Building a Fun Kung Fu Kids Class

There are many steps to Building a Fun Kung Fu Kids Class. You can vary teaching styles based on age, style of martial art, and size of the class. Regardless of these factors there are a few things you can do to make sure that you are running and fun and engaging kids program. These are some of the things we do at the Sifu Och Wing Chun and Just Dance Afterschool and Martial arts Programs.

Building a Fun Kung Fu Kids Class



Lakeland little lions kids preschool martial arts kickboxing karate kung fu ages 3 - 5 years oldThe very first thing that you must have when running any kids program is a focus on discipline. When the class is smaller, under 15-20 students, it can be easy to slack off give them more leeway. However, if good discipline is not integrated early in the program it will be difficult to maintain that when the class gets closer to 25+. What you must feel is the class energy. If the kids are engaged, following instructions, working hard, there will obviously be a very good energy in the class. On the other hand, if there are children that are whispering to each other, spending too much time fixing a shoe or belt, etc. there will be a hiccups in flow of class. When you feel the flow of energy weakening you must change the class dynamic. But more on that later.

Kids Kung Fu, Kids Martial Arts Classes, Kids Kung Fu, Kids Training Lakeland, Bully DefenseOne of the first tricks we to maintain class discipline and structure is using the word discipline itself. When one of our instructors calls “discipline” the entire class responds with “yes sir” and stands at perfect attention. To compliment that you must enforce this and any other rules without hesitation or exception.

When we call discipline if any child speaks, doesn’t stand up, or is distracting another student we address it immediately. We enforce this with burpees. To keep the group together we will tell the students to start the burpee by saying “down”. When we say “up” we have them stand back up in discipline and say “yes sir”. This is repeated as many times as necessary until the group is performing this quickly as a unit.

Class Dynamic

kids martial arts, afterschool, kids martial arts, martial arts afterschool, afterschool pickupThe next aspect we will discuss is the class dynamic. As mentioned earlier you need to feel the energy in class. If you have classes that include children as young as 5 years old you will find that they my struggle more so with paying attention. If you also have a larger class this problem is compounded. To help maintain a fun but focused atmosphere you have to be able to make adjustment quickly. By interchanging combos with a mini work out you can quickly re-engage those who may be distracted. Teaching a basic combo like Jab, uppercut, round house, can be either very fun, or very boring. If you mix it into a fun work out to get the student’s moving you lift the overall energy. For example: if we have the students run in place, switch to high knees, then immediately take a fighting stance. Quickly follow up with the combo two or three times. Then we have them isolate one or two of those techniques and repeat them. The go back to the high knees, or jumping jacks etc. By cycling through different mini workouts, techniques, and other options you can keep the class very exciting.

Little Lions preschool martial artsFun

The last thing is of course have fun with them. If you as the instructor have an upbeat excited attitude then the students will more than likely emulate that. By embracing your inner child you can usually find new and engaging ways to energize the class. Have fun, maintain discipline, and you will have quite a enjoyable kids class.


Sifu Och’s Three Sections of Teaching

Wing Chun is not the easiest martial art to teach. The techniques come from a philosophy and list of principles. Due to this, the application of the techniques can be done with many variations that can be considered “correct”. These variations can cause added frustration. This is due to the details when it comes to teaching the variations. So that being said, you need to give ample attention to your students to genuinely help them understand, learn, and apply their Wing Chun. Sifu Och’s three sections of teaching his main classes help accomplish that.

Sifu Och’s Three Sections of Teaching

Beginner Class

women wing chun, kung fu, women wing chun class, high block, biu sau, punch, wing chun kung fu, lakeland, florida, usa, women wing chun kung fuThe beginner class is for those students that are within their first year of training. We typically have one main instructor on the floor who has trained for at least 3 years. He or she helps the new student’s build their fundamentals. The focus of this section of class is to build their immediate ability to stop basic, common attacks. In our article When to Learn Chi Sao & Wooden Dummy we cover in more detail what our philosophy is for that class. We want to make sure that when a student leaves our doors the are able to hand dangerous situations as quickly as possible.

Much like a building we must set the groundwork. Within someones first year of training we teach them the basics to a few things. First, we guide them through the basics of footwork. Second, while building their footwork we help them through the concepts of using two hands at the same time. Thirdly, we want to build an attacking mindset. Instead of being focused on the perfect counter, block, or defense, we want our students to build an immediate offensive mindset.

Intermediate Class

Coach Level Training, Wing Chun Combos, Wing Chun TimingFor our Intermediate class we move past our basic footwork and attacks and start building our combinations. After initial contact you must follow up to finish your opponent. Building on the foundation of attacks we begin to teach students how to effectively and efficiently follow up.

Not only do we build in the ability to follow up and finish an opponent we also begin to lean heavier into reaction training and sparring. There are three main stages of development which I go into more detail in my article Three Cycles of Martial Art Training. The last of these stages is reaction which is the hardest to master. Speed, technique, power, all mean nothing if you do not have the correct timing.

Conner McGregor said “Precision beats power, and timing beats speed” in a post fight interview. You can take this one step further and say that without any form of timing you cannot fight. So you MUST develop your timing. Wing Chun is very effective when used properly. But due to many attacks being intercepts versus blocks, learning the timing can be tricky. You must devote consistent hard work in sparring and active attacker training.

Advanced Class

Wing Chun Long Pole, Weapons, Wing Chun Instructor

At our advance class level we begin the refinement of the techniques. We being teaching and using the Wooden Dummy at this level. Now that there has been years of using the Wing Chun shapes and applying them against pressure we can now upgrade them to the fullest level.

The Wooden Dummy training helps conditioning of the arms as well as tightening of form. Since the dummy does not hit back it serves no purpose other than that refinement of techniques. Spacing, shapes, rooting, all can be worked on using the dummy.

When at the advanced class we now also pass on the more traditional aspects of Wing Chun including Long Pole and Butterfly Swords. Wing Chun needs to stay applicable to the current martial arts you might run in to. However, you must keep your roots strong in the history of your training. Now that your training is coming full circle we finish the circle with advanced techniques and weapons.


Sifu Och Wing Chun Kung Fu
Call us: 863.800.0171
116 East Pine Street, Lakeland, FL 33801 (Downtown Lakeland)

When to Learn Wooden Dummy & Chi Sau

Learning martial arts is much like a knife. You will take your training through stages before you can use it. The two main stages involved are crafting the knife and sharpening the knife. When to Learn Wooden Dummy & Chi Sau depends on your view point in regards to these stages. I will speak from the perspective that I was taught at Sifu Och Wing Chun. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the “correct” way, it is simply how we do it here.

Knowing when to teach Wooden Dummy & Chi Sau

Stage 1 – The view point that is at Sifu Och Wing Chun is one based in immediate application. When a student walks into our door we want to teach them street applicable techniques as soon as possible. We have had multiple students come into our studio living in dangerous situations. Our first advice is always to get away from the situation or people causing the problems. But when it comes to the techniques we can’t teach them Chi Sau or Wooden Dummy because at that moment it is not applicable.

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women’s self defense in lakeland florida women self defense sifu justin och wing chun kung fu martial arts

They must be able to deal with dangerous situations and attacks immediately. We want to equip them with a basic defense against hooks, hard straight punches, take-downs, pushes, grabs etc. Once they have an established based we want to add onto their skill by adding combinations, transitions, and working against and with weapons. Finally, free sparring to train you on how to use and deal with other martial arts combat reactions.

The Need for Chi Sau

Now, the argument might be made that without Chi Sau it will be difficult to enhance certain aspects of your reflexes. To this I agree to a point. In Chi Sau you deal with close quarter sensitivity reaction as well as redirection and close range trapping. So it is a vital aspect of training Wing Chun.

wing chun classesHowever, for the new student, Chi Sau may be difficult to use as a tool. You must train Chi Sau to learn structure before using it for reaction. Making sure that you have constant forward energy, balanced strength, and good relaxation can takes weeks to months of hard training.To fill in the gab between sparring and Chi Sau we use wrist against. This is essentially Chi Sau reaction hands without the rolling.

The same is essentially true with the wooden dummy. But instead of referring to reaction the wooden dummy would deal with structure and positioning refinement.

Stage 2

grandmaster ip chun, Ip Chun, eldest son of ip man, ip man, sifu justin och, hong kong chinaStage 2 can be equated to the sharpening of the knife. You now have a good solid foundation in your techniques. You know how to apply them and it what situation they should be used. Now we must work to make them stronger, easier, more efficient. This is the perfect place for Chi Sau and Wooden Dummy. With the correct context in mind when applying the techniques, the refinement of them now has a purpose.

The Knife

Reverting back to the knife analogy. Imagine having a slab of metal and sharpening one side of it. Now, what do you have? A slab of metal with a sharp end. There is no way to use it as desired. Building the knife takes time. The handle, the guard if wanted, the length. You must make this part of the knife first before you can sharpen it. If you do not you are not only going to have a much hard time sharpening it but you will have an unusable knife.

Now, this goes without saying, all of the above depends on your goals. If you are seeking to learn Wing Chun to find balance in your life. Develop your mind and find new friends, then learning these aspects of Wing Chun sooner than later makes sense. However, if you are looking for the combat of Wing Chun then saving that for later is suggested for When to Learn Wooden Dummy & Chi Sau.


Sifu Och Wing Chun Kung Fu
Call us: 863.800.0171
116 East Pine Street, Lakeland, FL 33801 (Downtown Lakeland)


4 Ways to Intercept

Intercepting is always better than blocking. We are going to look at what the definition of intercepting is before we give some practical ways of accomplishing that. Webster’s dictionary defines intercepting as “to stop, seize, or interrupt in progress or course or before arrival”. The best way to view intercepting is that last part of the definition, “interrupt”. Not only is the attack itself being interrupted, but the timing of your opponent should be as well. And that is the key, the timing. When timed properly your opponents attack will be nullified and you will be primed to launch a second attack (in theory before his second) or you would have already hit him. Now that we have addressed what intercepting as a concept let me provide you with 4 Ways to Intercept your opponents attacks using Wing Chun.

4 Ways to Intercept

Intercepting Fist

Intercepting Fist

The first technique we will go over is the Intercepting Fist. Made famous by Bruce Lee, this technique is typically taught fairly early on in student’s training. The idea is to counter the opponents punch with a punch of your own. By keeping your elbow down and pressing from center mass you are elbow to offset your opponents strike. This can quickly be follow up a flurry of punches we refer to as Chain Punches. Keeping the strikes down the center you are able to maintain control of your centerline.

When you substitute a Paak Sao with an intercept you will find it can be much easier to deal with a second and third punch. Part of this is due to the fact that you are returning the opponents punch with a punch. They will be slightly less confident with their next punch as opposed to when you simple deflect their initial punch with a Paak. Second to that, the Intercept automatically covers your opposite side incase of a second attack. Whereas the Paak leaves you more open. 

Turning Punch

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Turning Punch

The Turning Punch basically the other side of the same coin referring to the Intercepting punch. The Intercepting fist is typically used to refer to the lead hand being used with the lead foot to interrupt the opponent. This is illustrated in the first photo above.

Turning punch is simply using the the same structure but opposite hand to accomplish the same goal. Since the punch is coming from the back foot, the turning punch will have more power and torque then the straight Intercepting. However, much like the Paak punch, if not used properly, can leave you open on the inside for an attack.

Tan Sao

Tan Sao

The Tan Sao is a very effective and sound way to intercept a strike. You have not only nullified the attack but you have also almost guaranteed a strike of your own. Tan and the actual punch are the exact same shape. The only exception is what the hand is doing at the end. You can see here in the photo the Tan Sao is an hand open towards the ceiling. By opening the hand the focus of the technique is diverted to the elbow. The Punch itself can be delivered to the head, or for a taller opponent you can strike the ribs.

Since the Tan extending through the strike towards your opponent, it makes stopping a second strike fairly straight forward. You can transition to a Paak Punch if the Strike is down the center. Or, you can continue pressing forward with a Bui Sao against a hook punch.

