How Long will you take to Master Wing Chun?
The key to mastery in any field is persistence. Malcolm Gladwell stated that 10,000 hours of practice are required to become world class in any field.
Of course, this theory fails to discriminate between the quantity of hours spent practicing, and the quality of that practice. The 10,000 rule is an oversimplification. Genetics, age and how you practice all play a part in how long it will take you to become a master.
However, oversimplifications are all we have when we are trying to answer a question like this.
With the 10,000 hour rule, if we give ourselves a 10 year time line to Master Wing Chun, we need to practice 2.7 hours a day, every day. But that is in order to become “world class”. What if we just want to become good enough to teach Wing Chun?
From my own experience in learning Martial Arts and Musical instruments, I believe 5 hours a week over 5 years is plenty to become good at something. Not world class, but very, very good.
That’s probably the standard most people are aiming for, to be fair. When I taught myself how to play guitar, I wasn’t aiming at being the next Eric Clapton, I just wanted to be able to play my favourite tunes well.
Sifu Derek Fung, who was a disciple of Ip Man, mentioned to us when we interviewed him that with intensive training you can learn the system in 4 years.
So, let’s set 5 hours a week over 5 years as our benchmark.
In my opinion, it is better to train 5 times a week for 1 hour than once a week for 5 hours. The first method is superior as it provides constant refreshing of the principles, with no more than a 2 day’s gap.
If you don’t train for 6 days, your skills deteriorate substantially in that time, so it’s better to train daily for a shorter time.
A lot of this, of course, depends on natural ability, quality of the teacher and intensity of training.
Now, how do you squeeze 5 hours training in 1 week? It sounds like a lot. But if you train 7 days a week, it is only about 40 minutes a day.
Here is my plan. I believe you need to train with your Sifu twice a week, if possible. The more the better, of course, but for most people holding a 9 to 5 job and raising a family, twice a week is reasonable. Let’s assume you spend 3 hours with your Sifu over those 2 days.
That leaves 2 hours of training left to do. This is only 24 minutes a day, if spread over 5 days. Realistically, who can’t spare 24 minutes a day for the benefit of their health and future?
Now, this is just the math. In reality, it might be more practical to do 1 hour sessions twice a week than 24 minute sessions 5 days a week. That is up to you. I’m just trying to show you that when broken up into daily sessions, the time factor is not a big issue.
Those 2 hours (without a Sifu) should be spent practicing forms and body mechanics through shadow boxing, focus pads, heavy bags AND sparring.
This plan will not necessarily make you a Master, but it will make you very good. Certainly good enough to start teaching in some capacity.
All you require now is perseverance. You must stick to this game plan for many years, and that is where most people fail. Once the initial enthusiasm of learning a new skill fades away, discipline must take its place in order to succeed.