IAW Headquarters Trip – Day Three

Sunday was the official annual IAW Event for all members. Despite the nationally significant World Cup game with Germany versus England playing that afternoon, it was a good showing. Although from the cacophony that ensued after victory, perhaps even WingChun couldn’t drag hardcore soccer fans away from one of the many public screens. Black, red and gold streamed everywhere.

This was a gathering of WingChun people from throughout the whole organization. There were practitioners of all grades, from the First Student Level to the Master Degree, each excited to share a day of intensive practice together. Seven tough hours later, and seven long hours better, they were still going strong. Even one of the WingChun Tigers contingent, stayed until the end. Not bad for a six-year old.

I was happy to witness everyone engaged in continuous training, without making excuses about the heat or time. This kind of dedicated effort is the respected norm in the IAW. It was great to spend most of the day with Sije Nina, Sihing Marc and Sihing Tobias. We covered various Section, Lat Sao and Application ideas. Specifically, Section 1, 3, 4, 8 and 13, Lat Sao 1, 2, 3 and 5, and Application of Section 2, 3, 8, 13.

It all added up to an incalculable amount of inspiring insights. Continue reading

IAW Headquarters Trip – Day One

After a tolerable flight, I landed in Frankfurt today at high noon. It was a balmy 30° C, which Sifu promptly calculated as 86° F using a conversion heuristic. Incidentally and otherwise, I always learn a lot from him. We enjoyed catching up a bit while heading back to Bruchsal.

A few hours later, despite some lingering jetlag, I was fortunately able to maintain decent focus and adequate energy through a Technician Class and Master Class at the IAW Headquarters. In each, we covered the Biu Jee (Darting Fingers) form and Mok Yan Jang (Wooden Person Pile) function, respectively. I discovered enlightening links between these advanced programs and the fundamental levels.

It was an exciting commencement of my trip to spend a dynamic three hours with my WingChun colleagues, diligent exemplaries like Sifu Alex, Sihing Igor, Sihing Alex, Sihing Marc and Sihing Tobias. Tomorrow we meet again with Degree and Technician aspirants for five more hours of fun.

True Weekend Warriors

Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Four days straight of Special Events is a special holiday gift for us WingChun Warriors.

It started on Friday with a double header. The Master Class and Technician Class are always inspiring opportunities to interact with the best practitioners in the IAW. Saturday was a Small Group mostly attended by those who wanted additional training to prepare for their upcoming Testing. On Sunday we had the longest session yet. It was the first day of evaluations for those pursuing the Pre-Primary Level and Technician Grades. We ended up going for almost five hours.

Finally, on Monday evening everyone converged at Sifu Alex’s main Academy in Stuttgart for the year-ending Christmas Seminar. Preceding the adults, it was a treat to watch Sifu work with the WingChun Tigers. For those who doubt that children can perform and excel in our Self-Defense movements, it’s for want of seeing them in action. They are every bit as passionate as our older members.

At the end of this last WingChun Seminar of 2009, many new graduates were certified. Of special note were Sihing Igor Peic and Sihing Alex Decker whose dedication and diligence to attain the 4th Technician Grade was fully evident. It was also pleasing to be present as Sihing Tobias and his training partner, Sihing Chris Barnisky, were awarded their 3rd Technician Grade. Look out for these two HQ Instructors who might be visiting us during the summer of 2010.

My stay is not quite over yet. Some more learning and reflection to go. Not to mention a trip to France. But all in all this is shaping up to be a perfect concluding chapter for the year. One that sends a strong momentum into the next.

Heading to the Headquarters

Part two of my WingChun trip continued at the IAW-HQ in Bruchsal, Germany. Things picked up even more with an additional variety of training topics. It was also nice to revisit my favorite fresh bakeries! German bread is a delectable treat. Currently, my favorite German word (one of only a few) is Vollkorn, which means “whole grain”, closely followed by Käse, or cheese.


At the HQ with Sifu Brand.

Luckily, the time difference between England and Germany is only an hour, so jetlag was not an issue after our return on Tuesday night. On Wednesday and Thursday, it was a privilege to receive personal instruction as a private student of Sifu Brand. Our focus was the Puen Sao (Winding Arm) Sections 13 and 14 based on the Mok Yan Jang (Wooden Dummy) Set. In some styles, the Wooden Dummy is just another form. In our system, it is a distinct framework that integrates all previous movements in special contexts. It’s endlessly inspiring to see and feel how well thought out and put together our WingChun is.


After a great and grueling Combat Class.

Special Events I attended over the weekend included a Combat Class, Technician Class, and Master Class. The Combat Class was a dynamic affair with much falling, throwing, and, thus, getting back up. Soreness the following days was well worth the simple and fun reactions we covered against various grappling, takedown, and ground attacks. The Technician Class emphasized refining entrances to Sections 3-7. The compare and contrast format was very effective in differentiating the unique pressures and purposes of each flow. The Master Class went further and analyzed Sections 11-12 which apply the Biu Jee (Darting Fingers). Was nice to join this select group of Master Degree aspirants.


A fun and fulfilling class for Technician training.

Speaking of which, it was helpful to have Sifu Alex Lemuth as a training partner, since, as the first Master Degree of WingChun along with Sifu Dirk Illig, his standard serves as a clear example and tangible goal. Plus, as a Leader of 8 IAW Academies, it was useful to discuss some business logistics with him. Besides, the always interesting Sihing Igor Peic and friendly Sihing Alexander Decker were also pleasant to watch in action. I also enjoyed finally meeting Sije Nina Wortmann and Sihing Marc Brandt, the WingChun duo from Mannheim. Too bad I had to leave the day before the WingChun Seminar at their Academy. We’ll have to get a report from Sihing Gerald Roliz, who was in Germany for a few days as well. Finally, my continuing studies also included further practice in the IAW weapon art, Escrima. Specifically, we worked on numerous coordination concepts and functional exercises in the Serrada and Dos Manos programs.


A small group Master Class with Sifu and advanced colleagues.

Overall, the dedication and passion all the students demonstrated was truly motivating. Something that I’ll bring back with me. To that end, after a picturesque ride through the German countryside on the Deutsch Bahn (German Railway), I boarded a little less lovely flight home.

Youngest Technician


Sihing Marvin Gastel, 1st Technician Grade
Sifu Alexander Lemuth, 5th Master Degree
after passing Technician Exam on 22/12/2008

Marvin, who started training WingChun at the age of 5 years and continues until today, is particularly noteworthy as one of the most diligent students Sifu Alex has developed. Today, Marvin at age 14 is the youngest Sihing and 1st Technician Grade of the International Academy of WingChun.

The path of Marvin should serve as an example to all young students and show that you can go very far with determination and hard work. I mention this because in all the years I have seen many come and go. Most simply lack the patience and passion.

Congratulations, Marvin!

Your Sifu