Statements on the Effectiveness of WT in the Real World
World vice-champion in Karate
Prof. Keith R. Kernspecht's WT is devoted exclusively to the self-defence aspect, which plays a subsidiary role for us in the martial sports.
Like a big-game hunter researching into the territorial and hunting behaviour of predators, Kernspecht is the first to have examined the thousands of years old, but substantially unstudied rules that govern primitive ritual combat between men. Only someone who is familiar with these forms of behaviour is able to avoid a glance or a word escalating into a catastrophe which all too often leads to loss of life. Dr. Kernspecht gives practical advice on how a fight can be avoided, while warning his readers that it is not about winning, but about damage limitation. However, there are also situations that can only be resolved by the use of serious force, and Kernspecht quite rightly makes it clear that at a certain distance, only a pre-emptive strike makes it possible to use one's legitimate right to self-defence. This book tells the law-abiding citizen how to handle adrenalin effects such as paralysing fear, how to recognise the right moment for action, how to disguise his preparedness to defend himself until the last moment, and what psychological tricks he can use to overcome his natural reluctance to strike and end the confrontation. What is more, it not only tells us how to win a fight in the street, but also how to win any subsequent court proceedings by showing us how to justify our self-defensive actions in advance with the right verbal responses and body language.
Dr. Siegfried Wolf
7th Dan Karate, world vice-champion
Head of Karate instructor training
for the German Karate Association
In my estimation WingTsun is a really interesting, highly-developed Taoist fighting art which is based on simple principles and very intelligently conceived, though the learning process includes a very complex and laborious methodology which is not suitable for "fast consumption".
Especially where the aspect of ChiSao is concerned, I know of no martial art in which such skills are developed to such an extent. Particularly at close range, WT has given me some eye-opening experiences.
Dr. Axel Binhack
5th Dan Shotokan Karate, 1st TG WingTsun (EWTO)
Head of DKV Karate instructor training since 2000
World vice-champion in Thai boxing (Muay-Thai)
Despite my many years in the ring I never lost my feeling of insecurity. The situation in the street has practically nothing in common with that in the ring: there is no referee out there, there are no procedural arrangements, no weight categories and no rules. Everything that ensures personal safety during sporting competition in the ring is lacking. My search finally led me to the realistic WT system and the BlitzDefence programme of Keith R. Kernspecht, which I have practiced intensively since 1991, when I was no longer able to take part in contests of this kind owing to arthritis in both hips after the Thai Boxing world championships in Bangkok. Paradoxically this stroke of bad luck proved to be a blessing, for I now had to learn to adapt and find a replacement for my muscle power by borrowing the opponent's strength and using guile. In fact the ingenious WT system gave me more power and effectiveness than I had before. With WT I have finally found the inner calm and self-assurance to deal confidently with any dangerous situation on the street.
As I am basically a peace-loving individual, I am glad that WT and particularly BlitzDefence have given me the means to deescalate confrontations without the use of violence. And should things get physical nonetheless, the capabilities I have acquired (I now hold the 2nd TG in WT) will enable me to take countermeasures in line with the threat, so that I will not need to use more violence than absolutely necessary.
1995 world vice-champion in Muay-Thai
2nd place in the 1993 world KungFu championships in Malaysia
Coach for the Italian national KungFu team (CONI)
Three-times world wrestling champion and Olympic champion
I first saw WT during a demonstration by Prof. Keith R. Kernspecht at the State University of Plovdiv, where I teach wrestling. As an experienced and enthusiastic martial artist, my curiosity about this ingenious fighting system was of course aroused immediately.
Accordingly I was delighted to accept an invitation from Prof. Margaritov to accompany him on a visit to the WT Trainer Academy at Langenzell Castle, where I was able to spend a week comparing wrestling and EWTO-WT techniques and their practical application with Prof. Kernspecht. I wrestled with Dr. Kernspecht for several hours, during which he refrained from using any WT striking, thrusting or kicking techniques and restricted himself purely to control techniques.
I found WT to be a simple but highly effective system which makes it possible to control any attacker as if by itself, without having to use excessive strength as e.g. in wrestling. Grandmaster seemed to anticipate every one of my moves before I started them. Unlike e.g. Karate and Taekwondo, WT dispenses with showy techniques and mainly relies on contact with the opponent. The opponent's strength is used for the defence. The WT movements are absolutely supple, soft and flexible, and can be learned for self-defence in record time, though mastery requires many years of study.
Many aspects of ChiSao could be applied in wrestling. As a wrestler and world champion, I am sure that wrestling techniques could be decisively improved with ChiSao. What I have experienced so far is simply wonderful, and has given me many new ideas. Together with Prof. Margaritov and Dr. Kernspecht we are working on a study designed to show common factors between WT and wrestling. We are also making efforts to spread WT in Bulgarian schools and universities. This is where ChiSao aspects can already be incorporated into conventional lessons in wrestling, which is very widespread in Bulgaria. On a broad basis, i.e. in the Martial Arts faculty of the State University of Plovdiv, in sports management and in wrestling, my colleagues and I will spread the structure of the EWTO and its WT throughout Bulgaria, as I think that WT is the best martial art bar none. It develops the body and mind in equal measure.
