get stuck in the mentality of panicking about your breathing or about what this person might do to you etc. In doing this, it's easy to forget that they now can't use either of their arms to hit you or do anything other than hold you, and you still have both arms to hit them, break their grip, disrupt their structure or anything else. The same kinds of ideas have helped coach me through some of the darkest times in my life in general. Focusing on what you have rather than what you don’t in a self-defence situation translates quite easily into gratitude, and the determination to get a move right cultivates the determination to take on the challenges you face outside of class as well.
After passing grade 12, this motivation particularly in kung fu continued in a slightly different way - before passing I was very motivated to train, improve and really do well in the grading, whereas afterwards that motivation continued with the knowledge that I didn't really have enough time left to work towards anything specific, but for the sake of self-improvement and satisfaction. The years that had built up towards that moment of passing the final pressure test made passing all the more satisfying. The feeling of safety that this came with was also more striking than I thought it would be; improving in the skills we were being taught always made me feel increasingly safe, but the pressure tests were the times where this was tested in a controlled way, but still very much tested. Despite being a fairly small person, I definitely feel safer and more confident walking at night or in confrontational situations, particularly with bringing a conflict to an end without any real physicality, which was another more unexpected result of the training we did.
Kung fu has also always been a place where I can leave the stresses of everyday things outside the door and just focus on training. The people in the class have always been incredibly kind, as well as focused and motivated to improve, especially in the adults class. I won't name all the instructors I've had the opportunity to train with over the years, but I want to thank all of them for being great teachers, mentors, and role models while I've trained with them. I wasn't with all of them for a long time, but I remember having a great time training with them and they've left lasting impressions. Of course, the person I had the pleasure of training with for the longest was Ross. From the very beginning of me joining CKF, he and all the other instructors were amazing role models and great friends, and continue to be so. I want to thank all of CKF for being great training partners, teachers, friends and more - I look back on my time with CKF filled with happiness and pride, and would definitely recommend at least trying lessons to anyone considering it. I hope to see everyone again soon!”