An Apprenticeship In Kung-Fu

The Apprentice Level is the first of three levels which together make up the complete Training Programme of the Federation Wing Tsun System.

The purpose of the apprentice level is to deliver all the general knowledge of the discipline. Every student receives the same information, works through identical training programmes, and takes the same standard tests for each grade. This ensures a good standard of overall competence within the martial art, which can easily be built upon.

FWTS | The Apprentice Level
The Apprentice Level of the Federation Wing Tsun System, comprising four Stages and twelve Grades.

Apprentice Stages

The material within the apprentice level is grouped into four Stages as shown by the different quarters of the diagram above.

Stage grouping is done according to the difficulty and complexity of the strategic options to be explored. The simplest, least demanding strategies are introduced and trained first, ascending gradually to the most difficult combat options which require greater skill and body control to use successfully. The four stages are as follows:

Foundation Stage introduces Retreat
Multiple Evasion
Basic Stage adds Engagement
Forced Engagement
Intermediate Stage adds Mutual Engagement
Constant Engagement
Advanced (Fire) Stage adds Attack
Forced Attack

Apprentice Grades

There is a lot of information contained within a stage, and so each is split into smaller, bite-size chunks called Grades. In the Apprentice Level these are called the Student Grades and they relate to each stage as follows:

Student Grade 1
Student Grade 2
Student Grade 3
together make up the Foundation Stage
Student Grade 4
Student Grade 5
Student Grade 6
together make up the Basic Stage
Student Grade 7
Student Grade 8
Student Grade 9
together make up the Intermediate Stage
Student Grade 10
Student Grade 11
Student Grade 12
together make up the Advanced (Fire) Stage

The first grade of each stage (Grades 1, 4, 7, and 9) introduces new solutions and applies them against the simplest problems. Students can quickly get to grips with new material and understand what is required of them.

The second grade of each stage (Grades 2, 5, 8, and 10) applies the same solutions to a wider variety of more complex problems. Students start understand how one idea can be used in many different ways, and with different results.

Finally the third grade of each stage (Grades 3, 6, 9, and 12) looks at exceptions, variations and less common situations. These grades link all the information in a stage together, and round off each complete body of knowledge.

How Long Will It Take?

Ah yes, that old chestnut. How long is a piece of string? Well, as a guide consider that a student of average ability, training at least once per-week should expect to complete one stage per-year. Each grade only lasts about three months, however you must take into account personal illness, holidays, work commitments, and times when life just gets in the way.

Based on the part-time study method above, a good quality solid apprenticeship will usually take around four years to complete.

Should you do it? Well that’s entirely up to you. But realise that those years are going to pass by anyway, whatever you do. Time is the one thing you can never get back, so why not commit to one evening a week, or one lesson a week, and use that time to gain skills and a qualification in in a great martial art.

Where Next?

Level Contents
2 The Training Programme
3 Apprentice Level (you are here) Journeyman Level Master Level
4 Foundation Stage
Basic Stage
Intermediate Stage
Advanced Stage
Water Stage
Earth Stage
Wood Stage
Metal Stage
Physical Stage
Spiritual Stage
Philosophical Stage