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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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The practical strength training guide for Wing Tsun Kung Fu (Wing Chun, Ving Tsun) practitioners and fitness enthusiasts.
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Strength training for martial artists, espcially Wing Tsun/Wing Chun practitioners, a book by Ralph Haenel, with kettlebell training chapter.

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Siu-Nim-Tau, a Wing Tsun Kung Fu form for WingTsun (Wing Chun, Ving Tsun) practitioners and fitness enthusiasts.
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Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver Blog
Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Lightning fast, the secrets of Kung Fu! What did Carl Douglas and George Harrison have in common?


Carl Douglas, Kung Fu Fighting, in German Bravo magazine, cover
As you can possibly imagine; today’s post is a bit on the lighter side of martial arts life. The eBay explanation to the cover of an old German music magazine told me: “Carl Douglas – Everything about Kung Fu!” Naturally, I had to have it.
By the way - At the end of the post, I will describe a totally deadly Kung Fu technique!

So, Carl was quite the one-hit wonder in 1974 with “Kung Fu fighting.” In the German charts #1, ahead of Sweet (#3 and #17), David Cassidy, Suzi Quatro, George McCrae, Slade and others. John Lennon made it in December of 1974 from #19 only to spot #7, Neil Diamond #20. The British charts featured David Essex on top. Number one in America was Billy Swan.
Sorry I can’t help it, it’s so cheesy; for the Germans here the #2 after Carl Douglas, Michael Holm.

So much for a tidbit of music history. Back to Kung Fu fighting.

There it is, finally on page 44 of the magazine: “Everything about Kung Fu” I knew it, finally I will know it all. But first a lot of “Kung Fu”, hard work, training my iron grip by having to go through the previous 43 pages in search for the ultimate Kung Fu secrets. Carl makes it difficult. Many probably gave up somewhere between the pages 20 to 30. Not me!

Now, the all-revealing text begins! Carl Douglas in 1974:
“My song ‘Kung Fu fighting’ is on millions of turntables. Since then do I, the founder of ‘Karate-Rock,’ live a life of danger. I didn’t know, but in the eyes of many traditional Chinese have I committed a dangerous sin: I have made the secret art of Kung Fu public and by doing so became a traitor on Chinese tradition. Until recently Kung Fu, the weaponless art of self-defense, was completely unknown, compared to Japanese Karate and Korean Taekwondo. No wonder that a martial art like Kung Fu, which is the perfect blend of mind and body and on top also develops character, was only shown to family clan members. ... Kung Fu consists of six different styles, based on the movements of animals. That’s the reason for the names of the techniques: Tiger, Praying Mantis, Snake, Horse, Monkey and Crane style. Each style features 4000 to 5000 stances, out of which you defend yourself against attacks. All movements are designed to work very quickly with the least amount of strength, targeting nerves and other sensitive areas of the human body. Many parts of the body can turn into absolutely deadly weapons, but of course only in an emergency. Your Kung Fu should follow ancient guidelines like:
1. Avoid an attack instead of hurting the opponent.
2. Hurt the opponent instead of injuring him.
3. Injure the attacker instead of killing him.
4. Kill only if you otherwise would get killed.“

And it continues. Carl Douglas: “Now you want to know if since the record has been released, I live in fear of revenge from Kung Fu fanatics? No, I don’t! Years ago, George Harrison disgraced East Indian heritage by using the holy sitar in his and the music of The Beatles. The prophecies predicted dark setbacks, but George is still alive (1974).”

So, Carl was the original traitor. Now we finally know. Wasn’t there somebody else? Bruce ... something? Oh well, can’t remember. Whoever this Bruce guy was, he might have had nothing to do with real Kung Fu, unlike Carl.

Tonight we will train in class the secret Kung Fu, as shown on page 45 of the magazine. The attacker kicks, you quickly duck to the ground, completely naturally jump up under the kick in progress, and simply throw the attacker to the ground. Then you are absolutely safe while standing between the legs of the former kicker, now able to hit him where the sun doesn’t shine.

Any last words?

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightening
But they fought with expert timing 

 

Carl Douglas, Kung Fu Fighting, in German Bravo magazine, page 44Carl Douglas, Kung Fu Fighting, in German Bravo magazine, page 45

 


Posted by ralph haenel at 5:36 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 March 2011 8:34 AM PDT
Monday, 28 February 2011

Are you a “dream ranger”? Or do you at times submit to the dark side?

My thoughts for this post came from very different experiences in the virtual and the real world.  Within a short period of time, I came across completely different ends of the spectrum, the positive and negative, the yin and yang of human expression.

Recently I ended up giving way to some gossip, meaning I read comments on YouTube. In my personal opinion, YouTube clips have portrayed great people looking not so good, and seriously flawed performances looking pretty good due, for example, to the video frame rate. However, the comments typically steal the show. I have always said that there is unfortunately more politics in martial arts than in politics. But, there is also increasingly more blind fanaticism in all martial arts, just as in other areas of life. With the anonymity of the Internet, it has become so easy for “keyboard warriors” to express their often strange opinions. One gets the distinct impression that professional jealousy, pure hatred and complete inability to respect other people’s work would be an endless source of income for psychiatrists. Real or assumed martial arts skills and boundless ego is not a lethal but rather dumb combination, a fountain of personality disorders.

It all leads me to another observation. Many people don’t seem to get, that the studying of martial arts is the careful building of skills and knowledge, not the collection of data, techniques, or number of more or less instructional videos watched. Many seem to mix up quality and quantity of information. There is more knowledge than ever accessible, yet it doesn’t necessarily lead to more creativity, dynamic learning and innovation. Information is more ‘scanned’ than acquired. Clicking replaces thinking.

So, when now does this post lead into a positive direction? Let’s go from the virtual world into the real world. Any instructor and student is capable of forming and influencing their environment, making encouraging contributions that motivate everyone.

Recently I noticed how many students have returned to classes, after having been away for only several weeks or even after a break of a number of years due to work and family commitments.

