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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
Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Enter the Attack

Here is to the first moment when trying to defend against the attacker, trying to counter-attack him, trying to bridge the gap.

Let’s look at the three major options in case a situation is about to escalate into a full scale physical confrontation.
1. Try to dissolve it through verbal communication. Assume a non-threatening position that will protect you, yet also enables you to be ready to instantly fight the attacker.
2. Always try to walk away. Even run away. It doesn’t make you a wussie.
3. Most important: Through a combination of healthy confidence and natural awareness as the result of intense training, you learn not to be tagged as a victim in the first place, or to recognize potentially dangerous situations before they happen.

Unfortunately, in many scenarios one or more of the following four problems occur.
1. The defender, the good guy is trying to just stop the attack, still in disbelief about what’s about to unfold, holding the arms of the attacker, holding the attacker at arms length, ending up being overrun by sudden attacks.
2. The attempt to traditionally defend without major continuous counter-attacks, thus not stopping the attacker. Same result as in the first point.
3. The good guy is attacking the assailant without sufficient defenses, for example chain punches only, ending up seriously hurt or worse.
4. The attempt of applying a trained drill from beginning to end, not responding in the moment, not adapting to changes. Chaos erupts.

What ought to be our goals? Let’s call them the good guy action ideals!
1. Bridging the distance safely without getting hit.
2. Timing one’s actions well, causing us to be a step ahead. Instead of speeding up and losing control.
3. Maintaining balance throughout via well-coordinated hand- and footwork.
4. Delivering powerful strikes born out of functional strength and fluid motion while controlling the opponent to disable further attacks.
5. Being able to combat violence without getting caught in a jittery, shaky state of quickly losing control.
Conclusion: It’s not really much we want to succeed at, or? Yes, it is difficult, but not impossible.

It is part of all of our beginners’ classes, to point out that the attacker is likely taller, stronger, faster, more skilled, plus violent and pumped up, not afraid of getting hurt, most definitely without hesitation ready to hurt and injure you. Want me to top that? He might even enjoy hurting you, dragging it out, playing with his prey. By the way, that’s you.

It is always better to prepare for the worst, assume the worst, paint the most drastic picture of what could happen, imagining the adrenalin monster type of attacker.

Now a few often occurring technical problems.
1. “Reaching” across the distance, ending up being grabbed, pulled or pushed.
2. Delivering only a few techniques or a combination, not enough to control or break the rhythm of the attacker.
3. Not having enough functional strength, ergo lacking striking power to stop the mugger.
4. “Holding” static defenses for that moment too long, ended up being flooded with attacks.
5. With neither defensive nor offensive actions or a mix of them affecting he structure of the opponent. Nothing left to stop the bout.
6. The preference of using the upper-hand, “lifting’ counters over the arms of the aggressor, disconnecting the imperative coordination of hand- and footwork, the engine of our desired whole-body mobility.

We also say during beginner’s classes that in the ideal world scenario our first action should
1. stop the first attack against us dead in its track,
2. take away space to carry out a second attack,
3. not allow the time to further attack us,
4. stealing the opportunity by driving the attacker instantly into defensive mode. That lack of defenses on the part of the assailant should lead to his knock-out.

While possibly never loving it, we learn to train in a constantly elevating stressful scenario, advancing into what I call “the eye of the storm”. Survival under pressure.

Against vs. With – The Yin and Yang of entering the attack
The biggest problem is often the fight against the attacker, that we are in fact saying “NO” to the attacks. What does that mean?

In our Wing Tsun we strive for a training of becoming one with the attacker, using the strength of his attacks, the speed of his attacks, the direction of his attacks. With him against him.

1. Fluidity turns into smoothness, becomes speed.
2. Connecting all muscle groups, toes to fingertips, creates whiplash-like delivery of power.
3. Sliding along the arms, typically learned in the wooden dummy form, pulling and pushing with concave and convex ‘yielding’, tactile sensitivity turns into elasticity.

Speed and power and elasticity morphing into being alert in the moment, delivering instant and complete response, which can be of a defensive or offensive nature, also at the same time.
Yin and Yang.
Yes, instead of No. Working ‘with’ the attacker, not merely against him.

Paper, or in this case your screen, is patient and allows for the coolest and most powerful descriptions of the skill we are striving for. Some may even sound like platitudes. It’s up to the right training and learning methods to turn empty words into reliable skills.

Let this be a reminder that perfection is only an ideal. Let’s enjoy the daily challenges of our training. Creative training with demanding yet supportive training partners.

Feel where you can go. Enter the attack.

Posted by ralph haenel at 9:47 PM PDT

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