Sifu 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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The practical strength training guide for Wing Tsun Kung Fu (Wing Chun, Ving Tsun) practitioners and fitness enthusiasts.
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Siu-Nim-Tau, a Wing Tsun Kung Fu form for WingTsun (Wing Chun, Ving Tsun) practitioners and fitness enthusiasts.
Training notes on the journey between Kung Fu Beginner and Master INFO
Kung Fu - The Workout; an easy to follow result driven guide for beginners and fitness enthusiasts. INFO
WingTsun-CoreConcepts, Beyond tradition and technique - training concepts for Wing Tsun Kung Fu students and instructors! INFO
Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver Blog
Thursday, 13 September 2007
Canadian Law and Self-defence, by Gary Hughes (part 1 of 3)
The following is designed to be a simplified overview based on judgements passed by the appeals court of Canada. Focus is given to five main topics: justified use of force, excessive force, self-defence against an unprovoked assault, self-defence in a provoked attack, and finally how the Wing Tsun Kung Fu system can be used to defend oneself without breaking the law.
Canadian law allows individuals the right to defend themselves from assault by use of reasonable or proportional force including the use of a weapon. An attempt or threat to apply force also constitutes an assault. To prevent this right from being abused, there are several restrictions on the use and possession of excessively dangerous weapons and the use of excessive force. These rights and restrictions are laid out in the Criminal Code of Canada. A judge and/or jury then interpret these laws by using previous judgements as guidelines.
In Canada, as in the United States, a person charged with a crime is considered to be innocent until proven guilty. The defendant or the defence counsel must try to convince the court that some acts normally considered to be illegal are authorized in certain situations. One of the interesting things in Canadian law is the concept of “mens rea” or guilty intent. “Mens rea” is defined as “a guilty mind; a guilty purpose; a criminal intent. Guilty knowledge and willingness.” Essentially, to be guilty of a crime you must have intended to commit a crime.
If we agree that some acts of force normally considered to be illegal are authorized in certain situations, we need to define when one is justified in using them.
Justified Use of Force
The criminal code of Canada states:
S.25. (1) Every one who is required or authorized by law to do anything in the administration or enforcement of the law
(a) As a private person,
(b) As a peace officer or public officer,
(b) In aid of a peace officer or public officer,
(c) Or by virtue of his office,
Is, if he acts on reasonable grounds, justified in doing what he is required or authorized to do and in using as much force as is necessary for that purpose.
(2) … (not applicable, deals with process serving).
(3) Subject to subsections (4) and (5), a person is not justified for the purposes of subsection (1) in using force that is intended or is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm unless the person believes on reasonable grounds that it is necessary for the self-preservation of the person or the preservation of any one under that person's protection from death or grievous bodily harm.
(4) A peace officer, and every person lawfully assisting the peace officer, is justified in using force that is intended or is likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm to a person to be arrested, if the peace officer is proceeding lawfully to arrest, with or without warrant, the person to be arrested; the offence for which the person is to be arrested is one for which that person may be arrested without warrant; the person to be arrested takes flight to avoid arrest; the peace officer or other person using the force believes on reasonable grounds that the force is necessary for the purpose of protecting the peace officer, the person lawfully assisting the peace officer or any other person from imminent or future death or grievous bodily harm; and the flight cannot be prevented by reasonable means in a less violent manner.
This section of the criminal code covers three important points regarding justified use of force. First, one must act on reasonable grounds. Second, only use as much force as necessary. Finally, cause death or grievous bodily harm only if on reasonable grounds such force is necessary to protect oneself or someone else from death or grievous bodily harm. These three points are always discussed in cases concerning justified force.
Every situation will be judged individually. Juries are directed to keep in mind two main points. First, the defendant’s perception of danger as it existed at the time. This means if a person perceives his situation to be dire, he is justified in using force. Secondly, the force used cannot be measured with exactitude. In other words, there is no need to stop mid-combat and measure how much force is necessary to use. It does, however, mean that ones actions will be judged based on what an “ordinary and reasonable” person with similar skills would do in a similar situation. This is commonly referred to as “the reasonable man test”. The court seeks to answer two questions; were the actions warranted and were they reasonable?
The courts determine what is “warranted” and “reasonable” by considering four main points. Primarily, was force a necessary response? For example, if someone bumps into you, either accidentally or on purpose, you don’t immediately strike him with everything you’ve got. Reasonable responses in this case could include but are not limited to an apology by either party or attempting to leave the situation. Secondly, was the force reasonable to stop the assault? In essence, force can be met with the same force or a small escalation of force. Here lies one of the most important points. What is a small escalation of force? Exact definitions are difficult to make. In a fight, one of the participants might pull a knife intending to scare the opponent away. This escalation of force may allow the opponent to legally escalate the fight into a life or death situation as the opponent could reasonably interpret this action as an attempt to cause grievous bodily harm or death. Thirdly, was the injury inflicted proportionate to the threat? If someone bumps you, you are not justified in backing over him with your car. However, if you are a small person faced with many larger armed opponents perhaps driving through them is appropriate. Finally, did the “defence” become “revenge”? The last point deals with the continuation of attacks to punish or take revenge after the conflict is over. Obviously the criteria of “reasonable” are grey areas subject to interpretation.