That’s what it is all about. Studying and training in a supportive class setting. Not giving up on your dreams. Showing persistence and patience. It doesn’t matter if you start something new, or if you get back to follow your Kung Fu journey. Dream and do something about it!

Before I conclude today’s post with the link to a videoclip that in part motivated these thoughts, I want you to read a few lines from our students. More is coming up during the next days ...

Helen, Natalia, Sifu Ralph Haenel, Melissa at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver, the first Canadian Wing Tsun branch, www.wingtsunkungfu.com

Starting something new is always hard, especially when there are people in the class at different experience levels. I felt at my first class that no one would want to partner the "new person". After my first few training partners however and my first few lessons, everyone was so friendly and patient I no longer had this feeling. One of my training partners said "we work together as a class here, we help each other get better" and a few others said that helping teach a newer person actually helped them fine tune their own skills. All the students and Sifu Ralph Haenel have created a very supportive and fun learning environment for me.
     Helen

Rob G., Sia, Sifu Ralph Haenel, Nilo, Gary H., Mike at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver, the first Canadian Wing Tsun branch, www.wingtsunkungfu.com

Sometimes even dedicated students must (reluctantly) take a break from Wing Tsun group classes.  Life throws ‘curve balls’ at us when we least expect it.  A new addition to the family, the loss of a loved one or close friend, or maybe a serious illness in the family.  I have experienced my share.  How about demanding new job, or a job layoff?  That’s often the predicament, isn’t it?  We either have time but no money, or we have money but no time.

With all of life’s challenges, how can we continue with a hobby that brings us fullfillment?  The answer is that these interruptions do not matter over a long period of time.  The key is to resume class attendance as soon as it becomes possible.  "But it's been many months or even years", you say.  "I won't know the students in class, it just won't be the same anymore".  Take a look at this photo.  Recognize anyone?  Every student you see in the photo has returned to class after being away for extended periods, sometimes years.  The old-timers are making a comeback and having fun together again.  Come and join us!
     Mike

Reading the first two postings also reveals how a instructor is being motivated!

Now, the video. First, I saw the following videoclip posted by Alex Richter, a talented Wing Tsun instructor from New York. I showed it to a few people and all of them said: “Gosh damn it, this makes you (almost) cry!” And yes, it is a bank commercial.

So, how about that video, are you a “dream ranger”?

Click here to read the second part of this series of two posts. Read what Todd and Adrian, Jan, George and Rob have to say about starting your martial arts training and about returning to classes after a break.

The title of part 2 of 2 is:
Setting foot for the first time into a martial arts school?
Tough time, trying to make it back to classes after a break?
Tips and lessons learned from Grumpy George and others!


Posted by ralph haenel at 11:02 AM PST
Updated: Monday, 21 March 2011 4:59 PM PDT
Tuesday, 16 November 2010

I have been bad, very bad ... the secret life of a martial arts instructor.

Most martial arts students think of their instructors as those 365/24/7 committed people, who get up at 4am in the morning, train for two hours, teach punches and kicks all day long, do their evening classes with yet another burst of super-power martial arts energy, all topped up with some relaxing form training, before going to bed and sleeping for four hours, during which they are naturally at any given moment ready to come within 0.6 seconds out of the deepest sleep phase and chain-punch bad guys to oblivion, delivering 120 punches in 16 seconds, also using their autopilot guided instinctive reflexes.

Well, I am so sorry that I have to disappoint you. Despite all proof to the contrary, martial arts instructors are also just humans. And as all other humans, they like to be lazy every now and then. They just don’t like to talk about it, since many want to be this untouchable example of dedication to their admiring students.

On the other hand who doesn’t like to talk about their heroic achievements every now and then. Remember those Grandpa stories? “When I was young, I had to go to school without shoes, in the snow, uphill, against the wind, twenty miles to the next village.” ... and so the story goes.

There is always a little bit of truth behind it. My Great Grandma started to work in 1894 at the age of 14, six and a half days a week, working an average of sixteen hours a day.

Tino and me, twenty years ago at the Italian Wing Tsun headquarters in Livorno, TuscanyBack to martial arts. In 1990, I was still working in a 3-shift job. Monday and Wednesday evenings, I taught classes in my own Wing Tsun School. Tuesday and Thursday evenings, I learned in the school of my WingTsun teacher. During rare days off, I either took private lessons from my instructor or gave private lessons to my students. Friday afternoons I often left with one of my students, Tino, driving more than 700 kilometres to the Wing Tsun castle for a weekend seminar held by my Sifu or Sigung.

During vacations we drove to Italy, no, not just for fun, to join the annual WingTsun summer seminar in Livorno. When I visited Copenhagen in Denmark, it was due to a seminar by my Sifu. Met great people there, Sifus Lars Lind, Allen Jensen, Henning Daverne and others, a very hospitable bunch of WT instructors.

But as I said initially, I was at times, or we were very, very bad. There was this one evening after a long day of working, early nightfall, snow in Berlin, which caused big chaos on the streets. So, we took the underground train (U-Bahn) and went to our instructor’s school. Many old apartment buildings have backyards which lead to the next apartment building, the next backyard, and so on. His WT School was located at the back of one of those old buildings. You could sneak up, look through a broken window and see who was teaching. That very evening we saw that our instructor wasn’t there, a assistant was leading the class. So, we left, went to a great restaurant and had a fabulous dinner.

Another time, we had driven for hours at 200+ km/h on the Autobahn, arrived in Heidelberg, checked into a hotel, were all ready to go to the evening Wing Tsun session at the Langenzell castle, but something went wrong ... No, not really. Our prebooked room at the hotel was taken, so we got an upgrade, access to the pool and a complementary dinner in the fancy hotel restaurant. As you might have guessed, the evening training went ahead without us.

So, two bad examples opposite of years of driving across Europe to seminars, spending just about every day off and every single vacation in Wing Tsun classes and seminars. Visiting the schools of Sifus Thomas Roggenkamp, Hans-Peter Edel, Frank Ringeisen, Thomas Mannes, Christoph Gefeke and others.  Okay, we weren’t really that bad but nonetheless there was a break in our commitment and that was only natural.

