Life Is Combat-A Hidden Benefit of Martial Arts Training

Life is complex, how to you characterize it?  In general many people grow up being taught and believing that life is like a type of game, or race, or climb of a mountain.  Often they are taught that if they play fair and they are nice to everyone then they will be kept safe and should expect to have a good measure of success. In my opinion, if a person digests the baseline societal paradigm, they will find that life seems highly unfair, and that they are consistently frustrated by the fact that their expectations for how life is supposed to go is so far removed from how it actually goes.

Practical martial arts which focus on self-defense against criminal assaults in particular provide a tremendous hidden benefit.  “Martial Arts is internal, it is a way of life and living, of thinking and behaving”. When you focus on dealing with realistic fighting, even when it is just a study, it helps you to refine and complete your life paradigm and to understand all conflict as a greater whole.

People generally have the life is like a game perspective because fortunately we have laws and generally our social interactions are governed by law or at the minimum are highly influenced by law and thus kept within the bounds of our social game.  However, in a criminal assault you are dealing with life outside those social laws where the only limits on what the enemy will do is what they are personally able to do.  A sort of empowering and enlightening realization about the animal law reality behind social law comes from studying fighting.

We then also begin to recognize that many times in life, often when we are frustrated by failure it is because those who ended up winning were playing the game of life with a larger spectrum of resources and options that exist outside the normal “rules of the game”.  Take competing for a promotion for example.  Naturally we are supposed to believe in this being a fair competition, especially in modern times.  Yet animal reality while certainly restrained by social laws, stealthily creeps into the equation out of sight.

Perhaps, although you have slightly superior qualifications, your competitor has fostered relationships with the decision maker which results in them getting the promotion over you.  In dating, work, family, and nearly all facets of life we are confronted by conflict.  Of course there are rules and blatant violation results in losses, but there are many instances where you deal with opponents that do not exercise the ethical restraint that makes up the shortcomings in the rules.  There are those people in life that are wired to take advantage of others as much as they feel they can get away with.  How do you deal with such people?

The general life model that good people have often precludes them from successfully navigating conflict which in turn makes achieving their goals near to impossible.  This is why many good people are left with a paradigm that makes them play the victim in their own lives.  Martial arts offers the alternative to a false binary life choice between being an attacker or victim.  One CAN be ethical and yet effective.  The alternative is the warrior mindset. The ideal of the warrior is to be both powerful yet moral or you could say to be good and yet strong, to be formidable and yet trustworthy.

You start recognizing that at the end of the day, life is combat.  Combat is defined as anytime that you have an objective and various forms of friction are present which must be overcome to achieve the objective.  If you really reflect about the nature of life you will see a very real element of combat.  Combat clarifies life in this sense.  For example, if you are attacked by someone with a knife, you either are able to do what it takes to stop them or you are not.  You are given full use of all the resources you possess and so are they with no restrictions on anyone except the limits their personal capabilities provide. There is a clear distinction between success and failure in the form of whether you survive or not.

In the rest of life we often forget to consider this reality in its symbolic form which disempowers us from effectively engaging our goals.  While this is a symbolic understanding about life and combat, the results are very real.  Generally people have goals of being healthy, of having fulfilling relationships, of having a successful vocation, and doing enjoyable things that keep life interesting.  These are all good goals.  Yet how often do people live in the obscure space between success and failure and have to concede that they are “trying”?

With health, there are various forms of friction, both internal and external.  With the benefit of a warrior mentality replacing a victim mentality, you recognize that if you do not do what it takes then the friction will win and you will have poor health despite desires to be healthy.  In relationships it is similar, if you do not do what it takes to keep good communication, to keep in touch, etc then relationships deteriorate regardless of assertions in one’s own mind of caring.

Life as combat is certainly not the only paradigm analogy to utilize but it is a critical model to have mixed into any healthy paradigm and there is no better way to relate to this than training in an effective combat art.  When we only have a model that looks at life as though it were a socially normal activity that is governed by rules and assurances then we begin to have a false feeling of safety which inevitably leads to painful surprises as the animal nature of life weighs in and shapes outcomes away from what you are taught to expect.  Generally when people play games then the loser is still insulated from certain losses and there is always a socially enforced external safety net.  This can cause people to believe in the availability of a third outcome in life other than success and failure.

When thinking about combat, outcomes are cut and dry.  There is survival or not.  When meaningful life goals are looked at as a broader whole, the reality is the same.  Maintaining good health through your life is something that you did, or you didn’t, doing what it takes to have healthy relationships is either what you did or did not do, there is no third outcome in reality.

