WingChun: Praising Spring

Happy New Year of 2019!

I wish you are all well and enjoying the wonderful new year.  Do you know what?  As entering 2019, the Academy of WingChun Berkeley at the University Avenue location is engaging into 10th year anniversary.

Many things changed since then, many people comes and goes, as life happens as expected, and often unexpected ways, as always. Changes and renewals are themes in life.  No matter what happens, we keep eyes wide open and growing throughout life.

As a part of the anniversary celebration, and yes, we could say that it’s been overdue, we initiated the academy renovation project in early January 2019. Did you already have a chance to step onto the beautiful cork floor we installed recently?  Isn’t it awesome?  More improvements are on the way.  Let’s build more of wonderful memories together on this new floor, keep training with passion and love, and tough up ourselves inside and outside.

WingChun Berkeley

WingChun Lineage

While passing the lineage to next generation, adapting and surviving through generation after generation, each of us here is the bridge. We train together, meet as strangers and become a family.  Every experience: excitements, learning, adrenaline, uplifting, mistakes, and sometimes overwhelming pains, they are all parts of us, let’s embrace them, accept our emotions, either positive or negative, and move forward.

WingChun詠春”  literary means “Praising Spring“.  Like you feel whistling, with full of sweet days and roses and a treasure box where awesome techniques and flows compacted in.  WingChun is a concept-based Chinese martial art and form of self-defense, originally developed in southern China approximately 300 years ago.

According to legend, the martial art style that came to be known as Wing Chun (詠春) was originated by the Buddhist nun Ng Mui in a period of civil war that marked the transition between Ming () and Qing () Dynasties. The rebellious monks of Shaolin were haunted down and killed as the temples burned to the ground.  The escaped rebels trained underground, synthesized a compact form of Kung Fu (功夫) to exploit weaknesses inherent in the other combat styles of their time and give an advantage to smaller fighters, who did not have the advantage of size and strength.  It was one of the very direct and short-range fighting systems.

This new system was well-guarded and passed on to only a few, very dedicated students, then evolving as it was adopted into various groups.  Gained popularity when Ip Man (葉問) began to teach openly in China and Hong Kong.  Some of his students, (i.e. Bruce LeeJeet Kune Do (截拳道), Leung Ting – WingTsun (詠春), to mention a few) continued the development, and spread Wing Chun all over the world.  It was further refined into our WingChun (詠春) of the present day.  Let’s express gratitude to all ancestors and instructors, who were passionate and patiently passed WingChun to us here.

WingChun Art Starts from Heart

One of the signs at our academy, written as “拳由心發” (Kuen Yau Sum Fut) can be translated as “Art Starts from Heart”. The framework of physical, psychological, and philosophical scales of Self-Defense was presented as primarily practical. (*quoted from

As we get trained more, we gain more experience and power.  Along with the martial art system, techniques, and skills, the lineage is also the descendant of our characters, which matter a lot to many of us. Integrity, honestly, kindness, generosity, compassion, moral courage, like, and love.  More than anything else, it is about how we treat each other; instructors, students, alumni, and prospects (of course your friends and families included!).  Never underestimate the influence you have on others.  Dare to be the one to let others believe that good things are possible.

“The very spring and root of honesty and virtue lie in good education” -Plutarch

Sije Yuka Yoshioka

WingChun Movements and Mindsets

If the life extracts one thing, it’s movement.

To live is to keep moving. It takes a lot of courage to liberate yourself from the familiar and seemingly secure environment, to embrace the unknown.  On the other hand, there is truly more security in the adventurous and exciting mindsets and actions.  For in movement, there is life, and in change, there is power.

In WingChun, how to improve the movement?

If the mastering the technique itself is immature, whatever the muscle is greatly trained, it becomes an unused treasure. On the contrary, if you acquire the skills of maneuvering your body freely, you can generate more power and speed efficiently. For example, compare to the punch with merely the arm muscle movement,  you can throw significantly heavier punches; if you know how to transfer the force created by your footwork and bodywork, through the feet, legs, hip, spines, chest, shoulders, arms, to the fists.

For the start, we can introduce you to those 3 basic movements and exercise ideas:

1) Stretch and Shrink:

Stretch the ribs and pelvis apart and simultaneously shrink the opposite side.  Remain the center of gravity to the stretched side, that way, you can recognize the power, which you transfer from pelvis to legs. The muscles on trunk can move much wider and more elastic. It can improve the movement of hands and arms, and create physical agility.

2) Roll and Warp:

From the pelvis to the backbone, round and warp the torso, repeatedly. During the movement, be conscious of each spine clearly. It can increase overall leg movement efficiency and enhance overall suppleness, flow and flexibility of the body actions.

