Your Kung Fu Coach Ralph Haenel, learning and teaching Wing Tsun Kung Fu since 1984
Changing lives, one punch at a time.
Book "The Reality of Self-Defense!" by Ralph Haenel
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Book #1 - coming 2015
The practical strength training guide for Wing Tsun Kung Fu (Wing Chun, Ving Tsun) practitioners and fitness enthusiasts.
Now with bonus chapter: Kettlebell training! INFO
Book #2 - coming 2015
Kung Fu - The Workout; an easy to follow result driven guide for beginners and fitness enthusiasts. INFO
Book #3 - coming 2015
WingTsun-CoreConcepts, Beyond tradition and technique - training concepts for Wing Tsun Kung Fu students and instructors! INFO
Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver Blog
Tuesday, 30 June 2015
The Wing Tsun reverse-engineering story
First off; it’s a story, no more, no less. Based on historical research? No. It is not just the origin of some martial arts that is buried in a mountain of fables for cultural reasons or due to political, meaning business interests. Real and wannabe experts have over the years revealed important pieces of history, of which some in the end turned out to be fragments of some people’s martial arts business agenda.
All glorifications of historical figures and origin stories aside, many forget that all martial arts are man-made, often forged over a long period of time.
Now back to the topic which is based on a few written down notes, after talks that happened almost 25 years ago.
It was the early 90’s. After long days of hard training at the Langenzell castle, we enjoyed lengthy leisurely dinners, somewhere near Wiesenbach or in Heidelberg. This is how it started. With some of the at the time advanced technician grades, we began to talk about an imagine-what-if scenario. And no, I won’t be naming any names.
What if Wing Tsun was at one point in time, even partially, a made to order fight system, demanded by members of the triads.
Many existing Kung Fu styles used double knives, butterfly knives, short swords. They were easy to conceal. Worked well against long or short weapons. Also against flexible weapons. Seems like a logical choice for weapons used by future assassins.
This kind of ordered fight system was surely intended to be taught in a relatively short time with the vision of vicious applicability.
Now you got a number of double knives experts together and had them teach new recruits. Some prospective practitioners may have turned out not to have sufficient striking, slashing and stabbing power. Wrist exercises like the triple-wagging hand may have been introduced. Supported by piercing punches, whisking arms and thrusting fingers, all added to prepare the students to work with the butterfly knives. Those single drills eventually forming a pre Biu-Dje set of technical training tools. Somewhat resembling a weaponless copy of the future double knives form.
Now the instructors noticed that their new trainees couldn’t produce adequate power out of their whole body movements. To support their training, turning stances, steps and kicks were introduced. Steps for mobility. Kicks as balance and structure exercises. In coordination with arm techniques a rudimentary form was created, which later build the Cham-Kiu form.
Maybe it became apparent that the apprentices still lacked fundamentals, didn’t have enough wrist power, stiff shoulders. The stance wasn’t rooted enough. The elbows weak. The need arose to form stretching and elongating exercises, whilst preparing mentally for the rigorous training. The foundation was laid for the first form, including breathing exercises.
The first form becoming an inner, a ChiKung form, strengthening the upper three joints; shoulders, elbows and wrists. The second form focused on technical recommendations and to generate force in the lower three joints, the power generators or engines if you will. The ankles, knees and hips.
The third form used the spine as the seventh “joint” to connect and combine the lower three and the upper three engines, thus generating a power flow from fingertips to toes, encouraging whiplash-like whole body motions that culminated in Wing Tsun’s unique ways of employing the double knives.
The next generation started at the new beginning, the new first form, the Siu-Nim-Tau form.
I don’t care if you think it’s silly. I still like that what-if story.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 7:37 PM PDT
Monday, 29 June 2015
Yesterday you said tomorrow!
Today on Sunday I met one of our former students at Costco. We were briefly talking about how he misses his training. He misses the training partners, the ones who helped him many times to achieve the ‘high’ you get after a workout that you thought you can’t get through.
He keeps dreaming about mastering Kung Fu one day. The Yip Man movies got to him, reminded him of the opportunities he keeps missing year after year.
He misses the comradery, the open-air classes, the seminars, the beach classes.
I meet him about three times a year.
Read above again. It is every time the same talk.
I told him to come to class tomorrow. But he is busy.
“Yesterday you said tomorrow!”
It reminds me of the ‘Songify this’ version of a motivational speech, my daughter showed me. By Shia LaBeouf. Nothing I could add.
Your life is your life
The forms, the repetitions
You should get to the point
Where anyone else would quit
You’re gonna wake up
And work hard at it
Just do it
Nothing is impossible
Just Do It
Yesterday you said tomorrow
Just Do It
Don’t let your dreams be dreams!
The more often you do it
The more light there will be!
P.S.: Once you listened to the song, you won’t be able to read the text lines anymore. You will sing, or at least hum them.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 2:38 PM PDT
Sunday, 31 May 2015
Weapons Chambers, a support tool for teaching Wing Tsun Kung Fu
The video-clip, from which you may have found your way to this blog post, shows only a few options described further down. Options are shown in the video with wider and extended movements to develop a better feel for whole-body motion. To create a vision. It doesn't show sparring or fighting.
Our motion training following two of my favourite quotes by Stop Chasing Pain, Perry Nickelston:
"Fast, we do what we know (habit). It's easy to fall back into poor habits. Slow, you learn new patterns.
Embrace slowness in movement!"
"Do a movement pattern slow and then you own it. Structure requirements change. Momentum is often an inherent 'cheat' to cover up a glitch in the pattern."
I had fantastic opportunities since the mid 80’s to learn from a variety of amazing WingTsun instructors. Among many aspects worth mentioning, what was one of the major qualities that set them apart? They were constantly evolving and used ALL the techniques out of the pool available within the system.
Yes, I am talking about WT techniques, first presented as neatly packed tool boxes in our (one-man) forms, then trained in movement recommendations in our two-man forms, the Chi-Sau sections. Both are initially movement pattern which we need to train slowly at first, before we own them. Before they can be the base for instinctive, elastic and fluid motion.
Now I hear some say, that the master is supposed to exist in ever-changing motion, not bound by techniques, always adapting, ever progressing.
Absolutely; but most mortals have to start somewhere. You cannot be the formless top-skilled master out of nothingness. Everything needs to have form first. An idea that evolves into a technique, which turns into a movement, which becomes non-stop fluid and explosive whole-body motion. Concept based motion.
For many years I observed that numerous practitioners typically only used their favourite techniques, their preferred drills. While that is the decision of the individual, a good instructor should be responsible enough to present the long-time student with a multitude of options, exploring the whole ART of the martial art of Wing Tsun Kung Fu.
So, I started at seminars to ask the following question: “What does a samurai, a knight, a Roman soldier and a Wing Tsun practitioner have in common?”
