Interview with Sifu Michael Wong
Sifu Michael Wong
Michael Wong originally came to England at the age of ten as a refugee from Vietnam. He first took up Martial Arts as a result of being bullied at school. Starting his training with a Chinese Master in the UK Sifu Wong progressed quickly in skill and after 5 years traveled to Hong Kong and Mainland China to study with a variety of Chinese masters in his early twenties. Training in a wide variety of Martial Arts has given Sifu Wong a foundation and skill level rarely seen in the Martial Arts world. It also allows him to provide a highly comprehensive teaching program for a great many students with differing requirements. Having opened the Ho Wan Academy in 1992 in the back of his takeaway shop Sifu Wong discovered there was a great demand for Martial Arts in the area and was never short of students. This eventually led to the opening of the Master Wong Academy at Charles Street in Ipswich, becoming one of only a handful of full time training centers in the region.
Sifu Wong regularly travels back to China to train and learn new arts to continue to better himself. He trains harder and more frequently than all but the most dedicated of his students and still has time to produce, direct and film his current range of DVD titles, work as a motion capture specialist for film and TV productions and runs the Academy.
Sifu Wong has developed a new system for the 21st Century that utilizes his full range of DVD's are an essential part of the training program. The DVD's form the syllabus for his teachings so that the students know exactly what they're learning whether they are at home or being taught by one of the many Master Wong Academy qualified instructors. By using the DVD's as an instructional aid the student is assured that they will receive the same high standard of tuition every time they put it on. They also offer the student a personal, one on one, instruction from Master Wong direct. From the very first time a student begins to learn a new style they can watch the DVD and will be totally aware of exactly what it is they will be learning and the purpose behind it. The quality of both content and production reflects the very essence of the Master Wong Academy.
The majority of martial arts have become very localized, with every town having their share of small schools set-up by budding martial artists. With no tight control of the techniques and methods being taught there has been a noticeable decline in the quality and effectiveness of martial arts today. Many schools now are opened as business ventures with more consideration given to profits than to passing on the skill. You must ask yourself can you really trust your instructor? What is the purpose of what you are learning and will the techniques be effective when you really need them?
The Master Wong Academy, however, is recognized globally with a growing international team of instructors that provide exactly the same level and content of tuition wherever they are in the world. Every style taught at the Master Wong Academy has a unique purpose. We welcome the inquisitive student and those keen to learn a truly complete system.
Over the years Sifu Wong has grown from a schoolyard victim into a respected and dedicated Martial Arts Master, a sign of what can be achieved through determination and raw ability.
BV: How did you first become interested in the martial arts?
MW: I was bullied at school when I first came to the England. That made me want to look after my self to prepare my self for the real world.
BV: Was Wing Chun your first martial art?
MW: No I did traditional kung fu first. Then I progressed into close quarters [combat].
BV: Who was your first teacher?
MW: It doesn't matter who taught me as I don't want to use my master's name to promote myself. At the end of the day people are learning from me and can see what I can do, not my master.
BV: What is unique about your style of Wing Chun instruction?
MW: Our wing chun system is design specially for close quarters in the 21st century. The step by step instructions are shown clearly how it works once it's applied. I talk the talk and it walks the walk!
BV: What are the main principles your style of teaching focuses on?
MW: Safety comes first for the student. Confidence, realism and discipline.
BV: Are there typical stages a Wing Chun student goes through and how do you characterize an intermediate or advanced student?
MW: The DVDs are color coded to state which level it is. The sil lim tao is red=foundation Chum kiu is blue = intermediate and biu jee is brown = advanced. The rest of the wing chun DVDs are black belt level.
BV: You mentioned that your style of Wing Chun is specially designed for the 21st century. What are some examples of ways you have modified your techniques to deal with modern attacks?
MW: The first thing we add on is the kicking which helps create long range attacks. Second in combat zone the hand is not placed in a wing chun traditional form. It is used freely and only used when needed; therefore the opponent will not know which form of martial art you do. We also concentrate a lot on the energy drills. This helps them develop the awareness of the opponent's movements. The principle of wing chun is kept alongside with the philosophy of the 21st century. As you know, no one nowadays will attack you with tiger claw style or crane style.
BV: Do you have any closing comments to students of Wing Chun or JKD?
MW: Safety comes first to the student. Keep it real, question your instructor so you know what you are getting, and of course train hard and look after you body.