Kung fu training proves a big hit with cabin crew members

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 April, 2011, 12:00am


If you are prone to air rage, watch out.

Hong Kong Airlines is asking all new cabin crew members to channel their inner Bruce Lee by undergoing wing chun training, a form of kung fu characterised by short, sharp movements.

One new crew member, 22-year-old Lumpy Tang, said she never imagined martial arts training would be part of her job.

'We were surprised in the beginning, but after a few lessons we really liked wing chun,' Tang said.

Tang has yet to start work as she is still undergoing training, but she values her new skills.

'You cannot predict what will happen on the plane, so wing chun is good because it's so fast,' she said. 'I feel safer because I can defend myself and I'm really happy to be one of the first cabin crew to learn wing chun in the world.'

Eva Chan, the airline's deputy general manager of corporate communication, said all staff had been invited to enrol in the training but it was only compulsory for cabin crew.

On average, the airline has about three incidents with disruptive passengers every week, Chan said.

Just a fortnight ago, a crew member had to use her martial arts training while on a flight from Beijing to Hong Kong.

'One of the passengers was sick but he was probably drunk and felt unwell. The crew member attended to him and she realised her fitness was helping her especially because the guy was quite heavy.

'Normally, a female cabin crew can't handle a fat guy, especially if he's drunk, but because of the training, she can handle it quite easily.'

Katherine Cheung from the Hong Kong Wing Chun Union in Wan Chai was one of the instructors who taught the 23 cabin crew recently.

'Wing chun can be used in small, confined spaces so it's suited for an airplane,' Cheung said. 'It's easy to learn but difficult to master.'

The idea to incorporate martial arts training came during a company function last year when senior managers watched a wing chun demonstration and a dance performance by cabin crew.

A tailor-made course was then developed for the airline.

A spokesman for Cathay Pacific Airways said self-defence was part of the training for cabin crew. 'This is just part of the routine training as they may need to restrain unruly passengers,' he said.