I do get some very interesting answers. Imagine, any of the four needed in their time to know all the weapons in their weapons chambers and their use, if it was the long or short sword, the knives, the battle ax, the staff, the spear. You imagine the time period, you name the weapons.
Funny moment in class. One evening one student could only think of a single Fak-Sau, part 4 of the Siu-Nim-Tau. I said, imagine the knight walks in the castle into his weapons chamber and all he finds is a lot of spiderwebs and one single rusty sword in the corner. Wouldn’t be the best start to get ready for battle.
Here and today I am not talking about the concepts behind the technical exercises. So, I usually resume with my next questions:
1. How many punches do you know? In which forms do we train what punches how?
2. How many palm-strike variations do you train, where, in which form and how?
3. How many Lan-Sau and Fak-Sau variations do you have in your weapons chamber?
4. Do you know the contents of your Biu-Dje weapons chamber?
Don’t get me wrong. I do not promote endless dead technical drills, while the “attacker” is frozen in his first attack. I do not mean useless fancy technique series.
Simply put, do you know what tools you train in your forms? Can you take advantage of the technical solutions, the mobility options?
Can you switch while training, between working with pressure and responding on mere impulse?
Are you capable to respond instantly and complete?
Move from linear to circular to spiral to lifting to ‘hooking’ punches
Underneath or above?
Defensive or offensive?
Vertical and horizontal and diagonal Fak-Saus? From the ground up and over the top?
Folding whole-body motions?
Pulling and pushing scenarios?
The preceding are only a few questions, thoughts, training possibilities.
And it is OK to have a different opinion and viewpoint. Many forget that all martial arts are man-made. They weren’t handed down from somewhere while singing a lovely hymn.
That also doesn’t mean that all solutions are right.
The idea of the weapons chambers is a visualization tool, a teaching and training tool. No more, no less. It helps to explain technical recommendations. Switch easily between wave-like palm-strikes, whiplash-like Fak-Saus, thrusting or piercing punches.
Then the evolution from movement (techniques) to motion (moving in the moment) will have a better basis.
Instructors don’t forget, some “only” want to learn to defend themselves. Others yes, want to explore the martial ART of Wing Tsun Kung Fu with all of its facets.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 11:58 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 1 June 2015 1:02 AM PDT
Saturday, 24 January 2015
Sense or Non-Sense? The #WingTsun Chi-Sau sections.
- Which WingTsun Version is better?
- Four Stages of Technical Evolution
- Bandwidth of Performance
- Pitfalls and Four Groups of Mistakes
- The Power Scale
- Four Training Methods & Categories of How-To of Chi-Sau
- What do we really learn?
The following are combined excerpts from several chapters of my upcoming book “WingTsun-CoreConcepts, Beyond tradition and technique - training concepts for Wing Tsun Kung Fu students and instructors!”
Many have discussed over the years the sense and non-sense of Chi-Sau sections, Wing Tsun’s ‘two-men forms’. Many have obscured, misinterpreted, or simply not understood the ideas behind them; why Chi-Sau sections were created in the first place.
No musician becomes an artist by simply writing better or more notes, by copying other songs. I am not talking about commercial success here! Some people are good at playing a few cords on a guitar. Some can even perform a few songs. Some are very good studio backup musicians. And then there are the few who become more or less celebrated music talents, composing music, writing and performing music, being creative and even trend-setting, decade after decade.
Some gifted people can pick up crayons, chalk, markers, a pencil, oilpaint, watercolours and draw or paint on just about any canvas, while many of us still draw stick figures.
Chi-Sau sections are blueprints, giving you ideas on how to internalize movement pattern, how to respond eventually intuitive, how to be in the moment.
Example movements to understand concepts.
How inventive, creative, ever-searching are you as martial ARTIST? Do you break taboos? Do you inspire others? How innovative is your teaching style?
As so often in my posts, I stress the factor that a martial ART grows eventually beyond self-defense applications. But it also has to be self-defense. Initially everyone wants to feel safe, learn how to take care of themselves, become more confident, and learn to be mindful and aware.
Looking back, at one point in time, the number of (EWTO) Wing Tsun students was growing exponentially, compared to other Wing Chun or Ving Tsun styles.
Just like the forms, the masters were thinking about a way to standardize the programs, make skills and knowledge accessible to a large number of students, while minimizing the loss of information down the line from grandmaster to masters to instructors to assistant instructors to students.
Why? Remember nicknames like ‘King of Siu-Nim-Tau’, ‘King of the talking hands’, etc.? Instructors are human beings who develop preferences for some programs while neglecting others, which lead to the next generation of students missing components of the system. Some interpret techniques, forms, training programs, applications differently than their own teacher.
Some even argue which Wing Tsun is better:
- the European version,
- the ‘tough’ first generation European version,
- the latest European version
- the Eastern European version,
- the Hong Kong version,
- the North American Hong Kong influenced version,
- the North American European influenced version, …
I wanted to add a few versions, also to show the absurdity, but you get the point. For me personally it is important that my Si-Fu inspires, researches, changes, adapts. That is what my Si-Fu Keith Kernspecht has been doing for decades. And no, I am not on his pay-roll. I am not even a member of any Wing Tsun organization. Until the year 2000, I learned and trained for 16 years in the EWTO, IWTA, AWTO.
For me personally it is also important, imperative you might say, that my delivery of learning, training and teaching methods fit the needs of us average people. I know that most people don’t want to be called average. I am talking about us average not being over 6 feet tall, not 120 kg heavy, not previously having been knock-out champions, not bench pressing 300 pounds for a warm-up, … well us average people, who are willing to learn and train hard.
One-man or in this case two-men forms preserve fundamental ideas which should be the core of one’s training and learning.
In Wing Tsun it eventually leads to seven sections, showcasing ideas (concepts) as displayed in the ‘tool-boxes’ of the first two forms, the Siu-Nim-Tau and the Cham-Kiu form. Followed today by four Biu-Dje Chi-Sau sections. Plus eight sections of Wooden Dummy Chi-Sau.
The sections are guides that show us most common usages of the techniques, movement ideas, applications. Examples of most often occurring types of (fight) interactions between two human beings.
Some despise techniques as being too limiting. But one has to start somewhere. One can’t jump from nothing to formless.
Example: Take a Tan-Sau in the first form or a Lan-Sau / Cham-Sau response in the first Wing Tsun Chi-Sau section and consider the following four stages.
Four Stages of Technical Evolution
4. whole body motion
1. Any drill, exercise is in the beginning an idea. The student knows what he/she is supposed to do, is practicing movements that may feel uncomfortable, that may appear for example to be too slow, not strong enough.
2. At one point during one’s training it progresses into a technique that often works, yet may still fall victim to a fake-out, or for example may start too early or too late.
3. On the next level one understands the importance of working with the attacker, rather than against him (resisting, ‘wrestling’, breaking …). The basic idea, which evolved into a technique, becomes a movement, which covers more outcomes of any given scenario, but may still lack the ever so important coordination of hand- and footwork.
