It is a term synonymous with the warrior and his code. It fills our heads with romantic visions of heroic deeds. It is a purpose which spurs the warrior to heroism. Through the quest the warrior learns of himself and his world and the power he has to change both. The quest is a life long search for learning and must burn brightly enough to overcome the dark nights, the tempests and the dragons of a warrior’s life.
Though inextricably bound to the quest, the term “discipline” seems to have lost its magic power on our imaginations. Yet only through discipline may the warrior enter on the quest and achieve the ultimate goal: Mastery. For the warrior there must be purpose. A senseless life of drudgery cannot be sustained by a warrior. A warrior must be alive and to be alive the warrior must have discipline. Contrary to common opinion, discipline is not about punishment. Discipline comes from a Latin root meaning “to study or learn.” Hence, the need for discipline as a warrior. The warriors quest for mastery begins and abides in learning. The warrior is the forever student. In fact only an eternal student may be a master. As the warrior meets challenges in his quest he learns. He learns of his own strength and his weakness. He will learn that true courage is the courage to learn and the courage to follow your quest when times are hard. And, he will learn to be his own master. He will learn to teach himself. Thus he gains self-mastery.
The Master’s Vision
In most traditions it is the vision of a teacher, a master, a wise man that inspires the warrior to his quest. The vision of a wiser generation must be transmitted to the warrior. He must be guided by those already on the path. Though the vision the warrior accepts is, and must be, accepted freely, it is not simply his own vision. The warrior’s vision is bound by duty and morality and the realization that each life and every action effects others for good or ill. Without a teacher, those who might be warriors may waste their precious abilities trying to discover the very beginnings of the warrior path. With a teacher they not only find the path but they see the vision of what they must become to embrace the way of the hero.
Having seen the Master’s vision the warrior faces the challenge. Will he choose to be a warrior? Will he walk the path? Does he have enough courage to face the fear of the unknown, turning away from a trite and trivial life, and live a life of vision?
True Ip Man Wing Chun is the warrior’s challenge. Every warrior must face the test that will show himself if he only dreams emptily of the way of the warrior or if he is willing to pay the price of being a warrior. We don’t mean a price in physical pain. Summer camp is not an attempt at boot camp though it can be physically challenging. Neither do we mean a price in terms of intimidation. We want nothing more than to help and build students. The price a warrior must pay is the price of learning: humility. To be a warrior one must be willing to learn.
We don’t mean that a student must learn to regurgitate specific techniques or to simply work hard at Wing Chun. We do mean that they must be willing to see differently. True learning takes place when one sees a thing for what it really is. Thus students of Wing Chun must begin to see past the way the world is normally presented to us and recognize a different way of seeing the world. Students will find that there are principles which govern Wing Chun kung-fu and, that the same principles govern the way of the warrior. We challenge students to become warriors, to see the warrior way as it presents itself in the world, and we challenge them to embark on that path.
The Wing Chun Kung Fu Council and Ving Tsun Ip Ching Athletic Association can accomplish the warrior challenge because of the way the instructors teach. Just as the Zen master might fill a teacup to overflowing to allow a student an insight into humility, we also realize that it is the insight that changes the student. So, we teach the principles of the warrior in a way that allows the student to gain insight. It is that insight that will stick with and change the participant. For example, a student could be lectured about the principled need to gain mastery over one’s ego. The student might even think he understands. But, when the student realizes that he is tense in his kung-fu and realizes that that tension is a result of pride rather than willingness to learn, the lesson sticks. Hence, through the discussion of principles and the practice of kung-fu the participant learns to see into the way of the warrior in a short time. As a student faces a fear of conflict or learns to control a temper, these insights stay with them. And having participated, they leave with a new vision of self and the beginnings of a quest.
True Wing Chun teaches a way of seeing that is structured on principles. It teaches self-discipline through the necessity of practice and respect. It teaches true courage and encourages creativity. The physical and mental demands of our classes teach the student that he can get more out of his mind and body than he thought possible. This new way of seeing will be carried with the student forever.