Except for this page, my website is all about how to live better with chronic medical conditions as an empowered medical patient, so please explore the rest of my website with the above buttons if that is your interest. I also have two books on that topic, which are described on The Books page.
This home page is about my new class at College of Marin, Community Education Division, Physical Fitness section, in Kentfield, California, which will begin as soon as in-person classes resume following the pandemic. I will no longer be offering the two classes I had been teaching prior to the pandemic. This new class will be a unique type of self-defense training, unusual in its emphasis on the following:
- The physical self-defense techniques taught in this class are simple to execute as you pair up with each other in class to train and hone your skills each week.
- Situational awareness is another aspect of the class. Most self-defense experts are in agreement that 99% of attacks can be avoided if you know what to look for, stay alert, trust your intuition, and take immediate, evasive action whenever you sense a potential for danger.
- This class also teaches how to rediscover and capitalize on your physicality and animal nature. This will allow you to move with speed and fluidity.
- This class is based on the principles of the martial art of wing chun, specifically the teaching of Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin and his student Nima King (my teacher), who founded the Hong Kong and online schools, which are both known as Mindful Wing Chun.
- Another aspect of this class is the development of a disciplined, warrior mind-set. This refers to living by your values and goals, which should include ample daily exercise in the various categories (aerobic, resistance training, stretching, agility exercise, etc.), meals as fuel, sleep for rejuvination, and mind training.
There are two ways to benefit from this class:
- If you are like most of the people who took the traditional wing chun class I offered previously, you are probably not interested in learning all the wing chun form sets; that’s perfectly OK and you will still learn self-defense at a very high level.
- For the few who are committed to learning the complete martial art of wing chun, I will not be teaching the form sets during class time; however, if you like, you can subscribe to my teacher’s online course, which is quite complete. For those who do that, I’ll be available before and after class to coach you on your form sets at no cost to you. Wing chun is the only martial art created by women that allows them to defeat men. Ng Mui and her exceptional student, a young woman named Yim Wing Chun are believed to have created wing chun from Ng Mui’s life-long experience as an extraordinary martial arts master and Shaolin nun. There are various anecdotal stories about Ng Mui, but the one I believe is most likely closest to reality is described on page 41 of the book: Tao of Wing Chun by Danny Xuan.
In watching the three videos on this page be sure to have your sound on so that you can hear my voiceovers and watch in full screen mode. Any mention of Charismatic Mindfulness refers to the wing chun class title prior to the pandemic.
The class includes:
- Mind-Body Integration Training: As you train and become skilled in the physical self-defense techniques, you will be simultaneously learning to move from your center with speed and fluidity, thanks to application of the principles of internal wing chun.
- Situational Awareness Training: At the highest level, your practice in situational awareness, combined with your trust in and willingness to act on your intuition will allow you to stay clear of potential human predators without having to physically defend yourself. The highest level of self-defense is the ability to avoid danger. As a result of the situational awareness training in this class, you will see potential threats in time to act on your intuition. Examples of just a few of the many things that I look for in practicing situational awareness: Is the suspicious person holding anything questionable in one of his or her hands? Are both hands visible? Does the person seem anxious, hyper-alert, looking around in an intentional way? Is the person sweating on a cool day? Is the person wearing a heavy coat in warm weather? I also ask myself why I feel concerned; sometimes it is hard to identify, but I always honor my intuition, even in the absence of evidence. At the very least, I don’t take my peripheral vision off the person (Don’t stare.) until I am confident that the person is not a threat. Once, when standing in line at a Starbucks, someone walked in who got my attention; my suspicion increased when I saw the barista suddenly break out in a sweat. There are countless warning signs like these that go unnoticed by most people, which is why victims of crime often say the person attacked without warning; there are always warning signs if you know how to look for them. Honoring your intuition, you will instinctively stay away from potentially dangerous people and situations.
- How and When to Talk or Remain Silent: You will learn how to de-escalate a confrontation through calm assertiveness and be able to assertively set boundaries. Boundary setting serves to make it clear to a potential predator that you may be a hard target.
- Coaching on Taking Action: Training in situational awareness and knowing what to do are not enough; you must take evasive action even when you aren’t sure if someone actually poses a real threat. This can be quite challenging for some people. Many rape victims have reported not acting on their intuitive sense that someone could be a potential threat. Had they taken evasive action, based on their intuitive sense of possible danger, they most likely could have prevented the attack. When asked why they got in the elevator, entered the room, or got into the car, despite sensing possible danger, a common answer was that they didn’t want the guy to be insulted. If you feel any slight discomfort with someone, whether it is a family member, someone from work, or a stranger, honor your fear and avoid anyone that triggers your fear. Sometimes that person may feel insulted, but you will be safe. I highly recommend you read Gavin de Becker’s book: The Gift of Fear.
