AUSTIN, TX – The National Ving Tsun Organization held its annual winter camp from Thursday, February 23, through Sunday, February 26. Forty-three students from schools in Texas, California, Arizona, and Virginia gathered at the NVTO headquarters in Austin, TX to train intensively for four hours per day with Master Webb and fellow students and instructors.
This winter camp started out with two special modules for instructors. On Thursday, Master Webb taught a tutorial on wooden dummy chi-sau to a small group of advanced practitioners which included Sifu Robert Jacquet (4th degree), Sifu Kenny Felton (4th degree), Sifu Alex McCarrier (3rd degree), Sifu Robert George (3rd degree), and Harry Lundell (3rd degree). Two of the group also spent time practicing chi-gerk, Ving Tsun’s exclusive leg training program. On the subject of chi-gerk, Sifu Jacquet said, “The more advanced material is even simpler than the beginning stuff, and even more effective. I want to get people excited about that — it’s definitely what it’s touted to be. It’s great stuff! Easy to apply, very effective, and it’s very brutal.”
On Friday, Master Webb taught a tutorial on the Biu-Tze (thrusting fingers) form to a group of 13 instructors. Biu-Tze is the most advanced empty-hand form of the Ving Tsun system. It utilizes a flexible force and body-mechanics quite different from Siu-Nim-Tau and Chum-Kiu. Over the course of two hours, Master Webb demonstrated and corrected each section of Biu-Tze, working hands-on with each participant. Two of the participants began learning the form for the first time, while eleven others were there to refine and hone the movements and their proper execution. Sifu Jacquet said of the Biu-Tze training, “In all the years I’ve been doing Biu-Tze, I felt that that was the best explanation and clarification I’ve ever had.” He added, “At my level, when I come to seminars, I don’t expect to learn a whole bunch of stuff. If I learn one or two new things, I feel very satisfied… But in this case, I felt I learned an awful lot.”
All attendees participated on Saturday and Sunday for four hours each day. Master Webb grouped students by rank and gave them new techniques to learn as well as refining their existing skills. The camp offered a unique opportunity for students to work with several training partners of varying size and strength. Jim Adams noted, “Ving Tsun is easy to learn, but hard to perfect, unless you work with different types of people with different reaches and different ways of doing things. At the camp, when you work with 40 new people for 8 hours or so, that definitely increases one’s skill.” Neal Sarkar observed that the camp was a “rare opportunity for intensive training and experienced instruction from a wide range of instructors.”
The camp also provided participants ample time to deepen their skills. Jessica Grey said she enjoyed the longer intervals of focused practice as compared to the regular weekly classes. “When you spend more time on it at a single go, you’re able to retain more, learn more, and get a more comprehensive grasp of the subject matter.” Ben McCrary agreed. “Because there’s so much more time to work on the same thing, there is more fine-tuning. When you can spend 30 minutes or more on a single thing, it really drills it into your head.”
By the end of the camp on Sunday afternoon, everyone was tired, sweaty, and satisfied that their hard work had taken their kungfu skills to a new level. Mark Pickels, an instructor from Virginia said, “Si-Fu [Jeff] manages the seminars so well and they are always insightful.” At the conclusion of the seminar, 17 students went up in rank, including Sifu Robert George, who was promoted to 4th Instructor Degree, and Harry Lundell (3rd degree), who was awarded the title of Sifu.
We are grateful to Master Webb for hosting this annual winter camp. It was an excellent training opportunity for us all. As Tre Castillo said, “If you have the time and the means, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t go. It’s money well-invested.”
Text: Andrew Lucchesi, Photos: Jason Miller