Three-times world wrestling champion and Olympic champion
Turkish wrestling champion
I have been a freestyle wrestler since 1972, and have lived in Germany since 1980. My titles include the following:
1974 Turkish champion
1976 Military champion
I still practice freestyle wrestling. 18 months ago I was introduced to the WT system for the first time. Up to then I had a low opinion of so-called self-defence methods. Whenever I went for somebody in a serious street-fight, they had never stood a chance. But I had real problems with the WT system! Its fast, successive elbow and knee techniques are very dangerous. In wrestling one needs a great deal of strength in addition to the techniques, but the same cannot be said of WT.
I can only advise those who are looking for a real self-defence system to watch the WT system being taught by a good instructor, and perhaps to have a try. I have made many realistic comparisons with representatives of other martial arts, and they didn't stand a chance against me.
Two-times German Taekwondo champion
All was right with my world until a friend drew my attention to the WT system in summer 1986.
Shortly afterwards I paid a visit to a WT school, and during that first visit I had plenty of opportunity to compare my techniques with WT.
Only then did I realise that everything I had previously learned for sporting competition was unusable in a real fight. This encounter really depressed me. I thought I was a good fighter, but the soft, flowing WT movements gave me no chance. My eyes were opened for me by a few words and physical proof. I immediately knew that this was what I had long been looking for. I saw reality, and no longer wanted to kid myself.
I advise anybody interested in the martial arts to practice WT if he is wise.
Two-times German Taekwondo champion
German boxing champion
I heard about the WT system from an acquaintance and attended an introductory seminar. Here I found that I was helpless against the WT attacks, although I have been a martial artist myself for many years.
A 9th Dan in Jiu-Jitsu
In order to practice realistic self-defence (to the extent that practice is possible at all), it is necessary – as Keith R. Kernspecht did – to observe the perpetrators in their territorial behaviour, their motives and their aggressive potential – as well as in their warped moral sense.
A bout in the dojo is nothing compared to a fight in alien surroundings, which it is wise to leave when things become hopeless. Some don't like hearing it, but this is generally known as "running away.
9th Dan Jiu-Jitsu, 6th Dan Judo-Do, 4th Dan Judo, 1st Dan Karate
Chairman of the German Martial Arts Federation
A 4th Dan in Ju-Jutsu
Once I had become familiar with the basics of WT, a number of things became clear to me, for example the principle of the simultaneous defence and attack. This gains time for the defender which is not available to the attacker for his further actions, and automatically heightens the defender's security. In WT the attacking and defending movements are reduced to their minimum and move along direct paths, which one more gains valuable time. There are no pauses between the individual techniques, therefore the attacker is confronted with a flowing sequence of defensive and attacking actions which are often also simultaneous.
By virtue of the above attributes, the WT system is a highly effective method of self-defence. Even at the basic level, there are absolutely no fancy moves. Moreover, the short-distance techniques used allow optimum self-defence in very confined spaces. What also amazes outsiders is that while moving only a few centimetres, the hand techniques develop high kinetic energy similar to that of e.g. a conventional punch.
After a certain time the special form of partner training develops a physical awareness of defending and attacking movements, all of which are carried out on the basis of reflexes. This means that defence and attack take place without the need for decision-making.
4th Dan Ju-Jutsu
Administrator for training and technology in Lower Saxony
A 4th Dan in Aikido
I have always been interested in the so-called "soft" and "inner" styles emanating from Asia. Shortly before completing my business administration studies in Regensburg I came across a leaflet in the cafeteria about the martial art of EWTO-WingTsun. I found this leaflet extremely interesting, as I already had a copy of the book "116 wooden dummy techniques" by Grandmaster Yip Man in my martial arts library, and studied it intensively although I did not own a wooden dummy myself. Moreover, I always considered the book "On Single Combat" by GM Keith R. Kernspecht to be required reading for any martial arts instructor. I still read and study its contents today.
The next day I immediately attended my first WT lesson, and introductory session that immediately convinced me to learn this fascinating martial art.
This was in early 1997. I have now been on this path for almost 14 years, and hold the 2nd Technician grade and the Trainer-3 certificate in the EWTO. By virtue of the following aspects this art has fascinated me from the very start, and has become an indispensable part of my martial arts activities:
WT has no techniques
There are no techniques, only an overriding principle, a few functional sub-principles and just a few forms as examples. The undoubtedly ingenious system of ChiSao, with its constant and intensive training in the perception of tactile impulses and unconscious reactions (= EWTO programme ReakTsun) is unique. It is simply unrivalled in the martial arts world, the very heart of this art, the left and right ventricle.
This is what convinced me to "stick" with this art. An immense amount of time is needed to acquire a feeling for this technique-less structure, and to entrust oneself to the teacher. When starting to learn WT you always want to be better or more active, but this is definitely the way to impede your own learning process and impose pressure on yourself. Most of the fundamentals are embedded in the forms, and I enjoy practicing these first thing in the morning.
