by Ray Van Raamsdonk
Here are my thoughts on Emin:
I first heard of Emin Boztepe when he had an encounter with Grandmaster William Cheung in Germany in the late 1980’s. I was studying Wing Chun under Dr. G.K. Khoe, a student of Wang Kiu. At the time I didn’t think too much about Emin except that he was just a wrestler kind of a guy who took William to the ground and that was that.
Many years went by and during those years I continued to study Wing Chun and learn from different masters. I am familiar with many branches of the Wing Chun family. One day I read a note on the Internet which said how skillful Emin Boztepe was. This sparked my interest because the note put him at a level where he could handle very high ranking people of different arts. In my own mind Wing Chun was good but somehow I always wondered whether it can really handle those super fast kicks from the other styles like you are taught in class or whether they would just be too fast. We were told that the Wing Chun people do very well in tournaments in Europe but we have never seen such tournaments and so it was just talk to most club members. Some of our members eventually in fact switched arts and went back to other styles because they lacked confidence in Wing Chun. They knew it was good in the close range but did not trust it at all in the distance fighting.
So, I contacted Emin Boztepe to ask if he could give a seminar on Wing Tsun in Canada. Emin was quite nice on the phone and said that he would come. This was last year. But at the same time we were considering someone else for a seminar and couldn’t decide as a club who to get. Usually our members want to go to no more than one seminar per year. So we didn’t get Emin Boztepe. This year (1994) we decided to get Emin to see what he was all about. In a short sentence, we were SHOCKED at how good he was. Everything I had read about him was true. He was like that mysterious stranger who comes into town in the movies and when the stranger leaves, the town is never the same again. At the seminar we had mostly Wing Chun people attend but there were also people from Karate, TaeKwonDo, Hapkido, Aikido, some Kung Fu style and Escrima. On the first day Emin blew everyone’s mind with his awesome demonstrations of Wing Tsun. To Emin we were all beginners. He could do it all: grappling, kicking, punching, escaping from joint locks, and handling wrestling. He showed us simple things relating to hitting and footwork but then demonstrated how this simple stuff could defeat anything anyone could throw at him. Emin’s movements were swift, accurate and graceful. When I first talked to Emin I said, “Your stuff may be great because you train six hours a day and are rough and tough, but what good will that do for our smaller female members?” Emin responded by saying that he trained more women than anyone else and they are all good. I still had my doubts. When I saw Emin in action, he defeated people not at all by relying on brute strength. He was a very superior technician and used a very soft springy touch. He showed how the little person can apply the art against stronger opponents. There was not one person in the room who was not convinced of his skill.
Further than that, Emin was a superb teacher. We have female members who are professional top notch teachers themselves and who consider most males just “Bruty.” They have hardly ever said any kind words about any teacher. But both of them said they hope to be able to teach like Emin someday. Emin was very meticulous in being able to pinpoint the finest of details. He could explain why it is done that way. He could break everything down into very logical steps. By the way, I am not on Emin’s payroll and am not a part of his organization. I am trying to honestly report what I saw.
I thought before, that Emin would do a lot of weights and therefore he wouldn’t have that relaxed sensitive touch that we have, but I was wrong. He could react to the smallest of forces and offered little resistance to work with. He was incredibly fast. He was a master of technique. Not once did he rely on techniques other than pure Wing Tsun technique. (Note: Wing Tsun is still pronounced Wing Chun but Leung Ting’s organization wants to distinguish their art from the art of other Wing Chun families). His footwork was very impressive.
The second day of the seminar was spent on applying the knowledge from the first day to kicking attacks of any kind. Emin does not care if they are Thai boxing kicks, Karate kicks, TaeKwonDo kicks or Hapkido kicks. He handled them all. He always just goes in towards your center. The footwork is phenomenal. At one point he asked one of the smallest female members to come up to the front to face a second degree black belt in Hapkido. He asked the Hapkido guy to throw very fast roundhouse kicks to her head then by giving her a push, just at the right moment, demonstrated to her that it was only timing and proper footwork to get inside this kind of kick. After you see Emin you have no more doubts about handling kicks. But as Emin said, there is no magic, no mystery, it is just hard work once he shows you what to do. Emin always picks on the most skillful, largest or best people to demonstrate on. Then in a relaxed way neutralizes anything they do. Emin does not care what art you do or what ranking you have in your art.
