Shifu Zak Zivanovic
With over 25 years of experience and training in traditional Chinese martial arts and medicine, Shifu Zak Zivanovic is the head instructor of the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Institute “CHUEN” in the UK. Highly motivated and dedicated to his craft, Zak Zivanovic is an enthusiastic representative of Chinese culture, tradition, values, and their expression through the martial arts.
He began his training as a direct disciple of Grandmaster William Cheung, the famous instructor of the well-known Bruce Lee and successor of the legendary Grandmaster Ip Man. Shifu Zak’s passion has led him to travel the world to better understand and refine his craft and, even now, he regularly arranges Academy tours to China and other academies around the world to give his students an opportunity for further advanced training. Shifu’s loyalty and trustworthy dedication to Wing Chun and education from Grandmaster William Cheung he was honored to be placed as the 9th generation (Picture, below) of the direct line of Traditional Wing Chun family. He continued practice in both authentic traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu and Wudang Tai Ji Quan, Shifu Zak is considered one of the most experienced and senior instructors of traditional Wing Chun in the world. He regularly conducts international workshops and seminars across the globe and is held in high regard by the international martial arts community.
His dedication was also acknowledged in 2013 when, as part of a historic event “Wing Chun returning to the Shaolin temple”, his name was among those carved into a 20-foot historical marble plaque at the Shaolin Temple, in Henan Province China (picture, left). This historic plaque is on display for all to see and was placed to commemorate Wing Chun’s connection to its Shaolin roots and the Grandmaster’s successful efforts in reintroduce Wing Chun training to Shaolin.
Passionate about ensuring a well-rounded and thorough education in Chinese martial arts, Shifu Zak is involved in organising many other cultural events such as Chinese Medicine workshops, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and Tea exhibitions. He is a fully qualified Chinese medicine practitioner, practicing in the UK. He uses this knowledge to attain a deeper understanding of Chinese martial arts and passes on this knowledge to his disciples. His passion and pursuit for Chinese Martial Arts, in addition to his belief that learning and progress should never stop, has led him to learn and teach Wudang Tai Ji Quan in addition to Wing Chun.
I have over 12 years of Martial Arts experience across several disciplines. I first started training in Kyokushin Karate at age 12 when my uncle, who at the time was a 2nd degree black belt, took me to training with him. I continued training in Kyokushin Karate for the next four years until I left Iran for the UK. Once in the UK, I moved away from martial arts for a while and instead started weight lifting. I trained regularly throughout my university days and into my early twenties. At the age of twenty three I had a life changing experience. I was attacked and badly hurt by a group of guys while I was on a night out with some friends. The incident inflicted very bad physical and emotional damage on me which stayed with me for next few years. I stopped weight lifting since I felt it was useless as I could not defend myself. I became anti-social and anxious and stopped going out.
I lived like this for few years until one day a friend of mine asked me whether I have watched the movie about Bruce Lee’s teacher called “IP Man”. We watched the movie together and afterwards I was so excited about Wing Chun I started reading about it. When I learned that it was “Created by a woman to defend herself against bigger and stronger opponents” and its core principal of “Not Fighting Force with Force”, I felt this is exactly what I have been waiting for. My passion for martial arts was reignited again with the aim of making myself stronger and learning to defend myself.
The next morning, I made a list of Wing Chun schools in London and started visiting them one by one. Eventually I came to the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Institute “Chuen” with Shifu Zak Zivanovic as the head instructor, and after training with them for one session, I immediately knew it was the right place for me.
I spent the next seven years training diligently under Shifu Zak’s instruction and as my level improved, I started taking private lessons with him to improve further. During this time Shifu always encouraged us to get to know and experience different martial arts in order to gain deeper understanding of other fighting systems and approaches. So, I started training in different disciplines for a while including Judo, Brazilian Jujitsu, Boxing and Kickboxing. The experience was great and taught me a great deal about similarities and differences across fighting arts, however after two years I felt I had to stop training other disciplines in order to focus on improving my Wing Chun.
In 2015 after passing my level five grading, Shifu Zak encouraged me to start teaching beginners class at the academy. I was reluctant at the first, however after few lessons the natural teacher in me emerged and I began to really enjoy teaching and helping others. Few years later and another grade passed, we started discussing and planning for opening a new school in West London. Eventually on 2nd March 2019, we opened our new branch in Ladbroke Grove with Shifu Zak as the head instructor.
Wing Chun changed my life for the better in an unexpected way. When I started my goal was to learn to defend myself and become stronger. But little by little I came to understand that true power is not in defeating others but is in defeating yourself, your ego, fears, anxieties, anger, temptations and despair. Wing Chun taught me about myself and to strive to be better myself every day.
My goal is now to promote Wing Chun and reach out to as many people as we can. I want to help people to live a healthy, happy and intentional life as it once helped me.
Shifu’s students have this to say about his methods of teaching:
As students of Shifu Zak Zivanovic, we would describe him as a dedicated and supportive instructor. In just the few short years we have received teaching from him, our own ability and skill has increased massively. The well rounded nature of his teaching is particularly beneficial. While many of us began training purely with self-defence or fitness in mind, the knowledge and philosophy on life gained through understanding the whole nature of Wing Chun has led to many additional benefits such as confidence, inner peace, mindfulness and a much greater appreciation of Chinese philosophy.