I find all the many biomechanical options for using body tension and relaxation absolutely fascinating. It gives me moments which enormously impress me anew, and makes me "thirsty for more knowledge" on a tactile level. The inner WT of Grandmaster Kernspecht is change within change, an aspect that traditional arts heavily oriented towards techniques cannot follow.
I still remember my first lessons in PoonSao very well. This was a very profound experience, as such a training method was completely unknown to me.
The method for resolving real conflict situations
The technical aspects of the systems taught by many traditional martial arts fail to take into account the brutal thug who acts without rules. I was privileged to experience the introduction of the BlitzDefence programmes by GM Kernspecht, and can state unequivocally that this methodology and the principles it contains were an absolute novelty in the martial arts world, and in my view the focus on the opening phases of a conflict is absolutely unique, as it shows precisely what happens "out there".
From the first student grade onwards, a well-founded strategy is already taught for personal self-defence. Nonetheless, it is still the individual with a corresponding mental attitude and physical constitution who decides the issue. In this connection I consider the emphasis on the "Big Seven" to be an important foundation.
There are nowadays any number of self-defence books, but they have not adapted to the brutal realities of these times. Looking at the world of the traditional dojo, you learn many rituals, practices and ethical principles that belong to a long bygone age. There were once certain rules, and respect. These rules, and the resulting respect for the "loser" do not exist in dark alleyways. As martial arts instructors we should always keep this in mind, and so should those who train for sporting competition. The street is not a dojo or a ring, there is no opponent who obeys rules, and no referee who will intervene when there are injuries, or break off the fight in case of serious injury.
As a representative of a robust Aikido style heavily influenced by an intensive weapons system, I began to give great thought to the reality in the street the more I learned in the EWTO-WT system. I certainly do not want to call the rituals and ethical principles of my art, which I have been practicing for a long time, into question, as they have taught me respect, loyalty and humility. I always treat my sensei and my students with the greatest recognition and respect. Our training has been passed down to us as the life's work of an old warrior and strategist.
However, social developments and the ever-increasing factor of disrespectful behaviour clearly reflected by brutal conflict situations do not always offer sufficient "survival" scope for these ethical principles. Right from the start, the WT system showed me by "feeling" that it contains the ultimate solution to the brutality encountered in such conflicts. Inner WT gives the attacker absolutely no chance of a defence, and in my view this further heightens its efficiency and clear superiority. I would be lying if I claimed that it was easy for me to let go and question things I have learned for years in my traditional martial art, but as a teacher my principle must always be: learn, learn and learn again, and I think that this openness should be a fundamental attitude for any martial arts instructor.
At this point let me thank my Sihing, Sifu Michael Stopp (3rd Technician grade), head of the WT martial arts schools in Upper Franconia, who teaches me with patience, calm and boundless energy.
It is also a great honour for me to have been accepted as a private student of GM Kernspecht.
4th Dan Aikikai (Takemusu Aikido)
A judge who practices WT
"I was 42 years of age and had never practiced any form of martial arts when I was introduced to WT as part of an information event at the Saarland Supreme Court. The following aspects of WT convinced me: WT teaches techniques that enable even a non-sporting type to 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 this applies to anybody who has started learning WT, even if only for 2 hours. The system is extremely suitable for physically weaker people, and particularly for women.
Judge at the State Supreme Court
Chief self-defence instructor for the police
I first began to learn and practice martial arts at the age of 11, and still practice various martial arts/self-defence systems e.g. WingTsun (WT), Karate, Escrima, Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing and Hapkido.
Owing to professional needs and experiences I have concentrated very intensively on the self-defence aspect, and less on the sporting aspects that interested me in my youth.
During my time as a member of a special police unit, I was confronted with numerous dangerous and life-threatening situations. These experiences, together with my martial arts background – especially WT – have brought great personal and professional benefits with respect to self-defence. I see it as one of my tasks to pass this self-defence experience on to the participants in my training courses.
Advantages, effectiveness and efficiency of WT:
- Easily understood, logical and internally consistent system
- Effective and easily learned combinations that can be automated by continuous training
- WT is in line with the anatomical circumstances of the human organism
- It plays an important role for reaction training, coordination training, for proprioception and motoric learning
- Development of e.g. striking techniques in partner and group exercises. One learns to evade attacks rapidly, attack specific targets and even anticipate possible counter-attacks
- Preparation for unarmed combat, combat with weapon-like objects and real weapons
- "Free-fighting" sessions in which coordination skills are improved
- Realistic and versatile training methods
- Reduction to effective and reality-based self-defence
- Development of fast and precise movements
- WT is an extremely dynamic, flexible, adaptable and variable system with respect to different situations, circumstances, actions etc.
