When I started teaching Wing Chun 4 years ago, I thought I would give it six months and then decide whether or not I liked it enough to continue.
My father started the first Wing Chun school in Montreal back in 1978. He was a very well known figure in the Chinese community. I always thought those were big shoes to fill, and I had no interest in trying to fill them.
One day, after my father passed, one of his old students came to visit the Gwoon where I was training and said, “You know, your father was not as attached as it may have seemed to the idea of you learning Wing Chun. He only hoped that you would find something that you love and see it through.” Hearing these words relieved me of a lot of the pressure I felt about training and allowed me a sort of Wing Chun rebirth. It allowed me to train Wing Chun at my pace and explore it without any expectations. Then, a wonderful thing happened: the more I trained, the more I enjoyed it and the more dedicated I became.
In parallel, I always knew, even as a child, that I wanted to use my life to inspire, to empower, and to help people reach their highest potential. I just never would have guessed that I would be doing so through teaching Wing Chun.
Today, I feel honoured and privileged to have this opportunity. It brings me great joy to have the ability to be a positive force in people's lives. Not only do I get to do what I love to do, but I get to do it with extraordinary people such as yourselves.
Thank you for taking the leap, for recognizing the value in what I teach, and for your courage and your ability to take action. Thank you for your commitment to yourselves and for contributing to each other’s growth. You inspire me to continue to teach and be the best Sifu that I can be.
My wish for all of you is that you find something that you love, define success for yourselves, and see it through. And that you use the lessons that you learn from training Wing Chun to serve you every step of the way.
Today is a celebration of us. From the most senior to the most junior, I am glad that you are a part of it.
Happy Fourth Year Anniversary!
Sifu Gary Ma