Sifu Cuong posing with Master Bruce Lee (wax work) in Hong Kong
I started to learn Chinese Martial Arts when I was 15 years old because of the Master, Bruce Lee (Lee Siu Loong) who inspired me greatly through his films.
I found myself at my first Martial Arts school, which taught Hung Gar and Praying Mantis styles simultaneously. I was there for two years, and remember feeling so lucky that I was paying a single fee but learning two styles! I thought that when I had completed the syllabus I would be just like Bruce Lee. I was wrong! This was the thinking of my young mind and showed my ignorance of the world. This inexperience was bought home to me when I had a street fight with a guy that was taller and bigger than me. I could sense this man did not have Martial Arts training when he did a roundhouse kick to my head which was slow and had no power in it. I moved back, and the kick missed. But all of a sudden, he grabbed my chest and kept punching down on my head, using his height advantage. I was lucky . . . . a passer-by came to stop the fight, otherwise this guy would have battered me to death!
I was angry and upset. I thought that the two styles of Martial Arts I was learning were hopeless and I stopped attending the school. I still wanted to learn so I investigated what Bruce Lee was a Master of. I discovered that he studied many styles but his chosen art was 'Wing Chun Kung-Fu'. I knew I had to look for a Wing Chun school and was able to find one in my area teaching privately.
I was lucky; all of the Sifus there taught and explained each technique thoroughly. I enjoyed training frequently and my skills and confidence grew and grew. I have never regretted this training. Now I am older and wiser and can see the whole picture of becoming a good Martial Artist. The styles does not make you hopeless, but the Sifu can! If he or she does not teach and explain each movement then they are playing with your safety and you are gambling with your life. A student of mine transferred from another school and said he was learning 'Siu Nim Tao' which is the first form from Wing Chun and means 'Little Idea'. However, the Sifus at the previous school had not explained anything. I was able to go through each technique with him step-by-step, so that he not only understands the movements but also when to use it.
I don't want anyone to have the street experience that I had. Look for a good school but don't waste your time and money on what I call 'non-existent Martial Arts'. I am willing to pass on the skills I have learned to anyone who is willing to learn. Remember, an expert Sifu teaches expert skills. Fulfil your dreams!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experiences. More information on what we can offer can be found on the CuongTrinh Wing Chun.
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By Sifu Cuong