Welcome to the HVT Blog. This weeks post is a “brief history” on how Havant Wing Chun was formed and how we became involved with the Sifu Cliff way!
The Beginning of HVT
Havant Wing Chun began life as a one night a week class run by my Sihing, Mark Page. I have known Mark Page since starting training at Sifu Alan Gibson’s Southampton class back in the early 2000’s (I can’t remember an exact date but my first grading was certificate says 2005 so it must have been well before that?) I trained twice a week for a very long time, rarely missing a class and attending every seminar on offer. During this time I also continued my training with private lessons from Sifu Alan plus attendance at many seminars from a diverse range of Wing Chun Sifu’s (Sifu John Smith, Sifu Ernie Barrios, Sifu Wang Zhi Peng to name but a few). Then in 2010 Sihing Mark had the opportunity to open a class in Havant. This was awesome to me as Havant is my home town and Mark is a great teacher. So of course I attended every Wednesday night class as well as continuing at Sifu Alans class when I could fit it in.
After a around a year we decided to add another class each week, and with Sifu Alan’s blessing I started teaching on a Sunday morning. I loved and still love teaching Wing Chun and it remains a obsession of mine to become the best teacher I can. I value my teaching skills over my own fighting skills and consider myself a coach of Wing Chun and a perpetual student of this glorious art. The Sunday morning class was great fun an my Sidai Sean Collison was regularly in attendance and much fun was had. These were great times but the Sunday morning class could be a bit hit and miss in regards to numbers, so I moved my class to a local church hall on a Monday evening and this proved to be a success.
In around 2010 Sihing Mark went to visit Sifu Cliff in Hong Kong, alas I didn’t go due to other commitments but in hindsight I wish I had. When Mark returned he was a changed Wing Chun man and had so much to show and teach me, and I loved everything Mark had to say about Sifu Cliffs teachings. It revolutionised the way way we teach in The Wing Chun Federation and Havant Wing Chun.
Sifu Cliff’s Visits the UK – 2011/2012
In 2011 Mark made the bold step to invite Sifu Cliff to the UK for the first time to conduct a weekend workshop and during this week I also had the opportunity to meet and train privately with Sifu Cliff alongside others in the Wing Chun Federation. So of course I was hooked on the Sifu Cliff method right from the start.
It was around this time I began training Combatives with Lee Morrison’s Urban Combatives Group and although their training methods are different, I found, and still find many similarities. Of course I am talking of the concepts of both Combatives and Wing Chun here not necessarily the hard skills involved, although there are still comparisons to be found. To further my modern Self Protection skills and understanding I attended two of Lees “New Blood” seminars plus others by legends of the business Matty Evans and Tony Somers and Mick Tully and Al Peasland.
In 2012 Sifu Cliff was invited back for another seminar organised again by Mark Page and again the WCFED coaches had the honour of yet more on hands closed door training. This time we had the opportunity to be introduced to the Sifu Cliff way of understanding the Wing Chun forms. It was amazing stuff.
A few years later my Sihing Mark decided to stop teaching at Havant Wing Chun, mainly due to the distance from his home and a few health issues he was having at the time (Mark now teaches at the Southampton University Wing Chun Group) At the time I could not commit to teaching twice a week but luckily another Sihing of mine, Paul Conway stepped in to hold the fort until I could take over both classes.
These were great times with some hard training and lots of development in my Wing Chun way. It wasn’t long before Paul could not cover the class and as my circumstances had now changed, I could now run the class twice weekly, now situated at a local church hall. We have since moved to another venue in Havant Academy where we have found our spiritual home. Unfortunately we did not have Sifu Cliff over again until it was my turn to host a workshop in 2015.
Hooking up with Asiatic Sifu – 2015
If truth be told there are only a handful of Wing Chun teachers that I like. I don’t mean personally, I just mean that I like the way they train and teach their methods. So when I saw a video on YouTube of this guy called Asiatic training with our friend Sifu Cliff I just had to hook up with him on Facebook. Firstly to congratulate him on some awesome Wing Chun but also to discuss how he met Sifu Cliff and how we at HVT were also trying to follow his way. We hit it off immediately and it wasn’t long before we were working on getting BOTH of them to the UK. I also watched the rest of Sifu Asiatics content on YouTube and man was I impressed. Put simply, I wanted more!
After many emails back and forth we came up with the plan of hosting Sifu Cliff at Havant Wing Chun for the first time, but this time Sifu Asiatic would accompany him. We discussed various subjects that Sifu Cliff could cover and came to a decision that Body Force Methods would be a great place to start.
This would be my first time organising an overseas visit from another Sifu and it was obviously a gamble in regards to making it work financially but with the support of Sifu Alan Gibson and the WCFED coaches the plans came together.
NEXT TIME….. The 2015 Sifu Cliff Workshop – An In Depth Review.