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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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Book "The Reality of Self-Defense!" by Ralph Haenel
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the reality of self-defense! - book by ralph haenel, wing tsun kung fu instructor

The Reality of Self-Defense! by Ralph Haenel: buy this book on Lulu.com

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The practical strength training guide for Wing Tsun Kung Fu (Wing Chun, Ving Tsun) practitioners and fitness enthusiasts.
Now with bonus chapter: Kettlebell training! INFO

Strength training for martial artists, espcially Wing Tsun/Wing Chun practitioners, a book by Ralph Haenel, with kettlebell training chapter.

The Practical Strength Training Guide for Self-Defense & Martial Arts by Ralph Haenel: buy this book on Lulu.com

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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

Siu-Nim-Tau, a Wing Tsun Kung Fu form for Wing Tsun/Wing Chun practitioners, a book by Chris Chinfen

Siu-Nim-Tau, a Wing Tsun Kung Fu form by Chris Chinfen: buy this book on Lulu.com

Coming 2016
Kung Fu - The Workout; an easy to follow result driven guide for beginners and fitness enthusiasts. INFO

Century old Kung Fu exercises for all fitness enthusiasts, a book by Ralph Haenel

Coming 2016
WingTsun-CoreConcepts, Beyond tradition and technique - training concepts for Wing Tsun Kung Fu students and instructors! INFO

WingTsun-CoreConcepts a book by Ralph Haenel - Beyond tradition and technique, training concepts for Wing Tsun Kung Fu students and instructors

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Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver Blog
Thursday, 20 September 2007
Let there be pain! Well, how much? How real?

trainer and technician grade team at wing tsun kung fu vancouverphoto Wing Tsun trainer team, from left to right: Edmond, Rob G., Tony, Philip, Sia, Ciprian, Steve, Gary, Rob S., Nilo, Brian  

Members at our school know the drill. Often, when I work with newcomers, I engage them in a controlled self-defense scenario, asking them to punch me. I explain that any kind of strike to the upper body, stomach too, even to the side of the neck is OK.
Usually I am encountering disbelief. When asking the prospect again, to hit me while I am acting as the attacker, the conversation goes most of the times through the same stages:
- I can't hit the instructor.
- What do you mean, hit harder?
- What do you mean with "really hit me"?
- I don't want to hurt you.
- Why is nothing happening when I punch you?

Am I now one of the toughest guys there are? Well, far from that. We teach Wing Tsun Kung Fu, a realistic self-defense system that teaches us how to aggressively attack the attacker in order to combat violence. Even if it sounds controversial, we do so in a friendly supportive environment.

I am the instructor who wants to prepare you. I want and need to teach you the reality of what it could truly mean, to have to defend yourself. For that it is also my job to give you feedback on your punching power. In my opinion, if there is a problem hitting somebody in a friendly controlled scenario, what makes us think we would be able to do so in reality, in a adrenalin heavy, sudden and surprising scenario? You fight how you train. We teach increasingly stressful scenarios, to prepare you for the worst.

Do you now have to suffer in your Wing Tsun training? Of course not. Will you be surprised, at times possibly shocked about the reality needed to learn to defend yourself? Most certainly.

As students you don't have to punch each other. Don't worry. Only instructors I expect to work with each other with the right amount of contact. Because the instructor (in our opinion) has to be experienced enough to introduce you, the student, over time to all kinds of real life scenarios. The instructor will "act" like different types of attackers would, to share his experience with you, to teach you what you might be up against.

If I wouldn't let you hit me, I would not provide you with the best feedback for your improvement of striking power, balance, timing, coordination, distance and more. If you are not allowed to touch your Sifu, because his techniques are so "dangerous", or out of misunderstood tradition and misuse of the term 'respect', quickly look for a different school. But that's only my personal view.

Due to constant personal supervision we ensure that you improve and are not exposed to senseless hard contact. You can work with any amount of contact you feel comfortable with. After all, the learning of self-defense includes the growth of a healthy dose of reliable self-confidence. It's OK to take your time! IMPORTANT - We want to learn how to avoid any fight before it even happens!!

Coming in October. Join us for a multiple-part series under the title: "When does Self-Defense start? or The very first line of Defense!"

Train with us during the next Open House event!

