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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
Monday, 26 September 2011

Do you have to be 1/8th Samurai to improve your Wing Tsun Kung Fu?

While the number 1/8th has been arbitrarily chosen, the contents of our last WingTsun group class was not. Every instructor (trainer, sihing, sifu, ...) builds his ability to teach and the contents of his teachings on the collective foundation of his experiences over the years. Or so one should. In my news e-mails and print newsletters to our members, I often mention training methods from other arts just as this videoclip showing fantastic Judo training from the 60’s. Thanks Patrick for reminding me!

Even though I started my martial arts studies in 1977 with Judo, it only lasted a year. My first notable martial arts teacher was my Jiu-Jitsu instructor, Sensei Johannes Trybull in Rostock in East Germany.
For your reference – You can find a listing of all of my instructors by clicking here.

Sensei Trybull arrived at some point in the early 1920’s via ship in Yokohama, Japan. The ship’s engine needed repairs. To the best of my recollection, he stayed for about two years in the port of Yokohama.
This is where he started to train on a daily basis with workers and members of the city’s police force. The training took place on the bare concrete of the docks. Some police officials traced their roots back to samurai families.

Source Wikipedia “Emperor Meiji abolished the samurai's right to be the only armed force in favour of a more modern, western-style, conscripted army in 1873. .... The last samurai conflict was arguably in 1877, during the Satsuma Rebellion in the Battle of Shiroyama.”

The story continues; the Jiu-Jitsu training consisted among many other elements of an old arm/wrist-lock kata (=form) dating back to one of the Samurai families. From a historical viewpoint, it would be amazing to go back in time and discover the connections, to watch some of the training back then.

During recent group sessions, Sihing Sebastian, one of the members of the trainer team here in Vancouver, taught two classes on the details of the Cham-Kiu, the second form of the Wing Tsun system.

I resumed a week later by going into applications of the form. Now a question arose out of a specific situation: “Can’t I apply an armlock here, or could I get into an armlock?”

I am not going into the pros or cons of certain technical elements in Wing Tsun, or the likelihood of variables in the outcome of a particular scenario.
In class I simply asked about who knows or has trained armlock or control scenarios. Most did not share my experience.

While we can’t and don’t want to spend time constantly training elements of other styles, it is paramount to at least know (in this example) how quickly and devastating a wrist or armlock can be applied.
One facebook comment after class read “Thanks jiujitsu for the broken wrist and dislocated shoulder.” Before you get the wrong idea, this quote is only referring to the prospective possibilities explained that evening.

To make a long story short; the whole class trained enthusiastically the whole evening the ancient armlock kata of the Yokohama police force.

Many gained new insight into the concepts of Wing Tsun Kung Fu.

Never just train Wing Tsun against Wing Tsun. I repeatedly say that Wing Tsun is in short 'adaptation to chaos'. Meaning, our skills must hold up to whatever we encounter in a physical confrontation.
Don't look down on or underestimate any martial art!

Sensei Johannes Trybull, a highly decorated World War 2 veteran, who used his skills in real combat behind enemy lines, died in 1986 at the age of 78 in Rostock. So far, I have not been able to contact any of the members of the Jiu-Jitsu school, which existed in the 70’s and 80’s in Rostock. As memories, I only have my certificates. Maybe I will manage one day to find someone from the old days who still has photos. For years I have been trying to find his grandson Olaf Trybull and another trainer I also learned from until 1982, Joachim Drechsler. For once even Goggle is powerless ...

Posted by ralph haenel at 5:49 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 26 September 2011 11:22 PM PDT

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