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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 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

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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
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Fitness trainer, kettlebell expert and now Wing Tsun Kung Fu Instructor

Steve McMinn is a personal trainer in Vancouver, beautiful British Columbia. In his capacity as fitness instructor and kettlebell expert you can reach him via fit4real.ca

Congratulations from all of us at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver to your successful exam and the well-deserved promotion to first Technician Grade, the "black belt" of Wing Tsun. Watch above video in high quality at YouTube! Click here.

As one of the senior members of the trainer team, Steve has set a great example for all the others, who will follow within the next year.

Read also Steve's blog at http://stevemcminn.blogspot.com/2008/10/at-long-last.html

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Posted by ralph haenel at 10:06 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 28 October 2008 12:55 PM PDT
Monday, 20 October 2008
Is Wing Tsun only Wing Tsun and nothing but Wing Tsun? - part 1 of 2
I had the pleasure to learn from many excellent WT instructors. It exposed me to a wide range of martial arts backgrounds, personalities, various methods of teaching, even different approach to the system itself.

My very first teacher was a tough one. As a former boxer, from the camp of Gustav "Bubi" Scholz, Leo Czech visited the Wing Tsun castle and basically challenged Sifu Keith R. Kernspecht. It all came down to one point, if Kernspecht can take him, than Leo will sign up for the WingTsun job education. Well, at the time being 40 years old, ten years older than Kernspecht, and about two knockouts later, he wrote Sifu Kernspecht a cheque over DM10.000 and became a WT teacher.

left to right: 1985 in Rostock; Dirk Rosenow, Ralph Haenel, Holger Prohl, WingTsun Sifu Leo CzechMy Sihing Leo told me once that my Wu-Sau it too low, told me a second time, the third time my nose was bleeding and my Wu-Sau resumed from then on at the right position. :-)
After my test for only the first and second student grade, I could barely walk, my whole upper body was green, blue, black and a few other colours I can't remember ;-) But hey, it was the mid-80's and I was only 20 years old.
Introducing a boxer's mentality, this kind of hardcore training formed the ability to train beyond what you think you can do.
photo, left to right: February of 1985 in Rostock; Dirk Rosenow, Ralph Haenel, Holger Prohl, WingTsun Sifu Leo Czech. Dirk and Holger were two of my very first WT students in the GDR.

1986 Ralph Haenel with his second WT teacher, WingTsun Master Peter VilimekMy second teacher, Sifu Peter Vilimek, was/is a exceptional teacher. His patience and dedication, but even more so his ability to teach has formed me partially into who I am today. He always had a knack for creating examples, which I still remember today. Nobody is helped by "This is how some superhuman great super duper grandmaster has designed the technique" or "Think about the crane descending from the sky". No, Sifu Vilimek could relate to everybody and depending on their background, job, education, he came up with relevant examples which the person could understand. After all, the most important factor of a teacher is, can he make you good? Not, who he can beat up, or how many fights he had.
photo: 1986 in East-Berlin, Ralph Haenel with his second WT instructor, WingTsun Master Peter Vilimek

The third notable instructor was Heinrich "The Cat" Pfaff at the Langencell Castle. I still remember my very first class. He didn't care much about protocol. It started for me right away with a bloody nose, then one lip started to bleed. I had to excuse myself, to go to the washroom, to "fix things". Only minutes later, when I came back with tissue up my nose, he asked if there is any problem with his teaching, I replied "No, I am here to learn!" and from this moment on he started non-stop explaining and showing Wing Tsun, right from the beginning in comparison to others never shy to use examples from more advanced forms or exercises. He showed almost too much, yet could bring across (t)his unique idea how Wing Tsun should adapt itself to you over the years. He could show you what fluidity and mobility truly means, hence his nickname "The Cat".

