Please call me a Kung Fu Genius! My former teacher, Sifu Leung Ting has openly accused me of having learned Wing Tsun for only one week with him! Damn... imagine if I had a full two weeks of training! I'd have like twice as many students or something!
My dear readers, I apologize for my rare foray into the world of Wing Tsun politics. But here I feel much more like an activist. You see, there is a serious affliction that Sifu Leung Ting and his flock suffer from. It's called Insincere Wing Tsun Amnesia, or IWTA for short. So for all those suffering from it, I'm here to help.
By the way, I know this is long, but I don't intend on ever speaking about this topic again. If you have zero interest or knowledge of Wing Tsun (WT) politics, this whole post might be a snoozefest. Hell, if you have knowledge of WT politics this will probably still be a "business as usual" snoozefest. This is long as hell but some parts are very funny! Just check out the photoshop job on me! Many apologies and thanks in advance for those of you who hang in there.
From 2002 until 2011 I was the New York representative of Sifu Leung Ting’s International WingTsun Association or IWTA. In 2011 amid politics and untenable business practices, I left the IWTA voluntarily and formed my own City Wing Tsun Athletic Association. Within two years of my exit, the IWTA's North American section lost all of their biggest schools, including every single Chinese WT sifu in North America*. Yes, you read that correctly. All the biggest schools and all the Chinese sifus. While the IWTA loves to blame singular people** for their ever-growing list of woes, the mass exit of high-profile instructors was the result of years of stagnation, politics, and unfair business practices. One of these business practices included putting the least successful "senior instructors" in charge of management. It was a recipe for failure. And fail it did***.
Before I get into all of that let me just lay out my martial art credentials for perspective on this bizarre attack. I started with Karate at age eight and later switched to Taekwondo where I earned my black belt at 15. Shortly after that I began "non-classical" Wing Chun in the Seattle area and practiced that very intensely for three years. During those years I also trained in kickboxing, some grappling, and other Chinese kung fu systems. Since a young age, martial arts has always been a part of my life. To this day I still have a tremendous passion for martial arts.
Around age 20 or so I began training in the Leung Ting Wing Tsun (WT) system in Vancouver, Canada with Sifu Ralph Haenel. For the next two years I would train in Wing Tsun everywhere I could from Seattle to New York City. By 1999 I had attended six seminars with Sifu Emin Boztepe and one seminar with Sifu Leung Ting in New York City. I felt a particular calling to Wing Tsun (WT) and eventually shipped myself off to Germany to train at the famous Langenzell Trainer Academy. Langenzell was a professional Wing Tsun academy and headquarters for the European WingTsun Organization, the European branch of Leung Ting's IWTA. For three years I trained six hours a day, five days a week and returned to the USA as a 1st Level Technician and qualified Wing Tsun Trainer. During my time in Germany I went to five intensive seminars with Sifu Leung Ting. My si-fu in Wing Tsun is Keith R. Kernspecht which makes Sifu Leung Ting my si-gung. Those were the simple days.
In June 2002 I returned to New York City and immediately began teaching Wing Tsun directly under the auspices of the IWTA. In the following years I built the first professional brick-and-mortar Wing Tsun school in NYC ever. None of my predecessors in the IWTA/EWTO had managed to do that in NYC. From 2002-2011 I represented the IWTA in NYC and was often an embarrassingly strident Leung Ting WT devotee. In those years Sifu Leung Ting visited my school on seven occasions where he taught instructor and student seminars. During many of those trips I also did additional private training with him. Starting in 2006 I traveled to Hong Kong on a number of occasions and would visit instructor classes and do additional training with Sifu Leung Ting and other senior instructors. On top of that I also traveled to Boston, Washington, Toronto, and San Antonio to do more Wing Tsun instructor courses with Sifu Leung Ting. This was of course all in addition to my supplementary training with Sifu Carson Lau (8th Level master) and Sifu Elmond Leung (the most senior student of Sifu Leung Ting). I also had one major advantage that my other US colleagues didn't have - I had a lot of students to practice with and many WT visitors came to NYC to practice with me. As I mentioned above, I resigned from the IWTA in 2011 and became independent.
So far so good? Ok now is where it gets weird.
In the over five years since I left the IWTA I have always shown respect to my former teacher, even when I have no respect for his American country boy**** managers, or the IWTA as an institution. I even recently defended Sifu Leung Ting's credentials on the Dudes of Kung Fu podcast just a few weeks before his attack. Now in response to an innocuous interview I did with Apple Daily in Hong Kong, my embattled ex-teacher has decided to viciously attack me using my former IWTA colleague Robin Tsang (Tsang Ho Bun) as his shield. I will discuss the all too easily manipulated Robin a bit later in this post. The unwarranted attack was done in typical Leung Ting fashion, complete with sensational multi-colored Chinese fonts, and included the following accusations:
- I learned Wing Tsun for only one week from Sifu Leung Ting (ONE WEEK! I'M SERIOUS! Do they not know that the Internet even exists? Someone should tell them!)
- That providing good service is not what kung fu is about (SERIOUSLY WTF, should a sifu not provide good training if his or her students pay them money?)
- That my City Wing Tsun Athletic Association is "no big deal" (ARE THEY 8 YEARS OLD? Are they going to call me a "doodie-head" next? Do they know how few US members they have left?)
By the way, since my Si-Gung, Leung Ting has now stated that I never had a "teacher/student" relationship with him, I will call him "Mr. Leung Ting" from now on to respect his self-concocted world view. I'm curious if Mr. Leung realizes that he is now doing the same thing to others that all of his "seniors" did to him in Hong Kong? Mr. Leung, may have amnesia about the outcome of the "successor event" in 1976 when his seniors did the same thing to him. Angry and jealous attacks on Mr. Leung ended up making him more famous.
