A few weeks before I started training Shaolin Wing Chun, I figured it out! I had gone to the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, OH, mainly to mingle among the bodybuilder crowd, when I wandered into the martial arts section. It was fascinating to watch all these different competitions live and up close; Kung Fu weapons forms, Muay Thai fighting, Kendo/Gumdo sparring...and Filipino stick-fighting.
That was it, that was the art that spoke to me; practical, effective, and it would allow me to connect with my Filipino heritage. I also looked forward to participating in an activity that would expose me to people with like-minded values, and interests. It might be a good way to make a few friends. Soon after I got home, I searched online for any place that might teach Kali, Eskrima, or Arnis, and was pleased to find out there was a club only a couple of miles away from my house.
I called the facility and made appointment; however, it did not go quite as planned. The Cincinnati Balintawak Arnis Club DID practice at that location, but I found out that I actually called a Wing Chun Kung Fu school. I had no idea what Wing Chun was. The Kung Fu instructor was, then, Sifu John Lambert. He patiently and expertly explained his art to me, and even let me participate in a one of the drills. It was fascinating and I felt like he understood what I was looking for. At the end of my visit, I found out the membership fee and was assured that I could also train with the Filipino martial arts club at no extra charge if I signed up for Wing Chun Kung Fu. When I got home my wife, Becky, asked me how it went. Evidently, I told her it went well, because when I said that I was not going to go back because it cost too much, she said that “she had never seen me get so excited about anything in her life and that I HAVE to sign up. We would make it work with our budget.”
After much reflection, I took the first step on my martial arts journey when I signed up about two weeks after the initial visit with Sifu Lambert. I felt like maybe this was a place where I could finally feel that I fit in. More on the results of this first step and why I stayed on the path in Part 2...