Hi all, and welcome to the next stage of development for the Federation Wing Tsun System, or FWTS for short.
The system was originally conceived in January 2005. It grew from my slowly-building, personal belief that the art of Wing Chun Kung-Fu had fallen into some very bad habits. But I didn’t arrive at this conclusion overnight.
I began studying Wing Chun intensively in 1996, gained my first instructor rank in 1999, and turned professional in 2002. I was the regional instructor for the EWTO in England (called the NWTO-GB), with three clubs of my own in Wimbledon, Kingston and Chessington, plus a full-time gym in New Malden, Surrey.
To this day, a high percentage of people across Surrey and South-West London who teach or study either Ip Chun Wing Chun, or Ip Man Wing Chun, or Leung Ting WingTsun received some, or all of their training from me. You may be surprised at just how many people came through my classes, and where they are today.
In 2001 I had my first exposure to weapons training at an EWTO seminar hosted by GM Rene Latosa, of Latosa Escrima. It was then than I experienced my first nagging doubts about the Wing Chun skills and knowledge I had acquired to that point.
If Wing Chun was truly derived from edged weapons (and it is, no doubt – study your history) then why were the movements of Escrima and Wing Chun so different? Why did no less a martial artist than Bruce Lee study Escrima, and then begin moulding his own Wing Chun knowledge into the far more conceptual Jeet-Kuen-Do approach? Could these things be related? I thought it extremely likely.
Throughout the next few years I kept returning to this question, but nobody around me was skilled with weapons. So I continued attending Escrima seminars, reading about historical weaponry, and exploring their movement in my spare time. At the start of 2005 my ideas were taking shape, but an overall concept or purpose seemed lacking to link everything together.
Over time, my interest in weapons had led me to studying military strategy, and this in turn led to classic texts such as Sun Tzu and Von Clausewitz. They in their turn led to various psychological and philosophical works, and from there onto politics. I started to see that many different elements were at work here – the tools of war and the techniques of combat being only one small part of the overall wider picture.
It was the definition of the word system – related elements with a common function – that led me to classical Chinese Five-Element Theory. From there is was only a short step to developing the Five Martial Elements, and the Federation Wing Tsun System was born.
My feelings about weapons remained though. Then, as now, I felt it was impossible to truly understand martial arts without truly understanding weapons, and that was impossible to do whilst held within a Wing Chun lineage. In September 2005 I began laying the foundations for a new non-profit martial arts organisation in which students could have access to weapons and unarmed at the same time, with no constraints. It was to be called the UKKFF – the United Kingdom Kung-Fu Federation.
It turns out that others had similar visions, and I was very interested in the then newly-formed World Martial Arts Alliance. So, in October 2005 I sought out and began training with Steve Tappin, studying his Escrima Concepts System and exploring various aspects of historical weaponry with him as my guide. It remains so to this day.
My UKKFF organisation went public shortly after, and over the next decade it taught the Federation Wing Tsun System and the Escrima Concepts System side-by-side. Correct weapons knowledge informed everything, and students could finally train Kung-Fu and Escrima together, with no clashes. I was fortunate to continue my exploration of Wing Chun via the many different masters within the Alliance, and although each had a different approach, they all gave freely of their knowledge. I owe them a lot.
In October 2015 I decided the time had come to promote each aspect of the UKKFF in a separate, distinct way. For Kung-Fu, the result is this – my new portal for the Federation Wing Tsun System. We have a new logo (as seen on the front page), we will shortly have a brand-new social media presence, and new uniform designs will follow suit too.
If, like me, you have an interest in studying, training, and understanding the beautiful art and legacy that is Wing Chun Kung-Fu, I hope to see you join our mailing list, connect with us on social media, and start training with us very soon. 🙂