So let's begin!
*The IWTA's US section still has one Chinese "sifu" named Dan but he has no students and failed miserably the one time he did try to teach Wing Tsun. His lack of contribution to the IWTA is why I didn't count him. We even have a video of this "Sifu Dan" being easily tossed around in chi sau by one of his juniors (my student) at a seminar. This video is part of our instructor training program to highlight how a student who trains hard can easily dominate a lazy senior with "more years" of training. I'm sure the IWTA would not be happy if yet another video was released of one of their flock being easily controlled again. Dan is now the American "ke le fe" (茄哩啡) of the IWTA.
**Actually Mr. Leung, besides blaming himself for his poor choices in "leadership" choices, can blame one person for the mass exit...
***Before this mass exit Mr. Leung used to teach at four seminar stops in the US, but these days they barely have enough students to do one seminar per year. The attendance of his one yearly seminar is less than a regular Tuesday night at City Wing Tsun in NYC.
***"Country boys" is the nickname Mr. Leung gives his "senior students" (IWTA "managers") in America. According to him they are "lazy buy loyal". What a glowing endorsement! They also really suck at photoshop, just take a look below!
IN 2011 THE IWTA TRIED HORRIBLY TO "DELETE" ME!
Seriously, you can't even make this stuff up...
Before the recent claim that I had only one week of training with Mr. Leung, the IWTA already tried to delete me from history. Shortly after I quit in 2011, one of the managers poorly photoshopped me out of a long pole seminar photo with Mr. Leung. When I exposed this on the Internet, the "photoshop master" quickly took it down. It's also notable to mention that of the seven Sifu-Level instructors in that particular photo, FOUR of them have left the IWTA as well! By the way, the "Alex deletion" is very funny. He even hastily removed the wall-bags behind me and re-colored the wall and floor. He also forgot the "tip" of Haw's long pole in the ceiling. Seriously, look at that abomination of a photoshop job. Just let that sink in that some guy who calls himself a "master" felt the need to "remove" me just because I left the IWTA. A "master"...
My dear readers, this is what the IWTA does. No one needs to be surprised that they now say I have only "one week" of training. This is the culture of their association. They are bullies parading as victims to pretend attacks by ex-members. When it comes to ex-members they delete, they rewrite, they photoshop, and they degrade credentials. It's still unclear how they can view themselves as such a big and powerful organization, yet they become so easily threatened by ex-members. Seems to be a sign of weakness rather than strength. And like most people who are weak inside, they bully others.
A SHORT THANK YOU NOTE TO ROBIN
(Insincere Wing Tsun Amnesiac & Future Titanic Captain & My Accuser)
My dear Robin,
I need to thank you for keeping me in the Hong Kong press. Online sales of my book The Little Idea have exploded in Hong Kong! I don't even feel betrayed because I know you have no choice. I'm fully aware of the position you are in and how you must sacrifice your integrity on a regular basis for Mr. Leung. Here is some advice for you next time you attack me my dear Robin. Why don't you say that I just hung around Mr. Leung a lot to get all these photos? Or say that I created the certificates in photoshop? Or, that I really only learned from your si-fu, Lee Yun Tim? Or that Mr. Leung Ting came to NYC often but didn't actually teach me anything? These are all more believable than the "one week" attack. Come on Robin, you need to do better. But Robin, please be advised that this post represents only a small fraction of what I have and it's not even the best stuff! Oh my dear Robin, nothing in this post is even close to the best stuff I have to prove the IWTA and Mr. Leung's bullying.
Kung Fu Genius (KFG)
P.S. Kung Fu Genius is my new nickname as I've somehow managed to more successful than Mr. Leung's American country boys. And think I did it with only one week of training!
P.P.S Hey Robin, do you remember when you wrote this (below) in my Chi Sau book? I guess I went from "rising WT star" to "fake" the second I resigned from the IWTA! Is that how it works?
OUCH! BARBARIANS! THEY CALLED ME A FAKE!
Many of my Hong Kong martial arts friends felt that I did not respond* strongly enough to Mr. Leung's (um, I mean "Robin's") libelous statement. I personally didn't care, Mr. Leung has done the same or worse to others. However I am writing this article slightly to appease my good friends who were offended on my behalf. It's awkward for me to defend my credentials, but I want to show that this is business as usual for the IWTA. Also by exposing a very small selection of Mr. Leung's emails the reader can get a feeling for his penchant for trickery and his strange temperament.
*By the way, my response to the attack that I learned for only one week was this: "One week? Why don't they say I learn for one day or maybe one hour? This is just what they normally do."
I suppose it's a badge of honor to be attacked by Mr. Leung. It only happens when he feels threatened. But these days he must feel threatened by everyone because his US and Hong Kong associations are clearly falling apart. The only times you see a big seminar photo with him now is when he is in eastern Europe - the final holdout of his waning empire. He can show big numbers in eastern Europe, where many participants are forced to attend seminars. The facade of a "big worldwide" association is cracking fast. I'm sure my NYC HQ has more active students than all five of his Hong Kong "branches" combined. But I digress...
Nearly every single person of note who leaves the IWTA gets similar treatment. Whether it is in an open statement, internal gossip-mongering, or in “confidential” emails, ex-members are all systematically denigrated. For sure there are people who left or got kicked out of the IWTA due to their own misdeeds. However, the fact that Mr. Leung Ting has something bad to say or takes some action on EVERY single high-profile instructor who has left his association for whatever reason is quite telling. Does Mr. Leung Ting believe that there is never a good reason to leave his beloved IWTA? Are financial concerns, family plans, career considerations, or medical reasons for example, never good enough to leave the IWTA? Must one stay locked in for life? Is the IWTA looking to become the kung fu version of Scientology? You should have seen the letter they sent to my students when I quit! Culty culty!
