The subject of what makes a Wing Chun master can be confusing. People ask “what is Wing Chun master?” But before we even go into who is the best, what really is a Wing Chun master? Is it someone who is a Wing Chun expert? Is it someone claiming to do something that sounds outrageous and full of nothing but hyperbole? Or are they more apt to back up their words with action? In this article, we will go over these questions and more!
What is a Wing Chun Master?
A Wing Chun master is an expert at Wing Chun Kung Fu. This means someone very experienced and skilled at Wing Chun. However, there are more points to consider than the general meaning of a Wing Chun master. With so many self-proclaimed masters in Wing Chun, both skillful Wing Chun experts and beginners alike should hold this term in careful consideration.
Can you Master Wing Chun?
One of the most outspoken Wing Chun sifus who opposes the term “Wing Chun master”, is my Sifu Adam Williss. He says, “you can’t master Wing Chun, let alone grandmaster it!”
As a Wing Chun student, this idea resonates most with me. Although “sifu” is often incorrectly translated as “master”, the term in Wing Chun context actually refers to a combination of “teacher and father”. The two characters in Chinese are 師父.
But why does it matter?
The reason for this is simple: being a master of Wing Chun implies that you have nothing left to learn. And that’s just plain nonsense! There is always room to learn and grow. In fact, any true Wing Chun master will never consider themselves a Wing Chun master. Because that’s not at all what Wing Chun is about. Wing Chun’s entire idea is continued growth and development. Only when continued learning and growth happen will anyone continue to reap Wing Chun’s benefits.
Another important factor to spot, is whether or not a Wing Chun Sifu will answer any questions a student throws at them. A true Wing Chun master should have no issues answering any question, and should, in fact, encourage asking questions. It is the right of the student to ask questions. And as long as your intentions are pure, there is no such thing as a stupid question.
Just as important as the above is whether or not the Sifu in question bad mouths other martial arts. Now granted, any person will have opinions—even Wing Chun masters are only human after all—but bad mouthing another martial art is just bad form, and not only does it reflect badly on the Sifu, it reflects badly on the school. A humble Sifu accepts other martial arts for what they are, and sometimes, they may even go the extra mile and mention various aspects of another martial art that they like. They want harmony within the sphere of martial arts as a whole, not conflict.
Qualities of a Wing Chun Master
What makes a Wing Chun master? First and foremost, the biggest part of being a Wing Chun master is character and integrity. On top of that, these qualities are good points to consider…
- Solid experience. A good Wing Chun sifu needs experience both as a practitioner and as a teacher. They need to have spent years under their sifu. And have years sparring experience. See How long does it take to be a Wing Chun Master?
- The ability to develop relationships with students. Wing Chun sifus need to be able to trust their students and their students need to be able to trust them. This kind of relationship is required in order to bring out the best in a student.
- Patience, caring and a kind personality. The best Wing Chun teachers have lots of patience with their students. They show them that they care about them and their progress. And they are always kind in their dealings with their students. Never making them feel bad for mistakes.
- Knowledge of how different people learn. Wing Chun masters understand that different people learn in different ways. They are sensitive of this and go about bringing the best out in each student in the most effective ways.
- A true dedication to teaching. The very best Wing Chun teachers are committed to teaching in some of the most uncommon ways and will go out of their way to help their students.
- Engaging students in learning. Wing Chun teachers who bring out the best in their students find ways to engage them which resonate and motivate them on mental, physical and emotional ways.
Who is the Best Wing Chun Master?
Often, a Wing Chun master doesn’t consider themselves a master at all. They think of themselves as a Wing Chun student who is further along the path. Given this humble approach, clarifying “who is the best Wing Chun master” is not easy.
Who is the Best Wing Chun Grandmaster?
Ok, then what about the question of “who is the best Wing Chun grandmaster?” Let’s be clear, the only Wing Chun grandmaster in the Yip Man lineage is Yip Man himself.
Closing Points on Wing Chun Masters
Wing Chun is a martial art with a big presence on the internet. With that presence comes misinformation, and with that misinformation, comes people who wind up injured, hospitalized, perhaps even worse. Always remember that the internet is a place where misinformation on Wing Chun can fester and spread, and remember that a fake Wing Chun master is not going to care about the growth of their students as much as the money they make. Any martial arts master will want their students to grow first, and foremost.
Any true Wing Chun master will not seek out a fight. A fake Wing Chun master will probably be insecure about what they teach, if they are questioned on things they do not have an answer to. A big part of Wing Chun is learning to adapt—both in a fight, and in everyday life. Wing Chun is for all aspects of life, not just fighting. You are learning how to navigate the craziness of life, which can be just as chaotic, if not more so, as a fight can be. If you look back at all the kung fu masters is the movies, they try to teach life lessons along with fighting lessons. Stealing the pebble from the master’s hand may seem silly and possibly downright weird in how hard it is for the student to do so, but believe it or not, that stereotypical scenario is a very good idea of what being a kung fu student entails—perseverance, integrity, education. The master wants that student to take the pebble, but the master also will not make it easy. If it was easy, everyone could do it.