Paak Punch


Paak Punch, Kick

Our last technique for this article on intercepting attacks is the Paak Punch. Clearing the attackers hit with Paak good, but combining it with straight punch is better. Since the Paak is coming off of the back foot there is a lot of power and structure with this counter. The Paak is also quite diverse.

When used, you can use the Paak to press forward and crush the attackers structure. You can guide his hand downward if he is taller. You can also use it to setup a baiting for the second punch.

Bonus: The Paak Punch is also a great attack to throw in a kick along with it. By doing this you maximize Wing Chun’s ability to use multiple weapons at once. You can see here in the photo, Sifu Justin used the Paak, Punch, and Kick. He uses the kick just before the punch clears the arm to finish the attack.


Final thoughts

When it comes to Intercepting timing is everything. You can have GREAT structure, technique, and power. But, if you do not practicing your techniques in LIVE sparring scenarios you will get hit no matter how good you think you are. There is no substitute for hard work, and good punches to the face. Train hard and never give up.

Afterschool Kung Fu Fun

When it comes to teaching children anything it can be either a complete drag, or the most fun you will have the whole day. Your attitude will determine whether or not the clock will slowly inch it’s way to the next minute or run out before you realize class is done. I will explain here in Afterschool Kung Fu Fun the three ‘E’s  to actually enjoy teaching a kids class no matter the age.

Afterschool Kung Fu Fun

Establish Discipline

Lakeland little lions kids preschool martial arts kickboxing karate kung fu ages 3 - 5 years oldThe first thing that must be done is to establish a line of discipline with the student’s. Without discipline there will be utter chaos in the class. No matter how fun the class is there will always be some sort of disruption. In my article Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care I explain in details a few details about establishing discipline. Understanding the line between fear and respect is crucial. Contrary to belief you cannot force someone to respect you. You can make them act a certain which may be perceived as respect.


Respect is only achieved when the student’s know that you truly care about them. “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This is a phrase I live by. Before class starts I try to speak to as many of them as possible. I can build individual relationships with them and they can connect with me. We build trust and respect this way.

Embrace Your Inner Kid

Once you have established your discipline your class will go much smoother than without. A focused energy rises in the class when discipline is held across the room. You must capitalize on this energy. To use it you must embrace your inner child. If your 12 year old self were to be in this class what would make it fun? Answer that question over and over and you will find you are making new and exciting ways to do drills. You will find yourself looking forward to class. It becomes a chance to really have fun with your class.

By “becoming a kid” again you’ll see that you have the ability to take the same workouts and put a new spin one them that the kids will love. A perfect example is around Christmas time. At Sifu Och Wing Chun we have the kids to military crawl for part of the warm. The spin I tell them is that they are the Grinch and they have to sneak through the house without getting caught. Another fun warm up spin is something I call “ninja mode”. The students pretend to be ninjas while I give them instructions. Whether it is running quietly or jumping to avoid the incoming “sword”. They are able to get a good workout hidden under the guise of pretend.

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Explain Quickly

The last thing that must be done is crucial. You must learn to be efficient with your explanations. Since their young minds have trouble focusing you must be potent with your talks. Clear and concise are your best friends. If you are able to explain techniques quickly you can spend more time drilling, working on their focus and persistence. Long explanations can also wear them out. While you don’t want to skimp on good info you have to find the balance or their little legs won’t be able to handle standing still for too long.


To wrap things up. Three keys to having a good kids class: Establish discipline, Embrace your inner kid, and Explain quickly. If you can put all of these things together you will really enjoy teaching your kids class no matter the age.


The Strength of My Wing Chun

The Strength of My Wing Chun: By Ryan Beck

Wing Chun is different for each practitioner: how they move, when they flow and even the strength used. Each person is trained and trains differently; they all have different weaknesses and advantages. There are skills we all must learn and others that must be figured out individually. These gains can come fast while others take years to achieve. After approximately three years, I have seen these gains made by myself and others.

My Wing Chun Start

When I first started training with Sihing Garret in Tampa, I was the only regular student. His boxing background, plus his time training in Wing Chun really set his skills apart. After the first class, I told myself, that no matter what, I would commit to training for at least one year, at that point I would re-evaluate. Not even two months later, I came to the realization that Wing Chun was in my soul and I was hooked.

With any form of martial arts, there are typically two types of gains: physical and mental. Physical goals are the easiest to see. I noticed I was moving faster, able to go longer, and could even tell my eyes where processing information faster. Slowly, was becoming a better fighter. I believe this primarily has to do with my instruction, training and dedication. These physical gains are generally noticed fairly consistently by all. You get out what you put in. These are the gains that pushed me through my first year.

Wing Chun Year Two

When my one-year marker hit, I looked back on all the gains I had made. The surprising part about this reflection was the mental and lifestyle achievements. These types of gains are much harder to identify. I saw my temper cooled, I was eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. The craziest part was that these changes, these gains started to become evident, when I saw the people around me changing as well. They were growing through my growth. My wife and our two daughters started eating healthier, drinking water and working out. In addition, my wife and our girls are on their own martial arts adventure too.

The only limitation Wing Chun has to personal growth, is people’s willingness to grow. It’s not always easy to train. Let’s be honest, it’s hard work. After a long and hot day at my job, I don’t always want to train. We can always find a reason. I will never forget my Sifu once said, “instead of an excuse, just say it’s not a priority.” This is something I strive to apply to all aspects of my life. The interesting part is that once I am at class, I am always glad that I went. This is true in life, it’s never as bad as we thought it was going to be.

Wing Chun For Life

Over the course of my Wing Chun journey thus far, I have found three strong reasons why I will never quit Wing Chun. The first reason is my family, I see the change in them and they look to me for guidance in life. Without martial arts, I am not sure I would know what direction to take them. The second reason is the tradition and culture, I have always been interested in the history and where Wing Chun comes from – not only the fighting, but the lifestyle as well.

There is such a history, that every time I Chi Sao, I feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself. The third and final reason I will never quit Wing Chun is the personal and physical aspect. I have grown tremendously since starting Wing Chun. The best part is how much growing I still have left to do. I know I can be faster, I know I can be even more technical and I know I have a lot more to learn and for me this is exciting!

Your Wing Chun Journey

Gains can always be made in Wing Chun as long as goals are being set and matched, as long as a person is dedicated to train and as long as the community is strong. Wing Chun is limitless! If I can train hard even when I don’t want to or kick open new doors when I am too tired to, then there is nothing I can’t do, in life or in Wing Chun.

A Letter To Myself-Marcus Morales

In this Article: “A Letter To Myself-Marcus Morales”, Marcus tells us his story of how he started his Wing Chun Training. We hope you enjoy this little story!

A Letter To Myself-Marcus Morales

Do you know the feeling you get when you are about to do something and you do not know what the outcome is going to be? It happens all the time. For example, imagine it is the middle of summer, you are at the local pool cooling off along with a bunch of other people, and suddenly you decide you want to dive off the platform and continue to develop your patented cannonball dive. There you go, walking past everyone and you climb to the first level.

But, You realize that there are steps that will take you to the second tier and you follow them up another level.Then you see there is yet another set up steps and they take you to the very top platform. Somehow, you have managed to get up there, where no one else dares to go. There you are, standing at the highest level at the public pool with your lucky red bathing trunks. The ones with yellow rubber duckies on them. You look down and see that you are on the edge, staring at the crystalline blue water, deciding whether or not to jump.

The Jump

That is exactly how I felt when I was standing outside the door of Sifu Justin Och’s Martial Arts school. I was standing there, watching everyone doing all kinds of crazy things. Trying to decide whether to step inside or just keep walking. I must confess that I only knew a little about Wing Chun. I consider myself to be a bit of a tough guy; grew up in some tough neighbor hoods. I also served my country for six years and finished my obligation with an honorable discharge. During that time I even came back from a major injury in the Army. Suffice it to say, I thought I was tough enough. But something kept urging me to step inside, so I did.

In the Water

Wing Chun, Self Defense, Sifu Och Wing ChunOnce inside, I was intimidated by all the people there, knocking each other around. I stood there, at that ceramic tile square at the entrance to the school. And the, Sifu came along and welcomed me in. He was not what I expected. Truth is…I didn’t know what to expect. But he walked up to me, with a thousand-watt smile on his face, and made me feel right at home. I didn’t know this until later, but he had just finished wrestling on the floor with some of his students.

One more thing I did not expect. I was still a little defensive, mostly because I didn’t know much about how things worked. All Sifu did was invite me to join in on the class he was conducting and then he would get back to me to see whether I wanted to be a part of it, so I accepted the invitation. I have not left the school since.

Learning How to Swim

From the very First minute you become a part of the school’s family and its culture. I was automatically being grabbed and tossed. I even received a stiff punch to the face, and just like that I was absolutely drawn to the scene. Somehow, despite all the punches and tosses, the sore bones and sprains, I have become more and more involved in the art. Sifu is there, with a smile on his face, teaching you everything you need to know about the art. And this is not a man who is boastful or driven by a sense of superiority. No… this man truly loves to tach, he wholeheartedly love the art, and he absolutely enjoys his students.

Sifu Och

One other thing that Sifu Och strives for at his school is the development of a community within the school. He is constantly coming up with events for the school, activities designed to strengthen the camaraderie within the student, to help foster positive relationships between the students, ones that they can potentially carry along wit them throughout their lives. I have come to believe that his desire to develop and nurture these positive relationships is at the core of the most successful martial arts school. Creating bonds not only between student and teacher, but between students, strengthens the school itself.

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Sifu’s Students

The students at the school are without a doubt the greatest assets Sifu has at his disposal. From the Green Sashes all the way to his instructor level students. They understand Sifu’s philosophy when it comes to helping everyone who start training. They



Sal Ficaro: Ageless Training

Sal Ficaro came to Sifu Och Wing Chun about one year ago. He tried one of our classes and got very frustrated with himself and decided to leave. Sifu Och was able to talk to him and arrange for private lessons instead to help him through those first steps of learning. When I took on Sal and his private lessons I knew this would be a difficult task. Sal was not used to Wing Chun and it’s movements. However, I knew that it could be done because Sal had the right mindset. In this article, Sal Ficaro: Ageless Training, Sal will tell a little bit about himself and his training here.

Sal Ficaro: Ageless Training

“Hello, my name Salvatore Ficarro I am 58 years old. I’ve been training at Sifu Och Wing Chun it’s been a learning process. Timothy Kittelstad is one of the trainers at this studio and he is absolutely wonderful. Even though the journey has been tough I absolutely love it.

If anybody is in the 40s or 50s age and would like to learn some self-defense they should not hesitate. They should come down to Sifu Och and start their own journey! Your age shouldn’t hold you back. I’m 58 but that is just a number. I don’t allow that to be an excuse to not learn something new. Life can be very hard. And many times you want to just give up. But the wonderful things in life take some time to learn.

When you are working hard to learn something you may fall a little short. And when that happens, as long as you get back up and come back stronger that day was a success. There are days I feel I’m only at maybe 60% where I should be. But if I leave at 61% that means I am improving. Then next time maybe I’m at 70% or 80%. As long as you work hard and improve, no matter how small the improvement, you will always be able to grow. The staff at Sifu Och Wing Chun are the best trainers I’ve ever seen. They are their to help you. All they want is for you to be your best. And I want you to succeed. I feel if you give it a try your will fall in love with it.”

Age doesn’t Stop Hard work

Sal shows that now matter your age you can accomplish anything with hard. Day after day Sal comes into class and puts in a hard days training. Starting from private lessons he has been able to work himself into the group classes. The most impressive thing about Sal is his determination. He doesn’t care about belts, or awards, or flashy techniques. He simply wants to know that he can take care of himself. Each day he comes in and builds himself from the last class.

Age is just a number. Everybody has hurdles they have to learn to overcome. Everyone has their own life story. Once you learn to accept your story and do the best you can with what you have you can start to really learn new things.

