Theory of Balance

Theory of Balance by Lawrence Ramirez

Whether attacking postures presented, redirecting incoming forces and attacking from outside angles, or defending a full frontal attack directly at your centerline from an opponent, there must be balance in your approach within each of these scenarios.

Balance is said by many to be the most important factor to your defenses in a fight. It is also said to be the key to a successful attack. The fact is that Balance encompasses many ideas and has many applications within any fighting art.

There are theory of balance within form training that apply to attacking stationary and mobile defense postures, defense of both soft angular attacking and attacks with solid forward momentum, and also to each of these ideas in combination.

Within all the Wing Chun systems these ideas of balance are encompassed and addressed within the Hand  Forms, San Sik, the Mook Yan Jong, and Weapons sets. Keep in mind that theory of actual application and training methods may differ due to lineage and family interpretation.

Balance is important to every empty hand and leg technique applied within the Wing Chun system. We change angles of attack or defense when we feel pressures or changes in our opponent’s posture in order to gain advantage upon and absolute control of them. But if there is no balance in the application of our technique we may become victims to our own movement. For every strike thrown at us we have several options with which to change that strikes energy into one which we can use to our advantage. If we do not use a balanced response, we may overextend an arm or cross center just enough for a trained opponent to take advantage of it.

Being over-committed is a common mistake that can have serious consequence if taken advantage of by an opponent trained to recognize this. “Strike when you should, do not strike when you should not”, or “Do not chase hands” apply in this scenario as forcing a strike can lead you into a bad situation if your opponent seizes the opportunity of a badly timed or an overzealous strike.

Balance in application of technique and in structure and stance upon entry or upon reception of external forces no matter of angle or strength is paramount. “Accept what comes, follow what retreats” is a theory of balance and teaches us to use balance in our defense and attacking as well. Using a balanced pivot, or joon ma to redirect, or diffuse an oncoming force helps us to keep balanced structure in a clash, where energies would otherwise topple an unsuspecting fighter. This theory also enables us to take advantage of overzealous over-committed attackers whom have our destruction in mind and are using force and brute strength to try an overcome a trained rooted Wing Chun fighting structure.

Balance in mind body and spirit is a popular way to describe the way a martial warrior should approach every aspect of life. Within the Wing Chun System this Ideal rings especially true.

Keep the Traditions!

lrs

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Tea for Sifu

Tea for Sifu by Lawrence Ramirez Sifu

My Sifu is no different than a great many Sifu I would imagine, whom love a hot cup of tea intermittently throughout the day.

Well throughout the six years I had trained with my Sifu, every session would include a cup of tea at some point, either upon arrival, during a break or maybe after the session with a tale of our Sihing or Sigung from years gone by.

You could imagine at Holiday time or upon a birthday celebration, there would no doubt be a gift for Sifu of a rare or exotic tea in a fancy tin given at some point right. Well yes that did happen, and more often than just at a holiday. So a great many years go by and a very impressive collection of teas from around the world had passed through the Kwoon’s door, with Sifu always graciously thankful and welcoming the giftor with a cup of delicious hot tea.

It had been many years that I had been through the Kwoon’s doors after moving out of state and during a particular family visit I was blessed with the time to see my Sifu, I looked forward to talking story with him and sharing a cup of tea, and yes I did bring a fancy tin of exotic tea as a gift for my Sifu.

As we sat down to begin our visit with two cups of fresh hot tea, my Sifu began to tell me how much he appreciated everyone whom would bring so many fancy teas from all over the world as a gift all these years.

Sifu told me how the gift teas were always greatly appreciated because as you can imagine a great many students over a few years could sip down quite a bit of tea, and that after all these years he still prefers to drink only plain old Lipton…

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A Cultivation of Wing Chun Kung Fu

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Alan “Bak Fu” Vasquez Sifu and Lawrence “Shi Kuen” Ramirez at Orange County Wing Chun Association, in Lake Forest, California.

As my Sifu Alan “Bak Fu” Vasquez says “The Tao of Wing Chun is a long path… Orange County Wing Chun Association (OCWingChun), Est. 1979 http://www.wingchunassoc.com

A Cultivation of Wing Chun Kung Fu by Lawrence Ramirez Sifu

The path I took in developing my Kung Fu was indeed a long path. I was a product of the permissive society of the seventies, and found great delight in evening TV shows with the family. As the TV dramas unfolded, my friends and I as children acted out our favorite shows as was our duty. It also might have been due to the fact that cell phones, internet and video games would not be invented for another few decades. At any rate one of our earliest of heroes in the streets had to be of course James Tiberius Kirk from Star Trek.Because of all his fight scenes he was the obvious first choice, and it was a great honor to get the role of Kirk among your friends. But like the saying goes change is inevitable. Summers pass and heroes fade, well some heroes fade. In the same year there was another series airing which starred a relatively unknown Actor martial artist from Hong Kong by the name of Lee Jun Fan, or to you and me Sigung Bruce Lee.

