Help me find my Sifu, Mefi!
June 20, 2014 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Who was that elderly Chinese Kung Fu teacher in Salt Lake City in the early 1990's?

In Salt Lake City one summer over 20 years ago at a friend's suggestion I signed up for a martial arts class -- it was Wing Chun Kung Fu, taught in a little industrial space on Main Street between 13th south and 23rd south I think. I remember enjoying the classes and appreciating the style of teaching, though when the fall came I stopped going and went on to do other things.

I wish I remembered the name of the teacher. He was an unpretentious elderly Chinese man who when asked why we didn't have special colored belts, said "canvas is good enough for me."

Some more details:

We had a picture of IP Man on the wall and I was told that either our teacher was a student of his or was a student-of-a-student of his... or maybe there was one more remove. I don't remember which.

We had a wooden dummy, and bags of sand on the wall that we would practice punching.

I remember one of the senior students talking with our teacher about how the videos demonstrating his style were coming along.

I remember him dismissing the practicality of kicking above waist level, and other "showy moves" like that. He was all about balance and economy of motion.

He might have somehow been associated with a vegetarian restaurant in Salt Lake City, but maybe not! It was 20 years ago and I wasn't paying attention.

I have great fondness for the experience of taking those classes that summer and its been bugging me for a long time now that I don't know who my teacher was.

Metafilter, can you help me? Even better, can you help me find those videos? I know it is a long shot, but you did help me acquire The Little Prince in Gaelic. I believe you can help me find my Sifu!
posted by Captain Shenanigan to Health & Fitness (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know the answer to your question, but in case no one else does either... it's my impression that Sifus teaching the same style in the same city tend to know one another (or at least know of one another). One thing you might try is to contact another Wing Chun Sifu in Salt Lake City. Google's showing that there is a school called the Red Lotus School of Movement led by Sifu Jerry Gardner, and it seems like Sifu Gardner has been in Salt Lake City long enough that he may know (of) your Sifu.

Also, this list of Ip Man's students popped up in my Google search - it "is not a complete or totally accurate list," but if your Sifu was a student or a student of a student of Ip Man, he may be on it. Can't hurt to scan it and see if something jogs your memory.
posted by Aster at 4:07 PM on June 20, 2014

Meaningless data point - every instructor I've ever heard of who teaches Wing Chun claims a vague lineage from Ip Man. And why wouldn't they? It's not like they became masters by watching Enter the Dragon 50 times consecutively one weekend.

Everything you describe matches my teacher, Dr. Wu. (No relation to the song, and yes, we made that joke privately.) He asserted it was the difference between Chinese teachers (who teach for the love of the "art") and teachers of other Asian nations, who are motivated by competition and money ("I am not a racist but the Koreans are the Jews of the Orient!" was one hilariously unself-aware statement.)
posted by IAmBroom at 11:23 AM on June 23, 2014

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