The journey of Wing Chun Kung Fu is not about fighting for me. It is a spiritual journey of self discovery. It is about finding the untapped power inside of me as a woman and finding how to feel confident as the person I was destined to be.
I began my martial arts journey at around the age of 14 years after a not so nice experience with a boy, which I must let you know, I won. Still I started training in the art of Tae Kwon Do. It made me feel powerful, it was a release for my pent up anger and other raging emotions. I liked the integrity and structure it provided me in a life that was emotionally unstable. Knowing little about any martial arts systems, I put my soul entirely into its practise in the quaint little city of Adelaide where I grew up, then later in sunny, Port Lincoln.
Until... the respectful Sifu we had moved towns and left us with a slightly crazy and somewhat fanatical instructor. So needless to say, I jumped ship and took up Karate instead with a very kindly and stable minded Cory DeWitt. A few years of this training passed and I learnt a lot. I found both styles to be power and strength based and neither of those things am I.
Restless as I was, I took off round the world as I thought best to do these things young as hip replacements and Bungy jumping aren't really compatible. Doing the sometimes crazy things that single female travellers do, I thought best if I sought out more martial arts training in the not so quaint, but oh so fun city of London. Woo hoo. 'Twas there I found a big black Jamacian by the name of Gary, oops sorry I digress, back to the martial arts, no really, he actually trained me in the art of Wing Chin Kung Fu only.
Then I turned the tender age of 26, my visa ran out and they kicked me out of the country darn it! I had to come home and was a little home sick anyhow. So I said goodbye to those beautiful people I had come to love in London, my Wing Chun family (I was the slightly embarrassing Aussie member of my English family), but before I left they just happened to mention some sort of Academy for Wing Chun in Australia. Jim Fungs here I come.
I hit the phone book, yes people the phone book, the thing that has now been replaced by my friend Google, and there I found the Adelaide Academy of Wing Chun and just up the road from the bus depot, what luck. Ring ring, 'Hi, Jules here, can I pleeeease come train with you?' They said yes, great. There I met Albert, not that he would remember me, I hope he doesn't remember me anyway as he took one look at me and well, he laughed, I could almost see the words tumbling round in his head, something like, golly gosh here is a lady claiming to be a Wing Chun practitioner, hmmmmm, sigh.
Ego, I had plenty of that, built up like a wall round my entire being, stiffening every joint in my body, making every muscle taught like several over stretched rubber bands. Albert laughed, I got angry, I'd been doing Wing Chun for bout a year and a half now, I was fit, I could do hand stand push-ups, we'll almost any way. Let's just say he wiped the ego right off my face and quickly. I had never heard of the concept of Tei Gong, and maybe Chi Sau was some sort of vegetable. I thought I knew Sui Nim Tao because I knew some of the movements but had no idea of the internal energy that needed to be kindled. I knew nothing, but as every beginner knows it all, so did I.
Back to sunny Port Lincoln I came with the name of a man who would prove to be the biggest catalyst of change in my entire life, Corey Slade. A swimming instructor at the time, I went back to the pool to earn more money to travel yet again and there I saw a man (fully clothed) walking round the pool with Wing Chun intent and bingo, I'd found Si-Hing Corey. You can tell a Wing Chun person by their walk!
Corey started teaching at the Leisure centre & I started learning what this magical art is really about. I learnt for the first time the nature of force and tension in my body and that of my opponents. I learnt that I really can't live like a wound up rubber band and be a deeply happy person. Kung Fu fitted like a glove, it is teaching me about myself, helping me to let go and definitely turning me into a better person. Helping me to find a deeper meaning to my life and to be more humble in the process. I laugh at myself often now, I'd also rather hug you than fight you. I especially don't claim to be a marvellous martial artist as there is so much more to learn and then there's the art of being taught, not to mention self discipline. For me Wing Chun is about personal power, it's about developing the ability to sit within the eye of the storm and remain unruffled.
I admire this art and have been able to return to this training time and again with renewed passion and dedication, although it's some years on and I still haven't been Bungy jumping!
Corey asked me to explain what made me a better student?
Many things contributed to my becoming a better student, here are the ones most important to me;
I learnt to trust. To trust myself to know when someone was trying to help me. This allowed me to open my mind and not be so forceful both in Wing Chun and in daily life. It allowed me to respect people more, although I don't always get it right.
The realisation that mistakes are opportunities to be a better person. So I became grateful for the times when I could observe self through others reflecting my energy back - sometimes good, often not so good.
Also beginning to learn acceptance. Mostly of myself, being able to think 'this is who I am', and not freaking out, hiding or blaming.
The free flow of information that has come to be. Finally, the endless patience, tolerance, kindness, warmth and wealth of knowledge of Si-Hing Corey.
Thanks for your dedication, because without your generosity none of us would be learning Wing Chun Kung Fu on Eyre Peninsula.
Thanks for sharing my journey.
Photo from recent kids MA movie & games day during term 2 school holidays - Tumby Bay Kids Martial Arts Academy -
Dodge the ninja stars (bean bag) whilst negotiating the obstacle course!