- 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 Moses C. McClendon II, and I am the Sifu for River City Kung Fu. We are located in Richmond, VA and I have now been teaching for just over 10 years.
We teach Ving Tsun Kung Fu here in the Moy Yat Lineage. I began my Kung Fu journey while in college.
I had a good friend of mine that was a talented martial artist and I started looking at it pretty deep at that time.
Originally, my fascination with the Arts came from The Old Kung Fu Action Theater shows on Saturday afternoons while me and my sisters would clean the house. I never got involved in it then cause I was an athlete, big into sports and baseball which took up most of my time.
One of my hometown and best friends also went to college, but out of state. He got an intro into Ving Tsun as well and he showed me a little and I was absolutely hook at this point. This was around 1996.
- What are the most common mistakes, or assumptions, you’ve encountered during your years of teaching?
Common mistakes and assumptions…wow, that’s a tough one. Lets see.
1. Kung Fu doesn’t work on the street.
2. doing what we do, we’re too close to develop enough power to hurt anyone, for real.
3. A woman’s art cant work for a man.
4. I heard that VT doesn’t kick.
5. Yall cant stop a ground fighter.
6. If you dont do tournament fighting…it cant be but so good.
7. Chi Sao and sticky hands are the same thing.
8. If Chi Sao and Sparring are not the same thing, how do you get good at it.
9. VT does not do long range fighting (whatever that is).
I got a million of ’em. The questions just keep coming in, but that is a good thing. The good teachers cannot simply wave them off and say “stick to what I told you” to his students.
The entire idea of the martial arts and Ving Tsun especially, is to cut through the mess, stick to center, and solve the issue efficiently and effectively. Sometimes you need to know what people are thinking. Student questions keep Teachers on their toes, in my opinion.
- 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?
Much of the interest in Wing Chun, in my opinion, does come from these new movies about GM Ip Man. People absolutely love it.
They cant get enough of it at this point. Then I look back a little and I can see the exact same craze and enrollment rise in schools behind other movie releases and super star actors in the genre.
The original Karate Kid sparked a HUGE revolution in the Karate and Tae Kwon Do schools in America in the 1980’s. So did the new one for young kids in kung fu schools in the 2000’s.
Martial Artists like Jet Li and Jackie Chan kept some school alive and well with new students looking to become the next Drunken Master and Fong Sai Yuk. Jim Kelly helped to introduce the martial arts to African Americans at a time when being proud to Be Black was a was both good and bad to some in the 1960 and 1970’s.
TV has brought about the birth of MMA and it is seen now on a daily basis on many networks.
And of Course there is Bruce Lee. This man is likely in the top 100 most influential men in this world in the past 50 to 100 years and only did 4 and 1/2 movies.
So, to answer the question…I think that the movies are a bit unrealistic, at times, but that is what movies do. They romanticize the arts. They make us fall in love with them.
They draw us into them, into the schools, into the training.
A lot of times the key aspects of the arts we are learning are found in the movie. Hard Work, focus, attention to details. These are usually a part of the good movies.
I am also a HUGE collector of the movies. The training scenes are some of the best parts and this is what you will see in them. The student / teacher relationship is also a big part of these.
New student must listen, they must work hard, they must focus and pay close attention to detail. They must learn how to relax…Truly Relax, and then learn themselves as well. Listen to your body and then always move forward to achieve new goals.
- How can Wing Chun be used in an educational, non martial arts setting?
Life Lesson in Kung Fu are all around us. I never considered that I would get this out of my training when I began learning Ving Tsun.
Now I try to teach them as I go along to my sons as well as all of my other students. Avoiding conflicts without violence, verbally deescalating a situations, being aware of your surroundings, etc. We all get this. But there are some others much more profound. Being Rooted – Ving Tsun stresses a deep horse.
The concept of being rooted with a strong base. Not just for kung fu. Forward Energy – moving forward and taking care of the issues that come to you as they come.
Not just for kung fu. The Ving Tsun Kuen Kuit has a phrase in it that ends with “there is no unstoppable technique”. Alluding to the fact that there is nothing that can come to you that you cannot stop or counter. Not just for kung fu.
- 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 was a High School Teacher for a few years. I am now the owner of a mental health agency as well as my school.
Information is never a bad thing to a teacher. How it is used and what it can do makes the difference.
The use of information and new technologies can help us to reach new potential consumers that were at one time, out of our reach.
We can see and meet people from across the globe, exchange ideas, and keep in touch. It is a good thing. Just bare in mind that there is nothing that can replace the work that goes into what we do.
- What direction do you see Wing Chun or martial arts, as a whole, heading in?
The martial arts is, and has always been, in a good place. We have our place. It is fairly solidified. There is always a place for the person looking to find a way to focus.
There are always those seeking better ways to get their children higher levels of focus and discipline.
With no shortage of people willing to do “bad things” to people, there is no shortage of people looking for ways to stop them from doing it.
I think the martial arts in general, is one of those things that is timeless in our world. It shows more now today, because it seems to easily seep into every corner of our culture in America.
From commercials on TV, to movies, to sporting events, and even to video games. It has been romanticized to the N-th Degree.
AND at the end, it is still going to boil down to the small corner school, the inner city recreation center, or maybe even the old guy in his backyard.
The student / teacher relationship, and hard work. I think we are in a good place.
- 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?
That’s a tough question.
My best advise I have ever been given would likely be that “Ving Tsun Aint No Sport”. I was told this in an average night class. My sifu was and still is a “Kung Fu Realist”.
The flowery, mystical nature of much of the kung fu legends has just simply missed him. If it does not work in class it will not work outside of class.
The real world has no ring, no ropes, no referee, no padded floors. No time clock, no cheering fans and surely no rules.
Ving Tsun was designed to work under the most difficult of conditions. A smaller person against a larger opponent who is stronger, more massive, and even possibly faster.
What we do must work now and with blinding efficiency. This is Ving Tsun.
My advise to your readers is simple. Learn to relax. Nothing comes out the way it is intended to that is tight, tense, and stressed. Learn to relax.
Dont come to class to train when you are upset and stressed out. Your mental will manifest itself physically. Learn to Relax. Stop training to the point of exhaustion all the time.
Frequent breaks in the midst of intense training is always better. Learn to Relax.