Student X)  Thanks for doing the interview.  So why did you decide to do an interview now.  You’ve always been the, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick type.”
Ken)  Well, the timing was right for it.  I know I usually don’t often respond to some comments that are made on our website.  I just enjoy hearing the many view points that people share about Wing Chun.  Some people agree.  Some people disagree.  Some people think we know what we’re doing.  Others think we’re just charlatans.  The point of the website is to get people discussing Wing Chun and what it has to offer.  It’s not any type of political statement.  We’re not out there saying, “Wing Chun is the best and everything else is inferior.”  We’re just trying to create a forum for people to chime in with their two cents.  I just would like to see people keep it on a mature and respectful level.  People have for the most part, but you’ll always have some dude that’s always trying to swim up stream.  There are people who believe they have the secrets of Wing Chun or are the only pure lineage or authentic Wing Chun.  Well there’s a funny thing about that.  Everyone and I mean everyone will evolve the art differently, because everyone is a little different.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  That is how the art evolves.  You don’t want to be a carbon copy of your teacher.  Because you are not him, you can only be you.  As much as I respect my sifu, one of the biggest points he stresses is not to be a second class Augustine Fong, but a first class Ken Weingart.  You know what, he’s right and that makes sense to me.  I hope that would make sense to other people too.  As for people who think they have the secret technique, I honestly believe that any “secret” that was passed on was a special drill their teacher had them practice.  For example, the teacher sees student “A” having trouble with his footwork.  The teacher took the student aside and gave him a special drill to work on.  This wasn’t showing him a secret the teacher is keeping from the other students.  Then the student thinks he has the secrets.  The bottom line is if you can use Wing Chun or not.  People want respect because they have “X” amount of years in the art, well I’ve seen 2 year people smoke 9 year people.  That tells me a lot.  It tells me, it’s not the years you put into the art, it’s the hours you put into the years.  It always makes me laugh when people who say they are so open to minded, are open-minded until you disagree with them.
Student X)   Well said.  With that let me ask you why you chose Wing Chun instead of choosing another martial art to study.
Ken)  I didn’t choose Wing Chun, as much as I chanced upon it.  One day I was in line for a movie and I ran into an old friend.  Catching up with what we were doing he told me he’s been taking this martial art called Wing Chun.  I was a sophomore in college and I had played organized sports through high school.  I was looking for a new physical outlet.  I was also interested in law enforcement at the time and I thought it might be good to learn how to fight if I had to.  Right away I felt that this was the art for me.  The practicality of Wing Chun clicked for me.  Taking Wing Chun opened up my eyes to many different things, from self defense to finding balance with health and fitness. 
Student X)   What do you like most about Wing Chun?
Ken)  The thing I like most about Wing Chun is not seeing an end point to it.  Wing Chun is all about developing your skill, and on a deeper level cultivating your mind.  As for the skill development, unlike some other martial arts that rely on how fast you can move or how high you can jump Wing Chun is about developing your fighting skill.  How come you don’t see people competing in tournaments when they are older in age and winning all the time?  They should have the experience, right?  For the most part tournaments are a young person’s game.  There’s a reason you don’t see athletes competing at the highest levels past thirty years old or so.  Because you just can’t do the same physically when you’re 50 as when you’re 20.  Also, how come you don’t see heavy weights fight light weights?  Because those fights rely on how strong you are.  A heavy weight will hit harder than a light weight.  But a skill that doesn’t rely on how strong you are, how big you are or how fast you can move, that’s something you can do your whole life.  Think of it as a chess game.  A game of pure skill, that relies on no physical attributes.  Wing Chun is about unlocking your potential.  That’s why I like it so much.
Student X)  What do you like least about Wing Chun?
Ken)  That’s a tough question.  There’s nothing I don’t like about the art of Wing Chun itself.  What I don’t like is all the politics that are in Wing Chun.  It always surprises me how much politics there are.  People saying their Wing Chun is the best.  They have the secret this or that.  Everyone one thinks their Wing Chun is the most authentic and that’s fine, but just because someone has a different belief than you doesn’t make it wrong.  The way I look at it is its all Wing Chun.  I think of it as a pizza.  Some people think the only real pizza is cheese pizza.  Some people like pizza with different toppings.  You have to find what you like and what makes sense to you.  If it makes sense to you, that is what’s important.  The Wing Chun I do makes sense to me. 