When people are failing in life goals, it is typically from one of a couple sources.  One source of failure is to have chosen a goal that is either not meaningful enough to motivate or which is actually impossible.  The other source is to self-sabotage. Viewing life as combat teaches you to pick your battles carefully so that they are winnable and expedient.  Supposing that you have selected a good goal, then it is simply a matter of doing what it takes to adapt and prevail.  This means getting rid of personal weaknesses and ultimately refusing to take consolation in place of the result that your personal code requires.

Consolation seems a nice friend in the short term as it provides numbing comfort but in the long run it prevents correction of bad habits and practices and leads to self-sabotage and regretful failure.  If all the energy that is spent in giving oneself consolation is spent rather upon the goal pursuit then almost every time there will be no need for consolation because you will have succeeded. This is a warrior’s perspective and may seem extreme to some but it is a uniquely healthy way of looking at life which warrior training promotes.  Training helps us to confront some of the cold, hard realities of life and to be better at achieving meaningful goals. Paradoxically, by embracing such a perspective the result is almost always a significantly more peaceful, fulfilling and happy life.


January 2018 News

Tang Wei Martial Arts Association with major plans for expansion in 2018!!  The Tang Wei Association will launch a central training center in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Likely to be early in 2018. More details to follow so stay tuned.

Self Defense Martial Arts vs Sports Martial Arts Part 2

Attached is somewhat of a long video filled with disqualification fouls in MMA matches.  It illustrates a few major differences between the sport fighting environment and a realistic combat environment. Sports fighting negates all strategic factors which preclude a fight such as weapons advantages, numbers differentials and the element of surprise. It essentially pits you against an opponent in a strategically neutral fight.

Besides the strategic difference mentioned above (which easily could warrant its own blog post to discuss), sports fighting has been designed to eliminate the primary tactics which can mitigate differences between size and strength which are likely to cause serious bodily harm or death.  This is done to keep participants in a relatively safe environment and to ensure that fights are entertaining and do not end to quickly and easily.

Dangerous fight ending tactics are the focus of combat oriented systems such as the Tang Wei Fighting Method.  These tactics include all the things shown in the video that are illegal in competition and others. Notice how quickly they change the fight. In the combat environment two chief characteristics are that it is unscripted and unrelenting.  Blows landed in the video include eye gouges, knees to opponents heads when they are in compromised positions, up kicks when you ground fighting or stomp kicks to downed opponents and of course groin kicks.

These tactics as you see are total game changers, once impacted, the person that took the blow was either out altogether or they were on their way out of the fight.  When still conscious the victim immediately throws their hand up and is either incapacitated or has suffered a significant reduction in capacity to fight. In a real fight the person would not be saved by a referee.  In the moment where they are incapacitated their opponent is like a shark with blood in the water.  This gives a bit of a perspective about the stakes in a combat encounter.  It leads to a different training perspective.  It makes you want to learn everything you can about strategic avoidance and de-escalation and then it makes you gravitate to certain fighting finishing tactics that you want to become proficient at so that you can do to them before they do to you.

These tactics are dangerous and not something you can practice full bore with a partner over and over without major permanent damage being the result.  In a real encounter we do not necessarily want our trained reflexes to be only composed of movements which can be performed with a large degree of safety for an opponent.  Tom Garriga has often asked, “if you can perform the combat technique full bore on a partner and they do not get hurt, is it really a viable combat technique”.

There is a well known reality gap between all forms of martial training and real combat.  Nothing fully simulates combat.  The gap can be mitigated by focusing on tactics which can be practiced safely and this ends up with a sporting system that may or may not teach combat techniques on the side.  It can be mitigated by a combat system that focuses on movements that cannot be practiced full bore with partners and which conducts “sparring drills” rather than competition fighting. These typically fall in the category of self defense or combat oriented systems.  Sometimes combat systems then will have practitioners who participate in sports martial arts and develop a sports alternative mode for fighting.

One thing is clear, past a certain threshold of fighting, where life threatening motives rather than egotistical motives drive the assault.  Tactics that are “illegal” from a sporting contest perspective are not only not rare as they are in sports, they are the primary set of tactics.  Thus everyone concerned with self defense needs to have a fighting mode that understands them in order to use and counter them.

Consider the fights that are shown in the video.  If these were not accidental occurrences but were the primary targeting scheme of both combatants you would see a very different, gruesome and not marketable for television fight.

In short, the intent in street fighting is different, and getting out of it in one piece is victory. Both forms of training are legitimate, you just have to understand the difference in your own training so that you use the right mindset, strategies and tactics for each. The disrespect between sport based martial artists and self defense focused martial artists really gets old to me.