Keep reading the next days, come back for part 2 and 3.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 12:52 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007 2:35 PM PDT
Wednesday, 12 September 2007
The Wing Tsun Kung Fu Seminar, by Mat Gilroy (part 2 of 2)
The second day was no too dissimilar from the first where we started the class moving through the Siu Nim Tao, reviewing the last seven self defense movements and learning more variations from the initial movements from the first class.
Probably the most encouraging thing that I noticed over my two days was that the class, lead by Ralph Haenel, is lead by someone that has a sense of humour about things that helps to make things more fun and relaxing than anything else. Not only that but there is also a training staff with great experience to help you along your progress if you have any questions or that might have words of advise to help you along with your development.
So if you’re looking for a way to get some exercise of a different kind without any elongated stretches and a boiling room, studying Wing Tsun might be the answer you’re looking for. Not only do you get a great workout, but you also get to learn about a real self-defense that places you in real life situations in an atmosphere that is fun and relaxing. Wing Tsun Kung Fu is self defense based on natural movements that helps to relaxed body and mind with flowing movements.
The next special topic seminar is scheduled for Monday, September 24th and Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 (7-10pm).
Posted by ralph haenel
at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007 12:53 PM PDT
Tuesday, 11 September 2007
The Wing Tsun Kung Fu Seminar, by Mat Gilroy (part 1 of 2)
When I stepped into the class of about thirty, I had no expectations and kept an open mind. Wing Tsun Kung Fu (WT) is a martial art based on natural flowing body movements. The main objective of Wing Tsun is to be a realistic system of self-defense, but does not focus on fighting “techniques”, instead relying on fighting and energy principles to be followed at all times.
On the both of the two days I spent in class we started off by moving fluidly through the fundamental building blocks known as the Siu Nim Tao. These are the movements that give a foundation to balance and body structure. I found that the movements help to release the mind from the body and drift your focus on making the movements flow as naturally as possible. From here the class was split into their respective groups in order of experience and placed with a partner.
Throughout the remainder of the class, Sifu Ralph Haenel took us through seven hypothetical situations of what an attacker might and more importantly what we could do as a reactionary measure in order to protect ourselves. All of the movements made sense and did not require much thinking. One of the greatest things about this class is the fact that everyone is there to train at their own pace and encourage each other. Not to mention getting a rigorous workout.
To be continued on September 12th, 2007.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 2:14 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007 12:58 PM PDT
Saturday, 8 September 2007
My Martial Arts Experience by Clarke Wood (part 2 of 2)
The presentation part was actually fairly good, with a lot of emphasis on how WT was designed as a functional self defense system and it seemed to hang together pretty sensibly. Most of us attending had some experience of some sort (some had a lot of martial arts training as it turned out), so Ralph just did a few simple attacks on each of us to see how we fared. It was a good thing it was just a show, because no one could stop even simple strikes or grappling moves. Then, Ralph had everyone attack him. No one could lay a hand on him, no matter what we did. When he did let us get a hold of him, all the locks, arm bars and take downs we tried had no effect. He was surprisingly agile and strangely relaxed.
Finally, towards the end, I made the mistake of asking how much power his punches really had. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Many martial arts have very fast attacks that really do not do much other than sting when most people deliver them, and at the time I weighed in at 190 pounds with a lot of muscle, so I thought this was a good test. Ralph then did a quick demo of the “one inch punch” Bruce Lee was famous for. My feet left the ground and I flew about ten feet back into a wall. I have taken a lot of hits in my time, and this was by far the hardest one ever, and I did not breathe normally for a week afterwards. Needless to say, I signed up as a student shortly thereafter.
* * *
For the average student, after six months of training one can expect to develop some solid base of fighting instincts. To master the system is, like any martial art, a long term endeavour.
The problem with any student writing about his or her martial art is that they have an inherent bias towards the art they are in, and the majority of their audience will have their own bias towards their respective arts. Therefore, a commentary on why I think WT is great can be easily dismissed. Personally, I have a lot of confidence in the system, and have seen it tested regularly. It is vastly more functional than everything else I have experienced or seen in the martial arts world. To be blunt, a lot of what I have seen out there in terms of martial arts is not designed for real world self defense, and is very unlikely to work for most people in a real life confrontation. Anyone trying to use these methods will be lucky to avoid serious injury.
