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
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
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
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.