“estimates are dangerous, overconfidence is a sin” anonymous Tang Wei quote.


Tang Wei Martial Arts Association

It Takes an Animal to Fight an Animal Part 2: Static vs Dynamic Preparation.

One of the main reasons why “self-defense” is a misnomer is because it implies that there is a list of static attacks that the enemy can use and that if you know the counters that you can be superior to them and win the fight with ease as you become a “master”.  While it is true that there are a limited number of attack angles, methods and timings and that each has various counters which can be executed (with counters to counters as well, which for brevity sake I can’t get into), focusing upon memorizing static attacks and counters with the thought that it prepares you for combat is a dangerous erroneous notion.

In the end, tactics, strategies, weapons and various skills cannot win a fight for you.  You have to employ them to win the fight.  Remember, it takes a fighter to win a fight, it takes an animal to fight an animal.  Whether you think of yourself as one or not, everyone has a part of them that is an animal, simplistic and instinctive.  This is not the part that we should use in most of our daily living in civilized culture, but it is a part that we may have to default to at any moment when the afforded protections of civilization fail us (i.e. we encounter a person who does not live within those rules and targets us). 

When an untrained street fighter gets into a fight, much like an animal, they just have the intent to fight and they instinctively employ whatever coordination and understanding they have to attack the enemy.  This is known as the stage of “No Form”.  After that if you start to study martial arts, combatives and self-defense you start to study various refinements to your natural instinctive responses.  This is known as the stage of “form”.  It takes some work to see the big picture but it can happen early or late or never in training that you get through the stage of “form” and you arrive at the end game solution of martial arts study and known as the stage of “no-form” which is representative of spontaneous effectiveness. 

In a fight there is obviously no time to think and this is why often those with no training while having no real training or knowledge about what to do may end up doing as well or better than those whose training is still stuck in the “form” stage.  While those in the “form” stage may have considerable knowledge, they still have to think things through and there is a lot of complicated reactive “technique thinking” which cannot be employed in a timely fashion in the midst of a fight. 

Technique thinking is: “if they throw a right punch, then I will …; if they throw a left then I will …, if they…then I will…” type of thinking.  It is really representative of a divorce of your thinking from your fighting instincts and ending up in an intellectualization academic type process to deal with a fight.  In short, it never can keep up with a fight and so it leads to a lot of disappointment and embarrassment for those who at times have spent years training when what they learned could not be employed in an actual encounter. 

Fighting is dynamic chaos.  Simple tactics and strategies coupled with instinctive response is what keeps up with it.  Training is not about replacing instincts with techniques, it is about supplementing and upgrading your instincts.  The transition to spontaneous effectiveness as a stage has no set point to occur.  It is when you figure out that your natural “beginner” way of processing a fight, of just responding instinctively is what you will still rely on in a fight and then you use training to progressively refine and adjust trained reflexes. 

It has the feel of letting go, of forgetting what you have learned to get there.  Often you just get sick of the whole “martial arts” type of step procedure to doing what you do.  You get sick of doing static techniques that you know would never work when the enemy is really fighting back.  You find yourself wanting to “just fight” like you “used to”, which to you seems like going back to the stage of the beginner at first, but really it is the completing of a cycle of training, a process that can be repeated many times in a lifetime of study.

For example, if someone suddenly swings a bat at you (or similar object), any untrained person will instinctively stick their arm out in an attempt to block it.  They do this at the right time and typically aimed in the right direction.  However, almost always, they will do it while staying in place and not bursting in to close the gap and thus often fail and get their arm broken and worse.  Training helps this by giving relatable experience for your instinctive processes (synonymous with sub-conscious processes) to refine off of.  You have training weapon swung at you several times and if you don’t move in you recognize that you get hit on the arm or worse.  You recognize immediately the advantage to moving in and further, your instinctive response starts to refine as it finds what angles of movement work best against various attacks, etc.  Instinctive processes have a way of instantly switching to a better method as soon as they are convinced of the superiority and so simple, realistic training experiences are a vehicle for upgrading your instincts.

On the other hand, if you start to intellectualize the process and think about fighting like some sort of math problem then this is actually making you worse than where you started.  It takes a fighter to win a fight, it takes an animal to fight an animal.  Self-defense should be learning to fight, but learning about a specific type of fighting applicable to unregulated street type combat where there are no rules, referees, weight classes or protective gear and where weaponry and surprise attacks are likely to be involved.  It should not be learning about prescribed static attacks that have prescribed static solutions which if memorized will make you able to “defend” yourself. 

