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Wing Chun on the Plane

Airline cabin crews made to learn kung fu

A Hong Kong airline is making all its cabin crew take kung fu lessons to help them to deal with drunk and unruly passengers.

Hong Kong Airlines said all staff had been invited to undergo training in wing chun - a form of kung fu used in close-range combat - but it was only compulsory for cabin crew, the Sunday Morning Post reported.

The airline had around three incidents involving disruptive passengers every week, said Eva Chan, the carrier's deputy general manager of corporate communication.

Two weeks ago a crew member had to put her martial arts training into practice on a flight from Beijing to Hong Kong.

"One of the passengers was sick but he was probably drunk and felt unwell. The crew member attended to him and she realised her fitness was helping her, especially because the guy was quite heavy," Chan told the newspaper.

"Normally, a female cabin crew can't handle a fat guy, especially if he's drunk, but because of the training, she can handle it quite easily."

New recruit Lumpy Tang, 22, said she never imagined kung fu would be part of the job.

"We were surprised in the beginning, but after a few lessons we really liked wing chun," Tang told the Post.

"You cannot predict what will happen on the plane, so wing chun is good because it's so fast," she said. "I feel safer because I can defend myself and I'm really happy to be one of the first cabin crew to learn wing chun in the world."

Wing chun instructor Katherine Cheung said the martial art was ideal for airline crews.

"Wing chun can be used in small, confined spaces so it's suited for an airplane," Cheung said. "It's easy to learn but difficult to master."