Although I learned from him only during seminars, I consider him my fourth teacher. Sifu Salih Avci, a rough but enormously friendly Turkish born fighter, taught me that a instructor can, well should get really involved with his students. You should never step back from pushing yourself as an instructor further and further. Only if you allow your students to (at one point) "throw" everything they have learned against you, if you allow them to attack you with full force, only then you can give them the confidence, that they learn to survive reality. The better you got, the more he turned up the heat on you. This means, it always felt as if it's your very first WingTsun training.

Come back next week for part two, the conclusion.

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Posted by ralph haenel at 12:48 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 28 October 2008 10:15 AM PDT
Monday, 15 September 2008
New downloadable Wing Tsun Vancouver brochure

Here it is, the new downloadable 2008/2009 brochure delivering information about Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver, the first Canadian Wing Tsun branch, established in 1994.
Click
here to download the PDF file (1.4 MB, 24 pages).

downloadable Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver brochure


Posted by ralph haenel at 4:31 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 22 September 2008 12:25 PM PDT
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Wing Tsun at the beach in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia

Brian Yam & Steve McMinn posing at the Kitsilano beach class, Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver

Steve McMinn and Brian Yam enjoy it every time to pose for some great photos. On Saturday, August 16th 2008 we got together for the eighth annual open air class at Kitsilano beach in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. All members of Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver, who could make it, were working with enthusiasm on the special topic of this event. What more can you ask for: great weather, beach, water, a constant breeze of fresh air, great views of the mountains ... and the two hours just flew by. Thanks to all who brought food and drinks for our potluck picnic, which resumed hours later in a nearby coffee shop.
See you at the next event! Find some photos on
facebook.

Steve McMinn posted on Wednesday, August 20th 2008 a blog entry about our beach class. Please click here!

 

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Posted by ralph haenel at 5:28 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 20 August 2008 11:17 PM PDT
Sunday, 27 July 2008
Motivation, Music & Kung Fu? And a great Wing Tsun school in Calgary!
Wing Tsun Kung Fu seminar in Calgary, Alberta - Click here for more photos!Much has been written about motivation. There is almost no book store, no magazine stand, no TV show, Internet e-zine you can walk past or scan through, that doesn't give some advice on motivation, positive thinking, re-evaluating one's goals, and the list goes on. Yet sometimes we all fall into the trap, that there appears to be nothing that gets you going. You might be waiting for this "something" that pulls you out of the hole.
In Kung Fu we can find all kinds of motivational sayings, or at least words, explanations to show you the way. Kung Fu is "hard work", ... right? But who wants to work hard all the time? Where is the fun?

Come on, for most people, training a martial art is a hobby, one of the many activities in increasingly busy lives. You cannot expect anyone, to constantly find new sources of encouragement, new ways of motivation. This is largely one of the jobs of the instructor.

Several months ago, in mid April, I followed an invitation to give a seminar at a, actually THE Wing Tsun school in Calgary. I've met the instructor, German Ferrer, once before. A very friendly and patient man, with many decades of learning and teaching experience in various martial arts, and a busload of enthusiasm for Wing Tsun.

During private lessons, a group class, and the seminar I taught “my” Wing Tsun version, a culmination, or better the result of the teachings I received from my WT instructors. Some of my most influential instructors have been masters like Leo Czech, Peter Vilimek, Keith Kernspecht, Emin Boztepe, Salih Avci, also Heinrich “the cat” Pfaff, as well as many others.

Regardless of the exercise, we worked during the Calgary Wing Tsun seminar on body structure, the connection of muscle groups throughout the body to produce eventually whiplash-like punches, short range power. By showing how to include movements of the hip, the spine, relating for example to the Cham-Kiu and Biu-Tze form, we began to work on a (almost) rhythm on how to move constantly, to bring dynamic energy to “the table”.

When training how to use the shoulder, one student exclaimed very excited: “Wow this reminds me of boxing!” Well, what is Wing Tsun? Chinese boxing! Referring to some teaching versions I have unfortunately seen over the years students being exposed to, … If a instructor forces his students into a inflexible training stance, doesn't let them use their legs, hips, shoulders and more to strike, doesn't allow his students to actually hit, well than even a great system like Wing Tsun turns into a lethargic gymnastic.