Enter, “the Dragon”- influence- that is. Martial Arts had come out of the shadows and were on the Big Screen with Sigung  Lee Jun Fan shining bright in the spotlight. And if that were not enough we could always get the reruns of Green Hornet airing. Martial Arts had broken out of the shadows and Dojos were popping up in every City in the US. Now that was good and feeding my interest, but it wasnt until February 22, 1972 then again in August of 1973 that I sipped of the cup from which I would forevermore thirst.

In February of 1972, ABC released a Movie of the Week Miniseries called “Kung Fu” that starred David and Keith Carridine as “Kwai Chang Caine” a Shaolin Monk traveling through the untamed West searching for his half-brother Daniel Caine. This for me was a game changer. Kung Fu, the fluid movement and powerful attacks Caine threw at those cowboys were amazing! I couldn’t miss an episode.

Then in less than a year three powerful events struck and shook the martial arts world to its core. In December of 1972 Bruce Lee lost his Sifu (martial arts teacher), Grandmaster Yip Man, a Master of Wing Chun Kung Fu. At this time in American only a few people had known of this tragic loss and how it had to of no doubt troubled Lee Jun Fan deeply. At this same time he was in Hong Kong filming a movie that would skyrocket him to fame, but this film would be released six days after the Star of Film and Master of the Martial Arts would die. Lee Jun Fan, aka Bruce Lee died on July 20th 1973, his Hallmark Epic film Enter The Dragon was released in Hong Kong on July 26th 1973.

Chinese Martial Arts had gripped American Cinema, and the imaginations of millions within a year of Lee’s passing, and it would build and grow exponentially, by previously unseen proportions. The American theaters didn’t get the film till one year after its release but those in the know, had seen it and were already spreading the word of its supreme Martial Arts action and its “Extraordinary” lead actor.

Within this world of cinematic martial action it was hard not to follow its enticing lead. In almost every city around the US Chinese Martial Arts Schools or Kwoons started opening, and the Master, Sifus already here in the United State started sharing the Way, America and I were following.

For most  Middle,  High school aged kids of Native American, Latino, also people of African and Chinese descent growing up in Orange County provided challenges. Racism still existed. The fact that Bruce Lee changed his name as he tried to break in to Hollywood, solidified this. But this great film started something wonderful, it took down a barrier that shadowed Chinese Martial Arts and its culture for many years. Karate, Judo and Taekwondo held its place here in the States for nearly a decade but as Enter The Dragon made its Big Screen debut, this “closed-door” had been blown off its proverbial hinges.

It was during this same period in time that my Sigung Robert ‘Yeung Biu” Yeung, after getting blessings from Ip Man to teach and open a kwoon moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to do just that. He established the Hawaii Wing Chun Kung Fu Association in 1972.  Robert ‘Yeung Biu” Yeung had been taugh specificly from Master Wong Long Ching and Late Masters, Wong Shun Leung, and Wong Tsok. During the years that follow there were changes in location and growth of the Wing Chun Association in Hawaii.  Notable Sifu’s from this kwoon  are too numerous to mention but listed here are, Bob Tome, Bobby Cheng, Donald Li, George Asato, Richard Wong, Lawrence Miyashiro, Rodney Lam, Art Kodani, John Divirgillio, Jame Sweet, Randy Sanches, James Tanaka, Wayde Ching, Marco Rivera,  Embrey Williams, Thomas Perry, Gary Yokoyama, Mike Koenig,  Ed Dumancas, and one other notable Sifu, Alan “Bak Fu” Vasquez.

Late Grandmaster Robert Yeung and Bob Tome

Late Master Robert Yeung Founder of The Hawaii Wing Chun Kung Fu Association

Late Master Robert Yeung Founder of The Hawaii Wing Chun Kung Fu Association

My Sifu, Alan “Bak Fu” Vasquez, Captain US Army (Retired), Branched Infantry, and Military Intelligence; Viet Nam Combat Veteran, with Recon Ranger, and Special Forces duty,  started studies with Yeung Biu’s Hawaii Wing Chun Association in 1977. After serving his country and being injured in paratroop exercise that would ended his military career and almost took his life,  “Bak Fu Sifu” Started teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu in 1979.  The Orange County Wing Chun Association was founded in 1979 and is still located in Lake Forest,  Orange County, California. I myself had met Sifu Bak Fu in 1994, 95 during a time where our daughters attended the same grade school. I had no idea this meeting “Bak Fu” was such an auspicious occasion, and again a game changer for me.

