«Teaching of Wing Chun Kung Fu Ip Man Style. Teacher: Vicente Segura Silver Hair -Melena de Plata. 60 years of experience ». This inscription reads on a handwritten sign on cardboard at the entrance. Is about an outdoor Kung Fu gym on a plot between blocks of buildings in the humble Fraternity neighborhood of Elda. A short but stocky man with white hair in a braid and a ying and yang pendant around his neck is responsible. He is Vicente Segura, a native of Seville, whose life could well inspire a film script.
At the age of 17 Vicente went to Switzerland in search of work. It was there, in a mystical encounter in a forest in the Alps, where he began in the art of Kung Fu. He was working as a lumberjack when one day he saw a mysterious man performing strange movements. Every day he went to observe those trainings that hypnotized him, until finally, the enigmatic man, before the curiosity of the young man, offered to teach him the secrets of Kung Fu. His name was Yen Man Cheng and he was his first teacher. During his stay in the Alpine country Vicente came to have a brief encounter with Bruce Lee himself, who was shooting one of his films in Zurich. Shared a breakfast with him and he says that he was impressed by the great self-confidence that he transmitted.
After a few years in Switzerland, and after returning to Spain to perform his military service, his teacher offered him to travel to China to continue learning new disciplines of Kung Fu. Mentor and pupil left for Hong Kong. There he was instructed in the Wing Chun discipline, in the mythical gym of Ip Man, teacher of the legendary Bruce Lee. During those years in China it reached a great level. After some memorable exhibitions, he earned the respect of connoisseurs and made a name for himself in the world of martial arts, reaching be known among martial artists by the nickname Silver Mane. He proudly recalls when he stood up to all the Chinese public of the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong after performing a complex exercise of Chi Kung or channeling energy, a technique available to very few.
The story of this Spaniard who competed with the great masters of Kung Fu in China reached the ears of a governor in Alicante. He contacted him and offered to instruct the police forces. In the 80s, for some years, he was training GEOS, Civil Guard, National Police and Local Police in personal defense and martial arts.
Despite its incredible history, Vicente has never lived professionally from martial arts. He has had a humble life working hard as a cook, moving wherever a restaurant offered him a job. At 75, he says that now that he has retired he wants to dedicate himself to teaching and has opened his striking gym in Elda.
During the months of the pandemic, an abandoned lot has been gradually tidied up. With recycled materials that have been collected such as tires, wood and plastic tarps, has built the Kung Fu Temple with his own hands from the neighborhood Fraternidad.
This neighborhood of Elda is one of the most humble of the city and presents some marginality problems, vandalism, drug retail… Vicente is no stranger to this and shows great concern for the many young people in the neighborhood who are growing up in this environment.
While the interview for this report was being carried out, a girl and two boys of no more than 13 years old came to look around: «What is this? Kung Fu? I prefer Muay Thai », one jokes. “And can we come and try one day?” Asks another. Vicente, without losing his composure, explains to them that they can go to train whenever they want. What the fee is 10 euros per month and they can try one day for free to see if they like it. “But you, Although you have changed your hairstyle I remember you, that you already came to try one day… But good try, “says Vicente sarcastically, addressing the most rogue. The kids leave laughing.
Vicente assures that he has never wanted to use Kung Fu to earn money. The 10 euros that he asks for a fee he uses to invest in improving the gym since with his pension he does not give for more. “If I see real interest in any of my students and the money is a problem, I would stop charging them,” he says.
«There are very smart kids, with a lot of potential; some too savvy and I worry that they will take bad paths». Vicente firmly believes that Kung Fu can make a difference in the future of these young people. «The spirit of Kung Fu is to promote positive values to nullify negative values through hard exercise, discipline and respect. And that’s what I’m trying to do here. But he knows that it is not an easy task.
Many times a problem has been found in parents themselves denying their children the opportunity to continue taking classesEither because of the money or because they consider it a waste of time. But Vicente does not give up. Work with enthusiasm and passion. He has already won the affection of many kids and the neighbors of the neighborhood are delighted with this peculiar and endearing Kung Fu master.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.