Statistically speaking any large association will have senior members who will eventually drop out for a multitude of reasons. Is it possible that every single ex-student of the IWTA didn’t “really learn” anything or only learned for a short time? Is that statistically possible? Every single ex-student? Really? That doesn’t seem to be a good advertisement for the IWTA. Does the IWTA want to have the reputation of having the "most advanced students" who have "learned nothing"? Because that's what they seem to want to claim.
Does Robin think that if he leaves the association that Mr. Leung would say nice things about his credentials? It doesn't matter who your are! He even yelled at Sifu Cheng Chuen Fun (his most senior si-dai) in front of me calling him an "idiot" for a great offense to the IWTA rule book. What was the great offense? Sifu Cheng was wearing a t-shirt underneath his IWTA jacket in Hungary (it was cold). Sifu Cheng is someone I respect very deeply and I was embarrassed when Mr. Leung called him an idiot in front of me. But it made me realize that this is just who he is. A mean-spirited angry person and bully.
It seems that Mr. Leung Ting, in his blind rage of attacking ex-members wholesale has shot himself in his foot. You see, he can’t have it both ways. Mr. Leung cannot claim to have the “most professional” teaching system with "high standards" and then still claim that students who have been with him for 10, 20, or even 40 years know little, or incorrect Wing Tsun. If this is true that all ex-IWTA members are terrible know-nothings or fakes, then Mr. Leung Ting has put himself in a bad spot. By way of Mr. Leung Ting’s credential denigrations he is claiming one or more of the following:
- That the IWTA’s teaching and ranking system is not worth anything, in essence his ranking system is a con-job
- That Mr. Leung is a bad teacher who is incapable of teaching even his most loyal students
- That Mr. Leung is just acquires amnesia once a student leaves his association
So which one is Mr. Leung Ting claiming? Is he his ranking system a con, is he a bad teacher, or is he suffering from amnesia? Which one is it? The only other possibility is that he is just lying about his ex-members, but we would never assume that now, right? It must be one of the three I listed. For sure.
The issue is that when Mr. Leung denigrates the credentials of people he himself has ranked as a 8th Level Master for example, what is he saying about his ranking system? What kind of cognitive dissonance does Mr. Leung suffer from when he can bestow Sifu Tam Hung Fun the 8th level, only to say years later that Tam doesn't understand concepts? Read below for more on this case. Does Mr. Leung believe his ranking system has merit, or is it solely a money-making tactic? He seems conflicted on this point. Or perhaps one is only skillful while they are paying the IWTA a fee. Resignation to the IWTA must mean forfeiture of one's Wing Tsun skill in Mr. Leung's mind. Like when Robin said I was a "rising WT star" in 2006 only to call me a "fake" in 2016.
I don't care if the IWTA doesn't want to mention me or promote me - I sincerely understand that. But to go out of their way to publish lies is unbecoming of one who calls himself not just a grandmaster, but a great grandmaster. Even if he is hiding behind poor little dutiful Robin.
ROBIN TSANG: A LESSON IN COMPROMISED INTEGRITY
Pay attention here folks: this is how you go from "Rising WT Star" and "excellent WT instructor" to "fake" in the blink of an eye! All you need is one weak-willed assistant who will do anything to court favor with Mr. Leung and voila! You have the recipe to publish lies with someone else's name. Robin, take a good look at this, for this is what you have become.
For the reader new to the sordid world of WT politics, it's important to understand that nothing the IWTA is doing to me is out of the ordinary. Mr. Leung Ting is a notorious blame shifter and it's business as usual that he hid behind his assistant Robin Tsang Ho Bun in the statement against me. Sifu Leung Ting knows that any "mistakes" that may be in the statement can be blamed on Robin. Mr. Leung has unwittingly lowered Robin's status to that of keyboard warrior! The Chinese statement also makes it seem as if Robin really doesn't know me. Again, Insincere Wing Tsun Amnesia is real folks.
Robin may no longer really remember me, but I sure as hell remember him. My students do too!
Robin was once a friend, or better not to overstate it, a colleague of mine in the "IWTA family". I first met him in April 2006 and last saw him in February 2011. In those years I met him a number of times in Hong Kong as well as in Hungary. As of this writing we are still Facebook friends. I'm curious how long until he unfriends or blocks me! Anybody who looks at our Facebook pages will see that we have a number of mutual photos together including some of our own students meeting each other at various times and locations. In other words it would be clear to anybody who looked at our mutual Facebook pages that we were friends with a history.
If there is anybody who knows about my background in WT it certainly Robin. As a matter of fact he even praised me in an article he wrote for the news section of the Leung Ting website. Robin is and has been the webmaster for the www.leungting.com for many years and writes everything that goes on that site. I don't suggest you go to that site, it's horribly designed, full of viruses, and buggy as hell. On second thought, go check it out. It's like going into a time-machine of the early days of the Internet. While you wait for the opening page to load "Flash" you can go cook a steak. The "MOST BIGGEST WINGTSUN ASSOCIATION" ladies and gentlemen...
Of course when I quit in 2011 Robin scrubbed the Leung Ting website clean of any dirty mentions of "Alex Richter" or my school. The problem is that Robin seems unaware that Google and other websites archive and snapshot older versions of websites. It's not as simple as Robin thinks to act like the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984. Below is an article Robin wrote about me on www.leungting.com after I received my 3rd Level Technician certificate in Hong Kong from Mr. Leung Ting after an instructor class.
