About Me

 

How my wing chun journey began

My Grandfather and I back in the 90s in Brooklyn.

My Grandfather and I back in the 90s in Brooklyn.

My first time coming in contact with Wing Chun was when I was about 3 years old. My parents and my grandparents are immigrants from Hong Kong, so much of my early life in Brooklyn was spent in a very traditional, Hong Kong household. There was no English spoken at the house, we ate Chinese food, listened to Chinese music, and watched Chinese movies. My sister and I would spend several hours watching Kung Fu movies daily. Many of the VHS tapes eventually became damaged due to how feverishly we would rewatch them. To this day, my favorite of all time is The Prodigal Son (1981) that starred Yuen Biao, Lam Ching Ying, and Sammo Hung. This was my first time witnessing Wing Chun, and I was too young to even know what martial art styles were being demonstrated, but I was enamored with the movement. Being born in 1994, I was already living in a Post-Bruce Lee era, so his influence and his relationship with Wing Chun was part of a distant past that I did not know about.

Scene from The Prodigal Son (1981) where Sammo Hung shows Yuen Biao why Wing Chun doesn't use high kicks.

Scene from The Prodigal Son (1981) where Sammo Hung shows Yuen Biao why Wing Chun doesn't use high kicks.

Years later, after the global phenomenon of Ip Man (2008), I decided it was finally time for me to learn it. I came into the world of Wing Chun because the world of movies brought me in. I stayed because my 師傅 (master/teacher) changed my life forever.

 

 
 

meeting My teacher 師傅, Kevin gledhill

I was 16 when I first stepped into a Wing Chun school.

My father and I were doing plenty of research at the time on the internet, in Chinese ad postings, etc. to try and find a teacher that could teach me Wing Chun. Many were very far away, and quite a few charged a high premium. My father eventually found an ad for a teacher in Northern Jersey that we thought to be quite promising, and I was about to register. Coincidentally, within the same week of seeing the ad, a family friend in a local Chinese School said that they found an incredible teacher just minutes away. As a public service announcement, he let a large group of families in the school know of this teacher.

Without naming names, there were quite a few who winced at the news that this teacher was White. Unfortunately, there are groups of very narrow-minded Chinese who firmly believe that Non-Chinese cannot teach a Chinese Martial Art in its entirety for some reason. Some have good reasons, most are just ignorant. It simply isn't true, movement and Wing Chun are not genetic.

My father and I were open to the idea of learning from a non-Chinese teacher, with my father’s mentality of, “anyone who knows anything knows more than you right now”, so we decided to make the trip after school. We pulled up to a small Taekwondo school in Matawan, New Jersey. The scene inside seemed like it came straight out of a movie; two Chinese men stood in the corner, a giant Italian man with arms bigger than my head, a friendly looking man with gray hair, and a thin, bald guy in the middle of the room.

Having no idea who the teacher of the school was, I could only stand and wait until he presented himself. By the time the bald guy walked over, I realized he was much taller up close. What happened next was nothing extraordinary. There was no challenge, no fighting. He just introduced himself as Kevin, the instructor. He was much more soft-spoken and polite than I imagined he would be, or any instructor to be from what I've seen in movies. He didn't try to market or sell us anything either. Being 8 inches taller than me, he bent forward just a little bit, held up one of his fists, and with a small gesture, he said,

"This is how we throw a punch. Try it"

He signaled for me to throw a punch at the arm that he held up. Our forearms clashed, and the only description I can provide of my experience at the time, was that the sensation felt like I had just punched a bar of iron.

Since then, Kevin has become my 師傅, traditionally, he is my teacher for the rest of my life.

 

 
 

Philipp bayer

Much of my first few classes consisted of basic Wing Chun development and the debunking of a lot of misinformation I have gathered from internet research, movies, and general misconceptions that most people have about fighting. However, I would hear the name "Philipp Bayer" come up several times every hour. 

My teacher, Kevin, holds Philipp in the highest regard possible. Ironically enough, Philipp was not Kevin's first teacher in Wing Chun, but he's definitely the last.

After being told to find Philipp's content on YouTube so that I can see what Kevin was talking about, a quick search for "Philipp Bayer Ving Tsun" yielded results that blew my little high-school mind apart. Philipp's display of lighting fast attacks and reflexes, explosive power, and surgical precision seemed almost un-human. What really struck me the most at this time in my life was that all the movements he utilized were movements that we have learned in some capacity, whether it be from Siu Lim Tao or Chum Kiu, the movements were not unfamiliar. It was at that moment that I knew how high the bar was set in the world of Wing Chun, how difficult the system is to master, and that Wing Chun is a system of refinement, with Philipp being its pinnacle. 

Throughout my high school years of on-and-off training, I spent much of my time after school just watching his videos on repeat, to the point where I would even dream about movements. High school was no easy time for me, but I knew that I desperately wanted to meet Philipp in person one day.

So I did.

 
 

In July of 2013, I met Philipp Bayer for the very first time when he came for a seminar. It was through the seminar that the pace that I would continue to learn Wing Chun would be set.

 
 

my wing chun journey continues

After meeting Philipp in person and experiencing what the highest level of Wing Chun looks like, I decided to train ferociously after the end of high school. Since then, I have spent most of my free time training at the legendary Gleason's Boxing Gym, where my 師傅 Kevin primarily teaches. We are the only Chinese Martial Arts that is taught at the gym, and we have also been featured on their official Instagram account before. Outside of Gleason's Gym, I also train in the other New Jersey locations, at home, and with the growing amount of students, friends, and training partners that I have accumulated over the years. 

I have also continued to seek out training with Philipp and through him, I have traveled to various parts of the world for the pursuit of Ving Tsun.

My ultimate goal is to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors; to train Wing Chun at the point of combat proficiency, and to teach Wing Chun in its entirety and hold nothing back from anyone who is smart enough and wants to learn it.