Entries in Fighting (5)


Seminar in CT this weekend

Sifu Alex teaching Club Kung Fu owner Elliot LeungThis weekend I will be teaching my annual WT workshop at Club Kung Fu in Stamford CT.  The seminar is open to all CWT and CWT-Network students.  Outside guests may come but must register first with Club Kung Fu or here at CWT.  The topic of this year's workshop will be chi sau and tactical footwork and is open for all levels including beginners.  

The seminar is this Saturday, October 6th from 11am-4pm at Club Kung Fu,  1018 Hope St. Stamford, CT (203)504-2072 and the cost is $80/per person.


Examining the WT Get-Up Part 1: Method A

One of the aspects that really drew me to WT kung-fu was the attention that is paid to fighting in different, sometimes disadvantageous situations.  Most martial arts focus on tournament or sport style fighting where two opponents will be evenly matched and allowed to get into their respective “en garde” positions before going at it.  The truth is in fighting we may be suddenly attacked, given cheap shots or accosted in a place where we simply can’t put up our traditional man/wu sau guard in time.  The great thing about WT is that we train and pay attention to all these possibilities and train the students accordingly.

In line with this, we also teach our students how to fight if they find themselves in the unfortunate position of being on the ground.  This is nothing new as many believe that WT specific ground-fighting techniques were developed after the advent of the UFC.  Actually in one of my trips to HK I saw photos of WT students practicing fighting off their backs and performing what is now called “ground and pound” way back in the sixties and early seventies.  Here you can even see a photo of the late Sifu Leung Tuen (brother to GM Leung Ting) from 1974 performing a pretty vicious ground and pound against an opponent from the Choy Lee Fut style.  His opponent was sent to the hospital after this fight.

Despite already having the foundation for ground-fighting, WT is not a style that specializes in this range of fighting.  We specialize in tactics and principles which don’t concern “where” or “how” we are fighting.  However, as the nature of ground-fighting and grappling in general has become more widespread and more advanced, so has the need to update WT’s specific ground-fighting methods.  The beauty of this is that we can do this all within the framework of WT’s techniques and concepts.

One of the great gems of the Hong Kong style ground-fighting techniques is what I label the “WT get-up”.  I admit I stole this name from the Turkish get-up (TGU) found in Turkish wrestling and kettlebell training.  This technique allows the WT fighter who is on the ground to effectively “get-up” off the ground quickly and efficiently after they have been knocked down.  I originally learned this in the EWTO as a student and then later I learned it directly from Grandmaster Leung Ting.  The methods I learned in both the EWTO and from the grandmaster were more or less identical.  Later as I learned from other instructors both in Hong Kong, stateside and elsewhere I noticed a number of variations in the get-up.  Some made sense and some where outright dangerous and difficult for many to perform.  I’m going to describe the version(s) that I teach at CWT and also dispel what I believe is the most dangerous version that is unfortunately being taught openly.  If your instructor teaches you the “dangerous” method, then you may want to bring up these points subtly to him/her.  It’s important that if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being on the ground that you can get up quickly and safely.

Method A

The standard method of “getting-up” is what we can call here Method A.  Method A implies that you have fallen to the ground in the proper WT leg scissor or ground-fighting position and that you will quickly use the hips to generate momentum to stand back up.  This is a great and efficient way to get back up, although it does have its limitations tactically.   Done correctly the student will swing up into a semi-crouch position which is relatively sturdy in case one gets kicked or attacked on the way up.  From this semi-crouch position, the WT trainee can quickly and easily get up to a fighting position without using too much undue strength.  One of the main ideas behind this way of getting up is to get up without using the hands as an additional support.  The theory behind this is if you use your hands to support yourself while you stand up you won’t have any hands to protect yourself should your assailant try to soccer kick you on the way up.

Image 1: The leg-scissor - WT's primary falling position

Method A Breakdown:

The WT practitioner is thrown or falls to the ground.  When a WT fighter goes to the ground, the falling techique of choice is to fall "like a cooked shrimp" so that the WT fighter rolls to the floor as opposed to landing flat.  This method is similiar if not identical to the falling methods of Chinese wrestlers or Shuai Jiao practitioners.  This is the preferred method of falling as we are not landing on a soft tatami mat on the street and traditional "breakfalls" will just injure the falling person more than the fall itself.

When the WT fighter lands they will fall into the "leg scissor" position (image 1).  If the WT fighter is stuck on the ground, meaning the opponent is standing or hovering making getting up difficult, the WT fighter will change the leg scissor to the ground-fighting postion (image 2).

Image 2: When you have fallen and can't get-up - be ready to turn and kick the knees!

When in the ground-fighting position the front leg should never be higher than the opponent's knee.  If it is placed too high, the opponent can use it as a handle to roll the WT fighter to one side and get on top.

The actual "get-up" is performed from either the leg-scissor position or from the ground-fighting position depending on the situation.  The Method A of getting up can only be performed if there is enough space between the opponent and the WT fighter.  If the opponent is too close (hovering above) and does not give up an inch, then Method B must be employed.  Method B will be explained in part 2.

