The print version of “What I Learned Through Beimo.” Thanks again to David Peterson for translating this invaluable article.
Wing Chun is about intelligent answers to stupid questions.
Nino Bernardo is very direct and honest (bordering on blunt) which is why I like him. He also ran the legendary “Basement” kwoon in London and now runs a very well-respected school in Ibiza (where you can train in between clubbing and going to the beach if you like).
In a martial art where we find a lot of bluster and grandstanding (especially among the less-talented) it is refreshing to find Sifus and high-level practitioners who are reasonably humble. Wong Shun Leung was like this. Gary Lam is like this. Greg LeBlanc is like this. Nino Bernardo is like this. None of these men call(ed) themselves “Grandmaster.”
I find humility is often found together with a certain pragmatism and practicality in the approach to fighting. People who have fighting experience or intelligence or both understand that fighting is gambling, even when you are very good. The possibility of losing is always there.
They say an armed society is a polite society. Understanding fighting keeps you on an even keel. Of course there are always a few guys who are really good and who really like to fight – the adrenaline-junkies. And some of them can be a little belligerent.
But its my observation that the better you are, the less you have to prove it or talk about it. I’ve seen it happen – guys come in to the school who are cocky and have a chip on their shoulder. They start to get good and it calms them down. They have less to prove.
This is the true aim of kung fu – character development.
Gary Lam was taught the first part of Wing Chun’s first form (Siu Lum Tao) by Ip Man. He learned Chi Sao from Wong Shun Leung.
He knew or met all those guys you’ve only read about.
One of the most respected Wing Chun masters in the world, he was for a time head coach for Wong Shun Leung. He was the undefeated champion of the Hong Kong full Contact Tournament in 1978-1979, and a former President of the Hong Kong Wing Chun Society.
And yesterday he kicked my ass.