Posted by ralph haenel at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007 1:22 PM PDT
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Welcome at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver
realistic self defence instruction at wing tsun kung fu vancouverphoto, from left to right: Ada, Mona, Sarah, Sifu Ralph, Francine, Jennifer and her lovely daughter, Natalia and Rosemin

Welcome back Ada and Natalia. It's great to have you back in class. Also a warm welcome to our new members Mona, Rosemin, Francine, Jennifer and Sarah. Sarah has already been working hard for a while in group and also private classes!

Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver, a independent school established in 1994, is the first Canadian branch of the Wing Tsun system. All of our current members are looking forward to this year's third and last special topic seminar on September 24th and 26th, featuring a set of unique exercises to encourage allover fluid movements, continuous re-positioning, and the constant coordination between hand and foot movements for improved striking power and defensive capabilities.
The seminar is designed for all skill levels, including new members who have just started their training, and also offers the possibility to sign up for testing.

Plan on checking out Wing Tsun for the first time? Come to our next Open House event for a free trial training period at our School. The Fall Special in October 2007 features the participation in two consecutive classes, commitment-free. Click here to go to our special Open House web site.

Coming up soon. Join us for a multiple-part series under the title: "When does Self-Defense start? or The very first line of Defense!"

Posted by ralph haenel at 1:27 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007 1:21 PM PDT
Monday, 17 September 2007
What is your goal today?
Bruce Lee wax figure at Madame Tussaud's in Hong Kongphoto left: Bruce Lee wax figure in Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum on "The Peak" in Hong Kong

Today one of the advanced members of our school e-mailed me:

"Last night I pulled out an old 8mm video taken about 3 years ago. The one hour of footage contained scenes of me and some training partners practising.
I was very surprised how poor my posture was, while standing and in position for practice.
I did not realize how badly I slouched and how far my neck was craning forward. To this day, I am sure sometimes I fall back into a slouch but at least I seem so much better aware of it inside and outside of classroom whenever it happens and I immediately correct my posture."

What's so great about that? Well, even the first form of the Wing Tsun Kung Fu system, the Siu-Nim-Tau form teaches us already to work on one issue, one idea at a time. The form teaches us to analyze our movements, positions, angles, power development and more.

Sometimes it's just great to look back at something that we have accomplished. One part of the hard work done. Many more to go.
There is luckily no instant gratification. It's the appreciation of one achievement, one piece of the big puzzle.

Keep training hard and enjoy discovering what the term 'martial ART' truly means.

Posted by ralph haenel at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 16 September 2007 10:05 PM PDT
Sunday, 16 September 2007
Free download, courtesy of Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver

real kung fu restaurant in hong kong, bruce lee, wing tsun kung fu vancouver

The photograph on the left was taken by our Tony Leung, member of Wing Tsun Vancouver's trainer team, during his April vacation in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, China - just by the entrance way of a subway station. Tony wrote: "The Chinese fast food chain is called "Real Kungfu" and they have obviously borrowed Bruce Lee's likeness from the "Game of Death" movie. I wonder if the food chain pays any royalties to Bruce Lee's family?"

Visit to Yip Man Tong
It's time for some weekend reading. In case you haven't discovered it yet. Enjoy the following bonus download, courtesy of Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver. The author,
Edmond Chow is also a member of the trainer team of the first Canadian Wing Tsun School in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

On a vacation trip to his home city of Guangzhou, China which is very close to Foshan, the late grandmaster Yip Man’s home city, he decided to take this opportunity to fulfill a Wing Tsun pilgrimage.

Find on 22 pages many photos and brief descriptions of this memorable trip.
Please click here to download the 4091 kb PDF file (www.realisticselfdefense.net/pdf/Visit_to_Yip_Man_Tong_2.pdf).

Posted by ralph haenel at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007 5:22 PM PDT
Saturday, 15 September 2007
Canadian Law and Self-defence, by Gary Hughes (part 3 of 3)
wing tsun kung fu vancouver, wingtsun, wing chun, ving tsunWing Tsun Kung Fu and the legalities of self-defence
In an unprovoked assault, Wing Tsun Kung Fu provides the practitioner with a realistic approach to self-defence. Before we can examine the Wing Tsun method and it’s legal ramifications we need to define a typical self-defence scenario. First, lets start with some typical suppositions.

