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Centre to Centre

 

Centre to Center is the online version of the articles written by myself, Bill Dowding, originally for The Ving Tsun Centre, my own school. People asked me for copies. Some got published in various magazines in Australia, and around the world. More people asked for anything I had on various subjects, and so the original writings expanded over the years. As I became more public, more and more people asked me for copies or updates and so on. I started sharing them with people in various schools, and they were quite popular, so I was asked to expand on them some more, and update them. I did so, and was asked for more even more public access, and more material. I am doing so, and as of December 2014, the original articles are being expanded and available with this series of blogs, articles and other media.

Logo of The Ving Tsun Centre

Logo of The Ving Tsun Centre

 

The Ving Tsun Centre is dedicated to teaching Ving Tsun (also spelled Wing Chun, Yong Chun, and other ways) kung fu. It’s correct name, for our purposes is actually “Ving Tsun Kuen” and we usually abbreviate to VTK.

We teach pure “Wong Shun Leung Method” or “Scientific” Ving Tsun as handed down by Yip Man through Wong Shun Leung to Barry Lee to myself. As well as being widely recognized as a supremely effective self-defence art taught to military, police, security organizations worldwide, it also enables the general public and ordinary people everywhere to protect themselves. Ving Tsun is a fast, no nonsense, logical and sensible martial science, not a vaguely esoteric mystical style or a sport. A 400 year old traditional Chinese style, it was first brought to the Western public’s attention by the legendary kung fu movie star Bruce Lee, although in Hong Kong it was already well known due to the efforts of Wong Shun Leung, who challenged and defeated so many styles that newspaper reporters followed him around hoping for news. Wong Shun Leung is my Teacher’s Teacher, or in Cantonese, my Sigung. Barry Lee, my sifu, is considered family by Wong Shun Leung’s family, not just a student. Wu Chun Nam, Wong Shun Leung’s senior student, said of Barry “Not only did Barry put more into VTK than anyone else, WSL put more VTK into Barry than anyone else.”

Barry Lee portrait

My Sifu, Barry Lee

Ving Tsun Kuen (VTK) is a complete and integrated system that will enhance psychological as well as physical attributes. These include but are not limited to: – health, fitness, confidence, wellbeing, flexibility in both mind and body, balance, co-ordination, mental alertness, competence, focus and self-discipline, social responsibility, and in general helping people to be able to hold their heads high with pride and confidence that they are a complete and good human being. We operate in a friendly and cooperative atmosphere, dedicated to bring out the best in each student. Our lineage is one of disciples (todai), or, as they are sometimes (and not quite correctly) called, closed door students. I am a personal disciple of Barry Lee, who is a personal disciple of Wong Shun Leung, who was a personal disciple of Yip Man, and so on throughout the history of our system. Each person wasn’t just some student in a class but a dedicated follower who trained hard to master the style. Each master is not just a picture on the wall, but a true friend and mentor of the next generation.

I have over forty years of experience, and have taught in Australia, China, Germany, Holland, and England, and I have articles translated into several languages and published in magazines around the world.

You can be part of this proud and ancient martial tradition. I’m very passionate about VTK, even though I mostly keep very much to myself. I often introduce myself as a VingTsun-aholic. I see a lot of VTK around the world and while there are many good teachers and exponents around, there is also a lot of people lacking a lot of the depth that come with being a full-time student under a true master. Many sifu charge a lot for small parts of VTK, and the real depth is either kept to themselves or only for their “elite” students. Wong Shun Leung often said “there are no secrets in VTK”. Well, that is true, but many people also did not have the opportunity to train full time in Hong Kong, or under a great master, and thus simply missed out on much that was only taught occasionally. If you weren’t there that day, you missed out. If you were there every day, then you learned these things. My sifu, Barry Lee, is renowned as being one such. Wong Shun Leung called him “The Machine” because he was always there, always training. When he moved back to Australia, he was a private person who taught only a small number of very lucky people. I was one of those fortunate enough to train with him, and one of the very few who have had him stay at their house, such as when he came to my city every week to teach, to show me how to teach. I also stayed at his place for several days a week, for many years, such that the other students joked that I was “Barry’s live-in student”, traditionally a place of great honour. There is much we talked about that is not often seen in studios anywhere in the world, not even in Hong Kong, not in modern times.

bill and wsl

A workshop in 1991. WSL teaching Biu Ji demonstrating on me. Sifu David Peterson is in the background.

These writings are envisioned to fill this gap between traditional training, with all the depth, and modern training, which is mostly by seminars and short courses. They contain the depth lacking in most VTK today, or at least, as much as I can put into words and drawings, and the occasional video.

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