YouTube sensation Master Wong, who ran a take-away in Norwich Road, watched Bruce Lee films to stand up to ‘stink-bomb’ bullies
“The way you do anything, is the way you do everything.”
That is the life motto I receive at the end of my training with Master Wong, the Ipswich-based martial arts expert and Internet sensation whose worldwide reputation continues to grow.
We have just finished reflecting on the bullying he suffered as a schoolboy – stink bombs on the head – and how this motivated him to drive to Leicester every night to receive tuition from a Chinese master while running a take-away in Norwich Road. He lived on two hours’ sleep for many years.
“If you want something, you have to go and get it, and do it,” he says. “That is part of how you get strong.”
His hard work has paid off. Master Wong, a Wing Chun Master, now has more than 375,000 subscribers to his impressive YouTube channel. One of his training videos – “how to destroy the boxer” – has more than 3.5 million views.
He offers online courses and holds various sessions in Ipswich through his Master Wong Academy.
So it was about time our reporter and Master Wong became acquainted. We met yesterday morning along the Waterfront for some hand-to-hand combat.
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My first-ever encounter with martial arts is a unique and thrilling experience. It very quickly becomes clear he is a passionate and skilled teacher. Sparring with the boxing gloves – a surprise inclusion – provides an unexpected sense of physical and spiritual fulfilment.
He teaches me a series of self-defence moves and their all-important counters and a number of fitness-based activities. I then ask how martial arts entered his world.
“People bullied me, because I am foreign – Vietnamese,” he said. His family-of-five moved to Felixstowe when he was around 12-years-old.
“It was at school, on the streets, all sorts of places. You go to the pub and you get bullied.
“It wasn’t just what they were saying. It was what they were doing. That hurts. They would beat me up for no reason. They would come along and put a stink bomb in your head or your clothes.
“They would cut your clothes when you move. Sometimes you would get a few together and beat you up.
“It was quite bad in Vietnam, so when I moved here, I wanted in to a peaceful place. I didn’t want to get bullied again.
“But then you say ‘enough is enough’. You need to stand up and do something about it, because otherwise you are going to get bullied for the rest of your life. That’s when I started learning, getting confident and training hard.
“And now I try to help many people who have this kind of problem. I want people to be able to stand up for themselves.”
There was another source of motivation growing: Bruce Lee films. The Way of the Dragon is his favourite.
Now he regularly gets stopped by fans at airports across the world.
“You don’t know how popular you are until you get out of Ipswich. If I go to London, I get stopped all the time and people take photos,” he said.
He is treating his fame admirably, and is sending money back home to those struggling in Vietnam. “I want to give something back,” he said.
Meanwhile, Master Wong has planned a Fitness Bootcamp session to help people get back in shape with simple exercises as well as helping them enhance their martial arts training.
The training is based on functional movements so later it can be transferred over to self-defence training.
Master Wong will go through a selection of exercises that do not require any equipment. It will help to improve self-defence and Wing Chun, and improve stamina and fitness.
It starts on Saturday, May 21, from 1pm to 2.30pm at Holywells Park, near the Walled Garden Area.
There will be further sessions, running from the same times, on May 28, June 4 and June 11.
Master Wong said: “We teach four basic things: 1) Know yourself – know what you can and cannot do. 2) Know your enemy – where you are going, what are you doing outside and knowing if the place is safe or not. 3) Know your ability – when the time comes, can you use what you have been learning to make it happen? 4) Know your surrounding. If you go to a pub, or a place like that, know how to get out quick, and the people you are with.”