The Thanksgiving mood is a reflective one, and usually regarding the fundamentals. Recently, I’ve thought about the basics of WingChun. Not technically, but essentially. How am I doing? What are we seeking? Who are you becoming?
It is only a beginning, an ongoing experience, but after twelve years of continuous teaching and continual training, I’m struck by, and grateful for, the vast variety of people I’ve met through WingChun. Each one of these thousands, even those I’ve long forgotten or spent short moments with, has challenged me and extended my range of expression, as an instructor, a practitioner, a person. We are all so different. This plain fact is reinforced by my WingChun trips to other cities like Bruchsal in Germany, Tunbridge Wells in the United Kingdom, and Atlanta in the United States. In my home base at the US Headquarters in Berkeley, every new week there are unique individuals who I’m privileged to work with.
These things mean little to me:
Age, size, race, shape, class, gender, fashion, politics, religion, ethnicity, language, nationality, education, sexuality don’t matter. Who’s behind them does. That is not to say these human identifiers are dismissable, insignificant, or uninteresting. However, rather than divisive labels, they are interacting layers of an individual personality. So whoever comes, it is as is, in whatever dynamic combination of the above categories that happen to fit. As a diverse community of everyday warriors, as I like to say, we welcome all types. There is but a single requirement, one that unites us, which is a true willingness to learn Self-Defense.
These things mean lots to me:
Purpose, practice, passion, patience, and people. Consider these organizational values or personal vows, call them my own bias or our group culture. In any case, they are ideals. Thus, by definition, when questing to fulfill them, we will fall short sometimes and somehow, perhaps monthly, weekly, daily. No one can envision or embody them perfectly or perpetually. The only thing we can attempt is just that, doing our best. It is not my intention to impose these as set principles upon others whose backgrounds, again, are so broad. Rather, as general suggestions, they are seedlings that can blossom into the fruition of our future. One that I see as both clear and open.
As an exercise of expansion from word to action, some may deem these silly statements or esoteric affirmations. But, to me, they make the concepts more practical. Here is how I currently elaborate upon them with direct application in mind. Feel free to come up with different descriptions.
Five Elements of One Way
Purpose: I find genuine inner motivation to define and attain my goals.
Practice: I want to get good and continually dedicate effort to do so.
Passion: I feel inspired by the art and enjoy sharing it with others.
Patience: I know that success takes time to achieve and accept this.
People: I love helping others because it improves my progress as well.
Obviously, there are much more factors and many other attributes. These five are the core that have been useful to me. They are what I perceive displayed in WingChun specialists and great exemplars of their chosen field, be it within the martial, medical, musical, mystical, or movement arts. These are also observable in entrepreneurs, academics, scientists, volunteers, and parents. Thus, if this particular framework seems useful to you, please borrow it as a simple reminder or cue to pursue your path.