The elevator took us to the 7th floor of an austere commercial building in Chinatown, Boston. Before the car door even opened, we could hear zealous chanting coming from beyond; on the other side was where Sifu Stanley Jue would train his students, and in this case tonight, where this interview was conducted.
Sifu Jue is the head instructor of Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy (WCKFA) here in Boston, which is extremely hard to tell because from all intents and purposes, he looks just like your gentle, amiable neighbor next-door. If I learned one thing from this interview, that is never surmise a person’s true nature from his/her look. Kung Fu movies are somewhat misleading in terms of portraying martial arts masters as tough-looking human beings that distance themselves from worldly emotions. In fact, it can take me a while to think of a Kung Fu movie that has a protagonist who knows how to laugh. Sifu Jue and his students, on the other hand, all had a big smile on their faces upon seeing us carrying cameras and tripods while tumbling through the chanting crowd – the Tai Ji people were practicing their “Qi.”
“I started practicing different kinds of martial arts back in the 70s, that was when the Kung Fu trend started here in America,” said Sifu Jue. “I used to go to theaters near my house to watch Kung Fu movies, and then I found my interest in martial arts.”
In 1974, Sifu Jue started practicing Okinawan Go-Ju-Ryu Karate with Sensei Anthony Mirakian, a 6th degree Black Belt Kung Fu master. He studied this particular Kung Fu for seven years and earned his 2nd degree Black Belt. Later in 1975, he began to study a Chinese Kung Fu, Hung Gar Fu Hock Pai (Tiger and Crane Style), under the guidance of Grandmaster Kwong Tit Fu, and after 14 years of arduous training, Sifu Jue became a 3rd class senior in 1989. The two Kung Fu styles he practiced had given him a solid foundation for his next major Kung Fu quest: Wing Chun. In 1977, Sifu Jue commenced his pursuit for Wing Chun with master Henry Mui – the founder of the Pien San Wing Chun in America – and later became an honor disciple in 1984, thus rising up as one of the 6th generation of the Leung Jan Gu Lao Wing Chun.
In 1985, Sifu Jue opened his own Wing Chun school in Boston where he would devote himself into the instruction of Leung Jan Gu Lao Wing Chun since then. He would work as an electrical engineer during the day and teach Wing Chun at night. For him, martial arts have been an integral part of his life for so long that now he treats it as his life-long mission.
“Teaching Wing Chun has been very rewarding to me. It gives people a sense of what they can do and most importantly, what they are capable of doing and what their limit is,” said Sifu Jue. “Learning Kung Fu is not easy, and people learn new things about themselves when faced with difficulties.”
Sifu Jue remains a fervent Kung Fu movie fan even today (big surprise); he also watches Marvel and DC superhero movies and compares real-life Kung Fu masters with all those contrived characters.
“The thing about these superheroes is that they are immortal,” said Sifu Jue. “But real life is not. Our life is finite and our power is limited. The more you practice Kung Fu the more you understand that life is valuable because it’s finite and limited, and that we should work hard to make it worth.”
Sifu Jue’s passion toward Kung Fu is unlike anything I have seen – even with a day job, he still spares at least three hours a day for Kung Fu practice and teaches classes three times a week.
“I’ve found myself in Kung Fu and I hope my students can one day discover something new about themselves, well, ideally before they stop showing up for classes,” he said with a grin. “About me, I hope I can one day be in a movie with Jet Li.”
Sifu Jue’s approachable and genial manner has made this interview a delight, after my friends and I have finished packing equipment, Sifu Jue taught us some easy but practical self-defense techniques. His life long practice in Kung Fu has led him to one sagacious philosophy.
“Being safe is the most important thing, don’t show off don’t look for troubles. Martial arts serve you better when they are defensive, not offensive,” Sifu Jue said before we were about to leave. “If you ran into troubles, give up your wallet, your shirt, your pants, your shorts if necessary. Don’t fight unless you know for sure you can win.”
Sifu Jue has been adhering to his own philosophy. Till this day, most of his fellow engineers don’t have the slightest idea as to his martial arts background, he told us.