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We have all seen how some high school students play football or try out for track or gymnastics and make the team and others just cannot make the cut. The first set of students are picked because they are naturally coordinated. They did not have much time to get that way in one or two years of junior high school. The second set, the rest of us must practice hard to get someplace. It might be difficult on your ego to see the talented rise to fame, seemingly with ease. If it’s any comfort, the talented also must work – hard.

If we graduate high school without making the cuts for athletic competition, well that is life. After graduating from school, there are fewer chances to get on an athletic team unless you take up martial arts.

If you study martial arts, sometimes the same thing occurs. The talented students seem to rise to the top quickly. Of course, this should be no reason to quit. On the contrary, you should maintain your pace. Quitting means you lose the valuable time in precise training that most people never try, and the benefits are often unexpected.

History is full of examples of talented practitioners rising quickly and giving rise to jealousy in the ranks. The one that comes to my mind is our Grandmaster Leung Ting. He was a very talented student of Sifu Leung Sheung. Sifu Leung Sheung was the first Hong Kong student of late Grandmaster Yip Man. The young Leung Ting studied every day for several hours. He was present so often in Sifu Leung Sheung’s school, Sheung became irritable upon seeing him every time he turned around! *

Later, one of Leung Ting’s uncles arranged for him to meet the late Grandmaster Yip Man whereupon Leung Ting became a private student of Yip Man. *

After his training under the late Grandmaster, Leung Ting created a teaching system of his own to better maintain the consistent quality of his system and renamed what he had learned as “Wing Tsun,” instead of the more common terms being used at that time of “Wing Chun” or “Ving Tsun.” From his experience under the Grandmaster Yip Man, he discovered how easily the concepts and techniques could be misunderstood or interpreted differently.

There were many difficulties in maintaining relationships with others in the Yip Man clan. His renaming would put his teaching system in a different category. He would become the grandmaster of his own system, not affiliated with the others. Literally Grandmaster is like being the Grandfather, the master’s master.

Even talented people must work hard if they are going to be of a high standard. Jealousy has no place in martial arts training. Traditional martial arts are an inner effort. We train the inside, our inner physical, mental and emotional health.

Thank you for reading.

Si-fu Keith Sonnenberg

*Reference book “Roots and Branches of Wing Tsun”

**Interview with Sifu Wang Kiu

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