Who we Are
The WSD system, called Won Yuen Fa, began with the idea that no individual martial art provided the realistic self-defense needed for the violence in today’s society. As a seasoned martial artist and police officer serving the city of Sacramento, Conrad Woodall created a system to blend the best aspects of each art, including ground fighting and military combat techniques. He used his personal experiences and those as a peace officer who often worked with victims of rape and assault to develop a program geared toward individuals, with their own unique strengths and weaknesses, rather than the one-fits-all type of class often seen in martial arts schools.
Conrad continued his education, receiving a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology, and has expanded WSD to include education to victim service agencies, businesses, and organizations. He also created a unique children’s program that includes safety awareness as well as physical defense.
WSD has a highly trained staff who assist with physical self-defense training to students, donate their time and energy to community awareness, take continuing education classes in our field, and work with Mr. Woodall in scouring federal databases for crime trends and statistics, reading hundreds of books on all matters that pertain to the empowerment and safety of the individual, and who keep current on the latest daily news.
We believe that:
You are the first line of defense for yourself and your family.
When you defend yourself you are defending your entire family.
You and your children will love training with us in a comfortable, family-friendly environment while you gain skills for a lifetime.
Development of the Won Yuen Fa System
For a “real life” example of the validity of reality-based self-defense, please refer to the following article by Conrad Woodall: What We Can Learn From The Death of Kickboxing Legend Alex Gong
Click here to access our Lineage and History.
WON YUEN FA
The Philosophy and Logic behind the System’s Development, by Conrad Woodall
The following information is to provide a brief introduction to the teaching and training theory behind the development of Won Yuen Fa, which translates into “the way of blending.” It is important to note that the following information is just to give you (the reader) an introduction to the thought processes and logic behind the development of a self defense system that breaks from traditional martial arts technique and training methodology. This is also meant to try and give you some insight into some of the intricacies that differentiate a system of self-defense from that of a traditional martial art. The sole focus of your training from White Belt through Black Belt is grounded in developing skills that will enable you to survive the violence that plagues our modern society.
Before I start, I would like to pay a special tribute to my first instructor and mentor, Master Sensei Steve Fossum. Without his instruction this system would not exist. He was the person who first instilled in me the ideas of challenging traditional training methods that were not applicable in a real street fight. He pointed out the problematic methods of teaching everyone the same techniques because it is in direct conflict with the fabric of our development; our individuality. I learned to be skeptical and to find out for myself if something really worked, as opposed to just accepting what someone told me. Mr. Fossum’s teachings and many of the techniques of System 5 Combat Karate have played an important role in the development of this system.
I was fortunate to start my martial arts training in an eclectic art (System 5 Combat Karate) that focused on practical self-defense skills. I have cross trained in many different martial arts and I can honestly say that I have found very few systems that offer self-defense skills that a student can apply in today’s modern society. After spending nearly 12 years of intensive study in several martial arts, earning two Black Belts in two different system’s, and working seven years in patrol for the Sacramento Police Department, I concluded that most of what I had been taught in the traditional martial arts was not effectively preparing me to face the types of situations that happen all over the country in our cities and suburbs. Through actual street encounters, I realized that most of the traditional martial arts are antiquated methods of reacting to an environment that has been drastically changed since the industrial revolution.
The main core of what is now termed “traditional martial arts” development took place over the last 1500 years. Before the industrial revolution, warfare often involved close-quarter combat with a multitude of various weapons. Because of this, many traditional arts focused on the use and defense against weapons such as: short stick, long bo, tonfa, sai, long and short sword, knife or dagger, kama or sickle, bayonet, and many others. Traditional training also focused on grueling workouts using stances such as the “horse” stance to develop leg strength and stamina. This type of training was not so much to make the student a better martial artist but rather to prepare them for the exhausting and physically demanding endeavor of engaging in war.
