A ‘myth buster’

I did not know the full story of Leung Ting, Wing Tsun Master when I first came under his instruction in 1980 but I was certain to find out.  I discovered that he had made it his mission to dispel the many myths about martial arts, particularly the Chinese martial arts.  As two examples, two of his early books, Skills of the Vagabonds and Behind the Incredible, told the story of the old practice of Chinese beggars teaching martial arts to unsuspecting students.  This is the Chinese equivalent of the American old west “snake oil” salesmen.  The beggars would hang out on street corners in old China and demonstrate unbelievable skills to onlookers to attract suckers… I mean ‘students.’  The two books revealed the tricks behind the stunts.

During the time of late Grandmaster Yip Man, many students tried to learn the ‘secrets’ of his skills.  The quality of the students varied greatly.  There was no precedent for teaching the great many students who came to learn from the late, great Grandmaster.  The art had always been taught one-on-one.  The result was a sad variance in the abilities and techniques of the descendants who taught his art after his death.  Grandmaster Leung Ting sought to correct this by developing his own standardized teaching system now known as Leung Ting WingTsun®.  The system has had unprecedented success throughout the world and helped thousands of students all over the world develop their skills.

A recurring theme in the teachings of GGM Leung Ting is his insistence that the ‘super normal’ feats of martial artists not be emphasized or exaggerated because they have nothing to do with real martial arts skills and, in fact, hurt the reputation of martial arts in the eyes of legitimate and educated observers. The exaggerations have always disturbed him because he is interested in teaching truth and realism rather than in the creation of myths.  This insistence has burst many people’s balloons who have believed the falsehoods put out there by the charlatans.  However GGM Leung Ting had WingTsun as his martial art.  It needs no exaggeration in order to impress.  It makes a great impression without the tricks that the charlatans demonstrate because it is based on scientific concepts.  The feats demonstrated by legitimate Wing Tsun masters are real and have been achieved through long hours of devoted practice.

In videos and books published over the last 50 years, both in North America and other countries, authors have made exaggerated claims about invincibility, i.e., “learn skills easily on weekends in 6 – 18 easy lessons,” “its just leverage,” “a skinny weakling can learn to defeat a bully by reading our book” “a 100 pound woman can deck a 250 man with our course,” “just touch a man on certain point and he will collapse in pain,” and so on.  Variations on the theme still exist.

It is still the mission of our founder, GGM Leung Ting, to dispel the myths through his teachings and the practical nature of the art passed on to him by the ancestors of the art of Wing Tsun.

Perhaps Leung Ting WingTsun® has been so successful because of the above philosophy but also because students become enthused with the idea that they too can develop in themselves a great system of self defense skills and a method of staying healthy if they work hard.  Their hard work gets the results.

©Copyright 2012 Keith Sonnenberg.  All rights reserved.