Instead of complaining about his age, or “not being able to move like he used to”, Sal trains his body to move the best it can right now. Because that’s what matters, the now. Not the past, not the future, but right now. What are you doing right now to make a difference in your life? If nothing than you should find the reason why. And then find a strong reason why you need to change that. Sal is a great example of someone who tackles life no matter what happens.


My Journey Toward Wing Chun

My Journey Toward Wing Chun

My martial arts training started late in 2006 at Dan Parrish’s Taekwondo school.  The sole purpose of me training there was for it to be an outlet for my anger issues. When my training first started, my attitude toward others, school, and life in general was horrible. At the same time that I was practicing Martial Arts, I was also regularly seeing a “Guidance counselor“ . With the help of my “guidance counselor“, my instructors at my Martial Arts school, and my parents… I was able to reduce the amount of anger I’ve always had and calm down as much as possible.

Introduction to Ip Man

As years went on I became a black belt at the same martial arts school but under a different instructor who’s name is Master Gary Hernandez. Around that time is when I watched the first Ip man movie. That’s when I wanted to start to learn any new style of Kung Fu, but Wing Chun in particular. Something terrible occurred I was working towards my 2nd degree black belt. A near fatal incident happened to my mother and now ex-stepfather.  Once that happened, my training drastically went downhill. I wasn’t wanting to throw a single punch or block a single strike.


After a while, when I knew my mother would be OK I began to start training again. But this time I was traveling with a friend every Thursday and Saturday to Zephyrhills to continue my training. I was also training and teaching as one of the head instructors at my Lakeland taekwondo school. As 2014 was coming to A conclusion, my taekwondo school and Lakeland shut down because of financial issues which allowed me to become A full fledged student under Gary Hernandez. Once I became a student under Gary Hernandez I started training in the super foot system and earned my 2nd degree black beltSoon after I received my next rank, I moved further away to the city of Winter Haven which kept me from training because of transportation issues.

Lakeland Wing Chun

Fast forward towards 2016, I stumbled across the Wing Chun school in Lakeland. At the time I was very hesitant about walking in and asking questions because of the simple fact that I did not know how I would be able to make it to classes without there being A problem. I am glad to say that I do not regret walking into the front door. I met both the manager, Timothy Kittelstad, and the owner, Sifu Justin OchThey immediately made me feel welcome.

sifu justin och, ip chun, hong kong, florida, son of ip man, masterOne of the many reasons why I love to train at this particular school is because of the authenticity of the Wing Chun that is being taught. There’s no place else like it, and there’s no other place that you can learn wing Chun from one person that’s been certified under multiple lineages. So far what I’ve gained and hope to continue gaining is the realness of Wing Chun and how the principles of Wing Chun affect more than just a persons martial art aspectbut also different aspects of every day life and activities. I’ve also learned and have gained many different techniques that is and will be always important to any true martial artist.

Wing Chun’s Greatness

Lastly, one thing I’ve gained since I’ve signed up at Sifu Och’s Wing Chun is the love and care that he provides and all of his students. Anyone who signs up will be able to experience the greatness and directness and effectiveness of Wing Chun. They will also be able to see how family oriented the school and the atmosphere is. They will also how hard and dedicated all the students are to their training.

Wing Chun Vs. Tae Kwon Do

Comparing martial arts has been happening for ages. It has it’s benefits but if not done with respect it has it’s pitfalls. Before I get into my article I want to clarify this article is a technical analysis of the two styles. It is not designed to bash either still but to show how one style would deal with the other. Wing Chun Vs. Tae Kwon Do is a hot topic because of how wide spread Tae Kwon Do is and the rising popularity of Wing Chun.  This article will hopefully give some insight into the two styles if someone is looking to train in one of them.

My Wing Chun Vs. Tae Kwon Do

Having started in Tae Kwon Do and now studying Wing Chun I use both in my training. Wing Chun is used as my primary art which I train against other ex Tae Kwon Do practitioners. I then return the favor as the “bad guy” helping my Wing Chun family against my Tae Kwon Do. Needless to say I have much experience using the two arts against each other. I will first address using my Wing Chun against Tae Kwon Do.

Wing Chun seeks to destroy the enemy as quickly as possible. Using structure and an overwhelming wave of attacks the aim to not give your opponent a chance. But to be maximized it must close the distance and keep it closed. Trapping can be utilized, which to someone who doesn’t grapple or know any counters, can be detrimental. The issue can be found in closing that distance. One of the most useful tools I employ is making sure I attack with at least two weapons.


Kicking while either blocking or intercepting an attack is a favorite. With my the Wing Chun structure keeping both hands and at least one foot in range allows me to hit multiple points at once. This disrupts most peoples timing. This also serves to slow down my opponent if he is very mobile. A stomping kick (or what we refer to as a Shadow Kick) to the thigh usually does the trick.

Understanding the Opponent

A Tae Kwon Do fighter will try to use his reach and distance. Switching kicks quickly can be tricky to deal with. However, if directness is maintained it won’t be a problem. Front kicks can be dealt with by using a Bui Ma step with a Gan Punch to clear the kick. A back up option is simply dropping the lead elbow on the ankle of the opponent. Round houses are usually stopped using a Double Jum Sao followed up with a back fist or chop. Because of the structure of Wing Chun once the distance is closed the opponent usually doesn’t have much of a response.

My Tae Kwon Do Vs. Wing Chun

When fighting another Wing Chun student the hardest part, as mentioned above, is the directness.
I must keep my distance and rely on speed, fakes, and mis-directions to even come close to landing a good strike. Using my lead foot I will fake low and go for a head shot. This is one of the most effective strikes if I time it properly. Second to that a spinning back kick can be slipped under the protecting hands of a Wing Chun Fighter if executed quickly enough.

The hardest part again, is keep the Wing Chun fighter away. Quick movement in and out, outside hook heel kicks, and low to high kicks are the best options.

Which One

Of the two systems I do prefer Wing Chun for combat.. Even though the Tae Kwon Do fighter might be more mobile, the Wing Chun system provides a more sound answer to attacks. Based on my experience Wing Chun allows me to end a fight much more quickly which to me is the most important part.

My Journey Into Wing Chun: By Rich Dorsey

“My Journey Into Wing Chun: By Rich Dorsey,” is my story hope you enjoy!

I’ve wanted to train in the Wing Chun system specifically ever since I knew of it when I first got started in martial arts as early as my 18th year. My first teacher, a master of Isshin Ryu, was fascinated by it. Upon many of my homework assignments I received then I also was given information, literature and videos about Wing Chun.

My Journey Into Wing Chun: By Rich Dorsey

Those few Karate teachings were basic. I had only begun to scratch the surface of how to use my hands and feet. They are minuscule to the depth I’ve seen at this early stage of Sifu Och’s system. Even still I feel many significant differences in the fighting styles. Not only are both of my ‘weapons’ straight-on utilizing more than half my body, but my hands (when I’m practicing my techniques properly) are continuously forward ready to be fired in short range fire attack. This being said I can honestly say I’ve never had any real training. Even though over the years I’ve tried many different styles of martial arts even boxing.

My Inspiration

I’ve met many masters and many students but never anyone who has ever truly inspired me. I began to believe my dream of learning Wing Chun and meeting those kinds of individuals was out of reach. Not only did I find what I was looking for, I met one of the best fighters I’ve ever known. A teacher not only surpassing my expectations in knowledge but one who inspires me still. A system that not only challenges me but one that works. I’ve seen it work and have felt it work. To this day I don’t know if I’m more inspired by him or fellow students. Not only can I see what it’s done for myself but I see what it’s done for them. The changes in us all over the past two years.

My Past

And before I go on about the many benefits of Sifu Och’s Wing Chun system it’s important to me to remember who I was before I came. I’ve been athletic my entire life. I began calisthenics at the age of five, and weight training as early as eleven. As an adult, I became a personal trainer by trade. My confidence was exuded for all to see. Yet there was always something missing. All my goals in my physical attributes had for the most part been met. I wanted more than just to look like I could kick butt and take names. I wanted to feel it and believe it.

Refining Myself

So I began refining myself, my cardio respiratory and training on my own to prepare myself for martial arts. Had I known then what I know now I would have just started immediately. When I felt like I was ready that’s when I found him. ‘When the student is ready the master will appear.’ I can honestly say I had no idea what true cardio was. And all the confidence -that I soon realized was only on the surface- was stripped away as soon as I realized how much I didn’t know. How much younger men (and some women) only half my size and strength could easily defeat me. Most only in the beginning phase of the system. The confidence that I have now runs deep. 

My Future

The cardio I currently have I could have never imagined. I’m tougher than I ever could’ve imagined. These are only a few of the benefits I’ve gained and being only a short distance along the long road I’ve begun to travel I can only imagine how much more there is in store for me here. The excitement only grows the more I learn, understand, and experience…

Sifu Och! WING CHUN!!

Hung Nguyen: Reaching Orange Sash

Born and raised in Vietnam, I have known Wing Chun as “Vịnh Xuân” which carries the same meaning of “eternal spring”. However, my knowledge about Wing Chun was limited. I assumed that it is just another Chinese martial arts with fancy moves but not applicable in a modern day situation. Not until recently, the Ip Man movie series ignited my interest in Ip Man and the history of Wing Chun. In my paper, Hung Nguyen: Reaching Orange Sash I will tell you my story.

Hung Nguyen: Reaching Orange Sash

I came to find out that Wing Chun is a martial arts that emphasizes in realistic defense, economic motions, and bodily structure. Since Wing Chun was initially developed for women, it focuses on “getting the job done” rather than fancy flying kicks or breaking wooden blocks. It uses body mechanics with minimal movements to simultaneously strike and defense.


I have always wanted to improve my health, strength and overall wellness. However, like many others, I failed to stick with the mundane routine gym work outs. I knew at that time that I need to make a change. I wanted to do something that is interesting and beneficial for my health. The combination of my personal goal and interest in Wing Chun leads me to look for a Wing Chun school in the area.

My first impression of Tampa Wing Chun Kung Fu is the dedication and friendliness of the instructor, Garret Brumfield. He took the time to explain the basic moves and concept of Wing Chun, helping the students to have a better understanding of Wing Chun. He created a friendly environment which is built upon the enthusiasm of Wing Chun and the respect for each other. Over the past year, my strength and health have improved significantly due to Wing Chun. Garret has always pushed me to work harder not just in Wing Chun technicians but also other aspects such as strength, cardio, and endurance.

The Difference Here

While I have never trained in any form of martial arts previously, I have heard many stories about bad experience with martial arts schools. Many schools focus on pushing students through the systems for financial reasons. Students from those schools can quickly earn a black belt in relatively short amount of time. However, they quickly forget what they learned or don’t know how to apply in real life situation. The students are left little training and most importantly with a false sense of security. In my opinion, it is more dangerous to over confident about your ability to self-defense.


Unlike many other Wing Chun schools where they focus chi-sao but little in real life situations. The curriculum of Sifu Och Wing Chun is detailed and vast in techniques. Sifu Och Wing Chun emphasizes on basic techniques. It also teaches students to be efficient in attacks and defenses in realistic scenarios. The curriculum is built to ensure that the students can master the techniques. This is done through constant repetition and deep understanding of the concept. Sifu Och has traveled the world and trained under many direct lineages of Ip Man Wing Chun system. He distilled his knowledge to a curriculum in which the best of traditional Wing Chun meets self-defense techniques. This even includes other forms of martial arts.


Finally, Tampa Wing Chun Kung Fu and Sifu Och Wing Chun not only have helped me physically but also mentally. Garret and others have motivated me to keep coming to class even at the times when life gets in the way. They helped me to build up my discipline and determination to make a change and improve my overall well-being. At the end of the day, there is no substitution for dedication and time to mastery in Wing Chun or anything else in life. I am glad and very grateful that I have found Sifu Och Wing Chun and Tampa Wing Chun Kung Fu. It has had a positive impact in my life.

