Knowledge Is A Good Thing, But Sometimes No Knowledge Is Even Better
Every time I have run a beginner course (and over the last 30 years, there have been A LOT of courses), there will always be at least one person who has never done any martial arts before.
For which they act apologetically?
Why would someone feel this way?
Personally I often find that the best people to teach are those with no previous experience at all for they have no preconceived ideas.
It’s the strangest thing to see but those who have trained in ‘A’ martial art before always seem to know the answer, or at least believe they do.
Now I do not mean to sound harsh here or as appear as though I am picking on anyone, mainly as they do not usually known that they are doing it.
Myself, I came to Wing Chun from a Karate background, after 6 years of training and finally getting up to Black Belt level, I found my sudden difference in entry levels for competition changed drastically.
It was because of this painful enlightenment that I then search for help.
Now at NO POINT am I saying that Karate is bad, what I am saying is that for MY expectations, it was ME who was bad at Karate.
To improve my kicks I studied a little Muay Thai, after having been close friends with a senior student of Master Sken.
I even tried my hand (for a brief moment) at Thai Chi as I’d heard that Sensei Keinosuke Enoeda had studied this and found it, ‘Enhanced his punching power’.
Although my real interest was in discovering Wing Chun, a close quarter system I’d heard about, focussing mainly on the hands, so the plan was set, Thai Boxing for legs, Chinese Boxing for my hands.
Back in the early 1980’s though Wing Chun was not so easy to find, but I was lucky, and things changed dramatically for me when Grandmaster Ip Chun made his first visits to the UK to give seminars in 1985.
Now the connection with this comes from my own experience after being invited by Sifu Ip Chun himself to go to Hong Kong in 1989 to train directly under his tuition and supervision.
While there I was so keen to learn and to get things right, studying hard, hour after hour, day after day, visiting Master Ip Chun at his flat nearly every day for five and a half months.
The daily journey to the bustling city life was huge change of scenery and quite a trek from my accommodation in the lush green surroundings of the New Territories, so while in the Hong Kong area, in the gaps between my morning training, my afternoon training, and my evening classes, I would spend the time on the rooftops where I would write my notes and play my forms.
In my eagerness to try to get ahead I would often be tempted to ‘Jump the gun’ by thinking I knew what Sifu meant without actually listening properly, a flaw I have corrected many time in others by reminding them of the saying, ‘They hear but they do not listen’.
But all of this stopped for me in one fell swoop when Sifu looked me straight in the eye and said:
“If you wish to enjoy the full flavor of my tea you must bring an empty cup,
don’t have it half full of your own brew”.
So, if you want to get ahead, keep an open mind, listen to everything and try to fully understand what is being explained or shown before jumping in with criticism or condemnation.
Everyone has something to offer.
If you have a teacher who forbids you from viewing other Wing Chun attitudes:
Get a new teacher!
What are they worried about?
That you may learn more than them?
A good teacher should put their students first and help them to learn everything, not limit there understanding of the style by never letting them see or hear different opinions, or never letting them visit another school (If done properly and curtiously of course!).
So if you have no experience, GREAT!
Do not be concerned by this, what have you got to lose?
Trust in your teachers and let US teach you.
And if you DO have experience, then allow yourself to build on that knowledge rather than have form as a negative barrier to your true potential.