I have often said that self-defense as a term is misleading.  It capitulates from the beginning that you are some sort of a prey animal hoping to fend off a predatory animal.  It breeds the most defensive of mindsets.  Rather, you must turn the tables on the attacker.  Once escape is not an option, you do not try to “defend” against them, you don’t have notions of wanting to get away, you don’t try to “survive” them, you make them try to survive you. 

With this mindset, you then use training correctly.  It is not something meant to replace instincts but to allow instincts to develop and refine, or to upgrade if you will.  When you fight though, you let go of the training/learning mindset and get into an execution/application mindset, you go to work on the enemy and you get the job done and END the threat appropriately.  Your approach returns to the same instinctive animalistic processing that you had as a beginning, but now coupled with knowledge of targeting, power output, weaponry, striking methods, deception strategies, illusion etc.  You don’t try to think of all those things.  You just fight and let whatever bled through in training bleed through, just focusing purely on the intent to survive and prevail. 

This allows you to be spontaneously effective to your maximum level.  As training continues your spontaneous effectiveness becomes more spontaneously effective.  This is important to recognize, otherwise training may become a hindrance rather than an asset.  The most important assets you needed for fighting, you brought with you day 1 in training, which is you and your instincts.  You may be asking yourself, why train then?  Your enemy has those assets as well and attackers will utilize natural and unnatural advantages to then stack the deck on you.  Attackers, formally or informally train this stuff too, that is important to remember. 

Movies, unfortunately have really created the wrong expectations for many martial artists.  There are a lot of people that if I could just get attackers to attack as cooperatively as they do in movies, I could easily get them to dominate a host of enemies as you see in the movies.  It creates the notion that a martial artist should have some sort of Godlike advantage in a fight.  Unfortunately training often reinforces this as people don’t want to experience struggles and failure in training.  A 10% advantage of any variety is a big deal in a real fight. 

In a fight you need to remember the gravity of what you are undertaking.  You are working to bring down a hostile animal of comparable or greater size.  When people imagine fighting a pit bull for example, they would not expect to walk over a fully enraged pit bull, they would expect resistance and if skilled they would be prepared to mitigate and take advantage of such resistance with their tactics and strategy.  While fights can end quickly with brutal and effective access of targets, real mental preparation means knowing what you are walking into and having the right expectation of friction.  Expect the opponent to be determined, tough and skillful, if they are not then be happily disappointed. 

Remember that survival is victory in a street fight and this often means being able to survive an ambush, drive the enemy off and make an escape.  People often rationalize not learning about or thinking about self-protection saying: “I would just run”.  Escape is not something that you can just get, it is a tactical option you have to earn.  Trying to run away when the enemy is within 5 meters for example will likely end with you never making it up to speed before the enemy runs you down, especially if you try it on a reactive basis and you have to turn to run while the enemy comes barreling in at you. 

Remember that fighting never looks like the movies where bad guys are punched and then fly back on staged wires, with squibs going off and people breaking vegetables off set so that the strikes sound hard hitting.  Consider that even when shot by a shotgun enemies don’t fly back.  They are only hit with the same blunt force that you feel in the recoil of the weapon if you understand the physics of it.  Don’t let misguided expectations developed in unrealistic training set you up to be easily deterred in a fight or to expect the fight to come to an early end. 

Avoid fighting if at all possible, but if cornered or unable to avoid and escape, fight like an animal, following up continually until the threat stops and/or you are able to break contact and escape.  Don’t let training replace this simplicity, but rather enhance it with effective application of knowledge and thought.  Real fighting is dynamic, alive and adaptive, it is not static.  It takes a fighter to win a fight, it takes an animal to fight an animal.   



Tang Wei Martial Arts Association


Not All Advantages are Created Equal

Naturally people studying self defense and preparing themselves for potential life and death encounters with criminals are interested in what gives someone an advantage in a fight?  This is the critical question of reality based self defense (RBSD).  When an attacker chooses you or a loved one as a target and they make a commitment that they are going to take you down, what will you be able to rely on as you make the opposite commitment to stop them at all costs?  No attacker gets into a conflict wanting to lose, they are never going to make it easy, you will need to create an advantage in that moment and press it to the finish to successfully escape and/or END the fight.  But where do advantages come from and are all advantages created equal?

There are many ways you can break down the subject of advantage and what creates it.  For this discussion I will use a hierarchy of advantages going from mindset, strategy and tactics. These advantages are not weighted equally.  Mindset advantage you could think of as weighted the heaviest, with strategic advantages weighted next and tactical last.

