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

Expert has made it his mission to improve people’s lives through the Brazilian martial art and is looking to revolutionise the gym scene in the city

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 11:32am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 September, 2017, 9:38pm

If you partake in late night Lan Kwai Fong drinking sessions, you may have seen a drunk tourist or two being inelegantly reprimanded by bumbling swathes of Hong Kong police. But one man is hoping to change the way the Hong Kong Police Force deals with physical conflicts.

Hong Kong’s Viking Wong, who became the first Chinese male black belt to qualify and compete at the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world championships earlier this summer, has held discussions with a police commissioner about implementing a training programme for officers.

“He recognised the importance of this martial art,” said Wong. “He wants to slowly bring it into the police force and realise the potential of it.

“He gave us some insight into how timid and backwards police are here. They’re afraid of change.

“You’ve had news coverage of police being unable to handle drunk people in the streets. That’s a shame. It shouldn’t happen.

“There are 20 guys trying to subdue one guy. Your job is to protect and serve. That’s not happening right now.”

Last month, police officers pulled a gun and used pepper spray to subdue an asylum seeker who was suspected of attacking a Pakistani man with a meat cleaver in Yau Ma Tei.

“If the police can subdue and de-escalate the situation without hurting anyone, it’s better for everyone. It’s the ultimate way to defend yourself in a passive way,” continued Wong.

“It’s much better for the police force and military people when you don’t have to necessarily cause harm to the other person.

“It doesn’t matter who the person is or how big, what the situation is. If I twist your arm this way, in this manner, it’s going to break. It’s science. It’s not make-believe.

“Every Tom, Dick and Jane that can afford to pay a gym membership right now is learning this stuff. And the police are not. That doesn’t make any sense.”

Wong is also in discussions with the Philippines police force and has taught seminars to anti-riot police and special forces in China.

“Police in China are not like here. If they want to do something they’re going to do it and there’s nothing you can do to stop it,” said Wong. “They’re effective. They go for it. They’re hard.

“They were actually willing to try it. When I taught them, they stepped in and they tried to get out of the hold or they tried to not let me subdue them.

“Right now in Hong Kong, the police are not even trying. That’s the difference. Police here are reluctant to hit anyone because they have to write a report. It’s all about paperwork.”

Hong Kong police are still being taught the “pressure points” system to deal with physical conflicts, which focuses on hitting specific parts of the body to cause significant pain.

“Pressure points is super outdated. With jiu-jitsu, you’re in a real-life situation where your opponent is going at you 100 per cent,” said Wong. “The adrenaline rush, the anxiety, it all kicks in.

“When you’re doing that daily, when something does happen, you’ve been there before. There’s no panicking. Nothing will surprise you, it’s just reaction.

“But when you look at videos of Hong Kong police handling these situations, they’re not prepared for it. Their hands are shaking. They don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Wong discovered jiu-jitsu while studying at the London College of Fashion and stayed in England for 12 years while earning his black belt.

But he returned to his homeland last year to improve people’s lives through health and fitness and now has a worldwide network of 20 gyms.

“It’s a healthy self-defence martial art more than anything else,” said Wong. “There’s no trust element in other martial arts or boxing and wrestling.

“When your opponent catches you, you tap. That in itself is a very significant gesture. You’re giving him the ultimate trust. That forms a formidable bond between practitioners.

“Grinding day-in, day-out doing something intricate and tough, putting each other in the worst possible scenario to try to give up, your spirit becomes better. You survived.

“That makes it unique. Everyone can benefit from it.”

The entrepreneurial Wong is exploring several other business opportunities.

On weekday mornings, the cream of Hong Kong’s jiu-jitsu talent – from bankers to students and professional athletes – gather for special invite-only training sessions to spar on the mats at his design studio, nicknamed “The Hurt Locker”, in Tsim Sha Tsui.

It is all part of his plan to create a new way for the Hong Kong gym scene to operate, following an increasing number of closures including the high-profile Epic MMA Club.

Hong Kong’s Epic MMA Club shuts down leaving members in shock after liquidators called in

“I’m trying to develop a social network for all the gyms who are willing to join together,” he said. “Basically try and use that as a community to advertise and organise different gyms and camps.

“I go visit gyms to teach them. I set up an agency within that, the more commercial gyms, offering BJJ lessons.

“Then they don’t have the pressure of hiring full-time instructors from somewhere else and paying for their visas. They can just approach our agency and hire out our instructors.”

Wong is also attempting to establish an official Hong Kong jiu-jitsu association but said the government is less willing to embrace the sport without Olympic recognition.

Jiu-jitsu has been accepted into the Asian Games, however, and Wong wants to send a Hong Kong team to Indonesia next year where he is confident they can medal.

“When you talk about jiu-jitsu or MMA, all the government think about is being in the cage and there’s a negative image to it, which it shouldn’t be. I’m trying to repackage it so it’s more positive.”

Part of that plan is to implement a training programme in Hong Kong schools – Wong has just finalised a deal with the Harrow International School in Tuen Mun.

“I believe it’s a very good programme for developing kids,” he said. “They need an outlet, can learn something useful, then the bullying won’t happen.

“For health purposes it would be tremendous progress for Hong Kong. Through that then maybe we’ll have more opportunities for funding and sponsors to make the national team a professional sport.

“I’m setting a goal of five to seven years. I should be able to make some significant progress. I’ve only been back a year, and I’ve made tremendous strides already.”