Combat tactics and Police Kung Fu at US Army Base – Germany

Police Kung Fu

How to Train for Hand to Hand Combat
by Man Kam Lo

Effective martial techniques rely upon spontaneous, instinctive reflexes, with movement natural to human physiology serving as a foundation. Such fighting skills do not resemble athletics and are even less akin to choreographed movement set to rhythm or music, in that fluidity takes precedence over rote technique. When embarking on a study of police martial arts, the officer must begin by taking a broader perspective, remembering that there are multiple ways to effectively counter any given movement. In essence, he must learn to blend his own natural reflexes with acquired martial techniques.

Understanding Police Martial Techniques

The fighting system employed by the Taiwan police takes Wing Chun kung fu and natural physiological function as its basis. Integrating physics, geometry, and other scientific principles to unite the body with motion, it stresses fluidity to enable unlimited fighting force in combat. The techniques do not employ the methodology of traditional Chinese kung fu, which trains individual moves and counters, nor do they imitate the animal movements of some Mainland Chinese martial styles. Unlike the choreographed movements in martial arts films, they place little emphasis on physical strength and beauty. All such training turns the student into an automaton, lacking the flexibility to deal with an ever-changing combat situation.

Police martial arts stress the principle of “bringing dead technique to life.” Copied as set rigid routines, individual techniques remain “dead” and therefore incapable of adapting to sudden changes. Human beings are alive, and they rarely adhere to a script; fluidity allows for multiple options and the ability to accommodate fluctuations in a combat situation. It overcomes the limitations imposed by inflexible mechanical movement and eliminates the need to memorize Chinese martial arts movements with over-embellished titles such as “eagle opens its wing,” “tiger comes down the mountain,” “dragonfly touches water” and so on. Rather, the police fighting style stresses understanding of the martial principles of fighting distance, fighting position, and fighting time. Understanding and mastery of distance means knowing what techniques work at what range and how to control the space between exponent and adversary. Unlike distance, which focuses on range, position takes into account fighting stance, angle of attack, and awareness of the environment and terrain. Timing includes rhythm, flow of attack, and taking initiative. The practitioner can take a proactive approach, thereby forcing his opponent into passive reactions.

These principles enhance technique. Synthesizing the advantages of the officer’s own physique, the techniques permit ease of response by employing natural, human movement. Further, police martial arts do not rely upon passive, reactive acts. Instead they adopt the approach of the famous general Sun Tzu, who wrote in The Art of War, “The most effective defense is offense.” To rely on offense, police officers must also have the appropriate frame of mind and adhere to such principles as, “when the enemy is still, use the opportunity to move,” and “when the enemy moves, react with unlimited fighting power.” To reiterate, training for police martial arts techniques does not place value on appearance, nor rely upon repetition of unchanging mechanical movement, or the theatrical, impractical forms of modern Mainland Chinese Martial arts.

Understanding and Practice

Keeping in mind the importance of martial power, the student should continually practice technique applications. In addition to combining individual techniques, the practitioner must further develop fluidity in order to integrate kung fu with his physiology and thought process. Merely perusing books or diagrams to learn kung fu may be a superficially pleasing approach, but it is, in fact, a mistake. One simple analogy is a field commander trying to rely upon a book of tactics to make up for lack of practical experience. Such a commander will most likely fail on the battlefield. Let us say you are a track and field athlete and yet you do not regularly practice at the track. How will you achieve a breakthrough in your performance? Even worse is the person who just reads about track and field. How can such a person improve his speed by simply reading?

Only constant practical training enables the exponent to confront an enemy and bring into play unlimited fighting power. The Chinese saying: “the more sweat in times of peace, the less blood in times of war” sums up this idea. Only through persistent practice of techniques can a police officer achieve a high proficiency in maintaining fighting position, distance, attack timing, and other major factors. In battle he can then immediately discern advantageous terrain, objects, and the distance between himself and the enemy, and, through application of appropriate movements, he can have both tactical advantage and effective martial power.

First waiting to see how an enemy moves, then spending added time determining which technique or form to counter with, is passive and invariable results in failure. Even if the officer does react with an effective move, he is still just reacting and is thus one step behind the opponent. This becomes especially problematic when considering all the different styles of Chinese kung fu. No student knows every movement from every style. In fact, fluidity of movement is always superior to fixed techniques that match a “dead” move with each of the opponent’s “dead” moves. Therein lies the problem created by relying upon the descriptions and pictures in books and learning a “dead” version of kung fu: one falls victim to the problem of first having to consider what to do, then reacting with counter moves ?this is just much too slow. Reliance upon pictures alone is even worse, as, without practical experience, a student unavoidably develops an inaccurate conception of real fighting. Teaching movements orchestrated to commands is just choreography. Such movement cannot be applied during a real encounter. It cannot be overstated that only practical training in controlled but realistic fighting situations provides the student with a proper framework for learning. With physical contact, he can apply and improve upon what has already been learned. Then, in a real conflict, he has immediate, effective, flexible responses that have unlimited applications. As a police officer, I have been in situations during my service when I have suddenly been outnumbered and attacked by criminals or ruffians. In the knowledge that disadvantageous situations will invariably arise from time to time, I have been diligent in my training and always trained with live, mock opponents. As a result, I have consistently reacted both immediately and effectively in dangerous situations. I have applied flexible, automatic responses to defeat my opponents and not relied upon imitating dead illustrations found in books. This is the road to success in combat.

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