Additional seminars at the Langenzell Castle Training Academy

"Martial arts and the criminal law – a meeting of two worlds."

"Martial arts and the criminal law – a meeting of two worlds. Information on the law and legal proceedings relating to legitimate self-defence" was the full title of the all-day seminar which attorney Dr. Arnd Stiel and a public prosecutor had prepared for a limited group of WT instructors. Those who had feared being exposed to several hours of dry-as-dust legal jargon were however quickly able to breathe a sigh of relief.

In an amazingly relaxed and easily understandable manner the two legal specialists were able to provide an insight into the complicated procedures and inter-relationships in the legal system.

WT followers may well devote years of training to developing the physical skills required for effective self-defence, but just as one must prepare oneself for a physical conflict in a self-defence situation it is also important to give some thought to an aspect that can assume vital importance, namely convincing the justice system that the self-defence in a specific case was legitimate. This means behaving correctly before, during and after an attack that has been successfully withstood, and only the individual concerned has the power to make sure this is so. Although GM Kernspecht has already given due consideration to this important aspect in the BlitzDefence programmes for even the lowest student grades, and future (assistant) instructors and teachers are trained in the legal principles relating to legitimate self-defence, it is nonetheless a step in the right direction for WT instructors to possess a solid grounding in this connection.

Specifically and exclusively for the EWTO the two legal specialists had compiled a whole package of practical information which could be helpful in the event of legal proceedings, enabling the person concerned to find his way around the multitude of legal provisions and mount a realistic defence. The topics discussed during the seminar included the following:

Introduction to criminal law

  • The pyramid of standards and their meaning
  • The criminal law system and basic terms
  • Structure of criminal offences
  • Conclusions

Introduction to legal procedure

  • Organisational structure of prosecuting authorities and division of responsibilities in legal proceedings
  • Legal principles in criminal proceedings, especially the rights of witnesses and defendants
  • Psychology of criminal proceedings

Definition of legitimate self-defence

  • Survey of permitted actions
  • Recent verdicts relating to legitimate self-defence
  • Consequences for martial artists

Hints for legal proceedings and civil law

  • The first steps after withstanding an attack?
  • Speak or remain silent? Assumption of innocence?
  • Cooperation or confrontation?
  • Drawbacks of different defence strategies?

To ensure that the seminar participants were not completely absorbed in a note-taking marathon the two speakers had prepared an exclusive script with a first-class summary of the material discussed. There is no way that knowledge on such a complex and specific topic could have been imparted more professionally and efficiently.

On the following Sunday more practical matters were on the agenda, when Sifu Lars Lipke, 4th TG WT held a seminar on "Techniques and tactics with firearms". Being threatened with a firearm is no doubt less probable in our climes than in the more crisis-laden regions of the world, however the possibility cannot be excluded for anybody. As many WT instructors also teach members of particularly endangered professional groups such as the police, military or private security services, they should also have a certain measure of expertise on the subject of firearms. Especially since the "man in the street" can certainly find himself suddenly confronted with a real or gas/blank-firing weapon nowadays. The latter are freely available in many parts and can be just as deadly at close range as a "real" pistol.

Although some of the seminar participants already had previous experience with firearms – Sifu Peter Maull, 5th PG WT has been an enthusiastic target shooter for more then 20 years, for example – Sifu Lars Lipke had to assume that most had gained what knowledge they had of guns from Hollywood films, and that he would therefore need to do some explanatory work before going on to discuss the options for dealing with threats using firearms. Sifu Lars' primary aim was to make the participants aware of the characteristics and effect of different firearms, for which purpose he first gave a brief technical explanation of the most common handguns and long-arms, showing the effects of their ammunition on ballistic clay and discussing their relative penetrating power. To illustrate the latter he showed a number of photos of gunshot wounds which were not for the fainthearted, but made it very clear that an attempt at defensive action against a firearm must only be considered if something more valuable than your own wallet is at stake. During the subsequent practical exercises the seminar participants practiced defensive moves against firearms from all directions, with great attention being paid to endangering third parties as little as possible. Accordingly the relevant technique was not at an end when the weapon was no longer pointing at the defender and he had struck the attacker a number of times. Instead, and in accordance with the needs of the individual participants, the countermeasure was continued to the point when the defender had gained full control of the situation.

The practical exercises were carried out with dummy weapons with the precise dimensions of different firearms in common use. At the end the participants were able to test whether they would actually be able to counter an attack with a firearm using the techniques learned. Sifu Lars threatened each one with a so-called "soft-air" pistol which fires soft plastic pellets. With only a few exceptions almost all of them found that they would have been shot in a real situation. This does not mean that the seminar was therefore unsuccessful, however. On the contrary, it is precisely this awareness by the participants – namely that they have scarcely a chance if attacked with a firearm – that Sifu Lars Lipke regards as the real aim of his seminar, according to the motto: "You have no chance, so use it!"

Two days of further training with plenty of content: interesting, varied, surprising and exciting. All the participants, many of whom attended both seminars, were totally enthusiastic. These instructors had made the journey with the aim of furthering their knowledge not only in WingTsun in order to give their students comprehensive information from a single source, and their expectations were not only met but exceeded. In their unanimous opinion a repeat performance should be considered at the earliest opportunity.