I realized that I wanted to grow. I wanted to become better at something — to begin to develop a skill, and in the process, develop my mind and body.
— Nathan Wood
Nathan has impressed me with his respect, focus and diligence since the first time I met him in Atlanta. My sense of his potential was not wrong as he has grown into a key member of his WingChun community. Each time I see him, his effort as demonstrated through progress in performance is very satisfying. He displays many qualities of the ideal student, which will serve him well in the long-term.
Name: Nathan Wood
Graduation: 6th Student Level
Instructor: Sihing Ayron Johnson
Started: October 2008
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
How did you find WingChun?
I’ve been interested in martial arts since I was a kid, but I never turned that interest into action by joining a school. A friend of mine has trained in a few different styles, and in the last few years he encouraged me to find a style I liked and try it out. I thought it was a good idea, so I started looking at different types of martial arts online. Many different styles interested me, including Savate, Muay Thai, Kyokushin and more. But I remembered from writing a paper about Bruce Lee in college that the first style he studied was wing chun (Note: “wing chun” is the spelling for the general style; whereas, the IAW system is spelled “WingChun”). So I looked at it some more, and I decided to try it out.
What got you to a trial class?
I found WingChun Atlanta online, and I liked the feel I got from the website and from Sihing Ayron. From what I gathered, the other wing chun schools in Atlanta seemed to be either entirely devoted to tradition or somehow paramilitary. When I first contacted Sihing Ayron, he seemed very approachable and relaxed yet passionate. As a result, I felt like WingChun Atlanta was a good spot to test out. It turns out that I made the right decision.
What made you decide to join?
I realized that I wanted to grow. I wanted to become better at something — to begin to develop a skill, and in the process, develop my mind and body. I think what was initially most important, though, is that I really enjoyed training with Sihing Kurk and Sihing Ayron. Both have their own unique views on WingChun, and they’re patient, friendly, and insightful instructors.
Why is training important to you?
One thing I noticed after I finished school is that it’s easy to stagnate. It’s easy to just go to your 9-5 (or more), do the same thing you do every day, and not change or learn or grow. Training gives me a way to keep growing and learning. I think having the mindset of a student is a healthy way to go through life. That way you’re always flexible and open to possibilities.
What are the benefits of WingChun?
Stress relief! Self-defense. Confidence. Confidence. Confidence. Awareness. Self-control. Discovering your own power. Focus. Coordination. Understanding the importance of preparation and relaxation and their relationship to action. Long-lasting friendships.
What makes WingChun unique?
Studying WingChun has been a very cerebral experience for me, and I think that comes from its focus on efficiency, technique, and sensitivity. While I get a good physical workout from class, I find that during class, my mind is working even harder than my body — trying to understand more about things like the details and subtleties of good structure, which then leads to good technique. I’m sure all schools focus on the technique that defines their art, but not to the degree we do. This could, of course, just be how I approach WingChun, but I think if you get another student into a WingChun class, he or she would be surprised at the differences.
Sum up WingChun in one word.
Describe your favorite WingChun idea.
Acting with intention. Sihing Paul described this concept at his first Seminar in Atlanta. It’s easy enough to go to class and go through a series of motions, but really putting intent behind every Tan Sao (Spreading Arm) and every punch is a challenge, and it’s exciting. It’s hard to describe, but I really feel alive when I can train with that kind of focus and intent.
Explain your favorite WingChun movement.
Bong Sao (Winging Arm). I’m still mastering the movement, but I love the idea that you can be aggressively defensive, and our Bong Sao is exactly that.
What skill do you need to most improve?
Judging distance. Knowing what movements to use at what time is a function of where you are in space and where your opponent is. Sihing Ayron has told me that as in all things, good judgment will come with time.
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