In theory, Wing Chun concepts and ideas should be easy to grasp for beginners. Wing Chun is based on the natural body structure and common sense found in fighting. However, in reality beginners can be overwhelmed with the amount of information, theories, strategies, and ideas that Wing Chun has to offer.  Wing Chun taught properly is not simply, follow me and do this.  So, the path it takes to training will be foreign to anyone who has never experienced it before.  Here are several tips and suggestions to help you the beginner, in you're Wing Chun training.
1)      The best way to improve quickly is to focus on the basics. 
I believe all beginners walk similar path.  The need to “show me something new bug” will always enter their skin.  Nothing to be ashamed of, everyone goes through it.   But, the key thing to remember is that if you want to get good and improve quickly, you need to focus on the basics.  Its not how much you know, but how much of what you know that you've really mastered.  All to often I see individuals doing Chum Kiu, Bue Gee, when they can't even make SLT move smoothly.  Other times you'll see people venture into chi sao fighting, when they don't even have the basic understanding of the roll.  Thus, focus on the basics!  The key three basics would be that of YGKYM, the punch, and SLT.  The order is important since each one builds upon one another.   When looking at all three it would appear to the untrained eye, that these are simple things to master.  However, the secret is digging deep into the details.  Believe me, the information within each one would fill novels. Keep in mind that the temptation is always greater to yearn for more, and master none.  Learn to see the beauty which is found in the basics.  Take this path and you're skills will grow in leaps and bounds.
2)      Regular partner to train inside and outside of class
It’s true that when in school, it’s good to work out with as many people as possible.  The variety of different sizes as well as different skill levels gives you a taste of the many ways you need to adjust depending on your opponent.  But, from my experience it’s also good to have a regular training partner who’s at about the same level that you’re in. Together you can help each other grow in the art.  Thus, I've made it clear to all my students, that your partner is your best friend.  All to often I see people use chi sao as a way of building ego and beating on each other.  This achieves nothing and you also risk the possibility of hurting one another.  You hurt your partner, you lose your partner, you hurt your training in return.  
3)      Concentrate on what you have to train, not what others are doing
MYOB.  Otherwise referred to as mind your own business.  Sometimes in your training you’ll get that itch of curiosity, and see your older brothers and sisters working on other things.  Focus on what’s at hand, not what others are doing?  Everyone learns at their own pace, studying Wing Chun is not a race to see who learns the most quickly. Your teacher has designed drills for you specifically for a reason.  Don't sway of the path.
4)      Don’t waste time on the net
When you first start Wing Chun, it seems like you can’t get enough information about it.  So, you spend your time reading and checking out more information about it from videos, books, and the net.  While all these are good ways to spend the time, don’t focus too much on it.  The time spent reading on the net could be time spent practicing Wing Chun.  No one ever kicked ass by just reading.
5)      Listen and trust your teacher
If you picked your teacher, than trust him.  It’s okay to ask questions, but if you keep second guessing him, you’ll stall your own progress.  Listen to your inner self, if you don’t trust what he’s saying, then its time to leave and find someone you do.
6)      Time tables are okay, but look at it as a lifetime of learning
As far as I know there is no ranking in Wing Chun.   Thus, goals of belts, sashes, certifications, or levels should not be your motivating factor to push you forward.  The fact is all those are meaningless measures of determining ones ability.  I believe its okay to say, “I want to learn this or get good at this particular drill or exercise within, such n such a date” But, keep in mind that Wing Chun takes a lifetime to master, and you have your entire life to learn it.  Don’t look at it like a diet.  Most diets fail because people don’t realize that you have to change your entire life style forever, not just for a 3 to 6 month period till they lose the weight.
7)      Focus more on the rolling in chi sao then anything else
Chi sao is the #1 most important thing to focus on once you gets the basics.  But, spend more time, learning the proper roll motions than anything else in the beginning.   Don’t be so concerned about attacks and defending, until you got a decent roll first.   Just as the centerline punch needs a solid YGKYM to support it, all attacks and defense in chi sao start from the base structure of the roll.  If you can’t roll, don’t expect the attacks and defense to work either.  The worst thing to have is spaghetti arm’s when chi saoing.
8)      Single man technique is golden
Sifu Fong’s line carries 14 single-man techniques.  These drills were specifically designed to help sharpen motions as well as get familiar with application of each hand technique.  The first goal is to be able to do them stationary in a 3 count.  But, eventually adding footwork to the hand technique is a must. Knowing the proper motion leads to the correct structure.  Without being able to perform this correctly at regular speed, you'll end up using muscle.