3) Twist:

Twisting the spine one by one, it’s the movement of distinguishing the torso and leg from the joint, which leads to create the maximum power of human being (Punches, Kicks, etc.). Be careful not to move your legs while hanging on this exercise.

Train to the Mastery for life.

Just to mention a few, you can imagine that there are infinite numbers of combinations and details in practice. Of course, it will not be acquired overnight but we can start realizing that there are more prosperity to be found on the way to the mastery of WingChun along with the mastery of your body. It could take a lifetime and persistence there, but you can improve yourself as far as you train.  In each stage, you always encounter the pleasure of discovering more about WingChun, yourself and others, which leads to the passion to do more, and eventually share more with others.  The martial artists in the ancient time says, “Aim to train to achieve the peak performance of your body in your 60s.”

Stay in Action and Be Conscious.

Movement is the prescription for creating change in your physical, emotional, and mental states. In a daily life, you can also practice how to manage yourself by yourself. It is like one of your grooming routines: you to be always being “yourself” with no matter the circumstances or who you are with. Observe and take care of the trivial details well, which most people don’t even notice. Think about how to maintain the good distance to other people?  Don’t be too close or sticky, but don’t be too unfriendly or unfavorable.  Fulfill your role so as not to differentiate and obstruct others.  It also leads to raising the quality of movement for itself.

Therefore, you can achieve the status of “No Unguarded Moment“, as a consciousness of martial arts in a glimpse.  In other words, you become the one who is always ready, reliable and accountable.

In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.  -Deepak Chopra

Sije Yuka Yoshioka

Train Yourself to Thrive

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”

Most people try to avoid stress, because it is uncomfortable.  Chronical stress is bad for you, but short bursts of stress are actually very good for you. In biology phenomenon, the term “hormesis” refers to beneficial effects to short-term exposure to a certain substance or stressor, such as improved health, stress tolerance, growth and/or longevity, whereas longer term exposure could prove toxic or lethal.

For most of our human history, we often needed to endure a variety of harsh environment, with little protection from destructive forces of nature. Fierce winters and burning summers, and if we don’t adapt to it, then we die.  From the genetic stand point, our body changed to adopt to the environment and stress.

However, what happens when we take those stressors away, and replace them with our warm clothes, and comfortable temperature controlled buildings?  Interestingly, living our lives in constant comfort and pleasure results in a decrease in our overall health and growth.

Have you ever felt better about yourself while training WingChun in a regular base?  Challenging cells and body systems by mild stress resulting in us not only becoming stronger but effecting on anti-aging and faster wound healing. Mild stress-induced physical stimulation can help you to overcome challenges and grow stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally, even outside the classes.

The year of 2017 coming to the end.  It was an eventful year, yet our future will always come with huge uncertainty. So, why don’t we reach out of our comfort zones a bit more.  Let’s look forward to encountering even more challenges, stress, and pressures, in 2018.  Eager to face your problems and eat them as breakfast. If it is too much to handle at once, maybe save some for lunch or dinner.  You can eventually digest and make them part of yourself, and tough up. Remember, we are the ones evolving!

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Sije Yuka Yoshioka

Commitment and the Paths

In each class that I teach in one way or another, I’m trying to recreate an experience that I had as a student of WingChun. But other than the talent of the instructors or that of the student’s, there is a path that the student has a choice to either partially go down or go down in totality. That is to say a practice in body, mind, and spirit. A lifestyle if you will.

I’ve heard it said that a good teacher, above transmitting information, creates an optimal learning environment. It is up to the instructor to invite you on a path. But it is the choice of the student; how far they would like to delve into the path. Now, before I make this sound like I’m trying to get you to join some cult and drink the Kool-aid, understand what I’m really talking about here is involvement and commitment to yourself.

In this digital age, I find that commitment to something, or commitment to a practice  is scarce. Kierkegaard had something to say about this. Busy people “fill up their time, always find things to do,” but they have no principle guiding their life. “Everything is important but nothing is important.” To be everywhere is to be nowhere. It’s my opinion that we have never  been  more busy, stifled by choices, and frankly never been more unhappy.

Having the platform, and making the choice, to commit oneself is a very special thing. Even if you feel frustrated or your arms hurt a little bit from practicing, you are forging your will and committing yourself to something. You are making a deposit into the bank account that is your martial ability and fortitude. There are no short cuts here. Being a good WingChun practitioner takes hard work as does anything in this world that has any value. ‘Kung Fu’ literally means “hard work.”

So I cordially invite you on this path. But I can’t do it without you. I am only one part of this ecosystem that is our school. And your fellow students are also a part of this ecosystem. The more that you attend, the more spirit/focus/power/technical ability you exemplify, the more you give to your classmates. And……. The more you get back! The rising tide lifts all the ships.

One So I encourage you and I invite you to go down this path. I pledge my commitment. Dare to commit yourself. You are worth it.

Sihing Tom Richards