It is OK to be lazy every now and then, even to take a short time-out.

German and I posing after a intensive 6-hour seminar in Vancouver, www.wingtsunkungfu.comWhile working on motivating many at Wing Tsun Vancouver, Wing Tsun Victoria and even Wing Tsun Calgary regarding our upcoming year-end seminar in Vancouver I experienced one of the best examples of commitment.

I just received an e-mail from German Ferrer, the Sifu of the Calgary Wing Tsun school. Several days ago he e-mailed me, that he can't make it to our seminar, that he has a business trip planned to Edmonton, a business meeting in Calgary, and also the company’s Christmas party on Saturday. I had also just given a seminar in Calgary.  Understandable that he should be unable to attend, right?

Well, a few minutes ago he e-mailed me that he changed all plans, booked a flight and is coming early Saturday morning into Vancouver for the seminar.

Now that's commitment!

His only comment: “I want to keep my perfect record of attending the Vancouver seminars.”

Evan and I posing after the 2010 Winter seminar in Calgary, www.wingtsunkungfu.comUPDATE (Nov 18th): Yet another committed Wing Tsun practitioner in Calgary is coming to Vancouver. He called all the other residents at the hospital, at which he is working, arranged to have his shift covered, booked a flight and will be here for the year-end 'Knockout' Seminar.

And yes, Evan also took time off and attended the very recent seminar in Calgary. Did you read his seminar review? Click here

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Posted by ralph haenel at 12:56 PM PST
Updated: Thursday, 18 November 2010 2:06 PM PST
Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Punchers Are Made; Not Born - instruction must be systematic and scientific in order to develop an effective fighter.

Sifu Ralph Haenel of Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver, BC and Mike G. who just received his 12th SG Wing TsunIt is always a highlight for me as well, if one of the members of our Wing Tsun Kung Fu schools celebrates a personal achievement. Mike started his Wing Tsun training in 1999. Family and job commitments required him every now and then to pause his training for several months at a time. Did he give up? No, absolutely not. He always came back and restarted his training. His commitment, his very analytical and practical approach has its roots in his early boxing days in the 1970's.
 
To quote Mike after a recent intensive seminar: "Always rewarding when a newcomer “lights up” when they learn how to hit harder and commit to their punches.  This is not the first time I find that students with little experience CAN tremendously improve their structure, upper & lower body movement integration, and power delivery – all in one session!  Especially if they are encouraged to turn it loose.  Great to see."
 
Instead of working just on his own progress, Mike has always been committed to support others in their training. Some might underestimate him, he is also used to take strikes and even if he rarely shows it, he can deliver very hard punches. After all, as we always say, there are certain similarities between Eastern and Western boxing.
 
Going towards the last student grade in Wing Tsun Kung Fu, I have been observing Mike for the past 3 months. I teamed him up with certain training partners, watched his performance during particular exercises. As for the theoretical part: He e-mailed me over the years numerous times his feedback, his annotations and has often talked about the parallels between Chinese Wing Tsun and Western boxing.
 
He worked his way through Jack Dempsey's 1950 book "Championship Fighting - Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense" and added notes throughout the book to similarities as well as particulars to Wing Tsun and Western boxing. His paper examined Jack Dempsey's fighting principles as they relate to Wing Tsun Kung Fu.
Very interesting!
 
During a recent intensive Wing Tsun seminar in October of 2010 on Vancouver Island, Mike successfully passed the 12th Student Grade of Wing Tsun Kung Fu.
 
Congratulations to Mike on his amazing accomplishment!
 
A little bit, it reminds me of a moment about 18 years ago. I had just received my first Technician Grade (instructor) certificate from my Sifu, Keith Kernspecht. All the students and assistant trainers were standing and applauding, and my Sifu whispered in my ear" "Now you are ready to learn Wing Tsun!"
 
To new beginnings! To turning into a knockout-puncher and discovering the martial ART of Wing Tsun!

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Posted by ralph haenel at 1:43 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 3 November 2010 1:50 PM PDT
Tuesday, 12 October 2010

More than 28 tips on how to be a better (Wing Tsun Kung Fu) trainer!

Is there anything a trainer can’t do?

Helen Stortini, I know Kung Fu - Roadshow stop: Kung Fu Instructor at http://unemploymentroadshow.com/2010/01/15/i-know-kung-fu/Over the years, I have talked to many instructors of different martial arts, also to fitness trainers and dance teachers. Whenever it comes to a general description of the job, many smile and explain it half joking and half serious as kind of a mix of being a teacher, good technician, psychologist, marketing expert, educator, even comedian, store manager, fighter, motivator, entertainer, showman, collection agent, and then some. All that mentioned in no particular order, I might add. Let’s not forget, in today’s world the instructor also needs to be a social media wizard. Do you have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn?

photo: Helen Stortini from UnemploymentRoadShow.com at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver. Click here to read her story: "I know Kung Fu!"

While working in Wing Tsun classes on becoming a better instructor, the following pointers might help you to take a step back and review your own performance. After all, you teach the student to get better, which should also mean that you personally improve with each teaching experience!

Let’s assume, for our example here, the instructor gets in front of the class and starts to teach the form training. He is teaching the Siu-Nim-Tau, the first form of the Wing Tsun Kung Fu system.

Which pointers could improve, how we help the student to make progress, to understand the exercise, to get ideas for their home training?

- As instructor, one should look around and find out who is new in class.
- If you don’t know their names, ask and address the student by name.
- Ensure that everyone is facing the mirror, even senior members.
- Don’t just stand in front of the class, explain what they are working on right now, get out of your stance and walk around to help.
- Check where you need to correct a movement.

- Observe who may still be stuck in a previous part of the exercise or didn’t quite grasp the next step.
- Make eye contact.
- Does your explanation need clarity? Can you find better or more relevant examples to explain a movement, a technique?
- Further a better understanding of the purpose of the form, while opening eyes to finer details.
- Create points of reference, “bookmarks” if you will, to ease navigation through the form, which to the beginner may seem like a jungle of a thousand techniques.

