Help choosing the right form of Kung Fu?

Discussion in 'Chinese Martial Arts - General' started by TheoReo, May 9, 2020.

  1. TheoReo

    TheoReo White Belt

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    Hi, everyone. Looking for some advice from people more knowledgeable than myself.

    I have no martial arts or physical combat experience. Always been fairly cerebral, not physical at all. I've always been pretty skinny, and body is still pretty flexible. I'm in my late thirties.

    I've decided I specifically want to take up martial arts. After some time considering my options, I've decided I'm specifically interested in some form of Kung Fu, mainly to get some exposure to it, as I have some interest in learning more about Qi Gong philosophy later on down the line, and am possibly interested in taking up Praying Mantis in the future. However, I don't think Praying Mantis is appropriate for me to start with, as my shorter-term goals are to become fairly adept (relative to the general population) at physical self defense within a few years. Praying Mantis is something I might want to dedicate the longer amount of time required to later on in life, but for my more immediate goals, I am interested in gaining some decent self defense skills, and I understand many students of Praying Mantis are only intermediate even after six years of training.

    I've thought about Iron Body Shaolin, but I read about how the training regimen really involves toughening up your body a lot, first with slapping your body daily, then moving onto bags filled with beans, then gravel, and so on. I feel this might be too much to start with, given that I've never been very physical. I'm interested in getting there, but feel this might be too intense for me to start off with. I also have read before that one of the advantages in martial arts is an ability to move the body very quickly, which I can still do, given how skinny I am, but worry that something like Iron Body could actually cause me to lose that advantage. I do think choosing the right martial art for both my body and mind is important, but it is still important to me to have some decent (relative to most people) self defense skills within a few years.

    Was hoping to get some advice here about where a good place to start might be, and which form of Kung Fu might make the most sense for me. Any thoughts are appreciated.
     
  2. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    So the first question is what styles of kung fu are around you? Anything beyond that will be moot if you decide on praying mantis for instance, but then don't see anywhere nearby that teaches it.

    Second is why do you want to become adept in a few years? There's no reason that you shouldn't be adept in self-defense after a few years, particularly if you're comparing yourself to the general population. Praying mantis students being intermediate after six years would be compared to people who have trained for their lives, not compared to the general public.

    As for iron body or any conditioning thing, if you have a good teacher it won't be too much to start off with, because the teacher should know how to progress you appropriately. I also don't see how conditioning would cause you to lose speed.

    Ultimately if there's a praying mantis school near you, and that's really what you're interested in, I say go for it. Barring any specific reason for your short term goal like you're about to enter a boxing tournament. You might find when you get there that you don't like the style or the teacher, and if that's the case, that's fine, try somewhere else. Obviously after the pandemic.
     
  3. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    @TheoReo, in what area do you live? You need to look at what is available to you.
     
  4. TheoReo

    TheoReo White Belt

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    Thanks for the replies!

    I'm in the Boston area, but also have the option of moving to New York, so I imagine I'd have access to a lot of different schools. I was looking at this school THE AMERICAN JIANN SHYONG KUNG FU CENTER because the reviews say it's run by a traditional master who teaches in the same way he was taught. I do see Praying Mantis listed in what they teach, as well as Shaolin Kung Fu.

    I also see a few schools that teach Shaolin and mention conditioning, although they don't specifically mention Iron Body.

    I'm not joining a tournament or anything like that in a few years, but it's just in line with the goals I have for myself, and the fact that I haven't been physical for most of my life, that I'd like to be adept at self defense within a few years. I also anticipate having the freedom to travel more at that time, and would like to have some basic combat skills by then, as I do plan to travel to some more dangerous parts of the world. Nothing extreme, but I'd like to have some decent combat skills just to be safe. I'm thinking to maybe take a year or more to travel, so even though I would plan to get back to it, I would be interrupting any martial arts studies indefinitely at that time.

    It also seems to me that starting out with something like Iron Body and then moving onto the internal arts is more in line with what I've heard of how traditional masters do it. The part about potentially losing speed is what I've heard from Longfei Yang say when he described first taking up Praying Mantis. He said he realized that his extra muscle mass was actually causing his moves to be slower.
     
  5. yak sao

    yak sao Senior Master

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    Look up Jim Rosalondo. He's a wing Chun teacher in the Boston area and is definitely someone worth looking into.
     
  6. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Don't pick a martial art that suits your physicality or nature if you want to change that with martial arts.

    And Sanda.
     
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  7. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Yes like sprinters with their non muscular legs.

    (He says sarcastically)

    20200511_062046.jpg
     
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  8. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    Welcome to Martial Talk, Theo. Hope you enjoy it.

    When this pandemic eventually ends, hopefully there will still be a lot for you to choose from In Boston and Cambridge.
     
  9. TheoReo

    TheoReo White Belt

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    I guess I'm trying to find something that will work with with my strengths, and avoid going down a path that's unrealistic. I do want to gain something from martial arts. I don't need to be body builder sized, but I do think having an iron-hard body makes sense for combat, from a practical standpoint.