We also worked on a version of the first form, based on the original Health or ChiKung Siu-Nim-Tau form by Grandmaster Leung Ting. Over time now, many very strong students, experienced martial artists, even Wing Chun/Ving Tsun practitioners, fitness trainers, had to admit that this particular Siu-Nim-Tau version is one of the nastiest workouts they had encountered.

The seminar was based on core concepts of performance, how to include fluidity of motion, flexibility throughout while observing proper positions, distance, timing, balance, the ability to deliver power, … and much more.

Working on fluidity, dynamic, the ability to remain flexible and loose under stress, the how-to of training the forms, we started talking about methods of motivation. There is something very simple. Everyone likes to listen to music. Music to accompany a fitness routine, listening to your I-Pod while running, that’s old news.

There is nothing wrong with putting on your favourite music while practising your Siu-Nim-Tau, Cham-Kiu or other forms. Time flies when you go through hours of otherwise possibly :-) agonizing Chi-Sau practise. If somebody sees that as a sacrilege in regard to old Kung Fu traditions, well, go with the times. Life is too short. You can be responsible, pay attention to details of your workout, and train hard, while there is some music in the background.

I had a great time in Calgary, experienced a wonderful class of enthusiastic instructors and students (you guys rocked ;-), and very much enjoyed the hospitality of German and his wife Wanda, his brother Carlos, who came all the way from Texas. I most definitely look forward to the next seminar on September 12th and 13th 2008. If you are in the Calgary area, contact German Ferrer for more details. It's a great team.

So, to get your next workout going, please find below a few tunes to choose from. Motivation starts sometimes with little steps. Listen to some music. Let yourself get "infected" by the enthusiasm of your fellow training partners, other students, instructors. Give a little, take a little. Have fun and work hard!

Check out the following four videoclips at Veoh.com. Download the music videoclips to your computer, I-Pod, or watch them on VeohTV, a small downloadable application that lets you watch the full-length video.

1. Stuck in the 80's? Why not listening to one hour of 1980's hits?

2. More up-to-date? How about a Dancemix, 39 hits of 2007?

3. Are you the classic type? Here is a wonderful version of Antonio Vivaldi, The Four Seasons, by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Herbert von Karajan.

4. Need a steady rythm? Get going with the Modern Talking Space Mix, 10 hits in 20 minutes.

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Posted by ralph haenel at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 3 March 2009 6:47 PM PST
Sunday, 15 June 2008
Happy Fathers Day!

happy fathers day card

Fathers Day card I received today from my son Tyrone. Happy Fathers Day!


Posted by ralph haenel at 11:50 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 15 June 2008 11:52 AM PDT
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
A summer seminar moment

advanced members and trainer team at wing tsun kung fu vancouver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo from left to right (standing): Luis Figueroa, Victor Wolf, Ciprian Constantinescu, Gary Kaiser, Nilo Lida, Sifu Ralph Haenel with his son Tyrone, German Ferrer from WT Calgary, Steve McMinn
from left to right (first row): Ali Lotfi, Rob Grylls, Siavash Panahandeh, Sebastian Molnar, Edmond Chow, Tony Leung

Above photo shows a moment from our recent summer seminar. While on a raffle ticket campaign for his school, Queen Victoria Annex in Vancouver, my son got a photo, posing with advanced members and trainer team at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver. In March we last featured a photo of the trainer team. It was part 1 of a series on "ideas for your Wing Tsun Chi-Sau training". Part 4, the conclusion, follows this week! Stay tuned!

Check out today's entry in Brian's 'Functional Wing Tsun' blog. Reaping the rewards.

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Posted by ralph haenel at 4:24 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 11 June 2008 4:30 PM PDT
Monday, 9 June 2008
About different training methods - summer seminar at Wing Tsun Vancouver

Short video from our summer seminar. Jennifer is having fun with Wing Tsun Instructor and Fitness Trainer Steve McMinn (www.fit4real.ca). The continuous repetition of the Pak-Sau/Punch exercise is purely about stamina and will power. The repetition and intensity creates quickly awareness of the muscle groups involved. ;-) Naturally, in a self-defense situation this combination would only occur once or twice.