- Don’t forget, you are able to start the form from beginning to end, show it backwards, or jump at the snap of the finger into each part of the form, you know all the benefits, you are well versed in the applications, know how to breath, which muscles to feel. But, a beginner or at times even a intermediate learner will get lost.
- In which direction are you speaking? Maybe the people in front of you can hear you, but what about the person to the very left or right?
- How is your pronunciation? Does everyone know what you are talking about or do you yourself get lost in insider lingo? Never assume you are being heard or understood. Ask, explain again, show, demonstrate, share stories which will be remembered.
- Regularly encourage questions; a student might have a great question you never asked yourself, but answering it helps others.
- Help everyone to focus on the detail in the moment, find out when eyes start to wander, checking out the ceiling, or the floor, or the clock.

- Induce a sense of teamwork while mentioning good performance, don’t forget or single anyone out, people do notice, - it doesn’t matter how old we are or where we stand in life, everyone can use a pat on the back for effort or accomplishment.
- Make sure beginners stand next to advanced members. This way they can watch you, and themselves in the mirror, yet also the person to their left and right, to copy movements until they are part of their routine.
- Build a easy to understand road map of the form. For example: “We are right now training this detail of the left hand segment of part four of the first form, it being part four out of eight.”
- Do you speak too fast? Too monotone? Do your explanations spark the trainees’ enthusiasm over the achievement of what they are doing right now? You wouldn’t want to create the boredom of a half-dead necessary routine. Even form training can lead to new heights of performance.
- Have people smile while the sweat is running down their face, while the arms or shoulders are shaking. Nobody feels as good as in the moment when you realize you performed beyond of what you think you can do!

- Mention again the benefits of the form. One should know why we go through particular sets of exercises.
- Explain the name of, and idea behind techniques.
- Explain the place of the form or single technique, their importance within the system of Wing Tsun. You want to create ‘aha-moments,’ during which the student recognizes how seemingly dead parts of the form come later on to life during partner exercises.
- At any given time pay attention to who follows your teachings, who is ahead and has to be led back to the detail training at hand, who is stuck and can’t find their way back into following you. Maybe give a quick review of what has been done so far.
- Check your examples. Do they make sense to everyone. Review your comparisons. Will they be understood without inside knowledge?

- At the end; encourage questions, lead somebody’s arm, correct their shoulder position. Some need to feel the movement, others need to hear the explanations, some need to look at example scenarios from different directions. Show muscle groups involved. Move! Make a clear distinction between right and wrong movement.
- Finally; take into consideration the ability to perform, the recognition of details and the understanding of its value at different points in time during one’s training.
I received feedback from people, who said: “I always heard you explaining the exercise, but never really got it. Today I felt something in my shoulder, now I understand it for the first time, what you have been telling me for so long.”
Another example? “I thought I knew what you meant with your teachings, yet only now I really get it!” Don’t forget! Even this understanding might change yet again over the months and years.
- Never assume anything!

Now. Are you ready to be a teacher, entertainer, technical specialist, historian, motivator, showman ... and more?

Are you a speaker? Are you a storyteller?

There is nothing a good trainer can’t do, or isn’t willing to add to teach better!

Or, if you are the student; help your trainer to evolve, ask questions, ask again, ask differently, ask for direction. Without going into even more detail, instructor and student can always benefit from each other.

Want to read stories of persistence, perseverance and patience? Go to http://trainerteam.wingtsunkungfu.com.

Rarely is anyone born a great teacher! Work on it! Train, teach, help!

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Posted by ralph haenel at 5:53 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 18 December 2014 5:05 PM PST
Monday, 27 September 2010

Breaks, motivation and different goals. Martial arts are no different than life.

1990 in Berlin, I am about to be taken down by my instructor, WingTsun Sifu Peter VilimekRecently we had several of our members return to classes after years of absence due to family commitments, night school, working out of town and other reasons. It’s always great, to see familiar faces back in training. It gives every instructor who is proud of teaching a wonderful motivation.

Others just started their training with us a year or two after having been to one of our open house events. Having followed our activities by reading the occasional news e-mail, following us on Facebook, even YouTube or Twitter, kept them up-to-date.
But so far, nobody came even close to breaking the record. At one point, one person came to class and said: “I am ready now. I have been to your open house and want to sign up for your Wing Tsun classes!” Eventually we figured out, that about six years were in between the trial classes and the start of his Wing Tsun Kung Fu training.

Last week I met someone, who has been to our open house, but decided to join another school. That’s great! Why? Because in his case, it showed the commitment of the person and that he was seriously looking for the martial arts school that was right for his needs.
It reminded me of several occasions over the years, when I recommended different martial arts or even specific other schools to interested visitors. Some look for “only” a tough workout with lots of sweating, others strive for competing in tournaments, some are fascinated with high kicks in Taekwon-Do, just to name a few examples. Your martial art should never be like a corner store, which is trying to be everything to everyone.
I am always happy to hear when someone has found his place, his school. Or, as I tell everyone; whatever you do in your spare time, after work, you have to enjoy it, like the atmosphere and get along with the instructor/s and class mates. Just imagine everybody would like the same ... the competition would be unbearable and it would also be boring.

Over the past weeks, I was talking to a few of our (Wing Tsun) seniors. Everyone gets caught in a motivational low, needs a break from even the most exciting hobby. That’s normal, that’s human. Of great importance is to repeatedly redefine your own motivation. One asked me how I can possibly show, explain and demonstrate the Siu-Nim-Tau form again and again, this now for over 26 years. Well, I enjoy it, I work on finding new ways of breaking down exercises into details. I find better or different ways of explaining them. I continue to improve my own performance; ... and take pride in it. For every explanation, I use analogies: The difference between a martial ARTIST and a martial artist is the same as between a one-hit wonder and a band that produces solid hit records even after decades of making music.

So, find your niche, define your motivation, do something that’s fun and enjoy it!

For me, since 1977 is has been martial arts and for 26 years of it: Wing Tsun Kung Fu! Off to class ...