Follow the photo series below to see the classical WT get-up performed step by step.


Step 1 "Hip Pop": from either the leg-scissor position or the ground-fighting position, roll on the back and then thrust upward with the hips towards the sky.  The better the hip thrust, the easier it is to pop into the next position with relative ease and minimal use of leg force


Step 2 "Cross Leg": Roll forward using the momentum from the "hip pop" and land in this pre-position.  The legs should form a 90 degree angle with each other.  DO NOT LAND ON THE SOLE OF YOUR BACK FOOT!  This is the unsuitable method that will be discussed in part 3.

Step 3 "The Semi-Crouch":  The next step is to pop into this semi-crouch position.  This is a vital transition point in case your opponent comes back to kick you on the way up.  This position at least gives you a bit of structure on the way up.  However you must realize that the entire get-up process is done very quickly with the momentum generated from the hips.  You won't be in this or any of the other positions for any amount of time.


Step 4 "Get Up, Stand Up":  Using the tremendous momentum gained from the hip pop and forward rolling action, stand straight up onto your feet.  Some traditional instructors teach their students to do the final part of the get-up while chain-punching.  I personally don't teach this as I feel it is an unnecessary violation of the old WT motto "don't launch any void (punches that won't land on the opponent) punches".  

No martial art techniques or protocols are 100% perfect.  All techniques have their advantages and disadvantages.  Martial artists have to learn how to overcome these things through hard practice and learn how to adjust or modify techniques on the spot to make them adaptable.  Here is the final breakdown of Method A:


  • Fast and efficient way of getting up once trained properly
  • Promotes good core stability and hip mobility
  • Offers good protection and is applicable under stress


  • Not reliable if the standing opponent doesn’t move away (risk of counter too high)
  • Small percentage of students still don’t have ankle/knee/hip mobility required to get up this way

Stay tuned for Part 2 which will examine Method B - when the opponent doesn't give you the chance to up up frontally.


CWT Instructor Sifu Mike Yahn in the Dark Knight Rises

City Wing Tsun's own Sifu Mike Yahn got some screen time in the new Dark Knight Rises film.  Mike can be seen briefly in one of the scenes where Batman's nemesis Bane is having a stand-off with GCPD cops.  We are very excited for Mike, but this is not a one time thing.  Mike is getting more work in Hollywood and in the stunt world in particular lately.  Mike got to flex his stuntman chops in the first Sherlock Holmes film doing over 90% of the final fight scene on the bridge against Sherlock (doubling for Mark Strong as Lord Blackwood).  There are other Hollywood projects Mike has worked on recently that will be released in the future as well.  Although we would have like to see Mike flex his fighting chops in the film, he does have bragging rights about being in a Batman film -  pretty cool thing to say for any budding stuntman/actor.  Congrats!  Find out more about Mike at www.mikeyahn.com 


The first Animal Day was BRUTAL (but also fun)!

Madness after a grueling 68-minute battle of will and conditioningLast Saturday we finally had our much-anticipated Animal Day.  The Animal Day challenge is based on a fighting formula that I got from Sifu Chris Collins (www.chriscollinsaction.com) in Hong Kong.  It consists of three phases, namely 1) guo sau (chi sau/lat sau sparring), 2) free-fighting, and finally 3) ground-fighting.  

Sweeps in Guo Sau are standard!In order to complete the grueling 68-minute challenge without hacking up a lung, we had all the fighters (started with 12 - whittled down to 8) participate in a 12-week training camp.  This included 5 workouts every week that gradually increased cardio, conditioning, heavy-bag work and bodyweight calisthenics.  Even non-fighters participated in the 12-week challenge and their reward was that they were able to watch the fighters do Animal Day.  We had nearly 20+ particpants in the 12-week challenge and I was very happy to see everyone (fighters and non-fighters) train so hard for three months.

The first phase (guo sau) consists of three 9-minute rounds (!) non-stop.  Each round of guo sau focused on another aspect, for example applying certain concepts or techniques against your resisting partner.  As this is full guo sau it includes lat sau, kicks and sweeps as part of the deal.  This with only one-minute breaks in between.  Total time for phase 1 with breaks was 30 minutes.

Always defend your center! Brutal elbow by EugeneSome junior students had some difficulty with phase 1 but stuck it through anyway.  CWT Trainer Craig Savino was by far the most technical and aggressive in phase 1.

The second phase (free-fighting) consists of two 8-minute rounds of fighting WT vs. non-WT attacks all while using a limited number of movements from the repetoire.  Participants wear full equipment to allow realistic pressure and intensity to be used.  Every minute the attackers and defenders switch roles to ensure that it's not a WT vs. WT melee as seen in most WT schools.  This is done with two minute breaks in between.  Total time of this phase is 20 minutes.  Sifu Nicole Daniels was an absolute phenom in this round.