I am painfully aware of my 'blog absence' and vow to post and post and post during the next weeks. :-) Steve McMinn has raised the bar and has been doing a great job with his Real Fitness blog. Have a look at the photos, read what he has to say about the recent Wing Tsun summer seminar: first day, second day.

Yes, once again it was time for one of our three annual seminars here at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver, the first Canadian Wing Tsun branch. Each seminar week features a unique topic, puts the spotlight on a particular way of training, or another particular aspect of this exciting self-defense system.

After a recent successful seminar at Wing Tsun Calgary, it was a pleasure to greet German Ferrer, head instructor in Calgary. He especially enjoyed working out with our Edmond "wooden arms" Chow, member of the Vancouver trainer team. After having heard about the incredibly friendly atmosphere at the Calgary WingTsun seminar, we are all looking forward to the Fall seminar in Calgary.

Back to last week's seminar. Exercises for all participants involved working with a shock stick (Yawara) and with a rubber knife. But the weapons were merely tools to support developing ideas for different ways of striking. Building muscle memory, understanding the linking of muscle groups, leads to one of the key issues of Wing Tsun, might I dare say a key issue of any martial art.

What am I talking about? The somewhat rare ability, to seamless connect footwork and hand-actions. The ability to explode into the beginning of the first attack. Also, many students got the point, once again, that a world of techniques doesn't do anything, if you don't develop 'knockout power'. Afterwards, when the seminar is over, it feels so good if you have driven yourself to exhaustion during a seminar. Sweat, loads of sweat, moving your shoulders, non-stop footwork, thousands of punches and strikes, working on bridging the distance safely, stopping the attacker from inflicting harm on you.

Don't forget, Kung Fu is Chinese boxing, and there are certain rules of physics that any martial arts has to follow. One of them the physics of how to develop true punching power.

Until next time, have fun and train hard!

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Posted by ralph haenel at 4:37 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 9 June 2008 5:13 PM PDT
Thursday, 13 March 2008
Ideas for your Wing Tsun Chi-Sau training - part 3 of 4
In today's world we face an enormous amount of information; it’s the age of “über-information”. Everything is easily accessible. If on video, DVD, youtube, googlevideo, just about any Wing Tsun form or exercise can be found. Well, as long as the actual hands-on training doesn’t come too short. But this has not always been the case. Not too long ago, only in 1988 did my back then WT instructor Sifu Peter Vilimek several times attempt to mail me a Wing Tsun videotape from West Berlin. East German authorities intercepted and confiscated it every time. VCR’s were also an absolute novelty and rare luxury item in the East. It so happened that around that time I bought for a friend a simple VCR on East Berlin’s black market for more than $7000.00! Diplomats from ‘third world’ countries made a killing smuggling certain items from West to East Berlin. Finally, Sifu Vilimek smuggled the video tape into the East. He even offered the East Berlin border guards to inspect the well-filled diaper bag during a family visit. Hidden under dirty diapers did the Wing Tsun tape find its way into the East. One evening then did I surprise my students by connecting the $7000.00 VCR to my mini black and white TV and we started watching the tape over and over again for hours. Above video clip of the first public Wing Tsun demonstration by Emin Boztepe in West Germany came first on that video tape.

At about 0:48 you can watch the Chi-Sau part of the Wing Tsun Kung Fu demonstration in above clip. In a real life fight you may also have to deal with “über-information”. Does the opponent attack first with the left or right, straight or round punch, fake or full power, to a high, mid-level or low target, kicks, steps, jumps, combinations??? ...
Chi-Sau is one of Wing Tsun’s tools, to learn to have instinctively the right responses kick in, well literally. Let’s today look at pressure, yet another component of the Wing Tsun Chi-Sau exercises.

