London Wing Chun Teachers: Sifu Nino Bernardo

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Profile of A Wing Chun Master: Sifu Nino Bernardo

Wing Chun Is About Intelligent Answers To Stupid Questions
nino bernandoWing Chun is a concept-based martial art from the south of China that is renowned for its simple, direct techniques. The system can be developed as a scientific study of combat, although learning wing chun also provides many other benefits, such as learning how to improvise under pressure and how to control anger.

The system is also a fun way of getting fit and healthy while letting off steam and gaining in confidence.

Nino Bernardo, a musician and actor by trade, was one of a handful of students to learn the whole system of Wing Chun from legendary martial artist Wong Shun Leung in Hong Kong in the 1970s.

In 1984, Nino set up an infamous word-of-mouth kung fu school in London called the Basement, where he developed a reputation as one of Europe's most skilful and influential Wing Chun teachers. He was also Wong Shun Leung's senior UK representative until the untimely death of his teacher in 1997.

Nino has lived in Ibiza since 2000, where he has set up Europe's first alternative kung fu school. His emphasis in recent years has been on the importance of learning Wing Chun for health and personal development.

Nino's teaching places a strong emphasis on attention to detail, improvisational skill and what he calls the art of laziness. This means only doing what is necessary and cutting out any ineffective movements.

Sifu Nino Bernardo's interpretations of Wing Chun

Nino Bernardo Chi SauSifu Nino Bernardo has written a number of excellent articles exploring the depth of Wing Chun. Sifu Bernardo's opinion is so highly respected he was even the subject of an article in the Independent On Sunday Newspaper. Sifu Bernardo's articles can be viewed in full at:
For your convenience, London Wing Chun has presented some of Sifu Bernardo'smost interesting comments and observations below.

Wing Chun and Fighting – Divorcing Violence From Violent Intent

"Wing Chun can be developed as a fighting art, but I’m not particularly proud of that aspect. My advice to students is that if they’re going to fight, it’s better to just fight. They might be able to apply some of the lessons they’ve learnt from training, but it’s best not to get too hung up on individual techniques in the midst of a fight.

If we remove violent intent from the equation, we can develop Wing Chun as a study of the human body. We become like engineers or architects, studying the biomechanics and structure of the body. This is a healthier attitude than trying to claim ownership of the whole system, as many students attempt to do."

The Side Effects of Wing Chun

Sifu Tomorr"One particularly interesting side effect of wing chun is the way that students of the art are able to develop their skills in other areas.

For example, an actor who studies wing chun in any depth is able to improve their acting skills. The same is true of musicians, comedians and many others.

Also, martial artists from other styles, boxers and sportsmen often return to their original field after a period of studying wing chun and find themselves at the top of their game.

Why is this? One reason is that wing chun is very difficult to learn. If students enjoy the training, they often find that their attitude to learning improves as they struggle with the system. Another reason is that chi sao (sticky hands), the combat-like game at the core of the system, teaches us to improvise under pressure, which is a vital skill in many trades, professions, arts and sports."

Sensitivity and Details in Wing Chun

Sifu Tomorr"if you stick with wing chun through thick or thin, you will find some of the best parts of the system come once you´ve reached a certain level of maturity. One of the rewards is increased sensitivity. Of course, sensitivity is something natural and we all have it. Wing chun builds on that. The kind of sensitivity we develop is that of an expert at chess or poker, who can start to read the character of an opponent through the way they are playing. Another reward for spending a lot of time in a wing chun kwoon comes from the attention to detail we develop. For example, a lot of what I call spastic spasms can be brought to the surface through training. These include telegraphing moves, twitching, flinching and strange facial expressions such as biting your lip or blinking just before executing a technique."

Using Wing Chun As A Self-Development Tool

nino bernando"I emphasise the self-development side and don´t promote the fighting aspects of the system. There have been times in my life when I have chosen to fight.

However, I´m not proud of that. I believe that violence is stupid, negative behaviour. I would never brag about fighting in my marketing material and I don´t accept challenge fights.

If someone comes to me because they want to become a tough guy and the only part of the system they´re interested in is the ability to kick people´s heads in, I´ll tell them to find another teacher. Of course, wing chun works extremely well as a fighting tool if we add violent intent back into the equation, but there´s much more to it than that. The system is wonderfully clever and fighters aren´t the only people who can benefit from it. We can use wing chun to hack away at our own stupidity, leaving us as intelligent as we were meant to be before our families, friends, school-teachers, televisions and the like got in the way.

Ego and Marketing In The Martial Arts

nino bernardo wing chun dummy"I try to avoid telling my students and potential students that I am the most experienced, talented, deadly and best-looking martial artist in town. Instead, I tell them to believe nobody, least of all me. I strongly believe that you can learn from anyone. If you start believing all that I say, we´re halfway to creating a cult. I encourage my students to research what I say, then either agree with it or disagree with it.

If someone agrees with most of it but disagrees with some of it, then that´s great. I also prefer to train in casual clothes and with everyone learning from everyone else. For example, I often use complete beginners in my seminars to innocently point out distortions in techniques to the more experienced students. I believe that this is healthier than having lots of of different coloured uniforms and belts and high-level students wandering around the kwoon with big heads.

Sifu Nino BErnardo's Wing Chun Classes

The Basement - Harlow, UK

Lemmy Man
Telephone: 07973754684

E.S.N (France):

Pascal de Bortoli - contact e-mail
Salle de L'etoile
Rue des Ecoles
28210 Nogent le Roi

MJC (France):

46 cours Jean Damidot
TEL : 04-78-84-84-83
E-mail :
Animé par Patrice Karagavourian
tel : 06-75-92-61-94



TELF.93 841 .83 .64 O 625.16.25.94


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