4. This is the stage we desire to achieve. Our action has turned into a whole body motion, intuitively adapting to the opponents actions, using speed, strength and direction at a moment’s notice without waiting passively.
If one would take a scene apart like a movie strip, you could in still-frames spot a Man-Sau, Bong-Sau, Lap-Sau, Fak-Sau. But trying to repeat the scenario by “doing” the techniques one after another would hopelessly fail.
It’s about how you move, not which techniques you try to apply!
Bandwidth of Performance
Often I get asked as to how I improve my own training. This goes hand in hand with what I call the training of the bandwidth of performance. Say, for example in the training of a Chi-Sau section.
1. Space – I work on responding within the smallest space available to me without getting hit, while employing horizontal, vertical, diagonal, round, straight, spiral whole-body movements.
2. Time – I work on responding in the very last moment possible without getting hit.
3. Strength - I work on responding with the least amount of strength necessary to deal with an attack while having just enough to shock the attacker.
Pitfalls and Four Groups of Mistakes
The first seven Chi-Sau sections contain almost all techniques of the Siu-Nim-Tau and Cham-Kiu forms, eventually extracting the concepts behind these forms. What could be the pitfalls?
Many points can make or break our Chi Sau performance and more so the skills this training is designed to produce.
- advanced instructors ‘mix’ in their Biu-Dje and Wooden Dummy training induced skills or interpretations
- instructors who ‘must’ always win and thus force their students, future instructors, into a victim role, a role in which they eventually turn into ‘fear-biters’
- taller instructor enforce their personalized solutions onto shorter students
- shorter instructor impose their personalized solutions onto taller students
- stronger instructor force their personalized solutions onto weaker students
- relatively weak instructor enforce their personalized solutions onto stronger students …
Even a somewhat good reflex-like (Chi-Sau) response might end up somewhere on the scale of performance between being:
- too early or too late,
- too little or too much,
- too slow or too fast,
- too weak or too strong.
It’s not the number of techniques in a Chi-Sau section, but the completeness of concepts behind the forms. As a Wing Tsun instructor can you show and demonstrate the logical structure throughout the Chi-Sau sections? The carrying of the theme through the sections or what the Germans mean by the term: “Roter Faden”.
The sections do not follow the forms on a 1:1 basis; some sections may contain technical ideas from other forms. The seventh Wing Tsun Chi-Sau section will be performed differently by someone who is actively working on the wooden dummy form.
Few are early on already interpretative martial artists. We average fast, average strong, average (martial) artistic, average imaginative, we need guiding ideas. The forms are catalogues of techniques and concepts behind them. The Chi-Sau sections are catalogues of movements and concepts behind the motions.
Yes, some schools and instructors and students have turned these sections into meaningless partner dances. Some have turned the learning of the concepts into piles of techniques, far removed from reality. Some have begun to think and act only within the framework of Wing Tsun against Wing Tsun, completely ignoring that our tools, our skills need to work against someone who doesn’t know WT. Someone who doesn’t care about a style, someone who is OK with getting hit, someone who starts right from the beginning with animal like aggression and enjoys violence.
Other instructors have turned Chi-Sau sections into their own instruments of show-off exercises, very far from the original idea of teaching, helping the student.
Most important for an instructor is to recognize what guidance the student needs. Bring talent to the surface; don’t get lost in endless technique A against technique B combative exercises.
Remember the first training days? While considering the law, we learn how to become over time confident, how not to get into trouble in the first place, learn to verbally defuse a situation, or remove ourselves (yes, even running away).
While considering the law we would rather attack the attacker than "running behind" by hastily defending against single attacks.
This means our first attack against the attacker should:
- interfere with or stop his first attack,
- make a second and third attack difficult or impossible,
- force the attacker into non-attacking / defensive mode.
With our actions we learn to take away his:
- time to attack us successfully,
- the space he needs to attack us,
- and the opportunity to do so.
If we are just like two fighters in the ring, checking each other out, we may give the attacker too much time as well as too many options. By attacking we greatly minimize his options thus force him into an immediate decision. We learn to set him up!
Due to the nature of Wing Tsun our type of attack shall be a setup, forcing the attacker into very specific and limited response pattern.
The Power Scale
In Chi-Sau as in any exercise or application of ones skills, the question of the right amount of functional strength comes up. How much is perfect? What is the right amount? Should we just be as strong as we can?
Scenario 1 – While trying to be relaxed, loose if you want, we often end up being weak, brittle. Our Chi-Sau positions collapse.
Scenario 2 – While trying to be strong, we often end up being stiff, tense. Through our resisting Chi-Sau positions we get pushed back, out of balance. We might end in an attempt to wrestle the stronger opponent.
Now visualize a large scale. On one end of the scale we want to move the value “relaxed” to the ideal center of the scale, while leaving the attributes weak and brittle behind.
From the opposite end of this scale we move the value “strength” towards the ideal center, leaving the characteristic stiff and tense behind.
Once the values “relaxed” and “strength” meet at the ideal center of the scale, which is of course from person to person different, these values combined form a new quality: “power”.
A very important factor for our Wing Tsun, the difference between functional and physical strength will be explained in detail in my upcoming book “The practical strength training guide for Wing Tsun Kung Fu (Wing Chun, Ving Tsun) practitioners and fitness enthusiasts.”
Four Training Methods & Categories of How-To of Chi-Sau
We train every element of Chi-Sau in four scenarios:
1. speed – slow motion, regular, fast,
2. distance – far apart, regular, close ,
3. power – barely any strength, regular, full power ("Bull" Chi-Sau),
4. training variations – supportive, 50/50, going through
That all four scenarios come in three variations is simply for explanatory reasons. You could of course train five variables of the component distance. Three variations can stand for minimum, optimum and maximum of the chosen scenario.
There are four categories as to the how-to of training Chi-Sau:
1. You learn Chi-Sau FROM your instructor.
2. You train Chi-Sau WITH your training partner.
3. You teach Chi-Sau TO your student.
4. With everyone else, who doesn’t fit into the first three categories, you would have to apply what the ‘training method” Chi-Sau has taught you, … if you then must prove your skills.
In his November 11th 2014 blog post “If you build it … Chi-Sau sections” Evan asks: “If we don't know that we don't know, how do we practice potentially useful skills we don't know?”
On January 23rd 2015 he followed up with the post “How sticky is your Wing Tsun Wooden Dummy?” You find it here: http://kyklosphaira.blogspot.ca/2015/01/how-sticky-is-your-wing-tsun-wooden.html
The WingTsun Chi-Sau sections. What is it now? Sense or Non-Sense?
What do we really learn?