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Posted by ralph haenel at 4:43 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 12 October 2010 8:45 PM PDT
Sunday, 19 September 2010
Wing Tsun Kung Fu training tips

Three ways to improve your martial arts (Wing Tsun Kung Fu) training and two examples to learn from!

Self-defense class at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver, the first Canadian Wing Tsun branch - www.wingtsunkungfu.comTip 1 – Take it slow
To get the most out of every exercise, slow down the movement and stay in control. Your muscles need time to recognize the movement, let alone build muscle memory. Go too fast and you will cheat with momentum (strength & speed).

Tip 2 – Make small changes
Your muscles get used to doing a movement after just a few weeks. To keep the results coming, change the exercise. Work with less strength, try to recognize tensions, feel your whole body moving.
You hear from me a lot of times about the chain of muscles, muscle groups, throughout our body. We want to enable the right muscles to work with a minimum of effort, while switching the “wrong” muscles off (get rid of tension). We train towards creating a powerful, continuous movement from toes to fingertips, always ready to adjust instantly to any change in an ongoing physical confrontation.

Tip 3 – Learn your limits, …
for the sake of successful training. It’s okay to challenge yourself, but don’t push yourself or your partner past the point of getting results. If you are stronger than your partner, work with a minimum of your strength, and speed (slow motion training!). Don’t forget how each exercise should benefit both partners! Help each other! If you are weaker than your training partner, ask your partner to fine-tune his pressure. Both sides can only learn from it, by having to enable each other to equally learn from every exercise.
This is NOT a competition. This is NOT about finding out who is better. It is imperative to separate ego from training or one is destined to fail.
It’s no secret; both partners have to contribute to make any exercise work.

Don’t forget, when I show a exercise, I often demonstrate a “finished product,” how it should look and feel  after weeks or even months, years of hard training.
Don’t try to jump to the end of the chain without going through all the little steps that are necessary to be truly successful.

Don’t mistake the following with acquiring real Wing Tsun skills:
1. overpowering your training partner,
2. speeding up when you know ahead of time what your partner does, or
3. using certain tricks as a result of your experience.

Sometimes we may not even be aware of our training routine. So, it most certainly helps to review our attitude towards a successful training. When you support your partner’s growth, your partner will help you in return to progress faster. Real Confidence comes from reliable skills.

Ask yourself: Do your skills match superior strength and speed of a violent attacker, who sees you as a weak victim?

One example to learn from
About ten years ago, I had a student who wasn’t very tall, or strong, or experienced. But his first punch was extremely fast. Again and again, every training partner got hit, even the best. Most now overwhelmed the weaker, shorter training partner. I asked them repeatedly what they would have done, if the person would be tall and very strong, if those surprisingly fast punches would have kept coming?

1. Train the very important initial ability to control fast punches that seem to come out of nowhere.
2. Let the shorter, weaker training partner resume fast attacks. What if you can’t stop them? Imagine, there is a body weight of 200 pounds behind them. Imagine, it’s a 6.2” guy delivering the strikes. You have to move fast, time well, coordinate your actions, learn to take some.
Now any training partner can become an enormous challenge.

A few times, I have experienced the following question: “Can you team me up with someone else. The guy is just too weak!” Yeah right, think again, you are missing one of your best training partners. Besides, it’s up to you, what you make out of every training session. If you just train to get a good workout and sweat, maybe you should rethink your intentions and goals.

A second example to learn from
Some five years ago, I worked for a while with a Wing Chun student from Sweden. He was tall, strong and confident. To make a long story short:
- He always wanted to pretend to hit the face, instead of striking to the body.
- Instead of following a specific exercise, he almost always wanted to fight his training partner.

Now, what’s so bad about that?

Point 1. I can pretend to hit somebody’s face as much as I want, as often as I want. It doesn’t make me better. For the purpose of this brief training note, I neglect here possibly important issues regarding the law and potential reports of witnesses against you after a physical altercation. (Scenario: The initial attacker bleeding all over the place and blood dripping from your fists. … Get a good lawyer!)

Our trainers work on striking to the body. Now you can give it all in your training session and see if you can move a person, find out if your punches have any impact. Why?

I learned from skilled instructors who could vary the results of their punches. Just to mention a few (controlled!) examples:
- a light punch to the chest that makes you feel you want to drop on the spot
- a powerful punch that lifts you off your feet and thrusts you against the wall without injuring you
- a punch, seemingly coming from only the wrist, penetrating the best six-pack and having the recipient on his knees

You can’t achieve that skill by imitating a punch that “would in reality hit the face.” Why then martial arts training at all? Anybody can hit somebody else in the face. But a powerful, yet controlled punch to the chest, leaving the other person rattled, for this skill you have to train hard, very hard.

The goal should be increasing punching power that can be measured. Variations of striking power depending on different scenarios. Once example only: A ‘light’ palm strike that sends a opponent flying and gives you the chance to remove yourself from the fight, instead of a exchange of  wild punches, leaving a bloody mess on both sides. That’s a skill.

Instead of fighting your training partner, help each other to figure out the details of your training to become knock-out punchers!

Two more examples, to help you improve your training, will follow soon!

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Posted by ralph haenel at 8:25 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 12 October 2010 8:46 PM PDT
Sunday, 8 August 2010
Part 9 of 9 - Interview with WingTsun grandmaster Leung Ting

Interview with WingTsun grandmaster Leung Ting

Health & Lifestyle Channel
Hostess Zhao Ling
Hong Kong Cable TV Channel # 27

Interview part 9 of 9 - Translation by Tony Leung* of Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver

*The opinions and views expressed are those of the authors and participants of the TV show and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of the trainer team at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver.

LT: frm my Dai Dizi (most senior student).  Later she learned from me.  Have you seen God of Crockery?  A movie by Stephen Chow.  She (Karen Mok) was the character with the scar on her face.  It was before she was in the movie that she came to ask me to teach her Wing Tsun.

Host: Can she do a few moves?

LT: Yes, she can do a few moves.

Host: You’ve taught so many female actresses.  Among them, which one do you feel was your best student?

