At the beginning of 2009 here is a little review of 2008.
The biggest event for me was the appointment of the first Master Degrees at the IAW WingChun event in June 2008 in Stuttgart. Sifu Alexander Lemuth and Sifu Dirk Illig were the first to attain the Master Degree of WingChun. Sometimes I remember the students of WingChun who, in the past, had the same grade level as Sifu Alex and Sifu Dirk or were even higher. And then it frightens me to think of how many years ago they threw in the towel. Sifu Alex and Sifu Dirk have now been my students for around 15 years and I know they are highly motivated and held in high esteem in Germany and elsewhere. I’m sure in all those years there were very few days when they didn’t train. Much to my satisfaction some of our students are on target to follow in the footsteps of Sifu Alex and Sifu Dirk. One thing for is for sure: Becoming a WingChun Master is possible – you just have to really want it!
Another happening at the IAW Event 2008 was the awarding of the title of Sifu to the two National Instructors for England. The title “Sifu” (exactly translated as “Master”) is the most important title in the martial arts scene and is regarded as recognition of the achievements of a successful academy leader. Sifu Ed Pettitt and Sifu Tony Hollander are charged with the development and dissemination of our WingChun self-defense system in England and do it very well. For both of them the title of “Sifu” is more than deserved.
In my system, I place high demands on those pupils who progress from the Student Levels on to the achievement of the Pre-Primary Level or even a 1st Technician Level. Therefore, it is no wonder that only the industrious achieve this goal. I extend my most sincere congratulations to all those who have persevered and have achieved what they set out to do. You have made your teachers and me very proud. Fortunately, you did not listen to the hundreds of excuses from those who failed to reach their goals.
Below are listed our 41 WingChun students from Germany, England and North America who have, in the past year, passed their tests for the Pre-Primary Level, and for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Technician Grades:
- Pre-Primary Level: Wasil Gorb (D), Stephan Kaiser (D), Rafet Beganovic (D), Sihing Nazario Cipriani (D), Lilian Heiner (D), Martin Weidner (D), Mick Bayliss (UK), James Burgess (UK), Luke Cheetham (UK), Ted Hazell (UK), Debbie White (UK)
- 1st Technician Grade: Andreas Böhm (D), Sihing Sascha Cardoso (D), Ingo Evil (D), Ulrich Luft (D), Dr. Jan Fitzner (D), Sihing Sebastian Frank (D), Sihing Tayo Davy (UK), Stephen Robinson (UK), Sihing Peter Jackson (UK), Greg Willis (UK), Natasha Morling (UK), Lee Wilson (UK), Sihing Julian Weston (UK), Stephen Bowler (UK), Sihing Steve Rose (UK), Sihing Mike Treanor (USA), Sihing Carl Hettiger (USA), Sihing Marvin Gastel (aged 14 years, our youngest German Technician Grade), Sije Iona Hacker (D), Sihing Selcuk Altinsoy (D), Ronnie Michel (D), Sihing Peter Jannack (D)
- 2nd Technician Grade: Robert Schmelzle (D), Sihing Chris Barinsky (D), Martin Veith (D), Sihing Tobias Ries (D), Sihing Thorsten Bossdorf (D), Marius Banica (D)
- 3rd Technician Grade: Sihing Paul Wang (US National Instructor)
- 4th Technician Grade: Sihing Jürgen Kaminski (D)
18 more have received Instructor Training qualifications:
- Assistant Degree: Sascha Neumann, Ekrem Basev, Jan Zschiesche, Tobias Schnabel, Sihing Marvin Gastel
- Instructor Degree I: Sihing Thorsten Bossdorf, Selcuk Altinsoy, Lilian Heiner, Sihing Sebastian Frank, Ronnie Michel, Sihing Peter Jannack, Sije Ilona Hacker, Sihing Nazario Cipriani, Sihing Gerald Roliz
- Instructor Degree II: Sihing Tobias Ries, Sihing Chris Barinsky, Sihing Paul Wang, Martin Veith
In addition, congratulations to all those from other “Wing Chun” styles, some with high grade levels, who came to us and were ready and willing to start again at our first Student Level. It is sometimes very difficult to recognize and accept that for many years your diligent training has been leading you in the wrong direction. It is a catastrophe that certain things are taught under the name “Wing Chun” (as a generic term). Unfortunately, there is no lack of unprofessional instructors who have very little knowledge to pass on to their students. There is still much work ahead of us.
A small tip from an expert: “If you are looking for a class in order to learn self-defense and there they tell you the esoteric fairy-tale of an internal or soft style or the so-called passivity, or (my personal favorite), that you should ‘borrow the force of the attacker and use it against him’, you should leave as quickly as possible. This is just something for real fantasists and takes you away from what you were searching for. In the martial arts turmoil of the ’70s and ’80s, these dreamy variations of a self-defense art were naively accepted. The idea that one could learn self-defense without effort was gleefully adopted by many. During this period a couple of cunning newcomers created some useless rules, guiding principles, mottoes and other nonsense. Today we must return to the facts and be sure to recognize that skills are only developed through consistent hard training and that real self-defense abilities rely on the diligent practice of functional and, above all, powerful movements.”
“Perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)
And so we move forwards. We already have plans for the opening of several new schools in 2009. In Germany, we are expecting to open several new groups in Baden Württemberg. In Hessen and in Bavaria we will also have new opportunities to train. In England, the opening of WingChun groups in Meopham and Ashford (both in Kent) is planned. In the United States, we will see the formation of groups in Beverly Hills (Southern California), San Francisco (Northern California) and Toledo (Ohio). In Africa, a new Academy was launched (in January) in Windhoek (Namibia). And, last but not least, the first WingChun group in Greece will come into being over the coming months.
For our Professional Training courses in the first quarter of the year we already have 21 participants. Some of them have interesting plans which may well come to fruition this year. All in all, a great start to the New Year.
I wish you all a healthy and happy New Year!
Sifu Klaus Brand