The Way of Wing Chun

MISSION STATEMENT

To create a world wide system for teaching the most efficient and practical ways to achieve individual growth in the mind/body/spirit. To have international sources for disseminating this applied information through schools, seminars, videos, magazines, newsletters and the Internet. Also, to promote a bonding of members who are searching for a common goal: to maximize individual potential and bring the spirit, mind and body into harmony.

Tao of Wing Chun Do

Wing Chun means "Beautiful Springtime"

"Tao" and "Do" both mean "the way"

Springtime is a very special time for most people. It is leaving the darkness of winter and awakening the soul to the beauty of fresh flowers, singing birds and a feeling of a new beginning. It is within this context that we use the term "Tao of Wing Chun Do".

It is a time for rebirth...a time to grow.

The Tao of Wing Chun Do is a non-profit teaching corporation, incorporated in Honolulu Hawaii in 1975. The Tao of WCD is registered in Oregon, Michigan and Washington State as a non-profit corporation with the ID number of 601-479-345. The Tao of WCD is recognized as a 501(C) (3) non-profit corporation with the Federal ID number 95-1599958.

The Tao of Wing Chun Do primary beliefs are:

  • That man is a spiritual energy existing in a physical body.
  • That death is a transition and not an end.
  • That man has free will, yet exists as part of a larger spiritual force.
  • That physical existence is an opportunity for spiritual evolution.
  • That man's life purpose is to maximize mind/body/spirit balance and harmony and ultimately return to a pure spiritual form.

The TWCD was organized to create programs that fulfill the spiritual needs of the individual. This process is achieved by recognizing that each aspect of the individual is unique and requires a specific pathway to evolve. TWCD accomplishes its goals by presenting two different, yet compatible, approaches that do not lead or interfere with free will or personal spontaneity. First, is the mind which encompasses the emotions, conscious/subconscious and all physical control. To bring the mind into balance, the TWCD utilizes personal development techniques rather than philosophy. It employs a Growth Pyramid for clarifying important reference points in a person's life, such as love, marriage, happiness, success etc.. Also, a Game Plan is used for organization and continuity purposes and Developmental Meditation for internal control. Second, is the body. This phase of individual growth reaches into the past for its answers as well as identifies current nutrition and basic health preregresites. Wing Chun Do, a martial arts system, is the path that has been created from many pathways that extend back over 4000 years and are rooted in the ancient monasteries that searched for the meaning of life. Although the monasteries were restrictive, they offered techniques to internalize and detach from external disturbances. Their singular focus does not work in today's culture, but their emphasis on inner balance, peace and working towards becoming a pure spirit is still a path we must follow. Their body conditioning, breathing methods and physical exercises are excellent models to draw from for man's search for harmony. The blending of the mind/body through modern interpretations and applications of knowledge that goes back for centuries gives today's individual a greater opportunity to "fulfill their spiritual potential".

Wing Chun Do is a modern application of a 400 year old martial arts system known as Classical Wing Chun. It was founded, developed and taught by James W. DeMile, an original student of Bruce Lee. By modern, it means that it has been adapted to fit the todays student, who is an individual, rather than a follower or disciple. The modern individual in the western culture is not going to dedicate himself to the Martial Arts. He is often married, going to school, has a job, enjoys a social life and is more than likely pacifistic in nature, he does not want to fight or hurt anybody. In other words, he has a life outside his club. Martial Arts is only a small part of his life and should compliment his growth rather than restrict it. In the past, the student was expected to adapt to the style both in philosophy and physical training, without question. In Wing Chun Do, the student is expected to question or challenge the system. How can he become confident if he only becomes a clone of his instructor. His instructor is not going to be there if some idiot attacks him or his family. Confidence is based on personal belief in oneself. Having an instructor who can break boards or who has a window full of trophies has no bearing on the reality of defending yourself against someone who wants to crush your skull. Also, the modern individual does not want to brutalize his body in order to learn self defense.

