Thoughts on self-defence

We live in dangerous times. Although the government and police would have us believe we are safe, we are not protected against unexpected situations. Nobody, not even the most peaceable among us, can be sure not to get into a situation that might escalate into a physical confrontation.

Progression of a physical confrontation

It always begins with an aggressor, a person who is somehow emotionally charged.

Making contact

It always begins with an aggressor, a person who is somehow emotionally charged.

Attack, provocation or victim test

In the worst case there is an immediate attack with no prior warning. The second variation is provocation, usually by asking a question such as "What are you looking at?". In the third variation, the victim test, the aggressor acts more cleverly and tests the intended victim for suitability as a victim.

GM Prof. Keith R. Kernspecht has described all this very clearly in his books, and incorporated it into our student grade programmes for beginners as role-plays. GM Kernspecht refers to the five phases of ritualised combat:

  • Eye-contact
  • Rhetorical phase
  • Pointing and shoving
  • Wild punches, usually "haymakers"
  • Kicking the opponent on the ground (perverted phase)

Different forms of violence

Sudden attack/ambush

These are attacks that threaten our health and life. No attempts at de-escalation can help here. In this situation you must fight for your life.


Fights are usually preceded by some form of provocation, during which one can use deescalation techniques with a view to calming the situation down before having to defend oneself.


A rape is usually preceded by a more or less elaborate victim test.

EWTO tools for self-defence

Prevention of violence

Students learn to prevent violence by taking suitable measures to avoid falling into the role of a victim. The aim is to know oneself, and to learn forms of behaviour, body language and a certain level of mindfulness.


The aim of deescalation is to avoid violence without becoming violent oneself. It is important to learn how to avoid situations that might lead to a violent response.


The question to be answered is this: "How can one effectively defend oneself with simple methods and techniques if the preceding measures prove unsuccessful?"

EWTO student grade programmes

In our EWTO WingTsun, student grade programmes 1 and 2 provide students with tools that enable them to survive a self-defence situation. These include the 4 Blitz-attacks, FrightReaction (an anti-ambush programme that uses the natural reactions possessed by all of us), techniques to escape from a wide range of situations and training for mindfulness and stress, theoretical aspects such as the law on self-defence, developing striking and kicking power for self-defence situations, scenario training (e.g. behaviour when confronted with multiple opponents, weapons etc.).

These first two student grades provide the basis for successful self-defence, but only if one practices them regularly and adapts them to different situations. In the subsequent grades the self-defence scenarios must be trained for and adapted again and again. This is where chain-punches and elbow and knee techniques will be employed. In addition to the techniques, striking power, combinations and anti-groundfighting must of course be developed and practiced. In my view a certain level of fitness is also essential to prevail in a dangerous situation. Technical skills alone are not sufficient here. The training should also include strengthening the will to survive and overcoming reluctance to strike. These basics are extended in the higher student grades. This includes learning how to defend against weapons, multiple opponents and in various critical situations (groundfighting).

Everything in our WingTsun is based on the BlitzDefence programme, and must be repeatedly practiced on a regular basis. This also applies to advanced students, who often only concentrate on their own, higher programmes and underestimate the importance of the programmes for beginners.

GM Thomas Schrön