Q: Where did Wing Chun come from?
A: Wing Chun became a recognizable school of self-defense in the town of Foshan, Guangdong Province of Southern China in the mid-nineteenth century. It was heavily influenced by the theories and skills developed by martial artists in the middle Qing dynasty as well as by the military requirements of the era. However, it is clear that in Foshan, the focus was on personal defense.
Q: What is Wing Chun?
A: Wing Chun is a complete and comprehensive approach to learning self-defense. With the exception of ballistic weapons, Wing Chun covers the full range of defensive and offensive fighting skills for entering, kicking, boxing, grappling, throwing, blunt weapons and edged weapons.
Q: How does Wing Chun differ from other Martial Arts?
A: First, traditional Wing Chun is a complete art, whereas many other martial arts tend to focus on just one aspect of fighting or self-defense. Second, many of the arts that mix elements of fighting tend to do so by taking aspects from different arts to cover all areas, whereas Wing Chun has a central, unified theory which allows you to flow seamlessly from one skill to another without having to change styles and mindsets. Third, Wing Chun uses relaxed, soft power, which allows smaller, weaker people to overcome larger and stronger attackers. Fourth, Wing Chun instruction is principle-based, rather than technique-based. The principle-based approach allows students to generate their own techniques. Finally, though it probably takes as long to Master Wing Chun as it does any other legitimate fighting method, the principled approach, along with the sticking hands training allows students to achieve a level of competent self-defense more quickly than is possible from most other methods.
Q: Why doesn’t Wing Chun compete?
A: Most martial arts started out as non-sport approaches to self-defense, but the early twentieth century brought powerful pressures to convert these arts into competitive sports. Scoring points became a problem when so many different skills were involved, so the leaders of these movements began to split the skills into different arts and styles. This tendency, along with that of conforming to rules of safety, transformed the arts so that today they would be almost unrecognizable to those who conceived them. Thus far, the majority of Wing Chun practitioners worldwide have resisted these pressures to transform the art that it may remain an effective method of self-defense. On the other hand, Wing Chun training consists of several games in which a spirit of cooperative competition is encouraged.
Q: Who am I? A: My name is Benjamin Judkins. I am a native of Western NY who attended the University of Rochester and later earned a doctorate in Political Economy from Columbia University. My background is in education. While teaching in Salt Lake City I became interested in the Chinese martial arts and began to study Wing Chun with Sifu Jon Nielson, a direct student of Ip Ching (Ip Man’s second second son). Under the supervision of Sifu Nielson I both completed the entire entire system and worked as an assistant instructor.
I was fascinated with what Wing Chun had to offer and its approach to fighting. It differed in so many ways from the Korean and Japanese arts that I had previously practiced while in college. Six years later I returned to Western NY, and decided to open my own branch of the Wing Chun Hall hoping to share some of these same concepts and skills with a new generation of students.
Q: What are you attempting to accomplish at Blue Heron Wing Chun? A: Our goal is to create a vibrant school serving the needs of Wing Chun students across western NY with a special focus on Wyoming, Genesee and Livingston Counties. Obviously anyone is welcome to drop by, especially on Saturday when we have “open sessions.” If you are thinking of dropping by please call ahead.
Eventually we plan to offer a variety of formal classes on different aspects of the Wing Chun system, as well as hosting open-sessions on the weekends. These are less structured training opportunities designed to give students extra time to practice their skills and to work on Chi Sao (Sticky Hands).
Q: What are the qualifications to enter classes?
A: Eligible students must be at least 12 years old, of good character and able to pay the tuition. There is no long-term contract, but participants must sign a waiver and an agreement for the length of the course. No course lasts longer than one year. Total time required for training is approximately 4 1/2 years.
Q: Why don’t you teach children?
A: It has been our experience, backed up by International Olympic Committee research, that children lack the physical and cognitive skills required to grasp and perform the mandatory skills in Wing Chun. We feel that any effort on our part to teach these lethal skills to children would either be an injustice to the art or disingenuous to children and their parents.
Q: How much does training cost?
A: At Wing Chun Hall, tuition varies slightly by course. The six week orientation course (in which we cover basic skills necessary to go on in the system) costs $50. The “Introductory Course” (which focuses on an exploration of the ideas and applications of Siu Lim Tao) is $70 a months and can be completed in approximately six months.
Payment is expected before training commences.
Q: Can students skip right to Advanced or Weapons courses?
A: Each Wing Chun course builds on previous courses, so advanced courses assume knowledge and skills introduced in beginning courses. In other words, unless you’ve had previous Wing Chun training, skipping courses is unwise.
Q: Do you offer private instruction?
A: Private classes can be scheduled with Dr. Judkins for an additional fee.
Q: Besides tuition, what do I need to buy?
A: Nothing is required. However, there are some optional items, such as clothing and equipment. For instance, you might want your own sets of focus mitts and bag gloves, your own wall bag or heavy bag. Eventually advanced students may wish to purchase their own dummy, pole and swords. None of these items are sold by the Wing Chun Hall. In fact, one of the great thing about Wing Chun is that nothing is really necessary for basic training except for some other people to work out with. As hobbies go, Wing Chun is relatively inexpensive and a good investment.
Q: Do you teach a traditional art?
A: The quick answer is, “Yes.” But the more complete answer is that there are several traditions, and some of them are opposed to the philosophy and practice of Wing Chun. Wing Chun has always been a practical, modern and adaptive martial art, not tied to any particular philosophy or social group. In that sense, its lack of attachment to any preconceived social structure, along with its focus on practical self-defense is “traditional.”
Q: What is the difference between Wing Chun, Ving Tsun, Wing Tsun, etc.?
A: Any professor with a deep understanding of his or her subject will have a personal approach to the presentation of that subject. Other than that, the only difference is the particular organization’s preference for spelling a Chinese word in English. At Wing Chun Hall, we feel that the “W” and “Ch” spelling will result in a typical English speaker’s more closely approximating the Chinese sounds than would any other available spelling.
Q: So why the “Blue Heron”? A: Blue Herons are a prominent bird in the streams and ponds of Wyoming County. They are also reminiscent of the cranes that play such an important role in the lore of Wing Chun and other Chinese Martial Arts. Herons also exhibit some interesting behaviors when fighting or fishing. They generate speed and power when striking with their long, knife like, bill by following the same “center line” principal that we teach in Wing Chun.
Q: When does the next class start?
A: Call Benjamin Judkins at (585) 704-7338 for class times and schedules.