Insincere Wing Tsun Amnesia Take 1 - This article, written by sweet and innocent Robin, was originally posted on "leungting.com" on Sunday, April 23rd 2006:
Sifu Alex Richter receiving his 3rd Level Technician Certificate from Great Grandmaster Leung Ting in Hong Kong
"Sifu Alex Richter, the chief-instructor of City WingTsun in New York, received the Third-Technician certificate from his Si-kung, Professor Leung Ting. As the promotion ceremony was held right after the instructor tutorial, many HK instructors were there witnessing the event and sharing the sweet moment with Sifu Alex.
Born in America, Sifu Alex firstly received his WingTsun education in Langenzell Castle in Germany for years, and then went back to the States and started his teaching career. Sifu Alex is an excellent WT instructor. He truly knows his stuff and how to teach WingTsun techniques to his students and make sure that they grasp the points."
Insincere Wing Tsun Amnesia Take 2 - Robin seems to have forgotten this email on June 7th 2005 as well. Apparently he could "definitely learn a lot from me" in 2005:
Dear Si-Hing Alex,
You are always welcome. It will be my honour to meet you and show you
around Hong Kong. And same feeling on training with you. I would
definitely learn a lot from you!
Si-gung will leave Hong Kong and head to US the day after tomorrow.
Anyway, please do not hesitate to contact me when you need any help.
All the best,
P.S For the WingTsun Shoes and Uniforms, do you need to order any of
them in a hurry? Si-Tai (Mrs. Leung) said we would ship you the
uniform by Speed Post and will be responsible for the shipping fee.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER IWTA MEMBERS?
There are many in the IWTA that are fully aware of my credentials as well. I wonder what they think when they read Robin's statement? Do they "agree" out of loyalty to the almighty Mr. Leung? Do they cower and pretend they didn't read it? Or do they finally come to the realization that if they themselves leave big brother's IWTA that suddenly their own credentials will vanish? I'm curious how indoctrinated some of my old friends who are still in the IWTA are. Will Mr. Leung coerce them to write a statement whereby they corroborate that I have only one magical week of training?
HONG KONG 2009: Robin, like Mr. Leung, can be very charming at first. But make no mistake, he will change his tone at any moment if that is Mr. Leung's wish. In that way Robin is the perfect successor to Mr. Leung's legacy. He is quickly becoming the embodiment of the Chinese phrase faht hau seh sam (佛口蛇心) or Buddha's words, but a snake's heart. He can be very sweet when he needs to be, but is then immediately capable of trickery and deception. After the Fight Quest debacle (which I explain below) he helped stage a fake "real" fight on video with an Italian instructor. It was so poorly staged I don't know why they thought anyone would believe it. But Mr. Leung needed to save face from the embarrassment of Fight Quest and this was Mr. Leung's great scheme. Robin had no problem helping stage a completely fabricated fight at Mr. Leung's request. The video was so terribly fake it was taken down very quickly. The Italian student who was in it also exposed Mr. Leung's trick by releasing a number of embarrassing emails. Mind you, these are adults we are talking about. Adults staging pretend challenge fights.
On second thought, why do I want to admit I was with these raging maniacs for more than a week?
So for Robin to writes a completely false and libelous statement against me should not come as a shock. He will stage fake fights, delete member histories, and attack his own si-fu (Lee Yun Tim) in the Internet. In fact Robin is so despised within the IWTA in Hong Kong that some Chinese Wing Tsun students even joke that he goes to Korea to get plastic surgery. Apparently they think that's funny or something. Some of his current and former students in Hong Kong have texted me to apologize on behalf of Robin after his attack.
*For reference, the term "loyal idiot" is what Mr. Leung uses in private to call his students. He even lost his former UK chief instructor when Mr. Leung admitted this fact to him. Don't believe me? Some of his Mr. Leung's most famous students have "loyal idiot" in their email addresses!
ROBIN MAY SUFFER FROM AMNESIA, BUT THE WORLD DOESN'T
How Robin has the audacity to attack my credentials through lying is understandable. Quite frankly he is Mr. Leung's puppet. I'm sure it would be more shocking to find out what Robin isn't willing to do for Mr. Leung. In fact if you only knew what Robin has done against his own si-fu (Lee Yun Tim) behind the scenes, you would be thoroughly disgusted. But it seems to be justified all in the name of the IWTA. Well let's discuss something Robin would like to forget!
Despite the number of public embarrassments Robin* has had, the most egregious breach of honor on Robin's part was his cowardice in the TV show Fight Quest. To make a long story short, Robin was too afraid to fight in the finale of the show. The producers needed Asian Wing Tsun fighters which disqualified my student Mike Yahn and myself. Two other eligible Asian Wing Tsun fighters, both of whom were not from Mr. Leung's IWTA HQ, were too undersized to fight in the finale. Seemingly Robin and his si-hing-dai would be the likely candidates to fight. What did they do? They all crapped the bed and refused to fight. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
The whole Fight Quest debacle is a whole other story in itself. Check out the link in the notes below.**
I however, had a very tough Korean fighter (same size as Robin) who was willing to fly to Hong Kong to fight from NYC to defend the "honor" of the IWTA. Can you believe there was not a single fighter in the "International HQ" who was willing to fight? Yet Robin would love people to believe that his regular training with Mr. Leung somehow makes him an authority beyond reproach. Then why was Robin, with all his amazing Hong Kong training, afraid to fight? With Robin's years of "Hong Kong" training and teaching he also couldn't produce a student who could fight. With my "one week" of training with Mr. Leung I had people who could fight!
Check out the email below with Mr. Leung pleading to get my Korean fighter over to HK. This is just one of a couple emails I have on this topic.
*Robin has suffered a number of embarrassing YouTube and other public debacles including getting tossed around in chi sau by his kung fu nephew Paul, fighting poorly on stage against an amateur, and forgetting part of the biu tze form on Hong Kong TV. Oy vey!