Tony Plasse: Becoming an Orange

Here on Tony Plasse: Becoming an Orange I explain my story but first, some history. Wing Chun a southern Chinese martial art mentioned during the period of the Red Boat Opera in the Late 1800s. Developed by southern Shaolin monks to help combat the Manchurians. It is influenced by other Fujian martial arts that preferred short steps and close fighting, with arms placed close to the chest and elbows close to the flanks offering protection. A simple boxing form quickly mastered by dedicated practitioners.

Two key figures keeping Wing Chun system alive after the burning of southern temples were Yat Chum Dai Si, 22nd generation Siu Lam Grandmaster monk, and Cheung Ng, also known as Tan Sao Ng within the opera. It was taught to other rebels taking refuge with the opera. From there it spread along the coast and rivers of south-eastern China by people who lived by and on the water. The Shaolin nun myth was most likely created to protect the identities of the creators and perpetrators of the Wing Chun system. Wing Chun translates to Spring Chant or Spring Praise.

Tony Plasse: Becoming an Orange

I remember my first introduction to Wing Chun Kung Fu was an Ip Man movie three years ago. Did not know much about it, but the movie inspired me to research it. I liked the theory behind and thought it would be more practical for myself. High flying kicks, although cool looking, are not my style. When I finally had the opportunity to attend a class near my house I thought to myself, “this is great”.

My Reaction

I have spent the last year training with Sihing Garret and I have noticed improvements in myself. Garret emphasizes physical training at the beginning of each class. I have improved muscle tone and stamina. Wing Chun techniques taught to me have improved my reflexes much to my surprise. Not just in wrist against wrist but in everyday applications. I react to things such as doors flying at my face. I caught one once with a Jum Sau action. The lady next to me said “Wow! That was like a ninja!”. I also catch the items knocked off shelves with a lot more ease.

My Confidence

Tony-Plasse-Wing Chun Kung Fu Tampa Bay FloridaThe wrist against wrist drill has helped my sensitivity improve into reaction. It has given me more confidence in handling myself. I always knew my normal movements gave me power. But now I am learning to channel that power more efficiently through stance and technique. I am more confident that I’m more prepared for situations when I’m out on the town or at work. I believe there are many applications I could have used previously in my life as a football player. Namely the footwork and center line punch drill. Both would have greatly helped me as an offensive lineman and coach. It also adds to my overall scariness.

My Future

As the days grow closer to my son’s birth, I look forward to sharing Wing Chun with him. I hope he will benefit from Wing Chun training developing skill, balance and confidence. I see Wing Chun as an opportunity to develop father and son bonds.

The instruction and encouragement I receive is outstanding. Sihing Garret and Sifu Och inspire me to dedicate myself and continue training. I hope to be an inspiring instructor one day. I look forward to progressing and to be a good representative of Tampa Bay Wing Chun Kung Fu and Sifu Och Wing Chun.

Your Black Belt Journey

There is a reason the title is “Your Black Belt Journey”, it’s YOUR journey. No one else can walk your life. You were created for a purpose and it’s your job to walk it to the best of your ability. That being said, too many times we see students comparing themselves to another student. In this article I will discuss what it means to walk the journey on the road to a black belt.

Your Black Belt Journey

Anything worth having takes time to get. Earning your Masters degree in Engineering, finishing Ranger school, a successful life long marriage. All of these things have something in common, they took a long time and a lot of hard work to achieve and/or maintain. People tend to treat martial arts different. As if learning to defend yourself from a threat is easier then one of these skills. Defending your family while fighting off multiple attackers or maybe even just one is not something you can learn in a weekend seminar. Yet, people continue to say they’ll “give it a try”. Or they will “do some Wing Chun” as if it were finger painting session with their friends.

Building a lifestyle

contact sifu och wing chun, kung fu, lakeland, florida, sifu och wing chun, contact us, kung fu lakeland, wing chun lakelandTo really learn self defense you must embrace it as a lifestyle. The same thing that is said about being healthy is true here. If you “go on a diet” you will eventually go back to your un-healthy ways. You must change how you live as a whole. You must become a healthy person. They choices you make a the grocery store, restaurants, and gym time. This is who you are and what you do. Not an activity you participate in for a few weeks. The same is exactly true in training self defense.

But I’m High enough ranked I’ll be ok

In my previous article 3 cycles of martial arts I explain that there are 3 main stages to training: Programming, Application, Reaction. Advanced Wing Chun classes sparring trainingAll 3 take time to develop in reference to a technique. But the most important thing is they must be maintained. If you do not keep up your training then you will NOT BE ABLE to respond to a threatening situation. Reacting to an attack takes split second reflexes as well as a situational awareness that maximizes your time. You may remember techniques from your training time but applying them quick enough will be very hard to accomplish.

The proof of this is many previous higher ranking students will come back from a hiatus and will struggle greatly with sparing and gor sao and lower ranking current students. That being said, setting goals and reaching them is a huge help when it comes to training as you go. But you should not have a rank as an end game. Living your life like a Black Sash is the key.

You Must Change

The Sash itself is NOT the goal in martial arts. It is the person you become while trying to obtain it. When you envision a person who is a “Black Sash” you typically picture someone who is wise, patient, hard working, compassionate. You must become the person you envision as a Black Sash. That transformation into something new only happens under the heavy anvil of rigorous, consistent training. Be reaching for small goals (i.e. your next rank) you have something you can slowly move towards and develop those characteristics on the way.

Nobody else can walk this path for you. You must accept where you are as a human. Recognize the type of person you must become. If you were a Black Sash how hard would you train? How compassionate would you be towards others? How loving would you be towards your family? These characteristics are what make a Black Sash. What are you doing to become that?

3 Training Cycles of Martial Arts

If you have just begun your training in martial arts you know it can become very frustrating. You can feel lost in the material. Confused on a technique. Or you feel like you are behind where you should be. All of the these factors make starting martial arts difficult for the newbie. In this article, 3 Training Cycles of Martial Arts, we will explain a concept that will hopefully help you push past the first slump.

The 3 Training Cycles of Martial Arts

There are 3 basic stages of learning a new technique. Once you understand these stages you will be able to identify where you are and what you need to work on. What you must understand is everyone develops different. Some learn the initial technique faster than others. Yet those same students may struggle in applying it. Everyone learns different. You must accept where you are so you can focus on YOUR development. Don’t stress about the progress of others. That being said, lets look at these 3 stages.

Stage 1: Programming

learn self defense nowThe first stage of training begins with programing. This is exactly like installing a new system into a computer. It takes time. When a new technique is shown it comes with a new set of motor functions the body is not used to. To overcome this the body needs time to “program” the new function into the “hard-drive”. Some students are more prone to certain techniques. Maybe they grew up doing a certain sport that had a similar movement to what they are learning now.

For instance, in Wing Chun there is a lot of rooting through the heels. If someone spent a lot of time lifting growing up they might be able to grasp that concept a little quicker. As opposed to someone who played soccer for instance. They would have been taught to always be in their toes. Therefore, they would need to spend more time teaching their body to draw power from the heels then the first person.

Stage 2: Application

Developing the Student MindsetSecondly, after you have learned what the new technique is and how to perform it you must learn WHEN to perform it. This is called application. One technique can have many applications and then variations from that original. Applying the technique must also be treated like the programing because you are learning how to time it against an attack. You must be attacked over and over again to get the timing down.

Along with timing the technique another very important part of application is learned and testing: structure. Without structure a block or attack will be ineffective no mater the timing. Just like gold is refined in fire so must the structure of a technique be refined through the fire of pressure. Pressure testing your structure helps develop your shapes that shadow training (or practicing in the air) can never do. Real attacks must be thrown and you to really develop your structure. Combining the timing and pressure training will give you the ability to fully apply your techniques.

Stage3: Reaction

Thirdly, the final stage of developing your technique is reaction. You have could structure and timing, but how will your fair when you do not know when the attack is coming? Reaction is the hardest part of training. You must build one technique at time. Learn how to react to one certain attack. Once you have dealt with that you build again from step one. Program a new technique; apply it to real attacks; react to it in a sparring scenario. You must learn how to deal with skilled and un-skilled attacks. Single attackers and multiple attackers. As well as Feinting, counter striking, grappling, High-low hit combos. All of these things and more must be thrown at you.

In conclusion, this cycle must be repeated over and over again. Day by day, technique by technique, this must be done. Consequently, if you stay consistent with your training you will master every technique given to you.



Jacob Cramer: Orange Sash Pre-Requisite Paper

Where to Begin? Where does one begin divulging the effervescent determination surrounding my growth in Sifu Och Wing Chun? But also the growth in myself.

Jacob Cramer: Orange Sash Pre-Requisite Paper

The Beginning

Ultimately the scrupulous truth would be in my young age of six when I as many martial artist has divulged found my passion for martial arts watching Enter the Dragon featuring Bruce Lee. It was my favorite movie to rewatch and practice the moves of in my mom’s living room. From that moment on I knew I wanted to learn more about Bruce lee but also learn more about martial arts. Growing up we didn’t have much extra money so my passion laid with tutorial videos, school wrestling team, and books explaining how to train and learn new moves or techniques.

Ip Man

Ip Man, Yip Man, Grandmaster Ip Man, Grandmaster Yip ManFast forward to the important part, the year 2009 when the film Ip Man was released in the united states red box system, I was helping my grandpa move when he out of kindness decided to rent a movie for me and my brother. He casually strolls in and I will never forget what he said “you Know you guys have worked real hard and I wanted to show a small gesture of appreciation, I know you both love martial arts so I saw a film on Bruce lee’s master in red box and thought it would be interesting for you to check out.”

Little did I know that night after years of watching, reading, and jumping styles when able I would find my passion. I watched the film and fell in love with the pure flow of combinations, relentless ferocity in each hit and it wasn’t flashy but it was unprecedentedly fast and effective.

I begin with this prelude only to set the proper background for why I study as hard as I do and why I have such an appreciation for every moment I spend learning something in Sifu Och Wing chun.

The Search

In my years of martial arts fanaticism and study I have trained in my styles of course seeing as I have landed in Sifu Och Wing Chun never were for very long. The complete breakdown would be six months of high school wrestling, a month of Muay Thai, a month of Goju-Ru karate, and Six months of Sport Judo. I gained a proper understanding of what most martial arts schools were about because of the many styles that I bounced around in.

The schools primarily focused on the money, they would show you a couple moves leave you on your own and then after a bit would ask if you want to join up. This was an industry standard I did not like, so I often parted ways, if I wasn’t sure I maybe stuck around for a bit to maybe see if I was judging to quickly or harshly. I feel that my jumping styles did in fact help me grow as a martial artist however the training only took me so far and let’s be honest it wasn’t very far at all. I still had nervousness in fighting situations or even in confrontational situations.


Sifu Och Wing Chun has and will always be a blessing to me. It’s not simply a school to learn how to defend yourself, for me it’s so much more. To elaborate in greater detail and analysis it’s a family that helps me when I’m struggling. It’s a support group to help me further grow as a martial artist however the training only took me so far and let’s be honest it wasn’t very far at all. I still had nervousness in fighting situations or even in confrontational situations.

Sifu Och Wing Chun has and will always be a blessing to me, its not simply a school to learn how to defend yourself, for me it’s so much more. To elaborate in greater detail and analysis it’s a family that helps me when I’m struggling. It’s a support group to help me further my physical and mental goals. And it’s also the one place in the world where I feel myself separate from my troubles.

The Training 1

Growth in Wing Chun Kung Fu lakeland FlFirst note I am going to touch on is the benefits of the training I receive from Tampa Wing Chun and Lakeland Wing Chun with my martial arts growth. When I began a little over a year ago I was nervous when entering a physical confrontation, however from the moment I joined (Like literally Day One) I was put into wrist vs wrist. This automatic exposure with the accommodations of the further advanced students I could not only overcome the fear but also conquer it. Now I love sparring and wrist vs wrist.