To be fair, marketing aside, most martial arts are geared more towards fitness, sports competition, or cultural learning, so it is a bit unfair to measure them by the criteria of functional self defense. A lot of arts produce people in good shape, with good agility, who can act aggressively. Unfortunately, in a real life situation one is likely to be confronted with a bigger, stronger opponent who is highly motivated to do physical damage to you. This opponent may not use any recognizable technique, and is very unlikely to adhere to any sort of rules of fighting. The sad fact is most martial arts spend little or no time trying to give people the tools to handle this situation, yet this is precisely the sort of thing you should be trained for from a self defense standpoint.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 10:23 AM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007 1:01 PM PDT
Friday, 7 September 2007
My Martial Arts Experience by Clarke Wood (part 1 of 2)
My Sifu asked me to give a brief recount of my experiences and opinions subsequent to joining his school two years ago. Probably the biggest impact on me has been in my views towards the fighting arts, and the state of martial arts today. I have no particular insight into the theories of the arts and am a far cry from being a hand to hand combat expert, but I have witnessed a fair bit and my insights, while autobiographical and anecdotal, might prove informational to the layperson.
From a young age I have had considerable interest in the martial arts. As a youngster I took Tae Kwon Do for a year. In University, I took Aikido, and also was fortunate to spend a considerable amount of time studying Shotokan Karate. I have also attended classes in Tai Chi, Kempo Karate, and Boxing. Strangely enough, during the period in which I studied Karate in Saskatchewan, a plethora of martial arts schools were open in Saskatoon. Besides Karate Schools, there were clubs or schools for Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Kendo, Kung Fu, and even Ninjitsu! This was all quite interesting, and I had some exposure to all the styles, but I really preferred my Karate instruction as nothing else seemed quite as practical.
I dropped out of Karate, some years passed, and I went through a sedentary couch potato phase, and then after some years passed, I went into a fitness kick, where I ran and lifted weights. After two years of this, I was bored out of my mind and contemplated plunging back into the martial arts. Owing to the popularity of Kung Fu thanks to a lot of films, plus the huge Chinese influence in Vancouver, I thought I would give Wing Tsun a try. I went to the one of Sifu Ralph’s demo nights which was advertised on the web. I thought the website was sufficiently “pumped up” that it might be interesting.
My wife and I arrived a bit early at the school’s location and I was a little surprised to meet the instructor who turned out to be a rather large, somewhat heavy German fellow. I have been to a lot of martial arts demonstrations from frauds and/or crazy people and pretty much figured this would be another one of those experiences. I mean, a heavy-set German guy, teaching Kung Fu –please!
Come back tomorrow and read part 2.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 9:16 AM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007 1:02 PM PDT
Thursday, 6 September 2007
How to train with each other
Yesterday I wrote that we will look today at a few methods to greatly improve your partner training, if within your class or naturally also, when you get together to train outside of regular classes.
- work slow and WITH your partner until you experience every millimeter of your movement
- find out when and how which joint** moves, how do muscle groups throughout the body create a non-stop wave (flow) of movement that lets you seemingly effortless produce an enormous amount of power and control at any given time
** example punch: while you punch feel which part of the job is done by your shoulder, elbow, wrist; check your body movement: ankles, knees, hips, spine, become aware of the linkage between movements, the development of power, the fluidity of motion, the maintenance of balance, the timing of your actions, the distance to your partner, etc. Get the idea? Yes, once again it's about the CoreConcepts, using them like a check-list to improve.
- COMMUNICATE with each other to help each other to achieve the goal of the exercise
- define for yourself the goal, the intention of the exercise, ask your partner for feedback, ask your trainer/instructor/sifu
- create reliable skills, that work under pressure, within a stressful scenario, as opposed to 'just' repeating techniques, help each other by increasing intensity, speed, power involved, talk and plan and train
- enable yourself to deal eventually even with the strongest and fastest attacks with a MINIMUM of effort, "test-drive" your skills
- example, show your partner no pressure and he/she naturally gets through, now use YOUR pressure and control any attack, the result? The ideal result should be, that your partner doesn't feel any difference between 'no pressure' and just 'enough pressure', which requires a lot of training.
- also, let your partner attack you without any warning, control, and in the end even more important, attack instantly and/or continue to control this and any follow-up attacks. How (relatively) long can you go without 'losing' it?
