"Wing Chun Kung Fu teaches you how to learn."
- Kyle Ritter
SIFU KYLE RITTER
In 2010, when at work, one of my coworkers asked me if I knew what he performed was a “bong sao”. I was amused by the (strange, odd, beautiful?) shape he was performing with his arms; it was so different from everything I had ever seen in other martial arts systems! He told me it was a technique in a martial art system called “Wing Chun”.
Later, my coworker introduced me to a fellow he met who had some experience in the system. The gentleman explained to me that, if he ever were to get into a real fight, he would use Wing Chun out of all the styles he had practiced. He said he had experience in Karate, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Jiu Jitsu, Wing Chun and more. I asked him, “Why Wing Chun?” He replied, “Because it is the most practical and effective one.” I was not sure of the reason why he felt it was the most practical until we did a sparring session.
Surprisingly, I realized it was like nothing I had come across. That sparring session showed me that most people are not comfortable being close to their opponent; they either will keep distance or try to get close to grab; the most dangerous part of combat is in between. Right after we touched hands I retreated; that's when he followed me to the fence and I felt an overwhelming energy that made me feel helpless...
After being exposed to Wing Chun, I had a thirst for more! I wanted to learn more about this system that Bruce Lee had trained in and was his foundation. I tried to find a Wing Chun school in the area; I made calls to Jeet Kune Do schools… With my research, I could not find anything at the time.
One day, coincidentally, I was getting off the highway and saw a sign that read “Wing Chun Kung Fu”. I could not believe I had seen that sign! My Sifu would say, “It was written 5000 years ago.” I immediately called the person whose name was in that sign and asked if I could meet him. He was who would become my Sifu Moy Yee Hop.
We met at his house. I had a one on one interview with him. Upon meeting him, he seemed “different”. He was calm and collected. I remember the look he gave me was unique. It was like he could see my demeanor. He asked me why I wanted to learn Kung Fu. I replied, “Because I found it fun and exciting.” I was not looking to beat people up or get in a ring. I just enjoyed the science behind it and its effectiveness. After that, he told me to throw him a punch; he had a confident smile. I threw a punch and that is how I became his student.
When learning under my Sifu, I realized it wasn't a formal type of training. He made me really work for my Kung Fu with little to no instruction. He made me really think about what I was doing.
After my first class, he asked me, “Do you want to be given Kung Fu or take Kung Fu?” I thought the answer was “to be given” due to what I thought from my experience on other martial arts and from anything in general in our western society - the mentality that if you pay for something you get something. He replied, “It is better to take Kung Fu, then it is your own.”
When I started training with my Sifu, it wasn't in a regular environment. What I mean by that is, it was not training at a fancy big school with all the props. I practiced at his house privately. Later, we began to pick up a few students and eventually grew to the point of having a home of our own.
I am not my Sifu’s first student. He has had many students from across the world - Mexico, South America, North America to name a few places. I am of the first generation that he founded in South Florida.
I stuck with my Sifu because I felt he wasn't trying to sell me a belt or be pushy about Wing Chun Kung Fu. When being around him, I can feel the genuineness. Nowadays, this is important due to so many charlatans and people in it for the money. Through my years of being with my Sifu, I have seen many students come and go. Many students don't like and don’t understand his way of teaching to the point to tell him to change to their needs. My Sifu is VERY traditional and does a great job spreading the art and preserving it for the next generations.
I see too many masters or other martial arts instructors trying to add to Wing Chun or change the syllabus to keep students. My Sifu would rather have one student than a thousand if that was the price to pay for keeping students.
Years later, training and living the Kung Fu life, I can attest that keeping Wing Chun traditional and unaltered is very important, otherwise, in a few generations there will be no longer Wing Chun; there will be something else.
I find that Wing Chun is so much fun for the reason I don't get hurt. Too often, when training conventional martial arts, people can get hurt. This is not the case with Wing Chun Kung Fu. It is the art of fighting without fighting. One can do it at any age and learn combat without the cons of damaging the body.
Being around my Sifu has benefited me in understanding the nature of Wing Chun. He always says that Wing Chun has to be learned and it cannot be taught. Many western martial arts schools believe they need to instruct too much. The result is a student that relies too much on their master or instructor and is not capable of developing their own Kung Fu or finding what works best for them. Being a conceptual based system, Wing Chun has a different approach to learning than a technique based system.
I became a disciple of Sifu Moy Yee Hop after about 3 to 4 months of training with him privately. He offered me the opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I started helping him from day one, even before I became a disciple. I just wanted to help him succeed. I helped open the school; I helped open the hands of new students and oversee their development.
I became a Sifu around 5 years, officially. Life without Wing Chun would seem more difficult. Wing Chun Kung Fu makes you more efficient at everything you do. It is known as a “thinking art” for a reason.
For about the first 2 years, training was very frustrating. I didn't know if I was learning properly or if I was even learning anything at all. That is how Wing Chun is. You don't realize the Kung Fu creeping into your system. Eventually, I had an a-ha moment and I could feel the Kung Fu. Until that point, I wondered and THOUGHT maybe I had Wing Chun Kung Fu. I can tell that there is a difference between thinking you have Wing Chun Kung Fu and knowing you have Wing Chun Kung Fu.
Many times, I wonder if I would quit Wing Chun. However, once the Wing Chun is in your system, you can’t quit. You become the system.
Around the year 2010, I remember one day when my twin brother stopped by my apartment and showed me this new form he had learned called "Siu Lim Tao". It looked intriguing at a first glance. The form looked unique compared to any other form or "kata" I was familiar with in the past. Later I learned that...
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