Riccardo Di Vito - Maestro di Wing Chun e Coach

Interview with Shawn Obasi

By Riccardo Di Vito

Today we meet Shawn Obasi, a Master of Wing Chun, SiFu Jose Grados’ ToDai and founder of Wing-Jitsu, who write on his Facebook: “I am here to assist, benifit, promote, support and encourage the cultivation of Wing Chun Kung Fu. My intentions are to simply convey to the world that Wing Chun can be applied in the ring, cage and the streets”. [Ringrazio Fabio Ciolli per avermi aiutato nel formulare le domande]
 When did you start Martial Arts and why?
I stared training martial arts when I was 19. The main reason why I started martial arts was for self defense. Since I was a child I found martial artist to be the most admirable people.
Who were your teachers in the past?
I have studied with Sifu Grados, Randy Williams, Raul Ortiz [the man whom is responsible for starting me off by teaching me Kung Fu] and Gerald Doxen.
With who do you study Wing Chun with now?
I study with Sifu Grados privately, however recently I have been given the blessing of my Sifu for me to open my own school. I am now focusing on my way of fighting Wing-Jitsu which stems from Wing Chun and Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. I am currently an active student at Alliance Jiu Jitsu where I study under professors Fabio Clemente, Babs Olusanmokun and Lucas Lepri. I will also take time to meand train with various Wing Chun Masters around the world in order to add to the knowledge I have already attained.
When did you decide to start fighting in mma match? What were your incentives?
I first stepped into an mma match in 2004. At the time there were no monetary incentves since I was fighting for free. The only incentives I could say would b knowing if what I had learned could be applied in actual combat.
You are one of the few practitioners of Wing Chun in the world that has decided to compete in mma. Why do you think so few Wing Chun practioners want to engage in a fight?
I can’t speak for everyone but fear could be one of the reason. Fear of losing fear of realizing that all they have learnt was not applicable against other styles. Fear of being hurt…etc I think most of Wing Chun  practitioners don’t learn Wing Chun for mma. Some for self-defence, some for exercising, and other reasons but to fight in mma. I see elder practitioners who learn Wing Chun and they are in great shape. I dont expect them to fight in mma, you know.
Tell us about your record, the match as amatuer and a proffesional and those upcoming events?

As an amatuer I have a record 6-2 both as mma grappling matches. I lost my first 2 matches in 2004 and early 2005 but have not lost a fight since then both within controlled events or in the streets. As a proffesional I am going to make my pro debut fighting for the light heavy weight championship belt of Brick City Fighting Championships. Shortly to be announced.
How many hours do you train a day? Would you describe one of your normal weekly routine of training in preparation for a match? 

Varies on a day to day basis but I try to train at 6-8 hrs a day. If I can 10-12 hrs. I tran at Alliance Jiu Jitsu twice a day morning and night. In between I also go to the gym and work of cardio and some strength and conditioning. In my home gym I work on the wooden dummy, perform iron training of the limbs as well as practice ope hand forms. Now I try to have fighters from various styles to work with depending on the style of the opponent I will face.

In view of an mma match how much time do you devote to traditional (dummy, weapons, chi sau) and the integration with oher methods of combat?
In prepration for a match I focus more on cardio and grappling because these are most important to survive in an mma match especially since most fighters don’t want to excange blows standing with me so they resort to grappling.
What methods of training and sparring do you think might be useful to those Wing Chun practitioners not intending to fight in a cage?
I think the methods of Wing Chun training and sparring are fine if they only look to fight other Wing Chun practitioners or styles of Kung Fu. However in reality the issue of take down defence needs to be focused on in more detail so that the style won’t become obsolete.
We know that many practitioners of Wing Chun focus their goals on defense. Do you think that there are difference between a cage fight and a street fight?
Of course. In a real fight anything goes. I have bever been in a real fight that has lasted more than 2 minutes. With bare knuckles the effects are devastating.
What do you think the statements of Joe Rogan’s argument that the traditional Wing Chun and other styles simply doesn’t work?
I somewhat agree with him. Until someone proves him wrong it will be forever looked down upon by the more dominate striking style of mma such as Boxing and Muay Thai.
What do you think of other Sifu’s and their teaching methods, other associations and families of Wing Chun?
I was a member of Randy Williams CRCA for a short period however due to the long distance I wasn’t able to continue training with him. In that short period of time I learnt a lot about Wing Chun but more so I learnt about myself as a martial artist. I am open and respect the teachings of various Wing Chun Sifus. However I realize many Sifus are extremely egotisticle and filled with fear and this is why out of all martial art styles the Wing Chun community is most divided.
Different Kwoons battling each other with hateful words. It really is sad. To each his own; why can’t this concept be followed while still sharing among each other. We must end the wars. We must strive for peace.

What are the fighting concepts that are focalized on in your School?

I am currently in the process of building my own organization to be called Obasi Wing-Jitsu association of mixed martial arts. The fighting concepts are that of Wing Chun standing and the submissions of BJJ on the ground. The style will also focus on wrestling and take down defense.

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