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Gary King interview

1. Gary, I'd love to know and for all the readers out there, what has brought you to wing chun?
A: As a child I did judo and in my mid teens I did karate, but lost interest. Then during my late teens I found a renewed interest in martial arts. I initially couldn't find what I wanted and was about to join a local boxing club when I came across an advert for Wing Chun Kung-Fu. The advert caught my interest with it's direct' approach to fighting so I went along to check it out. I was impressed by the instructors skills and decided this was for me. Though it was the last week of classes for the year, I joined up anyway in anticipation for the new year. I did return in the first week to start my training, and I have been practicing ever since.

2. What year was this?
A: That was in January 1986.

3. What was the first thing that formed your deepest belief about wing chun and why?
A: Probably the first thing that helped shape my deepest belief about wing chun was when I discovered that all the answers are in the forms. After several years of training I realised all the answers I needed were in in Siu Nim Tao. This was a big discovery for me. And when I say answers I don't mean academic answers that can be written and spoken, but answers you can only really understand through physical practise and discovery. Once I realised this I began to practice the forms more. The more I practiced the more questions and answers I found.

4. Until today?
A: Yes, this is my main belief and practice today. I believe all the answers you need are in the forms. I'm discovering answers to questions I had years ago. and of course finding new questions. I still appreciate other martial arts and atheletes and am inspired by their skills. But these days I tend to see more similarities than differences to our art.

5. How has wing chun evolved for you today since the first time you embarked on this journey?
A: My first five years were all about being fast and aggressive and 'out-shooting' opponents. There was not much guidance or incentive to study the forms. It was all about applications.
Later I came across Sigungs theories and his seminars on circles, relaxing, and using body structure. Though at the time it was still difficult to find instructors or training partners that wanted to practice this instead of the old smash to win. But during the 1990's, after several years of training, I did actually start to really appreciate the forms.
These days I practice all six forms, but still spend most of my time on Siu Nim Tao. I do like experimenting with applications, including sparring, but I'm long past the days of thinking we can learn wing chun by sparring. Some might say, "yes but you need to test your skills". I might reply, "true, but no point in testing if you haven't really studied."
These latter years I have been concentrating on refining my structure, releasing tension, body connection and mindset. And I can see this will keep me busy for a while yet.

6. Gary tell us about the first time you met Sifu Jim and Sigung, what was it like learning first hand from them?
A: I recall sifu coming out to the branch were I regularly trained. It was an inspirational visit and I felt honoured that he came to the outer suburbs to teach us. I started to train in the city also after that. I found sifu to be very friendly and approachable. He would wander the floor helping everyone from the beginners to the seniors.
I was lucky to attend the first seminar in Adelaide by Sigung in 1986. I was only very junior at the time and most of it went over my head. But it was inspirational at the very least. I recall more from his many follow up seminars during the 1990s. It was amazing to see the senior instructors so ineffectual against him. I recall being corrected several times by Sigung during seminar-workshops in Adelaide, his tuition seemed so precise and personal.
Finally I made it too Hong Kong in 2002 and felt his intensity when teaching. He was setting up my tan-sau, this went on for about 15 minutes and I remember feeling like he was trying to suck my brain out via my shoulder, elbow and palm. And on that visit, I turned up at his school on my own. I had a letter of recommendation from sifu but felt I didn't need it, because as soon as I walked in Sigung turned and looked to see who it was and instant recognition came across his face with a big warm smile. Sigung has a great memory for faces.

7. What do you feel from your experience wing chun changes one's perspective on our ability to execute movement?
A: A big realisation for me was the way I use my mind to initialise and maintain movement. I think one of the biggest hurdles to get over is to initiate movement without purposely activating the muscles. It is not easy to get past old habits of moving or preparing to move. Throughout our lives we have used the ideas of bracing and then activating muscle to apply force to move something. To prepare moving something, by first deactivating muscle and then maintaining this state, is relatively simple in theory, but not so simple in practice. But those that can achieve this have a much greater ability to generate force. And just as importantly, if not more so, this force is invisible. It is very difficult to stop a force it you can't determine where it is coming from.
Sigung feels like this to me, yes he can generate great force, but the greater thing is you can't feel where it comes from, or when it started. It is impossible to stop.