In the traditional translation, the word “martial” refers to “military” or “war” arts. This is because originally that is what they were designed for. However, war is not fought the same as it was 1000 years ago or even 100 years ago for that matter. The type of training that is required for someone to prepare for a war is different in many ways from what is needed to defend yourself on the streets of our cities and suburbs. This is not to say that some methods of training soldiers are not applicable to a street fight, especially the mental attitudes of survival and perseverance in the face of imminent danger. I am simply stating that much of what is taught is wasted time that could be better spent on more practical training. For example, our front line soldiers can be required to hike 8-10 miles in rough terrain carrying a 100lb backpack and still have the strength to fight at the end of the day. They need a level of strength and endurance that simply does not apply to the street fight that a civilian faces, which is usually over in a few seconds. For this same reason, traditional martial arts incorporated training methods that over-developed areas of strength and endurance. This is because wars fought long ago required the movement of troops on foot, walking for miles, even days before they reached the battlefield. Once the battle started, they may have had to fight for hours or days without stopping, eating, or sleeping. Close quarter combat meant fighting person after person, all possibly having different weapons and all trying to kill you. Remember, we are talking about training methods going back 1500 years or more in some arts.
This type of long term endurance training simply does not apply to a street fight that generally lasts a few seconds or a maximum of a few minutes. It doesn’t matter if you can stand in a deep “horse” stance for an hour if the fight only lasts a few minutes. This is not to say that you shouldn’t train for strength and endurance. I am saying don’t waste an hour of precious time standing in horse stance to develop something you can accomplish with a couple sets of squats and a 20 minute jog. Your self-defense training is a specialized skill and most of us only have a few hours a week that we can dedicate out of our busy schedules to practice and train. That time is best spent learning and developing the skills that will keep you from becoming a victim.
Today many of the traditional martial arts hold on to these old methods of training. This is not a matter of significant importance if you are interested in learning martial arts for reasons other than self-defense. However, if your main reason for learning the arts is to develop skills to defend yourself then you can unknowingly waste a great deal of time over-training in areas that really do not offer any benefits to teaching you how to defend yourself against the common street thug or sexual predator. This is not to say that a traditional martial art has nothing to offer. On the contrary, I thoroughly enjoy training in traditional arts. What I am saying is that most traditional arts are not teaching “self defense.”
Many of your traditional arts advertise self- defense training as part of their instruction but what they teach is not going to prepare you for a real fight. Most of the instructors out there that run traditional schools simply do not have any real life experience with actual street fights. This is like someone who goes out and shoots basketball alone and never plays in a game. They may be able to make a basket from anywhere on the court but that doesn’t mean they can make a basket when they are being covered by one or two defenders.
In the study of logic there is a fallacy of “appealing to authority.” This is commonly used in advertising to get people to buy products through faulty reasoning. For example, a lot of people pay big money for Nike Air Jordan basketball shoes because they are endorsed by one of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game. People convince themselves that the shoe is the best based on the fact that Michael Jordan endorses the shoe. What people do not think about is the fact that Michael Jordan is an expert on basketball and not an expert on the construction of a shoe. He probably endorses the Nike shoe because that is the company that offered him the most money to sign his name on a dotted line.
The same thing happens with self-defense training. Students walk into the closest martial arts school, look at the guy in the karate uniform wearing the Black Belt and assume that he/she must know what they are talking about. If you stop and think about it you can see that the idea of someone who has never been in a street fight teaching you how to defend yourself seems a little perplexing. I am always amazed about the people teaching women how to stop a rapist and yet they have never talked to rape victim or dealt with a rape suspect. Let us look at this from another perspective for a moment. If you needed an operation you, like most people, would look for a specialist; someone who has performed the operation numerous times with a high success rate. You would avoid the doctor who is right out medical school with no time in on the operating table. The reason why is obvious. Yet when it comes to self-defense training most people walk right into the nearest school and sign up without a question or thought as to whether or not the person running the school really knows what they are talking about. We watch and see if they can throw fancy punches and kicks and say to ourselves “They must know what they are doing because I can see that they can punch and kick.”