- Enormous importance is attached to role-plays and stress training to improve stress resistance
- For certain situations, police officers in particular must be able to learn a few effective techniques within a short time. They must practice them in realistic situations and be able to apply them
- Improved tactile, visual, auditory and kinaesthetic sensitivity
- Mental preparation and self-protection are among the most important training goals
- Training to maintain the capability for action in extreme situations and to improve self-assurance (stress training)
- Correct behaviour, defensive action and training for serious encounters: every situation is different. A physical conflict can often be prevented or defused verbally (using speech) and body-language (non-verbal aspects). Should it still come to a physical confrontation, WT in the context of self-defence training can prepare for this
- Deescalating, preventing or prevailing in a serious encounter requires the development of anticipatory skills. WT provides good opportunities to practice, develop and improve anticipation
- Training to prevent a fight from occurring in the first place, right up to simulation of life-threatening situations (e.g. lying on the ground). Even in such extreme situations, WT offers possibilities for effective self-defence
- The WT system provides scope for the development of tactics and strategies, which are of outstanding importance.
Self-defence instructor, German Karate Association (DKV)
Police self-defence instructor
6th Master level WT (WingTsun)
5th Dan Karate
3rd Dan Jiu-Jitsu
4th Dan Kickboxing
2nd Degree, Newman-Escrima
1st Dan Hapkido
2-times European vice-champion in Goju-Ryu Karate (1985 & 1987)
A police self-defence instructor
The WT system refrains from showmanship of any kind, and is very closely oriented towards realistic close-combat situations. Unnecessary movements, high kicks and time-consuming, complicated techniques are completely dispensed with.
In my view, the entire WT method is extremely logical in concept, and extraordinarily effective by virtue of its directness. The most outstanding features for me were the simultaneous nature of defence and counter-attack, which dispenses with the "strong" blocking techniques used by Karate and Jiu-Jitsu (with shock-like tensioning of the relevant muscle group), and the principle of (literally) tying-up the attacker's arms. The fighting techniques and tactics are extremely flexible, versatile and completely take their lead from the opponent. Brute force (e.g. a powerful punch) is not answered with brute counter-force, but rather with intelligent, logical tactics and ingenious yet simple techniques. The opponent's own strength is used for one's own defence to a decisive extent. Feints and dummy attacks are identified by specially sensitising the arms (special exercises). There is no reaction to feints and similar ploys, thus saving energy. A WT fighter does not react until a genuine attack is launched. WT training is oriented towards realistic self-defence, and light contact is preferred during practice. WT methods and techniques are applied economically and effectively. Neither time nor energy are wasted on unnecessary movements. The entire method is based on logical theories that impress even "old stagers" in the Karate and self-defence world, and are thoroughly applicable to real situations. In my opinion WT is relatively quick to learn, and can therefore be applied in real self-defence situations within a very short time. WT training exercises both the muscular structure and the nervous system, thereby furthering physical fitness. The training intentionally refrains from time-consuming warm-up exercises, using its own, specific exercises and techniques to "warm up" the body and its organs. As far as I am aware, only really well-qualified experts in the WT system are permitted to act as instructors, many of them on a full-time basis. One can therefore expect a high quality of instruction. Instruction is held in relatively small groups, which ensures that the techniques and tactics are learned thoroughly. It is usual for the chief instructor to monitor performance regularly (both that of the students and of the instructors). The self-confidence and security provided by this relatively quickly learned method are certainly extremely conducive to preventing the premature use of firearms in confused and stressful situations. By providing security and confidence in one's own physical superiority, it therefore meets major criteria in terms of police objectives (confident, calm intervention without fear).
In my personal view, WT is to be highly recommended for both police and border units.
Detective Chief Superintendent
Detective Chief Superintendent in a mobile intervention squad following a half-year WT seminar programme
I am pleased to confirm that you familiarised us with WT during a six-month programme of seminars. All the six officers in our group are convinced that WT is superior to other methods of self-defence.
Moreover, your training led to an excellent feeling of physical wellbeing and positive attitudes.
Detective Chief Superintendent
Mobile Intervention Squad VI, Group 17
Close combat instructor in the elite military unit "Special Forces Command"
The Federal German army's Special Forces Command (KSK) has been operational since 1998. Since 2000 the close combat instructors have received their training at the EWTO Trainer Academy, Langenzell Castle.
As an addition to very intensive training in parachuting, shooting, demolitions and diving, unarmed combat skills play an extremely important role in elite military units. They always become very important when the use of weapons would be an excessive response in certain situations, or there is a risk of injuring uninvolved bystanders.
KSK therefore attaches very great importance to close combat training. On the one hand the use of appropriate techniques increases the effectiveness of the Command's soldiers, and on the other their motor responses are improved by the constant, systematic training.
In the search for a suitable martial art, we first examined many of the existing fighting arts and sports. In the final analysis the WT concept proved to be ideal for our special requirements, and this has confirmed itself in practice in recent years. For this reason, close combat training based on WT techniques is an integral part of the training for the soldiers in this unit.
WT is particularly suitable for KSK by virtue of the following factors:
- The techniques and principles can be flexibly applied in all close combat scenarios, both armed and unarmed. They harmonise well with the KSK's combat principles, and in some cases even improve them.
- WT techniques are logical in their application, and correspond to normal human behaviour patterns.
- They require no acrobatics such as high kicks, and can also be rapidly learned by our soldiers.
- They often correspond precisely to the movement patterns and procedures that our soldiers carry out in other activities, e.g. when handling firearms.