At the Langenzell castle, for many years the German WingTsun castle, the international trainer academy, I was once with others waiting for a test to begin. A couple of guys were eager, still training; they seemed to be flying through the sections. Everything looked so great, smooth. They appeared to know so many details and combinations. All of us staring at these guys, our jaws dropped. We were in awe. Then Si-Fu Kernspecht came in, friendly as always, his eyes spotting instantly the team keen to perform, to get tested.
To make a long story short. Poor bastards. They tried to show off their routine, but their timing was always off, they tried to finish techniques even if they didn’t fit, they were easily set up, fell over their own feet.
It was a catastrophe. Even though their training performance looked so amazing.
My Si-Hing at the castle, Sifu Heinrich Pfaff, told me already back then that I must use two tools:
1. “Watch and analyze yourself!” (constantly and consistent)
2. “watch and analyze your teacher/s!”
The tools of the master.
It took me many years to realize and consciously learn, train and teach that the forms and sections are the guitar, the piano of the musician, they are the brush and the paints of the painter.
The Chi-Sau sections teach us through technical recommendations how to:
- work in the right distance
- to maintain balance, especially when pushed, pulled, attacked, grabbed
- to develop a feel for timing
- to get to know the space we are working in, initially through positions and techniques
- how to develop power
- how to be able to deliver that power
- to perfect our coordination skills
- how to become mobile at all times
- how to develop fluidity of all motions (from fingertips to toes)
The two guys at the castle had a perfectly choreographed performance, but not yet the skills Chi-Sau is producing over time.
During a recent seminar I asked: “What should a samurai, a roman soldier, a medieval knight ,,, and a Wing Tsun practitioner have in common?”
They all should know their ‘weapons chambers’. Train with all of their weapons. As a Wing Tsun instructor, can you point out in our forms all the palmstrikes, various punches, Fak and Lan-Sau strikes? Can you cross-reference where they are in our forms and how they are being trained in our Chi-Sau sections? How they come to life in our Lat-Sau programs?
Do you train and teach everything in horizontal motions, vertical, diagonal, spiral, straight, curved? Can you vary your approach for example vertically from underneath, from above, until everything is truly happening in the moment? Until you mindfully move?!
In the 90’s some said that my Si-Fu appears to be bored when attacked by students. He gave the impression of acting ‘lazy’.
Today I read comments under his videos “One (Gyaku) Tsuki on the 12, and the old man is down. He is doing so little. Everyone is just making him look good, playing along.”
Ehm … Then and now a lot of people misjudge what he is doing. It is probably the hardest to unlearn all the many things one could do, and eventually as a master or grandmaster end up doing only what is absolutely necessary, not an ounce more. It looks effortless, even ‘lazy’, when one is only doing what is needed, and only for the time frame necessary. Not a fraction of a second earlier, not a moment too long, or a movement too much. On a side-note; one of my Sihings wrote to me last year, saying: “Si-Fu hits now at 69 more powerful than 20 years ago, when he was younger and stronger.” Think about that one, grasshopper.
In short, the Chi-Sau sections can be an extremely helpful tool to develop:
Functional strength is paramount. I can’t say it any better as one of my favourite quotes below.
"To protect yourself with your fists you MUST become a knockout puncher.” ~ Jack Dempsey (1950)
In my schools the transformation from physical to functional strength is one of the most important points of the desired allover performance.
A last word … for today. Someone asked me; you are talking here about the power scale, (WT) technical evolution, bandwidth of performance and more, isn’t Chi-Sau really about ‘sticky hands’, is it not an ‘clinging arms’ exercise?
My answer: Watch a boxing fight, any fight. Now look at the winning combo of punches, how one champion took out the other. Learn it. Let’s say it’s jab-jab-cross. Will you now be able to knock down a champion?
Certainly not. You discover that the real ingredients are power, the ability to deliver that power, timing, balance, positioning, distance, mobility, elasticity and coordination. Remember? Kung Fu is Eastern Boxing.
Since Chi-Sau is supposed to add the level of a tactile (recognition) guidance system to back-up our visual guidance system, it is important to provide these weapons upgrades. Sticking or clinging might end up being the smallest part of Chi-Sau if the delivery, the application doesn’t work.
In conclusion: Packaging the typical most often occurring Chi-Sau actions and reactions, the different internal and external elements of our forms into Chi-Sau sections (forms), makes a lot of sense.
It’s up to your teacher to fill it with life, to build and encourage the measurable growth of your skills and knowledge. To ensure that Chi-Sau sections, just like one-man forms, do not deteriorate into useless piles of techniques.
Thought that you might read here about the secrets of the fourth Chi-Sau section? The variations of the third Biu-Dje Chi-Sau section? The differences between the first and second Wooden Dummy Chi-Sau sections?
Sorry. This post is about the blueprint of the how-to of training, learning and teaching. Producing knock-out self-defense skills.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 25 January 2015 8:52 PM PST
Wednesday, 14 January 2015
Donna – My Martial Arts Journey to Wing Tsun
... the Thinking Woman's Martial Art
I first began martial arts in 1985 after moving to a large UK city and felt that a bit of self-defence would be a good idea.
My first style was Shukokai Karate, and I achieved a “Blue Belt”, which is five gradings over an 18 month period.
Although I enjoyed the stretching exercises, punching and high kicks, I was not so keen on the walking across the dojo with someone on your back or “wheelbarrow races” on your knuckles, and the dreaded breaking of blocks! Although females were not forced into partaking in these latter elements, I felt, by not taking part, I wasn’t a full participant and was not fully competing with the males within the group.
It was a great feeling to know you were more able to fight, read a situation and definitely would have an element of surprise if anyone tried anything. I felt more confident when out, but often wondered how the high kicks would really stand up in a fight.
I left this group due to moving cities and was unable to find the same style, or the same great atmosphere and camaraderie in my new city.
It always rankled that I had not achieved a black belt in Karate or at the very least a brown belt, so martial arts was always something I wanted to return to.
Unfortunately my break from martial arts lead into two pregnancies and hence child care so it wasn’t until 2005 that I felt I had enough regular spare time to devote to an ongoing commitment.
I began by looking around a few clubs in my area, searching online and then visiting them for a session. Many clubs had only a few women or none, this didn’t bother me but I definitely didn’t want a macho club where I would feel an outsider just because I was a woman. I also wanted a style that I thought would offer good self-defence, whilst not relying fully on physical strength.
As soon as I entered the Wing Tsun School of Sifu Ron Butler I knew I had found something different, although a predominantly a male group I immediately felt at ease, the room was not filled with testosterone fueled muscle men, grunting up an and down the room, but regular guys talking and working one on one.
Ron was both welcoming and approachable, he explained how Wing Tsun (WT) was originally started by a woman in China to defend her honour from an unwanted marriage proposal and as such did not rely on strength alone but on fluidity of movement and by using the whole body to generate power. He also explained and demonstrated how a woman can train and compete with the men on an equal footing.
I was fortunate enough that my early training partner was a
woman and this definitely helped in the first few weeks, however we did get to work out with the guys which helped us to see that what we were doing was no different to them.