Student X)  What do you think about other martial arts?
Ken)  I don’t think other martial arts are bad.  Different martial arts can offer different things.  People should think about what they want to get out of martial arts.  I think people have to like what they do.  If you like Karate you should continue in it.  Take it as far as it will go.  I’m not going to tell you all other martial arts are crap.  That’s not true.  There’s something valuable to be gained by doing any martial art.  Again, you have to follow what feel’s natural to you, like dating someone.  You know if that person is connecting on the same energy level as you.  If they are, you continue to see the person.  If not, eventually the relationship ends.  This is similar to martial arts.  If you find a martial art that you are meshing with you should stick with it.  Not finding one will cause you to continue seeking one until you do.
Student X)    So are you saying cross training in other martial arts is wrong?
Ken)  Well I don’t like the word “training,” but I’ll talk about that later.  For me, now I want to make this clear, for me, I don’t see the need to practice many different martial arts.  For me, Wing Chun answers my questions about self defense.  It makes sense to me.  It someone practices martial art “A” and still can’t defend against certain techniques, and then they go to martial art “B,” what does that say about martial art “A.”  The way I look at it, I’m trying to climb to the peak of the Wing Chun Mountain.  On the way I’m learning all these different things.  I’m not going to stop half way and then start climbing another mountain. 
Student X)  In your opinion, what is it that makes Wing Chun special?
Ken)          Again, I’ll have to say not seeing an end to the game.  I’ve learned a lot about Wing Chun the last few years.  As much as I’ve learned, I honestly believe the only time I’ll stop learning from Wing Chun is when I die.  The, “no light at the end of the tunnel,” and the chi sau.  Chi sau (sticky hands) is what separates Wing Chun from other martial art.
Student X)  I’m glad you mentioned “chi sau.”  Could you explain what it is?
Ken)  Chi sau is Wing Chun philosophy and principles put into action.  Chi sau is not how you would fight somebody.  Chi sau is the tool Wing Chun uses to develop your fighting skill.   Every martial art claims to teach you to use your opponents force against them.  Chi sau is what Wing Chun uses to teach a person not to fight the force.  There are three basic principles that chi sau develops, those being structure, timing and energy.  The structure part is putting the body into mechanically natural positions that are structurally strongest.  By putting the body into the most natural positions you are able to relax more.  The more you are relaxed, the more energy you can release when striking the enemy.  If you are not in a natural and relaxed position when in motion, then you are using muscular force to make that motion.  Wing Chun does not rely on muscular strength to create force.  You want to create the maximum amount of force, using the minimum amount of muscle.  Why, because if you look at the physics formula for kinetic energy it is mass multiplied by speed squared, divided by two.  The formula is saying that if you double the weight of an object, you’ll do double the damage.  If you get hit by a two pound ball, it will do double the damage of a one pound ball.  It’s three times as damaging to be hit by a three pound ball and so on.  Speed is the more important factor in generating force.  That’s why a ball traveling a rate of 20 MPH will do 4 times the damage than the same ball traveling at 10 MPH.  If speed is increased to 30 MPH the damage is nine times as bad.  Think about throwing a ball or swinging a baseball bat or golf club.  If you try to muscle the motion you don’t get the same amount of force generation as when you do the motion relaxed with proper mechanics.  How come a bodybuilder can’t throw a ball as fast as professional pitcher?  He has more muscle and strength, right?  He has more potential to throw the ball faster than the pitcher.  It’s because the pitcher has better mechanics than the bodybuilder and can throw the ball more relaxed than the bodybuilder.  A martial art example, Wing Chun punches with a vertical fist.  Other martial arts punch with a horizontal fist.  In Wing Chun, we punch this way because the bone structure better supports the arm and it uses less muscle to generate power this way.  The more relaxed you are, the more you can release the power into the enemy when striking him.  Let’s look at that energy transference for a second.  When you get hit by someone using a lot of muscle, it hurts, but more on the outside of the body.  