He is the butcher the baker and the candlestick maker. The housewife, lawyer, chiropractor and cabdriver who does not want to win tournaments or prove how tough he/she is, only learn something that will work in the street, without having to put calluses on the knuckles or shins. Modern also means training in techniques that use science to validate their practicality, rather than accepting the technique because it is over three hundred years old. Bruce Lee brought up a point, that was lost to most people. He said that the way martial arts was designed, you had to keep training or you lost your skill over a short time. An example is of someone who is a world champion of some Karate or Kung Fu style. As long as he trains he can maintain his skill, but as soon as he quits, he immediately starts to decline in his abilities. And after two years of quitting, he is only a shadow of himself. Bruce did not want that to happen to him. He wanted to maintain his skill, even though he quit training. In order to do that he had to train only in techniques that used natural speed, power and movement. It was like riding a bike or learning to swim, once you learned, you never forgot. It was training in spontaneous neuro-muscular conditioning that was the key. What actions could the body do without any warm-up or not restricted by age, size or endurance. It is this natural approach to technique that is the basis for Wing Chun Do. Once learned, always learned.

Lets talk more about Wing Chun Do later. First of all lets cover when, how and why Wing Chun Do evolved. Rather than cover the history of Classical Wing Chun, which there is a wealth of information, lets talk about Bruce Lee and why he broke from traditional training.

First of all it is questionable if Bruce Lee had any choice in his direction of training after arriving in America. Bruce made certain statements that suggested he would have pursued his Classical training if there had been any Wing Chun Masters to train with. One of his early frustrations in the USA was the lack of qualified Gung Fu Masters, in any system, to train under. He believed the answers to his becoming the best fighter in the world, was hidden somewhere in the traditional systems, and in particular, Wing Chun. Also, there was the question of Bruce's skill in the art of Wing Chun in late 1959. In reflecting on the time frame from Bruce's own stories about how he got into Wing Chun it becomes clear that he began his training when he was 15 and left for America when he was 18. Although he trained more than the average Hong Kong Student and was an above average student, it still suggests a limited knowledge of Wing Chun, since it took many years to be introduced to the whole system. Bruce himself used to say that he was only a student and not an instructor. Bruce's amazing effect on his early students, who were mostly street fighters, was in a great degree because of the uniqueness of his fighting technique. Controlling the opponents offensive/defensive ability by trapping and sticking to their arms was unheard of by either a professional or street fighter. Although his early students were very tough from a street fighting perspective, they where totally ineffective against Bruce's speed and trapping techniques. It is only when you study the basic principles of Boxing, Karate and most other fighting arts that you begin to see the flaws in their defensive techniques and how Wing Chun can take advantages of those weaknesses. However, after seeing many so-called Wing Chun masters, I am confident to say that regardless of Bruce's limited Wing Chun background, he used it unlike anyone else I've seen.

Let's not dwell on how much Wing Chun Bruce knew but focus on how Bruce evolved after arriving in the USA. Bruce Lee wanted to become the best fighter in the world, not just good, but the best. His frustration in not having Masters to train under was quickly replaced with the knowledge that he was going to have to become his own Master. He quickly surrounded himself with students who had extensive martial arts backgrounds or who where rough and tumble street fighters. He would analyze their every move, break down their techniques, find the flaws, and then reassemble them into more effective techniques for himself. His only focus was to make everything he trained in, Simple, Efficient and Practical. If any technique did not fit into these three rules, he rejected it. Once he began to see the effect of his creative abilities he came to realize that the answers to being the best were not hidden in any martial arts system, but were locked away in each individual. The key to finding this potential was to trust in yourself and not be swayed by the person, title, rank or length of history. "Empty your cup" became a reality for Bruce Lee, rather than just profound insight.

Bruce broke the traditional mold. It was all right to seek your own answers. It was all right to question the master. It was all right to cross-train in systems or create your techniques. March to your own drummer, but always remember, be true to thyself. do not be blinded by the ego and create for glory and gain.

