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Student Spotlight

Sifu Hepple & John Weaver


This is a picture of Sifu Hepple and John Weaver. John has been practicing for 3-4 years now and is currently training towards his Yee Cup Jr (1st test of the 2nd level) Grading. Here John tells, in his own words, of his experience training at Yee’s Hung Ga Academy in Inverness.

What made you want to train in martial arts?

I previously trained in Jujitsu when I was about eight years old. When I reached twenty four, I became very interested in practising meditation, healing arts and focusing (balancing) my mental/physical energies. I read books, became Reiki attuned and watched videos to increase my knowledge on the subject. This led me to learn versions of qi gong, from some new age teachers and other kung fu personalities. I think I was the ripe old age of thirty one before I attempted to do kung fu work out drills; I was completely exhausted and realised I knew nothing of the hard work and discipline that was required to achieve what I wanted. It was then I started looking for a teacher.

How did you hear about this school and why did you want to train there? What were your expectations before you started?

Kung Fu was the obvious choice for me based on my interests. I did a little research on the different styles, and thought about what may suit my body type. I knew already I would prefer something that would be powerful and balanced, but more hand based rather than the flippy-flappy leg kicks. I saw some videos of the Hung style online after finding out that a new had school opened up in Inverness. I contacted Sifu to see if he would accept me as a student, and the rest is history. My expectations were realistic; having tried to keep up with drills on dvds and failed, I was open to whatever lessons Sifu had for me in order to progress.

What was your first class like?

I was slightly nervous and wondered what the other students would be like. At that very first class, I mentioned some of the things I had been doing and Sifu responded “this may be a little different to what you’re used to!” He proceeded to show us Tiger techniques, specifically how to break an opponents arm. After that class, I was aching all over. My legs felt like jelly, and I thought it would be very hard to build up my fitness to an acceptable level to continue. However, I stuck with it and after a further four or five lessons I got used to doing the warm up exercises! It is quite invigorating once you have built up the stamina and I am glad I have continued with my training. My life has changed considerably in the last two years and I now have a young family and a home to maintain. I haven’t had as much time as I would have liked to train recently but as my understanding of Hung Ga grows, so does my desire to push myself further.

What do you think of your training so far? Is there anything that you would change?

So far I have learnt the full Gung Gi Fuk Fu form and am now learning Fu Hok. I have also learnt about the theory of Hung Ga and some of the additional exercises that can be done to unlock potential skills; fighting and some softer skills like balance, conditioning and strengthening. I have attended seminars in Aberdeen with Grandmaster Yee Chi Wai and our Sifu’s teacher, Si Gung Bruce Clark – both are very well respected Martial Artists. It is hard to start with, but if you try and push through it is very much worth your while. Our Kwoon (school) is very friendly, and Sifu obviously loves Hung Ga; showing us how it becomes a solid foundation in life. I would change nothing about the training given but if I could give advice to other beginners it would be to put three times as much effort in to practising at home, as you do in class. Basic drills, form and practising stances – but also looking at the ways in which Qi Gong and breath exercises can improve your general well-being.

What are your hopes for your future in martial arts?

My hopes for the future are to continue training, and to push myself further. My aim at the moment is to improve my stances, transitions between movements and get more sparring practice to apply what I have learned. I enjoy the traditional Lion Dance practice and would like to do more of that for the school in the coming years.

Anything else that you wish to add?

While studying for the Fuk Fu test, I wrote this down. ‘Kung Fu is something that cannot be bought or stolen; you cannot cheat or make it easier as it is what it is. You get out what you put into it via training – body and mind with a strong spirit.’ I am beginning to understand more on the concept of ‘martial virtue’ and can say that with Kung Fu, actions speak louder than words – so come join us.