When you get hit by a Wing Chun punch, it’s like a getting a spear thrown through you.  It hurts on the inside of the body.  By punching more relaxed you allow your energy to transfer into the enemy.  By punching this way you get the biggest bang for your buck.  The next part of the equation is timing.  True speed in a fight is not how fast you can hit someone, but when to hit someone.  You could be the fastest person in the world, but if you try to run through a closed door, you’re not going to make through the door.  You have to know when to go throw the door that matters.  Knowing when to hit, that’s true fighting speed.  Finally there is the energy part of the equation.  This has to do with how much energy you need to use to control in-coming force when the enemy attacks you.  In Wing Chun we call this equalizing and neutralizing the force.  Think of this like catching a football.  If someone throws you a football, you make contact with the football and feel the amount of force the football has.  If the person throws it to you lightly you can easily catch it in your hands when your arms are stretched out.  If someone throws it hard at you, once you make contact with the ball you feel the force of the ball and control it into your body.  It’s the same idea when applying this principle to fighting.  Let’s take two people.  Person “A” is five feet and eighty-five pounds.  Person “B” is six feet and two hundred pounds.  There is no way “A” will overpower “B” if they go muscular strength verses strength.  So “A” must catch the force of “B’s,” attack, just like they would catch the football.  Once “A” makes contact with the “B’s” attack, “A” will be able to feel the force and properly control the force.  This is how you use an enemy’s force against them.  Easier said then done, I understand this.  This is what you learn from chi sau.
Student X)  Truly fascinating.  So do you think Wing Chun could be a sport some day?  Perhaps have a Chi Sau compition?
Ken)  I can’t see it happening.  Wing Chun is not a sport.  It’s to finish off the enemy in the most efficient way possible.  There are people who try to organize competitions.  The ones I’ve seen have been wrestling matches.  It’s been disappointing. 
Student X)   Do you think children can learn Wing Chun?
Ken)  Could they?  Yes.  Would they be focused and interested/entertained enough?  No.  I don’t think Wing Chun appeals to kids because it’s not flashy enough on the outside.  There aren’t any high flying kicks.  There isn’t any yelling or screaming.  Wing Chun has some concepts that take a little time to digest.  I think a good age to start at Wing Chun is the later teen-age years.
Student X)  Can older people learn Wing Chun?
Ken) Absolutely, older people can learn Wing Chun.  Wing Chun is about developing the skill of sticky hands.  A skill is something that a person can continue to improve upon until they die.  Unlike a martial art that relies on how high you can kick.  Because the reality of nature is that you just can’t run as fast when you’re 50, than when you were 20.
Student X)  I’ve heard people talk about weight training being bad to do for Wing Chun, because it makes the practioners tense or tight?  So it weight training good to do if you want to learn Wing Chun?
Ken)  There is absolutely nothing wrong with weight training or doing any other forms of exercise.  Strength is the foundation of power.  A stronger muscle has more potential to release energy.  It’s about learning to relax so you can learn to release that power.  If someone works out with weights it doesn’t hinder their Wing Chun education.  The person does have to continue to practice Wing Chun though.  If you look at Wing Chun from a certain point of view it’s all about being self-aware and learning to relax.  The more relaxed you are the more you can feel, not only the enemy, but yourself as well.  You start to feel when you are tight, then when you realize when you are tight you can start to be aware of relaxing.  The more you are aware, the more you can relax.  The more you can relax, the more power you can release.  Let’s go back to having more muscle for a second.  Let’s say I have two rocks, one weighing 1 pound and another weighing 2 pounds.  If you drop the rocks in the sand from the same height, which would make a bigger whole?  Let’s go back to that kinetic energy formula.  By doubling the mass you double the damage.  The 2 lbs rock will make a bigger whole because it has more potential energy behind it.  It’s the same thing with weight training.  If you have more muscle, you have more potential to do damage.  It’s just learning to control that strength. 
Student X)  Ok, thanks.  That clears it up for me.  If someone were to ask you how long does it take to become good in Wing Chun, what would you tell them?