This means that even if you were a very physically talented martial artist and you have not developed a mindset that is fully committed to fight and you face a regular “untrained” opponent who is fully committed to harm you, then the mindset advantage will negate the tactical advantage of the martial artist and all the extra knowledge about how to strike, kick, etc will mean little as the “untrained” animalistic attacker overwhelms the uncommitted mindset of the martial artist typically with simplistic but fast paced attacks.

Mindset really is about intent and commitment.  Under the appropriate parameters, when faced with an imminent and unlawful threat to yourself or a loved one will you utilize appropriate violent force to stop the attacker(s).  Saying I would if I had to is a non commitment as there will never be a point that an external source will tell you that you “have” to and further by the time you can confirm that you “have to” fight then you have already been attacked and it is too late.

Having mindset means that you have made the commitment that when faced with an criminal threat you will CHOOSE to use appropriate force to END the threat.  You CHOOSE to face the risks that come from engaging the enemy combativly and you prefer those risks over the risk that comes from submitting, complying and hoping that they don’t hurt you too badly.  Making such a commitment can yield a decisive mindset advantage over a potential attacker as many attackers have simply not made the commitment to the same degree.

After mindset advantage comes strategic advantages. Volumes have already been written about strategy and all of it is valuable but often belabors the core aspects of strategic advantage.  Three simple advantages that will play into a real life fight are 1-weapons differential, 2-numbers differential and 3-initiative/surprise differential.

Strategic factors are weighted next after mindset advantages and are heavier weighted than tactical advantages.  Assuming that both opponents are committed and have a legitimate combat mindset then who seizes the strategic advantage will be the one likely to prevail.  Even if you are the better fighter and could take the other person toe to toe, a street fight will likely never start out “toe to toe”.  If the enemy has a weapons advantage, superior numbers and surprises you then your tactical advantages will likely be unable to overcome the deficit.

One problem is that as a “good guy” you often start with a strategic disadvantage.  As the “defender” rather than the attacker you will essentially never have a numbers advantage, you can choose to carry lawful weapons lawfully which can help to mitigate the weapons disadvantage and then by developing as strong of a mindset as possible and as complete of a tactical skill set as possible you can ensure that you are able to seize the strategic initiative.  This is why people should train in RBSD.  It allows you over time to generate a significant mindset, strategic and tactical advantage to overcome the inherent strategic disadvantages you may be up against in realistic scenarios.

Tang Wei Fighting Method focuses on giving people a realistic perspective about realistic modern self defense scenarios.  Having advantages does not guarantee anything, there are no guarantees in fighting, but everyone will naturally recognize when everything you care about is potentially on the line, you want as much advantage as you can.  First think first is to work to develop a realistic, viable combat mindset, then it is about studying strategy and tactics in order to be able to fulfill the mindset commitments you have made.

Mindset while it is the heaviest weighted advantage and as a self defender if you lack it, it is essentially an insurmountable disadvantage, it is not by itself sufficient.  You still need to study strategy to make sure that the deck is not overly stacked against you and that you give yourself a tactical shot at victory. Further, if tactics are completely deficient then even mindset and strategic study is not viable.

This is the difference for example between people who carry guns and people who are effectively armed.  Guns cannot effectively and legally deploy themselves and protect you.  If you carry a gun (a strategic factor) without the mindset and tactical training to be able to use the advantage you probably end up hurting yourself or unwittingly end up losing your gun to the attacker as you fail to deploy it correctly.

In the end Mindset, Strategy and Tactics are all interrelated but training that integrates them and gives comprehensive approaches are rare.  Tang Wei focuses on incorporating as much as possible for sources modern and traditional to give students as complete of a combat perspective as we can.  The idea is to give you as much on an advantage as possible.


Tang Wei Martial Arts Assocaiton

Tang Wei February 2017 Seminar and Workshop Reviews

Tang Wei February 2017 Seminar and Workshop Comments:

“Tang Wei Seminars are a perfect mix of training, education and exercise.  The knowledge you gain while having fun is unbeatable.”

“Fantastic seminar with great information and skills that are usable today.”

“The seminar was excellent.  The drills were great and I was really glad there were multiple instructors.”

“I love the new seminar format, receiving pointers from all the instructor has been really helpful in comprehension and application of the techniques.

“I love these workshops! I always realize how much more there is to learn”

“This class was very eye opening.  It opens up so many options.  Thank You”

“Learning Tang Wei is the closest you can get to training with Bruce Lee… its affordable and practical for modern times.  I appreciate the constant feedback from multiple instructors and the opportunity to drill often.”