As a result when situations outside in my daily life seem to be escalating I don’t worry, I am able to keep a level head. This allows for proper understanding of my surroundings and better problem solving analysis. Sifu Och wing chun also gives realistic defense training. Whereas in other schools I have found what felt like rigid motions that are supposed to at some point just become natural. Sifu Och Wing Chun has offered close quartered and naturally fast movements that take your body no time to understand and implement. It may take years to perfect or tweak to get it in the state you most desire. But in the beginning, you already see significant differences.

The Training 2

Second I also found a school that talks to each other. Where older, more intimidating students walk up to the newbies and say hello.Give praise while also offering helpful criticism instead of sink or swim. It’s a place where I feel at home, not judged and where only growth is possible. Growth of the self, growth of the heart, and growth of body and mind. Nowhere I have crossed paths with has ever come within striking range of what is offered.

All of what I wrote hopefully explains why I love what I do at Sifu Och Wing Chun, why I drive 2 and a half hours for private lessons, tests, classes, and get together, and dream of one day offering a place of Sifu Och Wing Chun where I end up when I become Sifu.

Road to Orange: By Dixon Kwok

Road to Orange: By Dixon Kwok. Before getting in to Wing Chun, I never had much martial arts training. I took Tae kwon do for a bit but my mom pulled me out not long after I got my yellow belt. This was due to her reading an article that said doing martial arts stunted growth. I personally never believed it, but I was only in I think elementary school and it’s not like I could convince her otherwise.

Road to Orange: By Dixon Kwok

After that I never gave martial arts much thought. Even so I’ve always enjoyed sports and athletic activities so I’ve pretty much tried every sport one could think of over the years. However, because I changed interests so much, I never really joined a team and received formal training. The exception to this was swimming only due to my parents will and not my own. Because of this I grew up to be a rather athletic and coordinated person and learned things rather fast and quickly.

Since I did keep switching between sports depending on what was on TV I lacked commitment and because I was usually playing by myself or with friends. I would just stop whenever I got tired or didn’t feel like continuing. This led me to lack motivation to push through when things got too hard because there was no one to force me to keep going and push my limits.

My Inspiration

Dixon Kwow Training for His Orange Sash Test

A little over a year ago though, I was watching a TV show and one of the characters saved a stranger through the use of martial arts. It sparked a whole new interest in martial arts for me. I talked it over with my friend and he seemed like he was interested in learning a martial art too. Which would be something we could to together.

Seeing how I’ve pretty much already finished growing I didn’t see a reason my mom would not allow me to take a martial arts now. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask and try out martial arts again. Sure enough she gave me the ok.So I started researching which martial arts I wanted to do. I looked over the usual ones most would hear about in this day and age like Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Boxing, etc. After a bit of research though I decided I wanted to do one that was closer to my birthplace Hong Kong.

Searching for the Right Style

From that I started up looking for styles of Chinese martial arts. I stumbled upon a site that listed a whole bunch of styles of Kung Fu. These were split into northern and southern styles. So I looked through the southern styles and see Wing Chun. When I looked at its main points and realized it’s very in line with what I’m interested. Being more direct, relying on speed to wear down the opponent. As opposed to a huge powerful blow to end it all. Strong and no flashy stuff that is often more likely to look cool than actually work in a fight. As I did more research, I found out it was also the martial art that Bruce Lee and Ip Man practiced. This helped me get a better idea of what it looked like and how it was executed. I decided to go ahead with this one.

My Beginning

My friend ended up getting interested in something else and dropping out of our plan. I figured I would do it regardless. Now a little over a year later as I test for my orange sash I am very happy with my choice. The class has become like another family. I can come and progress each week and also have good times with. There is an atmosphere that makes me want to keep pushing and get better and better. Although morning classes on Saturday are often really rough, it’s often worth it.

I’m glad to be learning Wing Chun in this system as unlike many other systems. It is focused on making us fighters instead of belt chasers. It isn’t about just getting to the next belt but making sure I’m actually capable of holding my own. That is why I wanted to learn a martial art in the first place. This has been an incredible journey so far and I will keep going as far as I can.

Blocking and Attacking: 5 Moves for Disruption

One hit. Sometimes that’s all it takes. One well placed hit can end a fight. Power, speed, accuracy all come in to play. If you can accomplish that one hit, it can make the difference between making home alive, or not. You must use every advantage possible when defending your self. Wing Chun’s system of blocking and attacking at the same time is one such advantage. It allows you to disrupt the opponent’s timing and structure immediately. “Blocking and Attacking: 5 Moves For Disruption” will show you 5 moves you can use to gain the upper hand and hopefully land that one hit.

Blocking and Attacking: 5 Moves for Disruption

Bui Sao Punch

The Bui Sao is going to be one of the most common moves to use in a self defense situation.The reason for this is the the hay-maker is one of the most used attacks by an untrained person. Swinging their arms by throwing their body weight causing a very wide attack. They leave their center wide open which allows one hand to press out and block the attack the second hand to fire straight forward at the assailant.

Tan Punch

The Tan Punch is a versatile technique. It can be use from the inside or the outside. Though not preferred, if an opponent uses a hook you can stop the hook with tan and then hit with the punch. If a straight punch is thrown you can redirect it to the outside or the inside depending on the circumstance. So, use it to smash through an attack, redirect a heavier one, or even break out of grips. Pressing from the front foot with the palm up and attacking with the other hand.

Paak Punch

The Paak Punch is a great tool to use when trying to quickly close the distance on an opponent or to transition from one side to the other. Use one hand to parry, or block an opponents oncoming strike. The other hand will deliver a strike either above or below the opponents arm. There are two ways to use the Paak. You can use it as more of a parry, deflecting the opponents strike off. Or, to completely stuff the punch back into them.

If the opponent is much taller than you it may be hard to reach their neck or head. Simply change your target to their rib and use the deflective Paak. Once you have hit their rib you can either come straight back up and strike the face with a palm. The pain in to the ribs causes the opponent to bend down allowing for this strike to happen. Otherwise, you simply paak his arm directly back toward his centerline, and punch is face.

Jum Out Side Low Shadow Kick

wing chun kung fu jum sao low kick defenseRound houses to the head are very dangerous. Using a Jum Sao is a very effective tool to deal with the most powerful round houses. Press outward from the shoulder to the elbow. Both hands up creating a wall. With this Jum Sao set in place you can not only block the kick you can also kick out the base leg illustrated below.

Quan Da Tong Kick

A kin to the Double Jum Low Outside Shadow Kick is the Quan Da Tong Kick. The is done with a Low Bong Sao and a Tan Sao to block the roundhouse. Instead of kicking the leg the chest will be kicked. To do the Tong kick, tilt your foot inward and press with your heel, similar to a front kick. This strike is deliver right to the sternum. Block the opponents roundhouse properly and kick correctly, and you will send your opponent flying.



Wing Chun Entry Techniques

The ability to close the distance with an opponent is essential to any Wing Chun practitioner. You must be able to quickly respond to an opponents attack and shut them down to avoid follow up attacks. Different ranges call for different responses. That being said we will cover a few Wing Chun Entry Techniques here in this article. Before reading this article we suggesting checking out our previous article Wing Chun Vs Jab, Cross, Hook Takedown Combo. We explain the difference between committed and non-committed strikes which is essential to your training.

Hand Entries

Paak Slip

In our previous article Wing Chun Vs Jab, Cross, Hook Takedown Combo we touch on the idea of using the Paak to simply slip off the first punch. Connected is a video of Master Sifu demonstrating this technique. He explains how to utilize the Paak to deflect the initial blow and then glide off into a strike. A very effective and quick technique.

Paak Punch

The Paak Punch is a very effective combo to use. Instead of trading blow for blow with an opponent, the Paak Punch allows you to strike and defend at the same time. When countering a cross or straight punch this is a definite must. You are able to either crush a punch and counter above it with a punch of your own. Or, you can slip the punch and strike the ribs. Either way you are able to immediately counter straight punches and close the distance.

Paak into Bui or Tan

If an opponent does not throw a committed strike it can be very difficult to throw a counter. In this case it would be prudent to defect the first punch with a Paak and then counter the second punch. Two great choices would be either a Tan Punch or Bui Sao Punch.

A Tan Punch would be a great choice against any sort of straight punch. Since the Paak would have simply deflected the first punch you can use this as a set up for the second punch counter.

If he throws a haymaker or wide hook the Bui Sao Punch would be the best choice. The curved shape of the Bui Sao would match the trajectory of the hook allowing for maximum protection.

Kick Entries

Shadow Kick

If facing an opponent that moves a lot, pushing off the front foot, a Shadow Kick may be a option to consider. Our article Kung Fu Kicks goes into more detail about this kick. The idea is to crush into your opponents leg with a stomping motion. Typically aimed to blow out the knee the lead hand will typically drop as a result opening up an nice window for an attack.

Crescent Kick

Finally, the Crescent Kick. One of the most effective ways to use this kick is to the ribs when they extend their punch. This has the same shape as the Shadow Kick but instead of going down it strikes forward. You must thrust your entire body behind the kick. When this is done the head usually comes down as a result of the body caving into the kick. This allows for an easy strike to the head.

The Key to Closing the Gab

All of these techniques are futile if you do not close the distance with the right timing. You can only develop timing with hours of practice. Doing techniques in lines are a great way to build the structure for them and speed. However, if you do not consistently keep up your training your timing will be off an no amount of skill will help you if you do not time it correctly.

Cuts, Collisions, Crying: Tips for Your Kids Program

Little 5 year old Lyla approaches me cry, “Mr. Tim, can I tell you something?” “Yes Lyla, whats the matter?” “That kid over there hurt me.” “What Happened?” “We were running and he made me fall.” “Do you think he did it on purpose? “No.” “Ok well then get back to jogging.” “But my finger hurts so bad.” “Did you know Lyla, that I hurt my finger really bad once when it got caught in a door?” “No.” “Here let me show you the scar.” Lyla stops crying. “Ya it hurt pretty bad…”; (I explain full story). “Yep, got 4 stitches; whats your favorite warm up?” Lyla cheerfully chirps, “Zombie Crawls”! “Ok lets do Zombie Crawls; everybody, Zombie Crawls!” In this article, “Cuts, Collisions, Crying: Tips for Your Kids Program”, I will explain how I handle children who are “distraught” over an injury.

Cuts, Collisions, Crying: Tips for Your Kids Program

Know Your Kids

Knowing your enemy is the first step in gaining the upper hand to defeat them. Obviously our children in our programs are not our enemies. However, overcoming their distress is. To use the technique I will explain you must know and understand your children. In my previous articles Kung Fu Kids: Keeping your Kids Engaged and Lakeland Afterschool and Summer Camp Fun I briefly mention a few ways to engage your children but also how to connect with them. Listening to them and not just treating them like a “little kid that is misbehaving” is a big key. When I speak to them if there was a fight or bad behavior I help them rise to the occasion. I tell them they need to speak to me like an adult. I help them calm their emotions. If they are excited or crying I explain to them I can’t understand what they are saying. Doing this usually helps them focus in on me and speak clearly.

By doing so I have seen an increase in respect when it is my turn to say something. By listening to them and explaining to them they must speak to me clearly they know that I am listening. This gains their trust as I watch and learn how they think and communicate. Once problem at a time I gain a little more insight into the differences that each child has. Once I know how their brain works, what they like, dislike, etc., I can now employ one of my favorite techniques when they are overreacting to an injury…distraction and redirection.

The Art of Distraction and Redirection

When a child is hurt their emotional flux tends to be more dramatic then the pain actually calls for. This is typically rooted in the base need for attention to have someone help with the problem. As they grow however, they need to learn that crying is not the best way to get help. But by clearing communicating with an adult. This is not automatically learned however, it must be taught. There is a hurdle when it comes to teaching this though. That hurdle is that emotional wave mentioned earlier. When their emotions are high, it is near impossible to teach them anything let alone communicate. Distraction is the key to breaking that emotional wall you will encounter.


