From Boxing to Wing Chun
Interview conducted by Maurizio Petri - 2013
M.P.: Can you sum up your experience in fighting and Martial Arts?
Y.B.L: My father, being a martial arts enthusiast himself, introduced me to them at a very young age. He would often explore the different martial arts systems available and would bring me and my brother along. It was through this that I began to pick up some training. However, I never took it seriously until I came to Australia to further my education.
When I arrived in Australia, my housemate introduced me to western boxing, and by 2005 I was competing in various boxing competitions in Australia and Asia. In 2011 I won the Western Australian Amateur Titles in the featherweight division.
Growing up in Malaysia, I found myself hanging out with what my mother would call “bad influences”, which led to numerous street altercations. Before I discovered Ving Tsun, I would just punch it out and pray that my punches would land. Ving Tsun has definitely changed the way I would deal with such situations today, but I have not had much need to do so.
Whilst I have on several occasions used my Ving Tsun in the streets, I cannot always remember exactly what happened, as much of it was over so quickly and suddenly. I would try to analyse each fight afterwards, trying to pick out things from my Ving Tsun training, but found it difficult. I do, however, remember one occasion very clearly because the technique I used amazed me. It was the ‘Dang Geuk’ and it worked beautifully.
M.P.: How has Ving Tsun helped you in the ring and generally speaking, in boxing, considering that Wong Shun Leung's Ving Tsun was born for street fighting and not for sports competitions?
Y.B.L.: Ving Tsun has definitely played a big role in the development of my boxing abilities. It has helped me to enhance my physical expression. In the ring, the concepts are similar. As Wong Shun Leung says “Ving Tsun is a science of combat, the intent is the total incapacitation of an opponent”. After my first loss on a points decision, I have since adopted this philosophy of aiming to finish my opponent and not to leave the decision up to the judges again.
Chi Sau training has influenced the fluidity of my boxing combinations. Of course I am speaking of free flowing, spontaneous chi sau, and not the somewhat stereotypical strikes on often compliant or intimidated students, as seen in countless videos on youtube. Always remember, in the ring, not only is your opponent mobile, but he has also trained as hard as you have. The reality of ring fights is that EVERYONE can take punishment, so you better have more than just techniques.
I try not to concentrate too much on the techniques we learn from VT but rather on the concepts of VT as they relate to fighting. I have incorporated these concepts into my boxing and it has worked. For example: footwork, the angling, the idea of pressuring forward, advancing against oncoming pressure, and so on… but the most important part of the VT training which I cherish and adapt to my boxing is the VT aggression. To elaborate on what I mean, let’s put it this way: What do Boxing and Ving Tsun have in common and what is their number one weapon? My answer is ‘The punch’ and when you make that connection, I say give em’ hell at the sound of the bell.
Having said that, I don't think that WSLVT was created solely for street fighting. I strongly believe that WSLVT is for fighting, PERIOD, whether in the ring or on the streets. I hold the view that "if you can't make it work in the ring, what chance have you got on the streets?”
In Sifu David Peterson’s book “Look Beyond The Pointing Finger”, he mentions that Wong Shun Leung himself said “Make Ving Tsun your slave, never allow Ving Tsun to be your master.” I believe that the basic concepts and applications of VT can be adopted and adapted not only by western boxing, but also by almost any other martial art. As a matter of interest, Mannie de Matos, founder of Hakarac Martial Boxing, working in conjunction with my own teacher, Rolf Clausnitzer, has had remarkable success with his boxers when sparring and competing against conventional boxers. With the right attitude and training, the application of basic VT concepts and techniques can do wonders for any fighter.
M.P.: Coming from your experience, do you think that training Ving Tsun techniques slowly is useful to increase one's technical level toward fighting?
Y.B.L.: Training slowly at a good pace can certainly be advantageous to the Ving Tsun practitioner in understanding the concepts and techniques for which it was designed. However, I think that training the techniques slowly without the proper intentions can be dangerous. It is no use performing a set of movements over and over again without ever expressing or visualising its full potential. I believe it is crucial to never disregard the intentions of Ving Tsun. When engaged, one should explode.
M.P.: You've been around the world and have had a chance to meet numerous WSLVT lineage practitioners. Would you like to tell us something about your experiences with them?
Y.B.L.: Every instructor and practitioner of this unique brand of Ving Tsun I have had the pleasure of meeting and training with has been very welcoming. They are all genuinely humble and never fail to leave a lasting impression on me. What they all have in common is their generosity in sharing their knowledge and understanding of this wonderful system.
What I have also discovered is that each is unique in expressing his VT. Something I like to call their trademark. It seems to me that they have found their own way of expressing themselves through Ving Tsun and always have something to offer, which I try to learn and absorb when they share it with me.
My own sifu, Rolf Clausnitzer is a real gentleman, who has been practising and teaching VT for nearly 50 years. He generously shares his understanding and ongoing development, and often encourages me and anyone else in the kwoon who is interested to test our Ving Tsun, whether against other Ving Tsun practitioners or other martial artists of different styles. I am ever grateful to him, as through him I have had the chance to meet so many wonderful members of the WSLVT family.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them again for their wonderful hospitality when visiting their kwoons. Having said that, I encourage every WSLVT practitioner who has the chance to travel, to make contact with the rest of the growing WSLVT family around the world. Exchange ideas, touch and feel, further one’s development, and have a whole heap of fun doing it.