- one figures out over time that there are truly no secrets in Wing Tsun, sometimes it's almost disappointing, ... yes, you have to know the forms, Chi-Sau, Lat-Sau, the details that make or brake the performance, but only following the previous points, and showing an understanding can turn you over time into what would be considered a master
Once again, this is where the CoreConcepts come in (as mentioned on Sept 5th), that let you perform regardless of technique. Similar concepts could of course also be found in western boxing. It is in the end a great explanatory tool, a learning and teaching tool, to eventually simplify the training and help you to see a systematical approach throughout the Wing Tsun system, a connection from form to form, from form to exercises to application.
The CoreConcepts build a interconnected framework that puts the right focus into your training, many drills "just" being practical applications of these CoreConcepts, so to say practical 'explanations' of this theoretical frame.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007 1:03 PM PDT
Wednesday, 5 September 2007
The CoreConcepts of Wing Tsun Kung Fu
Earlier this week I wrote a brief paragraph about the CoreConcepts of Wing Tsun Kung Fu, interconnected teaching and learning tools, my personal method of teaching Wing Tsun.
We have concluded in classes that the kung fu techniques itself are not the most important part of one's skills, but their very performance, which eventually leads us to the CoreConcepts. Let's use a single punch as example as to what could go wrong:
- what good is a punch if the wrong distance prevents a full impact,
- if muscle tension throws you off balance while hitting,
- if the timing is off, meaning you get hit while striking,
- if you can not activate the right muscles and your punch is too weak
- if your footwork is not coordinated with your hand techniques
... and the list could go on.
The Wing Tsun forms build a framework which allows us to develop the usage, the realization of these concepts.
It's in the long run the intensity of our training, the ability to analyze our training, the how-to of our training which yields eventually results everyone would like to acquire, the ability of dealing with a scenario in a way that looks seemingly so easy.
You can compare success or failure of your progress with a well-rounded fitness training. The comparison is simply designed for explanatory reasons.
If you really want to improve your allover fitness you have to consider several issues (in no particular order):
- strength training (machines, free weights, etc.)
- endurance training (stamina, handling of stress, etc.)
- flexibility training (stretching, mobility, gymnastics, etc.)
- nutritional training (learning about your body type, sleep pattern, meal plans, etc.)
If one factor is missing, it will not be a well-rounded fitness training, the results will not be truly satisfactory.
This is how you could also view any Wing Tsun forms or exercises in connection to the 10 CoreConcepts, here listed in no particular order:
- release power
Come back tomorrow for tips on how to improve your partner training.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 7:51 AM PDT
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
Starting out with an open mind
It's not always that easy. Even some of today's trainers at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver had their doubts.
From "The open house didn't blow me away." to "this time my mind was far more open. ... I found myself nodding in agreement with everything being said. It was all so logical, practical and realistic." can be a long but exciting way of discoveries.
Realize your true potential. Wing Tsun Kung Fu can in a very unique way boost your perception, raise awareness of your surroundings, enable you to confidently judge a possibly dangerous situation.
One of our trainers wrote: “Finally a realistic, devastatingly effective self-defence system that strives to teach us not to fight!” Only if you have no choice of talking your way out of a particular scenario and the physical attack is imminent, only then a Wing Tsun Kung Fu practitioner will defend him/herself, aggressively attacking the opponent leaving him no space, time or opportunity to hurt you.
Read about many different experiences. Go to our special Open House web site at www.FreeSelfDefenseClasses.com and click the 'Trainer Team' tab for a variety of remarkable stories.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 1:04 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007 9:44 AM PDT
Monday, 3 September 2007
Trainer Team at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver
Read ten personal stories of Persistence, Perseverance and Patience.
Old and new members of the trainer team at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver share their martial arts biographies with you. Enthusiastic stories, describing at times long journeys. Inspiring and motivational moments, as well as many quiet thoughts as to focus and values in life.
- Wing Tsun changes the way you view life
- A long way from Karate in the Philippines to Wing Tsun in Canada
- A martial arts biography, which started in 1967
- Kung Fu is Life
- Finally a realistic, devastatingly effective self-defence system that strives to teach us not to fight!
- One can study casually or fanatically, yet there is always something to improve.
- I have made many good friends in Wing Tsun class.
- I personally enjoy the quickness, smoothness, flexibility of this self-defense system.
- The trial lesson turned out to be one of the most eye-opening experiences that I had ever experienced in my martial arts journey.
- The fact that Wing Tsun is such a deep yet simple martial art, has helped to keep my interest through the years.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 3:13 AM PDT
Updated: Monday, 3 September 2007 3:17 AM PDT
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Newsletters, and a quick look back
For our members - Have you had a chance to download the newsletter for August and September? Sign-in now at the online 'members only' area. - Seminar feedback, How to bring Chi-Sau to life! - Healthy critique?
Tomorrow meet some of the members of the Trainer Team and read their interesting bios.
Posted by ralph haenel
at 1:48 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 2 September 2007 2:04 PM PDT
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