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This information is copied from the Pragmatic Martial Arts homepage.
Adam Chan, Founder of Pragmatic:
"If I had to write about my martial arts background, then I think using this opportunity to post a tribute to my teachers would be better:
Joeseph Boychuck - I trained for 2 years in Classical Moy Yat Wing Chun. You will never meet another man more loyal to Wing Chun than him. I didn't know when I was 11 that Wing Chun was gonna be the basic tool that I would use for the rest of my life. I feel that no matter how much I change I still think like a Wing Chun man at heart. It was Sifu Joeseph Boychuck who gave me that(Wing Chun) root and I am sure I wouldn't have progress to any length without him. I have lost contact with him and I hope he's doing well wherever he is. Although I know that I don't have the talent to fight like a classical Wing Chun man, I know I think like one and for that I am grateful.
Mike Smith - I was there for 2 years. Physically, it would be impossible in a short post to write about all the things that Sifu Mike did. He had experience in Karate, different versions of Wing Chun, Ba Kua Chang, Natural Gate Boxing, Northern Shaolin, Yi Quan, Hsing I Chuan, different styles of Tai Chi, Kali, etc. It was Mike who got me out of "the best" mentality by letting me see how different arts approach things and by showing me that things are about universal principles not fragmentation of "style". I most definitely do not have the personality nor skill to fight like Sifu Mike but he inspired one of the most important thing in my mind - individuality and creativity. It was shocking and inspiring to see how inventive he was and I am sure he still is. THANK YOU Sifu!
Jesse Glover and the late Ed Hart - Around the time that I met them, I was confused with too many techniques in my body and waaay too many ideas in my mind. The worn out martial arts words of Simplicity, Directness, Efficiency needed to be drilled into me once again. I was only there for 2 months and I ran out of cash,(I was living on bread literally, taking the bus 4 hours there and 4 hours back just to train for 2 hours a night). Because of this, I only scratched the surface and I cannot do a lot of the things that NCGF does. However, they gave me a chance to see a method that fitted my personality. For the first time in my martial arts life, I felt like I was being myself. They taught me HOW to train and how to learn and how to research, which in my mind was what I needed - it gave me the courage to find my own answer. How do you pay someone back for that? Without them I am sure I wouldn't have found out what really worked for me. Even nowadays at 74, Jesse is still researching and evolving his art, he teaches humility without words. Jesse is the one guy who really drove home the essential practice of critical thinking and self acceptance - do what work for YOU!
Ed particularly inspired me to be better person. Ed was 73, I think, when I met him but he was as excited as a kid when he was teaching haha. Ed once said "This stuff changes people, I don't know how and I don't wanna mess with it.". That reminds me of Buddhism's "authentic presence" - Ed never TALKED philosophy, the way he treated others WAS philosophy, he lived it. He told me "It takes a willing student and a willing teacher, if you are willing I promise to make you good" and he stuck out his hand. SHIT I almost cried. Well we never got the chance because he died shortly afterwords but I can never forget that degree of generosity - he naturally without trying, made people wanna be better human beings simply by the way he treated others. Even though he didn't want to "mess with it" he made a big difference - how can anyone be an ass without extreme guilt after knowing someone like Ed? Nowadays who cares this much, I go into a MA school and they are usually bragging and trying to sell me before I even have a chance to blink.
And the integrity he had...he could have sold out and cash in on his friendship with Bruce Lee but, like Jesse, he never did unlike a lot of Bruce's "friends". One time in class we joked with Ed how if he advertised and get a lot of guys he would definitely make a lot of cash. Ed got dead serious and said that if you commercialize it, you will lose quality. Quality, that's what the man was all about. He was content teaching underground.
For new readers, Ed was a seasoned street fighter, a judo guy, was once a young 240 lbs pro boxer and later he was the second student of Bruce Lee and later learned from Jesse. Aside from his excellent fighting method and how truly creative he was, his instruction paid a lot of attention to the psychological side of real conflict - he's been there plenty of times in his life. Jesse stated "Ed was as good in street fighting as Bruce was in gung fu". Rest in Peace Ed, I miss that old guy!
In the end, names and styles do not matter. Most commercialized martial arts styles are very sports oriented today and they would not work without some kind of modification. A lot of things I do is based on trial and error. There is a huge difference between training for a sport as compared to training for real situations such as an ambush, close quarter confrontations, multiple attackers, fighting in a dark environment, dealing with weapons, rescue third party etc. One should study how criminals behave and start attacks. This study of self-protection can easily encompass more than what most would call a martial art. This research has led me into the basic ideas of criminology, sociology, psychology, sport-science and physics. That is why I always think it's funny when people ask me what style I do, I mean where do I start?
People that I have met in person very briefly that have somehow made a huge impact:
Wong Shun Leung - I met Wong Shun Leung one day, the student of Yip Man, one teacher of Bruce Lee. He went off about the workings of Wing Chun. He gave me the chance to see a very aggressive side of Classical Wing Chun. This allowed me to see my Wing Chun roots more clearly, it was through meeting him that got me obsessed with attacking throat and eyes because I am small too - although it was many years later that I made it work for me. On the surface, it's about targets but in reality, fingers have a way to trigger a different body feel, mind set and angles which other hand technique simply cannot fit into. This opens the door for me to angle my body differently, which leads into the ability to uproot people on the very first beat, well unless the guy is really good. He really helped me without knowing it RIP WSL. What I really like about him was his unflinching honesty.
Professor Chang Su Fang / Si Gung Tung - Professor Chang was my Chi Gung teacher for a couple of months but he introduced me to his teacher's Gung Fu brother Si Gung Tung, who was a direct student of Wang Hing Zhai, the legendary founder of Yi Quan. Si Gung Tung was 91 years old I think when I met him so he was very traditional and he was not very happy about teaching someone who practices other arts. So I was only allowed to be there for a few classes. I never fault him for it, watching him move influenced all my arm techniques - structure. Years later I showed his best student my modification, she said while I can claim it was inspire by him it is not Yi Quan. Either way, Si Gung has no idea that my brief meetings with him has changed all my arm stuff 360 degrees...Thank you !!!
Steve Smith - Recently, another individual who have made an impact on my practice is Steve Smith. THANKS STEVE!!!!! I only saw Steve move in 2 seminars so I don't want anyone to think I am qualified in anyway to do Yeung Chuan. New endless variations of old throwing moves I use to do came out by itself after seeing Steve, I have no idea how. He inspired the true meaning of economic use of force. This happened at the right time in my life - when I am injured. Above all, it has influenced how I look at physical movement itself, and how I look at conflict itself. Most importantly, I feel like I know him for years, I don't have many friends in martial arts nor do I network a lot and I am grateful for his friendship. His skill is amazing, seriously. Although Steve doesn't care at all, I feel he doesn't get the credit he deserves - he's a teacher's teacher.
One things I noticed about all those great teachers, aside from their skills and great character, was how much they all love their arts, way beyond ego and fighting - this to me is the greatest gift of MA. To wake up everyday and have something in your life you truly love to do, just to do it and can never get enough off. This is why I think its so silly when on endless forums, magazines, Youtube etc., people are spending most of their time trash-talking, bragging etc. - they are missing the real kick of joy and creativity waiting for them."