I enjoyed the Siu-Nim-Tau at the beginning of every class, it reminded me of Tai Chi and helped focus the mind for the class ahead, I also enjoyed the ending of every lesson with a punching session, I am sure that most guys know how to punch and form a fist easily, but, as a woman, forming a fist is quite an alien concept, and gaining any strength in the wrist takes time and practice. I hadn’t really punched much for almost 20 years so I relished learning this over again, plus WT’s punching technique was quite different from Shukokai. It was good to see how the power of my punch, over time, was improving.
Sifu Ron instructed us in self-defence and in being street wise, this was a great addition to traditional Karate because as opposed to defending yourself primarily against another Karate strike, WT taught you to defended against punches or attacks by people who may or may not have any experience of a martial art, also you learn how to get out of holds or “grabs”, which is particularly helpful for women. The WT BlitzDefence program, learnt in the early weeks of training - is the ultimate self-defence technique, I have yet to see any street attack get past this.
I gained my first four Student grades with Sifu Ron, who then unfortunately emigrated, but left his club in the capable hands of Sifus Jon and Nick Pepper. They were very different to Sifu Ron; they were younger and fresh out of the Langenzell Castle in Germany (then the location of the European headquarters of Wing Tsun) and introduced a new way of training which was more fluid and elastic in movement. This was even more appealing to me as a woman, instead of meeting force with force, you learnt to move around the direct strength of an attack…..
Under the tuition of mainly Sifu Jon Pepper both in group class and private lessons, I progressed to 12th Student grade, by this time I was the only female in the club so was regularly training with men both above and below my own grade.
In February 2012 I immigrated to Vancouver. Prior to doing so, I was concerned that, yet again, I would need to drop my Martial Arts training. So, before moving to Vancouver, I researched online for a WT club locally, and came across http://www.wingtsunkungfu.com/. The written explanations and video clips made it look very similar to the club I had just left. The Sifu, Ralph Haenel, was trained at the Castle and this gave me the confidence that I would receive a similar experience and excellent tuition.
On arriving in Canada I visited Sifu Ralph Haenel’s club and was blown away by the level of tuition and the strength of the club. Sifu Ralph was very welcoming and supportive, there were only a few women but the club was very friendly and the guys didn’t mind working with a woman, I felt I was accepted very quickly and became part of the Vancouver WT family.
As I have moved up through the grades of WT I have learnt to use the fist and punching less and to use elbow strikes, palm strikes and movement, this opened a whole new area and as a woman I felt these would be much more effective on a male than a “simple” punch.
Over the past three years I have worked on neutralising an attack with a counter attack, fluidity of motion, working on movement to generate power through 'Folding', 'Sliding', 'Pushing and Pulling', and in the last year leading up to my 1st level Technician grade, I have had instruction in the Wooden dummy form, the Long Pole form and the Bart-Cham-Dao (double knife form). The level of tuition and training at the club is fantastic, Sifu Ralph has plenty of time for all levels of students and is so enthusiastic, but I also receive great advice and training from my WT training partners. I still have a long way to go, but week on week my knowledge and skills increase and it’s great to still have new techniques to learn and master.
I would recommend Wing Tsun to women as a martial art of choice, because it’s much more than a martial art, it teaches self-defence, body awareness, fluidity of motion, litheness and also offers social interaction. Although Wing Tsun is predominantly a male martial art, there’s no reason why this should be, as it is not an aggressive, chauvinistic or a testosterone fuelled environment. It is often referred to as the thinking man’s martial art but I like to think of it as the Thinking Woman's Martial Art. There’s a whole lot more to it than punching.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 2:11 PM PST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2015 2:18 PM PST
Sunday, 22 June 2014
The story of Si-hing Leo, an Olympic weight set and a WingTsun lesson from his Si-Fu
Today I read a couple of Tweets (see below) by my Si-Fu in regard to returning to some of his weight training routines.
Heavy weight training used to be an integral part of the regular training of many WT instructors. Being loose and relaxed is one thing, unfortunately often misinterpreted. I have personally met (non-WT) instructors who go as far as to forbid their students to even touch weights, because it would make them too tense. This is an outright invitation to just being plain weak. Often did I experience them either brittle or in the end again stiff, for lack of real power.
Some of my younger students recently asked: “Okay, your Si-Fu is 69 years old. No disrespect, but what can he do at this age?” I know, when you are around 19 or 20, any age past 30 seems, well very old. So, I gave them an answer from a recent Facebook message exchange with one of my Sihings in Germany, someone who is very strong and with WT for a long, long time. Here is what he said: “Of course, 20 years ago Si-Fu was stronger, could have lifted more weight, BUT today he can strike more powerful than ever. You want to look around and find the horse that just kicked you out of nowhere.” … and this at 69 years of age.
But back to the old story. My Si-hing Leo arrived at the Langenzell castle, back then the ‘WT-Castle’. Si-Fu was so excited to show Leo a new shiny toy, an Olympic weight training bench. Naturally he challenged Leo to bench-pressing 100 kg. Leo did a set of 10 clean reps. Si-Fu on the other hand did one set of 20 reps.
Now came Leo’s mistake. He said: “Si-Fu, you are 10 years younger. So, for every year you did one extra rep, which means that the bench-press contest is a draw.”
Moments later Leo began to see the error of his ways. The private lessons started, … and Leo’s Wu-Sau was “too low”, the Bong-Sau came “too late”, … you get the idea. So did he. By the way, Leo was a former professional boxer, so having a bloody nose and lips was the most normal to him.
He went to the washroom, cleaned up the blood, used his high-percentage mint-oil on the wounds, put some tissue into the nose and returned to his WT lesson.
Si-hing Leo said that everyone could always ‘smell him’ at the castle, since he used the mint oil very often.
Which reminds me now of another story ….
Leo was well-off and as a former boxer used to smile a bit at some of the martial arts. He visited this Chinese Wing Tsun Kung Fu open house event and met for the first time Mr. Keith R. Kernspecht. Leo was very suspect of those weird rolling arms, the funny form training stance. But he saw this European Chief-Instructor hit some guys pretty hard. Leo told me: “Well, I thought I might as well check it out with the boss personally. Go for a round or two …”
Again, from his boxer perspective Leo was half-joking, half he meant it. “I told this Mr. Kernspecht, if he could knock me out, I will sign up and become a WT instructor.”
To make a long story short; within a minute he was knocked out three times, he asked what the whole job education costs, wrote a cheque for the full sum, and Mr. Kernspecht became his Si-Fu.
And I remember another old story, but maybe another night, another story.
Train hard and have fun!
Posted by ralph haenel
at 7:16 PM PDT
Monday, 10 February 2014
I am exhausted. My students are too dangerous!