8. South Coast Wing Chun your school, please tell us a little bit about your training with your students.
A: At the core I emphasize the importance of studying the forms, particularly Siu Nim Tao. I like to start with a particular form movement, we practice it and explore it. Then we look at applying the movement. When applying a movement I emphasize monitoring structure and unnecessary force or tension. I discourage worrying about the end result, the end result will take care of itself.
I try to teach using all the methods, ideas, and practices I have come across that have helped me, and are still helping me.
With the more senior students I occasionally like to explore applying practiced skills against other types of fighting arts. But I must emphasize my choice of words, 'applying practiced skills'. If you haven't practiced, you don't get to play :-)

9. In your future plans for wing chun what's ahead please tell us.
A: Well firstly I aim to keep improving my skills. The more I practice the more I realise I need to practice.
I am also moving to Perth later this year and I plan to keep practising and teaching. So watch this space for a new school in Perth spreading our lineage.

10. Thank you Gary, it has been a pleasure to chat to you, just one more thing I'd like to ask you for our readers...What's your favourite food?
A: Ooh, not an easy question. But after a good training week it's hard to beat a big fat steak and a glass of shiraz.
Will that be on the menu at the next AWCF conference?

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Lindy Scott interview

1. Hi Lindy How are you?
A: I'm great thanks!

2. Lindy tell us a little bit about your journey in Wing Chun: How did you find Wing Chun or perhaps how did it find you?
A: I first heard about Wing Chun at Adelaide University, but I wasn't sure about learning this martial art over Karate, as Kung Fu had been commercialised through the TV series and films etc. I was then introduced to Wing Chun through a WEA adult education short course Tony Blencowe and I attended at Sifu Jim Fung's Academy. After travelling throughout India in 1984 we returned to the Academy and haven't looked back since.

3. What was the year you began your training?
A: 1983

4. Since then how do you find Wing Chun still relates in your path and in your everyday life?
A: My training in Wing Chun has totally influenced the way I am in contact with my body in terms of the connection between mind awareness and movement. In a practical sense I'm much stronger than I would have been without training as I test myself continuously in everyday tasks. As I'm an Environmental Scientist my work has involved strenuous physical activity in the field, lifting and carrying equipment and negotiating difficult terrain. I still get surprised at how much my stamina has improved and the limited effort needed. I also have more confidence in terms of defending myself as my work has taken me to remote and isolated locations where I could be in a vulnerable position. I feel I still have a lot to learn, and so I continuously analyse and think about what's involved in the forms and how I can improve. As Tony and I both train and teach Wing Chun it has been a major part in our lives and we've been able to bounce ideas off of each other.

5. As a result of the practice of Wing Chun in your life, how do you hope it relates to your students?
A: As I see Wing Chun as an integral part of my day to day life I try to impart this approach to students. You can be training no matter what you're doing! I also think that everyone must approach training in their own way to gain the most benefit. I see my role as guiding students to learn and be realistic about their skills and to feel confident with what they can do at the time. This is the way I approach training. It's not good to be over or under confident, as both things can inhibit potential for improvement. The mind set of relaxed effort can be beneficial in any circumstance from work to recreation.

6. Tell us about meeting Sigung Tsui Chong Tin and Sifu Jim Fung for the first time back then?
A: When I first met Sifu Jim in 1983 I was impressed with his expertise in Wing Chun, particularly his punch, which was extremely fast and powerful. He encouraged women to train as was reflected in the number of senior female instructors at the Academy at the time. This definitely inspired me. He also was very approachable which as a master, may not necessarily have been the case. In 1986 we were privileged to have a visit from Sigung Tsui Shong Tin. It was his first trip overseas and he was in Adelaide to present at a Martial Art Masters Convention. It was a very enlightening time. He was extremely generous with his knowledge which was a surprise, as we had had a fair dose of 'juniors cannot be let in on particular aspects of the art'. He seemed to enjoy teaching junior students and with this initial teaching from him it was as if a blanket had been removed from my mind. He corrected most of us with what seemed like superficial features of stance, arm positioning etc., but the corrections made a huge difference. He also encouraged us to move around with our Chi Sau, which obviously freed up our legs. This prevented people from tensing up by bracing to withstand the force from their training partner. His main message was to relax, and that force was produced by a relaxed effort.

