Student Spotlight on Norm Waledeej

I train to make WingChun a part of me. Where the movements become an expression of my own flow.
— Norm Waleedej

Norm is well-noted for his infectious enthusiasm while performing and, especially, teaching WingChun. He is one of our most diligent members. You’re bound to meet him sooner or later, since he shows up working hard while having fun in almost every class at the HQ Berkeley. Thanks for being such a great model practitioner to everyone by sharing your friendly vibe and training ethic.

After his Degree Exam.

Name: Norm Waleedej
Graduation: 9 Student Level
Academy: HQ Berkeley
Instructor: Sihing Paul Wang
Hometown: Berkeley, CA
Started: August 2005

How did you hear about WingChun?
I was searching the web for martial arts schools in Berkeley.

What motivated you to try your first class?
The teaching curriculum made sense and there was a pragmatic mindset that attracted me.

What inspired you to join?
The class actually delivered what the flyers said: Simple, efficient movements for Self-Defense. In addition, there was a warm, congenial atmosphere where students were encouraged to ask questions while training.

Why is attending class important to you?
Excellence in martial arts is a process, not an outcome. Every class is a chance to learn something new or to refine previous material. People look at Technician Grade practitioners and think that some people either have “it” or they don’t. What they don’t see are the long hours of practice, mistakes, and self-analysis. That’s where class and outside training come in.

Do you practice outside of regular class?
Yes, but not as often as I’d like to. When time permits, I try to get together with one of my training partners, pick a particular Flow, and drill it in different ways (mistakes we often make, alternate attack patterns, and how we would react when faced with the same Flow).

What is your favorite aspect of training WingChun?
I love WingChun’s directness and efficiency. Simple moves and flow patterns build upon one another to form an elegant combat system that can adapt to various situations.

What section of the Siu Nim Tau (Small Intention) Form do you like best and why?
I like the second section of the Form with Tan Sao (Spreading Arm) and Gan Sao (Dividing Arm) because it gives you a feeling of your own space and how important it is to maintain it.

What makes WingChun a unique system?
There is no wasted movement or randomness in WingChun. Whereas other martial arts schools will teach a haphazard collection of moves and combinations, the WingChun system is a set of movement and structural principles. Instead of forcing the practitioner to learn to defend against every possible kind of attack (which is impossible), the WingChun practitioner responds to a pressure or a shape without having to think. This immediacy can mean the difference between life and death in a Self-Defense situation.

How would you sum up WingChun in one word?

Describe your favorite WingChun principle or concept.
I love the 90-degree rule. Instead of fighting force with force, the WingChun practitioner negates the attacker’s strength by simply changing the angle of pressure. For people of smaller stature, this principle makes sense and allows one to defend him or herself against a bigger, stronger opponent.

Define the qualities of an ideal WingChun practitioner.
Patience, a love of analysis and breaking down technique, clear intention for a particular goal (and the determination to pursue it), and a really good sense of humor.

What does it mean to be good in WingChun?
The ability to apply what one has learned in WingChun towards Self-Defense and in other areas of life.

How do you apply WingChun in your life?
WingChun not only teaches you Self-Defense, but also how to be comfortable in your own body. This instills confidence that carries on into other aspects of your life and better prepares you for stressful situations.

What are your long-term WingChun goals?
I train to make WingChun a part of me. Where the movements become an expression of my own flow. Each class, I strive to come closer to this goal.

If you were to write an article on WingChun, what would the topic be?
I’d like to see an article about how mistakes and failures can be a good thing when training. Instead of being discouraged, these setbacks can show you the areas where you need to improve and spur you to work harder.

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