One of the best ways I have found to “distract” the child is connect with them by referring to one of your own injuries. Shifting the focus off of something requires something new to focus on. By relating to them with your own injury they will tend to perk up to hear the story. They want to know what happened to Mr. Tim and his finger and how he got that scar. Once the wave has been calmed by interesting anecdote, their attention must be moved forward or they will relapse into the “pain” which was mostly in their mind.


Redirection is the next key. By moving their focus on something positive, something they enjoy (preferably within the activity being done) their carefree mind will happily get distracted by the next thing. In the story I gave Lyla the option to pick the next warm up. Turns her brain completely away from her finger to “ooo, I get to pick the next one, which one do I like”. Once this is done they usually go about the day without remembering their finger at all.

Know your children. Distract them when emotions are high. Then redirect them on to something fun and positive!


Lakeland Afterschool and Summer Camp Fun

Lakeland is a wonderful area for an Afterschool and Summer Camp Program. Our Afterschool program is right in the heart of the city in Downtown Lakeland. We can easily access many schools in the area and bring them back to a centralized location. Lakeland is also perfect for our Summer Camp due to its location. Since we are located in between Tampa and Orlando we have many options at our disposal. In this article we will go over some of our programs and activities for Lakeland Afterschool and Summer Camp Fun.


Our Afterschool program is a hybrid of martial arts and dance. Sifu Och Wing Chun and Just Dance Academy of Etiquette. We use our program to have a fun time with the students but to also instill good principles. During the school year the children are picked up from their locations and brought back to our studio in downtown Lakeland. Once they are have reached the location they start off with snack time immediately followed by homework. This part of our program is integrated with the parents. The parents clarify what they want to accomplish at this point. Whether the children need to focus on homework and not do any activities until they are done, or get as much done until either dance or martial arts.

Following homework time the children have one of two things happening. They will either attend a hip hop\dance class or a martial art\self defense class. Both of the classes have a them of discipline. If discipline is not maintained then teaching anything to the children will be difficult if not impossible. Discipline is kept with a strict set of rules that are enforced but with love.

When a child acts out simply dishing out punishment is not enough. There must be an understanding of why the child is being punished. This is done by simply talking to the child before giving the punishment. The other side of the coin is a repeat offender who knows better or time constraint. In these cases it is acceptable to simply give the punishment needed. Positive reinforcement just as important however. Whenever a child accomplishes something or does follow the rules well, it should be met with an high amount of praise. A sense of pride is instilled and a desire to obey is created and supported.

Summer Camp

Summer camp follows the same schedule as our Afterschool program in the afternoons. The mornings is where the fun happens. Two groups are used at all times. “Big Kids” and “Little Kids” are the two groups. The ages are cut off at 8. With two groups being active we have the freedom to rotate activities and allow parents to decide what to do.

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For example; if we take Big Kids to Mosi one day and the Little Kids swimming. The parent of a child might not have the money or desire to have their child to go to Mosi. What we then do is move the child to the little kids group for the morning. This freedom give the parents a lot more flexibility without having to give up the Summer Camp day. At the end of the day the kids funnel back to the studio to do their martial arts or dance lessons just like during the school year.

This system give the kids consistency throughout the whole school year. Whether they are seeking to become a competitive dancer or prolific martial artist, they can continue their training year round. Take a look at our Kids Afterschool and Summer Camp to see what fun we have with out camp!

Kung Fu Kids: Keeping Your Kids Engaged

Nobody likes a boring class. Whether its a college course, drivers ed, or martial arts for that matter, staying engaged is hard in a boring class. This is compounded when it comes to teaching kids. Their minds are already prone to wandering in the day to day activities. Focusing on training one task for an extend amount of time is one of the most difficult hurdles of martial arts teaching. So how do you overcome this problem without subjecting your art to then demon of distraction? We will cover a few ways to do that here in this article Kung Fu Kids: Keeping Your Kids Engaged.

Kung Fu Kids: Keeping Your Kids Engaged

Relationships First

In my previous article “Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care” I cover some ways to make sure your children understand that you care about them. That is one of the most important things when it comes to their focus. For a student to stay focused on you they must have one of two things: fear or respect. Fear may give you short term results but can hurt their learning in the long run. My previous article helps address how to help cultivate that respect from the day to day of teaching a class.

Once that respect has been set in place your students will be much more keen on listening to you. However, this must be constantly worked on and reinforced. It is much easier to be a bit harder on your new student and then wain off of that. If you do not establish that line of mutual respect first then it will be very hard to make that up later.

One is the Alpha and one is the Beta. As their instructor, you are the Alpha. This must be established from day one. If the child at any point feels as though they have become the Alpha then you will struggle to maintain their respect.

Mixing things up

Now that we have gone over the base of relationships, lets get into an applicable drill.One of the tactics we employ at the Sifu Och Wing Chun Afterschool and Summer Camp kids martial art classes is called Cycling. We cycle the same techniques over and over again through different drills. As an example, if you are teaching your kids a Tan Sao Punch you could mix it up 3 different ways.

First, have your kids practice the technique in the mirror. They will focus on shifting their weight properly as well as punching the same target every time they strike. Within that drill you shift their focus from their punches, to their weight, to their Tan hand. This allows you to continue drilling but gives them different focus points. By changing the focus points you have again “cycled” the drill within it self.

Second, have your kids use focus mitts to build power. Blasting through the mitt with as much power as possible. Again, cycling through different focus points to help them fully develop their technique can help their mind stay engaged.Whether it’s making sure they are striking with the correct portion of their fist or they are engaging their hips fully. Changing things small things helps keep things engaging.

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Thirdly, applying that technique within a combo against an attack. If you throw a combo into the mix it not only keeps it engaging but also allows gives perspective. When they see the big picture it helps them understand why they are working on the that individual technique.

By cycling through these drills in a class we are able to accomplish two things. We are able to keep the kids engaged by not repeating the same drill for too long. But at the same time they are able to work on their focus within that drill because they are given those different focus points. As far as the actual time, that balance must be experimented with and adjust based on your kids. You will have to gage the class to accomplish this.






Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care

“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care”. That statement has never been more true then when it comes to dealing with kids. Children these days have a serious struggle with staying focused. Lack of focused is compounded in a class setting. As an instructor we must take every advantage to maintain our student’s focus. One of the biggest ways to help them maintain their focus is helping them understand how much you really care about them. In this article, Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care, I will go over some tips on how to accomplish that.

Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care

Mat Chats

Mat chats are a great way to intentionally impart wisdom to the next generation. At the Sifu Och Wing Chun and Just Dance Afterschool and Summer Camp Classes we take 5-10 minutes every class to sit and talk to our students. Each month we go over new concepts to help them grow as people. This can range from peer pressure to manners. These mat chats are not lectures. They are a time to engage with your students and listen to their responses. Getting them to open up to you shows them that they can trust you. When you listen to their responses you are leading by example. By showing them how to listen respectfully they can see what it means be respectful.

Little Lions preschool martial arts

Listening When Disciplining

Many times I have seen, and experienced, instructors in martial arts and sports doing blind discipline. A child acts up and immediately they are jumped on and made to do some form of work out for a disciplinary action. Before moving forward let me confirm that discipline is key, without it classes are chaos and nothing is accomplished. However, maintaining discipline is a two sided coin. True discipline is achieved when the student is maintaining discipline out of respect, not fear. I accomplish this in my classes by taking the student’s aside that are acting up and talking to them.

When I have engaged a student I seek to explain to them my point of view. Helping them understand why I am pulling them out of class or off to the side. What I am trying to accomplish is to show the child that I have perceived a wrong has been committed. And then due to that perception something must be done about it. I then allow the child to explain himself. Allow him to share why he was acting up or not staying focused. Most of the time there is no good reason and proceed to explain why I must discipline the child. However, there are times where the child was not deserving of punishment.

Lakeland little lions kids preschool martial arts kickboxing karate kung fu ages 3 - 5 years old

To Punish Or Not To Punish

Many times when speaking to the children I have found that outside factors played a big role in their distraction or outburst. If they are having a hard time focusing on their training sometimes it leads back to family or school problems. In that scenario I have the chance to teach them another lesson. This can be anything from perseverance in a hard time to forgiving a friend for doing something wrong to them. In any case a punishment would have only hurt their growth.

Most of the time, unfortunately, the child is acting up because they simply have not learned discipline yet. In that is the case you must be consistent, firm, but caring in your punishment. If it is a repeat offender in the same day I will again take them aside and speak to them. If after I have spoken to them, and punished them multiple times then in might be time to speak to the parents about what you can do as a time to help with his discipline.


Children can be wonderful to teach. Their mind can absorb very quickly and they have a very high energy most of the time. That being said, your kids classes are what you make them. If you make them a time that the children feel safe and cared for, they are more likely to listen and enjoy your classes.

Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook Takedown Combo

Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown

Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown was a question a beginner posted for anyone to answer on a Facebook group. He asked for the key to using Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown Combo. Sifu Justin Och and Senior Instructor Garret Brumfield posted a video titled “Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown Combo”.

In this article we will address some of the finer points. Stopping this combo is no easy task but Wing Chun does have an answer.

Wing Chun vs Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown Combo

The Jab

If you are to deal with an attack you must understand it. To understand strikes you must make a distinction between committed and non-committed strikes. A committed strike could be defined as a strike that has the entire weight of the body fueling the power for the strike. Alternatively, a non-committed strike will be much faster but won’t have the power. A jab is a non committed strike. That being the case, the counter must be equally fast. As you can see in the video Sifu Och uses his paak sao but immediately follows up with a straight punch. This allows for quick adjustments where needed.

The Jab, Cross

If your opponent crosses immediately after his jab you may not have time to follow up off the initial strike. Sifu chose is one of the most direct options to counter although there are many variations. The hand that was used to paak the initial strike simply follows its trajectory to the face. In conjunction, the back hand paaks the next strike. This results in and immediate strike to your opponents face.

The Jab, Cross, Hook

Let’s say that your counter does not damage your opponent enough. As a result, he follows up again with a hook. The hook that Sifu Och Demonstrates is a very tight “rabbit” hook. Theses types of hooks are very hard to deal with. A Bui Sao, Bui Jee, Man Sao will be very hard to execute in this scenario. You must be able to fully extend these techniques for them to become effective. When the opponent throws this hook, it will be very tight to the body with a lot of torque. Torque equals power, and if you are unable to fully extend your technique it will crumble. In this scenario Sifu chooses to utilize upward elbow to cover the opponents strike. He is now able to strike with is other hand and move on with his attack.

The Jab, Cross, Hook, Takedown

wing chun vs jab cross hook

Finally, we moved on to dealing last part of the combo. None of your counters have successfully stopped your opponent but because you are in so tight he feels the need to shoot in and take you down. There are two scenarios to be address when an opponent shoots in on you. If he gets under your elbow or not.

If he does not get under your able a you can simple remove the foot he is attacking and stop his forward motion with a Gum or Jum Sao to the neck\head. This is addressed in our article Fighting Footwork where we go into a little more depth. However, if he does get behind one of your elbows you must sprawl back or you will be taken down. Once you have sprawled you can then establish a line of defense again with your Jum or Gum Sao. This line allows you to regain your structure and move on with your attack.

End the fight

At each stage of the attack your goal as a Wing Chun practitioner should be to the end the fight. When you respond to an attack you should be immediately seeking to follow it up to finish your opponent. You would only utilized these counter techniques if you are unable to flow into and 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc. follow up. So in theory, your opponent will never get to his takedown, or his cross for that matter. However, that is why we as martial artists should always be prepared. If the worst happens, you will be ready.

The Fatal Flaw in Testing

Getting tested in martial arts can be nerve racking but also invigorating. Your abilities are all laid out to bare for all to see. No more excuses just reaction. This is quite exciting. Along with that is the satisfaction when all your hard work does actually pay off. Attaining the next level feels great and if you earned it you should feel proud. However, “The Fatal Flaw in Testing” is what I would call the Sprint Mentality.