- Self-Defense Techniques Training:
- You will learn the parts of your body that can be used as so-called empty-hand weapons. You will learn how, when and where to apply your empty-hand weapons. You will learn the most vulnerable parts of your attacker’s body, known as targets, and how to know which of your empty-hand weapons is most effectively applied against each of those targets. You will pair up with other students in class in order to practice in slow-motion.
- Most martial arts emphasize specific defenses and counterattacks for specific attacks. In wing chun, every move is simultaneously offensive and defensive; in other words, there are no separate blocks or deflections. Every deflection includes an attack in that same move. Every move is very direct and uncomplicated. Every move is performed with your entire body.
- Once you develop self-defense skills and train in situational awareness and evasion, it is extremely unlikely you will ever be targeted by any type of human predator. Their modus operandi is usually to catch people off guard and they usually avoid people who appear to be very alert and aware of their surroundings. There are rare exceptions, but generally the people on either side of you whose heads are buried in their mobile devices or who appear to be in an altered mental state are the ones who will attract the attention of a predator. Human predators (robbers, rapists, bullies, psychopaths) are no different from wild animals, in that they are all looking for easy prey.
- Despite good training, you could still be attacked by someone if you allow yourself to have a lapse of situational awareness, fail to act on your intuition, go to unsafe places (any place with drinking or drugs) against your better judgment, or allow your ego to prevent you from moving when a stranger seems to be coming straight toward you with eyes fixated on you. Also, there are those very rare situations where you find yourself in a confined space with a crazy person whose goal is to hurt people. In that situation, be respectful while being assertive about maintaining safe boundaries. But if at a certain point it becomes clear that he is going to attack you, you must launch a surprise attack before he or she pulls a weapon or overpowers you.
In the three videos on this page, you will see me performing the first (and most important) form set, known as Siu Nim Tao (aka Little Idea Form). This choreographed set of movements is designed to train you to find your center of mass. Having found your center of mass in the first form set, the second choreographed form set, known as Chum Kiu, is designed to train you how to actually move from center of mass. Having learned how to move from center of mass in the chum kiu form, the third form set, known as biu jee provides training in moving from center of mass at high speed and from awkward positions. The fourth form set, performed on the wooden dummy (aka Mook Yan Jong) trains you in how to deliver power against the dummy that is generated from your center of mass and how to move around the dummy from your center of mass. As we become more skilled, less and less muscle involvement is required to deliver the same power while speed increases. During this time of the pandemic, my wooden dummy has become my training partner and best friend.
Chisau: In terms of self-defense, the two-person practice of chisau (aka sticking hands) helps you develop good instincts. You will learn to instinctively move optimally, rather than by the slow process of conscious thought. If you are ever actually attacked, your survival odds go way up when you have done enough chisau to respond and move instinctively. In chisau practice, you soon realize that there is no time to think through your next move. Of course, this is true of the sparring aspects of most martial arts. The difference is that in wing chun, unless you are doing freestyle sparring, which is not part of this class, we are not punching each other. Chisau is about practicing the wing chun principles and in this class there is no sense of competitiveness. In fact, in my class, chisau is a collaborative practice where everyone is careful and respectful of each other.
Chisau is primarily for developing a high level of sensitivity, which will greatly enhance your ability to read others’ body language and intentions. A fringe benefit of chisau is that it provides you with skills that are transferrable to daily life. You will acquire the skill to stay focused and centered in stressful interpersonal interactions and other stressful situations. The way this works is that when doing sticking hands, you train yourself to keep your attention in your center and not go into your head, regardless of what your training partner or anyone else says or does that would otherwise distract you. In other words, as you learn to stay focused on your intention while your training partner is physically interacting with you, you are developing the ability to stay focused on your intention while someone in your life is doing something that could otherwise be terribly distracting.
Another important aspect of chisau has to do with the level to which you are able to maintain contact with your practice partner. Maintaining contact allows you to intuit your partner’s intentions and movements. The contact should be light, sensitive, and without any muscular tension, which allows you read very subtle intentions of your partner. Again, my teaching approach is to connect this practice to interpersonal dynamics. For example, in a heated debate with someone in your life, as you learn to remain in very light, sensitive, calm, relaxed (metaphorical) contact with that person, you will develop the ability to intuit the other person’s intentions.
Anytime you notice that you have muscular tension in chisau, consider it an alert that you are being competitive with your partner. If your muscles are mindfully relaxed, you are probably maintaining a collaborative intention.
The ability to physically center yourself through this practice will allow you to maintain a calm and centered state in all types of stressful situations. Without a serious practice like this, it is common to get metaphorically and physically thrown off balance by stressors, especially of the interpersonal kind, which results from being fused with your thoughts and beliefs. In that way, chisau is a way to learn to defuse from your thoughts.
Practicing is an act of self-caring and self-valuing.
When you fail to train the mind to come home to your center, it is like abandoning a big part of yourself. Spending your waking hours in your head, analyzing external situations, is another way to abandon yourself. When you put mind in your center, you are home. Living in your center is a way of living with your full physicality. It is a way of living in the real world, as opposed to the world of thoughts, judgments, and beliefs.