Difference of Tang Wei Fighting Method (TWFM) Training: What to Expect as You Start Out and Continue to Advance

One thing that a potential investigator of TWFM should know straight out is that training in this system is different than starting out in almost any other systems on the market today.  I have observed many times that students are excited with and yet overwhelmed by the technical depth and detail involved in TWFM.  It definitely is not Mcdonalds Martial Arts.  It will challenge you and require you more than anything to outgrow the limits of thought and movement patterns as you strive gain a combative advantage via upgraded habits and instincts.

For example, when you learn a straight punch most people think, a straight punch is where you punch straight and that is it, right?  From the most rudimentary level of understanding that is true.  However, that level of understanding is the level of understanding that you had prior to training, which is also the level of understanding that any adversary you face will have and thus it yields no potential advantage and so I should not be charging to teach you that.

Many systems often do not move much past this rudimentary level of understanding ever or until you are “highly advanced”.  From day one you just throw a straight punch and a year later your straight punch is about as potent as it was a year ago.  The rudimentary face value perspective of martial arts yields little to no value.

For example the rudimentary thought that striking is just striking neglects principles such as kinesthetic linking, use of gravity to supplement acceleration, angles of anchoring for leverage, and targeting, etc. which are the real difference between a strike that devastates an enemy upon contact and one where your wrist crumples and which has little to no effect.

The key is the details.  There are a limited number of movement possibilities that the human body has and all healthy human bodies have those possibilities prior to training.  Our thought is that you train to acquire the advantages possible through knowledge and skill so that your straight punch for example will outclass the straight punch which an adversary can throw at you who has little to no training and understanding mixed into it.

This perspective of seeking distinctions which give us an advantage is a core attribute behind the development and practice of TWFM.  It should be noted that there is also a level of creating distinctions that has diminished returns and so a balance must be struck on every given subject.

For example the subject of situational awareness, when this is brought up most people will assume this simply means “looking around” and “paying attention”.  To this I cannot disagree, but everybody looks around and pays attention in their own way.  Training helps you to know how to utilize senses to the max, how to expand your faculties where possible and how to interpret what you pick up on so that you seem to have a built in magic ability to scan an area and immediately pickup on all potential threats, benefits and neutral elements in a split second.

However overly complicated training related to awareness can complicate your awareness and lead to the same vulnerabilities as an unobservant state.  When one has an overly complicated awareness filter they are distracted because they are trying to pay attention to lots of small often trivial details in a situation.  They can tell you the license plate off of a car in the parking lot like Jason Bourne but they didn’t notice that a guy just walked past them who seemed to be talking to themselves in a mentally disturbed manner and has a bulge on his right side that could be a potential weapon.

Ultimately you only take you and your instincts into a fight with you.  You may have weapons of various types but it is still you and your instinctive automatic sense of how to use what you have that governs what you do.  Your instructor won’t be there with you to help, you will be on your own, it will be a contest of whose automatic habits and capabilities are superior.  TWFM training has the core intent of upgrading your instincts, skill sets and overall capabilities so that you have an advantage over someone who is untrained.

Almost always we have the experience of recognizing right away that what the instructor is doing is highly effective but then find that it is not as easy to do as it appeared.  The skills shared take work and practice to develop.  They give you an advantage that an opponent won’t be able to match without also spending the time and work to effectively develop skills.

When you come to class, if what you want is to be standing in a line throwing punches and kicks in unison with other class mates, TWFM is probably not for you.  We go over techniques in depth and practice them from multiple aspects using multiple drills to work to upgrade your instinctive coordination patterns.  We focus on application as the primary objective, considering a technique and movement to be of little value if you do not know the keys to power output, timing and distancing that make the technique work.  We discuss scenarios in depth with the intent of causing you to understand street assault scenarios to a degree that allows you to outclass a potential assailant.

While our methods of teaching are bridged and efficient, we do not offer gimmick self-defense and make no promises that after taking a month of class you will be invincible.  In general, it takes some committed time, usually 6 months minimum to really develop advantages that will count against criminals who often have been doing what they have been doing for a long time.  Note taking is often a must for long term retention and consistent attendance is often crucial to be able to make the progress that you want.

