Internal Martial Arts for Men’s Health in Hong Kong
“With Hong Kong’s long working hours and social weekends, King believes the practice’s mindful approach can lead to mental and emotional transformation and a happier life. “The self-defence aspect of this particular method of kung fu is merely a branch on the tree of its benefits,” he says. Growing up amidst the Iran and Iraq war with an extremely violent father, King suppressed many of his emotions, but upon finding the discipline of wing chun kung fu he began to break through the internal walls and experience true happiness.”
– southside and the peak, A movember to Remember, Don’t Be A Man About It, November 2020
You can find the full interview, as well as a link to the article below!
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and Mindful Wing Chun?
I was born in Iran, and my family moved to Australia when I was 9. I then moved to Hong Kong solo at the age of 21. Since then, Hong Kong has become my home in which I became a happily married man and am now a proud father of 2 little munchkins. In 2008, I established Mindful Wing Chun which has now become the biggest Full-time Kung Fu school in Hong Kong (right in the heart of Central), which has helped transform many lives of Hong Kong residents of all ages through the unique art of Wing Chun Kung Fu.
What are some of the benefits of practicing your Martial Art?
Beyond the obvious physical benefits of cardio, increased strength, flexibility and self-defense, our particular method of Kung Fu improves the quality of life in deeper physical aspects such as postural correction, pain relief through deep relaxation and realignment and more powerful and efficient movement patterns.
But in my opinion the greatest gift of this art is the mental transformation it brings forth through its mindful approach to movement as well as dealing with being under pressure or stress. This side of the practice is what the student becomes addicted to and is what can potentially lead mental and emotional transformation which leads to a happier life.
How important is it for men to find inner peace?
As men, we are often expected to be able to ‘man up’, supress and hide emotions, and push through the difficulties of life. However, this way of living (without the inner-balance) is not sustainable and eventually leads to internal turmoil and self-condemnation which then makes us lose touch with our true power and so we burn-out from within.
I know this from personal experience! Having been born into a war-torn country amidst the Iran and Iraq war and then growing up with an extremely violent father, I bottled up my emotions and wore the mask of the ‘tough guy’ for a long time. Then I found the discipline of Wing Chun Kung Fu which began to break through the internal walls that I had built out of fear my whole life. I then realized that there can be no true happiness without inner peace and balance.
So as humans, male or female, I believe we are all searching for TRUE happiness and contentment which can only arise through inner peace!
What can Hong Kong do to encourage men to lead a healthy lifestyle?
For the past couple of decades Hong Kong has been a place of rare opportunity, long working hours, and therefore, prosperity! This, I believe for many, has led to an unbalanced lifestyle of 60hr work weeks which are followed up by weekends of partying to try and salvage a sense of freedom. Having said this, in the past few years I’m happy to see that Hong Kong has moved towards a more health-conscious path with the vastly growing number of health and fitness studios, healthy eateries, and the growing number of physical and mental events that are taking place in the city.
I think Hong Kong should further strive to encourage men – and women – to live a healthier life through proper education and promotion of the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle that would appeal to them, such as improved mood and energy, longevity, better productivity etc.
This can be done not only through various media channels (like this magazine) but also directly through the HR department of the large firms and corporations that HK-residing men are working at.
In your opinion what are some ways men can improve their mental health?
We can firstly educate ourselves about how to optimize our body and mind through simple daily habits such as setting a good sleep cycle, drinking much more water rather than other drinks, Paying more attention to what we eat, and having a healthy and productive social and family life. Once we begin to put more attention on these things, we start to feel the benefits almost immediately and then it all becomes more natural, effortless and a lifestyle.
On top of these, I think every man should take up a type of Mindful practice. As men we sometimes tend to think that the word ‘mindfulness’ is too new-age (I know I did when I was younger), so we shy away from wonderful practices like Yog and meditation as we deem them ‘unmanly’. However, I say give it a good go for a month and you will not look back! And, if you want a ‘more manly’ way to be mindful, then go for a fast solo hike in the stunning Hong Kong nature while maintaining your focus on breathing deeply though the nose, OR, come and visit us at Mindful Wing Chun to learn a very scientific method of self-defence and you’ll find yourself hooked on this mindfulness practice while feeling very manly at the same time!
What is your fitness routine like? How often do you practice Kung Fu and do you believe it has helped improve your mental health?
I’m a very active person. Swimming, hiking and Yoga are my main activities apart from my Wing Chun practice. I’ve been teaching Wing Chun for 20 years and practice it daily. When I first came to Hong Kong I was practicing more than 6-hrs a day with my master (who was Ip Man’s top students) in his home before he passed away in 2014. Now, having to run a couple of businesses and being a family man, I’ve had to cut back on my daily practice and am doing around 3hrs a day.
The physical, mental and emotional benefits of this practice are abundant, and as I often say, the self-defense aspect of this particular method of Kung Fu is ‘merely a branch on the tree of its benefits’.
To say Wing Chun has transformed my life would be an understatement, it would be more accurate to say that it has literally saved my life! It helped me overcome not only external but also internal violence and possibly saved me from being locked-up or buried 6-feet underground in my teens (perhaps more on this in another interview)! That is why, I have and will continue to dedicate my life to passing on this art to as many people as I can before my time is up!