Beginners Question - William Cheung and Rick Spain

Fisty Mckicker

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Hello Everyone this is my first post.

I haven't been training in M.A. for several years and my town has a fairly new Wing Chun school. The school is affiliated to Rick Spain's Red Boat Wing Chun.
Red Boat Kung Fu | Wing Chun Sydney

So I have been doing a lot of research and I understand that Cheung's Wing Chun is controversial in the sense that some of what he teaches doesn't jive with what other Sifu's from Ip Man lineage teach.

My goal as a beginner is to learn Wing Chun that I can travel with... in other words I would love to have the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong or China in a few years and do some training over there, possibly full time for a spell.

So my questions are....

- Has Rick Spain changed his teachings from Cheung's, if so has he changed it to be more or less similar to what other Ip Man lineage schools teach?

- How close is Rick Spains system to other Ip Man lineage schools... is there just a few things that have been tweaked or would I have to completely re learn if I went to another school. As a beginner its hard to know with all the controversy just how much has been changed. Is it 99% the same, or completely different?

Apologies for asking a difficult question, any insights for someone who has trained in Rick Spain's system and other schools who can give some comparative insights would be appreciated.
 

KPM

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Welcome to the forum!

First question....yes, Rick Spain has changed his teachings a bit from Cheung's. Not huge differences though. The main thing I have seen is that he changes up some of the footwork in the forms so that they use a front stance rather than a "side on" stance. He did this for practicality. In his school he and his students do a LOT of sparring. Sifu Spain found early on that he was using a front stance when fighting much more often and with better results than the "side on" stance. So he changed this emphasis in the forms. This seems to make some differences in angling and execution. He has also incorporated BJJ into his curriculum.

Second question....William Cheung's "Traditional Wing Chun" is somewhat different than other Ip Man lineage schools, so naturally Rick Spain's version of TWC is going to be somewhat different as well. And the differences are significant enough that you would not be able to walk into a Ip Man school in Hong Kong and just start training easily. You would be relearning a lot of things.

But Rick Spain seems like an excellent instructor, has lots of fighting experience, and emphasizes sparring in his school. He is the "real deal". If I was in Australia I would certainly check him out! Don't mark him off your list just because there is an off-hand chance that you might one day go to Hong Kong to spend some brief time in an Ip Man school! My guess is that if you spent some time with Sifu Spain and then went to Hong Kong, you'd be handling the HK students pretty easily. ;)
 

Flying Crane

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There is a tremendous amount of variation from lineage to lineage and from school to school, even between teachers who were classmates in the same lineage. This is just the way it is.

If you have found a good teacher, dont worry about it. Just train hard. Lots of people like to argue about nebulous and difficult-to-define things like authenticity and who is the most authentic. Stay out of that nonsense because nobody has the monopoly on authenticity. If an instructor had quality training and has then made some modifications that fit better with his vision, then it is authentic.

This stuff does change, from one generation to the next. People are different, so things get changed even if the stated goal is to keep it the same. It just happens.
 

geezer

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KPM has good advice here. I train in one of the Yip Man lineages other than Cheung's "TWC". So if you were to come into my group and train, you would have to re-learn the forms and drills to practice our WC ....but WC/VT/WT is so divided and political that that would happen anyway, even if you had trained in something very close to what we do. However, at least I do acknowledge functional MA experience, and look at students from other backgrounds as a resource rather than as a problem.

Many teachers do not share this perspective and they expect experienced students from other branches to start over from scratch when they walk in the door.

So if the school you are looking at trains good functional skills, be content with that and don't worry too much about where you will go next. There are open-minded and closed minded teachers everywhere. If you travel, you just have to find the right kind of teacher for you! ;)
 

Cephalopod

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I believe that WC of any stripe does 'travel' very well, but it all depends on the club that you travel to.

We very often have practitioners from other schools come join up with our club. Sure, sifu picks apart their forms and fundamentals and jovially mocks their old habits in a way that doesn't seem to bug anyone because he's an ol' gent from HK who sounds like he's fresh off the boat. :D
But the fact is, the new guy gets up an running in no time, doing chisao/gorsao/sparring and learning the same as everyone else.
Then he either sticks around or he travels on...no contracts written in blood required. If he sticks around then gradually his old habits will be exchanged for new habits through continuous pressure testing with the group. But before that transition occurs, he provides an excellent opportunity for our club to touch some different hands and learn how to better use our stuff against them.

The attitudes at some clubs can be different. There are some clubs where you are expected to train SLT and basic drills until you "unlearn" everything you know before you get to start mixing it up with the senior students.
 
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Fisty Mckicker

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Ok, thanks for all the replies. I will have to give it my best shot.

Cheers.
 

Cephalopod

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No worries.
All the best wishes for your WC journey! Let us know how it works out.