**If you want to read more details about the Fight Quest debacle, you can read my interview with Riccardo Divito from 2009. During that interview I was still part of the IWTA and did my best to protect Robin and other members from embarrassment. One may also note that in 2009 when I did that interview I talked openly about learning from Mr. Leung. Seems that while I was in the association no one had a problem with that claim. Click here to read that interview.
June 16th, 2008: In the email above you can see how Mr. Leung pleads with me to bring my Korean fighter to Hong Kong or the IWTA will have no Asian fighters to fight. Why wasn't Robin able to fight again? Also, how does Mr. Leung Ting have my cell phone number if I'm just a nobody who learned from him for one week? Inquiring minds want to know!
Also how come the only Asian Wing Tsun fighters who are not afraid to fight are my students? Where were all of these great Hong Kong-trained IWTA fighters? If Robin was too afraid to fight, what about his own students? Anyone? How could I, with my "one week" of training have students who could fight?
It's because I'm a Kung Fu Genius! I told you already.
At the final hour my Korean student could not come as he was a freshly graduated NYPD. Flying to Hong Kong to fight would have violated his new contract as a police officer. In the end we were left with "...no one to fight against Jimmy!" The other sifu in the TV show, Kong Chi Keung had to provide three more of his guys to fight in place of the Leung Ting guys. Embarrassing!
But don't take my word for it, ask Sifu Kong Chi Keung!
SO I LEARNED FROM LEUNG TING FOR ONLY ONE WEEK?
Let's take a ride kiddies - this is going to be fun! By the way, I have not released photos from every seminar with Mr. Leung Ting at my school - just some of the more memorable ones. One year he even came twice to NYC! These photos are in no particular order and there are still many that I have not published anywhere yet. Oh, I have a lot more...
YOU NEVER FORGET YOUR FIRST CHI SAU
BERLIN, SEPT 22nd 2001: This seminar was my sixth seminar with Mr. Leung Ting before I even began teaching Wing Tsun in America. He told us our punch needs to be explosive, just like those planes crashing into the towers! Yes, he actually said this on the week of 9/11. Powerful stuff.
FIRST TIME TEACHING AT MY SCHOOL
NYC 2004: Below is a photo of Mr. Leung teaching at City Wing Tsun in 2004. I didn't even have curtains back then! While this was the first seminar in my NYC school, it was the third seminar with him I attended since I came back from Germany in 2002. Previously I had done a couple 3-day instructor seminars in Boston and in Bellingham, Washington. On top of that I did private training with Mr. Leung in Boston in 2002. This means that before Mr. Leung taught his first seminar in my school, I already had one week of training with him in the USA alone! This doesn't even factor in the 6 seminars I had with him previously, nor that fact that I was already a qualified instructor before I learned directly from him. He's fuzzy on details sometimes.
INSTRUCTOR SEMINAR 2005 AT MY SCHOOL
Who's that handsome devil next to Mr. Leung in the photo below? Why that's Sifu Jeff Webb! On the other side of Mr. Leung is me. Please note, only qualified Sifu-Level instructors may sit down in these traditional photos. So I guess I was a qualified Wing Tsun sifu back in 2005 but somehow I'm suddenly a fake? Sifu Jeff was the former manager of the IWTA in the USA and he was driven to resign mainly by Mr. Leung's behind-the-scenes scheming in 2007. As part of this scheme, Mr. Leung drove a wedge between Sifu Jeff and myself. Sifu Jeff have since reconciled after I quit the IWTA.
TORONTO 2007: Another instructor class, this time at Sifu Carson Lau's school in Toronto. Fun fact: of the nine Sifu-Level Instructors seated in the row with Mr. Leung (picture below), SEVEN of them have left the IWTA voluntarily. At some point Mr. Leung must start to realize that if so many people become his "rebels" maybe it's not the rebels, maybe it's him? Is he capable of such self-reflection? It's also funny that he calls ex-students "rebels". Does he not realize that the term "rebel" actually has a positive connotation in western culture? In Star Wars, which side branded the other side as "rebels"?
ANOTHER TORONTO PIC: Here we are at a banquet with Mr. Leung Ting. Sifu Carson Lau and Sifu Elmond Leung (both seated) were two of the most senior Chinese IWTA instructors in North America. It's worth noting that every single person in this photo is no longer a part or an active member of the IWTA anymore.
ANOTHER INSTRUCTOR AND STUDENT SEMINAR 2008
Who is that handsome devil pointed to by the arrow? Anyone else see how I used IWTA-level skills to "delete" a former member of my school with that arrow? Oh my what fun!
ANOTHER INSTRUCTOR AND STUDENT SEMINAR 2009
Another seminar in my school! On a side note, we did not take many photos for his final seminar in 2010 as there were a number of European students present that Mr. Leung was not supposed to be teaching. The 2010 seminar was a very strange final visit from Mr. Leung.
WHO ISSUED THESE INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATES THAT ARE ON MY WALL?
While suffering from Insincere Wing Tsun Amnesia, Mr. Leung may have forgotten that he was the only person who could issue Instructor/Technician certificates in the USA. I received my primary level certificate in Germany, but my second and third levels tests were done with Mr. Leung. To the uninitiated reader it must be understood that before I took my first private lesson with Mr. Leung I was already a fully-qualified WT Trainer. So, how did he issue me two more higher level certificates, yet I only trained with him for one week? Is he really admitting that he just hands out certificates to anyone? Does Mr. Leung not realize that when he denigrates credentials he destroy the reputation of his ranking system?
DOES MR. LEUNG FORGET THAT OTHER PEOPLE MET HIM HERE IN NYC?
