One day in class, I noticed that my instructor—as good as he was at Wing Tsun kung fu—must have been at some point in his life what some might consider a nerd. That was cool with me (I got no shame in my game). I wasn't always the coolest kid on the block, so I could relate. I took a look around and noticed that a lot of the other students and instructors also could have worn this epithet at various points in their lives. It started to make some sense to me: a lot of the people that had been there for a long time and reached a high level of talent also appeared to have perhaps been labeled as a dork, a geek, nerd, wimp, loner or something to that effect. I don't think it was a coincidence that we all found our way to Wing Tsun (which I’ll explain now).
Many of us have experienced bullying, physical intimidation, emotional abuse or some combination of those things in some way or another in our lives. As a child, teenager or young person, specific groups make easier targets, and tend to bear most of the ridicule and misplaced frustration of our peers. (This is not even taking into account racism, sexism, class or religious differences; the same notions can and do apply themselves to these groups as well.) Family and home environment also can create toxic, physically intimidating situations: whether an older brother or an aggressive uncle or an overbearing parent, misplaced aggression can be the psychological or physical bane of children and teens as they are developing into adults. We also have to take into account the regular world, where humans are never shy to show you how cruel they can be. In general most people are at least somewhat respectful, but living here in New York I've seen some people be incredibly offensive, aggressive and rude to straight up strangers. In all of these cases the aggressor tends to choose someone they perceive as being weak as a target for their own malcontent.
In my experience people who might be considered nerds or geeks in high school turn out to be some of the more successful adults among us. Just scroll through your Facebook page and check out some of your old "dork" class mates that you used to study with. Many of them have high-powered, high-paying jobs in good communities and some of them still remember when you called them a little shit 20 years ago. Their success may seem in one way like they have gotten their revenge and risen above whatever happened to them at home, in high school, etc., but the young person that had to put up with abuse, emotion and/or physical, is still in there. That child is in all of us (or at least most of us).
Wing Tsun can be applied to many things. Some people come to my school to learn self-defense. Others come because they need to get in shape or because they loved Bruce Lee and ninja turtles when they were young. Some people just happen to find it and end up making good friends and really enjoying themselves. But the best part about helping someone understand Wing Tsun is helping them realize that they can in fact defend themselves against a bigger or stronger opponent. Obviously, most of us do not get into fistfights on a day to day basis but I have all types of students and it is very therapeutic for them to get out of their job, come to my school and punch and kick for an hour or so. I believe it releases some kind of primal urge that we have as humans and is necessary to express in a positive way. When I explain the science of WT people get very excited because they understand that there is a method and process to it. Follow these steps, train, rinse and repeat…and you will be able to do 'X'. They also realize there is a difference between intellectually understanding something and actually being able to execute a concept. That's when the real fun begins!
WT is essentially a hack to the system, a virus that infects the idea that the bigger or stronger opponent is always superior. Especially in a street context. We take a few simple principles and apply them universally to fighting and confrontation rather than having to know every style. Instead of learning jujitsu and boxing and karate and wrestling and judo and everything else we have simple ideas that we can use for any given situation. Whether you can do them and do them well is up to you! I am definitely a fan of learning many styles, but I believe that it's important to be good at at least one thing first. (It's better to learn how to play guitar well and THEN learn how to play the bass or the drums, for example, rather than learning all three from scratch at the same time. But I guess it also depends on how much time you have… lol!) In WT we seek to solve problems using simple and comprehensive methods.
Nerds, Geeks, Dorks and the lot (which, let’s be honest, I'm surely at least one of these) tend also to enjoy games like Dungeons and Dragons, things like Comic-con, Video Games, Sci Fi, Myths, Fables and legends. I am a total Tolkien fan. WT is literally a living legend! It was started a few hundred years ago but the story has not stopped. With Wing Tsun, you literally have the opportunity to step into a story and guess what? You can be whoever you want to be in this adventure! Be a casual extra or save the rebel alliance, just keep your elbows low and back straight. As my Sifu Alex Richter says, '...the history of WT is still being written'.
If I stand up for you in the subway against an aggressive person it is a nice gesture and (should be) common decency. If I give you the tools to defend yourself you are much better off. Teach a man to fish 'n stuff. (And now it's 2 against 1, 'cause I'm still in that subway car with you!) It's very empowering to negotiate your next corporate contract knowing that you could handle yourself against the CEO sitting across the desk from you. (Not that you would EVER do that, but it's a nice psychological edge.) Not saying you can 'beat up' everyone or anybody but at least you can try if you have to.
Another curious thing I've noticed is that when I get someone that may have been a bully or the like at one time, occasionally they have a drastic change of behavior. They see a bunch of smaller people that can stand up to them. People that have become happier, healthier (mentally and physically) and work on being better. The former jerk realizes that their size and strength isn't an all-dominating force in the world. But that's a lot of pride to swallow for 'tough guys' bearing the burden of heavy egos, but sometimes they assimilate and become really good students of the system.
And lastly, the greatest asset at my school is neither the self-defense nor the work out. It ends up being the people that attend. At BKWT we have a totally bully free, no judgment atmosphere where we encourage everyone to get better. And as the curriculum goes on, you start to realize that you made friends from all different walks of life. People that you would normally never cross paths with. Friendship is an invaluable asset, especially nowadays. So, the strange outcast, nerd, geek, wimp, loner in high school, the formerly bullied (or former bully) learns kung fu, gets healthy in their body and their mind, and gets friends. Revenge complete.