The Pursuit of Truth
It is easy to talk about Wing Chun or martial arts. It is easy to talk about how much you train at your school in a nice, air-conditioned environment where you are comfortable and know everyone.
However, it is a completely different animal when you are placed in a brutal, unforgiving environment and are attacked by strangers whose only intent is to take away whatever you have, including your health.
Before Wing Chun, I had studied four martial arts, won trophies and tournaments and thought I was the man, able to defend myself with no problem. Then reality hit me square in the mouth. Actually, reality had a name. Its name was “being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” To make a long story short, I was attacked at an apartment complex by 3 people. With my limited skill at the time I was only able to fend them off briefly. Then as fists and grunts were still flying a wonderful thought entered my brain loud and clear. My brain said, If You Don’t Find A Way To Get Away This Instant, You Will Be In One Of Two Places Tomorrow. The Hospital or the MORGUE!!! The next second I found a small opening to my left, gave all I had in a last burst of flailing limbs, and then put into play my best self-defense tool… Sprinting! I made a break for it. They tried to grab, claw, and tackle, but I was running for my life. It worked. I had never, in all my years of athletics, ran so fast. Who needs NOS when you have adrenaline pumping through your veins. They chased me for over 300 hundred yards, but gave up that chase when they could not close the gap. I’ll never forget it. I was going so fast due to the extra push of adrenaline, that when I finally tried to slow down, I almost fell down because my legs couldn’t keep up with how fast my body was moving. It was the wildest thing. For the first time, I was experiencing true fight or flight response. What did I learn from this near tragic encounter 19 years ago? The mere fact that I stayed alive so that I could learn from it is enough. However, several things were made immediately clear.
1. All the movies I had seen where Bruce Lee, or some action star, had beaten up 16 people by himself were put in the proper perspective. There is a huge difference between movies or television, and reality. Movies are made for entertainment without regard to the real chaos of a fight, attack, or ambush.
2. I realized that either the training I had received or the particular martial arts that I had taken thus far were woefully inadequate to handle real fights, multiple attackers, and the raw, primal aggression of a planned attack. In other words, they were good for sport, but not for reality.
3. Unlike sparring in a comfortable class environment, during the real melee of an attack, you may not feel the pain usually accompanying the blows you are receiving, until much later when the adrenaline levels in your system go back down to normal levels. For example, I felt wetness on my face and a numb sensation around my mouth, but zero pain while I was still in the fight. It was several hours later, before I could tell the extent of my injuries. Obviously, the wetness was blood, the numbness was a result of fists to my face, resulting in cuts in my gums and lips, and my mouth was tore on one side. Nor did I feel the cuts on my hands from striking, until later.
4. Although I had sustained some damage, the next day I had a true revelation. It could have ended a lot worse. My injuries were minimal when compared to what probably should have ended poorly for me. I felt God had spared me. It wasn’t my time to go.
5. I vowed to myself that, starting then, I would pursue the truth. What did I mean by truth? I was through with any martial art that was for sport, tournaments, or show. If it was not the real deal, forget it. I looked under every rock, and turned over every leaf for 2 straight years before I found it. It was unexpectedly hiding in a back alley behind a convenience store. In that back alley I found what I was looking for.
It was night time and all I could see were dimly lit men with their bare fists flying at each other. Heads were randomly getting snapped backward by the blows they were receiving. Kicks were low and effectively being thrown in combinations with fists.
I watched from inside my vehicle. I was amazed, shocked, and elated all at the same time. It does exist! Real training, for real fights! I was so stoked. I could hardly get out of my vehicle fast enough. I had to find out more. How do I become a part of this? How soon can I begin my training here?
Once out of my vehicle, I walked past the intensely training people and into a small room where I found the instructor. I told him that I was interested in learning. What happened next startled me. Unlike all the other dozens of schools I visited, he didn’t try to sell me on how great he was, how great his programs were, or how I should sign a contract that night. He calmly said, “You can watch the remainder of tonight’s training, if you are still interested, come back next week. That’s it. He then tended to his students. No sales. No marketing. All training – for real. I was so blown away, I had to chase him down to find out what day and what time next week.
You can believe I was early on that appointed day. The first day of a journey that I am still on today, 17 years later. It was the beginning of a life changing, eye-opening walk with wing chun.
This article was authored by sifu Jonathan Petree, founder of Atlantic Warriors Wing Chun Gung Fu.
Atlantic Warriors Wing Chun Kung Fu proudly serves the following North Florida and South Georgia areas: Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Orange Park, St. Augustine, Mandarin, Fleming Island, Mayport, Arlington, Ortega, Riverside, Avondale, San Marco, Oceanway, Callahan, Yulee, Fernandina Beach, Hilliard, and Bryceville, Florida. Also, serving Kingsland, St. Mary's, and Folkston, Georgia.
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This site was last updated 01/02/12