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ralph haenel, hänelwingtsun, wing tsun kung fu instructor, author, publisher, self-defense expert Sifu Ralph Haenel, learning and teaching Wing Tsun Kung Fu since 1984
Changing lives, one punch at a time.
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Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver Blog
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
When does Self-Defense start? or The very first line of Defense! (part 2 of 3)
A brief excerpt of a appearance on Breakfast Television in Calgary, Alberta in February of 2000.

Well, we are back again to our headline question or better questions: “When does Self-Defense start? or What is the very first line of Defense?”

To answer that, we have to look at the typical problems some people encounter in their training, very similar to what I experienced long ago during my Jiu-Jitsu and Karate days. If techniques or drills weren’t effective or simply didn’t work, the instructor(s) usual response was often one of the following:
1. You are too slow. … Get faster.
2. You are too weak. … Do more strength training.
3. Your timing is wrong. (example in judo, pulling sleeve counting while walking 1, 2, 3 and throw)
4. What you did was against the rules.
5. It was the wrong technique. … Try this one.

Once you follow the choreography to perfection, step by step, move and counter-move, everything seems to be fine, since it is clearly defined by rules & regulations as is any sport. Or is it?

In Wing Tsun Kung Fu we train for the event:
- that we are the victim, not the fair opponent
- that we are slower than the attacker
- that we are weaker than the attacker
- that we do not have the advantage of having adrenaline already surging through our veins
- that we are not looking for a fight nor to inflict injury
- that no rules are in place to protect us

Now add FEAR to the mix! Even the best boxer knows fear, or at least should, imagine yourself in a potentially life threatening situation, are you afraid? Well, you should be. There is nothing wrong with that. So, how do we train & prepare for all of that? After consideration of all the facts it is natural to draw the conclusion that one needs a responsible, helpful and supportive training partner.

Now we are getting somewhere!

Learning Self-Defense is not about who you can “take down” in class. Never forget:
- people have different motivations for their training,
- plan different goals within different timeframes,
- train with different intensity.

If you feel stronger, better, faster than your training partner, that doesn’t mean that you are better in reality. Remember, reality versus perception, where you face the stronger, faster adrenalin monster, as we sometimes like to describe the worst possible attacker.

In actuality, it is very valuable to train with physically weaker partners (smaller, slower), allow them try to follow through with a punch, hit you as fast as they possibly can. If their punches don’t hurt you? Who cares, that isn’t the goal in a training situation anyway. If they are actually getting through – you have more work to do whether or not they are your physical match.
You can focus on the finer details of a movement, when strength is not an issue, focus on developing true reflexes, move beyond natural human tendencies to compare and conquer. Training partners are one of the most important aspects of successfully learning Wing Tsun Kung Fu – not only having a good training partner but more crucially, being a good training partner.

Are you a good training partner? In any case, come back tomorrow for part 3 of our mini series!

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Posted by ralph haenel at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 October 2007 9:10 PM PDT

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