I began training in Traditional Wing Chun at the William Cheung Academy in September 1991.
Having no experience in wing chun kung fu or martial arts before, I was not sure of what to expect.
I found the training exciting and very mind challenging.
I found myself constantly thinking about it all the time.
Being an art that was developed by a woman was also very intriguing.
When I started my wing chun training, Dana Wong was my first Teacher.
He was quite a big Chinese American man and a very friendly teacher.
I was lucky as there was a bit of testosterone in the training hall.
Being the only woman in class most of the time could be frustrating at times.
In the beginning if there was an odd number, no one would pick me as a training partner.
This did not deter me in the slightest.
It gave me the chance to spend time working on the wing chun basics.
I was invited into William’s demonstration team after three months of training wing chun.
I was terrified of performing in public and I would train my demonstrations for hours.
Having to do so raised my confidence to another level.
My first seminar was to be taken by Sifu William Cheung.
I had never played with weapons before and found I enjoyed it immensely.
Sifu William was friendly but intense. He had an intimidating aura.
I still practice and teach this wing chun form today.
I also learnt Sifu Williams Butterfly Swords while training at the Academy.
After six months of training (March 1992) I was invited into Sifu Williams private classes.
The classes were held at the Dandenong Wing Chun Academy.
I couldn’t believe how nervous I was attending my first class.
He never acknowledged me.
I just joined in and began training, but there was no doubt that he observed me.
A few weeks after joining the private classes he separated the beginners and seniors into groups.
My group was made up of five. Four guys and myself.
I could feel the tension from these guys, they resented having to work with a woman in there group.
One person would stand in the middle of the circle.
They would be attacked randomly from the people on the outside of the circle.
The attack would be an unknown number of punches.
We went through a few students until it was my turn.
The biggest guy in the group comes flying in at me with two multiple punches.
I reacted very quickly with two simultaneous Bill sao punches.
As he found out, my range was perfect.
He reeled back swearing with blood oozing out of his nose.
We called Grand Master William and explained that an accident had happened.
He never said a word, but did have a slight smile on his face as he took the guy off to clean him up.
In the private classes Sifu William would be adamant about certain theories and principles.
When we would attend regular wing chun classes through the week.
The teacher would sometimes go against these instructions from Sifu William.
When this would happen I would have trouble doing some of the techniques.
A woman should never have problems with not having enough strength to do the wing chun.
The wing chun system is not built around being the strongest.
For the first time I began to get disillusioned and frustrated with my training.
Not long after Garry Baniecki informed me were going to train at the David Cheung Academy.
David was Williams younger brother.
I remember walking up the steps to his kwoon.
Boy, was I nervous.
I had heard that David was a very hard task master.
Even though Garry had trained under David before he was nervous too.
When we entered, the training hall was empty.
He was sitting at his desk with his arms folded looking very intimidating.
Garry asked would he accept us as his students, he asked why.
Garry paid him a compliment and he agreed.
Being a new wing chun school there were only three or four students training there.
I found Sifu David’s instruction very informative and practical for a female.
We would train at David’s lunch time class and William’s in the afternoon.
Sifu Garry was actually Dana’s senior and there always seemed to be a bit of conflict.
One night in Sifu Williams private class we were all lined up ready to start punching.
We all heard the Grandmaster roar with a big voice.
“WHERE DID YOU GET THAT GUARD FROM?”.
I never realized but I had taken David’s guard position instead of Williams.
He had noticed immediately and knew exactly who’s guard it belonged too.
I replied with a meek voice “I don’t know I wasn’t focused.”
After a few months I decided that I wanted to train full time at Sifu David’s Academy.
I had the opportunity to train with a wing chun master full time, rather than once a week.
He only had a handful of students so it was like having personal tuition every day.
I wrote Sifu William a letter thanking him for his time and explaining my decision to leave, not wanting him to think I had just quit.
That was over 20 years ago.