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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
Sunday, 19 September 2010
Wing Tsun Kung Fu training tips

Three ways to improve your martial arts (Wing Tsun Kung Fu) training and two examples to learn from!

Self-defense class at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver, the first Canadian Wing Tsun branch - www.wingtsunkungfu.comTip 1 – Take it slow
To get the most out of every exercise, slow down the movement and stay in control. Your muscles need time to recognize the movement, let alone build muscle memory. Go too fast and you will cheat with momentum (strength & speed).

Tip 2 – Make small changes
Your muscles get used to doing a movement after just a few weeks. To keep the results coming, change the exercise. Work with less strength, try to recognize tensions, feel your whole body moving.
You hear from me a lot of times about the chain of muscles, muscle groups, throughout our body. We want to enable the right muscles to work with a minimum of effort, while switching the “wrong” muscles off (get rid of tension). We train towards creating a powerful, continuous movement from toes to fingertips, always ready to adjust instantly to any change in an ongoing physical confrontation.

Tip 3 – Learn your limits, …
for the sake of successful training. It’s okay to challenge yourself, but don’t push yourself or your partner past the point of getting results. If you are stronger than your partner, work with a minimum of your strength, and speed (slow motion training!). Don’t forget how each exercise should benefit both partners! Help each other! If you are weaker than your training partner, ask your partner to fine-tune his pressure. Both sides can only learn from it, by having to enable each other to equally learn from every exercise.
This is NOT a competition. This is NOT about finding out who is better. It is imperative to separate ego from training or one is destined to fail.
It’s no secret; both partners have to contribute to make any exercise work.

Don’t forget, when I show a exercise, I often demonstrate a “finished product,” how it should look and feel  after weeks or even months, years of hard training.
Don’t try to jump to the end of the chain without going through all the little steps that are necessary to be truly successful.

Don’t mistake the following with acquiring real Wing Tsun skills:
1. overpowering your training partner,
2. speeding up when you know ahead of time what your partner does, or
3. using certain tricks as a result of your experience.

Sometimes we may not even be aware of our training routine. So, it most certainly helps to review our attitude towards a successful training. When you support your partner’s growth, your partner will help you in return to progress faster. Real Confidence comes from reliable skills.

Ask yourself: Do your skills match superior strength and speed of a violent attacker, who sees you as a weak victim?

One example to learn from
About ten years ago, I had a student who wasn’t very tall, or strong, or experienced. But his first punch was extremely fast. Again and again, every training partner got hit, even the best. Most now overwhelmed the weaker, shorter training partner. I asked them repeatedly what they would have done, if the person would be tall and very strong, if those surprisingly fast punches would have kept coming?

1. Train the very important initial ability to control fast punches that seem to come out of nowhere.
2. Let the shorter, weaker training partner resume fast attacks. What if you can’t stop them? Imagine, there is a body weight of 200 pounds behind them. Imagine, it’s a 6.2” guy delivering the strikes. You have to move fast, time well, coordinate your actions, learn to take some.
Now any training partner can become an enormous challenge.

A few times, I have experienced the following question: “Can you team me up with someone else. The guy is just too weak!” Yeah right, think again, you are missing one of your best training partners. Besides, it’s up to you, what you make out of every training session. If you just train to get a good workout and sweat, maybe you should rethink your intentions and goals.

A second example to learn from
Some five years ago, I worked for a while with a Wing Chun student from Sweden. He was tall, strong and confident. To make a long story short:
- He always wanted to pretend to hit the face, instead of striking to the body.
- Instead of following a specific exercise, he almost always wanted to fight his training partner.

Now, what’s so bad about that?

Point 1. I can pretend to hit somebody’s face as much as I want, as often as I want. It doesn’t make me better. For the purpose of this brief training note, I neglect here possibly important issues regarding the law and potential reports of witnesses against you after a physical altercation. (Scenario: The initial attacker bleeding all over the place and blood dripping from your fists. … Get a good lawyer!)

Our trainers work on striking to the body. Now you can give it all in your training session and see if you can move a person, find out if your punches have any impact. Why?

I learned from skilled instructors who could vary the results of their punches. Just to mention a few (controlled!) examples:
- a light punch to the chest that makes you feel you want to drop on the spot
- a powerful punch that lifts you off your feet and thrusts you against the wall without injuring you
- a punch, seemingly coming from only the wrist, penetrating the best six-pack and having the recipient on his knees

You can’t achieve that skill by imitating a punch that “would in reality hit the face.” Why then martial arts training at all? Anybody can hit somebody else in the face. But a powerful, yet controlled punch to the chest, leaving the other person rattled, for this skill you have to train hard, very hard.

The goal should be increasing punching power that can be measured. Variations of striking power depending on different scenarios. Once example only: A ‘light’ palm strike that sends a opponent flying and gives you the chance to remove yourself from the fight, instead of a exchange of  wild punches, leaving a bloody mess on both sides. That’s a skill.

Instead of fighting your training partner, help each other to figure out the details of your training to become knock-out punchers!

Two more examples, to help you improve your training, will follow soon!

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Posted by ralph haenel at 8:25 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 12 October 2010 8:46 PM PDT

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