IAW Headquarters Trip – Day Six

At the evening class yesterday, Sihing Tobias forwarded a request from Sifu to meet me the next morning. I didn’t realize until today that he had planned two Private Lessons, which we often call a Double Lesson. That was a most pleasant surprise. After all, my main reason for coming is to do as much as possible.

And this was a particularly interesting session, especially dense with myriad combinations of Section applications, since it served as both specific education in my Program and a general preparation for Sunday. But more on that later.

Then in the afternoon I headed over to Mannheim and visited Sihing Marc and Sije Nina at their Academy of WingChun. It was a scenic 45 minutes from Bruchsal via direct train. When I arrived, Sije Nina gave me a quick city tour en route. Laid out along a numbered grid, the many one-way streets and tight parallel parking reminded me of home.

Meanwhile, Sihing Marc was busily engaged in a triple-header of sequentially instructing his WingChun Tigers, Youth and Adults. I joined them for the last 90 minutes during which it was informative to watch a fellow practitioner’s teaching style and his students’ learning responses. This observational reflection was between my training bouts with Sije Nina, with whom I quite enjoy flowing. It seemed others liked the lively interaction as well, stopping to absorb our mutual movements.

We finished spending the warm evening sharing experiences over a delicious dinner. What more could I ask for from a WingChun life?

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

Trip Report by Chris Bobek

To give another perspective on what it’s like to visit the IAW in Germany, I asked Chris Bobek to report on his experience at the HQ in Bruchsal and nearby Academies. It was great to see him enjoy himself and represent the IAW-US to all the instructors and students there. Perhaps some of you will accompany us in the future.

Here he is, in his own words recounting day-by-day events:

I really enjoyed the nine days I spent in Germany.

Sihing Paul, Sihing Gerald, and I attended some training events with Sifu Klaus on the first Saturday and Sunday after we arrived. We did five hours on Saturday and seven hours on Sunday.

Saturday was great because the event was only open to PPL and above. However, Sifu Klaus allowed me to attend since they were focusing on the 1st section. So, I was the lowest ranking person at the event (9thSL), but I was training with Sifu Ed (visiting from the IAW-UK along with Sifu Tony) and Sihing Alex Hammer (PPL) who heads one of the Karlsruhe Working Groups.

EVENT 2009

First day of the 2009 IAW Event for advanced aspirants.

On Sunday, students and instructors came from all over to attend the all-day event. It was nice to meet and work with so many different students and instructors. Sije Nina Wortman was especially nice. She’s a very patient instructor and very enthusiastic about WingChun.


Second day of the IAW Event 2009 for all students.

On Tuesday, I attended the 7:30-9:00 pm class at Sifu Klaus’ Academy in Bruchsal. Sihing Tobias, one of Sifu Klaus’ private students, ordinarily teaches the Tuesday and Thursday night classes at the IAW-HQ. As we were getting ready to start the class, Sihing Paul mentioned that Sifu Klaus decided to teach that night — something that doesn’t happen that often! So that was a really nice and unexpected bonus.


A view of the IAW Headquarters in Bruchsal.

On Wednesday, I had intended to train with Sihing Alex again in Karlsruhe, but Sifu Klaus thought it would be nice if I attended a class at the Academy of WingChun Mannheim with Sihing Marc Brandt and Sije Nina. He called Sihing Marc and told him to expect me. Sihing Marc is fantastic and really just the nicest person you’ll ever meet.


Entrance to the Academy of WingChun Mannheim.

Thursday, I attended Sihing Tobias’ class at the IAW-HQ. By the way, Sihing Tobias is going to be vacationing in San Francisco for a few days during October. I hope we have a chance to have dinner with him or at least meet him for a drink while he’s here. I like that guy — he’s cool.


Cheers to Chris, Sihing Tobias, and Sihing Gerald.

I must say, the Maps application on the iPhone 3GS (with the new compass feature), made getting around and locating the Academies in Karlsruhe and Mannheim too easy. With no skyscrapers in Bruchsal, Karlsruhe, or Mannheim, the 3GS was insanely accurate since there was always a clear line-of-sight. I bookmarked the addresses of the Academies I visited. If you ever find yourself in Germany and you feel like dropping in on a WingChun class, just text or e-mail me (from wherever you are) and I’ll send you the contacts immediately.

Sifu Klaus really appreciates it when people come out to visit him. He saved me a ton of money by hooking me up with some great and very affordable accommodations that you’d never find on Priceline or Yahoo! Travel. After training we would go out and drink beer and have dinner. It was nice to spend so much time with Sifu Klaus, Manola (Sifu’s girlfriend), Sifu Alex, Sifu Ed, Sifu Tony, Sihing Paul, Sihing Gerald, and Sihing Alex Hammer. I’m looking forward to going back next year — if not sooner!


Chris in happy balance at the Bruchsal Palace.

Thanks for sharing, Chris!

Congratulations to Sije Nina


Sije Nina Wortmann, 3rd TG
Co-Leader, Academy of WingChun Mannheim

3rd Technician Grade in WingChun® is the highest graduation which a woman has ever achieved worldwide. I would like to express my respect here. Attaining this level of graduation requires a lot of discipline and diligence. Nina serves as a pioneering example for all women in the International Academy of WingChun®.

Well done Nina!
Your Sifu

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.