Four Stages of Bruce Lee's Evolution

For the sake of readers who are interested in the Wing Chun Do opinion of why there were four stages of Bruce Lee's evolution we will break it down into each stage and try to define its existence.

The Hong Kong Period
Bruce's basic foundation in Gung Fu. (Why Gung Fu instead of Kung Fu), because that's the way Bruce spelled it! Bruce trained in many styles, finally accepting Wing Chun as the best.

The Seattle Period or Bruce's Fighting Period
This was when Bruce had no awareness of who he was going to become. He was just a young kid with a dream. His pursuit of excellence as a fighter was fanatical. To be the best. Once he achieved this, he set a new goal, to become the first Asian to achieve fame and fortune in Hollywood. In order to do that, he first had to escape from the restaurant he was living at and do something else other than wait on tables and wash dishes. He was broke, he needed to earn money, so he decided to teach martial arts and charge a fee. (He never charged a fee in the early years). So he put together a style he called Jun Fan. It was at this time that some of the early students began to question some of the techniques that Bruce decided to teach. They did not feel that the concepts were as practical as the early training. Approaching Bruce with the question of why he was changing what he was teaching, Bruce told DeMile, "Why should I teach someone to beat me". For DeMile that was enough. Bruce would never share his personal techniques. He would teach neat and interesting concepts, but he would leave out little gems that would always give him the advantage over any student. Fortunately for DeMile and a few others who knew of those little gems, the personal techniques of Bruce Lee will never be lost. NOTE. There will be those who will be unhappy that it is suggested that Bruce's later teaching, Jun Fan and Jeet Kune Do was not Bruce's best. It has been the policy of Wing Chun Do and DeMile as the Chief instructor to show anyone interested in the difference between Bruce's fighting period and his later teaching. DeMile has always believed that talk is cheap. If you cannot back it up, don't say it. Another student from Bruce's early days, in fact his first student, Jesse Glover, is also always ready to show interested individuals the difference. Jesse was a close friend and one of Bruce's most aggressive students. It was in part Jesse's fighting skills that forced Bruce to evolve or get wiped out.

The Jun Fan Period
It was simply a way for Bruce to get out on his own. In order to charge for what he taught, it had to be more organized and structured than the helter skelter teaching of his fighting period.

The Jeet Kune Do Period.
Often thought of as the Hollywood period. There are two elements to this level. First, Bruce was to collect, analyze and create a definitive martial arts system by studying all systems and accumulating vast sources of reference material so one day Bruce could share the final results of his overview of the martial arts. This of course would take many years. Meanwhile, the movies. Bruce had been a child movie star and appeared in 17 films by the time he left Hong Kong at 18. He dreamed of becoming an American movie star. His whole focus on training shifted to doing things that were really designed for the movies. His more flourishing moves and kicks were for the screen rather than the street. As we know, he became a Legend. After his tragic death, the family hired a non-martial artist, who was a writer, to go through Bruce's notes and create the book "Tao of Jeet Kune Do. It is this collection of random thoughts of Bruce's and many others that is the basis for Jeet Kune Do. In Wing Chun Do's opinion Jeet Kune Do does not really exist. If you talk to 10 different Jeet Kune Do practitioners you get 10 different versions. This difference is supposed to be explained by the philosophy that JKD is a style without style. Do your own thing. That's great in religion, but if someone is going to kill you or you family, you should have something that is based on practicality rather than philosophy. The simple truth is that Bruce had a dream and when Bruce died, so did the dream.

THE JOURNEY OF WING CHUN DO

Wing Chun Do (WCD) began in late 1959 with the meeting between Bruce Lee and James W. DeMile. From that moment in time, began a journey that is still taking place in 2004. Wing Chun Do has gone through four previous stages of growth and is in its fifth and final level.