- Systematic execution of the techniques has a beneficial effect on the motor coordination of our soldiers.
- The special WT ChiSao training improves tactile sensitivity for combat.
- As our soldiers are often confronted with poor visibility on their assignments, and frequently need to fight at short distances, their combat effectiveness is immensely improved by a highly developed tactile sense.
- As WT is a combat system that can be adapted to any situation, it is particularly valuable for our purposes. In some situations the soldiers in this unit have limited scope for action. This scope is widened by WT methods – they are able to operate more flexibly and with less stress.
- The close combat training can be logically structured on the basis of WT, so that the higher training programmes are the same as for the lower levels. This means that the advanced user applies the same techniques as the beginner, but in slightly modified form. It is therefore not important whether our soldiers are fighting with a tonfa or a telescopic baton, or without a weapon. They can also use these techniques with their firearms.
The main aim of the close combat training is to give our soldiers the ability to use alternatives to their firearms. This enables them to act with confidence to any situation.
There are different training programmes with different aims to develop this extended scope for action:
- Weapon protection (= defence against attempts to grab a soldier's weapon)
- Military close combat "man to man" for special forces
- Military knife-fighting for special forces
- Use of different non-lethal weapons, e.g. side-handle baton or telescopic baton
- Controlling, grounding, immobilising and searching an individual
- Tactical self-protection
- Special operational situations
Our close combat training is consistently based on WT techniques and principles.
Calw, October 2004
KSK close combat instructor
Police chief in the principality of Liechtenstein
Dear Mr. Schembri,
I would like to thank you for the one-day WingTsun self-defence seminar conducted as part of our internal training and further education programme. 12 instructors from our police department took part.
On the request of the participants, the focus of the seminar was placed on the aspect of "reasonable force".
The seminar with its practice-related exercises was very well received, and was able to convince the instructors of the effectiveness of WingTsun for the police.
R. Brunhard, Head of Police
FBI (USA) Hostage Rescue Team
During the week of January 13 – 17, 1992, Special Agents (SAs) Douglas R. Kane and Michael R. Maurer attended a weaponless defense conference in Göppingen, Germany. It is my understanding that you along with several of my instructors conducted a two-day WT seminar during this period.
SAs Kane and Maurer have over 20 years of martial arts and law enforcement weaponless defense training between them. Both are experienced instructors in their respective disciplines, and readily identify useful and effective techniques.
Upon returning from Germany, they were extremely complimentary of your instruction, and advised they saw several techniques which would benefit our current training and overall mission.
WT was explained to me as a simple but effective way of controlling an individual without having to use unnecessary force. This appears to parallel our other training responsibilities, and is compatible with United States laws regarding reasonable force by law enforcement officers.
I hope to expose other operators of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team to this type of self-defence training in the near future.
Richard M. Rogers
Assistant Special Agent in Charge
Commander – Hostage Rescue Team
Letter of Thanks from the Interior Ministry in Widin (Bulgaria)
Elite unit "Fight against organised crime" – Widin
To the head of the EWTO-Bulgaria
Dear Mr. Bagalev,
We wish to thank you for the open seminar and the demonstration of the martial art of WingTsun. We found the seminar extremely interesting and useful, and are enthusiastic about the techniques and skills you demonstrated to us. We are likewise impressed with the anti-groundfight aspect and combat at various distances. We believe that this self-defence system could be very useful and important for us, and hope that we will be able to work together in the future.
3rd November 2011
My impressions of GM Kernspecht's WT system
Following more than two years of discussions with Grandmaster Kernspecht on the subject of "Combative Systemics", I was very pleased and honoured to be invited to his two-day seminar in Tunbridge Wells from 28th to 29th September 2010, where I had a unique opportunity to experience his WT system at first hand. After the event, the grandmaster asked me if I would be prepared to write a summary of his system to explain the concept behind its development.
The majority of the perhaps millions of active martial artists in the world accept "their" martial art just as it is. For them it is synonymous with respect, a strict etiquette, acceptance of unfamiliar terms, and also with "tried and tested techniques that have proved their worth over generations".
Only very few see the martial arts for what they really are. The problem with the views mentioned above is that these things have nothing to do with the actual art of fighting. These things are a cultural experience and represent only the follicle from which the martial arts originated. Moreover, far-eastern cultures such as China and Japan have a deeply-rooted reverence for tradition based on strict Confucian rules of conduct. Tradition has therefore become a social norm and a major influence on society, leading to the assumption that one's ancestors must be revered and that their martial arts must be passed on without being called into question.
If a man made what he thought was a "trailblazing" discovery with respect to combat, he taught it to someone else who therefore became the first link in the chain of tradition. So his flash of inspiration turned into a tradition, into "tried and tested techniques that have proved their worth over generations".
Because we in the west accept the principle of evolution, we tend to assume that the far-eastern martial arts have undergone some kind of "martial selection" process in which inefficient systems died out and only those survived which were used by successful warriors. In reality, the system has only been retained because Confucian values required it. Age per se is however no proof that something is efficient.
In contrast the west has a tradition of further development, and with no piety or shame we criticise dogmatic teachings wherever we encounter them.
