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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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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

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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
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Concentration, Focus and Respect!
self defense seminar at wing tsun kung fu vancouverIt was a pleasure to greet about 30 members of our school, the first Canadian Wing Tsun branch, for the opening evening of the fall seminar.

Beginning with selected segments of the Siu-Nim-Tau and Cham-Kiu form, chain punching in intervals, the focus of the evening was set on improving striking power. The aggressive use of punching techniques characterizes this specific system of Chinese boxing.

The partner exercises, which dominated the evening, put the spotlight on important elements of balance, distance, and timing as well as the imperative coordination of hand and foot work. The repeated execution of the ‘falling step’ helped to visualize the necessity of exploding punches in the Wing Tsun system’s favourite distance, the close range.

As supportive tools rubber knifes and yawaras were used, to implement details of different striking techniques. Everybody was fully concentrated, the windows and mirrors started to fog up early on.

Every seminar features a unique set of special exercises to greatly improve your skills and knowledge of the Wing Tsun system. For returning members the seminar is a great time to take charge and let the event be a point in time to redefine motivation and training goals for months to come!

For members who have just joined our classes, it’s a fabulous opportunity to get a condensed inside view in what to expect from this unique self-defense system.

Some of you take usually only private lessons, others can make it to group classes only once in a while. The special topic seminar is a chance to learn new workout routines, discover possible problem situations while working with different partners.

At this point I would like to express a big Thank You! to all of you, who go to great lengths to arrange your work and family schedule, to make it to the seminars. I know it is sometimes not easy and appreciate it even more, since it shows your dedication to your hobby, your respect for your fellow class mates, your willingness to learn.

See you Wednesday night for the main event! Good luck to all members to have signed up for their respective grading tests.

Posted by ralph haenel at 2:38 PM PDT
Monday, 24 September 2007
Lance Armstrong: " Pain is temporary, quitting is forever."
wing tsun kung fu vancouver, realistic self defence instructionDharm Makwana of 24Hours News (vancouver.24hrs.ca) wrote today about the infamous famous Grouse Grind: "Only in Vancouver would a 2.9-km sprint up a mountain be considered a rite of passage. It's hard, but I keep on thinking of the quote from Lance Armstrong, 'Pain is temporary, quitting is forever,' ... then the finish line can't be that far away," he said."

Does this remind you of the at times exhausting form training in our classes at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver? In our classes I often talk about the fact, that a Wing Tsun Kung Fu practitioner should not just be able to inflict pain (if absolutely necessary), but also know how to avoid and prevent pain. Many of you have already made the experience, how many details one is discovering while practicing the Siu-Nim-Tau form over and over again. Sometimes wrongly interpreted as a beginners-only form, is the Little-Idea-Form in our Wing Tsun Kung Fu system also seen as a form of the master.

There are more than 430 muscles in the human body, which allow an enormous potential in the range of motion, and even more importantly the development of power. There is no part in our body without function. But it is a sad fact, that many people nowadays perform only a fraction of the movements our body is able to do, which leads eventually to a decrease in functionality and usability.

You have often heard about the benefits of the first form of the Wing Tsun Kung Fu system:
- from short term muscle stretching to long term lengthening,
- increased mobility of muscles, ligaments and tendons
- all basic hand techniques of our Kung Fu system
- breathing methods
- upright, yet deeply rooted powerful and flexible stance
- enormous punching power
- meditation, etc.

Almost every ChiKung class focuses on a different aspect of the form. The ChiKung Siu-Nim-Tau (SNT) form is probably the most valuable form of the Wing Tsun Kung Fu system. Beginning to understand the SNT form means:
- learning about the healing effects of the movements
- target the relief of stress
- conscious relaxation of the whole body
- awareness of the use (or previous misuse) of muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints
- special muscle extension and strengthening exercises
- a physiological well functioning muscle structure, muscular balance
- pain relief

These are just a few points about the value, meaning and contents of this extraordinary form. There is a old Chinese saying in Wing Tsun: "Siu-Nim-Tau bad = Kung Fu bad"; which sometimes takes years to understand. Why? You know best. ;-) How often you train the form?! How intense and focused do you train?!

"Pain is temporary, quitting is forever!"

Posted by ralph haenel at 11:02 AM PDT
Sunday, 23 September 2007
WingTsunKungFuWear.com - our shop is back online!

wing tsun kung fu shop for t-shirts, sweatshirts, by wing tsun kung fu vancouverWing Tsun Kung Fu Wear, the online store of WingTsunKungFu.com, offering T-shirts, long sleeve T-shirts, Sweatshirts, hooded Sweatshirts and more.

Members of the first Canadian Wing Tsun Kung Fu School in Vancouver, BC will find the collection of official Member Shirts.

You can find the shop via www.wingtsunkungfuwear.com or also www.wingtsunkungfushop.com.