“Liked the surprise attack scenarios”

There is no Such Thing as “Self Defense”. It takes an Animal to Fight an Animal (Part 1)

On our Tang Wei related YouTube channel organized by Wu Jin Dao Training Group, we have compiled several Engagement Scenarios on a playlist titled “Engagement Scenario Examples”.  These are collected from various sources having CCTV footage or news footage of actual assaults taking place (viewer discretion advised as there is adult content of violence).

As an instructor, these videos are infuriating and are a powerful reminder of the necessity of maintaining your combat mindset as well as strategic and tactical skill sets to back up the mindset.  In the martial arts world, you have sport forms and combat forms.  The combat forms are often referred to as Reality Based Self Defense (RBSD) systems.  I suppose you would say that this is where Tang Wei would fall into the mix as well.

When dealing with mentally disturbed individuals who attack with deadly weapons (especially blades like machetes and knives) or gangs/groups of individuals filled with mob mentality bent on harming others.

What you have to recognize is that you are NOT dealing with people in the usual sense, you are dealing with a person that has given themselves over into an animalistic state.  The primary philosophies of instruction as to how to counter these types of attacks vacillate between whether to focus on defending and trapping the knife arm or counter striking.  The mindset is often that of someone who has already capitulated defeat and just wants to “make it out of there alive” by using some form of prescriptive defense.  But when you watch these real-life videos you must realize that you are not dealing with a person throwing a prescribed attack, you are dealing with an animal dressed in human clothing bent on destruction.  You will not survive an animal through defense.

Self Defense is really a poor description of what works in real life.  You need to live a life committed to peace, following basic rules of avoiding all combat whenever avoidable, including diffusing situations and walking away whenever that is a viable option.  However, if you find yourself in a situation where avoidance is not an option and you have to engage, you need to give yourself permission to switch into an alternative mode.

It takes an animal to bring down another animal or even to fight through an ambush and escape once thrust into a combative engagement.  The tactics and strategies that you learn in your combat system must also focus on ending the fight quickly and training you to be adaptable so you can go wherever the fight goes.

Martial arts, strategies and tactics however must not be thought of as a replacement for your primitive instincts, for your own animalistic instructive mode.  Living a peaceful life does not have to mean that when you are threatened or a loved one is in danger that you can’t switch to your survival mode and bring the fight to the enemy like an animal protecting all that it holds dear.

One of the best compliments that myself and several other practitioners of Tang Wei have received about Tang Wei after demonstrations is that it doesn’t move like other martial arts.  I remember a visitor at a past demonstration saying that our techniques look like some sort of “an animal pouncing upon and going to work on its prey”.

At final count that is the idea.  We certainly will not start a fight, but if it comes and you don’t give us a way out, you will find that we will bring the fight back to you.  In Tang Wei we don’t care about looking like a martial artist.  Whether the fight will be empty handed, with a knife, stick, firearm, etc., we are concerned only about ending the fight quickly (and appropriately) then getting back to our lives.

Tang Wei training serves this philosophy, focusing upon gathering the best information from all available sources but then using various sets, techniques and power concepts not for mere memorization but for extracting and ingraining adaptable core skills which can upgrade how we operate when we have to switch into a fighting mode.  Upgrading in the sense of having higher levels of power output, better ability to access debilitating targets, faster transitions to suppress the enemy’s actions and take control of the fight, better strategies for setting ourselves up for advantage before any blows are exchanged, etc.

In summary, develop a personal code of when it is appropriate and necessary to switch into your own animalistic combat mode, employing more refined forms of the same type of “real” intent and as the attackers you plan to combat.  You will never “defend” yourself out of a fight.  You won’t survive an assault by an animalistic person through any form of a defensive mindset.  You turn the tables and bring the fight back to the enemy to make them feel that choosing you as a target was the worst decision they have ever made.  This is the basis of mindset; it can get you a long way towards success.  You need counter strategies and tactics which either take pre-emptive offensive action or immediately counter attack and turn to the press.  Other than that, you will end up on defense and you will be toast.

Do not see yourself as a victim or a “self-defender” trying to “survive” an assault.  This is the wrong mindset.  Make the rule that you never fight for anything that is not worth fighting for.  You fight only for your life and the life of those you love enough to risk your life protecting.  When this is necessary, become an animal and take the fight with full intent and commitment into the enemy.  Take the press and turn the tables, placing them so firmly on defense that they are overwhelmed physically, mentally and emotionally so they have no time or ability to think about harming you.  If avoidance is not available, then this is your best and only approach to making it through a real assault.

Kyle W.