NYC 2005: This photo has been hanging on my wall since it was shot. This was when Mr. Leung was in NYC teaching a 5-day instructor seminar in my school. Mr. Leung is aware that I brought him to meet many people in the martial arts world on his seven trips to NYC who can vouch he said he was teaching me, right?
DOES MR. LEUNG TING DO PRESS CONFERENCES WITH ANYBODY?
BUDAPEST 2007: Apparently I was a big enough deal to be in the big press conference for Sifu Leung Ting's 60th birthday. In fact, I am on that panel with select senior instructors from that time. Please note that to the far left of the photo are three of the most senior Wing Tsun instructors from Hong Kong. Two of them have since left the IWTA! They have also now been conveniently edited out of Mr. Leung's books. A question I have is this: If I only learned from Mr. Leung for one week, why am I on the panel for the press conference for this big event? Inquiring minds want to know!
APPEARANCE IN ONE OF MR. LEUNG'S BOOKS (2007)
Apparently Mr. Leung was proud enough of his NYC branch to put it in his book! I must point out to the reader that in the group photo below there are nine instructors (black shirt or jacket) present (of course I'm excluding my good friend Mr. Ron Van Clief who is seated next to me). Of those nine instructors, SEVEN of them have left the IWTA voluntarily. The two who are left either have no school or have very few students. This particular group photo was from 2006.
INTERVIEWS WITH MR. LEUNG AT CITY WING TSUN
NYC 2008: Perhaps Mr. Leung's Insincere Wing Tsun Amnesia is so intense that he forgot these four interviews he shot at my school for Crescent Street Films. Of course you must realize that Mr. Leung would only come to NYC to teach Wing Tsun at my school at that time. I'll tell you what, for a student who only learned from Mr. Leung for one week, I surely spent a lot of time with him and did a lot for him. That was a busy week I learned from him!
CHINESE NEWSPAPERS IN NYC
NYC 2009: Here Mr. Leung was interviewed by the Sing Tao & World Journal while he was on yet another teaching trip to NYC. One can spot my students Sifu Craig Savino and Sifu Kaiu Atkinson who were just young students back then. Does Mr. Leung expect the seminar attendees to also have Insincere Wing Tsun Amnesia?
Doesn't Mr. Leung realize his trips to NYC were often reported in the press?
2005: A newspaper article from his 2005 visit to my school. I'm mentioned in the caption as well.
Apparently Mr. Leung liked to email with me regularly even though I only learned from him for one week. Of the many emails I have with him, many would be very embarrassing to him if released. So I promise to release only some very "tame" classic Mr. Leung stuff here.
ASKED ME ABOUT MY INPUT ON REGULATIONS
NOVEMBER 2010: It seems as if I was important enough to Mr. Leung to be asked about input on seminar policies. Is it reasonable that if I was just a "one week" student that Mr. Leung would care about what my input on regulations was? Mr. Leung Ting's seminar policies were problematic and every year there were fewer and fewer students. I didn't have the heart to tell him that my own seminars in my school had more students than his at this point.
COMING TO HK TO "LEARN MORE IN THE INT HQ"? A PLOT TO PISS OFF THE CURRENT IWTA MANAGER?
APRIL 2006: Mr. Leung Ting was wrote in this email that I would come to Hong Kong to "learn more in the INT HQ". Does this not somehow indicate I had already learned something from Mr. Leung if I'm going to "learn more"? Also the "Jeff" that he is referring to was the head manager of the US section of the IWTA at that time. The standard procedure for me would have been to inform Sifu Jeff at least a few weeks in advance to let him know about my training in HK. Here Mr. Leung is encouraging me to wait until the day I leave for Hong Kong so as to mess with Sifu Jeff's authority. Mr. Leung loved to concoct wars between his student and others within the association. "U know what I mean" - classic Mr. Leung Ting!
HOW MR. LEUNG REALLY FEELS ABOUT WING CHUN (WC) PEOPLE
JUNE 2009: Mr. Leung is congratulating me for successfully "beating up those WC idiots". Everyone who does "other Wing Chun" is considered "WC" to Mr. Leung. He even advises me to keep a hidden camera in my school. Mr. Leung even points out something funny - he says that being accomplished in the art depends on:
"How good U've practiced WT (WC)? Or high the standard U R? & how much U've worked for the development of WC (WT)?"
So if this is the standard I would say that Mr. Leung does not have much to attack me on. I have senior students who themselves are already better than Mr. Leung's lazy country boys. I must also say I have done more developing in Wing Tsun (WT) in the USA then his country boys as well. And all this with only "one week" of training!
ANOTHER MR. LEUNG LIE - THAT HE DOESN'T TEACH CONCEPTS TO STUDENTS!
Shortly after my younger kung fu brother Sifu Haw Kuo quit, Mr. Leung made a video statement claiming that he does not teach theory or concepts to students until they are a 4th Level Technician (a very senior rank needed at least 10 or more years to achieve). Again, Mr. Leung shoots himself in the foot. First of all he always taught us about how important the understanding of concepts were and how techniques are not nearly as important. In fact it is impossible to teach Wing Tsun (WT) without also teaching the theory as well. In this 2006 email he discusses that he will focus more on teaching the "mottoes and the concepts" to both students and instructors. This directly contradicts his video statement where he says he does not.
He also admits that he learned most of this stuff over tea time chats with Grandmaster Yip Man. Mr. Leung seems to need a lot more time to explain things that were taught to him over food. Does everyone see how stupid and strange "IWTA life" is?
Also, I don't mean to point out the giant elephant in the room but...
...why does Mr. Leung think it's a "selling point" of his association that he "admits" he doesn't teach any theory until one is a 4th Level Technician? He's basically saying that you will learn nothing of Wing Tsun's deeper function until after you have invested a serious amount of time and money first. First of all it's a lie as he always teaches theory because he is too lazy these days to teach practical stuff himself. But even if it were true, why the hell does he think that is a good idea?