Well, I am here to tell you that there is a difference between self-defense training and traditional training, but only a person who has a background in dealing with street violence, traditional training methods, and modern self- defense training is going to be able to fully teach a student what those differences are. Why? Because a person with that type of background can compare their learned training with their experiences of actual application in a street environment. The problem is that there are very few schools out there that have their self-defense training actually tested in real confrontations. Without testing out your training all you really have is conjecture and theory.
What I have learned from the experience of being in numerous street altercations, most on duty and a few off duty, is that most of the traditional martial arts techniques do not work in a real street fight. In addition to my own encounters, I get a first hand look at what can happen to someone on any given day by interviewing victims of various assaults, ranging from sexual attacks and fist fights to injuries resulting from being attacked by just about any type of weapon. In just a few years on the force, I have seen everything from bruises and scratches to broken bones, deep lacerations and puncture wounds, to a young man die in front of my eyes from a gunshot wound to the head. The person that shot him in the head was sitting next to him with approximately 4-6 gunshot wounds to the chest. Both subjects were able to shoot each other with one gun as they struggled for control of the weapon. When I started comparing my past training to what really happens on the street I realized there was a severe lack of real self- defense training.
There is much more to self-defense training then just punching and kicking. There are so many martial arts that train to one extreme or the other. Some arts focus too much on striking, some arts are too concerned with grappling, and some arts spend far too much time training with weapons that are only found in a martial arts school. There are some arts that offer cross training along with their traditional training but the problem with that is the students are still just training in two different arts that focus on one extreme aspect or another. The fact of the matter is that we live in a dangerous world full of violent attacks that are started and finished in seconds. This is the world that we live in. Once you accept that you can start preparing yourself to survive in it.
After introspection on my past training and the comparative research that I was able to conduct while on duty, I came to the conclusion that I needed to develop a system that focused on “blending the extremes.” I have sought to develop a system of self-defense that focuses on teaching specific skills that apply to children, teens, and adults. The system was designed to create an individual training program that focuses on the needs of three separate student types and two different gender types (male & female). Unlike most other martial arts, this system does not teach everyone the same. The program for children is different than that of teens and adults, and the program for women is different than that of men. The goal of this system is give the students the most balanced approach to self-defense possible by blending and adapting the best elements from other martial arts system’s, along with an understanding of the cold, hard reality of the dangers that lurk around every corner of our society. I discarded the elements of those system’s that I felt resulted in a lot of wasted time training on things that are not practical for any of the three aforementioned groups of students. Traditional techniques were modified and changed to apply to our modern society. Techniques and teaching theories were also developed to apply specifically to the three different groups because in the real world children face different threats than that of teenagers and adults.
There is also a vast difference in the types of threats that women face as opposed to men. This is not to say that the ending result may not be the same. By this I mean that in our society children, women, and men are all susceptible to encountering physical or sexual assaults, or even death, by the hands of a fellow member of our society. What is different is the initial threat assessment and the circumstances that lead up to the altercation. For example, women are much more likely then men to be physically beaten or killed by a spouse or boyfriend. Children and women are also much more likely to be sexually assaulted or kidnapped as opposed to adult men. Teen and adult men are much more likely to get involved in physical fights with another person over trivial matters.
The result of my training and research is a system that focuses on the individual needs of its students through the teaching of techniques and training methods that allow the student to “blend” together all of their learned material. While the system is balanced it will never be complete because the process of “balance” is never ending. We live in a world that is constantly changing. To quote Bruce Lee, “nothing is so permanent as never to change.” Threats and violence are constantly finding new ways of entering our “civilized” society. Nothing has made that more evident than the tragedy of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 th, 2001. With that said, it is my vow that I will not allow myself or this system to become stagnant. As violence changes and adjusts to find its victims so too must the methods and manner in which we train to avoid becoming a statistic on some national crime reports.
Conrad Woodall, Master Sensei
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