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Martial arts

With great power comes great responsibility: Hong Kong jiu-jitsu black belt trains Chinese police

Viking Wong holds five-day intensive training camp in Hangzhou to teach police how to control physical altercations with minimal force and without inflicting pain

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 December, 2017, 10:41am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 December, 2017, 10:52pm

When you’re a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu named Viking Wong, it’s perhaps easy to be stereotyped as an adrenaline-fuelled musclehead.

But this soft-spoken entrepreneur and graduate of the London College of Fashion sips tea between training sessions at his “Hurt Locker” studio in Tsim Sha Tsui and is prone to philosophising when discussing his company, Jiu-Jitsu Sans Frontieres, an expanding network of gyms across Asia which is now training police in China.

“With great power comes great responsibility, that’s the obvious thing to tell the students,” said Wong, who earned his black belt during an 11-year stay in England.

“The main thing here is to control instead of inflict hurt on the other person, because it’s a choice.”

The opportunity in China presented itself through a connection with a high-ranking police official at one of his gyms in Hangzhou.

He was invited to host a five-day intensive training camp, named Mission: Control, for special forces and prison guards at the district’s police academy earlier this month.

“It was pretty neat,” said the 30-year-old, who also won the 88 kilogram weight class at the ADCC Asian Open in Kazakhstan last weekend.

“They’re learning it from the get go instead of when they’re already in the society working. It’s a good start.

“There were officials from other provinces also interested and looking at the classes. We’re hoping to get this really basic system and spread it out to the whole of China.

“That’s the end goal, get everyone a basic level of understanding, every police force from top to bottom.”

Police brutality is an issue that has polarised society in recent years, especially in the United States where high-profile cases of black men killed by police or dying in police custody have increased racial tensions.

“There are good people and there are bad people,” said Wong. “I don’t think people are violent in nature. We can be here talking about all those scenarios but we cannot judge from an armchair. We weren’t there when it happened.

“Everyone’s got a reason to do something, and we all have our own political views and agenda. I’m not here to do anything about that. I’m here to do good and help everyone to get a deeper understanding of this martial art.

“What I teach them is about protecting yourself, protecting your citizens and trying to get civil servants to provide a better service.

“This sport has done many great things for a whole range of different people. It will definitely do good for law enforcement officers.

“They’re people too. And if they’re insecure of their abilities that’s when uncontrolled scenarios happen, and that’s not good for anyone.

“We do live training every day. Once they know how to grapple and get used to the adrenaline, you’re not as anxious and nervous when it comes to an altercation, you’re much more controlled.”

Wong said the police he taught were quick and willing learners, and it helped they were already in rigorous daily training at the academy.

“It was really good to see their progress, how someone who’s only been going through a short training camp can transform from knowing nothing to being able to handle themselves and restrain the opponent.

“We were mainly focused on how not to hurt the other person but giving them a choice to surrender. The end goal is having minimal force to subdue the other person and put the cuffs on.

“You show much more control and positivity when you can do something and refrain from inflicting damage and escalating the situation.”

Wong – who was the first Chinese male black belt to qualify and compete at the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation world championships this summer and next competes in the European championships in Lisbon, Portugal in January – is keen to create a similar programme for the Hong Kong Police Force.

But he has so far been held back by red tape.

Meet Viking Wong – the jiu-jitsu black belt trying to toughen up the Hong Kong Police Force

“Hong Kong logistically is quite slow,” he said. “I feel like it’s a bit more difficult here, I haven’t been living here for a while so I haven’t got as many connections.

“But also I understand if there was a stranger knocking on your door trying to sell you something, it might not be the best thing. So I understand both ways.

“What I’m trying do is say I’m here, I’m offering this service and they can knock on my door when it’s time.”