Theory and practice are two sides of the same coin. Some systems or styles focus more on one or the other. Tai Chi for example focuses heavily on great theory and philosophy and not so much on the practice of fighting. Other styles by contrast focus heavily on the practice of fighting without as much attention to theory and philosophy.
At our school, we focus on both. We believe that one alone will not as so well as when there is a balanced approach. If a strong, athletic person has poor strategy or technique they will have a disadvantage against the person who is strong, athletic and has good strategy. Likewise the theoretically strong individual will be at a disadvantage if they are not skilled at applying their technique against another person.
I consider myself very fortunate and I try to pass my good fortune on to everybody who trains at Wai's Kung Fu, both online and in person. Why do I consider myself fortunate?
In Hong Kong, my teacher Sunny Tang studied directly with Patriarch Ip Man and his other great students. My teacher also had the chance, alongside greats like Grandmaster Wong Shun Leung and Grandmaster Jeffrey Chan, to apply and learn from Hong Kong's famous beimo (alleyway school challenge fights). So I was lucky to be able to learn from that experience and pick up a good understanding of what happens on the street.
But my teacher, an upstanding person with a strong traditions, would never be so bold as to call Patriarch Ip Man his teacher. Sifu (teacher) was the student of Patriarch Moy Yat, who was a student of Patriarch Ip Man. Sigong (teacher's teacher) spent countless hours with Patriarch Ip Man, both in class and out of class and my teacher was always there too.
Now Patriarch Moy Yat had a very very strong understanding of theory. He studied it diligently and was very accomplished.
Like my sifu, I also did my best to always go where my sifu went. Often that was to visit sigong and many other high level masters from the Hong Kong era. So I was there to watch and listen and learn as the practiced fighters talked about fighting and while the excellent theorists talked about theory. I was able to access both sides.
As they say it takes a village to raise a child. I was fortunate to have access to a village of grandmasters from which I could draw and learn. I thank my sifu for this and wish to pass along my learnings from this village to whoever is interested.
In ving tsun, there are a lot of two person drills. So it seems impractical to teach online. But those drills are less than half of the entire system. Between the theory and the physical drills that can be done alone, a person can develop a pretty high level of competence and get a ton of benefits. That's why I'm comfortable to offer online training, books and videos, because we also focus on the theory which is a key element to developing the physical.
I was certainly lucky to have been able to stand on the shoulders of giants. I invite all my students to join me in learning from my sifu and the others from the broader ving tsun community. My promise is to continue to build and maintain good relationships with the greats in the ving tsun community in the hopes that you might experience their great skills as well.
Here are a few photos from my collection through the years.