Ken)  Honestly, it’s like anything else.  You want to loose weight?  Then you have to exercise regularly and watch what you eat.  You want to be good at playing the piano, you have to practice regularly.  It’s the same thing with Wing Chun.  You want to be good, than you have to practice regularly.  I honestly believe that if you attend class three times a week for six months, you will build a solid Wing Chun base.  In that time you will develop the Wing Chun punch.  Once you have that punch down, they’ll have to register you as a lethal weapon.  The punch is a key concept.  All the Wing Chun arm motions are based on the centerline punch.  If you’re punch is wrong, then all your arm motions will be wrong too.  Actually a decent punch can be developed in a matter of weeks, as long as you practice.  That’s the secret to anything in life.  If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to do it.
Student X) Let’s go back to something you touched upon earlier.  You were saying something about a difference between training and education?  Could you talk about this a little more?
Ken)  I do believe there is a difference between training in martial arts and education in martial arts.  To me, training is just a reactionary movement, with little room for adjustment.  For example, if the enemy does an upper cut, then you automatically block using defense “A.”  Well, what happens when the enemy does the upper cut, but it’s at a different angle or a force level beyond what you have practice against?  How can you adjust?  Training to me is just the robotic mechanical motions, devoid of feeling.  Education to me is the learning process when you learn to feel the force of your enemy.  Adjust to it, make it part of your own and ultimately control it.  Easier said than done, I know, but education is a learning process.  In gung-fu you are learning to feel the force of your enemy, become part of that force and then control that force, ultimately controlling your enemy.  Think about catching a football.  If I just put up my hands to catch a ball, without feeling the force of the ball being thrown at me, most likely I’ll drop the ball.  That’s just reacting to it.  When you go to catch that ball you have to let it make contact with your hands first, then when you feel the ball in your hands, you can adjust to the force of the ball.  If it’s a light throw, you can leave your hands extended.  If it’s a hard throw, then you have to adjust to the force of the throw.  Once contact is made you feel how much force it will take you to catch the ball.  Once you feel the force of the ball you know if you need to bring the ball into your body while you are catching it or not.  People do this every time they catch a ball.  They are just not thinking about it.  It’s the same theory when using Wing Chun for self-defense.  If you just throw up a block without being able to adjust to the force, and that force is stronger than yours.  Your block will fail.  When that force is coming in, you have to make contact with it first, “FEEL” the force, and adjust to it correctly.  That to me is an educational process, not some two day self-defense training seminar.
Student X)  Wow, very interesting.  I’ve never heard it put that way before.  So then what do you think about the term, “Master?”
Ken)  Truthfully, I think it’s a word that is greatly overused.  Now a days there’s “master,” “grandmaster,” and even, “great grandmaster.”  I think it’s an ego trip when people start giving themselves all these titles.  People think they put “X” amount of time into a martial art, that makes them a master.  It’s not the years you put into the art, but the hours you put into the years.
Student X)  What about people who say that Fong’s Wing Chun is made   up?
Ken) People don’t understand it.  That’s all.  Sifu Fong evolved the art of Wing Chun his way.  His way may not be the right way for everyone.  To me it makes sense.  I’m not going to expect everyone to get it.  The way I look at, this is the type of pizza I like to eat.  Am I going to think everyone is going to love it the way I do?  I would think so, but I realistically understand that not everyone will.  Does this make the ingredients I put on my pizza wrong?  No it doesn’t.  In the same regard it doesn’t make the ingredients that people put on their pizza wrong either.  It’s all Wing Chun, just different ingredients that people put on it that makes different lines of Wing Chun different.  People will look at Sifu Fong’s dummy form and think it’s totally made up.  “It’s not the traditional way Yip Man taught it.”  That’s true, because it’s the way Sifu Fong’s Wing Chun evolved.   People get into politics too much.  Egos in martial arts can be very big sometimes.  And this is usually from the people who say they don’t have big egos.  Everyone will evolve the art in their own way.  That’s how you make it part of you.  If you don’t, then you’ll never be the best you can be.  You’ll just be trying to be someone you’re not.  You have to be honest with yourself.  To be honest with yourself can be a very hard thing to do sometimes.  But, as you learn and understand detachment you’ll be able to be more honest with yourself.
Student X)  Thank you for the interview Ken.
Ken) Your Welcome.  I was happy to do it.

Written by Sifu Ken Weingart
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