I often send out little notes after private lessons, beach classes, group classes, intensive 6+ hour seminars, advanced team seminars, open-air classes, etc. Something like this one:
Email 1: “Great workouts this past Friday and Saturday! Always amazing to see how far you push yourself. The notes, questions and conclusions I receive from you; any feedback is always so important as it gives me an idea regarding the percentage of ideas "transferred' in each session.”
or this one
Email 2: “Do you know why I ask about your experiences in class? Only your comments, thoughts, questions, only your feedback can help to further improve communication and better class formats. So, take a moment and send me a quick reply.”
or I make a list like the following one, which I emailed to all private lessons students of that day. Since you weren’t there, not all points might make sense.
photo: Members of Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver BC, who won at a seminar a set of the WingTsun-CoreConcepts posters.
(long) Email 3: “I used the sessions on Saturday once again, to bring a few connected concepts across. Of course I can't repeat everything for everyone all throughout the day. Otherwise it would turn into a dead recital. Just like WingTsun itself, some ideas to support one’s training are born in the moment.
But I will list below the majority of the ideas of this past Saturday. Maybe you will remember more, ... or maybe less. :-)
As so often here are now my questions:
What are your thoughts?
Do you have any conclusions?
What questions came, or now come up?
What is confusing? What makes sense?
And here in no particular order the major concept components we talked about during a variety of physical exercises:
- visual vs. tactile guidance system (recognition)
- learning to see what we feel (how does it look like what I sense via touch?)
- learning to feel what we see (how does it feel like what I see maybe in a flash?)
- giving someone the following exercises:
- punch me with your left arm – no problem
- punch me with your right arm – no problem
- throw an elastic punch at me – doesn’t compute, problematic to understand
- transformation of our “technical catalogue” from
idea – technique – movement – whole-body-motion
- example scenario shown with the conclusion that the pressure or tactile contact was in all three the same, the variation was located ‘behind’ the Chi-Sau contact, the examples being:
- muscles not responding at all (late and weak)
- muscles suddenly contracting (early and stiff)
- instantly and completely adapting to and feeding off incoming movement (the way it should be, right!)
- the very difficult to execute task of our suddenly inserted “now you have hit me” exercises, leading towards a what I call “instant & complete response”; realizing the enormous difference of the mission of yielding or shifting, moving between
- folding forward (right), as opposed to
- collapsing backwards (wrong)
- “our” Chi-Sau being the gym for building the elastic WingTsun-Power
- ‘whiplash-like’ or ‘spring-like’ elasticity is Wing Tsun’s functional strength
- especially the last “5 sets” of our Chi-Sau exercises can be evaluated as live isometric exercises, one at a time, in between whole-body motions
- our type of Chi-Sau training, the: “partner supported – Wing Tsun internal** – physical strength to WingTsun power transformation exercise”, which was born out of certain old EWTO Chi-Sau practises
**the term ‘internal’ here having a double meaning:
1. as in inner or internal force
2. internal as in unique to the WT system
- any and all of our responses typically shift between
- too fast and too slow,
- too much and too little,
- too weak and too strong,
- too early and too late
- conclusion of it being part of the ‘bandwidth of performance’
- our ultimate goal, the continuous adaptive motion, which can be of a defensive or also offensive nature …
- … the ‘right’ motion is born in the moment!
- relative perception of speed, fast and strong punches can be controlled, while slow elastic punches “slip through”
Now today, on Family Day, British Columbia’s new statutory holiday, I took the time and compiled a Word document of feedback of the past months. It turned into a tightly packed 30-page file.
Well-thought conclusions, provocative follow-up questions, as well as excellent decisions for the next training period. That is what I meant by creating the headline exclaiming that my students are dangerous. They listen intense, train dedicated, compare notes with each other, assimilate helpful ‘outside’ information.
Reading through dozens and dozens of emails, compiling the 30 pages of exciting feedback, that is exhausting, … in the most positive way.
Moral of the story?
1. Train basics. Ask questions. Train intense (and smart). Give feedback!
2. Train basics. Ask questions. Train intense (and smart). Give feedback!
3. Train basics. Ask questions. Train intense (and smart). Give feedback!
Posted by ralph haenel
at 5:38 PM PST
Updated: Monday, 10 February 2014 6:25 PM PST
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
Discussions about differences and development of physical strength and Wing Tsun punching power
There were some questions I had about my Wing Tsun training. I am currently starting to focus on punches that have that what we call "can opener" wrist action*.
* aka phoenix-eye fists inch-force issuing power
While you mentioned it many times already in seminars and private lessons, I am only NOW becoming fully aware that it maximizes the power more, using that kind of wrist action. I am trying to find that right balance of getting that wrist power with the punch while not tensing up with my arm. Mentally I am imagining to twist or dig in a sword into the punching bag with my full body behind it when I hit with my knuckles.
Would you think that this visualization is in the right direction? Would there be anything else I should look out for when training punches with a focus on wrist power?
One of the training methods I am starting now is doing some of those stick drills we had at the Wing Tsun seminar, but I am using a crow bar for added weight. I figure similar to Wing Tsun Chi- Sau where muscle groups are being conditioned, building up the muscle groups supporting wrist power would in the long run give me the opportunity to use force while being still relaxed.
Am I getting the right ideas about this?
I always start to answer somewhat like that:
If someone tells you to punch with your left arm, it’s not a problem, you just do it.
If someone tells you to punch with your right arm, it’s not a problem, you just do it.
If someone tells you to punch with elastic force or with an impact that I personally call the "can-opener", it's usually impossible without the proper training. We cannot just ‘do it’.
In the same way, as you cannot lift a weight that is too heavy for you. Even if a fitness trainer tells you how to squat, how to angle your wrists, to lift from your legs, ... the weight will still be too heavy to lift.
In the latter example, the person has to reach a specific level of strength first. Then the technical advice will come in handy and make the exercise easier, more economic, pain- and injury free. This does not mean, that a trainer should dare to hold off on the right technique support.
We went, especially during the last Vancouver WingTsun-CoreConcepts seminar, through a set of exercises, which produce over time this, what I call "Wing Tsun Power" or "Elastic Force", as opposed to physical strength.
Only when those exercise groups are practised on a regular basis, the right muscle groups will learn to respond, will activate seamless and in sequence.
Only knowing the muscle groups, trying to access them with sheer will-power, will unfortunately not do the job.
Remember, how I always compare the two different types of physical strength and Wing Tsun power by example?
I compare with student 'A' different feats of strength training exercises. 'A' lifts more weight than I can, does more sets, more reps. Ergo, he is stronger than I am.
I move a lower weight, do fewer sets, fewer reps. Ergo, I am weaker than 'A'.
'A' punches me hard, I walk him backwards, while taking his punches, until his arms collapse or he doesn't have any space left in which he can punch effectively. The end result, no or little effect through the punches based on more physical strength.
When I punch 'A' lightly, he collapses on the spot or gets thrown against a wall, depending on the punch I choose.
