Article that appeared in the May 2016 edition of the Indo-Canada Outlook: Journey of a Martial Artist
Journey of a Martial Artist: Vasan Selliah
By A Correspondent
Kung Fu was used to define any discipline that required hard work and perseverance to achieve mastery. It later became a generic term to represent all Chinese martial arts. It was popularized by the late Bruce Lee through his action packed movies in the 60s and 70s. Many young men and women were deeply inspired by them.
After Lee’s passing 1973, other talented actors such as Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Donnie Yen and others continued to keep the interest in Chinese martial arts in the West. Many masters travelled to the US and Canada and opened schools.
There are hundreds of different styles of Kung Fu. One of these styles is called Wing Chun. It was invented by a woman called Yim Wing Chun, in the 18th century.
Wing Chun is a style of Kung Fu that uses body mechanics along with direct and short movements to defend oneself. The style puts great emphasis on the defence of the centre line, an imaginary line that separates the human body vertically and can be used by people of different frames and efficiency of movements.
Vasan Selliah, an exponent of Wing Chun Kung Fu, grew up in Montreal with his parents and four siblings. Like many youngsters, he was fascinated by martial arts movies. As a teenager, he would spend several hours reading books and watching movies about different martial arts. In 1998, when he was finishing college, he decided to sign up for martial arts lessons. After spending days researching all the different schools in Montreal he chose a school in the northern part of the city, near his school, for his first visit. It was run by a Vietnamese master who taught a style called Shaolin Wing Chun.
Vasan’s first visit to the school was a shock. Upon entering, he noticed that all the windows were covered with moisture and was faced with some twenty students in sweaty uniforms. He was welcomed by a young man who told him that he could watch the beginners’ class. The class continued with an exercise called the plank or the iron bridge. Students would do a static push-up stand on their knuckles for three minutes. From the face of the students, it seemed extremely painful and difficult, yet, none of the students let go their rigid stance.
Each exercise that followed was more gruelling than the one before. Vasan noted that although the instructor was doing exactly the same exercises, he had the grin of a drill sergeant and not a drop of sweat appeared on his forehead. The young man from the beginning explained to him that this was only the warm-ups. The remaining hour was dedicated to techniques consisting of punching, kicking and blocks. Vasan knew just by watching the warm-ups that this was exactly what he was looking for. He came back the next day to sign up.
After fifteen years of dedication, hard work and practice and with more than 10 years of teaching experience at the school, he decided that it was time for him to make his own way. He wished to share his knowledge, experience and passion with others. Along with four friends from the same school, he formed the Wu Xing Wing Chun Kung Fu Association. While his friends remained in Montreal, he moved to Toronto to start a new adventure in late 2012.
Vasan has a Red belt 3rd degree, which is the technical requirement for a master. And to become a master, one must have a school that is running well and with many students.
In addition to the technical knowledge, Kung Fu has helped Vasan develop all aspects of his person: physical, mental and spiritual. He now offers lessons for kids and adults at the Swansea Town Hall and as a private instructor, sharing his passion and enthusiasm for Kung Fu with anyone willing to learn it.
For more information on Vasan and his classes you can visit http://www.kungfutoronto.ca One can also sign-up online for a free trial lesson.