The Surprise Attack

The public is well acquainted with hand-to-hand duals.  In other words two fighters face each other, then one attacks and the other is forced to counter attack.  It could be in a sports venue, it could be two antagonists that want to “duke it out” on the street or in a bar.  However in discussions about fighting and self defense, discussions about incidents involving the surprise attack are much fewer.

The surprise attack is a far more difficult situation than a fighting dual in its own way as you might imagine – or – you might fully understand if you have been a victim of such an attack.  Recovery from the initial attack is difficult to say the least. Acknowledging this fact are the words of Grandmaster Leung Ting in his book Wing Tsun Kuen, “He who attacks first is the stronger.”


Without growing a pair of eyes in the back of your head, probably the most important thing you can do is prevention.  Studies have shown that the victims of this type of crime and even some street robberies are the persons that appear “lost,” “distracted,” walk with their head down, or are otherwise preoccupied.

Most #martial arts classes tell a student to keep their head up and look ahead.  However after studying two other martial arts before Leung Ting WingTsun®, I had never had such attention placed on one’s posture and head position in other martial arts.  There are plenty of other good reasons for this as taught in the Leung Ting system but I will concentrate on only the relevant reasons for this blog.

When out and about, a good habit to get into is to carry over what you learn in your WingTsun classes and that is to keep your head up and level with your eyes straight ahead. This offers the best visual depth and peripheral vision. This is a good start in keeping your attention on your surroundings.

Next step might be to have a plan before you go out. Do not rely on your memory or electronic devices to help you find a place while on foot. If you rely on a faulty memory, you will present a confused looking individual to the world out in public. This person is a convenient target for a crime.  If you rely on an electronic device to help you locate a place, you will present a distracted person as a target for a crime.

In public, do not behave as you would in the privacy of your own home.  Wearing ear phones is a distraction and does not allow you to hear what you should be hearing such as footsteps, shouts, automobiles, sirens and so on.  Talking on the phone is another distraction while you are exposed to the public.  Wearing flip-flops encourages a stumble if you are forced to defend your self.

If you jog or walk for exercise, be careful about your route.  A route that has places to hide such as alley ways, bushes, parked cars, doorways close to the sidewalk and so on are potentially dangerous places.  There is a series of prevention steps that one can take but the most important one is to be aware of your surroundings and this means keep all your senses in the on position.


WingTsun defensive footwork is the first and most important technique in saving your self from serious bodily harm or even death.  If you can get out of the way of an attack on its way to you, your swift feet are the best defense (including running)!  If you sense somebody or something behind you, a quick step and turn is a standard technique in WingTsun and can be done in different ways. WingTsun turning is like the hand technique – economical. During the turn, the head is kept up and not looking down at one’s feet.

The hand technique in the early training is designed for instant action.  The Character Sun Thrusting Punch is taught as a sudden, explosive movement from a position closer to one’s attacker and straighter than being taught in many other martial arts.  There is no necessity to gather power because the punch uses explosive, instant action.  One must train this action.  It is not a magic pill that we deliver at class.

It makes no difference at what distance the attack comes.  WingTsun has techniques for every distance…and this is the most important part…that all use the same principals of body movement allowing a weaker person to defeat a stronger attacker.  Again, this is not a magic pill that we deliver at class.  A student must train this skill.

The reader can hopefully understand the importance of behaving differently in public than in the privacy of one’s own home in order to prevent violence to yourself and to protect your loved ones. WingTsun kung fu is well suited to surprise attack self-defense. However the responsibility to defend is yours, to be aware and to train diligently.  We have seen recently that some individuals will stoop so low as to knock out or kill an unsuspecting person just for thrills and the police or those nearby cannot do anything about it.

If you stay alert, carry yourself with confidence and look like you know where you are going, this is a good start and, oh by the way, do train in the Leung Ting WingTsun® system to give you the necessary confidence so you do not have to fake it!

©Copyright 2013, Keith Sonnenberg.  All rights reserved.