• The aggressor of a conflict is typically larger or believes he is more powerful than his chosen target.
• The aggressor is not going to follow any rules or codes of conduct during an altercation.
• For simplicity we will assume that no other participants are involved and that there is enough room and the environment is not too loud.

During the initial phase of a conflict, an aggressor will often attempt to talk his way into a closer more threatening distance. This allows the aggressor to gauge the willingness of his chosen target to play the role of victim and to gain the advantage of position.

When a conflict begins the Wing Tsun practitioner retreats both visibly and audibly. The stance appears to be both natural and non-aggressive. This retreat allows Wing Tsun practitioner to gain the advantage of position without appearing to do so. The hands are held up in front of the body in a non-threatening manner yet the posture in neither meek nor timid. The hands are, in fact, in a ready position to be used in what Wing Tsun practitioners call an aggressive defence. The term means simply that the hands and feet can be used simultaneously for attack and defence. The use of one’s voice is the second component of this “retreat” and is in many ways the most important one. A Wing Tsun practitioner learns to yell in a commanding tone at his aggressor. He may say that he doesn’t want to fight or perhaps simply “Stay away!” The shout acts as a verbal first strike and immediately puts the aggressor on the defensive. The intention here is to surprise or embarrass the attacker and should rob him of his opportunity for the first physical strike. This buys the Wing Tsun practitioner time and possibly space and puts him in the “ready” position.

From this ready position the Wing Tsun practitioner gains the first strike opportunity. Typical Wing Tsun training methods subject the students to high stress levels and a visual overload of attacks. This mentally conditions them to react quickly and cope with highly stressful self-defence situations. This conditioning aids the student to deal with the physical threat before being overloaded with his own adrenalin. In addition, Wing Tsun arms its students with 4 fighting principles, 4 strength principles, and reflex training. With this training even the novice Wing Tsun practitioner can advance like a magnet attracted to his opponent rather than retreating. Because of Wing Tsun’s economy of motion, the altercation will be over too quickly for most onlookers to say with any certainty what actually happened. Therefore, in a successful Wing Tsun self-defence encounter, as the aggressor begins his assault his attack will be stopped while at the same time counter-attacked. If the aggressor attempts to block, the Wing Tsun user will turn each blocked strike into another continuously flowing counterattack. He continues to overwhelm his attacker until the aggressor is either unwilling or unable to continue to attack.

A more advanced Wing Tsun person might be afforded the choice to use soft controls. These are, however, decisions that must be made in a split second based on both training and any other factors that exist at the time of the assault. Therefore, it is important to note that the WT practitioner must be careful to use enough force but not excessive force.

The Wing Tsun person gains several legal advantages. First, he appears unwilling to fight. Although the Wing Tsun practitioner may actually be willing, it is the appearance that is important. This attempts to establish the lack of guilty intent. Secondly, by shouting he also attracts the attention eyewitnesses. Although considered to be the weakest form of evidence, most self-defence cases lack any other corroborating evidence to the initial stages of the fight. Lastly, by retreating the aggressor is also allowed the option of retreat.

A final note, which does not apply specifically to Wing Tsun, is that any assault or attack that the victim can walk away from uninjured is the only way to describe truly successful and effective self-defence regardless of how the legal system works. It is arguably better to be alive in prison than dead.

Black, Henry Campbell. Black’s Law Dictionary. St. Paul: West Publishing Co.1968
Martin. Martin’s Annual Criminal Code. Toronto: Canada Law Book Inc., 1990
Stephan. History of the Criminal Law of England. London: McMillan, 1883
Truscott, Ted. Canadian Law: Self Defence & the Martial Artist. Self published, 1995
Criminal Code of Canada, Government of Canada

Posted by ralph haenel at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007 2:38 PM PDT
Friday, 14 September 2007
Canadian Law and Self-defence, by Gary Hughes (part 2 of 3)
wing tsun kung fu vancouver, british columbia, wing chun kung fu, ving tsun kung fuExcessive Force
The criminal code of Canada states:

26. Every one who is authorized by law to use force is criminally responsible for any excess thereof according to the nature and quality of the act that constitutes the excess.

