The Beginning of My Kung Fu Life

The Beginning of My Kung Fu Life

How I Came to be a Student of Ving Tsun Kung Fu

My Kung Fu History


*This story was originally written around 2010 and was first published in our student handbook.

By Sifu Dale Steigerwald

            Once one begins the journey of learning Kung Fu, his or her life becomes a part of the history of kung fu. I began my pursuit of Ving Tsun Kung Fu at the age of seventeen under Sifu Dino Rhelos. I met him at a Sheetz gas station in Baden, Pennsylvania over the summer of 1996. There is a saying in Kung Fu circles that states, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear" and on that day the teacher did literally appear, and I will assume that I was indeed ready because that day I began my journey.

            As I was filling up my gas tank a "strange" man stepped between the gas pumps from out of nowhere and asked me if I had ever studied any martial arts, or if I had any interest in studying them. I quickly replied that I had not and that I was not interested in studying martial arts because I had already been in, and won enough fights with so called martial arts that I really was not interested. He simply laughed and asked if I would be interested in learning something a little "different." I said that I would be interested if he could prove that it would be worthwhile.

            After I finished filling my gas tank I spoke with the man, and told him that he would have to prove to me that it was worthwhile. At this point he suggested that I attempt to attack him. He swiftly evaded my attack and I found that I was entirely out of control as I slammed into the side of his van. Then I tried again several more times, and each time ended up with similar results. Defeated, I found that the only logical decision that I could make would be to become a student of this man, Sifu Dino Rhelos.
            From that point forward I hung out with Sifu Dino, and trained for many hours both day and night and grew rapidly in my proficiency and confidence in the art. As a student I tried to spend as much time with Sifu Dino as possible, both in training and also in just hanging out experiencing what is referred to as kung fu life. Constantly I was looking for opportunities to try out my kung fu, show it to other people or simply just practice it. I had quickly fallen in love with the art of Ving Tsun Kung Fu. 

            After studying kung fu with Sifu Dino for a period of about one year I was introduced to Sigung Bob Stauffer, and from him I learned the beginning of the Chum Kiu form. In the year 2000 Sifu Dino moved to Jacksonville, Florida, and I and most of my defunct "Pittsburgh" area kung fu family were left without a teacher. Despite my efforts to keep together interested brothers I was eventually resigned to develop my kung fu on my own, however, I did vow that I would one day be qualified to teach Ving Tsun Kung Fu, and would complete the system no matter what efforts I had to make.

            Fast forward to January of 2002 when I graduated Geneva College, and was looking long and hard to find employment as an elementary teacher. While in my pursuit of finding a job, I was insistent that if I had to relocate to find a job it would have to be somewhere where I could continue studying Moy Yat lineage Ving Tsun. It was in January 2003 that I accepted employment with the Philadelphia School District, and in March 2003 I began to study Ving Tsun under Sifu Jay Hitchman.

            Sigong Jay took a considerable interest in me, and instantly made me feel a part of his branch of the kung fu family. Through him I had the chance to develop a relationship with my Sigung, Grandmaster Moy Bah Hugh (Pete Pajil), and many of my kung fu brothers and uncles.

            It has been through the support of my Sifu and Sigung that today I am a teacher of this tremendous martial arts system and continue to pass along the legacy to the future students and masters of the Ving Tsun Kung Fu System. As a student of Ving Tsun you now have the opportunity to give your account of your history that is now a part of Kung Fu History forever.  

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