Sprinting for your test: The Fatal Flaw in Testing

Finals week, the week before the last set of tests for college students. Energy drinks, microwaved food, and zombies with backpacks become rampant on college campuses. Students will “cram” in those last extra hours of studying to strive for that grade at the end of the semester. This is the same as I call it, the “Sprint” in martial arts. Martial art students will train for months but many times you will see a tendency to really step up the training right before a test. Even though this does encourage that extra training at the end of a section there is a fundamental flaw to this process.

Student’s who are training hard consistently will have no need to sprint at the end because they will already be prepared for the test. But for this to be realized your goal must be analyzed. If your goal is to simply achieve belt ranks, then cramming is a perfectly legitimate way to achieve that. However, if your goal is to be prepared at all times for combat, then you should train as if you had testing every day.

One Breath

Grandmaster Ken Chun, from Wing Chun Dynamics in California, visited our school and gave a great tip on mindset. He explained that in an encounter you have one breath to channel all of your training to defend yourself. In that one breath you must focus your mind and your body to one task.

He also explained that this should be trained every single day. In other words, you shouldn’t wait for the week before testing to snap into that “one breath” mode. Every single punch, every single kick, every single takedown should be done with the same mentality. If you don’t accomplish this attack it could be the end, not of your opponent, but of you! So as you train, take in that one breath mentality every single time you move.

Your actual goal

Attacks on the street may have indicators. However, indicators do not come a week ahead of time. They may only be caught a moment or two before something happens. That being the case, if you do not keep yourself optimally prepared you could be overtaken. If preparing for testing is your ultimate goal, you are in danger of getting caught. Testing should not be used as your goal. Your goal should be your training regiment. Each day you should seek to improve and upgrade that training. The result of this shift is that your perspective changes on your testing. Instead of looking at that as an end game, it is used to evaluate whether or not your training is effective to keep you prepare.

The importance of keeping your training up is even emphasized in martial arts business circles. Even with these successful million dollar schools the owners understand that their training is top priority. John Kovar, found of Kovar systems lists Training first, then Teaching, then Business. You don’t know when you are going to be attacked so every training day is vital to you surviving an attack.

So ask yourself, what are you training for? Have you fallen prey to the The Fatal Flaw in Testing? Are you training for a belt? Social standing? Sense of accomplishment? Or are you preparing yourself for real, terrifying, messy combat?



Afraid to Get Hit?

We see it all the time. Someone will come into a class with the goal of learning realistic self-defense. However, they have no intention of getting hurt in the process. And then the first class happens. They realize that goal is a little bit more difficult to achieve than they had imagined. So what is at the root of this fear? And how do we combat it both mentally and physically? In reality, true martial art injuries are less common than that of football and hockey players. But the martial arts is still viewed as the more dangerous activity – Still Afraid to Get Hit? Let’s unpack that.

Afraid to Get Hit? Mental Preparation

Fear of getting hit is a common enough mindset. It most certainly makes sense: why would I intentionally do something that would hurt me? We all have built up layers of protection in our minds that keep us from doing things that will hurt us. The body has countless mechanisms in place to protect itself and is reluctant to consciously allow harm. But when it comes to martial arts, we have to weigh the risks against the benefits. Do I want to (a) be able to defend myself when I really need to or (b) avoid the possibility of immediate injury in my martial arts class? Choosing option A is the first step toward changing this mindset and moving toward being an effective fighter. The second step is a bit more complicated: accepting that you are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, going to get hit. A lot.

Hopefully your school implements safe sparring practices like gloves, a mouthpiece, and head gear – and doesn’t glorify students beating each other into a pulp. But if they do implement safe sparring practices, be rest assured that there is little to no risk of serious injury. Minor cuts and bruises yes, muscle strains and sprains maybe, but serious injury – unlikely.

lakeland fl advanced martial arts classes sparring

Afraid to Get Hit? Physical Preparation 

After you have accepted that you will be getting hit, the best way to prepare for that is a lot of practice. Practice in the air, against a punching bag, and with a partner who is willing to take it slow until you get the technique. Learn the defensive techniques and practice them until they are a part of your muscle memory and engrained in your subconscious. Practice until you no longer have to think about which technique to use, because you already know.


No one is going to be a great fighter their first day, like everything it takes practice; but if it isn’t the right kind of practice, it could only make it worse. Say you are practicing with someone who always throws their attacks in the same sequence. Or they aim toward the side of your head instead of straight at it. Or obviously telegraphs their moves. The amount of progress you make working with this person is going to be considerably less than working with a good partner.


Ultimately, it is possible that your fear of getting hit is actually a fear of failure. A fear, not of getting hurt, but of losing and being considered lesser than your opponent. When I first started sparring, I was a purely defensive fighter. This was solely for the reason that I was afraid to try and attack. I was afraid to attack because I knew at first I would fail. In my mind trying and failing was worse than not trying at all. For other people, they fear the pre-punch anticipation. Meaning, not knowing when or how they are going to get hit. But if you ask any instructor, they would rather see someone who puts in the effort and fails over someone who never gets hit any day.

Kung Fu Belt Ranking

Kung Fu in its origins does not have any sort of belt system. The Chinese would wear sashes whether they trained martial arts or not. Sashes were used to help with carrying day to day odds and ends. So then why do you see modern day (typically American) Kung Fu Belt Ranking used by schools? The main reason is here in American we feel the desire to achieve or attain very strongly.

Kung Fu Belt Ranking: Goals

Karate and Tae Kwon Do as businesses have flourished in America. This is partially due to their dynamic movements but also due to their ranking. Attaining a Black Belt brings with it not only a social recognition but also sense of accomplishment. Setting short term goals and hitting them on the way to a larger goal is the key to achieving long term success in anything. Since these systems already had these concepts in place their transition to America was very fruitful.

Kung Fu (Wing Chun in particular) while popular hasn’t been able to reach the same level of success. Since Wing Chun is a conceptual art it is very hard make the teaching uniform. Without a standard it is difficult to reward someone for their achievement. This concept is difficult for Americans, generally speaking, to let go of and stick to for a long period.

The need to feel achievement is not only reason, after all american’s are used to instant gratification. Technology is a big part of that. If a student trains for years on end and feels no achievement or sense of accomplishment their spirit can get dampened. As a result of our culture conditioning us many masters decided to implement something to combat that.

Sifu och wing chun: Belts and curriculum

5th level Master, Sifu Och has been able to create a curriculum and belt system that works very well. The belts provide short term goals that are attainable within 3 months for the lower ranks. As a student progresses the term in between ranks increases and the amount of material grows.


Sifu has broken up he stages to a Black Sash into 4 main sections. Subsequently, he then broke those sections into smaller sub sections. Shirt Colors divide the main sections: White (beginner), Blue (intermediate), Red (advanced), Black (Sifu). The Sections within those shirt colors are divided again by sashes:

White Shirt

  • No Belt
  • White
  • White Black
  • Yellow
  • Yellow White
  • Yellow Black
  • Orange
  • Orange White
  • Orange Black

The above list about a year to year and a half of training depending on how hard someone pushes.

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Sifu Och uses a rotating curriculum. We group students together by their main sections and have them all work on the same material. For example: if you have a white shirt, whether you are a white black belt, or a yellow white belt, you will all work on 1 of the 5 sections going towards blue shirt. As a result we accomplish a couple of different goals.

First, brand new students are able to work with more experienced students. It is not wise to pair up two brand new students with each other. The old adage, “blind leading the blind” applies perfectly. Neither of them know the techniques but more importantly they do not know how to help the other person train the technique. Having that person a few steps ahead of you when you start out as a partner can make the difference in someone staying or not.

Second, it keeps things fresh. We are able to continue to challenge students who are unable to actually make it to testing. Instead going over the same material again and again, they are able to go over new things and continue growing until they are able move to the next level. As a result of this, students also get a good review of the material once it cycles back around. This ensures that the material is well known before graduating to the next big section.

American Kung Fu

Even though traditional Kung Fu does not use any sort of ranking system, there can be great benefits to having them. Goals and purpose bring a powerful dynamic to ones training.



Kung Fu Kicks

There are many kicks used in a fight. Some more useful than others. In this article, Kung Fu Kicks, we will show some of the kicks used at Sifu Och Wing Chun. We will review the Inside and Outside Shadow Kicks, Tong Kick, Half Crescent, and Side Kick.

Wing Chun Kicks

Before going into the the specific kicks let us touch on Wing Chun as a system to set the groundwork. In short, Wing Chun’s goal is to end the fight as quickly as possible. Every strike intent on crushing the opponent. Understanding that goal the kicks that we choose to utilize fall into the place.

Inside Shadow Kick

One of the most useful kicks to use is the Inside Shadow Kick. Kicking the opponent in the knee is one of the quickest ways to end the fight. With this Shadow Kick, considerable force can be driven through a target at a downward angle. The setup (implied in the name) is that the kick is done in the shadow of your hands. As a result, an opponent will find it difficult to avoid or stop this type of kick. The reason is because it is usually done in unison with the hands. Not only can it be used to attack it can be used in defense as well. It can be used to stop low kicks to the leg.

Outside Shadow Kick

Equally important, not all enemies or targets will be directly in front of you. The Outside Shadow Kick allows you to hit targets off center. They can also be used to block kicks depending on the angle. Furthermore, one advantage of this kick in particular is it can be used to drive out the support leg of an opponents kick. Jum Saos together with a low shadow kick can block roundhouses and blast the supporting leg.

Tong Kick

The Tong kick is similar to a front kick. Uniquely, however, it thrusts in upward diagonal angle. Can be used for multiple targets, but it’s primary hit is the Xiphoid. Combined with a Double Jum Sao, this is a great choice to counter a roundhouse. In addition, it can be used used to strike the ribs or inside of the thigh.

Half Crescent Kick

The Half Crescent Kick similarly takes the same shape as the Inside Shadow Kick. The difference is it drives forward as opposed to down. This kick is usually delivered to the ribs when a punch is thrown. Countering a Jab or Cross style punch with a Crescent Kick is a great option. It is unexpected which it was lends to it’s usefulness.

Side Kick

Overall, the Side Kick is one of Wing Chun’s longest ranged weapons. One of it’s main uses is delivering a powerful strike to the side when turning to face the opponent may not be available. Whether it’s a question of speed or restriction doesn’t matter. The side kick allows an immediate response to someone coming from the side. It can be done two different ways:

Static, fired directly from your stance:

or with a skip. The skip allows for a the distance and power to be increased by swinging the back foot foot. The base is re-established closer to the target and momentum is gained which increases the power.

(To view a video of the skipping side kick click the following link: Skipping Side Kick Video. )


The key to your Kicks

One thing all of these kicks have in common is what part of the foot is going to be used to strike the body. If you read our article “Fighting Footwork” you will see how the body needs to be aligned through the heel for structure. With the correct structure your power drives from your legs through your heels for maximum damage. This is similar to a person doing a heavy squat. Moreover, to support the weight the heel must be used. Piggybacking off of that concept is another, focused energy. If you take the energy you would use to slap someone and applied it to a needle, you will easily penetrate the skin. Just the same with your kick, if you drive all your power through your heel your damage is focused through that one point as opposed to spread through whole foot.

In conclusion, focus your power and train your structure and you will be able to develop kicks that will drop any opponent you face.

Fighting Footwork

You can have the fastest hands in the world, but if you aren’t at the right place at the right time that won’t matter. Foot work is literally the foundation to any style. You may be able to block or evade an attack here and there with good hands or head movement. However, if you do not base your counter with fighting footwork, it will be difficult to execute.

positioning your Fighting footwork

Superior angles will make your life much easier. It is much simpler to deal with an opponent when you have minimized their ability to use multiple “weapons” at once. In the same way, striking your opponents key points will also be easier when you are positioned correctly. Wing Chun seeks to dominate the outside angle allowing maximum trapping and striking to occur.