Exercise 3 – Pressure:
1a) Work on using the smallest amount of pressure possible. How much, or better how little is necessary to feel the direction, the speed and the power of an attack? When does the attack slip past the point of contact? When and how can you feel if the attack is trying to slide over or under your arm. Can you feel if the shoulder, elbow or wrist is being used, if the training partner puts suddenly the whole body into it, or shoots a surprise attack?
1b) Work with ‘regular’ pressure, get to know the difference between physical strength and real striking power, find out what one of Wing Tsun’s fighting principles means, the yielding to only greater (!) force. All elements of the continuous Wing Tsun training, including the realization of the fighting and power principles, which require a skilled and knowledgeable Wing Tsun instructor for your progress.
1c) Now train with the highest level of pressure, some may know as the so-called Bruce Lee’s “Bull Chi-Sau”. Try not to lose your structure, maintain balance, secure your positions and pay attention to your timing, just to mention a few points.

So far we have talked about distance, speed and now today about pressure. Adaptation is the bridging idea behind all exercises. Train hard on feeling home in any distance, at various speeds, facing any amount of strength. Enjoy your real life training!

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Posted by ralph haenel at 2:50 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008 11:51 PM PDT
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
Ideas for your Wing Tsun Chi-Sau training - part 2 of 4
Chi-Sau exercises start with various levels of Dan-Chi-Sau, using only one arm, continues with Poon-Sau, the rolling arms, and finally leads to the actual Chi-Sau, using both arms for different attacks and defenses. Bruce Lee introduced Chi-Sau to the public during his first demonstration. Invited by Ed Parker did Bruce Lee participate in the Long Beach International Tournament in 1964, was discovered and subsequently offered the role of Kato, the masked crusader in the 1965 TV series "The Green Hornet". Above video clip features some of the Chi-Sau sequences, starting at about 3:00 into the clip.

Different 'wing chun' lineages place importance on different aspects of the Chi-Sau exercises. In my many years of learning and teaching Wing Tsun I have seen that besides the benefit of developing reflex-like responses many other important advantages begin to form.

One builds over time a good feel for balance, resilient against attempts of being pulled or pushed. It promotes the linkage of muscle groups throughout the body, helping towards a fluid and flexible movement. Another result of Chi-Sau training is an increasing ‘short range’ striking power. Timing and fine-tuned feeling for distance, co-ordination between hand/arm and footwork, better positions, angles and many other accomplishments make the Chi-Sau training a well-rounded exercise.

Quite a few enjoy Chi-Sau even as a different kind of fitness exercise, a workout from hell you can’t get in any gym! Why not? Not everybody’s goal or intention is to become a Kung Fu fighter or Wing Tsun professional. Many look around for different types of exercises, new workout challenges. Again … Why not?

Now today to another set of ideas to help you improve your Chi-Sau training:
Exercise 2 – Speed:
1a)
Train any Chi-Sau exercise extremely slow, and I mean really in slow motion. When others in class look at you for just a moment, they should almost have the impression that you stand still. Now try to keep this slow motion up for 20 minutes or longer. For example go through a set of attacks and defenses. Feel exactly which muscles get involved when and how. Feel your tensions, attempt to release them. Feel which muscles don’t seem to do their job. This can be a very excruciating exercise. I have seen many seasoned and strong training partners start shaking and sweating and breaking down within minutes.
1b) Train with ‘regular’ speed, meaning your typical speed during Chi-Sau exercises, yet pay attention to details of your positioning, balance, smooth foot work (stepping, turning, yielding - horizontal AND vertical), distance, timing, etc.
1c) Now train at the highest possible speed, without losing control, without getting sloppy, without losing technical skills, without imitating a windmill, you get the idea. Now many begin to find out what fluidity, flexibility and mobility can mean.

Let’s meet again soon for the third set of ideas on how to improve your Chi-Sau training.

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Posted by ralph haenel at 7:55 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 12 March 2008 11:38 AM PDT

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