Understanding imitation

To find a good martial arts school it might be useful to understand imitation. If you are looking for a genuine Wing Tsun™ / Wing Chun school, you can help yourself by doing some research.  Check lineages.  Check history.  Check the writings, books, videos, and the geographic stretch of the organization behind the school.

Understanding imitation is part of being aware of schools that claim to teach everything under the sun.  If you can understand imitation and how the imitators go about it…,

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All Wing Tsun students who have already taken part in beginning or advanced training may attend this new class. Students may need some virtual lessons or a private lesson before attending. It is a one-hour class, 6-7 pm, on Tuesday evenings at our school in Gilbert. It is intended as a start toward full re-opening later. For now, we are excited to have Sifu Frank Jones teach the class. Enrollment is class-by-class. There will be no commitments for now, but we hope it will give students a chance to stretch their Wing Tsun muscles and get ready for a full schedule soon. Go to our class information page  https://wingtsunaz.com/about-wing-tsun-arizona/class/

The State of Arizona has no capacity limitations or other mandates now. However  we ask that you wear a mask and get your temperature taken at the door. Material will cover everything you have in your grade level including any chi sau, lat sau, or lead arm defense drills.

Looking forward!

-Si-fu Keith Sonnenberg

The Wing Tsun practitioner’s main goal in a real encounter? Stay standing! The reason for Wing Tsun’s being is survival. Self-defense is a right of every human being. In ancient times, there were tough-man contests, but nothing terribly organized. They were no rules or few rules.

Wing Tsun developed separately from those regular contests. It was kept in a narrow family line for generations. Over time, it spread for sure but nothing like the fancier methods or the ring-fighting, tough-man contest methods.

The idea in the Wing Tsun families was to pass something down that would be useful for their descendants against faster, more skilled, attackers. It became critical that a defender remain standing. Once on the ground, an aggressive, larger, attacker will have a huge advantage if that happens. Odds of survival go down significantly.

At the heart of this art was the fast-moving footwork. In order to avoid clashing with the force of a stronger attacker, one’s feet must move quickly, lightly, but be firm when striking a blow! To make it work, the foundation footwork must be half of your homework! Some branches of this art that evolved from the Yip Man root have lost some of this important emphasis. More about the history and why these things happen is in in the book Roots and Branches of Wing Tsun by Grandmaster Leung Ting. Fascinating reading!

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

The concept of direct versus indirect is a bit abstract. However, it is important because it is the main point that separates Wing Tsun from a sport. It is all well and good to describe how a sport is an activity with rules and, as such, it creates opportunities for each player to score ‘hits’ or points. It then creates a situation where one player tries to hit the other within the context of the rules. Then they seem to take turns attacking and defending. Fine so far.

Wing Tsun is a ‘direct’ system. This is because Wing Tsun does not, in theory, attempt to distract so as to hit in another area that has been left unguarded as in an indirect system. In other words, Wing Tsun is not designed to use ‘fake’ techniques to draw the other player’s guard away so as to hit that area in real self-defense encounters.

The way it was designed, Wing Tsun does not care about fakes. When a technique is thrown by an opponent, the Wing Tsun practitioner treats it as a real attack. Since Wing Tsun uses ‘direct’ and simultaneous defense and attack and its striking and kicking flight path is shorter (straight lines), the idea is to beat your opponent to the target, most any vulnerable target. Thus its design as a self-defense system.

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

Wing Tsun students…

You can learn Wing Tsun faster by helping your teacher (Sifu) teach the less experienced students. When you have to explain and demonstrate to another student how to do techniques, you are reviewing the material in the your own mind. You even have to perform the techniques accurately and set an example as the senior in the class. This accelerates your understanding and learning! Someday, you may decide to teach independently in a class of your own.

Some of my students did just that and became high ranking instructor levels.

Today, both are Sifus of Leung Ting Wing Tsun! They are Sifu John Brusstar and Sifu Frank Jones!