In the afternoon Emin taught the common ways that wresting, grappling or jujitsu people take you down to the ground. Once we were moderately familiar with these techniques we were shown how to counter these attacks. Again the counters relied on workable techniques even for smaller people. Some of these things I had never seen before. Everyone enjoyed it. When I first heard that he taught wrestling and how to counter it with Wing Tsun, it didn’t sound very appealing to me but it was fun, and effective.
On the third day Emin split the class into those with Wing Chun background and those with none. Those with Wing Chun background did Chi sau. Before we started he said that we knew nothing about Chi sau. This sounded quite arrogant to me since he knew nothing about what we knew. But once he crossed hands with us we couldn’t help but agree. He was very subtle, very light, very sensitive. It was not possible to find his center. His hand and foot coordination was very good. Even though he does not hurt you, he is one of the most scary individuals you would ever want to face. Emin’s corrections, explanations and demonstrations of Chi sau were very good. In all honesty I would say that I have felt one or two others in the Wing Chun world who also have exceptional skill (Dr. Khoe and Kenneth Chung) but Emin had a real systematic way to pass on his skills. I would say he has the most organized system for teaching. During the course of the seminar Emin would answer all questions with theory and impressive demonstrations. He demonstrated multiple opponent defense, defense against stick and defense against knife. He demonstrated both how to use the knife and how to defend against it but he said realistically, forget it. The odds are heavily against you no matter who you are. A question came up about Bruce Lee’s one inch punch. Emin said, “That’s nothing,” and proceeded to demonstrate on the largest member who weighed 240 pounds. Emin’s soft looking punch, sent him one foot up and four feet back to land on top of some desk. However, in reality, he said, the effect will be quite different because you will drop on the spot.
For any Wing Chun practitioners who have doubts about their art or who think they are already the best, you have seen nothing until you have seen Emin. I would highly recommend Emin to anyone who has any doubtful ideas about Wing Chun. I remember reading some literature that Wing Chun was just a primitive system of combat which anyone can learn in two years and that’s it. In fact many people do learn Wing Chun that quickly and then move on to newer more exciting looking arts. Wing Chun or Emin’s Wing Tsun is the most effective thing I have seen to date. You read this in the literature all the time about everyone’s art and think, “Oh, sure!” Not all the people who attended will join Emin’s organization but ALL who attended agree that he was the best they have seen. We felt that we were seeing a Bruce Lee in the making at the height of his career. Emin does not claim to be the best, but no one can think of anyone better. Emin has not learned the complete Wing Tsun system yet but what he has learned he has learned completely. He can execute everything he has learned. Many of us have learned everything but can’t realistically execute anything.
No one we have ever had before for a seminar has had such an emotional effect on our club members. If fighting effectiveness is what you are after then you will seriously start to doubt the things you are practicing now. A lot of the Wing Chun arguments on the Internet newsgroups would not exist if those people met Emin in person. Emin is a tough taskmaster but is sharp with wit and humor. Not everyone will like him but none can deny his skill. Emin is very strict on what type of individuals he teaches. It is a good thing, and you will know what I mean when you see his art. In Germany many clubs have switched over and remained loyal to Emin once they had seen his art. He was declared fighter of the year in Germany in 1988. Now I can see why.
In the early days the Wing Chun clan in Hong Kong had many good fighters. I think since Emin the Wing Chun clan will have to reevaluate the way they train their art. There are of course other good Wing Chun fighters around but unfortunately the ones I have seen have not got a training system which can handle today’s very complex modern fighter. WT and WC have conflicting principles. Wing Chun usually refers to Yip Man’s earlier art and WT is the later art which has been modernized to handle today’s type of fighters. The Germans have done a lot of their own research in this area. I expect it will still evolve, especially if WT and some top WC representatives meet. I think we are just about to see a new crop of Wing Tsun / Wing Chun fighters come from Europe who will revolutionize our view of what is Wing Chun. In the 1980’s I produced a Wing Chun newsletter called Wing Chun Viewpoint that I was very proud of. This newsletter went around the Wing Chun world. My teacher’s teacher Wang Kiu always said that most written things on Wing Chun are rubbish. After all these years I can see now what he means. I still think the information was still good and valuable in a very general sense but realize talking is quite easy. Really knowing what you are talking about and being able to perform what you are talking about is another matter altogether