In a self-defence situation, the attacks may escalate to the point of homicide, which is the killing of a human being by another. If, as we covered earlier, one is justified in the use of force, it is not culpable homicide. In other words, there is no blame. However, if it is determined that excessive force was used then no longer can justified force be claimed as a defence. This now becomes either murder or manslaughter (i.e. culpable homicide). The difference between murder and manslaughter boils down simply to intent. Keeping this in a self-defence context, it has two ramifications. A jury will decide first whether your fear of death was reasonable and secondly whether or not there was “intent” or “mens rea”. Unfortunately, some courts have fallen prey to movie mentality of martial arts and believe that martial artists should be able to disarm or handily defeat multiple opponents without truly harming them. This is problematic because television and film do not necessarily reflect reality. One may be criminally responsible for any excessive force used, and what is an ordinary blow from an ordinary person may be construed as excessive from a trained individual.

Self Defence
The criminal code of Canada states:

S34. (1) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted without having provoked the assault is justified in repelling force by force if the force he uses is not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm and is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself.
(2) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted and who causes death or grievous bodily harm in repelling the assault is justified if
(a) he causes it under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence with which the assault was originally made or with which the assailant pursues his purposes; and
(b) he believes, on reasonable grounds, that he cannot otherwise preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm.
S35. Every one who has without justification assaulted another but did not commence the assault with intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm, or has without justification provoked an assault on himself by another, may justify the use of force subsequent to the assault if
(a) he uses the force
(i) under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence of the person whom he has assaulted or provoked, and
(ii) in the belief, on reasonable grounds, that it is necessary in order to preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm;
(b) he did not, at any time before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose, endeavour to cause death or grievous bodily harm; and
(c) he declined further conflict and quitted or retreated from it as far as it was feasible to do so before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose.
S36. Provocation includes, for the purposes of sections 34 and 35, provocation by blows, words or gestures.
S37. (1) Every one is justified in using force to defend himself or any one under his protection from assault, if he uses no more force than is necessary to prevent the assault or the repetition of it.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to justify the wilful infliction of any hurt or mischief that is excessive, having regard to the nature of the assault that the force used was intended to prevent.

These sections of the Canadian criminal code cover four important points regarding self-defence. First, what constitutes self-defence in an unprovoked assault? Second, what constitutes self-defence in a provoked assault (i.e. you started it)? Third, what constitutes provocation? Last, what constitutes prevention of assault?

Generally, when people talk about self-defence they are referring to self-defence in an unprovoked assault. In other words, you’re minding your own business and someone attacks you. To summarize some of the rulings of the appeals court,

• Frenzied mental state is not necessary before defending oneself (i.e. You don’t have to be in a state of fear or panic )
• Retreat is not necessarily required before defending oneself, especially in your own home
• You can strike the first blow if your assailant’s actions warrant it
• Precise force is not necessary.
• Use only necessary force; trained individuals are regarded differently on this point.
• Mistakes can be made but must be reasonable. Trained individuals may be regarded differently on this point.

The last three points when applied to trained individuals can best be summarized by Stan Lee who in his Spiderman comics said “With great power comes great responsibility”. In other words, the right to use force is balanced by the responsibility to act reasonably.

Interestingly, section 35 also covers self-defence in the case of a provoked assault. To paraphrase, if you start a fight and your victim escalated the use of force with deadly intent then you may be justified in using deadly force in self-defence, if you were not trying to kill or “harm” him in the provocation and if you tried to retreat from the fight when the escalation of force occurred. The reverse may also be true; if someone starts a fight with you and you respond either verbally or with an action that puts him in fear of his life, he maybe justified in the use of deadly force as long as he tried to retreat and could not. Section 36, which states provocation can be blows, words, or even gestures, clarifies this further.

Come back tomorrow, to read the third and last part.

Posted by ralph haenel at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007 2:34 PM PDT
Thursday, 13 September 2007
Canadian Law and Self-defence, by Gary Hughes (part 1 of 3)
wing tsun kung fu vancouver, wing chun, ving tsunThe 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)
self defense classes in vancouver, british columbia, wing tsun kung fu 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)
self defence instruction in vancouver, british columbia, wing tsun kung fu seminarWhen 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)
wing tsun kung fu training in vancouver, british columbia, wing chun, ving tsunThe 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

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