Entries in new york city (6)


The Three Steps to Learning (Martial) Movement

When learning anything new, be it martial or any movement art, there is a great model for progressive skill development.  My first wing chun instructor Sifu Johann Sasynuik taught me this when I was a teenager learning non-classical gung fu at his school.  I have adopted these three steps to learning in my school because I find they best represent the methodology that I appreciate and wish to instill in my students.  I figured I would share them all with you. They are (in important order):

  1. UNDERSTAND what you are trying to do
  2. PRACTICE slowly and correctly
  3. TRAIN for speed and/or power or intensity

Too often students rush to get to number three without the the proper understanding or mechanics to do so.  Learning is not a race!  With a little patience to grind out some proper mechanics first, the result of competent movement will actually come faster then if one has to spend time correcting mistakes later.  Training for speed and power without proper mechanics is recipe for physical compensations, injuries and just plain sloppiness.  With haste comes mistakes, and this is reinforced by the old military sharp-shooting adage of "slow is smooth, smooth is fast".

Fixing hastily trained patterns is a time waster for both you and your instructor.  If there is a shortcut to learning martial arts, these steps are it.


The breakdown of Bruce Lee's Chinese name(s)


BJJ Prof. & MMA Fighter Tom DeBlass at City Wing Tsun!

BJJ Prof. Tom DeBlass with Wing Tsun Sifu Alex RichterWe were very proud to host BJJ expert and MMA fighter Tom DeBlass for a two-hour workshop at our school this past June.  Prof. Tom is a black belt in BJJ under Riccardo Almeida and has an impressive record in both competitive grappling and in MMA.  A "retired" ROC champion and two-time UFC veteran, Tom is now focused on grappling tournaments and teaching at his Ocean County BJJ academy.  Although not actively focused on MMA anymore, he still does show up in the Bellator cage from time to time.

Back when Tom was getting ready to fight in the UFC in Macau he asked me to help him find a spot to practice at the week leading up to his fight.  Being that I am pretty much the white-guy authority on all things HK and Macau (at least martial arts related), I found a small BJJ school for him to practice at.  In return for the favor he said he would teach a workshop at my school and thus this is how the whole thing came to be. 

Although we teach a traditonal Chinese martial art and Tom teaches the very different BJJ and MMA, we found more similarities than one might think.  A lot of Tom's advice (for example getting very close to the opponent so his punches are not as effective) seem to come right out of the WT playbook.  Tom showed some fantastic clinch work (some of which was nearly identical to what we teach), as well as some locks, takedowns and groundwork that was new territory for my students.

I want my students to be exposed to different martial arts and methodologies so that they can better apply their own Wing Tsun.  Most traditional martial arts practitioners just talk, but I want my students to know first hand what it's like to train with elite practitioners of different styles.  At the beginning of the workshop Prof. Tom said that there was a lot he can learn from us too.  A truly humble attitude from a top fighter like Tom should be a lesson to all the keyboard warriors out there!

For the last 30 minutes Tom had a Q & A session and regaled us with amazing stories of his experiences in both the grappling and MMA world.  He also explained the brutal weight cutting procedures and gave great insight into fighting sports.  




I have to say that I have had many teachers over the course of my long martial arts career and Tom was definitely much more polished as an instructor than I would have expected.  No doubt he knows his stuff, but what sets Prof. Tom apart is his rare ability to communicate it to a broad and (in this case) non-BJJ audience.  My student's know what an emphasis I place on proper teaching pedagogie, so it takes a lot to impress me!

The proceeds of the workshop were all donated directly to Tom's student(s) who were affected by the devasting Sandy hurricane last year.  If you are in the Forked River/Tom's River NJ area, please check out OCBJJ or visit http://oceancountybjj.com/

I rarely openly endorse instructors, but Prof. Tom is in a class all by himself.


Bring on 2013!

I'm still buzzing off of the excitement from this past weekend's annual Winter Intensive workshop.  We had students from all over come to join us for this yearly staple of CWT.  I do this workshop every year as a way to get people back into the swing of training after the holiday break.  The outline of the workshop I described in the previous blog post and with the exception of a couple time restraints here and there, I was able to get through most of the material.  Day one focused on chi sau, chi sau sparring and practical fighting whereas day two focused on forms and self-defense on the ground.

It was great as always to see the kung fu family come together and train hard!  Check us out on FB and TUMBLR over the next few days to see more awesome images.

My daughter Maria Isabella also made a surprise appearance in her little Bruce Lee tracksuit :) This year is in for a lot of great events - stay tuned!



Week with Sifu Haw Kuo Part 1: WT meets BJJ in cross training

Two weeks ago we had a visit from my junior kung fu brother, Sifu Haw Kuo.  It was a great treat for the students to see their "si-suk" in action.  Sifu Haw taught some private lessons and taught two of my regularly scheduled tutorial classes.  I love exposing my students to different ways of seeing Wing Tsun as I find this is the best way to help them grow.  Sometimes it takes another instructor to say the same thing I say everyday before the students have that "ah ha" moment.  When students are isolated from other instructors and viewpoints they will never have this feeling or have that opportunity to grow.

Training with BJJ guys doesn't mean you do BJJ! We are WT through and through, we are just not afraid to practice with others :)Saturday morning we pretty much hit the ground running when Sifu Haw arrived at 7am.   By 12pm we had already strategized over breakfast and started our first training session. Our first training session was a bit out of the ordinary for WT people.  Once a month I have a BJJ expert come to our fighter class to teach my guys what BJJ people do and what they might try to do to WT people if the fight ends up on the floor.  This was the first time we did it and it happened to come on the week that Sifu Haw was here so the timing was perfect.  We had a private, small group session with one of my students (and Marcelo Garcia BJJ student) Jose Sanchez.

As I can hear the smug & conservative dogmatists squawking now I must qualify this move unfortunately.  I do not teach BJJ nor do I teach my students to do BJJ.  However, the WT "anti-grappling" or "anti-groundfighting" methods are a bit untested in my opinion (which does not imply inferior, just untested).  The WT methods just need to be tested, improved and re-tweaked.  Unfortunately legions of WT instructors teach their students to defend against "takedowns" or dubious ground moves that no expert would do.  WT people need an operational understanding of what a BJJ/grappler is trying to do on the ground. In this way they can better avoid the pitfalls of getting stuck in an armbar or triangle choke when they are applying their WT on the ground.  I have heard funny stories of WT "masters" who were helpless on the ground against WT students with BJJ skills.  These masters did not even know they needed to tap when caught!  

For this reason I want to expose my students to different people and styles in an effort to improve WT's training methods (not change the principles or concepts).  I also want to do this in an effort to change the negative isolationist image of WT into a friendly and more cooperative vibe with other styles.

We worked on throw, positional techniques, escapes and controls on the ground.  The students had a really great time and learned a lot.  At the end of the class Sifu Haw ran the students through 15 minutes of his modified insanity workout.  Soreness was had for days!

More coming soon in part 2!