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3 options if jumped from behind.

What can I do if I am jumped from behind? How can I defend myself? This is a common enough question that gets asked of martial arts instructors. The best answer, of course, is “ not let that happen.” This might be easier said than done in many cases, especially if you are not a big person or carry yourself with a lot of awareness and confidence. In WingTsun™ kung fu training, we have simple and economical ways to turn and face an attacker. Some methods have the punch moving over your shoulder before the turn is completed. Of course, there are no one-sentence or two-minute training methods for this question. Once you have turned, then what? A defender’s response depends on many factors. Among them are whether the attacker has a weapon, are you being grabbed, are you being struck, do you have room to move?

Number 1

If you have room to run fast enough to get shelter, I always advise running. This means that if you can run for your automobile, for your house or a business in the area, run for it. In modern life, many people are conditioned to attitudes from television and movies. Running is called “cowardly” in these entertainment mediums. In real life, it should be called survival.


Why then should we practice self-defense methods? The answer is often “so we do not have to use it.” This might be a puzzling answer to some and a very simple answer to others. Once you learn self-defense, you are relieved of the idea that you must prove yourself. You realize that you can learn self-defense and that using it in a situation is not required and might not be necessary. In modern society we have police. It is not the citizen’s job to “teach a thug a lesson.”

The real thing could happen to you.

What happens, however, if I do have to use it to survive unharmed? The WingTsun™ attitude is to use all your skill to defeat your enemy unequivocally. The law in most states allows a defender to use just that amount of force to subdue an attacker to prevent personal harm, no more.

Number 2

The Wing Tsun response

WingTsun does not use choreographed responses to specific situations. The presentation of such choreographed responses by some instructors is the result of a misunderstanding of real self-defense situations by people afraid of assault. They want answers. The instructor tries to give them answers. The hard truth is that there is no specific formula to get you out of an attack – just skill and forethought. It depends on subject awareness, alertness, skill, some forethought about the possibilities, and a realistic attitude about one’s prospects for survival in preparing for such an eventuality. The prearranged scenarios presented in some short courses do not prepare one for real self-defense. There is no way to predict what an attacker might do and no way to predict what an attacker’s response will be to your defense. As the most practical solution, WingTsun concepts teach a person not to respond to feints or distractions by an attacker but rather to go straight in attacking-while-defending as the most effective defense. In addition, WingTsun’s main skill set is elastic force enabling one to yield and not clash with an attacker’s force and borrowing an attacker’s force to use it against them.

The flexibility and speedy footwork taught in the Leung Ting WingTsun® system as well as the WingTsun skills are the most practical way to prepare for attacks. After that, it is up to the person preparing for self-defense situations to be aware, be alert, think about the route home, the parking lot, walking or jogging with a partner and not alone, security at home and staying fit.

After learning the WingTsun basics in the first several ranks, learning to aim at targets such as the sternum (heart), the bridge of the nose, bladder, knee, shin, in-step, the targets get more lethal. By the time your skills increase, it is safer, because of those skills, to practice with partners to targets like the throat, the carotid artery, the base of the skull, the temple, the eyes, the ankle, armpit, and various strategic locations on the leg designed to not only hurt and injure but to nullify the attacker’s balance and ability to stand up.

Number 3

Last resort scenario: Learn ground defenses.

Wing Tsun training includes ground defenses.

The context of today’s martial sports

It is not enough to mention soft targets, but one must learn how to land the kick or strike effectively within the context of the situation. Some of these targets are within the techniques of the Biu Tze form and wooden dummy techniques at the instructor level. NONE of these techniques are allowed in MMA and none of these techniques are taught in martial sports. Sometimes lethal techniques are taught in the martial sports at the black belt levels when an instructor knows this material but not in real time motion based on chi sau stick and pressure! This is because they do not have the chi arts method of training tactile skills in their martial art! Mostly, their training in these techniques is against a static, non-moving partner, if at all.

Here is something that is often misunderstood as well: It is dangerous for both people to get involved in a street fight. Even the so-called ‘winner’ may have to face legal problems for years to come. Currently, the likely hood that your actions will not be observed by witnesses or cameras is remote. Avoidance is the best self-defense.

- Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

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