Michael Johnson, Shifu
1. How long have you studied martial arts?
As of now, June 2019, this marks my 27th year studying martial arts.
2. What style of martial art do you study?
I grew up in Sil-Lum Kung Fu. I'm a child of Blue Ridge Kung Fu & Arnis Academy, and the proverbial grandson of the Cloud Forest Chin Woo College of Martial Sciences, each giving me the foundation to a solid martial education. When I hit college, I broadened my areas of training to Western Boxing, Shotokan Karate, Judo & some of the Vietnamese arts...but Kung Fu was always my home.
I became a private student of a Master in Tiger Style, but honestly only studied under him for a year...his training methods were a bit too hands on rough for my gentle soul at the time...plus I was partial to keeping my throat attached as the training was not kind. Later I became a student under an Eagle Claw Master, who taught me to train with ferocity without injuring your training partner. Don't get me wrong, not injuring your training partner was solely taught because you need the partner for the next day, not for the sake of kindness. The training was always brutal. Between the Tiger and Eagle styles, my hands became very strong, and eventually I noticed that their dexterity was still growing in strength and flexibility...this gave me a new passion, Chin Na (to seize & control joint lock system).
To more accurately answer the question, I am a lifetime student of the following arts:
Shaolin Kung Fu, Emperor's Long Fist, Okinawan Kenpo Karate, Wing Chun, Kosho Ryu-Kempo, Hapkido, Small Circle Jujitsu, Isshin Ryu Karate, Iron Palm, Iron Vest, Ching Shen Tiao Fei Gung (Light Body Flying Skill), Hung Gar Kung Fu, Five Family Fist Shaolin (Choi, Li, Fut, Mok & Hung), Xing Yi Quan, Baguazhang, TaiJi Quan, Chin Na Shu (Qin Na Shu *Joint lock/control Technique), Qiang Shu (spear techniques) & Qigong Meditation, Kuji Kiri Meditations, Taoist Internal System, Sarada Stick/Sword Fighting, & Modern Arnis Filipino Stick Fighting. But these are just the systems I am officially studying. My friends are all Masters in their own systems, and I get to learn from them nearly every day. It's not a bad way to learn...to submerse yourself in a culture of a martial arts community.
3. What style do you teach?
My main responsibility is to teach Guardian Combination Fist here at the Greensboro Martial Arts College of Martial Sciences (or more simply "the Academy"). "Guardian" is the English Translation of the Chinese Pinyin "Wei", which is translated as "To Guard". It is a Chinese Lineage & family name that I've been adopted into, therefore, what I teach is part of the Wei Family...and vice versa.
Combination Fist is the Academy's most involved program. It is a survey of martial arts, from the beginning ranks to the more advanced Duan ranks (black belt levels). Combination Fist (also known as Combined Fist), is not a system or style of martial arts in the traditional sense. It may be its own identity, but only as a curriculum of learning. This curriculum teaches students in the traditional arts of Shaolin Kung Fu, Taiji Quan, Okinawan Kenpo Karate, Weapons, Filipino Stick Fighting, Knife Fighting/Defenses, Shaolin Five Animals, Wing Chun, Hapkido, Small Circle Jujitsu, Judo & the internal arts.
I also teach Kosho Ryu Kempo, which is the system brought to the United States by James Mitose, and handed down to my Master, Bruce Juchnik, Hanshi.
4. Where are you now in the Martial Arts?
My Kung Fu sifu (teacher), has retired from his many different positions he's held in the martial arts communities. He selected me to be his inheritor of many of his arts, of which I am still learning & accumulating knowledge. I have recently been asked by him to take over the presidency titles of many of his associations & his college. Integrating the more traditional college curriculum and student body in with the more contemporary school I've been operating for the last few years has been challenging, but such a worthwhile venture. We are breaking through some of the older obstacles that the Masters were having difficulties with, banishing such practices that have caused strife, and isolation of individuals and/or different arts outside of the traditional Kung Fu. We are changing the way martial arts is taught, perceived, learned and reaching new, brighter heights of strength and mastery. In other words, I'm very excited where I am these days, and can only imagine how fantastic the next few decades of training will be!
Grandmaster David Kash, 10th Duan, has awarded me with the title of president over the following associations:
The Society of the Natural Fist International
World Emperor's Long Fist Martial Arts Society
Cloud Forest Chin Woo Martial Arts Association
Wei Family Tai Chi Society
Wing Chun Chuan Fa Association
International Pentjak Silat Association
Overseas Chinese National Martial Arts Association (Wah Chiao Guo Ji Hu)
Golden Lion Kuo Su Association
Chin Woo 14th Branch Headquarters Association
World Chinese Martial Arts Federation
Many of the above associations have been inactive for too long. In the near future, we are going to bring some of these back to life, and put them into action as I find board members who will bring new life and purpose to these groups. Some of the other associations listed above have been very active and flourishing with abundant life, and its my responsibility to catch up, keep up and help learn how we can continue their forward momentum.