Interview with Urs Krebs



  1.     As a quick intro, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your school? When, where, how and why did you start practicing?

I’m Urs Krebs from Switzerland. I started MA with Judo when i was a child. After 7 years I tried some new stuff like boxing, kickboxing and finally ended up in a Wushu School that newly opened in my home city Bern. I travelled to China for the 1st time in 1989 and started learning Shaolinquan and Chen Style Taijiquan with Grandmaster Wang Xian. Later that year I also met my Hung Kuen Master Wu Meiling who still lives in Konstanz/Germany. Those 2 are still the most important Master for me, I follow them for 29 years now. The whole year 1991 I lived in China to learn Shaolinquan and Chen Style Taijiquan. Later in Switzerland my then wife and me opened the Wushu Zentrum in Bern a very successful school in Switzerland. After my divorce I opened my own small School Wuguan Bern where I teach Hung Kuen, Shaolinquan and Chen Style Taijiquan.

 2.     What are the most common mistakes, or assumptions, you’ve encountered during your years of teaching?

There are some key points to consider: patience, dedication and the will to learn it the correct way. Often people think there are shortcuts, but there is no. Also some people came and said they are not interested in basics and empty hand techniques they just wanted to learn a certain weapon. But without the basics, without learning the style from the bottom it doesn’t work. If you really want to learn it you have to eat bitter. What I’m talking about here is about entering traditional Chinese Martial Arts (CMA), if you chose the sport Wushu there may be other factors. I give you an example: A friend of mine, a former Wushu athlete started to learn Xingyiquan a traditional style in northern China. For 3 months he just had to stand in Santishi the key position in Xingyiquan. He asked his master why he had to do so he had been an athlete before. And the master answered him because he has been an athlete. Now he had to learn something different. My friend ate bitter and became one of the best disciples of his master. 

3.     Movies such as “Yip Man”, “The Grandmaster” and such are probably one of the reasons many people start to practice at some point. Since reality is mostly not matching most of these movie scenes, what are some key aspects a beginning martial artist should focus on?

People that get addicted from movies should consider that there’s always a lot of fiction in it, like in other movies too. So the reality means hard training and as a teacher i have to explain that to new students. Only hard training let you make progress (within the reality).

4.     How can Kung Fu be used in an educational, non martial arts setting?

 Wushu/Kung Fu has some values. It teaches you discipline, hard work, modesty and more. There is also Wude, the so called Wushu Morality. These values can be adopted for a non martial arts setting as values like humanity, honesty or modesty are universal values which can be used in every situation of your life. Also the will to learn and work hard can easily be adopted for a normal life.

5.     The internet has completely changed our lives over the past 10-15 years. We now have access to lots of information (both good & bad) and connections like never before. How do you feel about this evolution and it’s impact on Kung Fu?

On one side it’s much easier to get good teaching material as it is mostly available online now. When I was young I could buy some books or VHS tapes on my training trips to China and they usually were not very good. It’s very different nowadays. In Chen Style f.e. you find videos on Youtube from all notable masters like Chen Xiaowang, Chen Zhenglei, Zhu Tiancai, Chen Yu, Feng Zhiqiang and from my Master Wang Xian. They cannot replace – and this is really important – a teacher but they can help you to find out if your teacher has some knowledge or not. And if you forgot a movement after coming back home from training, they can help you to recall it. On the other side there’s also a lot of low quality videos out there and for people without knowledge it’s sometimes very difficult to differ good from bad videos. It’s also way to promote the martial art if the video is produced well with good Kung Fu in it.

6.     What direction do you see Kung Fu or martial arts, as a whole, heading in?

It’s difficult to say that at the moment. On one side we have the sport Wushu which could be a great vehicle to promote traditional styles as well. But currently Wushu is moving into the wrong direction. The continental Federation (EWuF) understands this problem and made some good corrections. Also the International Wushu Federation did some good decisions, bringing back traditional styles like Xingyiquan and Baguazhang to World Championships or establishing the World Taijiquan Championships with Chen and Yang Style evewnts. But they lost a little bit the pace since more one year. Another problem is that the real experts of traditional Chinese Martial Arts are less and less found in China and more often found outside China. It seems responsible authorities don’t really take care of their legacy.

7.     To end this interview in style, what is the best Kung Fu or martial arts advice you have personally ever received and what is the best advice you would give to our readers?

“Believe in yourself and work hard”. This was a good advice and accompanied me through my whole CMA life. I was never talented as others but I was always willing to work harder than others. Many talented but not hard working fellows don’t train anymore, I’m still around.

I think my best advice to the community is something similar: If you really love traditional Chinese Martial Arts then train hard. Maybe you will not become a Champion but you can get benefit from it in many ways such as health, modesty, dedication and friendship with people that have the same passion as you have.



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