On the flip side, it is not necessary to spend a lifetime studying before you are effective.  You will see results within the first month.  Although the first month is often overwhelming, as you hear the repetition of terms and as you continue to intensively drill the movements it gets easier and easier and thus your improvement accelerates.  The one thing that an instructor really needs from you is the consistent committed time to create the lasting change.  Give it about 6 months to a year of committed practice and you can have the skills you need to face and end a large percentage of the threats that exist in modern society.


TWFM Notion of “Balance” in fighting. Introduction to Pressing

In traditional Martial Arts often there is a fixation on remaining “in balance”.  Many TWFM practitioners have had the experience of having others who have training in traditional martial arts getting hung up on our movements tendency for “leaning forward” or what they sometimes call “being off balance”.


The concept of “balance” in TWFM is one of the unique concepts which makes TWFM different from many traditional styles.  In short, there is an element of real fighting which many martial arts do not take into account with their techniques and that is what we call “the press”.  In real fights and violent encounters there is a raw element of an enemy driving their spine towards you and through you seeking to overwhelm you.  They never stop in front of you but are always driving through you.


If you seek to do techniques from perfect balance you usually end up getting knocked backwards off balance from the press.  Off angling and other evasive tactics, defections and hooks are all good, but they must be executed while you are also driving through the enemy’s spine with your spine and constantly taking their space, otherwise there will be struggle or the enemy will seize the press and will dominate you, even if their methods are not sophisticated in a martial arts sense.


A good visual reference is to watch this video that I am putting a link to.  This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7auscbtCqo&list=PLDoJvSrRtZ_RXeLACKq6AUGOCRVh5SvVo&index=38) shows several martial arts knife defense techniques compared to actual assaults.  As a caveat I do not think that it is being fair to all martial arts as it shows demonstrations from seemingly low level practitioners, but the attacks in the video definitely show several examples of the violent pressing that is the core of real non sport fighting.


Consider attempting to stand in place, perfectly vertical in “static” balance to do your technique while facing some of the attacks in the video you just watched.  You would be run over unless you meet their press with an aggressive dynamic press of your own that achieves “kinetic” balance with the opponent who is not static but is kinetic and in motion.   You must engage full bore and put them on the defensive while controlling their attack with your own attacks and counters or you must completely escape the danger and get out of the scenario.  To try to “defend” yourself or stay in balance is the wrong mindset and bears little success.


When you watch advanced practitioners of any art while they are applying their skills, they often instinctively incorporate this principle of pressing.  They do not stand vertical in “perfect balance” while they fight but rather are flanking and driving through the enemy’s body with their own to overwhelm the enemy.  In short, perfect balance in a fight is different than when one is standing by oneself.  Perfect balance requires you to press them with your spinal motion and to drive through them.  If you seize the press then the opponent is off balance while you execute your strikes, kicks, and grappling attacks.


Pressing is one of the core concepts in TWFM.  It does not mean moving into the enemy in an uncontrolled foolish manner, it means incorporating all the basic methods of offensive and counter offensive actions that one is used to seeing in all martial arts, but doing so while seeking to constantly displace your opponent’s spine with your own and constantly give them no balance nor space.  In other words, all techniques must be executed with a press and must be designed to seize the press as quickly as possible and to never relent that press until the appropriate finish is achieved.


Pressing is also an internal phenomenon, meaning that we want to overwhelm the enemy psychologically and knock their heart out, heavily demoralizing them so they want to quit and are moved to a defensive and fearful mindset.  Bridging is the counterpart and compliment for pressing, which can roughly be understood as the skill of neutralizing and negating struggle with the enemy while you press.  It is the working smarter, with maximum effectiveness and efficiency, seeking to always make your first move your last or a set up for your last.


From day one in TWFM we learn bridging and pressing and every skill that we learn is incorporated into them as extensions and expressions of the concepts.  If you understand bridging and pressing in full then you understand everything about the core of TWFM.  It is not so much that there are good and bad movements and techniques.  There are many viable movements that can cause damage to your opponents when done with a proper press and where the same movement can be useless when done without a press.  This is why our notion of balance is different in TWFM.