Again, in his blind rage attacking his rebels he again discredits his own ranking system and makes his association look even more like a money pit.
APPARENTLY MR. LEUNG THOUGHT I SHOULD BRING MY WIFE TO HUNGARY...
FEBRUARY 2007: The collection of emails I have released in this post does not even cover one eighth of what I have. Dear reader, if I am a nobody who learned for only "one week", then how is Mr. Leung so familiar with my wife? Why would he be so nice in inviting me? After all he hopes to see me there. This is some serious amnesia ladies and gentlemen...
DESTROYING HIS OWN CREDIBILITY
As I have mentioned a number of times, I am not the only one who has been attacked in the credibility department. It seems that if an instructor with any kind of name or position leaves, it's simply a matter of time before Mr. Leung Ting must lash out. What's hypocritical about this is that he always advised me and others not to "mention our enemies" as we will be unwittingly giving them free press. In fact he even mentioned this in an old Inside Kung Fu Magazine as being one of the most important pieces of advice that Grandmaster Yip Man gave him. It also seems to be the one piece of advice he cannot follow. He is so put off by his ex-students that discussion of them is the standard topic of choice during meals.
CONSTANT ATTEMPTS TO RE-EDIT HISTORY
Mr. Leung Ting is so insecure that he believes mere photos of his ex-students will somehow "flip his rice bowl". Every time a student leaves him (which is often these days) he goes through the painstaking work of removing them from his books. As if someone will see a photo of an ex-student of Leung Ting in a book and then suddenly decide to travel to learn from that student. How insecure can a great grandmaster be?
The casual reader would never care who the random demonstrator is in one of Mr. Leung Ting's books. His constant re-editing of the books however draws more attention to his rebels. Readers who see another edition will wonder why someone has been removed. He shoots himself in the foot here.
Mr. Leung Ting even removed his "most loyal si-dai" from the book Wing Tsun Kuen. Many Wing Tsun practitioners out there may be shocked to realize that Mr. Leung Ting removed Sifu Cheng's classic demonstration of the chum kiu form from that book. Next time you have the chance to look at the latest edition of Wing Tsun Kuen, please notice how Sifu Cheng has been erased from the entire book. Sifu Cheng a nearly 50-year veteran of the IWTA and a grandmaster under Mr. Leung Ting shamelessly removed. All this for the "evil" deed of wanting to do his own thing after paying more of his time than anyone else in the IWTA.
My si-baak, Sifu Lee Yun Tim has not been a member of the IWTA since around 2004. Mr. Leung worked his beautiful editing magic on him too:
The above re-edits are but only a few of the many times Mr. Leung has tried to erase his ever-growing list of rebels. Why is he so worried about this?
The hypocrisy of him mentioning his "enemies" notwithstanding, Mr. Leung Ting makes one brutally idiotic mistake in his attacks. At the sake of sounding repetitive, this must be thoroughly understood. This is the "Leung Ting Paradox".He unknowingly undermines his own credibility as an instructor and he destroys the value of his own ranking system. In other words he outright states that learning in the IWTA for any period of time is useless. Even if you achieve "grandmaster" status from him, as in the case of Sifu Cheng Chuen Fun and Sifu Kernspecht he say that they to say they don't know things or are not qualified. Well Mr. Leung, if the senior students that you bestow with the 10th Level M.O.C, the very same level which you yourself possess, are not qualified in some way, then what is the value of that level at all?
I could write an entire blog post on how Mr. Leung has tried to discredit both Grandmaster Cheng Chuen Fun (who left the IWTA) and Grandmaster Kernspecht (who still is in the IWTA). Seems neither having the 10th Level, nor being active or inactive in the IWTA keeps you safe from Mr. Leung's credential denigrations. By the way Mr. Leung, who gave Sifu Cheng and Sifu Kernspecht the 10th Level Grandmaster status?
As Mr. Leung and Sifu Kernspecht still have a business relationship, I will refrain from releasing the tons of evidence of what Mr. Leung has done behind Sifu Kernspecht's back. No one has done more to "flip Mr. Leung's rice bowl" than Mr. Leung himself.
So Mr. Leung Ting must think really hard about this. Do certificates and qualifications in the IWTA mean anything if EVERY ex-student of his magically doesn't know anything?
Let's go through two case studies of people who learned from Mr. Leung Ting only to have their credentials denigrated by him later.
CASE STUDY 1: THE LATE SIFU TAM HUNG FUN
Sifu Tam Hung Fun was one of Mr. Leung Ting's most senior students and the trainer of the many of the fighters throughout the 70's. In fact when Mr. Leung had an unfortunate incident with a famous Shaw Brothers movie star, it was Tam Hung Fun (according to Robin) who would step in to defend Leung Ting's honor. Tam Hung Fun also famously answered a challenge from some western sailors who wanted to try out Leung Ting. So despite the fact that Tam was much older than his Si-fu Leung Ting, Tam would be the "loyal idiot" to consistently defend Mr. Leung's honor. Sifu Tam appeared in nearly every original Leung Ting WT book and was openly promoted in many IWTA publications.
Sifu Tam eventually earned the 8th Level Practician in the IWTA. This is the highest rank one can earn before entering the grandmaster levels in the IWTA. At some point Sifu Tam and Mr. Leung had some sort of disagreement and Sifu Tam became independent of the IWTA. What did Mr. Leung have to say about Sifu Tam? Let's take a look in this email dated April 17th, 2008:
"About Tam Hung Fun, he is not "exactly" my rebel. But he is a crazy guy N completely careless guy who always tries to be better than I, his own si-fu but can do nothing due to his very low education N not so high in the achievement of WT concepts, though he believe he can fight very well! (Of course, he only trained very hard. However, this does not mean he can teach!)
