Romain Thiel (pictured), the sifu, shares his passion for martial arts with students of all ages
Photo: LaLa La Photo
When we think of martial arts, we conjure up images of highly physical contact sports. But, as with so many things in life, not all martial arts are created equal.
The International Society of Martial Arts in Luxembourg teaches escrima and wing chun, two lesser-known specialties which require the patience and attention of all martial arts. Delano spoke with founder Hans Remmel to learn more about these ancient practices.
Remmel, a Luxembourg national, started practising martial arts at a young age before he found a school in Gummersbach led by the sifu (master or teacher) Sihing Leo Czech in 1982.
“At that time, most available martial arts were sports with rules and competitions like judo or karate,” remarks Remmel, who is now a dai-sifu (or first teacher).
“I was looking for a martial art where I could grow and develop, challenging myself rather than others.”
Wing chun is a traditional southern Chinese gong martial art specialising in close-range combat. It is known for being economical, direct and efficient. Ng Mui, one of the legendary Five Elders of Shaolin, created Wing chun in order to help another woman, Yim Wing Chun, defend herself by distilling Shaolin martial art into a system that could be learned quickly and used without the need to develop great strength.
“Unlike some martial arts, you do not need to learn about wing chun,” says Remmel.
“In our club, most of our members are over 40, with the oldest being 64. In wing chun, you're constantly learning, it's kind of that you can never truly master.”
Wing chun only emerged in the West in the late 1970s, although it has been practised in China for hundreds of years.
It gained notoriety after the release of Ip Man in 2008, a biographical martial arts film based on the life of a great master of the martial art and teacher of Bruce Lee. Donnie Yen, who played the part of Chirrut Îmwe in the last Star Wars movie, Rogue One, was cast as the Ip Man himself.
“Six months ago, I wanted to join ISMA because of the movie Ip Man," I'm sure it's the exception and not the rule!”
ISMA currently has approximately 20 active members and meets twice a week (Monday and Wednesday evenings) at the Culture at Soleuvre Sports Center.
“Most of our members are male, but we have two women who regularly join us. Both are over 40,” he states. “Considering the art was created by a woman, it is a shame that we don't have more female members, but there is still the perception that martial arts are orientated towards males. Which is completely unfounded.”
“Practising Wing chun and escrima will help calm the mind, keep your body healthy and increase your awareness,”
says Remmel. “I've been practicing wing chun for 35 years and I'm better now than I was in my 20s.”
ISMA trainings take place on Mondays and Wednesdays at Sportshaal Scheierhaff, rue Jean Anen, Soleuvre: 6pm-7pm escrima 7pm-8pm fitness & self-defense 8pm-9pm wing chun Members must be at least 15 years old.