Wing Chun Kung fu was first taught in Central Florida by Ken Werner, a student of Ben Der of San Jose, California. Seminole Community College was the location of Ken’s first and only public class. Karl Godwin was in this original class and, by the end of the second month remained as the only student. During this time, the art was taught at a very slow pace to test the patience of all but the most dedicated students. Sil lim tao and don chi were the only aspects taught, and the kim yeung ma horse was emphasized to the point of extreme discomfort.
For the next several years, Karl learned the entire art from Ken as his sole pupil and opened a public class in August of 1982. Although Karl had a few private students prior to this, Russ Schiebenburger assisted Karl with this class. Notable students of this time were Steve Causey, Dan Berry and Bill Graves, who later introduced our branch of Wing Chun to Jacksonville.
In January of 1984, Karl set up class in Apollo Beach, Florida. Kim Leisey was the significant student of this period. He maintained classes and continued teaching Wing Chun after Karl returned to Sanford.
During this period, Karl would commute to Sanford from Tampa to refine his skill with Ken. Because of Ken’s long arms, his chi sao had developed a “long bridge”, offering an unusual and effective approach to a traditionally close-in martial art.
In the summer and fall of 1985, Kevin Povelite and John Gendall began training in the style. They have both maintained positions as instructors of the Sanford class. John Cardenas is another distinguished student who began training at this time. Kevin Povelite teaches his own class in east Orlando.
In the mid-nineties, Karl re-established his ties with his teacher’s California roots by visiting the classes of Kenneth Chun. The classes in Sanford emphasize the soft approach of his teachings in their Wing Chun training. Karl visits Kenneth Chung’s classes periodically and sends his students to California at every opportunity.