• Angela Carvalho

A Journey with my Sifu

When we first meet someone it is common for us to feel sympathy or antipathy almost immediately.

However, these initial feelings, when not deepened, can generate blindness or filters (positive or negative) that make it impossible for us to see the person as he or she really is.

To transform sympathy into admiration, friendship, and even love, requires conviviality, time, observation, and deep analysis of the conduct and the ways in which a certain person acts in life.

However, the image that we build of the "other" will only be an interpretation that we make from our perception and personal values. Each person carries within himself mysteries and surprises, because life is a constant transformation. Relationship becomes then a fascinating discovery, a journey together with the other.

In my training as a martial artist I have the privilege of having as a mentor Senior Master Ursula Lima (the first woman in history to receive the title of Master Qualified by the International Moy Yat Ving Tsun Federation, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - USA).

The sympathy, fruit of our first meeting, has matured over the last 8 years of living together and consolidated into a solid relationship based on sincerity, commitment, admiration, respect, and affection that unite Master and Disciple. There are many stories in this Kung Fu life path. I share some of these experiences that reveal a little of Master Ursula's personality.

As soon as I began my Ving Tsun practice I realized my Sifu's (Master in Cantonese) talent for communicating. She can masterfully integrate voice and body expression, modulating her speech with different energies. Her content and form of expression is always adequate to the situation and the listener, which makes her a great communicator.

In one of our conversations about the importance of spreading Ving Tsun Kung Fu in wider circles of society, I suggested that we build together contents for lectures and workshops to be presented outside the martial environment. To my joy, she accepted the proposal and we started to elaborate themes and discuss different ways to present our martial art.

Our first experience took place at the Centro da Justiça Federal do Rio de Janeiro (CCJF) where we presented the lecture Strength in Fragility.

The theme aimed to show that Ving Tsun Kung Fu is more than a fight, and because it was created by a woman and emphasizes intelligence and strategy instead of strength, it is a martial art that can be practiced by people of all ages.

For me, this was the first time I saw my Sifu speaking to a large audience.

She was brilliant in her presentation and won the audience over with her simplicity and joviality, delivering the message clearly and convincingly. The event was also an opportunity used by Sifu to mobilize all the members of the Moy Lin Mah family who were involved in the organization and promotion.

In the opportunity, besides sharing a little of my history in the practice of Kung Fu, Sifu asked me to make a practical demonstration where, with only one movement, I would have to take my Kung Fu brother André Villareal to the ground. It was a challenge that put me to the test in front of an entire auditorium. The task was risky, considering the differences in age (I was 64 at the time and he was about 40), height, and strength with my opponent. Our presentation managed to generate the desired impact and show the efficiency of Ving Tsun.

On this day I realized the confidence that my Master had in me and I felt the responsibility of being a true Kung Fu Lady!!!

After the success of this event we received invitations to hold several other events in the same institution.

The second challenge was even more complex and gave us another kind of experience, this time international.

During a lunch meeting we came up with the idea of building a workshop about the relationship between Design and Kung Fu to be presented to students and professionals in the area of creation and design.

This unusual idea was gradually taking shape and materialized when we received an invitation from Professor Maria Milano of ESAD - School of Art and Design of Matosinhos (Porto region - Portugal) to conduct a workshop with master's students in design. We spent months studying, developing themes and building presentation forms. We created an on line working process and a schedule of meetings that culminated with Sifu coming to Portugal in November 2019 to hold the three-day event at ESAD.

It was a very rich creative experience as our different approaches shaped innovative visions.

Everything was planned to the smallest detail.

Thus, TransformaDesign was born, an interdisciplinary laboratory that proposes a transforming experience by using the thought and methodology of design allied to the philosophy and corporal practice of a martial art - Kung Fu. Our goal was not to offer formulas or ready-made recipes, but to break paradigms and stimulate in the participants the perception and awareness about alternative approaches to solve problems and conflicts. Our proposal aimed to :

  • to encourage processes of questioning and personal positioning;

  • improve the ability to qualify and listen to the "other";

  • identify scenarios, problems and potential opportunities in all situations;

  • develop creativity and flexibility in thinking and acting, and

  • access strategic intelligence

Sifu Ursula made this process and the event another opportunity for my kung fu growth and that of all members of the Moy LIn Mah family in Portugal who participated directly or indirectly in the presentation - Helena Ribeiro, Fernanda Lima and Daniel Jr.

It was amazing to apply the concepts and body practices of Kung Fu in a design school and see teachers, students and professionals having contact with the benefits that a martial art can bring to the creative area and to the personal and professional development.

We experienced special days where we acted as a united team under the calm leadership of our Sifu. Her energy infected everyone and made the event a moment of sharing and transformation.

On the last day Leonilda dos Santos - director of ESAD - who had participated in the workshop, invited students and teachers from different classes to participate in the final lecture on the theme: What happens when Design meets Kung Fu?

To our surprise, more than 80 people were waiting for us in the school's large auditorium.

I confess that I felt a chill when thinking about the challenge of working corporally with such a large group. It was time to adapt to the new scenario.

I looked worriedly at Sifu and in response she said softly: "don't worry, we'll manage...".

I immediately reassured myself and we went into action.

At this moment I felt the difference that a prepared leader makes in crisis situations. Sifu didn't get caught up in the problem or get scared in the face of the challenge, she acted in the direction of giving a simple and efficient solution within the scenario that presented itself.

In an extreme situation she kept her cool and acted with confidence, creating a relaxed atmosphere that won everyone over. The dynamic was a success and, from the feedback we got afterwards, our boldness somehow marked the lives of the participants.

The photos from this day document Sifu Ursula Lima's energy, communication skills, and assertive leadership.

Moments like this will stay forever in my memory and I am sure in the memory of everyone who participated in this experience, consolidating the bond of trust that is the basis of the relationship I build day by day with Master Ursula in our path which is Kung Fu.

So reported

Angela Carvalho "Moy On Gaak Lai" ,

Fourth Disciple of Senior Master Ursula Lima 'Moy Lin Mah' and member of the Disciples Council of the Moy Lin Mah Family along with Rodolpho Alcântara, André Villarreal, Helena Carneiro, Fernanda Lima, Heitor Furtado, Vítor Barros and Marcus Souza.

Learn more about the Moy Lin Mah Family:

Copacabana Unit, Brazil

Visite nosso site! https://mykungfu.com.br/

Cascais Unit, Portugal


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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Angela Carvalho

Moy On Gaak Lai


Fourth Disciple of Senior Master Ursula Lima, Moy Lin Mah Family Leader


Representative of the Moy Lin Mah Family in the Cascais Unit in Portugal.

Mentor on Innovation and Personal and Business Transformation

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