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wing chun


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. Kevin Povelite teaches his own class in east Orlando. John Gendall, the longest continually training student, is once again the main instructor in Sanford. John Cardenas is another distinguished student who began training at this time.
In 1984, Karl began exploring the parallels between Wing Chun and fencing. Bruce Lee had used fencing concepts and terminology as a model to translate Wing Chun theories into terminology easily acceptable to the Western mind. In 1987, Karl and John Cardenas began formal instruction under the tutelage of Philip Gonzales, student of Leonardo Terrone. Terrone trained at the "Scuola Militare Magistale di Schirma" in Rome at the turn of the century. This method of fencing is significant because Terrone, an established dualist, emphasized a touch should be seen as stopping an enemy rather than just scoring a point. Terrone was considered a revolutionary of his time because he strongly felt fencers should be equally skilled with either hand. These two points make this particular branch of fencing especially suitable for Wing Chun technical analysis.
In the first half of 1991, John Bland and Mike Robinson started learning the style. John eventually established classes at various locations in the Central Florida area. Mike is presently an assistant instructor of the Sanford class. In 1995, Robert Soong joined the class and is now an assistant instructor. Around this time John Bland also became a fencing student of Philip Gonzales. John later offered fencing instruction at the school as a compliment to the Wing Chun training.
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.