Which proves that there is a difference between physical strength and "Wing Tsun Power" (latter chosen short of a scientific term).
I am proven to be weaker, yet can produce significantly more punching power.
All in all, the "secret" is in the punching-power-developing exercises I pointed out during the last WingTsun-CoreConcepts seminar in Vancouver.
Many Wing Tsun exercises turn out to be quite efficient and focused functional strength exercises. You just have to know the how-to!
The 'stick drills' we did, have nothing or little to do with Escrima, Arnis, Kali stick drills. They are simplified drills, derived from the training with the Wing Tsun double knifes, which besides the technical implications means the usage of your muscles is very, very different.
All that does not mean that physical strength is something of a bad boy in the whole equation. The stronger someone is, the more can eventually and with the right training be converted into the most economic punching power. Physical strength into functional strength!
It does not mean that one should discontinue any strength training. Rather the opposite.
I also want to avoid the misunderstanding that strong people can’t punch hard. My point is that almost all the times there is still a sleeping potential which hasn’t been woken up, yet. Many strong students who I worked with, when punching the hardest they could, they were due to tension and other factors only at 20 to 40% of their true potential. Scary thought, eh?!
During that training phase I use that power-scale as a visual example. On one end of the scale we typically try to punch hard, meaning strong, yet often end up stiff and tense.
Once we attempt to punch relaxed, the results are often rather weak or brittle.
Visualising the 'power-scale', we take the relaxed strike, working on leaving weak and brittle behind. We take the strong punch, working on eliminating stiff and tense. At one point during the training, relaxed and strong will meet at a very individual point on that scale, ... and form "Wing Tsun Power".
At which point on the scale might be different due to training intensity, passion and other components.
The stronger student more often relies on his physical strength longer, while the weaker student has no choice but to work extremely hard from the beginning, trying to catch up.
In my experience the somewhat weaker student, who continues to train focused, can eventually achieve more, compared to the stronger, who for too long relies on his strength, until he meets someone stronger and realizes that he also has to 'transform' his strength into punching power.
An enormous portion of the physical strength to functional strength transformation comes from our WT Chi-Sau methods, which are partially based on the then unintentional way of doing Chi-Sau in the 1980's. The how-to of it would now take too long to explain. But just like any strength training, we have to count the hours of this special WT Chi-Sau we do per week. Then we can estimate our results.
To come to a conclusion: the line-up of recent seminar exercises are the key, besides the right Chi-Sau training.
So it would be the coordination and collaboration of fluid relaxed body movement + joint flexibility/independence + proper structure alignment using certain muscle groups = Explosive WT power? With the goal that everything is an explosive coordinated body movement, like a punch, Bong-Sau or Tan-Sau are in reality coordinated body movements?
Many people try to be explosive without having the right tools, meaning the muscles (in fact mainly the fascia) are not properly developed. The WingTsun-CoreConcepts exercise sets are designed to produce this toes-to-fingertips elastic force. Then the explosiveness will come (almost) by itself.
A slingshot doesn't work properly if the rubber-band is too short to stretch or too weak. Or in other words, if you drive an old East German Trabant with a 23 horsepower two-cylinder two-stroke engine, you can stand on the gas pedal; it still takes 21 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h.
Any punches and visible Bong-Sau or Tan-Sau are just still images, one picture out of a movie scene. It's the moving pictures, the continuous scenes that make the movie.
One of the most important skills in Wing Tsun is the fluid non-stop co-ordination of hand- and footwork, with upper body motion/mobility being the paramount feature!
A final note; different Wing Chun, Ving Tsun and even Wing Tsun lineages have of course and thankfully so, different opinions and interpretations.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 3:01 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 18 September 2013 4:41 PM PDT
Saturday, 7 September 2013
All the real Wing Tsun secrets on Video! I’ve got it all, and you don’t! Prfft!
If you are following my blog, you surely know that I often want to tease you a bit before I talk about a particular topic. So, don’t take the “Prfft!” too serious.
As most instructors, I receive many e-mails asking me if I have watched already this or that videoclip, if I would have the time to explain this example of an exercise on video, or what my opinion is about practitioner so and so.
Video can indeed be a great research tool in addition to having experienced instructors and dedicated training partners. Video analysis is after all for many athletes an indispensable tool to assess performance, to evaluate crucial details of movement. Trainers use it to compare athletes, to correct techniques.
Now in a highly interpretive martial art like Wing Tsun, this can be a problem. Why? Let’s start with three reasons:
1. There is too much out there. Every novice and wannebe kung fu star uploads videos. It becomes very difficult to find the right videos to analyze.
2. The (anonymous) keyboard warriors on all sides trash any video, elevate their own sifu, super master, top instructor to the level of ‘kung fu god’, so that people who don’t know the scene or haven’t trained long enough to have a well-informed opinion, simply get lost. – There is more politics in martial arts than in politics!
3. When I started to collect videos*, it was very difficult to find the right sources. The few who own a video rarity, rarely ever share. They want another one in exchange.
* I am not talking about publicly available videos, that have been published by the EWTO or various WT organizations. Many of them have long been withdrawn from the market. … But yes, I’ve got them too.
I mean the either secretly filmed videos, or the ones only destined for the grandmasters or masters own home collection. The 80’s or 90’s videos when only one preferred master student was allowed to film a whole seminar, to keep it as reference, or because the master wanted a documentation of his teachings for his personal video library.
Over the years I collected quite a lot of what is out there. It’s now on some 14 or 15 DVD’s, adding up to about 30 hours of material, and I checked it recently: approximately 48 GB in size!
For a brief moment going back to point 1 above: “There is too much out there.” There is also another side to it. I have watched instructors who are very good in real life, but look quite horrible in demos on video. I have met people with mediocre and also non-existing skills, who can demo well and look (in the eyes of many) great on video. Unless you were exposed to many good instructors, trained hard and tested your skills and sharpened your analytical abilities, it can be quite difficult to figure out what to look for.
So, in order to conduct a video analysis you have to have videos of the ones who are considered experts in WT, preferably while they are teaching. Which brings me back to the 48 GB of WT video material. I will mention a few …
For Sigung Leung Ting’s 60th birthday celebrations many seminars were held in 2007 in Italy (EWTO) and Hungary (EEWTO). Leung Ting was accompanied by Grandmaster Cheng Chuen Fun, 9th Level WT, Sifu Leung Koon, 8th Level WT, Leung Kwok Wah, 4th Level WT, Robin Tsang, 3rd Level WT and Lau Ping Sheung, 3rd Level WT, who gave a detailed explanation of the teaching methods they use back home in Hong Kong. The privately filmed material from the seminars and demos was transferred onto a set of 5 DVD's at about 90 minutes each, almost 8 hours of top Wing Tsun instruction and demonstrations. Many, many EWTO, EEWTO and IWTA instructors and masters are on these videos.