Weight distribution

There is a big debate among Wing Chun practitioners. Not only about weight distribution through the feet but also between the legs. First let’s address weight through the feet.


When a weight lifter squats his weight must drive from the middle portion of his foot to his heels. With proper skeletal alignment his structure is locked in place and only the strongest muscles are recruited to move the weight. If alignment is broken serious injury can occur. When finished correctly the weight will be completely on the heels as seen here.

Just as the weight lifting supports his weight with structure, the Wing Chun Fighter supports his power through his alignment. Following the same rules through physiques the weight is on the heel when engaged. This allows strikes at full power to be stopped and maximum strength can be delivered through blows.


Even though the heels are the source of power and structure, speed is seriously inhibited when the weight is focused there. Weight should only be distributed to the toes when looking to utilize speed. Speed is used to gain the correct position. This is typically done before contact is even made. Once connected to your opponent weight should immediately be transferred to the heels to again for power. Closing the distance with an opponent is essential to the Wing Chun Fighter. If he is unable to get to the trapping range it will be difficult to execute proper techniques.

Stance Distribution

The final aspect of weight distribution to cover is the amount of weight on each foot.  At Sifu Och Wing Chun we typically keep our weight 50-50. The reason behind this is to keep our ability to defend against takedowns. If the weight is distributed to far to one leg you can become susceptible to those types of attacks. Sweeps and single leg takedowns are difficult to stop without even distribution of weight.

To give a specific example, we will look at a single leg takedown defense. First, hand positions: jum to the neck, gan to the arm. (Essentially a Gan Da). This will then become a tan and a fook. The Jum to the neck stops the person from getting to your core. The gan to the arm is used to block them from getting your leg. As a result you gain an underhook. (illustrated below).

In unison the foot that is being attacked must be retracted. The foot must be swept back to avoid getting caught. This all occurs within a split second. If the weight split 70-30, or 60-40, it will be very hard to adjust and defend this type of attack.

In Conclusion

There are many different opinions and reasons about weight distribution. At Sifu Och Wing Chun we keep it mostly 50-50 to maintain the ability to adjust in any direction as quickly as possible. We are then able to shift and adapt to any attack that is thrown our way.

Basic Wing Chun Defense

The first few months of a martial artist are crucial to their success. Instructors must work to instill confidence from day one. The student must learn to trust not only their instructors but also the techniques they are learning. If a student knows what he is learning is practical and useful from the start he will stick around for the fine tuning of those techniques. At Sifu Och Wing Chun we want to help students learn a basic Wing Chun Defense right from the beginning. To help cover some of the most basic attacks we teach 3 defenses right away: Bui Sao, Tan Sao, and Gan Sao.

Bui Sao

Haymakers (wide hooks) are some of the most common attacks you will see on the street. Without training the body’s natural tendency to draw power will be to twist. This results in a chain and ball effect on the arm with the punch being the ball of course. While these can still do damage they can be easily defended with proper training. That is why one of the first techniques we teach to new students is the Bui Sao. The deflecting hand is shaped as if you were blocking light from the sun. Palm facing away from the body pressing from the elbow. The palm will be about forehead height and the elbow in line with the trachea. This provides a wall of cover with the forearm.

Tan Sao

One of the more famous moves in Wing Chun is the Tan Sao. When teaching it to children we call it the “pizza hand”. This is due to the palm facing upward with the arm extended outward. The Tan Sao is used primarily against straight punches. It deflects punches off the centerline either to the inside or the outside opening up your opponent for a variety of follow ups. You can view a video of the Tan Saos on our Instagram by clicking here>Tan Saos.

Gan sao

Used against nasty body shots or uppercuts is the Gan Sao. Translated it means “low plowing hand”, this technique is very effective for defending the lower half of the body. To shape your Gan Sao simply reach your hand out in front of you as if you were shaking hands with someone. Your hand should end up in front of your belly button and your elbow about a fists distance off of your rib cage. This allows your ribs to be covered and consequently, your hand is now fairly close to your opponents body. You are now prepared for an easily follow up such as a palm to the ribs or an uppercut to the face.

Basic Wing Chun Defense Striking

All three of these defenses have something in common; they are paired with a straight punch. As opposed to many other styles most defenses in Wing Chun are combined with some sort of attack. In this case it is the straight punch. There are other variations off of these basics but for beginners we use the punch to begin with. The straight punch is delivered with the fist held vertically at a 45 degree angle. The reason for this is mainly structure. There is also a nice perk associated with it; it fits nicely under the chin to strike the side of the neck. As a result you can easily deliver a crippling blow to an opponent by simply changing the angle of your fist.


To Summarize, the Bui Sao, Tan Sao, and Gan Sao are three effective and important attacks you must know for your self defense. They allow you attack and defend simultaneously. These are so useful that they were borrowed by many Krav Schools to be incorporated into their system as well. Train these hard and you will have a good starting point.

Wing Chun’s Weakness: Long Range Fighting

The idea that Wing Chun has no long range “game” has circled the internet for a while. It is true that Wing Chun focuses its techniques on “in” fighting but that does not mean it is not effective further away. Wing Chun, although it has longer range techniques, simply prefers to close the distance as soon as possible. This may give the impression that there are no long range techniques to those unfamiliar with the art.

Wing Chun’s Goal

To understand this topic one must remember what the goal of Wing Chun is: to end a fight as quickly as possible. Many people consider Wong Shun Leung to be the greatest fighter to come out of Ip Man’s training. This can be attributed to his history of Beimo fights. As the story goes he won between 60-80 street fights all in under 3 seconds. With Wing Chun creation at a time of war this makes sense. One needs to end the fight as quickly as possible. That in mind, lets explore the idea of long range fighting versus short range fighting.

Long Range Fighting Versus Short Range

There are 3-4 main ranges in martial arts depending on who you are talking to. Striking (Kicking and punching), trapping, and grappling. Each range has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Striking is the range with boxers and Tae Kwon Do Fighters. Grappling is the home to Judo and Bjj Practitioners. Trapping is found between the two and is where Wing Chun mostly operates. For this discussion we will focus on the Striking range versus the trapping range. Examples of “Striking” range attacks would be a boxers jab and cross or a Tae Kwon Do fighters roundhouse and spinning back kick. Examples of a “trapping” range attack would be a Paak Punch or Huen Sao strike in Wing Chun.

The main advantage of the Striker is distance. If a striker can successfully fend on an opponent they can never enter into the other ranges nullifying their abilities. Quick foot work combined with deceptive fakes can quite difficult to deal with. Wing Chun seeks to close the distance as quickly as possible. However, if the Wing Chun practitioner cannot do that, it may be difficult to end the fight.

 Wing Chun’s Answer to the Long Range game

So then how does a Wing Chun fighter deal with an opponent that will not commit and fully engage at the same range? There are specific techniques that need to be used with certain attacks but before that even happens there must be the strategy. The strategy is baiting. The techniques come from Wing Chun’s ability to use 2-3 “weapons” at the same time.


Let’s look a the strategy first. If the opponent tries to stay “out of range” the Wing Chun fighter must draw in the opponent until they through a committed strike. When they throw that strike the counter must be fast and ferocious. Jabs and front kicks are to of the main weapons seen when trying to keep an opponent away. Trying to counter these can be difficult due to their speed. These are best deflected with an equally quick defense. Man sao’s, Paak Sao’s, and Jum saos are usually the most effective.

Wing Chun 33801


With the strategy in place the Wing Chun fighter can counter. Again, the emphasis must be place on using multiple weapons at once. When the opponent throws their “knockout” strike they must be overwhelmed immediately. If not they will retreat and continue to attempt to break down the Wing Chun Fighter. Against crosses Paak Punches and Intercepting Fist strikes do well.But to prep the counter a shadow kick to the lead thigh slows down the movement of the opposition. If an opponent throws a kick one of the most effective tactics is to kick out the support leg. These can be done simultaneously with a block when used against roundhouses. When a front kick is through it should either be passed off with a jum or it can be caught. Once caught the support can then be accessed for a kick or sweep.

Paak Punch

Wing Chun’s Weakness is the student

The idea that Wing Chun has no long range game is not necessarily correct. Rather, Wing Chun seeks to disrupt the core of the fighter which can only be done when close to the opponent. Therefore, the Wing Chun fighter simply closes the distance as quickly as possible. When a ranged attack it should be countered and then followed with and flurry of overwhelming attacks that do not allow for a recovery. Wing Chun as a system as many tools at it’s disposal, whether they are used correctly is up to who uses them.

Krav Maga Versus Wing Chun

Krav Maga is renowned for is brutality and viciousness. The Israeli military adopted it because it can be taught in a short amount of time. Wing Chun, made famous by Bruce Lee and the recent “Ip Man” movies, is known for its speed and ability to devastate an attacker. In recent years there has been a rise in both across the US. How are the two connected and why the sudden growth in popularity? We will delve into that in this article.


In a post WWII world interaction and fascination with Japan was at it’s height. Many Japanese now lived in the US. Interaction with the American culture grew and grew. With the interaction came Karate which spread across the US like wild fire. However, as with any trend, there are people that would take advantage of that only for monetary gain. Karate, as a legitimate art, began to become watered down. Even though there existed many good schools (and many still do), the general public started to notice the negative trend. By and large Karate in the US morphed from a powerful, dangerous art, to a weaker cousin that was only suited for tournaments and scoring points. This shift paved the way for something new to take hold.

(Writer’s note: This section of the Article is not a stab at Karate. It is simply pointing out the unfortunate decline of authenticity as a whole in the US.)

 Modern Krav Maga Versus Wing Chun

With Bruce Lee’s explosion onto the scene, Kung Fu (specifically Wing Chun) started to get some of the limelight. Around the same time Krav Maga started to make it’s way to the US. With Wing Chun focusing on the most direct route to it’s target and Krav using a blend of styles to achieve maximum brutality, the stage was set for the two to emerge. However, before we continue with their growth in the U.S. lets look at some differences and similarities between the two.

Learn These Three Moves


Both Krav and Wing Chun were designed at a time of war. Wing Chun during the 17th century China at civil war and Krav during the 1930 right after WW1 and prior to WWII. Wing Chun was designed originally to be a system that could be learned in a fraction of the time of the available Kung Fu systems. In the same way, Krav fused boxing, judo, juijistu , and aikido to create something that Jewish civilians could immediately defend themselves with. In recent times Krav has added Maui Thai and actually some Wing Chun (through Jeet Kune Do) into its system. They both seek to dispatch their opponent as quickly as possible. Additionally, both systems “fight dirty”, using any means necessary to prevail.


Now even with Wing Chun’s addition to Krav Maga there will obviously still be differences. First to be addressed would be training time. Modern Wing Chun takes anywhere from 8-10 years to finish the system.* Whereas the entire Krav system can be learned (on a military style training regiment) in four months to a year. Both of these depended on the dedication of the student of course. Second, Wing Chun was designed as a complete system with which all parts fuse together and flow seamlessly. Comparatively, Krav fused many styles so there will naturally be some disconnect systems.

The third difference would be training style. One perk of a Krav School is that they tend to really focus on the brutality of combat. Understanding, right from the beginning, how chaotic combat can be. The right mindset is instilled right from the start and can be seen all throughout their training. Wing Chun on the other hand does utilize more finesse. In training the “soft” side the harshness of combat can sometimes be lost in some schools.

In Closing, both systems are effective in street combat. With Karate, and a few other arts, becoming very commercialized, the public wanted something new. Something that gets right to the point and gets the job done. That is the reason for the two arts quick rise to fame. Now with all arts both Krav and Wing Chun have also fallen prey to commercialization. So before choosing a school do your homework on the instructors! Once you choose, train hard and stay committed!

*(Writers note: Wing Chun in the 17th century was designed to be learned in 3 years. This was accomplished by monks training 8 hours a day consistently.)



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