Phase 2 unfortunately put Craig out of commission as a pre-existing rib injury was aggravated by a nasty knee strike from Sifu Nicole Daniels.  Since we were down a fighter I had to throw on the equipment and get in their and fight myself.  Luckily I also was training and working out so my conditioning was up to par to fight with these guys.  I ran an anti-WT clinic (using my knowledge of other arts and WT to counter my student's WT) on all those who I sparred with.  As Craig himself blogged:

"My Sifu has Jiu Jitsu, Tae Kwan Do and of course Wing Tsun chops. Plus he knows everything we might pull and how to counter it. It’s basically the most beneficially educational nightmare you could ever have."

Putting an educational "nightmare" on Roland :)

The final phase is ground-fighting where the students are stripped of using any WT striking and must solely use concepts to escape the grapplers attempts at pinning or controlling.  Taking away the devasting striking arsenal limits the WT fighter use body mechanics and WT tactics to escape in addition to good old-fashioned conditioning and grit.  Two 7-minute rounds of this with a 2-minute break.  Total time of phase 3 is 18 minutes.  The total Animal Day challenge is 68 minutes non-stop.

Craig about to bring the knee up... Phase 1 chi sau sparring.This was the first time we staged this event and I was very pleased with the results.  All 8 participants performed excellently and have learned very quickly what aspects of the game they need to work on.  I'm very proud of the hard work, preparation and the final perfomance from my fighters.

We will be holding more such events in the future.  Our Saturday Dynamic WT fight class is truly a highlight of the WT week.  I use modern training and fighting protocols (same as in MMA gyms) and applied them to WT fighting.  I'm very pleased with the results!

To see more photos from this awesome event, please visit our CWT Facebook page. 



Animal Day Graduates:

  • Sifu Nicole Daniels
  • Craig S.
  • Pete M.
  • Roland B.
  • Eugene T.
  • Brian C.
  • Vincent P.
  • Joseph L.

You guys are beasts!!


Quality or quantity?

11.jpgTeaching martial arts in such a diverse and amazing place like NYC has given me the chance to experience all types of people in all types of funny and bizarre situations.  I constantly tell my students that "one day I'll write a book" on all the crazy things that I've experienced since opening my school.  Outside of all the really wacky and outlandish stuff that happens (email challenge letters and even self-proclaimed "ninjas" showing up at my door), I have to constantly struggle with the unfortunate misconceptions about martial arts on an almost daily basis.  It really saddens me when otherwise intelligent people join my school riddled with misconceptions and strange ideas about Wing Tsun (wing chun, et al) developed from a time before they even joined my school.

My favorite one is this: A potential student contacts our school and is quite eager to tell us how much "wing chun" he already "knows".  Usually they are from another school (one in particular, usually) that teaches its students all the forms of "wing chun" very quickly.  Almost like handing out candy - before the first candy is thoroughly eaten the student is given another right away.  The result is always disastrous.  Students coming to us from these types of schools usually have such a superficial knowledge of wing chun that even after they take our intro lesson they quickly realize that they couldn't (to quote RZA of the Wu Tang Clan) "fight their way out of a wet paper bag with scissors in their hands".   Which is unfortunate, because it is not their fault.  It is the irresponsible teachers of wing chun that ingrain this incorrect understand in their students.

This is partially why my former teacher, Grandmaster, Prof. Leung Ting coined the spelling "Wing Tsun (WT)" to distinguish the training methods from those of the more common "wing chun" styles.   We treat the forms of Wing Tsun as a course of study.  The first two forms, siu nim tau and chum kiu provide the groundwork for much of what the average person would need for a real fight (not to be confused with tournament fighting and kickbox style sparring - both are not real fighting).  The first two forms (and the curriculum/training methods attached to them) teach the student how to fight using kicks, punches, elbows, knee strikes, close range fighting, anti-clinching and even sweeps and ground-fighting.  By the time a students has really mastered these two forms and their movements in real-fighting then the advanced training of biu tze and wooden dummy can begin. 

Granted, not everyone who trains at our school is a hardcore fighter.  Many people train Wing Tsun because of the many other benefits as well and this is very important too.  That is why we have classes now for different interest - regular classes for our students, fighter classes, instructor classes and so on.  But we make sure students are well aware of their abilities so that they can be confident but not cocky.  Wing Tsun is also and incredible art of motion and it is important to have students who see this too.

But it is when people come to us with the idea that knowing the superficial sequences of siu nim tau, chum kiu, biu tze and wooden dummy FORMS equates FIGHTING SKILL then I have to chuckle inside.  Alas, it doesn't matter how many forms one knows, only how well one has trained.  Do the very tough and talented champions of Thai-boxing brag about "how many techniques" they know?  Certainly not!  They only talk about how hard they train!

For the intelligent and amazing martial art of Wing Tsun it is no different.  The only secret is training.  When your opponent is standing in front of you he does not see the quantity of techniques you know, nor does he care.  If you haven't trained hard, none of it matters.

In closing, let me say this: to enjoy Wing Tsun as hobby one should train hard.  To enjoy Wing Tsun for fitness one must train harder than the hobbyist.  So certainly, to become a real fighter there is no choice but to make hard tough training a lifestyle.

That's all that matters, not how many forms you learned within one year ;-) The faster one realizes that, the faster one will learn Wing Tsun...