Fong Tien Experiences

Hybropsyche reflects on his journey with Fong Tien

"In my lifetime, aside my love of creating my own music and albums, I have dabbled in a few martial arts (Tae-Kwon Do, Ju-do and most recently Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do) and from all of them, I have learned that there are certain elements of all these that I can do and elements that I can’t.  Re the latter, some aspects are down to simple lack of expertise, fitness and practise, whereas other aspects are simply down to my visual impairment.

I have been an avid Bruce Lee fan since I was a teen (many moons ago!) and have watched his films on countless occasions, each time picking up a little more each time on how to apply certain moves.  Also Jackie Chan’s “Drunken Master” and the use of the Eight Drunken Gods made me think of how one could employ a defense and attack in a single move.  One thing I am developing is the use of my arms as scanners as well as protectors, so they will almost become one and the same.

All these things are great, but the one thing I have always lacked is confidence, and with the ever decreasing morality of youth gangs I have feared for my safety on more than one occasion, even with the governments plans to improve gang crime

I feel I need to keep my options open and do something that at least makes me feel good about myself, this is where the Fong Tien group came in:

- The first thing they had me doing is getting used to charging to a designated point with the urgency of a man possessed and not holding back on my screams or Kiyah’s as they say in karate.

Take downs
- We then moved on to engaging in take downs; now in this area I have always known that it shouldn’t require great strength to take an opponent down, but I have never in recent years had too much of a chance to do this in a sparring situation, so the ways shown me that day will prove very useful for my future confidence in training.  I remember the first stages of this learning was more based on positioning and (perhaps with me thinking too much) I couldn’t quite figure out what this type of movement entailed so didn’t put as much into it until Fong Tien gave me a full-on demonstration, then it was a case of practise and more practise.

The Chase
- The next part involved me chasing one of the Fong Tien group members around the room in and almost “White Crane” fashion
- There was a funny moment where the Fong Tien coordinator told us to engage in Sparring and I simply reverted back to what I already knew, again thinking too much about when I should try the new approach.

The Ground
- Following on from the Take-downs Fong Tien firstly started by wanting to see what I knew about groundwork so began a sitting on the floor exercise where I was back to back with my sparring partner and then moved into various attack positions; although I knew some things, this helped Fong Tien identify other areas I could learn about Holds and locks.

Consolidation of the day
- The final part of the day involved putting it all together from beginning to end, with my sparring partner surprising me by coming straight for me screaming with flailing arms and legs, though I backed off initially I still held my own and managed to take him down and get him into and ankle lock, so solidifying my learning with added confidence to boot.

Believing in Me

The classic Bruce Lee line often comes back to me “Don’t think, feel!” which has basically been my problem for as long as I can remember – in real situations where I could have defended myself, my thoughts and doubts about success (either immediate or for the antagonistic conclusion) clouded my responses and made me ineffective in dealing with the situation in hand.

I think I am also living proof that Bruce’s distaste for rigid systems as a means to an individuals end is right on the money.  As a person with a visual impairment, I am certainly not suited to being in a class full of students all carrying out patterns of moves like robots.  Bruce’s conception of more personalised training based on an individual’s attributes and the concepts from Fong Tien are more the means to an individuals end.  If I were to employ one of my own philosophies;

“We are all analogue beings in a digital world; all digital systems are a perpetuation of the “haves” and “have nots” only”.

From this point - OK, I am a long way off being “water” and having the “it hitting all by itself”. I am not training in martial arts to be a world champion or anything so grand, on the contrary, I train to improve my coordination of ‘self’ and most of all increase my confidence in many avenues of my life. The ideas that Fong Tien have planted as well as their and others’ beliefs in me, will go a long way to help me develop (by doing) my own confidence building system.

Nice one Guys!! "

A Journeys' end - A Martial Arts Review by John Babb

The Journeys’ end is an insight to what the martial arts can offer and how, as an individual, you can make enormous strides in self development and self belief, through self sacrifice.

How does this come about? The most effective way is to find a teacher, one who has the ability and the foresight to offer something special, truly special, a Bruce Lee or an Ip man perhaps? This may be achieved through research, a referral or a chance meeting, it doesn’t really matter. There are still teachers like this out there, individuals who have the willingness and the skill to stretch your physical and mental capabilities to their absolute best and in doing so provides a blueprint for continued personal and or professional development.

“Something that no serious martial artist can ignore” a statement Bruce Lee once said about Jeet Kune do, however, this is not Jeet Kune Do and the teacher in question is not Bruce Lee. In fact, any such comparison would be as unwise as it was misleading. Like Jeet Kune Do, Fong Tien is a creative, fresh, fluid and ground breaking system, its creator is a visionary and his genius and adaptability are exceptional, in short he is a phenomenon, something that no serious martial artist can ignore. Whether you are a seasoned martial artist or a beginner, there is something here worth your attention.

The teacher is Grand Master Sylvan Clarke and the system is Fong Tien, you can access the site and gain more information at:
Having had the pleasure of embarking on my own expedition with Fong Tien and coming to the end of that twenty-seven year journey, I can honestly account for what was in essence, a voyage of discovery and profound personal development, I hope that yours is as bountiful as mine has been. Try it for yourself and see what you can achieve.

Written by John Babb

Damien Wymer shares his Fong Tien experience
I started training in Fong Tien coming from a karate background (wado ryu), which created a base of skills for me to progress from in Fong Tien. I was purple belt level so had a reasonable knowledge of a martial and self defence system although I've come to realise a very static predictable one.
My first ever Fong Tien session focussed on the very basics, I found I wasn't even entering the room in a confident manner which led to my sparring and self defence skills reducing just through my attitude. Also in the same vein I was entering a sparring/self defence situation psychologically unprepared for action.
The skills and system I'm progressing towards is my own personal method of movement. It seems everyone's system within Fong Tien is very different depending on your natural ability to move,read and think during martial or self defence movements.
I'm now using lots of different mini systems within the big Fong Tien system such as "running man", "1-10" and "Wrestling hands".
The whole process of thinking deeply around the movement of sparring and self defence using Fong Tien is a major part of utilizing the systems I have to my benefit. Height or weight factors in Fong Tien are used to benefit you whether you are tall/short heavy/light.
I have just started involving the Fong Tien syllabus in the sessions which have brought in some ground sparring/ wrestling which brings a whole new take on my current martial/self defence system.
What does the future hold for me? I hope to become a competent safe self defence practitioner which will bring me more confidence and skills as I progress and one day maybe teach someone else the same skills I have learnt.
I'm very thankful for Fong Tien and it's instructors for introducing me to other outside interests i.e. short and long distance running. I've now completed 2 10k runs and a half marathon, attend weekly parkruns when I can and plan to take part in a full marathon later this year, thanks guys, you continue to inspire me to push my boundaries, cheers :)
The Journey Man - Sylvan Clarke
Today I reference one of my previous posts A Brief Moment in Time as it helped form the basis of my continued search for martial arts enlightenment. As a youngster I had a dream to be able to move like a martial artists and be bestowed with insurmountable skill, speed and power. I trained for many years hoping my dream would come true but each day I looked in the mirror and saw the same old me simply willing to learn, willing to train, willing to sweat to find the holy grail of martial arts. Today I look in the mirror and still have that simple willingness to learn, willingness to train, willingness to sweat, but not this time in search of the holy grail of martial arts but for the sharing of contentment and peace of mind I have learned along the way.