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

  • At the beginning of the first lesson, I guide you through the movements of the first part of the Siu Nim Tau form.
  • I then show you the movements of the form as they are used.
  • The training will help build your leg strength, calm and confidence in your own ability to learn different kinds of actions related to self-defense.
  • You are suggested to practice the movements between classes, usually on two or three occasions, 10 repetitions each. Only then can I tell if you are ready move on to the next movements.
  • Four private lessons is the minimum before you may start the in-person classes.


  • When it comes time to open your training to the in-person-contact elements of the training, you will be set up having already learned the structure. Advancement should go much quicker…
  • Meanwhile advanced students are taught a solo version of chi sau section movements and lat sau material.
  • We recommend to new students to schedule a 30 minute one-on-one virtual lesson first, then assess whether this is for you.
  • Currently our virtual lessons are one-on-one private lessons. Keep up with our announcements.
  • In the long run, gaining access to in-person lessons is important to learn sticky-hands and free-hand-fighting applications.
  • Questions about wooden dummy: the Leung Ting system has formal wooden dummy programs at the Instructor Levels. However, occasionally it is useful for an instructor, including me, to use the arms of the dummy for drills as an added perspective for individual students.

Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

Wooden dummies in Chinese martial arts have a long history. Some think the idea goes back to the Shaolin monastery where they designed a series of spring-loaded dummies for the “Shaolin wooden dummy hall.” This was the final graduation site for a “fighting monk.” The person being tested was to move through a hall with the dummies hidden in the walls. Steps on the floor would cause the spring-loaded dummies to fly out with limbs attacking the person being tested. Nice story. Who knows the truth, however?

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Click on the photo for a description.

Phased reopening of Wing Tsun Arizona

Wing Tsun Arizona will start in-person classes on Labor Day week. The government agency dealing with this (see below) is permitting 25% capacity to gyms. The scheduler limits attendance and is pay-by-the-class*. The one and only class for the next two weeks will be Wednesdays at 7:00 – 7:45 pm. These classes and future classes during this pandemic will operate with temperature checks at the door, six-foot social distancing, upping the ventilation, and masks. There will be no contact drills such as chi sau or lat sau at these classes for now. We hope that the county and the state can keep safe and maintain and improve to the “minimal” stage at least, soon.

The class will be great way to keep in shape, stay sharp, maintain muscle memory for Wing Tsun techniques.

Group lesson enrollment:

Trial lessons for new students and continuing private training will continue to be virtual, online. See https://www.wingtsunaz.com/trial-lesson/ for enrollment.



The state agency, Arizona Department of Health Services is now the department that determines business closures due to COVID-19. Last week the agency issued an OK to open for certain businesses such as gyms on a limited basis. Gyms are at 25% capacity. Maricopa county is in the “moderate” range for COVID-19 community spread. Businesses have had to sign an “Attestation” to affirm that they are following the rules.

Learn a form of kung fu – Wing Tsun – that is involved with the mind and body connection and inserting natural reactions into your body for self-defense. Once you are shown, you insert these natural reactions by repeating the exercises over and over. Usually you will have to do the exercises a few sessions over a period of weeks before it becomes natural.

In Wing Tsun kung fu training, you learn to “unlock” your body to move more freely and respond instantly. At the same time, you learn pathways of movement that are more efficient than others. You learn body structure that allows you to stand, maintain balance, turn quickly, and move efficiently. You get rid of bad movement habits that allow you to avoid problems with balance and posture.

All the body’s muscles, bones, and tendons are involved. Posture is improved. This is because the same ideas for self-defense movements are self-improvements for daily life, turning, standing, arm movement, leg extending, head position.

Wing Tsun training is a body strengthener. Body movement improves circulation, muscle tone, and alertness in your mental state. The mind involved with body movement improves coordination and you gain a new relationship and appreciation with your body’s abilities. You will learn a lot about yourself.

Si-fu Keith Sonnenberg