Winter Camp 2013

AUSTIN, TX - At the NVTO headquarters in Texas, the beginning of the year means the WinterCamp seminar which took place on the weekend of March 1-3, 2013.

On Friday, Master Webb taught a 6-hour instructor training course, followed by the 8-hour general seminar which took place on Saturday and Sunday. The nearly 40 students and instructors attending received instruction and correction from Dai-Sifu Webb and senior members of the NVTO team which included Sifu Robert Jacquet (4th degree), Sifu Kenny Felton (4th degree), and Sifu Robert George (4th degree). The event was typical for one of the big seminars at the NVTO headquarters, well-attended and enjoyed by all. For those advanced practitioners working towards instructor ranks, the bulk of Sunday consisted of testing hands-on with several senior instructors. All elements of their training were put to the test including forms, chi-sau, and fighting ability.

While there were a few first-timers to the event, most had attended these bi-annual seminars a number of times. Speaking with the participants, the responses were telling. Assistant instructor Gary Mowbray said, "This is the fifth of these seminars I've attended," student Matt Queen responded, "I've attended at least three or four," and veteran instructor Sifu Kenny Felton replied, "I've been studying under Sifu Webb for, let's will be fifteen years in May...I've been at almost all of them and have lost count!"

Dai-Sifu Webb with some students from Houston, TX.     Dai-Sifu Webb with some students from Dallas, TX.

When asked about what kept them coming back, the reviews were consistently positive. "It's a great opportunity to work with different people from around the country. I think that most of the Austin students know each other, but then you have students coming in from Dallas or Arizona, students that you only see once or twice a year and it's always cool to see how much progress they've made. Also, getting to see students that Si-Fu Webb has had who are now Sifu's themselves with their own students and to work with them is great learning opportunity. It's fun to watch the instructors workout with other instructors and marvel at how liquid some of these guys are," said Matt Queen. One of the younger students, Sidney Trinh commented, "Working with different people and meeting new people, as well as the amount of training time is what I like about the camps."

The camps are also a rare opportunity to speak with Sifu Robert Jacquet who flew out from California. Si-pak Robert related, "It's a very big benefit to come out and train with all different levels of people. Some people might think that I come out to help train the other participants, but, really I get a lot of training for myself. It refreshes a lot of things in my mind. I regard the Austin Ving Tsun Academy as the top Ving Tsun School in the United States. Again, I regard this as an honor to come out here and work with the students."

Jim Crull and Chris Thomas practicing Biu-Tze techniques.     Author Tre Castillo training with Jeremey Gooch.

Sifu Alex McCarrier (3rd degree) working with Dallas instructor Jim Gillentine (1st degree).     In the foreground, Jay Johnson and Alex Garcia, in the background Gary Smith and Jeremiah Wade.

When Sunday arrived, seventeen of the participants were scheduled for testing and passed with flying colors. Most notably were Kevin Chen and Avi White who received their assistant instructor status and their black shirts in Ving Tsun. Also, Tom Sylvester of Arizona for his promotion to 1st degree instructor, and Houston-based Nick Pickus who was promoted to 2nd degree instructor.

Newly minted assistant instructors Kevin Chen and Avi White.     Kevin Chen performs his famous Bruce Lee impersonation with Gary Mowbray and Tom Sylvester.

Longtime member from Arizona, Tom Sylvester, receiving his 1st instructor degree. From left to right: Sifu Jacquet, Tom Sylvester, Dai-Sifu Webb, Sifu Felton.     Houston group leader Nick Pickus receiving 2nd instructor degree. From left to right: Sifu Jacquet, Nick Pickus, Dai-Sifu Webb, Sifu Felton.

The seminars are always busy events, especially for Dai-Sifu Webb who is pretty much a blur of motion the entire weekend. But I was lucky enough to catch him briefly for a few questions...

Tre: "Si-Fu, you've been teaching seminars since the 1990's. In your experience, what is the main benefit in attending a Ving Tsun seminar?"

Dai-Sifu Webb: "Two things, the variety of training partners and more importantly the amount of time that students get to work on their skills. People often ask me for the secret to getting good at kung fu. I always tell them that kung fu is a numbers game, it's how much more practice time you put in than the next guy. Accordingly, our seminars are a real opportunity for students. Putting in eight hours of training over a two-day period is the equivalent of an extra month of training to the average student who is typically in class twice a week."

Tre: "Sifu Kenny mentioned that as well. Any pointers on training that you'd like to share with our members?"

Dai-Sifu Webb: "Sure, the first is to train hard and train consistently. Ving Tsun is not just about learning movements, it's about conditioning your body and training your reflexes. This doesn't happen overnight, and the more time you put in initially, the quicker you will see results. Second would be to stay focussed on your own progress and not to preoccupy yourself with 'what the other guy is doing...' Some folks learn quicker than others, some have better physical talent than others, and some folks just put in a lot more time than others. As a martial artist, your main struggle is against yourself. Do the best that you can do and don't let others distract you from it. Lastly, I'd encourage students to set training goals for themselves and to revise them along the way as necessary. Setting goals and following through is how you succeed."

Tre: "Great advice! One final question, Si-Fu. This is the first seminar that there has been a raffle held. How did that come about?"

Dai-Sifu Webb: "You know, I've been really blessed to be surrounded by a lot of wonderful folks in the NVTO, both our students and instructor team. I wanted to do something fun for them and give something back. So I approached several of the Sifu's and asked them to join me in donating some private lessons for the cause, and of course some official NVTO swag like hoodies, dufflebags, and so on. I think that it's a nice way to give back to the students."

Tre: "Si-Fu, thank you again for the great seminar and your time."

Dai-Sifu Webb: "Thank you, it was my pleasure."

Text: Tre Castillo, Photos: Jason Miller

Posted: March 28, 2013, 11:05 a.m.