LT: Oh my! This is really hard to answer.   Like Michelle (Mi Xue) for example…. (interrupted by hose).  [This Michelle is not Michelle Yeoh]

Host: They all have talent?

LT:  I feel that all actors/actress have a natural talent.  If they did not have any natural talent then they would not be such outstanding actors, right?

Host: Michelle Yeoh.   Has she learned WT from you?

LT:  Michelle Yeoh has never approached me.  I don’t really know her.

Host: I think she also made a movie called Wing Chun.

LT: I know. The director was Yuan Heping (Yuen Woo Ping).  Yuan Heping and I know each other fairly well.  He often visits my school. He made that movie without telling me.  What a bastard.  At the time he went to visit his doctor whose office was across from my school and we ran into each other.  He asked me to introduce one of my foreign students who is a champion fighter and I said “sure”.  He never followed up on that meeting and not long after his movie “Wing Chun” came out.   I was ribbing him. “You bastard, you made a Wing Chun movie without telling me”.  I am very familiar with him.

Host: What do you think of Michelle Yeoh’s performance in the movie Wing Chun?

LT: I won’t comment on that. (laughing).  Actually, I feel Yuen Woo Ping is a really talented director.  He made many martial arts films and they are really good. Otherwise he would not/ cannot (unintelligible)

Host:  I know you have been a fighter choreographer /adviser in a lot of martial arts film.   In the up coming movies Yip Man 2 and 3, would you consider providing any advice for these films?

LT: If they are interested in seeking out my advice then I would provide it. Right?  Actually, I feel if you are using Wing Chun to do things, this is my life’s principle.  Like for example, my literature degree (background). I studied to high levels. But I have never desired to become a literature professor. My doctorate degree is for martial arts instruction. So I feel because this is my part of my character. I don’t like to sit inside an office working all day.  I feel Chinese should promote Chinese martial arts (?).  This has always been my principle.

Host: Actually you have promoted WT in over 60 countries moreover so many of your tudi, tusun….i know you are very busy.   You have many followers on the mainland… (interrupted by LT)

LT:  I just started now because I was always abroad.  At the time I was only spending 3-4 months in Hong Kong. Now I am over 60 years old and retired. Then I realized that it is impossible to completely retire because there continue to be many overseas students coming to HK to see me.  So I said, OK I will just go into semi-retirement.  Now in the last 2-3 years, each year I have travelled the world for about three months to a few larger countries.  For example, Germany has the most branches, Hungary has many branches and also America has many branches.   Sometimes I go to Australia.  Now I feel, especially the Chinese…. Why do Chinese do not learn Chinese martial arts?

So I feel strongly, Chinese should try their best to promote Chinese martial arts.

Host: Right.  Today we have been very lucky because it is very difficult to get Professor Leung Ting to come on to our show.  As one member of the audience has said, it has been a real eye opening experience and thanks to the Sifus for visiting.   Thank you Professor Leung Ting.  Also thank you Bun Jai… Ah- Ming.  Thank you.

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Posted by ralph haenel at 3:36 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 8 August 2010 7:25 PM PDT
Part 8 of 9 - Interview with WingTsun grandmaster Leung Ting

Interview with WingTsun grandmaster Leung Ting

Health & Lifestyle Channel
Hostess Zhao Ling
Hong Kong Cable TV Channel # 27

Interview part 8 of 9 - Translation by Tony Leung* of Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver

*The opinions and views expressed are those of the authors and participants of the TV show and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of the trainer team at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver.

LT: You can work out the numbers based on the average of how many students per school, right.  It is close to 1 million people.   If they say 2 million that is BS.

Host: One member of the audience writes that “Sifu, your martial arts skills is truly amazing”.  “Compliments to your toe-soon as well”.  Their martial arts skills are amazing too.  Another member of the audience asks, “Does Wing Tsun have 9 moves 22 patterns?

LT:  Nine moves and twenty two patterns? I have never heard of such a thing.

Host: Ah…. Never heard of it. (laughing). Must be from TV (fiction show).  Another person writes, “ Wing Tsun is suitable for women’s self defense ”?

LT: You could say that.

Host: Another member of the audience writes, “ Are your guests eagerly anticipating the Yip Man movie staring Tony Leung Chiu-Wai?  Compared to Donnie Yen’s films, which movie seem more realistic and representative of GM Yip Man’s life”?
 

LT: I won’t (movie) review this. I am not a movie critic.

Host:  A different member of the audience writes “Both WT and Taiji are based on the principle of “using gentle power to subdue force, right”?

LT: Correct. But WT, we are more simplified.  How are we considered simplified/direct?  It is because we (WT) are attacking through out.

Host: So Chi Sau it builds up to an attack?

LT:  Correct. You can see that each action is an attack.  But when we attack….  most important is to learn how to control. So our goal is not to teach you to bully others, but to teach you so that you cannot be bullied. This is WT’s goal.  So our association does not take students if we feel that are not of good character.

Host: Then are you like GM Yip Man with his four “Don’t Teach Rules”?  No rich student, No poor student, No dumb students and No Smart Students? Your selection process is like this too?

LT: Actually are requirements are a bit less complicated.  We don’t have the “four no’s”. Most important is we don’t teach persons of bad character.

Host:  I know  … I have seen the news report which said that Sifu Leung Ting that you emphasize the martial moral martial code.  So you won’t teach persons of poor moral character.

LT: Yes. This is has always been my principle. I feel that no matter if it is learning/practicing WT or any other activities, right?   Learning it is for ourselves and for self defense to prevent others from bullying us.  Right?  Otherwise if you are learning it to bully others then you don’t need to learn martial arts.  Right?  That has always been my principle.  Also towards my kungfu nephews and kungfu grand children, I teach them that sometimes that we must have (“wong hun han leung”)  our limits.   Must have our bearable limits.   I don’t just teach them martial arts. I train their minds as well (Hard to translate this. But he is saying he tells his followers to be morally upright.   Oh the irony!)

Host:  Ah Ming and also Bun Jai. Have you both ever encountered any angry situations where you must fight?  Where you absolutely must fight.  Where there is no choice. Have you ever?

