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From Buddhist to boardroom: What we can learn about productivity from a martial arts master

September 2019

Julian Hitch isn’t your normal martial arts Master, he’s also Leon’s Wellness Director. While not claiming to have single-handedly helped to push Leon from 17 to 70 locations in four years, his training certainly hasn’t hurt the company’s stellar growth.

While building better, happier and more cohesive teams, Si-Fu Julian Hitch is about to release his first book with the CEO of Leon titled ‘Winning Not Fighting’. The book focuses on rethinking success and how you can achieve it using Wing Tsun (pronounced ‘Wing Chun’).


Wing Tsun is a southern Chinese martial art that goes back thousands of years (520 CE!), created by the Buddhist nun Ng Mui, who was a master of Shaolin Kung Fu. Wing Tsun is both a form of self-defence which specialises in close-range combat, and a transcendental art which helps you achieve harmony and contentment. The book is a how-to master the practices of Wing Tsun in the world of business and your life.

The basic premise is around three principles; enjoying the present, achieving longevity and being yourself.


Things that are echoed in a lot of psychology and mental health teachings of various disciplines too. Winning is demonstrated in the book, not as besting others, but by personal empowerment helping you to define a life that is successful.

Si-Fu Julian Hitch also isn’t your stereotypical monk that Hollywood throws up whenever a martial arts master is required. For one, when he’s not tending to his own forest where his new Kwoon (training hall) is situated, he trains Baristas, CEOs and Special Forces how to control the space around them. His work with Baristas not only improved the quality of the coffees they served but also significantly decreased the time it took to make the coffee and with 54%-75% less stress (based on lowered heart rate).


The message from Julian for businesses is clear. Less hustle and more flow;

We quite often mistake forcing and fighting for productivity and success. All this does is perpetuate an unhealthy situation. While conflict and challenges may exist in everyday life, it’s how you approach them and see them as an opportunity and a chance to do things in a new way. This gives an unbelievable ability to achieve greater results than if you focused on military-style strategy. Paradoxically, because you are getting into a flow state and not staying in your ego state, you become less wedded to the results but the results happen much better. The more likely you are to focus on results, the less likely you are to achieve them.”


So what are some top tips for future success without fighting? The first is centring your movement:

“We are designed to move, whenever we struggle, the ability to get up and move creates a sense of flow. We get a physical stagnation when we sit down too much. We get so caught up in our head that we can’t function effectively. Wing Tsun uses simple and natural movements to get you to see that. When you start to move, situations, problems and challenges start to move.”

The second tip is about managing your time. Julian believes we misunderstand exactly how busy we actually are in the moment:

“When we don’t realise how stressed and overloaded we are, what happens is we make panic decisions or procrastinate. We create a lot of bad choices and negative-impact events. Wing Tsun helps you gain more time by taking a moment to stop, breathe and move. While it seems to be adding more time, by changing your state, breaking the mental pattern and refreshing, you move forward and gain more on the other end. Decisions should feel effortless. The whole output of Wing Tsun is to get into a flow state without having to force anything.”


Thirdly, really ditch the multitasking:

“We can’t do it. Instead, try and go for ’Simultaneousity’. Wing Tsun teaches you to focus on one thing but allows you to achieve numerous positive outcome from one action or decision. Start making one decision that has maximum effect for minimum effort. By learning to cut through the noise of what we think is important and moving to what is actually important is key to reducing stress and improving productivity. The clearer you can see, the greater your ability to simplify things. Time-saving comes from when you see everything and make the best choice. In essence, you get a hierarchy of, and a maximisation of, effects.”

Julian Hitch’s ‘Winning not Fighting’ is out in November – you can pre-order your copy here and find out more about what Wing-Tsun can do for you at

Paul Armstrong runs HERE/FORTH, an emerging technology advisory, is the author of ‘Disruptive Technologies’ and regularly writes about technology and society for Forbes, Reuters and Cool Hunting. He is also the creator of TBD the conference which attendees described as ‘TED… without the bullsh!t’.