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Text, Feel Safe and Confident!
A Different Experience! - By Henry Tong (October 1995)

M artial arts offer a variety of benefits to the willing practitioner. Whether it be for self-defense, conditioning or just plain fun, these are all legitimate reasons for learning any martial art.

For myself, self-defense was the main reason behind my desire for learning - the improvements in conditioning and self-confidence and even the "fun-factor" were secondary reasons.

I began my training in Hung Gar Kung Fu privately about two years ago. Hung Gar Kung Fu is a southern Chinese style emphasizing the "one hit, one kill" principle.
The practitioner, through rigorous training, would condition his body so well that it could withstand blows of any kind. Conversely, he would also be able to deliver such an intense (single) blow that it could seriously maim or even kill his assailant.

Through dedicated training, I was able to increase my physical condition, my tolerance to pain and my overall flexibility. However, I never quite felt confident in utilizing the movements I had learned.
Sure, I was confident I could defeat someone of similar ability in a light-contact or "friendly" match, but fighting someone off on the street without rules - that was a different story.

I learned many Hung Gar techniques in the past two years while taking private lessons. Many of them were fancy techniques that looked absolutely astounding.
I must admit, like many other people, I had illusions of grandeur. I envisioned myself doing fancy high kicks and other difficult techniques that would render every one of my opponents useless.

However, the reality was I could perform single and "two-man fighting" forms with great precision and speed but could not apply them in unpredictable situations.

"Applicability" is the keyword here. In order to truly apply the art, you must faithfully utilize the techniques learned in response to all situations (whether you or not you are prepared for an attack).

You will notice that most practitioners will remain faithful to their techniques until they are in a situation where they are not allowed to plan their attack (i.e. in close, on the ground, while being hit with a barrage of attacks, etc.…).

When the practitioner is truly pressured, he generally resorts to instinctive movements such as swinging "wildly" with punches, grappling and disorderly retreating.

Hence at this point, the practitioner with greater speed and/ or luck will generally be the victor (when technique no longer plays a part in the equation).

What I am making here is a generalized statement. I am sure there are many "great" fighters that can faithfully apply their techniques in every possible situation; however, these are very few and far between.

The abundance and complexity of techniques learned in most styles are astounding. The average person will surely have difficulty remembering all these complex techniques.

Consider that there are eight areas of the body you can attack (as in the Pak-Kua style of Kung Fu) and that you can use each of your four limbs to defend each of these areas during a straight frontal attack - total techniques = 32 (4 limbs x 8 areas = 32).

Now consider that there are also curve line attacks in each of these zones - grand total = 64. Also, take into account additional techniques for in-fighting, ground-fighting, etc., etc. …

As you can see , the number of techniques gradually increases and most people cannot possibly think about which techniques to use in every possible situation.

In order to make a defense system work in almost every situation, it must be simply and work based on instinctive reactions. There is not enough time to think in a fight.
When I was learning two-man fighting forms, it helped to make some defenses more instinctive(when the attacks were targeted in the right vicinity). When attacks strayed slightly from their intended target, someone was going to be hit accidentally.
As well, timing was also extremely important.

You can easily say that I did not spend enough years studying Hung Gar, or the style was not suited for me or even that I am physically not a fighter - and you might be right in part.

However, a realistic self-defense program should "work" for everyone and be learned in a relatively short period of time. Very few active movements allow for this system to be learned fairly quickly.

The more movements, the more time required to think about your reaction(s).

In the few months (Oct 95) that I have been studying Wing Tsun Kung Fu, I am far more confident of my abilities than ever before. The reasons behind this are simple, the techniques learned are extremely simple and the attacks are no-nonsense and straight forward.

As well, the defenses in this system are built into the reflexes of the practitioner through a series of special exercises (Chi-Sao), you can’t find in any other system or style. Hence strength, speed and luck are not important factors in determining the victor but technique and more important fighting principles.

Please click here to view three photos.

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