7. Do your children practice Wing Chun with you today?
A: We have two sons who are in their 20's now, and while they haven't attended formal lessons, they've been brought up in a Wing Chun household. They haven't had a chance of not being involved and learning! They went with us to Hong Kong and attended training with Sigung, along with attending training at Sifu Jim's Academy.

8. Lindy tell us about your school and your students with Tony?
A: In 2003 Tony and I felt that we would like some independence in our teaching and training, and so started up our own not for profit group, Adelaide Wing Chun Kuen. Our training follows the way we had trained initially in Hong Kong, without gradings, and with the emphasis on improving internal power through the forms and Chi Sau. We have junior and experienced students that have trained from 6 months to 20 years. We encourage the sharing of knowledge for mutual benefit.

9. Where is your school located?
A: We train in 'The Lounge' at the Fullarton Park Community Centre, Fullarton, Adelaide every Tuesday night. The entrance is on Fisher St. Website: adelaidewingchunkuen.com

Lindy thank you so much for spending this time with us doing this interview. Just one more question for our readers.
What is your favourite food?
A: I love all food! – Indian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, French, Middle Eastern.....

Cheers Lindy, wishing you all the best in everything you do! Thank you for sharing Wing Chun with Australia.

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Seth Piszcuk interview

1. Hi Seth, How are you?
A: Great! Enjoying a bit of relaxation now the kids are in bed.

2. When did your journey in wing chun begin? A: I signed up at IWCA Adelaide in March 2003

3. I ask this question to everyone as it is the seed behind our training, tells us what brought you to wing chun?
A: I had always had a vague interest in Kung Fu, I guess primarily from Hong Kong cinema, and I had a couple friends who trained other forms of Kung Fu interstate and I liked the way they lit up when talking about their training. Other peoples love of Kung Fu was infectious and planted the seed of interest. I then just looked up what Kung Fu was within my walking range and wandered over on a day off to sign up. I came in with cash prepared to sign up straight away but they made me come back and attend an orientation session first, which always struck me as an odd thing to do... But I still ended up joining that week.

4. Please tell us what has been the biggest catalyst for you in your training, What was it that helped you stay focused and decided to embark on the journey to develop its skill training?
A: I started Wing Chun at an odd stage of my life, where a long term relationship had just ended. I basically had a whole lot of emotional energy that I needed to do something with, and it was either stay depressed, or do something. I chose to focus all of my time and energy into my new hobby. When I got home to my empty house, I just kept on practicing what I'd been working on in class. I quickly went from three classes a week to as many as I could possibly fit in around work. All my energy, my passion, my love, became focused on Wing Chun. I think this is what enabled me to take it on quite quickly. As it wasn't a hobby anymore, it was my life. I was lucky enough to be able to rearrange my work hours a little so within a year I could take on the full time course at IWCA, giving me a genuine excuse to be there every day. Pretty quickly I was helping out in the office and on the floor, before long leading to being my job as well. I've deviated a little from the original question now, sorry. The catalyst was that I needed something to put energy into.

5.When was this approximately?
A: From right when I started.

6. Have you practiced any other martial systems in the past?
A: Prior to Wing Chun not really, although I was exposed to a few Martial Arts via friends. Along with Wing Chun I have dabbled a little in Muay Thai and BJJ. I would like to dabble more, but don't quite have the time at the moment. I certainly will play a bit more when I can.

