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Martial arts

Hong Kong wing chun teacher takes on viral kung fu videos and SCMP reporter

  • Kung Fu Hong Kong instructor Patrick Hsu runs studio in Sheung Wan
  • Hsu discusses merits of kung fu against MMA amid debate in China
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 3:09pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 4:58pm

Patrick Hsu has only once had to use wing chun in a real-life situation.

The 29-year-old instructor at the Kung Fu Hong Kong school in Sheung Wan was outside a bar in Australia a few years back, when a drunk man approached him and tried to attack him.

Hsu kept his cool even when the man started shouted racial slurs at him. However, when the man became physically aggressive, Hsu went into action.

“After he shouted at me, he wanted to come and punch me,” said Hsu, who has been studying wing chun and kung fu for 13 years.

“After I blocked several punches, I thought if I don’t attack this guy he is not going to stop. So then I launched a few punches and he went down.

“After that several bouncers from the bar came and kept him on the ground.”

Hsu said part of what his master, the renowned wing chun kung fu teacher Sergio Pascal, taught him is that the basis of martial arts is relaxation – not pummelling people.

“I’m not going to look for a fight, I’m a pretty calm person. But in terms of the situation I can defend myself, that is my only purpose of training for martial arts,” Hsu said.

“I want to be passive, but when it comes to the real life situation, if I need to defend myself, I am able.”

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Kung fu has come under attack lately, as many believe the traditional martial art is outdated and more about performance and showmanship than actually developing solid fighting skills.

Hsu said the martial art needs to modernise and update its marketing strategy.

He noted the primary benefit of what he teaches is helping people with their self-esteem. The fighting and sparring part, he added, is secondary to a martial art that looks to help people overcome various personal issues such as lack of confidence and inability to properly deal with stressful situations.

“Before I got into kung fu, I was not a very confident person,” he said. “Now I can go into situations with people much more relaxed and calm, and wing chun is a big part of that.”

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Hsu also spoke about the viral videos circulating on the internet, the most famous being the fight between tai chi master Wei Lei and Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong last year. Xiaodong delivered some vicious ground and pound to end the fight in 10 seconds.

Hsu, who used to be a social worker before a career change partially fuelled by his tai chi-practising mother led him to martial arts, said Lei did not realise he was in an actual fight and not a kung fu sparring session.

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“If you’re in a fight, you have to be in the mindset, sorry to say, you are there to destroy the other person,” Hsu said. “If you’re not there to fight then the mind is not there, then how can you fight well?”

The instructor, who teaches both children and adults, is however a fan of MMA. Many experts believe Bruce Lee, who famously studied wing chun, was also one of the pioneers of MMA, as he used to blend different styles into his fighting regime.

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“Personally I think MMA is a good thing,” Hsu said. “Because you’re combining a lot of things together, Chinese martial arts and other martial arts.

“They all have their own advantages and disadvantages, the best way is to train with every aspect, but at the end you want to have one good martial art, one thing that you’re really good at it.

“If you train for 10 things, you’re not going to be good at 10 things.”