I am glad, in the 10th Anniversary Year of the International Academy of WingChun (IAW), that my teacher has written a somewhat autobiographical piece. You may find that his background helps delineate the essential origin of the IAW vision.
You may not be aware that IAW Grandmaster, Sifu Klaus Brand, had extensive military experience before switching careers to WingChun. In fact, he attained what the United States Army would consider Master Sergeant rank, which conferred lifetime salary as a tenured officer. Thus, it was a great risk he took to forgo this guaranteed security to struggle and succeed. Fortunately, he did so to our consequent benefit in the WingChun world for generations to come.
For that, we as his students are grateful.
— Sihing Paul Wang
IAW – The Special Forces of WingChun
From the outset I wanted to establish the IAW as an elite Academy. Now, after 10 years, I have put all of my plans into action and my objectives are entirely realized.
To understand why I call the IAW the Special Forces of WingChun, we must take a little trip into my past. I joined the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) in 1985 and became a professional (government contracted) soldier in 1990. I was then appointed as an Instructor at a Military Academy. That same year I successfully completed the requisite qualifications and passed the test for the Lone Fighter (Einzelkämpfer) and Commando Leader (Jagdkommando-Führer) Program of the German Army. I always strived for perfection and the more specialized the education was, the more I wanted to pursue it. So one course followed another.
Even before that time, while serving my term as a soldier in the late 80s, I started (after approximately 20 years of experience in the Martial Arts) with WingChun training and weapons fighting in order to master the Art of War in these disciplines as well. Even during my first few years as a Student Level it became clear to me that this was exactly my future and I would devote my life to the Combat Arts and realistic Self-Defense. After 32 months of training I passed my first Technician Grade. From then on, everything progressed accordingly as one graduation proceeded to the next. I resigned my official status in the Army and started to work as a WingChun Instructor from scratch, so to speak, 20 years ago. That was in fact the most interesting and audacious change of my life.
However, by the end of the 90s I technically concluded my former Self-Defense system and had to make a subsequent change. The association to which I then belonged occupied itself year after year with the gratification of mass dreams and the style became increasingly absurd and correspondingly mainstream. Mass group exams were introduced in which the individual only had to be physically present but was not subjected to an actual test. At that point, I worked exclusively to preserve a knowledge, which was under the threat of extinction, and moved further and further beyond the masses with my own style.
In 2003 I founded the International Academy of WingChun to build an elite Academy for WingChun. In the year 1998, while the system I trained at that time was approaching its climax of absurdity, I began to develop a new training concept, new principles, new movement patterns, new Sections, new Forms, a new Chi Sao and eventually an entirely new system. So I could, upon founding the IAW, immediately present my system.
I have never forgotten the basis of my Special Forces training. An elite education requires a unique concept and regular testing of the aspirants. Testing results in teachers honestly confirming whether their students have reached the training goal and are ready for the ensuing step or not.
Whoever fails to test their students certainly never belonged to an elite. A well-trained teacher knows how important a test is for the development and progress of his students. Students who truly believe in themselves will actually want to put themselves forward for testing. The avoidance of genuine tests only satisfies one purpose; namely, that the instructor need not tell someone how bad he is. Lousy teachers avoid testing their students because every test is a test of themselves.
Specialists can only be trained with a tangible concept. Desiring to belong to an elite is an honourable aspiration. With will, diligence and perseverance (three of our Five IAW Virtues) anyone can do it. In the IAW, the examination of a Technician Grade occurs over two consecutive days and takes about 7-8 hours overall. I consider it a privilege to personally conduct these tests without exception, because this is the only way to check and ultimately verify the advanced standard of Technician Grades.
The fundamentals of an elite education must never be forsaken. The essential principles of education, namely demonstration, replication, practice, practice, practice, practice became in many diverse associations demonstration, self-interpretation and discussion. It should be clear to everyone that you cannot nurture an elite as such. I smile when I read in particular advertisements that “We have even trained Special Forces”. Who of those claiming such a thing even knows what Special Forces means let alone how they operate? I know it right down to the smallest detail. 44 years of my life I devoted to the Martial Arts and the Combat Arts, during which I enjoyed more than 10 years of quality education in the Army and 15 years developing my WingChun system. As Leader of the International Academy of WingChun, my present position benefits from the insights of my past. Certain principles cannot be neglected for an elite education. So I designed the training concept of WingChun precisely to these specifications. Today I can assert that every teacher of the IAW who has attained the 2nd Technician Grade and the Instructor Degree II definitely belongs to the elite and was trained by me in part according to the conditions of Special Forces. Furthermore, each IAW 2nd Technician Grade is not only an expert of Self-Defense, but also a specialist in weapons fighting as well as close combat. Even the capability to handle striking, slicing and stabbing weapons is an important factor that must be dealt with in order to comply with the training duties of a Technician Grade in the International Academy of WingChun.
Naturally, not everyone reaches the requirements of an elite student in the same timeframe. On the other hand, each person may take however long he or she needs. There are no time constraints in the IAW which must be strictly observed in order to achieve this target.
Furthermore, this is a reason why I do not acknowledge graduations of other organizations and styles. The validation of certifications from other organizations is a clear sign that their Leaders merely care about the appeasement of desires and dreams rather than setting a specific standard. As soon as the Leader of an organization accepts graduations from another organization, this undeniably demonstrates that it has nothing exceptional (of its own) to offer.
Of course, we are concerned about quality, not quantity. And it is self-evident that those who dread real testing will stay away from the IAW. But the ones that earn a Technician Grade in the IAW can be proud of themselves. Only a select few do so.
People often tell me it is easier in other organizations to acquire a high degree or to lead a group. But of course it is. After all, we are the International Academy of WingChun.