An interview with Sifu Nima King by university students for a project about the importance of Wing Chun in Hong Kong.
How important is martial arts to Hong Kong?
In some ways that aspect the culture is getting lost in Hong Kong and China so it’s very important. The internal arts especially are very important as the majority of people in Hong Kong work too much so need to balance it out with internal practice
What separates Wing Chun from other martial arts? What makes it special in your eyes?
It’s a very realistic martial art with no unnecessary movement. Its principals are based on the laws of physics. So it’s very realistic.
But what makes it special is the internal/mindfulness aspect. In this day and age, we carry too much physical and mental stress, our bodies are energetically closed up with tension and imbalances and misalignments. This is from injuries and postural habits, repetitive mindless movements, the way we sit etc.
And there’s mental and emotional stress because we don’t spend enough time observing the inner workings of our minds, which makes the relationship with our mind less harmonious, which creates internal friction, and this leads to what Buddhists call the ‘the monkey mind’.
So traditionally Wing Chun is an art that through the meditative and mindful practice of its from, particularly in Siu Nim Tao, enables us to observe the workings of the mind and direct it to the body to relax and open up all the tension and energetic blockages, and this leads to a balanced mind and body, which means a peaceful mind and the ability to use our bodies in a remarkably powerful and efficient way in daily life.
How important was Ip Man for the development of Wing Chun?
Very important. Because thanks to him and the way he inspired his students to practice hard, Wing Chun’s name is where it is now. Grandmaster CST and Derek Fung both said that. He was also one of the very first masters of his generation to be open to teaching foreigners. And he could speak good English too, and needless to say, Bruce Lee helped a lot in making Ip Man and Wing Chun famous too.
Lastly, Grandmaster CST! He was a living example of the potential of the traditional/internal art of Wing Chun. Ip called him King of SNT. He literally surpassed Ip within the first decade of his training. So if Ip man didn’t come to Hong Kong to teach, Wing Chun certainly wouldn’t be where it is today.
How long have you been practicing Wing Chun?
I started in 1998, so coming to 19 years. I did have a two-and-a-half year break in the middle but since 2001, I haven’t had a break apart from what happened to my sister and my hernia.
In that time, how much has Wing Chun changed?
Lots! I didn’t even know what Wing Chun was and started it by chance! These days I think most teenagers who are into martial arts would have at least heard of it. With Tyson being in the last Ip Man movie, that certainly added to its fame. The good thing about our era is that through technology, especially social media, the international Wing Chun community more connected than ever. This may bring a bit of petty politics into the mix, but I like to focus on the fact that teachers can share their ideas and anyone has the potential from benefiting from the cross pollination of ideas.
How long have you been a grandmaster?
I wouldn’t call myself a grandmaster. Even a master sounds strange to me. Because I experienced day in and out for 9 years what the potential of internal Wing Chun is and since I still have a long way to go, it doesn’t feel right to give myself that title. But Sifu can simply mean a teacher and Sigung can mean teachers teacher, and that’s why my students and other people online call me that and because of that I accept that title. Personally, I’d like to think of myself as a permanent student and with that attitude I hope to be open to learning and growing till I pass.
Would one learn Wing Chun just to learn how to fight? Are there other reasons people learn Wing Chun?
Definitely! At least at our school there are. Perhaps it the way we portray it on our website and social media. And the fact that the name is Mindful Wing Chun.
People come to us to gain better control of their mind, or change their relationship with their thoughts and emotion, which leads to a calmer and more focused mind, to get rid of pain, correct postural misalignments, learn to move their bodies in a more efficient way which can be used for daily life or sports, to gain confidence and generally people here use Wing Chun as a self-development tool!
What makes Wing Chun so popular?
Bruce Lee, I think the Ip Man movies have helped a lot, and the fact that some actors have actually started learning it, and MMA fighters like Anderson Silva and Tony Ferguson looking into it.
But I think ultimately, even though the majority of Wing Chun out there is only the external style, it’s popular because even as an external style it works and makes sense because it’s based on the physics and mechanics and uses geometry to its advantage. So then I guess it makes sense to smart people to learn it as a self-defence system. But I think Wing Chun has a lot more potential to be even more famous once the international Wing Chun community and others start to realize the remarkable control it gives us over our mind and body and that ultimately, like yoga, it’s an art of peace and self-development.
About The Author
Nima has over 18 years of Wing Chun teaching experience and is a certified Sifu in Wing Chun by the Ving Tsun Athletic Association (Ip Man’s official association). Since he began his Wing Chun practice, Nima has been training and teaching for over 50 hours a week.