Chief-Instructor Vancouver Bio - Go to Sifu Ralph Haenel
Bio - Dai-Sihing Chris Chinfen, Read below
I started martial arts in 1977 with Shotokan karate, then Tashu karate, then Shito-ryu karate. All less than one year each.
These arts were basically my introduction into the martial arts. There wasn't really too many exotic arts back then.
At the time it was something that I liked to do. No other reason in particular. Then I found the karate style that I liked. Okinawan Shorei-Kan Goju-Ryu karate under Sensei Koyabu Tomoaki. I liked the combination of the hard and soft aspects of this particular karate style.
It felt more natural to do. It was also good exercise and good for developing discipline and respect for others.
I stayed with the club for about 5 years.
I was a first-degree black belt in this style when I left. I had come across Wing Chun the last few years I trained in karate. I actually did both styles for about 1 to 2 years before I moved on completely into Wing Chun.
Wing Chun opened my eyes to a much more practical martial art with much more skill/sensitivity development involved.
I trained under Dr G.K. Khoe with the UBC Internal Wing Chun club. Dr Khoe's instructor was Wang Kiu whom I had the opportunity of meeting only once in a seminar.
I stayed with the UBC Wing Chun Club for about 7 years. Although every 4 months of the year in the summer time, I took time off completely to enter tennis tournaments!
I quit because I felt something was missing. Although I had learnt a lot of skills, I still did not feel confident of my own techniques. Essentially, they were never tested for practicality.
Another reason why I quit was that my personal growth stagnated after my third year there. I had completed all the programs by then.
But into my sixth and seventh year, I looked back and realised I had not really improved on or developed my skills too much further after the third year.
Again during a two-year period before I quit Wing Chun completely, I had started looking into an Indonesian art called Pencak Silat.
My instructor Louie Lindo was also teaching Kali at the time. I fell in love with the stick arts and the intricate techniques of the Pencak Silat style.
My interest then was to blend the takedowns and locking/destruction skills of Pencak Silat and Kali and blending it with the Wing Chun I had already learnt.
I still felt the empty hands skill I learnt from Wing Chun was by far still the most practical. I thought by doing the other styles, it would fill that missing piece in Wing Chun. Plus the whole concept of Jeet Kune Do appealed to me and seemed to make sense at the time.
I trained under Guro Louie Lindo for about 5 or 6 years. I left because there did not seem to be a continual growth for me in the art.
From there, I continued to search for that something. I tried three different tai chi clubs until I found one that I felt had potential.
The sifu was the grandson of a famous Pa Qua fighter in China. I learnt tai chi and Pa Qua from Master Sheng Lung Fu for about 2 to three years.
I had hoped to gain insights into the practical aspects of tai chi through push hands.
But with the old school of teaching, I felt I would not learn anything of substance until 10 years or more. So I left and returned to the stick arts again.
I trained with guro Loki Jorgenson for about 2-3 years in pekiti-tirsia escrima. I quit after that time to train with Bill Thurston exclusively to prepare for testing under the Balintawak escrima system under Grandmaster Bobby Taboada.
I liked pekiti tirsia, but the Balintawak was much more direct and simple, almost wing chun like.
Also for about a five year period from 1991 till 1995 I went to a lot of Escrima, tai chi, and silat seminars.
I stopped Balintawak not by choice. I tore my achilles tendon playing indoor soccer.
That's when I found the web site of Ralph Haenel's WingTsun school on the internet.
And I have not trained with another club since joining Grandmaster Leung Ting's Wing Tsun Kung Fu in August of 1997.
I have been asked to complete my testing for the Balintawak system, but I made the decision to stay with WingTsun (WT).
Wing Chun was the first martial art I really fell in love with. And the Wing Tsun system under Dr Leung Ting has all the answers I have been looking for in an art.
still have full respect for all my previous teachers in the martial arts.
Each instructor has taught me many aspects of the martial arts. Each style
has its strong points and characteristics and flavor.
I have chosen Wing Tsun for it's combination of self defense skills, practicality
and because of the organizational structure making it the largest Kung Fu organization in the world.
Sifu Chris Chinfen,