A Different Class


Thank you Sifu, for everything


I started writing this post over two weeks ago but never got to completing it until now, and the reason for this was that I’d been wrestling with this idea for a long time, though not completely sure how to process it, so attempting to share these thoughts seemed harder still.


In short, the topic in question was, ‘The class system’


I come from a working-class background, raised on a poor council estate where no-one had money, we had a small house, hand-me-down clothes and certainly had no holidays, in fact we didn’t have heating, in fact we didn’t even have a bathroom!

When I was a kid we had an outside toilet, and it was SHARED with the neighbours!


Boy was it cold outside back in those days, during Winter you only went to the toilet if you really needed it, and added to the frozen pipes, spiders, and no lighting, we didn’t have toilet tissue either, we used to cut the free newspapers into squares and run string through the corners of them.


I am aware that at this point, some of you Monty Python fans will be thinking, “You were lucky!”


I left school with zero qualifications, not one, and it’s not that I didn’t pass the exams, I simply never had the chance to take them.

I would have loved to have stayed and studied, but I was encouraged to leave school as early as possible and get a job, working full-time at 15yrs of age, just so I could contribute £10 per week to the house bills (at that time eating food was beginning to get popular).


To some people, my complete lack of education may come as a surprise (yes, and I’m sure that to others, this possibly now makes a lot of sense now), but any confidence I may have today, any knowledge I’m able to share, or street savvy I project, this has all come through training Wing Chun.

Without Wing Chun, my life would have taken a very different turn indeed.


I will always be grateful to my Sifu, Grandmaster Ip Chun, for inviting me to Hong Kong way back in 1989 and making me his disciple in 1991, because in all this time, from that day to this, not once has he ever let me down.


A perfect teacher, father figure and trusted friend.


When I became his disciple, my promise to him was that I would continue to promote Ip Chun Wing Chun, and never sell out by changing what he has taught me, to never hold back tuition from students and to never keep secrets.


To quote his father:

“There are no secrets in Wing Chun, only time and practice”

Ip Man


As my Sifu never let me down, I will never let him down.

It is true that my teaching methods are different, but this is because I have spent the last thirty-three years finding faster ways to get the message across, but the message is always the same, Ip Chun Wing Chun.


Now, back to the class system I referred to previously…

Have you ever noticed how drivers of posh cars never seems to let you out in traffic, or thank you when you do such a thing for them, or how at night, they do not seem to turn off their full beam, even though they know full-well that you’re coming around the corner to meet them?

Always assuming, that you’ll move aside for them, as they park in a disabled spot, a parent-and-child space, or simply take up two parking bays.

Okay, so I am going on a bit of a rant there, but my thinking here has been, ‘Has driving such an expensive car made them cold to all other drivers, or was it because they were so cold to other drivers, that made them ruthless enough in business enabling them to afford that expensive car?’

Bit of a chicken and egg situation, eh?


The point here is that, if you were working class, you were always told that you should know your place, to doff your cap to the upper classes, never raise a fuss etc.

Whereas the middle- and upper-class echelon, those who went to Eaton for instance, would always be told that they arebetter, and would NEVER expect not to be heard when they speak.

I am proud to be working class, and along the way I have tried to better myself, I mean come on, I now have an inside toilet, but I also have Wing Chun, and through teaching Wing Chun I have also tried to relax my Northern accent, to speak without too strong a regional dialect, just to be clearly understood no matter who or where, I am teaching.


Hang on, I’ve just had a thought.


I am working-class, and my wife is middle-class, now I know this, not just because she is well spoken and well educated (and most certainly NOT because of her driving, she’s great), but because whenever one of our kids want a sleepover with her, it’s in our bed, pushing me into the child’s bedroom.

However, when one of our children want a sleepover with me, what happens?

I must join the child, once again, in their room!

There’s no way my wife is going to give up her bed, no matter what, therefore, must be middle-class eh?


Joking aside, but staying with the education element for a moment:

Master Ip Chun is a very well-educated man, he was:

A historian

A museum curator

A qualified accountant

A musician

And more…

When he would visit the UK, I would always enjoy our walks in the park, as he would point out flowers, using their Latin names, which to me was beyond amazing, especially when I couldn’t even recognise a nettle!


When we play Chi Sau however, academia goes out of the window, for it is our inner characters which come through, our individual sensitivities through energy etc.


This is the interesting thing I find with Wing Chun, that anyone can learn this, it has no limits, no gender limits, no age limits, no restrictions, and best of all, no class system to deal with.

Just like music, Wing Chun is a universal language which all nations can appreciate, no matter what your upbringing, religion, or position in society.


Unfortunately, there are those teachers who seem to want to keep students in their place, giving them the idea that they are not worthy to reach these higher levels, and so the teacher becomes unwilling to share their skills with students, this is where things need to change.


Everyone has something to teach, something to share, and at WingChun.Online we like to encourage this idea, to change the dream of teaching, into a reality.


You do have the right to sit at the top table (as it were), and to share your thoughts with those who have more experience, and if they are not willing to be welcoming at this top table, then perhaps this is not a table you need to be seated at in the first place?


Thank you for reading


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