1. As a quick intro, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your school? When, where, how and why did you start practicing?
The Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu School of Philadelphia was founded in 1985 and led by the venerable Grandmaster Pete Pajil (a.k.a., Sigung Moy Bah Hugh to all of his grand students).
Since then many of his distinguished disciples have gone on to open their respective kung fu schools across the country to spread this simple – yet easily misunderstood – martial art and intelligence – we proudly call Ving Tsun.
Grandmaster Pete Pajil has devoted his life to propagating the martial intelligence of Ving Tsun Kung Fu to many of his disciples and grand-disciples throughout the United States. In fact, most of the late Grandmaster Moy Yat’s international lectures and seminars were bestowed upon and represented, by Pete Pajil.
Grandmaster Moy Yat simply and frequently appointed Pete Pajil to spontaneously impart and express the inner workings of Ving Tsun’s nature and how it paralleled everyday ZEN.
It was through many years of practicing Grandmaster Moy Yat’s style of teaching known today as, “kung fu life”, where Pete Pajil forged his reputation and earned his rightful place within the Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu Family, as the official United States custodian.
To this day, no other Moy Yat disciple in the United States has had a martial arts practice running and growing, as long and as extensive as Sigung Pete Pajil. His students and grand students number in the thousands all across the country.
However, only a handful of the most privileged students and grand students have been able to personally and intimately travel by Sigung Pete Pajil’s side. Journeys to martial arts havens like Hong Kong (the birthplace of modern Ving Tsun), Futsahn-China (the valley of Southern Chinese Kung Fu Legends), Brazil and Canada (where Moy Yat Ving Tsun continues to grow strong and wide), have only enhanced the overall authentic “Sito” (master-disciple) experience of cultivating “Kung Fu Life”.
It was out of many decades of learning and practicing together as a martial arts family that this new kung fu school was born.
2. What are the most common mistakes, or assumptions, you’ve encountered during your years of teaching?
Galileo once said, “You can never teach another man anything, you can only help them discover it with in themselves.” When ever I forget this insight, it adds to the frustration of looking for a result, rather than allowing the process to unfold naturally, and one’s kung fu to grow organically.
As for students, it is great to have a questioning mind, but what many students ask for in a question is not a question, they actually want agreement. Sifu this is tan sao right? This is an example of an age old mistake that will surely get an agreement from a seasoned teacher, as they recognize the students quandary.
3. Movies such as “Yip Man”, “The Grandmaster” and such and probably one of the reasons many people start to practice at some point. Since reality is mostly not matching most of these movie scenes, what are some key aspects a beginning martial artist should focus on?
One must understand that kung fu is not an English word, they are now studying Chinese philosophy and culture. That kung fu is not technique or some method, therefore the most important thing for a beginner to focus on, is not just to learn, but rather to learn how to learn.
The most direct understanding of this is to spend the time with their Sifu, even in the daily life. One’s first obligation to their Sifu is to make their kung fu good, but how to make their kung fu good, one has to take care of their Sifu.
4. How can Wing Chun be used in an educational, non martial arts setting?
When one has an understanding of the Wing Chun System, they can apply this to any system. Once while dining out, I went to wash my hands, the sink had a beautiful basin that was shallow and a long spout that the water flowed from.
As I turned on the water it quickly hit the basin and splashed on me, I turned the volume down and the water flowed softly. It occurred to me that who designed this system, was meant to conserve water.
Wing Chun’s Kuen Kuit or idioms can also be applied to one’s daily life. Lets take a simple one like Hau Ma, (back horse) from one’s training on the floor they understand it’s value and use, but sometimes life says you can’t go forward, you have to take a step back.
If you step back you can see more, but what if you know you are right, can you still step back? This is hau ma. Sometimes one can’t see it or know which kuen kuit to use in a situation or circumstance because you need a lot of experience, this will help one develop their martial intelligence.
5. The internet has completely changed our lives over the past 10-15 years. We now have access to lots of information (both good & bad) and connections like never before. How do you feel about this evolution and it’s impact on Wing Chun?
I remember when the internet first arrived to the public, GM Moy Yat said to me , “ The internet is the future of Ving Tsun .” But a funny story, when GM went to use his name as a domain, it was already taken!
This is an exciting time for new and senior students alike to share in the deep sea of experiences, as well as making instant relationships.
6. What direction do you see Wing Chun or martial arts, as a whole, heading in?
Unfortunately Wing Chun that was transmitted by direct relationship from Sifu to disciple (SiTo) is declining, thus the experience of kung fu life is lost, as well as the understanding of culture and philosophy of Chinese literature.
This seems to be replaced with Institutes and Academies teaching technique rather than the nurturing of disciples.
7. To end this interview in style, what is the best wing chun or martial arts advice you have personally ever received and what is the best advice you would give to our readers?
GM Moy Yat said to me when I first started under his tutelage, “If you want your kung fu good your kung fu’s good” This was his Zen way of saying extraordinary people declare themselves, they invent and create their future by a language of declaration, it is who they are Being, as one’s actions (Doing) always follows who you are being and you will Have a result…
While ordinary people look to Have, than Do, and someday one day, they will Be.
Be courageous, Be love, Be Yourself, with Infinite Love & Gratitude!