...and let us know if your club is welcoming to 'travelers' :)
 

Juany118

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Welcome to the forum!

First question....yes, Rick Spain has changed his teachings a bit from Cheung's. Not huge differences though. The main thing I have seen is that he changes up some of the footwork in the forms so that they use a front stance rather than a "side on" stance. He did this for practicality. In his school he and his students do a LOT of sparring. Sifu Spain found early on that he was using a front stance when fighting much more often and with better results than the "side on" stance. So he changed this emphasis in the forms. This seems to make some differences in angling and execution. He has also incorporated BJJ into his curriculum.

Second question....William Cheung's "Traditional Wing Chun" is somewhat different than other Ip Man lineage schools, so naturally Rick Spain's version of TWC is going to be somewhat different as well. And the differences are significant enough that you would not be able to walk into a Ip Man school in Hong Kong and just start training easily. You would be relearning a lot of things.

But Rick Spain seems like an excellent instructor, has lots of fighting experience, and emphasizes sparring in his school. He is the "real deal". If I was in Australia I would certainly check him out! Don't mark him off your list just because there is an off-hand chance that you might one day go to Hong Kong to spend some brief time in an Ip Man school! My guess is that if you spent some time with Sifu Spain and then went to Hong Kong, you'd be handling the HK students pretty easily. ;)

I would only say that TWC does use front stances as well. Early on you actually do a fair amount of drilling that involves swapping between left and right front, and neutral, so you get into the habit of how to transition properly into, and out of, "same side/same side."

One thing I have seen that he does differently though are things I think comes from his Karate background. I saw him throw an axe kick once in sparring. I have seen plenty chuners through high kicks butt axe kicks, not so much lol
 

TMA17

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Has anyone ever studied under Yip Mans uncles sisters nieces, 8th cousins former roommate?
 

purekungfu

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There are many so called masters and during the era of Ip Man he was about 1 of 14 Wc masters.
So from there broke away many different styles and variants of wc.

Rick is one of those guys who could step in with any master and make them look like fools.
William was influenced by Wong Shun Leung as Ipman had pressure from the Chinese students about not teaching the mixed breeds (ie Bruce Lee and William Cheung)
And Wong was a regular bare knuckle boxer on the streets of Hong Kong who took those two boys on many of his drunken adventures so they had to learn fast what works and what doesnt hence the huge difference in footwork.

To make a long story short... you are very lucky to have the chance to train with him
 

Marnetmar

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There are many so called masters and during the era of Ip Man he was about 1 of 14 Wc masters.
So from there broke away many different styles and variants of wc.

Rick is one of those guys who could step in with any master and make them look like fools.
William was influenced by Wong Shun Leung as Ipman had pressure from the Chinese students about not teaching the mixed breeds (ie Bruce Lee and William Cheung)
And Wong was a regular bare knuckle boxer on the streets of Hong Kong who took those two boys on many of his drunken adventures so they had to learn fast what works and what doesnt hence the huge difference in footwork.

To make a long story short... you are very lucky to have the chance to train with him

Congrats you've both necro'd a year-and-a-half old thread and simultaneously not actually told us anything about Rick's ability.
 

geezer

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Congrats you've both necro'd a year-and-a-half old thread and simultaneously not actually told us anything about Rick's ability.
Found this short clip. Seems to give a little insight into where the guy is coming from.
 

Yoshiyahu

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I started Learning WC when i was 16. But it was based on sparring. So we learn AXE kicks, Side Kicks, Front Kicks, Back Kicks and Crescent kicks and Sweeps. I have to say throwing endless kicks wore my *** out.
I would only say that TWC does use front stances as well. Early on you actually do a fair amount of drilling that involves swapping between left and right front, and neutral, so you get into the habit of how to transition properly into, and out of, "same side/same side."

One thing I have seen that he does differently though are things I think comes from his Karate background. I saw him throw an axe kick once in sparring. I have seen plenty chuners through high kicks butt axe kicks, not so much lol

The Key is they Fought with their WC and made it work for them. A teacher can teach you fight theory but you learn fighting by actually fighting. Same With the WC form. I can teach you Sim Lien Tao. But you will only learn it by doing it!

There are many so called masters and during the era of Ip Man he was about 1 of 14 Wc masters.
So from there broke away many different styles and variants of wc.

Rick is one of those guys who could step in with any master and make them look like fools.
William was influenced by Wong Shun Leung as Ipman had pressure from the Chinese students about not teaching the mixed breeds (ie Bruce Lee and William Cheung)
And Wong was a regular bare knuckle boxer on the streets of Hong Kong who took those two boys on many of his drunken adventures so they had to learn fast what works and what doesnt hence the huge difference in footwork.

To make a long story short... you are very lucky to have the chance to train with him
 

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