World Black Belt Blog
Journeys, On Leo Fong’s Corner
I believe that whatever we go through in our lives, we have to do the things that make us happy and that propel us to be the best individuals that we can be. Life is too short to waste time, for once that time is gone it can never be replaced. Every year comes and goes in a flash but memories, experiences, and encounters stay with me everlasting; and although our hearts are only the size of our fists, we are capable of creating infinite space in our hearts for the ones that will impact us in our lifetimes, memories that we will hold dear and the “corners” of the individuals we chose to partake on their journey through life.
Sky Dragon International Festival of Integrated Martial Arts
One of the events Mr. Fong hosts on a yearly basis is his “Sky Dragon International Festival of Integrated Martial Arts” in which he shares his approach to the martial arts. Mr. Fong hosted his yearly seminar in August and taught me and other martial artists from around the world Wei Kuen Do, Chi Fung, and Modern Escrima, or to encompass all three, Integrated Martial Arts. The seminar he hosted was a fun filled weekend with a lot of hard work, sweat, good company, and a wealth of knowledge passed on. His approach Wei Kuen Do, workout Chi Fung, and art modern escrima were taught every day, and each day started off with Mr. Fong teaching Chi Fung at different locations around California. Chi Fung is Mr. Fong’s total approach to fitness for life that uses concepts from Tai Chi, Qigong, and Weight Training, it is in my opinion a great workout that every age can participate in, do daily, and feel the results after each workout. Chi Fung utilizes the mind, body, and spirit in its workout by basing the workout on the acronym R.S.V.P. which stands for Relaxed focus, Slow circular movements with the use of weights with each movement, Visualizing what you are doing, and making sure to Pause and take deep breathes between each motion. This workout has health benefits as well by helping with strength, muscle tone, stamina, flexibility, and a positive mental attitude among many others. So, starting off each day with such an empowering exercise program was a perfect way to get us pumped and ready for what came next.
Following Chi Fung, was Wei Kuen Do (WKD) training, which is the Way of the Integrated Fist; Wei means Integration, Kuen means Fist, and Do means Way, and the system is also known as Wei Kuen Do Weapons and Stick Boxing. Mr. Fong has combined various forms of martial arts from Bruce Lee’s Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, Angel Cabales’ Serrada Escrima, Remy Presas’ Modern Arnis, Western Boxing, Choy Lay Fut, Sil Lum Kung Fu, and Wing Chun to create a single approach in combat in which he calls Wei Kuen Do. Mr. Fong sums up how Wei Kuen Do came to be by a story that he shared with me and others a couple of years ago, that story was a conversation between him and the legendary Bruce Lee. Mr. Fong told me that Bruce Lee asked him one evening, “Why are you going all over town training in all these different styles?” Mr. Fong replied, “I’m looking for the ultimate.” Followed by Bruce saying something that changed the course of Mr. Fong’s future; Bruce’s response was, “The ultimate is inside of you.” These words that Bruce told him inspired him and it was a turning point that helped Mr. Fong create Wei Kuen Do. Bruce went on to tell him that with his martial arts and boxing background, he already had the ultimate within himself. Mr. Fong has a system that develops specific skills such as being light on ones feet, having good distance from your opponent, being explosive, and making each technique their own and instills that each person has to find their own path to self-discovery which is not something that can be easily taught. Through one’s path to self-discovery in Wei Kuen Do, one should master one technique first before moving onto the next technique; it is Mr. Fong’s belief that it is better knowing one technique and making it work in a thousand ways then knowing a thousand techniques. Proficiency is what will come from practicing one technique and finding out what works for one and what doesn’t, that is one of Wei Kuen Do’s goal.
Another aspect of the weekend was Modern Escrima, which is Integration of Filipino Martial Arts. Modern Escrima combines teachings from Remy Presas, Angel Cabales, and Mr. Fong and in the course of the training was incorporation of weapons training and utilizing footwork from escrima. While going over our training, we were able to utilize Remy Presas principals of distance and flow, Angel Cabales V-Step, and principals from Wei Kuen Do and Free Fighting from Mr. Fong. We practiced with a training weapon that Mr. Fong developed called Focus Sticks. Focus Sticks are escrima sticks wrapped with foam for protection, hard to strengthen and condition hands, small enough so ones have to focus to strike them, and used to practice each angle of attack, circle of destruction and work on the combinations that were taught.
Ending the weekend was an Awards Banquet in which we got to socialize, reflect on the seminar, and talk about our experiences throughout the days. We each shared our memories of the event with our loved ones and with the ones in attendance. After each person spoke, Mr. Fong presented lovely certificates of rank in Wei Kuen Do and Chi Fung and I am grateful to be ranked in Wei Kuen Do and certified in Chi Fung under Grandmaster Leo Fong.
The Leo Fong Day
On June, The Martial Arts History Museum set aside a day to honor the life of Leo Fong who is an accomplished Martial Artist, Boxer, Writer, Film Maker, Minister and Living Legend, just to name a few, with “The Leo Fong Day”. This day was a day of acknowledging an individual for all his accolades, achievements, and his continued efforts to give back to the community.
I had the great honor to interview my good friend Leo Fong for such a memorable day in his life for an online magazine called FMA Informative. This man is filled with an abundance of knowledge and is so insightful so to have been able to have a personal one-to-one conversation with him about his youth, events that have occurred in the course of his life that have changed him and made him who he is today was truly an honor. Take a look at the Interview I had with Leo Fong that got published in August.
I hope you enjoy reading the article as much as I enjoyed interviewing this amazing man.
Kicking and Punching Another Year Away
In the 8 years I have had the privilege of knowing Mr. Leo Fong, he never seizes to amaze me. He’s the perfect example of what the mind, body, and spirit can do for an individual. As Mr. Fong approaches his 90th birthday, he has shown me that with a 60-year age difference between him and I, that age is not a factor. He is living proof that one can continue to learn and develop one’s skills well into their late 80’s. I truly feel that just as he was an innovator in the early 70’s for his integration of weights into the martial arts, he will be a beacon for all to emulate his tenacity, dedication, and innovation into the future. To my friend, wishing you the very best 87th birthday with many more years of laughter, words of wisdom, gatherings with our families, daily conversations, and good health. Hoping everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday. You can contact me at: LindaBustamante@worldblackbelt.com.