Chris Bobek is an up and coming WingChun teacher in Berkeley and San Francisco. In the five years he’s been training with us, I’ve observed him steadily develop into a well-rounded practitioner.
What’s strikes me is his demeanor, always cheerful, reliably helpful. His focus never seems to be on himself but rather on who he is transmitting his knowledge to.
Moreover, Chris is one of the best examples of consistent diligence in our community. Without exaggeration, I see him in nearly all my classes and events. He’s even accompanied me to Bruchsal and Atlanta.
I’m truly grateful he’s a core member of our local family. One of a few good men devoted to spreading the passion for this art we love. Because I can’t do it alone!
Please continue on as he shares his experience. I enjoyed reading his comments and even laughed aloud at a few. WingChun humor is powerful.
Name: Chris Bobek
Started: September 2006
Graduation: Pre-Primary Level
Academy: HQ Berkeley
Hometown: Glendale, California
How did you hear about WingChun?
I discovered WingChun through a Google search.
What motivated you to try your first class?
A combination of leisure and appreciation. At the time, I was in the enviable position of being a full-time student that didn’t need to work. Many years before, I had developed an appreciation for “wing chun” (as a generic art). I had studied a wing chun-boxing hybrid (Jun Fan Gung Fu) at the Inosanto Academy in Los Angeles with Larry Hartsell. I had also been exposed to traditional wing chun from having taken classes or seminars with Alan Lamb, Hawkins Cheung, and Randy Williams, all prominent Los Angeles wing chun instructors. After moving to the Bay Area, I thought I’d see what the local wing chun schools had to offer.
What made you join the Academy?
I joined because I was impressed with how progressive the WingChun as taught by the International Academy of WingChun (IAW) is. The first IAW WingChun techniques I experienced felt sharper, cleaner and more powerful than any other wing chun style I had ever seen. I was also impressed with the attention to detail in the instruction.
Why is attending Regular Class important to you?
The Regular Classes are important to me because they focus mainly on the foundation of the system, particularly, the First Section. I feel that the Regular Classes allow me to constantly upgrade (or at least continually refresh) my understanding of the First Section.
How do you practice at home?
I like to use WingChun to break-up study or work sessions. Taking a five minute break to practice Siu Nim Tau (Small Intention), Tsum Kiu (Seeking Bridge), one of the Gerk Fat (Leg Methods) Forms, or some combinations from the last class is a nice way to clear my mind. Sometimes I’ll isolate a difficult section from one of the Forms or Puen Sau (Coiling Arms) Sections and turn it into a short repetitive solo exercise.
Describe what aspect of WingChun you most enjoy training.
I enjoy training the Puen Sao Sections — especially when being introduced to new material. Learning another Section always makes me feel like a beginner.
What is your favorite section of any Form and why?
Section four of Siu Nim Tau is my current favorite because it contains the Gwan Kuen (Rotating Punch). Especially, the Noi Gwan Kuen (Internal Rotating Punch). There’s just something interesting about those arm motions and the way the punches are recycled.
What about WingChun most inspires you?
WingChun’s physical beauty inspires me the most. WingChun isn’t beautiful in any flowery or ostentatious sense. Its beauty is very subtle and comes from the efficiency and explosiveness that underlies all of its movements.
What makes WingChun a unique system?
Its deference to logic over tradition.
How would you sum up WingChun in one word?
Explain your favorite WingChun principle, concept, or motto.
My favorite WingChun concept doesn’t have a name, but you could describe it as either “Don’t force it” or “Don’t chase it”. It’s the concept that if your primary offensive or defensive idea fails or is thwarted, you instantly let it go and flow into a technique appropriate to the new situation.
Define the qualities of an ideal WingChun practitioner.
The ideal WingChun practitioner is knowledgeable (able to execute all of the material up to his or her current Student Level with little or no hesitation); dedicated (attends classes three times per week); disciplined (practices something everyday, even if only for a few minutes); has a good attitude and understands that training should be mutually beneficial for his or her training partners.
What does it mean to be good in WingChun?
You’re good in WingChun when you can quickly recognize and apply the optimal technique that the situation calls for. You’re excellent in WingChun when you can shut a situation down before it becomes a situation.
What are your long-term WingChun goals?
Pasadena, California needs an IAW Academy. I’d like to open one there someday.
How would you improve upon WingChun?
I’d add at least 16 more empty-hand forms 🙂 I have friends who practice Tae Kwon Do and Shotokan Karate and they look down on WingChun because it has only six empty-hand Forms (and that’s only if you count the two Footwork Forms).
How do you apply WingChun in life?
I don’t apply WingChun in life — and that’s my problem! I need to Pak Sau (Slapping Arm) life and punch it in the face to remind it that I’m in charge.
If you were to write a paper on WingChun, what would the topic be?
I would write about the ways in which WingChun can contribute to well-being. There’s research that shows developing skill and becoming competent in a particular domain can increase feelings of self-worth. If you’re not a religious person and you don’t attend church services, the IAW WingChun community (worldwide) provides a similar social function and a sense of belonging. Developing Self-Defense skills can lead to greater confidence that can spill over into other aspects of your life and personality.
=D Chris is a great teacher, and this interview was awesome!
“I need to Pak Sau (Slapping Arm) life and punch it in the face to remind it that I’m in charge.” <- Just made my day!
I agree! Thanks for adding your perspective Michelle. That comment of his was pretty funny.
woah! I had no idea that sihing chris learned at the bruce lee gung fu school from dan inosanto. they teach bruce lee’s jeet kune do. it was because of bruce lee and his hybrid art that i wanted to learn wingchun! next time i see sihing chris, i have several questions to ask.
A lot of people first became interested in “wing chun” because of Bruce Lee. I’m glad IAW WingChun has evolved so far since he learned his version over forty years ago.
Chris is not yet a Sihing, though I hope he keeps working hard to fulfill the requirements of that title. Thanks for sharing your motivation, Andrew!