Tang Wei Senior Instructor

May 2017 Tang Wei Special Events

Tang Wei Street Survival Seminar: Dealing with Deceptive Surprise Assaults

  • Date/Time: Saturday May 6, 2017
  • Location: Salt Lake Community College Larry H Miller Campus, Miller Professional Development Center, 9690 South 300 West, Sandy, UT 84070
  • Lead Instructors: Tang Wei Head Instructor Tom Garriga. Senior Instructors Kyle Whiteley, Adam Adair, Bruce Young, Kody Jones.  Instructors Jake Black, Joel Black, David Miller.
  • Capacity: 25 Slots
  • Cost: $80 pre-registration, $100 at the door. $50 for current Law Enforcement and Military Personnel or students currently enrolled in a Tang Wei Training Group.
  • Pre-register at:
  • Equipment: None
  • Details:

Many assaults including carjacking, armed robberies, home invasions, and hate crime targeted assaults will involve an attacker/attackers approaching you under a false pretext to deceive you and then surprise attacking you.  These situations present a unique challenge as we are often approached by people in our daily lives in contexts which do not represent a combative threat.  You need a strong understanding counter ambush strategies and tactics to go with your combat mindset to deal with these type of attacks.

This seminar will build the standard core skill sets of the Tang Wei Fighting Method but will focus on applying those skills in response to deceptive surprise assaults.  The first half of the seminar will build the generic mindset, strategies and tactics needed for success in dealing with a deceptive assault.  This half of the seminar will focus upon power output, targeting, and adaptable fighting entries.

The second half of the seminar will focus on application.  The generic skills learned in the first half of the seminar will be expanded upon and applied using scenario drills and training exercises allowing the participants to develop their own ability to spontaneously respond to empty handed assaults and concealed weapon assaults.


Fighting Out of Disadvantage Workshop: Counters for Being Held at Knife and Gun Point

  • Date/Time: May 6, 2017 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
  • Location: Salt Lake Community College Larry H Miller Campus, Miller Professional Development Center, 9690 South 300 West, Sandy, UT 84070
  • Lead Instructors: Tang Wei Head Instructor Tom Garriga. Senior Instructors Kyle Whiteley, Adam Adair, Bruce Young, Kody Jones.  Instructors Jake Black, Joel Black, David Miller.
  • Capacity: 25 Students
  • Cost: $25 for Pre-Registered, $30 at the door. $20 for Current Law Enforcement, Military or students actively enrolled in a Tang Wei Training Group, or those who attend seminar earlier in the day.
  • Pre-register at:
  • Details:

Armed robberies, many home invasions, carjacking, rapes and several other crimes all depend upon being able to hold the intended victim at gun or knife point.  While the preferred option is to avoid such situations or to counter the assailant before they are able to put you in such a position, what do you do if errors have already been made and you need to fight out of this type of disadvantage?

This workshop will focus on teaching efficient reversals, counters and escapes facing various holds both standing and on the ground where the enemy is holding you at knife or gun point.


Fight Finishing Workshop: Maximizing Power Output for Grappling Finishes

  • Date/Time: May 6, 2017 from 3:00 5:00 P.M.
  • Location: Salt Lake Community College Larry H Miller Campus, Miller Professional Development Center, 9690 South 300 West, Sandy, UT 84070
  • Lead Instructors: Tang Wei Head Instructor Tom Garriga. Senior Instructors Kyle Whiteley, Adam Adair, Bruce Young, Kody Jones.  Instructors Jake Black, Joel Black, David Miller.
  • Capacity: 25 Students
  • Cost: $25 for Pre-Registered, $30 at the door. $20 for Current Law Enforcement, Military or students actively enrolled in a Tang Wei Training Group, or those who attend seminar earlier in the day.
  • Pre-register at:
  • Details:

Power output is often an insurmountable factor in a fight whether it is for or against you.  In most people’s eyes, power output is determined by size, strength and basic physical prowess.  While athletic attributes can help with power, often athleticism translates much less into effective power output than effective knowledge, skill and specific coordination habits.

One of the signature features of the Tang Wei Fighting Method is our collection of power drills and concepts which allows tremendous increases in power output which can negate large disadvantages in size and strength and enjoy a power output advantage over larger adversaries through superior skill in terms of power generation.

This workshop will cover several physical and mental power concepts from the Tang Wei Fighting Method while focusing on applying them to grappling methods for finishing a fight.  Targeting will be covered for application of low, medium and high levels of force.  Power output and fight finishing is the core skill set which other tactics and strategies are built around, a thorough understanding of it is a must for anyone that studies close quarters fighting.