We have an active process of martial selection. In the end this process departed completely from unarmed combat [for military purposes] and turned to technologies which better meet the needs of combat (warfare). This inevitably led us to modern firearms, tanks, aircraft and nautical technologies. The need to survive and preserve our species [or genes acc. to Dawkins] has always had a high priority for the human race, and war has always provided the best motivation for the development of advanced technology.
As westerners we give tradition the value and respect it deserves, though we are always conscious of the extent to which research and critical analysis have created the modern world. Medicine, for example, has made astonishing advances, and we find that hardly anybody sticks to medical practices that have been superseded by better methods. We had to endure centuries of trepanning and bleeding with leeches before these practices were fortunately superseded and replaced by drugs. This required hundreds of years between Imhotep and Galen, and centuries more until Jenner, Pasteur and Fleming.
Medicine weakens the effects of harmful bacteria, and in the same way the martial arts weaken the effect of physical violence against us.
The fighting arts are a very special area of study. In comparison with modern combat technology they are like trepanning (drilling a hole in the skull) rather than tablets to cure a headache. Nonetheless the unarmed martial arts have not ceased to exist, for however much technology can improve our safety and mitigate the effects of aggression, only very few are permitted to carry firearms for their personal security. As the Roman philosopher Marc Aurel once remarked, we would be better off as boxers rather than sword-fighters, as the boxer always has his defence and protection with him wherever he goes. Weaponless fighting systems therefore continue to be important.
Scientific research into fighting was discontinued centuries ago in the west, while the eastern martial arts are so enshrouded in social and cultural tradition that it is hard to identify the actual fighting principles. The result is that we need to start from the beginning, with a reliable and verifiable analytical method. And we should begin with the existential phenomenon itself.
Combat is something that has its own, unique variables and problems. These problems relate to the interaction between organisms using force, i.e. the action of exerting force on another organism and the need to act in order to counter the force directed at us.
This is the problem, and the solution is the way in which we act and react to respond to this physical attack. Such a solution is known as a combat system – it makes what was previously unknown fairly clear, as the system explains the logic of the problem so that we can understand it and respond with a suitable solution. The problem and the solution then become one and the same in the combat system. The combat system makes it easier to choose between the many inherent possibilities in a fight, and acts as an advisor.
All systems are therefore countermeasures of equal value designed to neutralise a problem. Fighting systems are developed by people with experience who understand the risks of this phenomenon. An "open system" is one which defines a set of rules to direct appropriate behaviour in fighting, but is also open to criticism by checking its capacity to meet those problems. Should a phenomenon be presented in which the system does not adequately cope, then the system must be retrospectively amended or changed in order to comply with the problem, and retain efficacy. The most important parameter for an open system is its applicability in combat, not conformity with the system itself.
Subsequently, a good system is one which has capably identified the problem, reduced it to its elements, and compared those elements together to recognise themes. These united themes become Principles, which in an ideal world, are capable of predicting all the many complexities of the problem which might be generated from combining the various elements. The purpose of a Combat System is not only to outline practical behaviours, but also to supply a set of parameters by which those behaviours should suitably be actioned and create a framework upon which decisions can be made. These parameters can be called "principles", and all technical and mechanical actions should arise (manifest themselves) from these principles.
Now that we know something of the problem, let us now consider Grandmaster Kernspecht’s solution. He has in mind the gratuitous aggression which is common on modern streets and bears in mind the problems presented in both single and multiple denominations of attackers, organising his system accordingly. In reduction, I can see that Kernspecht’s System is an open one, based upon two simple operations (themselves based upon fight-logical principles) which I tentatively name Proactivity and Interactivity.
The first operation manifests itself in one’s behaviour prior to combat, being unilateral in nature. It takes into account the opponent’s preliminary position, then considers the kinds of actions which can be made against it. We know that Force = Risk, and therefore to act prior to Force, to pre-empt, offers the most fundamental protection from Risk of injury. I have often said that fighting is a conversation, not in words, but of force. Yet because of the risk involved in what the opponent has to say with his force, we do not wish to know what he has to say. We pre-empt him to explain the terms of our conversation, and end it quickly in our favour.
In constructing his System, Kernspecht has utilised his experience and observation of gratuitous fighting in order to summarise the wide varieties of positioning between fighters on the "pavement arena". These positions are now foundational to his protection policy. Should a gratuitous aggressor make his approach, we should use our understanding of the biological motives and cues at the base of this interaction. Kernspecht applies a method of reduction, reducing fighting to stages, then each stage into moments. Based upon the instinctive rituals which dictate the way human beings interact prior to fighting, Kernspecht has been able to reduce them to but a few examples of the kinds of behaviours his students might expect, and then base his system upon these.
To minimise risk, we pre-empt force with force. Kernspecht sums up this principle with a dictum "If the way is clear – hit". The second a fight begins, the fighters become equal. Neither can predict the others movement, the only thing that can be known is that his movement will converge toward him at an unknown moment. With at least nine trajectories and any number of targets, with an action being made at any moment, at any level, the variables involved only serve to increase the risk. In which case the only logical defence against this risk is to terminate it before it becomes a threat. This is the logic behind pre-emptive action. In an ideal world, this would be the end of the fight, our pre-emptive action will be decisive. Yet the world is not ideal, and so we must anticipate that a) we might miss our opportunity to pre-empt, or b) that our pre-emptive action was not decisive.