    On the topic of working out, does it make sense to buff up at the gym before starting martial arts? I ask because I did take a Judo class for a few weeks several years back, and wasn't strong enough to lift people to do the throws, so thinking maybe getting stronger first might make sense.
     
  10. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I've had a five year old throw me before (admittedly it was while teaching her, but she still threw me without assistance). Unless you're weaker than a five year old, that wasn't the issue.

    That said, obviously strength/flexibility/cardio will help. You don't need to start it befoee you go to the gym, but it's probably a good idea to use this pandemic to get yourself in shape, until you can get to a class. The issue is people who end up delaying forever because they feel they're not fit.
     
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  11. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That whole extra muscle slowing you down is a myth. It might make you less flexible, but it wouldn't actually slow you down-if anything it'll speed you up. What might have happened is learning a new art in general will slow you down for a bit because it's a new way of muscle movement and power generation a lot of the time.
     
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  12. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    From what I can tell (the website could use some cleaning up and clarifications) the school you linked teaches northern praying mantis. Nothing wrong or right about that, but its different than southern praying mantis, just an fyi for your research.
     
  13. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    There is no path that is unrealistic in the way you think.

    If you have not engaged in an activity in 30 years and then you start you will be physically and mentally unsuited to that task.

    You will suck at it and it will be frustrating.

    If you then engage in that task you will become better suited. And you will become better at it.

    If you choose a martial art that (let's cut to the chase here) is easy and does not challenge you. You will develop in that martial arts faster. But you won't develop as a person.

    And most importantly no matter what they tell you if you use it for self defense it will not work very well.
     
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  14. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    your not going to end up '' body builder '' size with out years of effort and or steriods, not going to happen this side of 2030. theres a world full of failed body builders to support that. getting your muscles to grow at all outside of your 20s is a real challenge

    its a good idea to start body conditioning work, but you dont need to go anywhere near a gym, unless you really want to, start off doing the basics, push ups, sit ups pull ups and see where that takes you, if you do that first or in unison with a martial arts is up to you, personally id do them together
     
  15. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    That's a really interesting point... makes sense. And yeah even to not choose a martial art based on what others say you're more suited towards BECAUSE of your body type. To not put that limitation on yourself. If you're truly interested in training a martial art go for it basically. (Eg karate for 'small guys', TKD for long limbed quick guys)

    Welcome to MT! Just on this I wouldn't think so. I think it could very well complement it, but I see no need in doing anything beforehand to get ready for it. At what objective point will you really be ready, do you know what I mean?

    I reckon get amongst it, improve as you go, and have fun!
     
  16. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    that rather depends how far you push it, if you want to be proficient at a ma such as you can use it to robustly defend yourself, then that has enough challenges with out also fighting nature, if your doing it as a past time with no actual end goal then sure

    i gave up tkd for that very reason, well rather coz my knee high, high kicks were a source of mockery, to the more limber and there wasn't enough decades left in my life to get head high, so why waste time on something you will never excel at ? go and do something were nature has given you a fighting chance
     
  17. John Codero

    John Codero White Belt

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    There are many different styles of Kung Fu many of them have a lot of forms. If you do not like to many forms you can look for Wing Chun Kungfu because it is effective and has not much forms. I myself practise Ng Ying Kungfu with sifu Patrick van Steen. That art has a few forms and is merely Selfdefense partner techniques orientated.

    Shaolin Kung Fu and Wushu are filled with much forms and also that can be a great thing to do. CMA Chinese martial arts comes in so many.different styles and forms.

    I have seen some southern Mantis styles which can be learned fairly easy. I have seen some other Southern and Nothern mantis styles which are highly complex.

    What is you goal? Selfdefense? Sports? Developing internally?
     
  18. TheoReo

    TheoReo White Belt

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    Goal is mainly to become proficient at self defense within a few years, secondarily to develop more strength and endurance and to also learn about Qi Gong.
     
  19. EdwardA

    EdwardA Green Belt

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    I doesn't sound to me you're only interested in self-defense, but more. Get your feet wet and then hone in on the details.

    Consider Kenpo too. Greatly derived from the animal systems. I've spared with their students. They a very well rounded set of techniques.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
  20. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    For me I picked a Kung Fu system that was practical. I didn't want try to learn how to defend myself through complicated movements. I didn't want to take something that would require me to do a bunch of stuff before I could actually do the 1 thing I wanted to do, which was punch a person in their jaw.

    Your biggest challenge will probably be how the school trains. Kung Fu schools only train for Forms competition and they do very little sparring. Other schools train for actual use and will often train that way. Even if a school is good. It won't help you if they don't do sparring. I recommend schools that spar against other martial arts schools. If the school doesn't do this, then you may need to partner up other people who don't train the same martial art that you do.

    Martial Art System A vs Martial Art System A is a scenario that you are not likely to every see in an actual self defense situation. In my opinion it's better to learn how to fight against people outside of the system I train.123
     

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