The first level, of course, was 1959 and the early 60's. This was the time when Bruce was constantly experimenting and was formulating his own unique fighting concepts and applied skills. DeMile had spent 12 years in an orphanage and survived by street fighting. When he met Bruce he had just been discharged from the Air Force where he had been undefeated in 128 boxing matches. Beaten easily by Bruce, DeMile was fascinated by the "art" of fighting rather than using the Neanderthal crush and destroy methods of his youth. Focusing on the How and Why of Bruce's evolving skills, DeMile was able to develop a basic understanding of Bruce's skills in speed, power and trapping skills.

The second level began in 1971. While living in Hawaii and training on his own at the Nuuanu YMCA, a number of local martial artist asked DeMile what he was doing. DeMile mentioned it was some moves he had learned while training with Bruce Lee. Since Bruce was just becoming a big star, the martial artists asked DeMile to show them some techniques. Amazing, within one month, DeMile had 60 students. It is in this level that DeMile had to step back and try to remember what he had learned. Since DeMile had had no intention of teaching, his martial arts knowledge was scattered through his memory, without any structure. The main focus at this time was to develop a basic outline of WCD. By the time DeMile left Hawaii in 1976, he had created a rough overview.

The Third level was from 1976 until 1979. It was also a basic phase of WCD as the focus was on teaching the application. It was at this time DeMile became very frustrated with trying to create the system. He decided to quit and let the few students who were dedicated to teach what they had learned. He put on a two week instructors seminar at his 10 acre farm in Sedro Wooley, Washington. DeMile felt that the participating instructors could teach the basics and create whatever they needed to round out their program. He stipulated that no instructor was to award a Black Belt in WCD without further training and only with DeMile's approval. WCD had not developed the teaching program for Chi Sao (sticking hands), Phon Sao (trapping hands), its 9 speed and 10 power source concepts and the 8 Closing of the gap techniques, so DeMile felt they needed to confine themselves to the basics. If they developed their own higher levels, that was fine, they could call their teaching anything they liked, but not Wing Chun Do. Unfortunately some of those certified in the basics abused their right to teach only WCD basics.

The forth level was from 1980 to 1990. It did not take long for DeMile to realize that he had to finish the system he was creating. Too much work had been done to quit now, so he once again began to teach. It was in the early 80's that Phon Sao, Chi Sao and the Closing techniques were finally defined in over 1000 pages of notes written by Ronald Ogi, of Hawaii, as a result of a Instructors program where Ronald taped every 6 hours a day training session for six months. Since these skills require a lot of individual spontaneity and create application they are very difficult to teach. It is only after years of restructuring and experimenting that the teaching curriculum is finally working. There are also people from this level , outside of Washington, who have a red certificate, to teach the basics, who are claiming to be certified for the whole system. They have abused our agreement to confine themselves to Gray level and below and yet have not continued to train to become certified in the upper levels. Creating a martial arts system is not easy, and mistakes will be made. Hopefully the mistakes will be fewer as the years go bye, and great effort will be made to correct past mistakes.

The fifth level is from 1990 to the present, 2009. In this phase, the finalizing of the system into teaching levels has been completed. Each level is like part of a puzzle. Each piece should fit snugly into the next piece till finally you see the complete picture. DeMile is now ready to focus on expanding the WCD system. He is reducing most of his general teaching and will primarily train instructors. Once DeMile retires, then, the future of the system will directed by a board of directors who will be fully certified instructors and chosen by the other fully certified instructors in the system.

To compress the WCD system into a few thoughts would be to say it is soft system, not using kinetic strength, a trapping system that restricts the opponents overall offensive/defensive potential by controlling his arms and an explosive system because of the dynamic way WCD uses it's energy. It is not a kicking system. It is a street oriented style rather than structured for sports or tournament. The style is based on scientific concepts that bring out the maximum in each persons potential for using natural Speed, Power and Practical technique. It is not the least or the best style, it is only searching to become the best "it" can be.

If there are any questions please contact me.

Sijo James DeMile