training for Life
Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
July 2009 Issue

Fighting For My Life

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On a recent visit to Guangzhou China, by the bus station of Zhongshan 8th Road, I unexpectedly wound up in a savage fight to protect myself from a gang of violent pickpockets!

The area is famous for a local outdoor market with lots of stalls that offer fresh fruits, produce, clothing, shoes and food. I was browsing in the market, when a guy walked next to me and bumped into my left side. At the same time, another man was trying to pick my pocket on my right. I felt my pocket moving and realized I was being robbed! I turned around and threw a kwa-chui (back fist) into the face of the thief ending the robbery.

But much to my surprise another crook immediately moved in to help his friend. He approached from the front on my right side and tried to attack me. I used the same hand, my right, to hit this new attacker with a kup-chui (vertical swinging fist) to the back of his head. Another criminal on my left side rushed over and tried to attack me!

In the blink of an eye I found myself in a serious fight with multiple street toughs! I used a tsang-geuk (side kick) thrust to the new attacker's hip. At the same time, I used the bin-chui (whipping back fist) to hit one of the other thieves who had moved back in to attack. As I was hitting my assailants, I was able to maneuver to one of the selling stalls to cover my back and prevent an attack from behind. In that split second, another angry thug rushed in. Without thinking I connected with a potent palm thrust to his nose. Two more attackers appeared out of nowhere and I met each with a rapid right fist to the face.

Incredibly, I used my right hand to hit five attackers and kicked one of the others. I had instinctively prevailed in a unexpected fight against 6 street thugs! The crowd around me broke into spontaneous applause and cheering. One of the criminals was on the ground knocked out. Looking around I could see these guys were bleeding and in pain. They were hurting pretty badly and were understandably afraid of me. They wisely decided not to attack me anymore. However, I was still outnumbered 6 to one and I wanted to avoid Chinese Police complications, so I decided to retreat while I was ahead. The knuckles of my right hand were hurting quite a bit at that point but otherwise I wasn't injured. That next day my right arm was sore and tired. The entire fight with those 6 thugs, not including the pick pocket, was over in less than 10 seconds!

Everything rushed by in just a few seconds. Before I left the scene I surveyed the damage. One thief was knocked out cold on the ground. Some members of the gang tried to help him to wake up. I believe he was the thug I used the kup-chui on him. Another one of the gang got up slowly from the ground obviously in pain. I had sent a couple of these bullies flying giving them bloody noses. Two other crooks ended up with blood on their mouths and chins from my tsop-chui punches.

When I left the scene of the attack I was afraid that I might have seriously injured or killed the thug on the ground. I felt really bad about this, I do not like to hurt people. Happily, a couple days later, one of my students went back to the market area and asked a vendor who witnessed the fight what had happened to the knocked out gangster. A lady told him that the attacker on the ground was okay. He woke up and his gang helped him walk away. After this news, I felt much better. Hopefully, these crooks will think twice before preying on innocent victims in the future.

I recounted the details of the fight to some of my students for learning and training experience. One student asked me why I only used my right hand. I landed blows with just my right because I am a right handed person, therefore my natural reaction was to use my right hand. I used my left hand as the guarding hand. A tai chi student asked me why I didn't use any of the tai chi fighting techniques. My answer was; I used the tai chi principles of fighting. In the tai chi classics, there is a saying: "When he is not moving, I don't move; when he moves, I get in first". The fact that I was able to walk away from this fight with only minor injuries was from my tai chi push hands timing and drilling training.

I was able to respond instantly because of my years of reflex training from choy li fut. Another student asked me why I didn't just block the attackers' coming strikes; why had I decided to hit them? Here is how I answered the question: the saying in choy li fut is: "blocking without striking is a low level of fighting, blocking with striking is the intermediate level of fighting, striking without blocking is the high level of fighting". I don't think I am in that high level at all, but I applied the last principle to that situation at that time.

Doc-Fai Wong writes a bi-monthly column for Inside Kung-Fu.

July 2009 Inside Kung-Fu