9)      Focus on one thing at a time
Especially in the beginning, the feeling of being overwhelmed is a common thing.  If its not one thing its another, there’s tons of drills, techniques, theories, strategies to the details of what makes Wing Chun tick.  Trying to get it all down in the beginning will be impossible.  Try keeping things simple in your practice, by focusing on one thing at a time.  For example, if your going to practice 3 times this week, instead of working on several things, why not just work on SLT for that week and things related to it.  Being overwhelmed is a suffocating feeling, and especially in the beginning with all the information.
10)  Be consistent in your training
Whether you show up once a week, or three times a week the key is being consistent.   Everyone has busy schedules but I’ve told my student even if you only practice at home 5 to 10 minutes a day, at least your building on something.   Coming to class and then letting a month slide brings you back to the beginning every single time.  Its understandable that this will happen on occasion, but the 5 to 10 minute practice is doable by all.
11)   Vacation to detach
It’s sorta hard to describe the feeling you get when you start Wing Chun.  I’ve come to believe whether your beginner or advance the roller coaster of emotions will hit you every single time.  By that I mean, Wing Chun is like a bad girlfriend.  In the sense that, there are times things go so well with her and you think you’re really getting the idea behind the techniques, and then the next day when you think you’ve gotten it, she goes and breaks your heart.   Thus, I guess what I want to say that something this good, can also be as frustrating as well.  Every time you’ve think you’ve climbed a pinch of that mountain, only to realize it’s bigger than you thought it would be.  This frustration is common, and while I did say rule 10) is consistency, sometimes taking a break for 1 week or so, and just letting things sink in, is sometimes the best medicine for this torrid relationship.
12)   Teach to learn more
Digesting what you’ve learned doesn’t come full circle till you start to teach.  Thus, it’s true that you have to teach in order to really learn the art.  You cannot be a student your entire life, if you follow the path you’ll only know half the art.  But, in the beginning don’t get so caught up teaching, till you’ve got at least an understanding of the main basics.  Usually, you’re Sifu will ask you to teach certain things when he feels your ready.  When the time comes embrace it and find out how difficult it is to teach wing chun, hehehehe.  But, you’ll come to understand when you can explain it, do it, and teach it to someone else, then you’ll really know the details behind the motions and theories. 
13)  Regardless of the line, stick to it in the beginning
You’ve chosen a teacher that means you’ve also taken a specific line in Wing Chun.  You’ll come to realize that there are quite a few different lines in Wing Chun, applying and doing wing chun in many different ways.   Regardless of what line you picked, the worst thing you can do is mix and match different theories and ideas together.  Especially in the beginning it’ll just confuse the beginner.  Thus, what I say is in the beginning stick to what your learning, if in your gut you feel there are things that just don’t appeal to you then look else where.  Create a solid base of something regardless if its right or wrong.  You don’t want to be doing several versions of SLT.  I’ve read and talked to people who do that.  When I hear that that means he knows of several versions, learned none, and mastered zero.
14)  Method to the madness
Everything you do in Wing Chun serves a purpose.  Just like in chess, even one motion with a pawn plays an important roll.  Asking questions helps big time, but make sure you know the why in things you do.   Wing Chun is not parroting your Sifu, and copying what he does, find out the details in the structure and the motion.  Knowing why you do the things you do gives it deeper meaning.   
      15) Ego
Almost everything that you do always comes full circle.  A ego plays an important role, there is no such thing as having no ego.  Having no ego in itself is an unnatural balance in things.  But, the ego's job is to push you to want to be better, to drive you further.  At the same time you must learn to control it, since it will kiss your ass in making you think your better than you really are.   There is always work to be done, you can always improve.  Appreciate the gains from hard work, but don't rest on it.
      16) Don't be so concerned with fighting
All to often, beginners get so caught up in the fighting aspect of martial arts.  Yes, you take martial arts in the beginning to defend yourself.  But, I guarantee you even if you've never taken it before your mind is already filled with the ideas of how movies and TV represents martial arts to be.  You train in the beginning to unlearn what you think you may have learned.  Just because you can whack each other in the ring for 5 minutes, does not make you a better fighter.  Without structure in the training first you will not ever achieve the proficiencies of being a good fighter.   imagine you in a cooking school, and I just said in day 1, okay I want everyone to just make a cake.  Sure you can whip something up, but that doesn't mean you know what your doing. Bottom line, beating on each other doesn't mean your developing fighting skills.
      17) Stay out of the politics
Once you enter the world of Wing Chun you will learn one thing right away.  Wing Chun is riddled with politics.  My best advice is to stay out of it.  And, don't think you'll be the one individual to convince other lines that your way is the right way.  The politics were created by created by Masters and students disguised as wolf in sheep's clothing's.  It is impossible to unite the groups, since the race of man is so driven by the need of power and control.

Written by Sifu Ed Cruz
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