Never mind then. Now he is severely ill as he has cancer N will die very soon..."
Wow, look at the nice words about someone who is not "exactly" a rebel! This begs the question why Mr. Leung would award the 8th Level Practician (Master) to someone without high achievement in WT concepts?
Oh, and yes, you read that right about the cancer. How cruel and capricious does one need to be to write that about one of their most senior students? Sifu Tam would pass away a few short years later. I never dared to meet him as I was afraid I would get in trouble with the IWTA. I regret not having visited him in the many times I walked past his school in Hong Kong.
CASE STUDY 2: SERGIO IADAROLA
The infamous Sergio was at one point a member of the EWTO. In the late 90's Sergio managed to travel to Hong Kong and begin taking private lessons directly with Mr. Leung Ting. The problem was that this was in violation of an agreement that Mr. Leung had with Sifu Kernspecht, the head of the EWTO. You see, Mr. Leung had (still has) a habit of teaching European students secretly in an effort to develop a future usurper of his student's (Keith Kernspecht's) kingdom. Mr. Leung is so jealous of the success of the Western European juggernaut that he has continually schemed to claim a bigger piece of his student's work. Sergio was one of those famous attempts.
Mr. Leung's plot to develop Sergio as a new competitor to Sifu Kernspecht went horribly wrong. Sergio himself became a "rebel" and created a big problem for Mr. Leung's financial future. Of all the rebels that Mr. Leung himself created, Sergio is that one that bit him in the ass the most. Because of Sergio, the EWTO lost a number of schools, most notably in Italy. This hit Mr. Leung in the pocketbook too. Mr. Leung's plot was so ill-conceived that it can be compared to the Wile E. Coyote having the bomb explode in his own hand.
This was perhaps the biggest turning point in the relationship between Mr. Leung and his most successful segment, the EWTO. The relationship has never been the same since. Not only has the EWTO re-developed their programs from the "old Leung Ting" stuff, they don't even wear the same "Leung Ting" uniforms anymore. The careful observer will also see that Mr. Leung has not been invited to teach in Western Europe by the EWTO since 2009. Ouch.
How did Mr. Leung respond when Sergio came onto the scene as rebel? He claimed he didn't teach him much! Imagine that! Sound familiar? Then Sergio produced many year's worth of photographs, receipts of lessons, and many other tangible bits of evidence. Mr. Leung couldn't say anything except that to be good in his Wing Tsun you need more than just "learning" but also practice. But then in the same breath he also claimed one needs more learning, from him. This flies directly in the face of what he tells students and even what he said in one email which I provide here*.
As many people know I'm not friendly with Sergio and I personally don't have anything to do with him. I met him on a couple occasions in Hong Kong and have had a number of conversations with him. Based on those conversations and the ones I had with Mr. Leung, I can guarantee anybody that Sergio legitimately learned a lot from Mr. Leung. But ask Mr. Leung today and his Insincere Wing Tsun Amnesia will kick in. "Sergio? I didn't teach that tricky guy anything..."
*Let us not forget that according to Mr. Leung's own admission his private training with Grandmaster Yip Man lasted 9 months. After this 9 month period, Mr. Leung would spend 3 years learning the "secrets of the theory" over dim sum (see "concepts email above). Anybody want to do that math on how many hours that all adds up to? Why does Mr. Leung seemingly admit that years of IWTA training doesn't equal 72 hours of private lessons and tea time chats.
It's difficult for me to reconcile the feelings I have about my Si-Gung and former teacher. Undoubtedly, he is one of the most brilliant minds in the martial arts world. He is somebody who has achieved a lot, and who at one point was an inspiring model of martial arts success. Despite his many controversies, I still consider him one of the most outstanding students of Grandmaster Yip Man. However, his personality, politics, and destructive behavior towards his students current and former, makes it difficult to defend him. In my mind there is a clear partition between his martial arts excellence and his schizophrenic nature as a figurehead. For the longest time I made excuses to everyone, including my own parents, for his irreconcilable behavior. But now I'm no longer shackled in mind-forged manacles.
While I was a member of the IWTA I did a number of things I am not at all proud of, often at the direct behest of Mr. Leung himself. That is not an excuse either, I was an adult fully responsible for my own actions. For those things I did to others, I've apologized to the ones I know I hurt, but I may not be fully aware of the extent of my past behavior. Reviewing the countless emails I have with him, I'm reminded of how he tried to get me to dislike my own si-fu, how he concocted wars between me and other instructors, and how at every turn he would undermine his own success with his constant scheming. The feeling of embarrassment I have now when I see how warped I had become under him is overwhelming. I'm also ashamed at how easily I played along to his demands. I even began to write emails using the same silly abbreviated style and Chinglish that he uses. With Mr. Leung there is always vague promise of a better life, of one day being able to complete the Wing Tsun system under him. Or at the very least, to be in his pocket as a favored student. This glimmer of hope is what he uses to keep everyone around him ready, willing, and able to do his bidding.
It's not a pure relationship of teacher/student with him. It's about coercion and control disguised as loyalty. There is nothing traditional or beautiful about that.
In an interesting twist of irony, one of the "life lessons" Mr. Leung imparted on me was something he calls "negative education". He told me that sometimes you can see where others make mistakes and avoid them yourself. Essentially learning from other people's mistakes. Well one of the reasons my school has grown so much since leaving the IWTA is because I have used Mr. Leung and his IWTA as the model of what not to do. In that way, Mr. Leung taught me my most valuable lessons in business and in life. And for that, I'm very grateful.
Alex Richter (Wai Toh)