Preventing conflicts before they occur

Stefan Schmalz is a WingTsun instructor who holds weekly self-assertion workshops in Husum, northern Germany. Students learn to communicate self-assurance by means of language, gestures and physical posture. One of them is Tobias, who is blind.

Watching Tobias Dose train with his WingTsun teacher Stefan Schmalz is a little like watching Zatiochi. This is because like the Japanese film hero, Tobias is blind. “In addition to a professional qualification, it is important for us to develop the overall personality“, says Dagny Lohr, who supervises the work with Tobias in the Husum workshops for handicapped people. ”We don’t really offer self-defence courses here, but in the case of Tobias we made an exception.“
And for good reasons, for Tobias sometimes has problems with inconsiderate people. Understandably he is not keen to talk about it, as nobody likes to lay bare their own helplessness. “People like this are looking for victims, not opponents“, Stefan Schmaltz says, as he explains the teaching approach he takes. Once a week he holds a self-assertion course at the workshops in Husum, where the participants learn to communicate self-assurance by means of language, gestures and physical posture. If this is done correctly, conflicts can be prevented from arising in the first place.
In fact Tobias Dose does not lack self-confidence. He is also aware that physical confrontations are best avoided, but as a blind person he has a distinct disadvantage in both respects. Anybody who has sustained the odd bruise from bumping into the edge of a bed at night will know that attempts at vigorous physical action in these circumstances usually lead to further injuries. Even the saying “forewarned is forearmed“ is hard to follow if you cannot see.
The main object is to give Tobias a better body awareness, and Wing Tsun is ideal for this. After all, the key elements of this kung-fu style are a firm stance and good balance. ”Owing to his disability, Tobias is rather stiff in his movements, and an attacker has no problem in bringing him down“, Stefan Schmalz describes the problem. ”The aim of the practical exercises, tricks and hints is merely to give him the feeling that even as a blind man, he is not completely helpless. Anyway, we are unable to any more than this in the ten lessons that are planned “.
Tobias enjoys the workshops and fits in well with his surroundings, and would be very pleased to participate in some of the many other activities at a future date.
“I would love to swim“, he confides.