Ah Ming (Lee Man Ming): No. No in Hong Kong.

Host: Not in Hong Kong, then where?  In Mainland China

Ah Ming:  In Mainland China.

Host:  Did you fight?

Ah Ming: I did not.

Host:  So since you’ve learned martial arts, there no opportunity to use it. Have there been times where you have used it?

Ah Ming: In the instructors class can spar.

LT:  They spar with each other in exercises.

Host: In real life you don’t have the chance to use your martial arts on anyone?

Ah Ming: No.

Host:  How about on your boy friend?  When he has gotten you upset, would you beat him up?

Ah Ming: No.

Host: You wouldn’t beat up your boy friend?

Ah Ming: No. He is very nice.

Host:  I think it is great that girls learn WT.  It is great method of women’s self defense as stated by a member of the audience.  So Ah-Ming, do you agree that this is a good form of self defense for women?

Ah-Ming:  Yes.  I can demonstrate for you to see. (She turns around to face Robin)

Host: He pretends to be the rapist /molester.  How are you going to defend yourself (Ah Ming makes a double jut sau and biu tze to the eyes of Robin)

Host: Wow! So fast!

Robin: Slow motion. First I am trying to attack her chest.

Host: (giving a verbal description of the motion) Before the attack reaches target then you’ve cut down on his arms and then pokes his eyes.   So fast!   You don’t need to Chi-sau first?  (LT, Ah Ming and Robin all say “NO”)

LT: In actual combat ..(interrupted by host)

Host: ….you don’t need to chi-sau first?

LT:  You attack right away.

Host: Ah. You attack right away?

Ah – Ming: Yes.

Host: So these are the techniques that you teach?  Those who don’t know kungfu won’t know the technique.  So you (Robin) knew the technique?

Robin: Yes.

Host: So what happens when a rapist comes from behind to grab you?  (Ah Ming demonstrates on Robin with an elbow)

LT:  (Laughing)…direct hit in one move

Host: Just like that?  What happens if he continues?  (Ah Ming turns around with a low elbow punch)   How do you kick his lower body?

LT: We don’t need to kick the lower body.

Ah Ming : No need.

LT:  Wing Tsun is very polite.   We don’t kick people down there and grab their lower….

Host: So such “polite” moves are enough, eh?

LT: Polite but deadly methods.

Host:  There are many interesting photos that contain fight scenes. I have seen some that … you have knives.  That is you.  You are not wearing glases.

LT: That is when I was young. That is me.  Yes. I did not wear glasses.

Host: Looking like Bruce Lee.

LT:   Now I am an old guy. Bruce Lee was more handsome than me.

Host: This one has fighting.

LT: That was when I was young.  1969 April…(interrupted by host)

Host: A competiton?

LT: No. No. In front… kicking was me.  In the background is GM Yip Man.  This was when I was in Baptist College.  I organized the first Chi Sau and Demonstration event.  See I kicked the opponent flying.  See it?

Host: The one wearing glasses is you?  That was not fighting, right?

LT: No. A demonstration.

Host: I see many of you photos holding knives … (interrupted by LT)

LT: This is Hungarian legislature….one of my kungfu nephews…a elected member of the legislature who is now minister of public security

Host: Wow. (looking at photo of double knives against 6.5 point pole).

LT: That is WT two weapons. On the right is me and on the left is …(interrupted by host).

Host: WT also use weapons?

LT: We also have. One long pole…. (looking at new photo).  This is …

Host: Masked Rider / Kamen Rider? (a very famous Japanese sci fi super hero – hostess trying to make a joke here).

LT:  No. This is European special forces.  The masked guy before he learned WT was already 2nd or 3rd dan black belt Karate champion. Later he learned WT. Many European Special Forces use WT.

Host: A lot of your followers already have a heavy martial arts back ground. You must be very good otherwise how can you control them?

LT: Yes. That is why..… This is in Hungary group photo.  In the white clothes is me and in the black clothing is the head Hungary instructor.  Behind are his students.   Here is me teaching the Hungary army Special Forces.  I am teaching them killing techniques.  Look at those in the front……now look at the one wearing a mask.  He is European special forces.  He just gave me a trophy.  He was Shorinryu Karate champion and later learned WT and is now 5 level.

Host: These Special Forces all have a martial arts background

LT: Yes. They all have a martial arts back ground.  So before they were taught WT they are already capable of beating people to death.

Host: Wow.  These pictures are so interesting.  You have many photos of taken of you with GM Yip Man.   Who are they?

LT: Jin Zidan (Donnie Yen) and Zhong Liti (Christie Chung).

Host: Zhong Liti knows kung fu?

LT: She took 10 days of lessons with me for a TV station program/movie.  She came to me to seek instruction.

LT:  This is Big Brother Cheng Long (Jackie Chan).  He came to visit me in my school.

Host:  He already knew WT?

LT:  He….

Host: What kungfu does he know?

LT: He knows a lot of various kungfu

Host: For making movies?

LT: For making movies.

Host: He is not originally WT background?

LT: He knows a little of everything.   As you know, for making movies, authenticity is not important because but what is attractive to the audience that is important.

Host: This is ….

LT:  This is one of my early students. Mok Man Wai - Karen Mok.  I know her whole family quite well.

Host: Does she know kungfu

LT: When she was really little she learned from my most senior student.  Later she learned from me.

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Posted by ralph haenel at 3:33 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 8 August 2010 7:23 PM PDT
Part 7 of 9 - Interview with WingTsun grandmaster Leung Ting

Interview with WingTsun grandmaster Leung Ting

Health & Lifestyle Channel
Hostess Zhao Ling
Hong Kong Cable TV Channel # 27

Interview part 7 of 9 - Translation by Tony Leung* of Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver

*The opinions and views expressed are those of the authors and participants of the TV show and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of the trainer team at Wing Tsun Kung Fu Vancouver.

Starting at 2:37

Host: We were just with Sifu Leung and his two “toe soon” - Bin Jai and Ah-Ming chatting.   It turns out Bin Jai is a 2nd dan black belt holder in Taekwondo.