Orange County Wing Chun Kung Fu Association

Orange County Wing Chun Kung Fu Association

At the time I had grand design to move to Hawaii and take a break from the hustle and, well mostly hustle of Orange County life. Keeping up with the OC is taxing to your mental health and pocketbook. To make it you need to be on a freeway at 5am to make it to a destination five miles away at 7am. I still have family and friends that make the daily pilgrimage, and I still feel for them. And I did just that in 1995 I moved to Kailua Kona, Hawaii where I took up concrete construction as a trade, and surfed and read Buddhist Text as a hobby. Growing two young girls is a hard job for a family let alone a single man so after several years of living Island style I packed it up and moved back to the OC. It was a change of local for my family, but little did I know how much that move would change me.

It was early September 2001 and I had just finished a move for my family that included two trips back to Hawaii. I had my daughters renrolled at the same school they attended some five years before and I was lying on the living room couch watching the news when it happened. 9/11/2001 US Attacked. I was in disbelief, total denial. I count fathom what was happening before my eyes, I watched the news for the next hour changing every channel making calls and worrying about my girls at school. Well after it was established that the East Coast was targeted and the rest of America was spared the terror of warfare, I picked up my children from school and continued on with life as we all did.

It was during these  seemingly mundane days after I returned to Orange County that Bak Fu’s daughter Lisa had again struck up friendship with my girls at school, and days of pool party PTA meetings and sleepovers ensued with Alan picking up all the girls and taking them to his house or I picking them up and them dropping off, but there was another element that was inherent in these days of fun and childhood play. Sifu Bak Fu held Wing Chun Kung Fu class daily at his home kwoon, so the girls would not only get pooltime playtime, but also kid class Kung Fu time. I Alan suggest I come a to a session when I can and after a time I took in his offer and showed up to a session. My Daughters and I attended Orange County Wing Chun Association for the next 6 years as time allowed and we all progressed through the ranks. As we changed and grew in spirit and as our Kung Fu was cultivated and manifested within. I am proud of my daughters Iliana, Rachel Ramirez, and Lisa Vasquez. They are all responsible adults attending college in California and Hawaii. At current Rachel Ramirez holds a Blue Shirt Advanced Student position, Iliana and Lisa are both Black Shirt Certified Instructor of Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Lawrence Ramirez OC Wing Chun Association 2001

Lawrence Ramirez OC Wing Chun Association 2001

Iliana Ramirez and Sean Kenmore Chisao  2002

Iliana Ramirez and Sean Kenmore Chisao 2002

OC Wing Chun Association teaching at Balleys, in Orange  County, CA. 2004

OC Wing Chun Association teaching at Balleys, in Orange County, CA. 2004

Lawrence Ramirez Sifu of Pacific Wing Chun Kung Fu Association Founded 2005

Lawrence Ramirez Sifu of Pacific Wing Chun Kung Fu Association Founded 2005

At present Pacific Wing Chun Association has classes in Kailua Kona, and Waikoloa on the Big Island weekly, holds seminars and has welcomed several guest Sifu and Master Martial Artists from Around the World. Some honorific guests include: Sifu John Di Virgillio of Hawaii Wing Chun Association, Alan “Bak Fu” Vasquez Sifu of Orange County Wing Chun Association, Screenwriter of Forbidden Kingdom, Actor, Martial Artist, John Fusco. Master Kung Fu, Martial Artist Lucky Shaffer. Greco Wong Wing Chun Association Member Scott Cannam, and Cameron Ameri association member of Wing Chun Kali Systems of Houston Texas. The list keeps growing as does our Association.

John Fusco, and Eugene Tagawa Sifu , Pacific Wing Chun Association

John Fusco, and Eugene Tagawa Sifu , Pacific Wing Chun Association

Kempo Karate. Kung Fu Master Lucky Shaffer

Kempo Karate. Kung Fu Master Lucky Shaffer

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Silat Master Paul joins Pacific Wing Chun Association

Camreron Ameri of Wing Chun Kali Systems joins Pacific Wing Chun Association

Camreron Ameri of Wing Chun Kali Systems joins Pacific Wing Chun Association

Bak Fu Sifu and Eric Aurello

Bak Fu Sifu and Eric Aurello

John Di Virgillio Sifu and Eric Aurello

John Di Virgillio Sifu and Eric Aurello

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Bak Fu Sifu and Wylie Chen

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Bak Fu Sifu, Sil Nim Tao

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John Divirgillio Sifu Mook Yan Jong

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Scott Cannam at Pacific Wng Chun Association