Why I started Martial Arts - Sifu Garry Baniecki

Posted By : sifugarry
Date: May 17, 2012
Sifu Garry's Blog Why I started Martial Arts I used to hang around Regent on weekends with a group of school friends. We were always mucking around and challenging each other with various sports, including 8 ball and sparring. At the end of Frankston St, there was a boxing gym, so I was always hanging around there, as well. I had my first challenge at the age of 12 years old. Believe it or not, I had to fight this guy in our group with one hand tied behind my back. I am not sure why I was only allowed to use one hand, he was bigger than me. I think he was jealous because everyone turned to me for things to do. We did fight and I did beat him, but, I kept it friendly, so nobody got hurt. I realized that day that I had untapped skills in that area of sport, so I decided to train in some form of martial arts. In the early sixties, there was not much to select from. I started training Ju-jitsu and Korean karate at a Regent Hall, near regent railway station, in the early sixties, which lasted for 3 years, on a weekly basis. As I grew a bit older, I realized that having a European back ground was a vast disadvantage when it came down to racial discrimination in schools. There was a lot of bullying around at school, but not too many people picked on me. On my first week at my new high school I had a confrontation with the “school bully” and taught him a lesson about respect and courtesy. My martial arts experience certainly helped me out during the sixties. In the late sixties and early seventies, The Bruce Lee phenomenon was taking place, so I indulged myself in that hysteria with books and movies about Bruce Lee. During the seventies, there was no Wing Chun (bruce lee kung fu), so I practised several different martial arts, being, Goju Kai, JKA, Escrima and some Taekwondo. I also got involved with the underground bare knuckles fighting scene, which saw me undefeated during the seventies. I also got into trouble with the local Constabulary for fighting and more fighting. At the start of the 1980’s, I started the first motorcycle courier business in Victoria, so work was a priority at this stage of my life. In the eighties, the environment was very dynamic. Everyone had jobs and money. I spent 3 months overseas and on my return I decided that I wanted to find a wing chun school and train. I realized that I had an untapped martial skill just waiting to be cultivated. In 1985 I found a wing chun school in China Town, owned by William Cheung and run by his brother David. The school had a martial arts supplies retail shop, which I went to check out. While there, I spoke to David and asked him several questions about the school and himself. David’s replies were very short and terse, but he left an impression which was the catalyst behind me starting there. After some deliberation and the passing of Xmas, I commenced the next stage of my life by training wing chun kung fu several nights per week. In 1989, I found my training was lacking something, but I wasn’t sure what it was, so I decided to embark on a trip to China. It was my fate not to go as I could not leave the country due to the Tiananmen Sq massacre. By 1990, I had immersed myself completely in wing chun kung fu, training full time. I would leave work at 11.30am and return at 6pm. When you own and operate a business you must be there to oversee and take charge. I wasn’t, so I became my own worst enemy. In 1991, I started teaching morning classes for William Cheung at his Flinders St school, which was opposite Flinders St Railway Station. I decided to sell my courier business, and by early 1991 I had succeeded. In 1993, a Qigong Master walked into our school from China and stayed for the next 10 years. During that time, I studied with him for 9 years, learning all the principles and concepts of martial arts that were missing in my early training. Now, was the time to devout my entire life to wing chun kung fu and become a professional Instructor. I studied wing chun kung fu and qigong fulltime and by end of 1995 I graduated to status of Wing Chun Instructor. In January 1996 I opened a full time wing chun kung fu school in Greensborough. In 1996, my wife and I opened up a second school in the CBD of Melbourne. My wife and I have been teaching wing chun and qigong 6 days per week at two schools since then. In 2005, the Federal and State Governments regulated the martial arts industry. This meant that after all the years of training in your particular martial arts, Instructors now required to become qualified under the Nationally recognised training system and gain certificates in Martial Arts Sports Coaching. At 56 years of age, I acquired my Diploma in Martial Arts sports coaching and sports development.