Fitness or Skill? Which Matters More In Fighting

In martial arts I often witness various extremes arguing as to which extreme is better.  Grappling vs striking, eastern vs western, competition vs combat drills, weapons usage or just weapons defense, etc, etc.  One recently that I have seen discussed in online forums and among some friends I know is about whether conditioning and or skill training is more critical for being prepared to protect yourself?

First, to avoid the obvious oversimplifications of this issue.  In an ideal world where access to both were available for everyone and everyone had the time to focus on both, you would do both.  In Tang Wei this is what we always answer to these either or questions and we have worked to bring opposite extremes under one roof as much as possible.

But in practical terms, I can admit that in Tang Wei we tend to spend our class time not on workouts and fitness but on skill development as skill development requires time and attention from instructors where working out can be done on one’s own time.  We cover fitness programs with students and then that is considered their homework to do on their own.

There are other self-defense and especially sport oriented martial arts that put the focus on the fitness and fight conditioning before skill development.  Certainly if the contest you are preparing for is a sporting contest, conditioning likely will be as important if not more so than skill development as many of the skills which can negate size and strength will be removed from the contest.  The various “dirty” fighting moves like eye gouges, throat shots, etc are not available and the contest really will come down to basic tactics, developed athleticism and who has superior conditioning.

On the other hand, if the contest you are concerned about is in dealing with a criminal assault that will likely be an ambush and will likely involve a weapon like a knife which of course is no more impressed by muscle on your body than fat, you may need to focus more on finding effective skills than on conditioning.  The extra weightlifting or cardio workout, are not going to be what decide the contest.  Situational awareness, Power output, targeting, maneuvering, leverage, angles, skillsets and fighting habits will decide the contest.  But it should be remembered that to employ skills, you still need a body with a level of fitness which can actually perform them.

A couple examples that I have encountered to illustrate this point.  I have seen a few highly skilled female martial artists, but who are frankly quite weak physically, especially with their upper body.  During sparring against an opponent simulating a knife wielding opponent I remember that their arm when they would check would often collapse and let knife thrusts through.  They would look for several tips of leverage and I would give them everything that I had while teaching in terms of leverage tips and those would help, but at the end of the day, the upper body strength was just an overly blatant weakness.  At the end of the training session I would recommend they do some more conditioning for their overall strength and in particular for their upperbody strength as it was behind their lower body and core strength.

For months the recommendations fell on deaf ears as the person preferred skill training and did not like to workout.  Now to explain, this person had difficultly completing 1 pushup and so the strength deficit was large.  I am not suggesting that she needed to become strength focused because even if she lifted weights every day, the enemy that would attack her would still be larger and stronger and so it would be skill that let her make up the difference and prevail.  She eventually took the advice and got up to being able to do 25 pushups and fixed the strength imbalance with habits of basic strength conditioning.  Suddenly all her skill habits, coupled with sufficient strength were able to yield their advantage in sparring drills.  Further all the work she had done to master leverage gave her an ability to fight way outside her weight class now that she had a sufficient baseline of strength.  Smaller female and male practitioners often could fall into a similar situation.

I also have known a couple of really strong people who I have trained with in martial arts and seen an opposite problem.  Despite being able to bench my bodyweight a few times over, when we would train together they often suffered from a limited spectrum of explosive mobility.  You wouldn’t want to get directly in front of him but as soon as he was flanked a little bit, he was slower and weaker on obscure angles and unable to recover, as a result, he would struggle to defend attacks that people in a much lower strength category who put more emphasis upon skills would easily be able to deal with.  In the end, he liked strength training too much to cut back and work more on mobility, so he chose not to continue to pursue martial arts.

Ultimately at the end of the day, you need to know what you are training to deal with, and as someone working to be prepared to defend yourself and your family, you need to have a functional balance in your training.  If you have tremendous knowledge and skill but your strength, speed and endurance are so insufficient that you are too outclassed to get your skills in a fight, then those skills may do you no good.

You need enough conditioning that your body (which is your weapon in a fight) has enough of an edge to cut and to make sure that the fight does come down to skill.  After that, in a non-regulated, self-protection type fight, it will be skills and mindset which determines the victory, not mere conditioning.  The extra pushups, extra weight on the bench press or dead lift does little to prevent traumatic brain injury, spinal attacks, small joint manipulation etc.  Those have to be countered by skills and knowledge.

In my own opinion, this balance of conditioning and skill is something everyone ought to consider and continue to refine.  Both conditioning and skill development are important, you don’t want to get caught in pointless “either-or” “this or that” quandaries and you don’t want to get stuck with an imbalance just because you like conditioning or skill more.  Irrelevant preferences are the real vulnerability, the only preference is to be as effective as you can.


Kyle Whiteley

Tang Wei Martial Arts Association