Book Review - Police Kung Fu
Wing chun-based combat training of Taiwanese police officers.

Author: Man Kam Lo, Nicholas Veitch (translator), Bradley Temple (translator)
Publisher: Tuttle, 2001
paperback, $16.95

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Police Kung Fu's author, Sifu Man Kam Lo, was once a student of wing chun grandmaster Yip Man. He's adapted his wing chun to police work, becoming the chief instructor for divisions of Taiwan's police and self-defense forces. Folks familiar with wing chun might wonder how adaptable it is to police work, given wing chun's emphasis on striking. Sifu Lo includes joint locks from jujitsu and chin na in his syllabus, allowing control and arrest techniques.

The techniques depicted in the book show sound fundamentals--for example, in the chapter "Techniques Against a Knife", Lo executes his initial blocks palm-in. Escrima stylists learn to block the opponent's weapon arm with the back of the forearm--if they miss the block and the knife cuts their arm, the large blood vessels on the inside of the forearm are protected. Lo's techniques stem from wing chun's tan sao and bong sao blocks, then guiding the opponent's limb into a joint lock.

The book provides coverage of gun disarms, in a multitude of starting positions and environments. While extensive, I have qualms about Lo's emphasis of attempting a wrist lock on the gun hand rather than grasping the gun itself for leverage or to cause a malfunction.

Wrist locks may be a more universal technique--for example, when facing a small automatic or snub-nosed revolver, grasping the gun itself could leave you with a smoking hole in your hand. But in practice I've found that using the gun's barrel as leverage or grasping the fluted sides of the cylinder is much easier than attempting a wristlock.

All in all, Police Kung Fu is a great introduction into Taiwan's police defensive tactics. Many cops who have learned adaptations of other martial arts, such as jujitsu-based combatives, will find this book refreshing and insightful, and a useful addition to their defensive tactics library.

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