Sifu Sapir Tal, the head of your martial arts academy, is one of the most veteran and distinguished martial arts teachers in Israel. He maintains a traditional approach to teaching, with accordance to the traditions of Southern Mantis Kung Fu. This approach – which does away from the overly commercial or Western type of sports-club attitude – is unique to sifu Sapir Tal and his students. He was born in 1965, and father to four children. Has been practicing the martial arts for over 42 years. As a child he trained under Yona Melnik sensei (Judo 7th dan by the Dai Nippon Butokukai) from 1974 to 1979. Later as a teen, his family moved to the United States, where he practiced Karate and Muay Thai for 3 years. During his last year in the United States, he was exposed to Henry Poo Yee’s unique instruction, but could not get a lot of it since he chose to return to Israel and fulfill his civil obligation to serve in the IDF, which he did as an infantryman, and fought in Lebanon. He swore to return to study under master Henry, which he later did. By the time he finished his military service, he was already an expert on knives (his father had a knife shop), firearms and explosives (having served in a combat engineering division). His experience with real-life fighting on the streets and on the battlefield ingrained in him the belief that he must study an exceedingly effective and practical fighting system, and once he was done with his service he returned to master Henry’s school, in 1986.
Grand-Master Henry Poo Yee (1939 – 2018) was an heir to a rare type of Chinese Kung Fu – Jook Lum (Bamboo Forest) SouthernPraying Mantis. The words ‘southern’ denotes that this is Mantis Kung Fu from Southern China, as opposed to other ‘mantis’ kung fu arts from northern China. This system of Kung Fu goes back centuries, and Henry was among the heirs of the art’s most famous teacher: Grand-Master Lam Sang of New York City’s Chinatown. Henry’s studies under Lam Sang was exceedingly tough and challenging. The instruction was very traditional and bitter. Henry carried forth this high standard in his own teachings, which is why he never had a large school, and few have survived his classes for many years on end. The study included many complex aspects of traditional Chinese martial arts, including the usage of acupuncture points as well as a whole system for treating and healing injuries, external and internal, based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. During his time studying under Henry, Sapir also completed a bachelor’s degree in Criminology. He did that partly in order to better understand the mindset and thinking of criminals and violent people, to become a better martial artist in the process. Following over ten grueling years under master Henry, Sapir was bestowed by him the title and rank of ‘Sifu’ (‘Teacher’ in Cantonese), and was ordered to open a school in Israel on behalf of Henry’s international organization – the CKFA. Sifu Sapir did indeed return to Israel, and in 1996 opened the first Southern Mantis Kung Fu school in his country. Four years later, in the year 2000, sifu Sapir was accepted as an ‘Enter-the-Gate’ student of master Henry. Meaning that he was now not merely a pupil or an instructor, but an acknowledged teacher and member of the kung fu family. Later in 2014, sifu Sapir was recognized, alongside with several of his kung fu brothers, as a formal disciple of master Henry and therefore one of the forebearers of the system for the next generation. All said titles and degrees are documented in official diplomas, images and videos. These days, along with running a big and successful school, sifu Sapir is busy conducting seminars and workshops worldwide. He is also occasionally a member of the teachers’ staff at the famous Wingate Institute.
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Parallel to his instruction of Southern Mantis Kung Fu, sifu Sapir also founded a unique method for self-defense called the ‘Spikey System’. This is not a new martial art, but rather an encompassing set of theory, principles, techniques, strategies and tactics of self-defense, which is taught in specialized courses to women, law-enforcement and military personnel. The women’s courses are 9-sessions long, whilst the law-enforcement and military instruction is custom-tailored to the needs of each organization. The Spikey System has proven itself very effective for two decades now, and is highly sought after. Sifu Sapir has conducted Spikey Seminars in Israel, the United States, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Japan, Serbia and more. You can read more about this unique system on the official website: http://www.spikeyhand.com . In the year 2015, sifu Sapir published a book dedicated to the Spikey System, covering all the theory behind it. The book, called ‘Spikey: Your Edge in Self-Defense’, can be purchased on Amazon.
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