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Chief-Instructor Vancouver Bio - Go to Sifu Ralph Haenel

All current members of the Wing Tsun trainer team Vancouver & Victoria

Bio - Sihing Rob Spratt, Read below

I started training in the martial arts in 1985 when I was 13 years old. I started training in a style called Moo Kempo Kung-Fu, which basically is a hard soft non-traditional style… The focus of Kempo is realistic self-defense. I stayed in that school for the next 4 years taking private lessons and group classes. Near the end of this time I was really feeling like I had reached a plateau in my training and felt I was not really improving significantly. During this time I trained under Brian and Laurie Kitson and eventually continued my training under their Instructor, Wayne Thomas.

After finishing high school in 1989 I began looking for new styles to train but continued to practice Kempo all the while. During the next few years my training consisted of working out with training partners and not in a formal school setting. In 1993-94 I trained for a short time at the Traditional Kung Fu School ran by instructor, Jack Wong. This school is a very traditional kung fu school much different from the previous style that I trained and teaches Praying Mantis and Hung Gar Kung Fu as well as Muay Thai kickboxing. I found that there was much to learn in the Kung Fu classes and that one could stay for years learning the numerous forms. I did notice that the kung fu students, even though very disciplined and skilled in the forms could not really defend themselves or use the assortment of techniques in a free sparring situation. When talking with the instructor he suggested that I train the Muay Thai Kickboxing which was much more practical for fighting. I started attending the Muay Thai classes, Kung fu classes, as well as some Tai Chi classes being offered on Saturday’s and continued training there until deciding to go back to college.

At college (1990-1993, 1994-1995) I opened a martial arts club that was open to all styles to train and practice. I had the opportunity to work out with various people who trained various arts.

I continued to train and teach my base style of Kempo Kung fu as well as train other styles that I had learned from various instructors and various training partners over the years. I tried to combine the techniques and theories that I had learnt with the end goal being to make things work in realistic situations.

After college, I started training with (1993-1994) Tae Kwon Do Master, Shawn Storrie. I started to train with Shawn the various styles that we each respectively had trained previously, both of us looking to improve our skills as we began to work as training partners. In 1995 we both were training Hapkido under Grand Master Chang, who is a 9th level Grand Master in Hapkido. I continued to train Hapkido with Shawn and with Master Chang for about a year. Shawn and I continued to train Hapkido together after Master Chang’s school closed.

In 1998-1999 I sought to continue my training in Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido with Master Bruce Chang who is a Master in the military version of Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido. I only trained with Master Bruce Chang for a short time. I quickly realized that all there was for me to learn was more patterns and possibly Olympic style competition fighting. There was little for me to learn in realm of practical self-defense.

During the decade of the 90’s I was really getting progressively more pessimistic towards the martial arts and it did not seem to matter where I trained or with whom, I always ended up feeling stagnant in my training and with my progress. It seemed that every school I would go to visit or check out was the same old stuff, most of which seemed much less effective than the original Kempo style and the Thai boxing that I had previously trained. I was always looking for the “missing link”…a system of fighting that would have all the answers.

I was always looking for new techniques or theories that would fill in the gaps and make sense of things. Although I had not officially trained JKD, I had been doing just that all along, trying to take what was useful for me from a particular style and discard what was not. I did like the JKD philosophy at this time and yet it still did not seem to have any answers to what I was looking for.

In 1995 I went back to my roots and started taking private lessons from Wayne Thomas who is a Master in Kempo Kung Fu. I guess I felt that after all my searching, my first system still seemed the most effective and most practical in regards to realistic self-defense. I was hoping that if I completed the entire style that I would achieve a much higher level of skill and find what I was looking for. I trained with Wayne off and on for the next few years.

It wasn’t until May of 1999 that I heard about the Vancouver Wing Tsun School led by Sifu Ralph Haenel. I attended an open house and demonstration of Wing Tsun led by Sifu Ralph. I was blown away at the logic and depth to Wing Tsun. I was amazed at how effective and superior Wing Tsun is in realistic situations. I realized that I really knew nothing about realistic self-protection so I joined the school and started training immediately. I stopped training all other styles and converted completely to Wing Tsun. I have been at the school ever since and have had the privilege of being a private student to Sifu Ralph. I have also trained extensively at seminars with Sifu Emin Boztepe and look forward to a lifetime of continuing my Wing Tsun education.

Sihing Rob Spratt,
2nd Technician Grade Wing Tsun Kung Fu