Wing Chun comes from China and is therefore labeled as a Chinese martial art. The word “Wing Chun” is a Cantonese term which translates as “song of springtime”. It means “to hear the song of springtime and to appreciate its beauty.” The art started in China. It was developed in China. Grandmaster Ip Man (Yip Man) was Chinese.
But should it still be labeled a Chinese martial art?
Well, I can tell you that many of my Chinese friends and Chinese Wing Chun family may not like this question. After all, it is considered by many to be one of the best things to come out of China.
However, is it still best to label Wing Chun by where it came from? Or should we consider it based upon where the art is now?
Over the years people have thanked me for continuing the Chinese traditions of Gung Fu (Wing Chun) and keeping its cultural traditions alive.
But that’s not why I teach Wing Chun.
Granted, there ARE a lot of people in Wing Chun & Kung Fu in general who seem to practice Kung Fu in order to “preserve the art”. But to me, perservation of tradition alone isn’t a very good reason to practice.
Preserving Chinese Culture
There are others who practice Kung Fu in order to learn Chinese cultural traditions. I can understand this, band although I respect all cultures, that’s not why I practice and teach Wing Chun.
Kung Fu Historians
Many even take it upon themselves to become Wing Chun historians looking to uncover material from hundreds of years ago in order to dig up some Wing Chun gems. These “Wing Chun treasure hunters” really believe that what someone did in the 1700s is the secret to how they practice today.
And although its cool to know what Kung Fu styles Wing Chun came from, I don’t REALLY care that much what animal style Wing Chun came from.
And again its cool that Wing Chun was promoted within Chinese underground rebel societies, but… that doesn’t have any bearing over my abilities or my students abilities.
What I care about is bigger than Wing Chun’s past.
That’s why, I say…
“In order for Wing Chun to go beyond labels and limitations, it must no longer be labeled a Chinese martial art. It must be a universal martial art”.
Sure, Wing Chun originated in China, and its history should be known.
However, Wing Chun today is much bigger than that. Its much bigger than one culture or one country.
We should know and respect those that have come before us such as Grandmaster Yip Man. If it weren’t for him most of us would never know of this great art. A Kung Fu saying is “know the source of the water you drink”.
However, to know means “to be aware of”. We must be WAY more aware of the present than we are of the past.
But here’s the truth…
We must, first and foremost, appreciate the present more than the past. And refuse to let the past stand in the way of our present.
Because that’s what it does for so many “preservationists” who seem to worship ancestry like it holds the secret answers for their experience today.
Wing Chun is a living art… so live! Live for TODAY, not for yesterday.
Wing Chun’s past is meant to guide you, not define you.
Knowledge should be sought. But experience is king. That’s why also, for me, Wing Chun is not a “traditional martial art”. It is a living, breathing, alive, evolving vehicle for transformation.
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought. -Matsuo Basho
Wing Chun is meant to transform the way you look a things. To learn how to let go of the need to control. To let go of fear. To get out of your ego. To learn how to flow. To be in the moment… and to focus. Just focus.
Wing Chun is designed to help you focus all of your attention in the present. Because it is focusing your attention which changes you and the outcome of things, including fighting situations. When you learn to focus all of your energy without distractions, you make your energy very concentrated. The impact a fully concentrated energy upon other people is nothing short of amazing.
This is the power of Wing Chun. And its power is universal. They don’t belong to any country.