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A pioneer of martial arts in Europe has praised the University of Derby Buxton for its unique courses.

Professor Keith R Kernspecht – said the prestige of an English University and the support given to students combined to make a learning experience which couldn’t be found anywhere else in the world.

“It’s amazing,” said Keith, who learned martial arts to protect himself as a riot policeman in 1960s Germany.

The Buxton campus and Sofia University in Bulgaria are the only two universities in Europe which teach martial arts, and the British system of access to learning without restrictive entry qualifications has combined with academic study and hands-on experience to create a world-beating course.

“They do a lot for the students in Buxton,” Added Keith (68), who went on to have a successful academic career in language teaching as well as developing 1,000 martial arts clubs in Germany.

“It can’t be compared to anything else I know. It wouldn’t work in Germany – we’re too conservative!” he added.

Keith, who is chairman of the European WingTsun Organisation, a Chinese martial art he adapted for Europe after learning it in London’s China Town in the 1970s, saw how the University teaches the biomechanics and psychology of the discipline as well as its fighting techniques.

“It’s physical and it’s psychological,” said Keith. “It’s something you learn because it’s a little bit dangerous. You find out a bit about yourself, how to cope with fear and aggression.”

Keith was the first professor in martial arts at Sofia University where he studied under teachers who had learned from Chinese and Korean experts.

Now he is a regular visitor to Buxton: “It’s a university of prestige and Charles Spring who runs it is a real martial artist, as well as an academic.”

Keith founded the European WingTsun Organisation (EWTO) in Kiel (Germany) in 1976. It developed the theory and practice of WingTsun, to act as an umbrella organisation for all European WingTsun students and instructors and to represent WingTsun towards the public.

For more details of courses at Buxton, see