Some of you know the official (approx. 1 hour) tape of the 25 year celebrations of the EWTO in 2001. It was a three day event. There is also an unofficial uncut five hour tape, showing many little highlights here and there. This five hour tape was a gift only to the grandmasters back then.
- Si-Fu Keith R. Kernspecht - old film strength training
- Si-Fu Keith R. Kernspecht Chi-Sau in Italy with a world champion
- parts of 1976 demo, first Sigung Leung Ting visit in Germany, about 10 minutes, applications, Chi-Sau, wooden dummy form parts, long pole, double knifes
- few moments of old by Si-Fu Kernspecht secretly taped video of GM Rene Latosa and GM Bill Newman
- Sifu Michael Fries, in the early 80's the first "junior" Sifu
- a very young Sifu Frank Ringeisen
- Sifu Michael Fries in Chi-Sau with Sifu Thomas Mannes, who was back then student grade 6 in 1978
- a clip you don't want to miss, Si-Fu Kernspecht against multiple opponents, end of the 70's
- old clips of 12th SG's test towards their 1st TG: Sifu Thomas Schroen, Sifu Giuseppe Schembri, Sifu Oliver Koening, Sifu Henning Daverne in a white student shirt
- Si-Fu Kernspecht as "referee" during full contact test at the castle
- Sifu Frank Ringeisen and Sifu Thomas Mannes, demo on the poles
- Sifu Heinrich Pfaff and Sigung Leung Ting, WT weapons demo during Budo Gala
- few seconds of long pole training at the castle
- Sifu Tassos in the phone cabin
- Sifu Andreas Gross in the castle, Sifu Klaus "the giant" Dingeldein
- short demo by Sifu Turan Ataseven
- very nice the enthusiastic demo by Christa Wagner, known through the Wing Tsun @ Nike commercial
- demo through the German special command (hostage rescue team) under Sifu Juergen Kaestner,
- demo by Sifu Henning Daverne from Copenhagen with his fight club team, some know him from photos in the first edition of "On single combat" and from a demo at the 1998 Wing Tsun event in London, England
Many clips on the DVD's were originally recorded by old video cameras, then transferred to regular videotape, then on DVD, then transferred from PAL to NTSC, and sometimes a step or two in between.
The approximately 2 hours of seminar time with Professor Zhu Dashi (Chu Hok Ting) - The Living Treasure Of China during a EWTO seminar near the Langenzell Castle on the Easter weekend in 1996.
- approx. 20 min Sifu Thomas Mannes seminar (black & white film), going through some of the original EWTO Lat-Sau programs
- approx. 40 min taped private lesson by Sifu Thomas Mannes, again "old" Lat-Sau details, applications, Escrima, ground work, Chi-Sau
- demo, Cham-Kiu, usual fight applications, Sifu Thomas Mannes with the complete WT wooden dummy form
- about 1 hour and 20 min then the 'famous' first seminar and demos in 1991 of Sifu Salih Avci with Sifu Dr. Osama Sabri in front of all the different special command teams, followed by Sifu Emin Boztepe with Sifu Uwe Giese, complete form demos, Siu-Nim-Tau, Sifu Klaus "the giant" Dingeldein doing the Cham-Kiu, Sifu Dr. Osama Sabri the complete Biu-Tze form, throughout Si-Fu Kernspecht narrating, Emin again with fight and control applications, then Salih and Osama, and so on ...
Si-Fu Kernspecht is also personally demonstrating with Salih Avci, Thomas Mannes, Andreas Gross and others, the old Bruce Lee programs, that were partially the basis of the EWTO programs
- yet another Sifu Thomas Mannes seminar, probably mid 90's (many, many Siu-Nim-Tau, wooden dummy, Cham-Kiu applications, etc.)
Every instructor needs every now and then inspiration, if teaching or training, continuing to learn.
Several 1980’s demos, open house event and seminars with Sifu Emin Boztepe.
Also a private tape of the Wooden Dummy Chi-Sau sections.
Approx. 20 minutes, Sifu Norbert Maday seminar, plus his 1-hour teaching film "Ten lessons of Wing Tsun", 'old school' Wing Tsun.
There are very active, critical, constantly improving WT practitioners out there. Some lead Wing Tsun into different directions.
It’s up to you what direction you choose. All those videos are milestones in the recent history of Wing Tsun. The material can give important clues as to this martial arts development. It’s an enormous collection of (video) snapshots of WT in the 80’s, 90’s and the 2000 decade.
It gives an inside view into different WT interpretations!
But don’t turn into a “YouTube master”. Where is your Wing Tsun training at?
Questions? What’s your take on video analysis? Email me!
Posted by ralph haenel
at 11:46 PM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 7 September 2013 11:52 PM PDT
Sunday, 19 May 2013
Functional training doesn't have to look good, it has to produce great results!
During the open-air class on May 18th 2013 we used the Wing Tsun version of the old Lat-Sau program 3. The third Lat-Sau sequence from the late 80's introduced typically the student to various backfist striking options, famously shown during the initial fight scene between Bruce Lee and Bob Wall in the 1973 movie classic "Enter the Dragon".
This particular Lat-Sau program helped to develop defensive actions and counters as Wing Tsun practitioner against backfist attacks and setups, which initiated in Jeet Kune Do and later naturally became part of the curriculum of Wing Chun styles and many other martial arts.
Even if entries are first generated in a similar manner, the idea behind it as well as the execution of Fak-Sau options are very different than backfist strikes.
We used a particular set-up of Fak-Sau responses to help developing a feel for positioning, shifting, leading towards whole-body movement. Once again upper-body mobility was paramount, while at the same time working on solutions for timing, distance, hand- and footwork coordination. ... Yes, and striking power!! Click here for more photos from the WingTsun-CoreConcepts class.
How does it start?
You attack the attacker into the onset of his first action against you.
You partner gives you different "answers", blocking your action to the left, right, up and down.
What do you do?
Using the fighting and strength principles, you learn to employ elastic force from fingertips to toes, utilizing the whole body, to produce powerful Fak-Sau actions, 'folding' forward rather than collapsing backwards, fluid motion as opposed to stopping in preset positions.
What do you discover?
Any techniques turn eventually into horizontal, vertical, diagonal, spiral movements.
The techniques were mere tools to integrate the ideas of elasticity and fluidity into our whole-body movements.
It is important to recognize how technical drills evolve into functional strength and mobility training. It leads from learning technical drills to understanding the concepts behind them, to applying the concepts.
Even shorter: "Doing" techniques turns into moving efficient!
Eventually everything will be a movement that happens in the moment!
The weekend prior to our Victoria Day weekend class was the date of our almost 7-hour WingTsun-CoreConcepts seminar.
Watch a few exerts from the seminar in this 2-minute trailer, filmed and produced by Anselm Meyer of Lonewolf Arts.
1. Move slow. 2. Move correct. 3. Move fast. 4. Move powerful.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 5:03 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 19 May 2013 6:10 PM PDT
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