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?
My name is Lee Keener, I worked for 25 years for the Calif. Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation, retiring in Oct. 2013.
I currently volunteer at Hueneme Elementary school and continue to teach Wing Chun Gung Fu, 3 nights a week.
I became a student of Wing Chun Master, Sifu Augustine Fong, Chi Wing on Oct. 1st 1977.
Sifu A. Fong is a student of Wing Chun Grand Master Ho Kam Ming, who was a student of Great Grand Master Ip Man.
I lived in Master Fong’s school in Tucson, Az. for 6 months and trained daily with Master Fong and with several of his students, some who are currently teaching Wing Chun, they are; Sifu Danny Chan, Sifu Nancy McDonald & Sifu Dan Maricich and there are many more, who I trained with, who helped me with my development, growth & understanding of “Fong’s Wing Chun Gung Fu”.
I continue my training with Master A. Fong’s and I attend his “Annual Wing Chun Instructor & Reunion” seminars in Tucson and Master A. Fong has conducted several seminars at my school in Port Hueneme, Calif.
2. What are the most common mistakes, or assumptions, you’ve encountered during your years of teaching?
Students expecting to learn everything in a short period of time, not putting much of an effort into their training to develop their skills, wanting to learn all the form’s, before learning & understanding the the “Sil Lim Tau” form, and wanting to learn “Chi Sau” immediately. Instead of developing their skill, they just want to fight.
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?
Finding and training with a legitimate “Wing Chun” Sifu / Instructor.
The Ip Man movies are pure “Entertainment”, most of what is portrayed in the movies are for affect & the fight scenes credited to Ip Man, were actually fights / challenge matches, that his students were involved in.
4. How can Wing Chun be used in an educational, non martial arts setting?
Wing Chun is more than a Martial Art, it is a way of life.
The principles & concepts of Wing Chun, can be applied to your everyday life.
Wing Chun is problem solving, learning how your body reacts and responds, learning to control your-self both physically & mentally.
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?
There seems to be a lot of “Internet Master’s” of many martial arts styles, not just Wing Chun. Some good, some bad, people building up there reputations & feeding their ego’s…
You need a (legitimate / qualified) teacher who can correct your mistakes, someone who can explain what your doing (in the forms & drills), how to do them correctly & why your doing it, a certain way.
What most people don’t seem to understand? Is that, Wing Chun is a “hands on” martial art, you need a good teacher and people to train with.
Books & videos are a reference or reminder of what you’ve been taught. They are also good for seeing other versions or different ways to apply a technique / motion.
They can’t answer your specific questions or teach you how to do it, what to do or how to do it. That’s why you need a legitimate / qualified, Sifu / Instructor.
6. What direction do you see Wing Chun or martial arts, as a whole, heading in?
This is difficult to answer? There are several reputable instructor’s, yet there are just as many questionable martial art teachers, also.
The Internet, FaceBook & Youtube has given many phony & unqualified people a forum to teach ineffective & useless techniques.
These unqualified, ego-centric instructors, have willing partners who help them demonstrate their useless and ineffective techniques, which an uneducated public buy into.
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?
Find a reputable instructor / teacher. One who’s lineage (family tree) is traceable.
Listen to what they say, does it make sense?
Can they (physically) do what they say or teach?
What mistakes do you see, them make in their training (work-out) & are you making the same mistakes when you train?
Learning never ends, continue to develop and grow. Practice daily…
Sifu Lee Keener