On the page below, recognised masters and instructors of various oriental and occidental martial sports voice their opinions on the practical self-defence value of their respective styles. Some readers may consider this obtrusive, though it is only intended as food for thought and a change of consciousness.
Just as the introduction of full-contact contests destroyed many a budoka’s dangerous illusions about deadly techniques, this text is intended as a modest contribution towards helping the Asian self-defence arts to arrive at a more honest and realistic self-assessment. Many of you may well be surprised to know that some experts rate the self-defence value of Western wrestling and boxing more highly than that of traditional Asian styles. Us Westerners may quite rightly be proud of our boxing, wrestling, kicking and armed combat skills.
And all of us must understand quite clearly that even the best system is only as effective as the person who represents it. It is not styles that confront each other in a fight, but people.
Fighting spirit is the last unknown variable, and is often of much more decisive importance than any of the other factors mentioned.
I would like to thank all the experts who have kindly made their statements and views available for publication. Even if it is not always possible to agree with them, their experience and opinions may nonetheless provide food for thought.
Counter Terrorist first Response Officer
As a Counter Terrorist First Response Officer, my tasks ran from protecting foreign diplomats to extracting suspects from aeroplanes. In my line of work, I rely heavily on Martial Arts skills in close quarter combat to protect myself. Despite having obtained my black belt in three different styles, I am constantly searching for a complete system that allows me to do my job effectively and efficiently.
The first time I saw the Wing Tsun ad in a magazine I was rather skeptic but my doubt turned into joy when I witnessed the speed, power and accuracy able to be generated by the instructor (you have to see it to believe it). I am now convinced Wing Tsun is for me and I bet my life on it every day.
Counter Terrorist First Response Officer (Australia) (name witheld)
A boxing champion on WingTsun
I have been interested in boxing since my early youth, and joined the German 64 Harleshausen e.V. boxing club at the age of 12.
At the age of 13 I became the junior featherweight champion of the state of Hessia. In the two following years I became Hessian Vice Champion and Hessian Champion. At the age of 16 I fought in the South-West German Championships, but came only second. In the following year I became Champion of South-West Germany and qualified for the German Championships. Because I had no opponent in my weight class, I became German Champion without having to fight. A year later I joined the seniors, fought for the German Championship once again and knocked out the previous year’s champion, Peters from Dillenberg, in the first round. After that I only took part in tournaments. At the age of 21 I changed to bodybuilding, which I hat to stop 5 years later because of a shoulder injury.
A short time afterwards, a friend of mine told me about WT system. I joined an introductory. During this course I found I was completely at the mercy of the WT techniques and attacks, even though I myself had been practicing a fighting sport for years.
Now I want to learn this scientific fighting method, which does not leave anything to chance.
A 4th Dan Jiu Jitsu about WingTsun
first became aware of the WT system from reading specialist magazines. Having read some of Leung Ting’s and Keith Kernspecht’s books about WT, I took part in introductory WT training courses.
WT instruction differs considerably from any other Asian martial arts styles with which I am familiar. In 1970 I started with Judo (4 years), Aikido (1 year) and Jiu-Jitsu (14 years), with which I have stayed to the present day.
The basic training in the styles with which I am familiar represents a kind of rucksack that one always carries around, even though one no longer needs parts of its contents. Watching competitions, for example, one notices that the often very extensive basic techniques are reduced to a minimum, partly because the rules forbid one or the other technique and partly because some techniques are not practicable.
Although these rules no longer interfere in a personal self-defence situation, one should take the time to consider which techniques provide a successful self-defense.
Having learned WT for almost a year now, I am still waiting for the first technique that I can forget because I won’t need it later!
In my capacity as a Jiu-Jitsu instructor of more than 10 years standing, I have always endeavored to provide my students with the means to defend themselves effectively, which to me includes overcoming a physically stronger opponent. To fulfill this requirement, it has been necessary to free the method and also the individual self-defence combinations from unnecessary ballast.
In familiarising myself with the basic principles of WT, certain facts became clear to me: one was the principle of simultaneous defence and attack, which gives the defender a time advantage that the attacker lacks for further action. The defender’s own level of protection is increased automatically. In WT, defensive and attacking movements are limited to a minimum, direct paths are taken and even more precious time is saved. There are no pauses between individual techniques, the attacker is confronted with a torrent of defensive and attacking movements which often take place simultaneously.
Thanks to this new understanding my own self-defence changed over the following years. Although I was still unable to get rid of the ballast, that one drags around from many other styles to meet the grading requirements, the efficiency of my self-defence was drastically increased.
Because of the characteristics described above, the Leung Ting system represents a highly efficient method of self defence. Even at the basic-training level there are no frills whatsoever, and the WT principle of always taking the shortest route provides the best possible defence when fighting in a confined space. What surprises outsiders is that the hand techniques develop the same order of kinetic energy as a conventional punch, even though they travel only a few centimeters.
After a time, the specific form of partner training causes the students to develop a body sense for defence and attack, whereby all movements are made on the basis of reflexes. This means that defences and attacks are performed without pausing to think.
What difficulties did I encounter when learning WT? Let me answer this question in brief phrases:
At the beginning I found the stance needed getting used to.
This was added to by the attacking step, with the bodyweight mainly on the rear leg.
I am still nowhere near mastering the secure, firm stance.
The different timing (first the punch followed immediately by the step) requires a lot of practice.
It is not always easy to translate what one has seen into own body movements, let alone to make a logical sequence of movements second nature.
And then there is always one’s own strength, which especially gets in the way when things speed up a little.
The absolute precision of the movements, which what makes WT so effective, was a totally new experience for me. Again and again one finds it necessary to discard previously learned patterns of movement.
Anybody seriously interested in self-defence should get to know WingTsun.
Thank you for the interest shown in my experience with WT. I remain, with best wishes especially to Grand Master Leung Ting.
4th Dan Jiu-Jitsu
Technical training adviser in Lower Saxony, Germany
A judge who practices WT
I was 42 years of age and had never practiced any form of martial arts when Mr. Leinenbach introduced me to WT during an information event held at the State Supreme Court in Saarbrücken, Germany.
The following aspects of WT convinced me:
– WT teaches techniques that enable even a non-sporting type do defend himself/herself against attacks by physically stronger persons, or at least to gain time to flee.
– This skill can be learned within a short time, even without intensive training.
– WT teaches one how to react to sudden attacks without panic.
Today I am convinced that nobody would e.g. be able to keep me in a stranglehold successfully, and that this applies to anybody who has started learning WT, even if only 2 hours. The system is extremely suitable for physically weaker people, and particularly for women. I am still practicing WT, and have meanwhile achieved the first student grade.
Judge at the State Supreme Court