In such a necessity, Kernspecht’s second operation is designed to reduce risk during an opponent’s attack by adhering. However, there should theoretically be no such thing as an attack made by an opponent; in the moment in which he attacks, we are already in contact with it, smothering his ability to exert force. The directive of "interactivity" is where Kernspecht’s system becomes bilateral; i.e. one’s behaviours are determined by the behaviours of the opponent. One is impartial, one has no attachment to "this" or to "that" movement, the idea of "technique" is released – the opponent’s action determines the interaction. Kernspecht uses a simple and logical saying to confirm this principle – "receive what comes, follow what goes". There is no definition of acting before or after the opponent in this principle; only synchronous motion. The fighter acts in conjunction with his assailant based upon the volume of force he applies. I use the term "conjunction" with a conscious purpose in mind. Conjunctio is the Latin for "bind", and was used by early scientists (alchemists) to explain the result of chemical reactions, wherein two unbalanced chemicals would react to form a new balanced chemical. In the same terms, contact with the opponent’s arms demonstrates two opposing forces joining to become one organism. A push on one side causes yielding on the other. This concept of "conjunction" should inform our understanding of "interactivity".
The examples of this principle can be found everywhere, a principle which seeks balance, which I term "equivalence". When the arm extends, the triceps must pull and the bicep relax. Muscles can only contract, so the articulation of a hinge joint requires simultaneous contraction and relaxation from seemingly opposing muscles. The resistance in this example is zero, and the definition of "impact" is in resistance to force – meaning that if we do not resist, we cannot concede "impact" (and therefore physiological trauma and injury).
In Kernspecht’s system this logical principle is exploited in order to a) minimise risk by coming into contact with the opponent’s unpredictable armoury, b) conservation of one’s energy and optimise use of force, c) direct understanding of the opponent’s weapons by means of one’s own proprioception. On this latter point, we know where the opponent’s weapons are because our own hand is connected with it, and our body knows where our own hand is.
The actual process is based upon the maxim Mou Sau Man Sau (if there is no contact, seek contact). This cites WingTsun’s Man Sao (seeking, probing or asking hand), which has its own equivalents in the natural world in the form of a mammal’s whiskers, the hair on a spider’s body, or the sensitive trigger hairs in a venus fly-trap. The latter is a useful example for our explanation since contact of a trigger hair can only happen when an insect is in the perfect position for the fly-trap to close. Likewise, when an opponent attempts to converge any part of his body to hit us, it must first contact the man sao, instructing us of his position relative to our body.
For this reason, Kernspecht’s system seems to have been designed to accustom the body to experiencing and recognising motion toward the body and motion away from the body (kinesthesia). Motion towards implies force [and risk] whereas motion away implies opportunity to exert force. Once one has mastered this "haptic perception" (the sense of touch), one is theoretically able to defend without any other sense. We also know that, since punching is defined by high impulse, we can avoid receiving trauma to our body by being in connection to his affectors. We remove its impulse, and therefore we only have to cope with pushes rather than punches. In interacting with his pushes, Kernspecht teaches the importance of being aware of one’s own body; and wherein we also become aware of the opponent’s position relative to our body. Kernspecht’s interest is in allowing his students to experience force, and acquire the ability to nullifying the opponent’s action by never offering it resistance. The opponent cannot oppose. In effect, he denies the very definition of its existence. He achieves this by training heightened understanding of pressure and timing; his instruction evokes the visceral experience of one’s own body.
Proprioception has an advantage over polysynaptics because its experience is direct; it is based upon physical contact with exponential physical matter. It is for this reason that some evolutionary biologists have theorised that proprioception was perhaps one of the first senses to evolve. All senses allow the body to "know" the outside world (exteroception), but the sense of one’s own body (proprioception) is the most immediate of all senses. Even a baby looking at the world with wide eyes has little direct understanding using his eyes or ears. His sense of touch informs him of his place and his connection to the outside world.
At the core of Kernspecht’s system are his principles, from which grows the logical function of all actions. Kernspecht is quite rightly less interested in the mechanical and technical performance of an action, but rather in the manifestation of fight-logical principles. His principles are the spring from which his actions flow. When these principles are correctly internalised, all actions become manifestations of them. They are like DNA to the Martial Arts Organism; a subtle change or single missing code can cause massive physical consequences on the organism. A small or incorrect understanding of the principles can dramatically change the performance of a combat system "in-the-moment".
To conceptualise the intuitive sense (world view) which Kernspecht’s system attempts to install in his students, we must consider the Law of Convergence. Our fists (or hands) seek to strike the opponent’s exposed areas, and are "attracted" like magnets to those exposures. They are drawn to them, they belong to them. A 14th Century fight-master considered that a strike was like a needle being threaded through its target, as well as the logic of a "plumb-line from which hangs the measured and weighed". He continued with a logic similar to Kernspecht, whereby we consider his arms an incidence of his appearance in fighting, whereas his exposures are the teleology of our actions. Thus if an obstacle to our weapons interjects, we remain with it until we can continue our convergence.