Posted by ralph haenel at 4:22 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007 4:23 PM PDT
Saturday, 22 September 2007
How much training is too much? - example of home training schedule

wing tsun kung fu vancouver, wing tsun self defence, self defense instruction in vancouverHere is a recent e-mail:

Regarding training, I do have a question which came to mind today. You have constantly encouraged us to train harder and harder. It is understandable, since you are trying to push us to achievement as our Sifu. However, is there also a limit when the amount of training becomes counterproductive (for example, overtraining)?

For the last 2 weeks, I added more to my daily training. My current schedule looks like this (not including class time and training with others):
Sunday: Form training, chain punching, heavy bag training, strength training, stretching = 2.5 hours
Monday: Form training, chain punching, strength training, stretching = 2 hours
Tuesday: Form training, chain punching, running, heavy bag training, strength training, stretching = 3 hours
Wednesday: Form training, chain punching, strength training, stretching = 2 hours
Thursday: Form training, chain punching = 1 hour
Friday: Form training, chain punching, running, heavy bag training, strength training, stretching = 3 hours
Saturday: Form training, chain punching = 1 hour

Total hours per week = 14.5 hours per week

Form training = Siu Nim Tau (20-30 min) and Chum Kiu (15-20 min), with focus on muscle and joint motion

Chain punching = 300 chain punches as fast as possible. 100 with stepping to the left, 100 stepping to the right, and 100 in place but on different heights (10-15 min)

Running = 3.5 km run as fast as possible (13-15 min)

Heavy Bag training = 30 min punching on the bag with focus on power and natural movement. Also, using body to absorb impact from swinging bag to train stance and balance.

Strength training = max 10 palm push-ups, max 10 fist push-ups, max 10 back of palm push-ups, max 10 fingertip push-ups, max 10 front crunches, max 10 left-side crunches, max 10 right-side crunches. about 30-40 min, but still working towards max on push-ups.

Stretching = 30 min stretching arms and legs to maintain flexibility from strength training.

At first, the schedule seems fine and I noticed gains in fitness. However, now I am feeling more physically drained and tired throughout the day. This was noticeable after adding the strength training into the training schedule.

I see how Wing Tsun relies on natural attributes, skill, and intent (survival instinct, determination, etc.) to work. In training, we try to boost all of these to the best level as possible. However, with a full-time job and other commitments, it is hard to fit in a serious training schedule. The current training schedule I follow don't leave much time to rest, and I'm kind of suspecting this is an issue. Time is limited for anyone, and that means we have to train smarter and not just harder.

Thanks for your e-mail. Of course there can be such a thing like too much training, overtraining. It also very much depends on the person. Some people work enormous amounts of hours and don't get anywhere.
Not the number of years, not even the number of hours, it's the intensity we put into each workout, which will make a noticeable difference.
Sometimes it's also good to take a break. Don't do anything for a week or so.
Become aware of your motivation. What was your original motivation to start with? Have your goals changed? Why do you do certain workouts? Are they still effective?

As we need to analyze our training, also do check your motivation and goals.

At times we need to change the routine, switch to different or different types of exercises.

If you feel tired and drained, note that there might also be a period of adjustment when we change our workout routine. Think about nutrition, a diet you may need, to go along with an increasing load of workouts, more sleep, or little power naps, vitamins, drinking enough water, etc. There are many factors that can lead to you being physically drained.

If it remains the same, shake up your routine, change for a week to something completely different, go swimming, bicycling, etc. Just read for a couple of evenings, go out with friends who have nothing to do with Kung Fu. :-)

Go out for a walk, have a nice dinner with someone. Don't neglect other parts of your life. Have a social life. Don't just think about training. Wing Tsun is an amazing art of self-defense, can lead to life-long commitment and improvement, but there is also more to life than just Kung Fu!

That's why it's good at times to slim the Kung Fu schedule, or the workout schedule at home and concentrate for a while on other hobbies and activities. After a couple of weeks, get refreshed back into a workout routine that challenges you once again.

Train smarter, not always harder. Time is an extremely valuable commodity!

Posted by ralph haenel at 2:07 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007 3:12 PM PDT
Friday, 21 September 2007
New class format at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver - Fit for Self-Defense
fitness class at wing tsun kung fu vancouver, wing chun, ving tsunSihing Brian Yam, second instructor level and one of the senior trainers at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver, will soon be introducing a new class format. Brian is also featured in the upcoming book "The practical strength training guide for self-defense and martial arts."

The first class "Fit for Self-Defense" is scheduled for Monday, October 15th, 7-10pm.

Step by step, considering the different fitness levels, will Brian guide you through a variety of exercises to increase your stamina, punching power and mobility.

This class is designed for all members of Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver. There will be no extra charge.

Click here to view a videoclip of a Wing Tsun Kung Fu demonstration Brian gave during one of this year's Open House events.

Posted by ralph haenel at 9:55 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007 2:37 PM PDT
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

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