 (They are laughing because the Hostess mixed up her words between “Hei dai” = black belt and the words “Tai Quan Dao” = Taikwondo.  Instead she said “Hei dao” which is one way to say “Mafia” or “under world”.   Her guests quickly corrected her).

 Sorry.  There are too many technical terms.  I am not entirely familiar with Martial Arts.

LT:  That was his rank (in another martial art) before he learned Wing Tsun.

Host: So that was before he began learning WT from you he already has another kungfu rank?

LT:  Yes. Already instructors rank.

Host:  Instructors rank.    Bin Jai, why did you decide to learn WT?

LT:  Because he thinks WT is great. (laughing)

Bin (Chinese name Tsang Ho Bun): Because when I was learning TKD, whenever I came across opponents who were larger than me then…(interrupted by Host)

Host: Hey you are fairly big size.

Bin:  Yes. But there will always be people who are bigger than me.  So I was a little worried about fighting them.  But WT… because being physically bigger.. won’t ensure a win.  So in the end I choose to learn WT.

Now I also teach many students and some of them are physically big in build … (interrupted by host)

Host:  You teach TKD or WT ? Now.

Bin: I have not taught TKD because I think WT is more useful … (interrupted by host)

Host: “Yi Rou Zhi Kang” (using gentle power to subdue greater strength)?   That is the attraction?  I know you are an instructor.  Do you mind performing a bit for the audience?.

Bin:  This is the TKD kick.

Host: This is TKD’s most basic kick right?

Bin:  High kick

Host: High Kick.  Is the high kick hard to learn /practice?

Bin: Yes it is hard to learn.

Host: If you are a bit overweight, that would be difficult.

Bin: Yes. You have to be balanced.

Host: So you must be in good shape then to do this?  I know Sifu Leung in WT you often practice rolling your arms like this.

LT: We call it Chi sau (sticking hands)

Host: Oh. It is called Chi Sau.

LT: yes.

Host:  In Mandarin it is also called “Chi Sau” ??

LT: Wing Tsun is Guangdong style martial art.  The word “Chi” basically already existed in Kangxi era dictionaries. It is not exclusively a Cantonese word.  It existed in ancient Chinese.  Later on, it was replaced by “Nian” but we Cantonese still use “Chi”.  You know in Cantonese, we are (Zhong Zhou Gu Yu ).*  So the word “Chi” can still be found in dictionaries.
 

*[ Tony’s comment: Cantonese can arguably be said to be more “pure” as a Chinese language compared to modern Mandarin because Cantonese still use many “ancient” Chinese characters that are not used or known today in modern spoken Mandarin.  Ancient invaders of China tended to come from the north whereas the south of China was usually the last hold outs to invaders, authority and influence from the north.  So, it is not surprising that the father of modern China – Dr. Sun Yat Sen was a Cantonese along with many of his supporters. I am not sure how to translate the phrase that LT said, but it basically means “we are an ancient language”].

Host : Can you demonstrate what is Chi Sau?  In the movie Yip Man, we see the hands are like this (she waves her hands around)

LT: It is almost like Taiji. But in WT …. we shall demonstrate a bit. (Struggling with the wire of the mic).   Taiji pushes like this.   While WT… can you see it (in the monitor)?  It flows forward.

Host:  It flows forward

LT: Also most important is Guo sau.  The space here is small so I cannot really hit him.

Host:  Wow. I can hear the booming sound from here.

LT: Our control is the most important.

Host: Wow.  So fast! . I just saw you do I slow.

LT: I was going slow already.

Host: Once again but slowly.

LT:  See very slowly.

Host:  I saw you were going very slowly and then suddenly “pop”

LT:  Do you see it?

Host: Beginning was slow and gentle.  Wow.

LT: It is like this.    It boils down to these two simple movements but in reality it is many more movements.  Wait a second I will get the both of them to show it slowly.

LT: Look how it is constantly adjusting / transforming. Right.

Host: This is called Chi Sau?

LT: See, it is continuously adjusting / transforming

Host: The female can also attack?

LT: Yes both male and female can attack.   Actually, they are instructors.

Host: Ah-Ming is also an instructor?

LT: She has been practicing for a long time.  Also she teaches all female classes.

Host: She sticks hands and ultimately strikes at the chest?

LT:  Hit the chest because it is just part of the action (in the exercise) but we actually hit the head, ears, the chest, and many other places…the weak points in the body.

Host:  How long does she stick hands before she has to strike?

LT: It is not fixed because we do not have a pre determined form.  If you have a pre determined form, then it is not real combat. Speaking of real combat, you basically are going by feel, right?

Host: Wow. It is like in the movie.

LT:  In the movie, that is using the camera …(interrupted by host)

Host: Wow. That was really impressive.   Your two Toe-Soons are really impressive.  Lets give them a hand of applause. Better than the movie.

LT: This was real……Thank you, thank you

Host:  Leung Sifu, why don’t you make your own movie (a biopic)?

LT: Make a self documentary?   xxxx

Host: If you make your own movie, you must have a lot of stories to tell the world.

LT: It should be that I am the only one….currently there is…… in the mainland telling journalists that “our Wing Chun has spread to 65 countries”. Now it is not just 65 countries. It is we now actually in 66 -67 countries.  (hostess tried to cut in)

Hostess: That is your association’s branches are in 66 countries?

LT:  It is “my wing chun”, not “our wing chun”  (that has spread to 67 countries).   Now many on the mainland misunderstood. They think a certain wing chun sifu (on the mainland) has spread his art to 65 countries. That is B.S.  It is actually “my wing tsun” that has done it

Host: So you are actually the innovator?

LT:   In the world, actually I am the only person who has gone out there to promote thru out the world.

Host: Yes to promote. Leung Sifu..you are the innovator.  Promoted in 66 countries now.

LT:  about 4000 branches/clubs.

Host: Your membership now number how many ??

LT:  Over 1 million.  Now some people claim over 2 million and that is also BS.  You can work out the numbers…. (clip cut off)

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Posted by ralph haenel at 3:26 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 8 August 2010 7:19 PM PDT

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