One 16th Century Italian fight-master once exclaimed that the science of fighting was one of the most noble applications of science known to man. To guard one’s life from the doors of violent death, he said, what more noble pursuit can there be in life? Kernspecht evidently takes this role seriously, mentioning in the seminar that it is important to him that he arms his students with the ability to keep themselves safe. Given the vast number of "training methods" which populate the martial arts today, it is clear that Kernspecht has pure function in mind. In order to learn how to drive, one sits behind the wheel, [or as Bruce Lee said], to swim, one must enter the pool; and so too we should consider experience itself our most direct teacher. It is the teacher’s role to direct and facilitate the student’s experience, not to confuse him with abstract movements at pool-side.
We must realise the complexities of fighting and how they are essentially compounds of the same root elements. Identification of the root elements is the task of the concept-maker, the internalisation of those elements and understanding of their interaction to produce the complexities and determine one’s every combative behaviour is the mainstay of the master. Kernspecht has effectively done both and managed to strike the vital balance between unavoidable teaching methods with direct experience of fighting.
Kernspecht’s teaching approach is as well thought-out as his system, making his mastery of the subject more than self-evident.
Author and creative thinker
A man who has been there: "The Governour of the coast"
I worked in many establishments during my almost 30 years in the bar business, of which 16 were in the notoriously rough dockside area of Kiel. In my various positions as a waiter, barkeeper, doorman, bodyguard and book-keeper in a brothel I was obliged to fight around 500 times. Nonetheless, I have never had a criminal conviction. In my time I became acquainted with every level of society, trading punches with pimps, butchers, soldiers, farmhands, property developers, sailors and trawler skippers, as well as with Americans, Englishmen and Australians during the annual Kiel regatta week.
Black belts, championship titles and grading certificates on the wall are of no use out there! When a rabid, hate-filled bruiser goes for you, you only have two options: to run away or fight. Everything superfluous must be thrown overboard in such a life-threatening situation, like jettisoning everything from a boat to move faster. Everything changes when the chips are down. There is no time for thinking or for acrobatic techniques. What works is a few foolproof hand-techniques. I know that the BlitzDefence method in WT is just the right answer to thugs."
"Big" Karl W. Koch
A police commissar
"Your clear and realistic descriptions (in "BlitzDefence – Attack is the best Defence") remind me of my time as head of a special squad for the prevention of street crime in downtown Frankfurt/Main, where I was also responsible for training. With adequate personnel numbers and good equipment, we were able to keep a lid on crime in the inner-city area between 1972 and 1985. We soon understood the "rules" of the underworld, and were able to show the still mainly German pimps and "big noises" their limits in our own way. For us there were no "no-go areas" where no police patrols dared to venture.
The methods employed by the thugs and other brutal scum was just as you describe it in your book. I have seen entire rowing teams come to grief in the train station area – and then some! Wrestlers also had little chance, owing to their sporting attitude.
The unfit and fat but brutal headbanger always won against the inexperienced, even if they were in really good shape. The single knock-out punch or trick etc. was always based on some form of distraction or deception.
The aim was always to close the distance so that the other party could be ruthlessly and cruelly destroyed! One particularly popular party-trick was to swipe a heavy glass ashtray across the face and then "win" by brutally kicking the victim as he lay on the ground. Every night we found ourselves interviewing these seriously injured, broken victims in the hospital emergency departments.
Based on my experiences in countless court proceedings, I can only confirm your comments on the legal aspects. Totally unrealistic TV series and action films also do their bit to make forthright and legally justified action against injustice more difficult. After all, self-defence is a natural right.
A 10th Dan in Hapkido and bodyguard
Over the many years I have spent learning various martial arts, I have always been primarily concerned with their practical effectiveness in daily life. When I got to know the martial art of WT, I knew I had finally found a realistic self-defence method that gave me more security than anything before.
As head of a security company specialising in building and event security as well as personal protection, I have found that physical confrontations are unfortunately becoming more commonplace. I have also found that while technical and fighting skills decide the issue on the scene, the legal repercussions are often unfavourable to the victor.
The BlitzDefence strategy gives my employees, students and myself a guideline that enables us to resolve conflicts in a way that can be justified under the critical gaze of the justice system.
With BlitzDefence, Grandmaster Keith R. Kernspecht has developed a strategy that is immensely helpful in stressful situations, plus a good source of information in the form of his books. In my company the book "BlitzDefence – Attack is the best Defence" is required reading during our training.
One year ago I introduced BlitzDefence to the police in Bolivia, who showed great interest. I am a visiting professor in the Department of Security and Secretarial Services at the University of Susan in Korea, where I will also be introducing this strategy.
BlitzDefence enables us to respond intelligently to dangerous situations.
10th Dan Hapkido, 7th Dan Hosindo
Visiting professor for Security at Hanseo University in Susan, South Korea