Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’ve lived my whole life in Toronto except for a year after finishing University when I lived in Prague teaching English. I currently work full-time in the Book Publishing industry. I’ve studied Wing Chun since high school and met Sifu Ryan Kennedy (he wasn’t a Sifu yet then) when his teacher had a school on Wood St., near Yonge and College (and if you mention ‘Wood St.’ to any of that school’s alumni, they’ll immediately mention the holes in the walls from our old Sifu showing us some throws).
What made you decide to study martial arts? I initially started studying martial arts on a bit of a whim and as a way to stay active. In high school, I missed out on the opportunity to play organized sports so martial arts was a great alternative as it’s a pretty democratic way (not everyone can dunk a basketball, but everyone, with dedication and focus, can get good at chi sao) to stay active. Martial arts provides opportunities to compete, foster camaraderie with fellow students, and just keeps people healthy. I work in an office which means I’m not moving for most of the day; I think it’s important for us adults to stay mindful about our physical-health and our bodies. For example, I love Wing Chun footwork and understanding the importance of keeping balance in a t-step. And I love thinking about the angles and mechanics of a Bong Sao (that’s the wing-arm block). I also get to feel confident that I know how to react to a left hook and that I have the stamina to go a couple two-minute rounds. And, actually, now that I think about it, I think I must have had Wing Chun history in my mind when I first started all those years ago. It’s really valuable to understand the rich tradition that includes Yip Man, Bruce Lee, and Grandmaster William Cheung. Complementing all that is all the great Wing Chun pop culture. It’s fun seeing actors like Tony Leung and Donnie Yen doing Wing Chun on screen.
What is your favorite thing about the school? I enjoy FACT because it’s a place to be serious regarding learning about your art, but it’s also a place that’s inclusive and generous. I think it starts with the instructors and trickles down to the students. There can be a lot of bluster and aggression when it comes to martial arts schools, which is what some people might want, but that’s not for me. I enjoy coming to a place where there are multiple schools using the space simultaneously and in harmony, where the Jeet Kun Do students might share some pad-exercises with me or where I can watch the Medieval martial arts students work their own version of contact-reflex drills. I’ve also been studying with Sifu Kennedy for years and I think it’s a really important relationship in my life, me as student and him as teacher.