Honorary professorship for GM Keith R. Kernspecht

On 29th November 2006 the Head and Chief Instructor of the EWTO, Dr. Keith R. Kernspecht, was awarded an honorary professorship by the National Sports Academy (NSA) in Sofia/Bulgaria.

The NSA is one of Europe’s largest sports academies. Several thousand students receive their training at the 275-hectare campus on the outskirts of Sofia. More than 50 disciplines, including numerous martial arts, are taught and researched. The National Sports Academy has produced a large number of world and Olympic champions. It is therefore a very special honour for Grandmaster Kernspecht to have been awarded an honorary professorship by this academy.

Meeting with the Director

The day began with a meeting in the offices of the University Director, Prof. Dr. Dimitrov, where GM Keith R. Kernspecht and his team were welcomed. The Deputy Sports Minister Prof. Margaritov gave a brief address to the directors, deans and the EWTO team. The Director then introduced the visitors to the faculty deans and spoke about the University and its teaching and research facilities. Dr. h.c. Kernspecht then outlined the history and structure of the EWTO, and explained the fundamentals of WingTsun to the assembled professors.

Award ceremony

The award ceremony itself took place in the University’s ceremonial hall. One of the walls has a gallery showing the honorary doctors and professors of the NSA, among them well-known sportsmen such as the footballer Dr. Franz Beckenbauer.
A large number of people had gathered: professors at the University, students, martial artists, and the regional WingTsun group had also sent a delegation.
The Director, his Vice-Directors, the Deans and the award candidate were all formally dressed and gowned. The Director held an opening speech, then one of the Vice-Directors praised the accomplishments of Dr. Kernspecht in building up and disseminating WingTsun, before ceremoniously announcing his appointment as an honorary professor and presenting him with an official certificate and medal of honour.

Inaugural speech

The newly created honorary professor was then obliged to hold an inaugural speech, for which he naturally prepared himself thoroughly! Technical support was provided by Dai-Sifu Andreas Gross, who accompanied the speech with a multimedia Powerpoint presentation. GM Kernspecht spoke about his work, the EWTO, the history of WingTsun, technical aspects and of course his area of special interest, the second and third levels of WingTsun. His speech met with loud applause, and those present were now able to ask questions. Some of the professors from the psychology department in particular showed great interest in the third level of WingTsun. All were then invited to attend a WingTsun demonstration, and to experience it for themselves during a subsequent training session in the afternoon.
As the university is extremely interested in WingTsun, GM Kernspecht invited two particularly talented Bulgarian martial artists to Langenzell Castle, where they will spend two weeks learning the basics of WT in regular classes. The University library was also presented with all the books on WT published by Wu-Shu-Verlag.

Cocktail reception

After the speech, the Director of the NSA, Prof. Dr. Dimitrov, gave a cocktail reception on the top floor of the university’s main building. On the terrace the visitors were able to enjoy a view over the entire campus in superb weather.

WingTsun demonstration

In the afternoon it was the turn of the WingTsun demonstration team. GM Keith R. Kernspecht had brought a highly experienced team with him: the national instructor for Switzerland, Dai-Sifu Giuseppe Schembri, the Austrian national instructor, Dai-Sifu Oliver König, the Spanish and Portuguese national instructor, Sifu Victor Gutierrez, Dai-Sifu Andreas Gross (Langenzell Castle), Sifu Matthias Gold (Vienna) and a Bulgarian delegation consisting of three instructors from the team of Sifu Jossif Heder in Sofia.
The spectator’s gallery in the hall was full, with numerous professors, students and even the Director and Deputy Director present. Naturally the head of the martial arts department and some of his instructors, as well as many martial artists, also came to see this ”new fighting art”.
After a few introductory words by Dai-Sifu König, who commentated the demonstration, the Bulgarian instructors demonstrated the Siu-Nim-Tao and Chum-Kiu forms. This was followed by a brief introduction to Chi-Sao by WT masters Schembri and König. This demonstration ranged from the basic principles of Chi-Sao, basic reflexes and Dok-Sao to the Chi-Sao sections and practical applications.
The Bulgarian WT team impressively demonstrated their practical implementation in combat, showing the effectiveness of WT against various punches and kicks, combinations and wrestling attacks.
The finale was a spectacular long pole demonstration by the national instructors Schembri and König. Dynamic movements, rapid attacks and counters, plus poles flying through the air, greatly impressed the spectators, who responded with loud applause.

WT trial lesson

Afterwards all those present were invited to try out this new art of WingTsun for themselves, and GM Kernspecht with his team made themselves available for this. While the chief instructor of the EWTO gave an explanation and practical demonstration of Chi-Sao tactile training to some of the participants, Sifu Victor Gutierrez worked with some of the highly skilled judokas at the university, who really wanted to know whether WingTsun was any use … Sifu Victor was able to convince them in a friendly yet clear and definite manner, earning himself enthusiastic applause.


The entire Bulgarian trip was a great success, and not only for GM Keith R. Kernspecht, who is now an honorary professor at the University – he has already been a visiting professor there since 5.5.1997 – but also for WingTsun, which has now been exposed to all the NSA directors, professors and students, and is to be actively encouraged in future. This is another important step on the road to making WingTsun accepted and valued in academic circles! GGM Leung Ting already started taking WingTsun to colleges in Hong Kong during the 1970s, and in 1996 GM Kernspecht visited Bulgaria for the first time to establish initial contact with the University of Plovdiv. A course of WingTsun academic study unique in the world has now been under way for several semestres, and in 2008 the first graduates are expected to complete this course.
Text + photos: EWTO