If you ever feel vulnerable living in a city as big as Buenos Aires, why not consider taking up a martial art? Nowadays not only a form of self-defence, martial arts are practised by many people in Buenos Aires as way of escaping daily routine, staying fit, relieving stress, and meeting people.
The traditional Chinese martial art of Wing Chun was born from both Buddhism and Taoism. Now, more than 600 years old, it has evolved to become one of the most advanced in the world. Its modern counterpart, Wing Chung, incorporates all of the techniques of the classical art form into a concept based martial art that not only claims to teach self defence but also relaxation, an awareness of the present, and the physical and mental strength to aid you in your daily life.
Most known for its promotion of the centreline theory, this dynamic form of self-defence focuses on maintaining an awareness of your body’s centreline to overcome your opponent’s strength. Utilising both striking and grappling, it is known as an effective form of close contact, hand-to-hand self-defence.
Practised by the legendary Bruce Lee and his teacher, Yip Man, Wing Chung has grown in popularity around the world. In Argentina, the “science” of this particular self-defence skill is attracting an increasing number of both men and women.
The SDS institute, tucked away in Palermo Soho, follows the idea of a ‘Self Development System’. Offering a variety of martial arts, as well as classes in women’s self-defence, it also offers courses in mental training and muscle development.
The ‘sifu’, Leondro Crivellari, was one of the first teachers of Wing Chung in Argentina. His 22 years of experience includes training the Argentine federal police and, with proficiency in several languages including English and Portuguese, he is able to transfer his knowledge to a variety of people.
Before beginning the 90-minute class, participants enjoy watching part of a Bruce Lee film, which Leandro uses to demonstrate Wing Chung in action and explain some important aspects. “The way he looks is important. Not just the way he fights,” he advises. After half an hour, there are 16 others gathered ready for the class.
Made up mostly of men, the group is separated into threes for exercises in learning how to hold our bodies. In the event of an attack, Leondro explains that the key to ensuring we maintain power over the attacker is to have a firm, stable stance. “A well-balanced body makes it easier to recover,” he says.
We then move on to how to defend ourselves, and techniques for counter-attack. In Wing Chung this involves grabbing your opponent’s arms and grappling with them in a variety of ways to pin them down – giving you the freedom to strike a central space. Wing Chung also teaches the importance of economising your movements so that they are as simple and direct as possible.
It takes between four and six months of classes to become proficient in the art, but a level one class provides a substantial base in self-defence along with a new and interesting stance on life.
Susana Maggiorini, who has been attending Wing Chung classes at SDS for some time, commented that luckily she hasn’t ever had to use anything she has learned so far, but enjoys the classes for many reasons.
Leandro is keen to stress that Wing Chung is an important ideology for handling life’s personal problems: “It helps you understand yourself and your partner. Living from the centre is very important in our relationships with other people. There must be a balance between giving and receiving. Some people are naturally too focused on themselves, so it’s important to remember the bigger centre.”
Although technically engaged in combat, the participants appear focused on benefiting from both elements of the art and keen to apply the guiding ideologies to their own lives. The atmosphere in the classes is calm and amicable with a clear sense of community.
So whether you anticipate needing the self-defence part of the class or not, developing your physical and spiritual awareness of the “centre”, could be an invaluable thing to bestow!
Classes in Wing Chung cost $70, with course packages available.