7. What is it that keeps you on your toes with your training today, what do you mostly work on?
A: Ensuring that I keep contact with people who pressure me. I don't want to be comfortable, I want to be challenged. Whether that comes from my students, teachers, or by going and playing within another Martial Art. I think the greatest problem most people face is allowing themselves to be surrounded by 'yes' people, students who start to hero worship. It's natural that you gather people who are impressed by what you have to offer, that's why they join up. But you need to be reminded all the time where you are in the greater system as a whole. So going and doing a class with a friend within another school and seeing things from another perspective, allowing yourself to be put within the constraints or rules of another martial art, these thoughts ground me and make me want to improve and get better.
I always remind myself that I have as yet only touched the tip of the iceberg of what Wing Chun has to offer. I also believe in myself, I believe that if somebody else can have a particular skill, then I can too. It's pointless to place your seniors on too high a pedestal and think their skills are somehow magical or unattainable, or say I wont be able to do something for x number of years. They are human, the same as me, so I can do it too if I practice it.
I work on Wing Chun. I explore the whole system without constraints or placing barriers upon myself. When I find problems I go back and look at the Siu Nim Tao and find an answer. If I can't find an answer I ask someone.

8. When combining martial systems and working with two or more systems together in your opinion what would you say would be the ideal minset to do this to gain real benefit from all?
A: Don't try to defeat one with the other. When I (in the past anyway) train in BJJ, I don't sit there trying to use my Wing Chun to fight with, I do what I'm told and learn what the coach is telling me. I don't try to use something I already know and try to prove them wrong. Take everything on it's own merit and only once you understand it and can do it from both perspectives decide which is better. In free rolling I can put a bit of Wing Chun back into what I'm doing, which makes me a bit harder to submit at least... But when training, train, don't try to compete art with art.

9. Would you agree that certain martial forms don't work together? Why?
A:No. Certain people can't train things together, because they do the opposite of what I was talking about above. But no, I think learning anything keeps your mind active, and having a different perspective keeps you grounded. I think cross training is great. But I am certainly a Wing Chun man in that I believe in what Wing Chun teaches. I enjoy cross training because it is stimulating. I don't think everyone should do what I do, as we all have a different mental makeup. Being inside my head is probably not where you want to be....

10. Seth, Full Circle Wing Chun, tell us a little bit about your school and your training
A: Full Circle Wing Chun started in the beginning of 2011, as a few small classes and private group sessions. I ran Sunday classes up until last month (July 2014) which have now ended due to a change in career which sees me working every weekend. I now run small group sessions and privates by appointment, with the only regular FCWC class being a childrens class. I also teach my program via the Adelaide Uni Wing Chun Kung Fu Club twice a week.
My focus in on teaching through continuous cross examination of all the forms. I don't teach just in the linear progression, I might take a movement from one of the weapon forms as a means to understand a thought from the first form. As I think sometimes a larger gross movement better displays a concept which can then be reinterpreted as a small subtle movement within a seemingly unrelated part of a different form. The Huen Do exaggerates the movement of Huen Sau and makes you appreciate it and then take that little action more seriously for example.
I like to keep applications within a role play environment, in that I want to make sure we're learning how to 'fight' against different people and different mind sets, not practicing Wing Chun versus Wing Chun. Even when practicing exercises like Chi Sau, I like to set some constraints of what each person is practicing, so they have a goal for themselves and not try to compete with their partner.
Right now I really enjoy my teaching and training as I'm not under any pressure. I don't need to make money from Wing Chun so I don't feel like I need to change my process to appeal to a wider range of students. I'm quite happy to have a small group who I can genuinely invest my time into.
I draw everything back to Siu Nim Tao and hopefully convey that Wing Chun is just a single small thought, expressed through a lot of different actions and applications. There is nothing i've found yet which I can't draw back to the first form, it all goes full circle...
Seth, cheers and thank you for taking the time to chat to me and to share with our community and our readers a little bit about you and your journey in wing chun

11. Just one more question: What is your favourite food?
A: Wine.

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