Should I stick with my Kung Fu school?

flowOfTheCentury

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Hi All,

Ive been taking Kung Fu for about about 8 months now. Ive loved my class until recently, when I suddenly started having doubts about it. Chief among them are:

1) I feel like Im not learning how to deliver powerful strikes: our instructor is not a fan of 'overpowering' your opponent, but using leverage, still, I sometimes feel like at least hitting a bag or something.

2) A lot of what we're learning has questionable usefulness: a lot of our time is spent learning to fight with weapons, which is cool, but I cant help asking myself, 'when am I ever going to need to fight with a sword?'

3) Learning so much that I cant remember it all/ dont get to apply it: There is so much to learn in our style, that Im constantly getting new info, without having fully absorbed the old info. The problem is though that the class is not designed to go into great depths about REALLY learning a certain move, because theres always the next thing to learn.

4) I have doubts about how prepared I would actually be for a real street encounter. Its not that the content is not there, its just that its not taught 'in your face' enough for me to remember it in a panic situation i think.

So my questions for you all are:

1) For those that have studied/ are studying kung fu, did you ever reach a point where you felt VERY confident about your ability to defend yourself in a fight?

2) Am I just going through typical newbie growing pains or are these signs that this style not right for me and I should think about switching schools?

Thanks in advance.
 

OnlyAnEgg

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Respectfully, my only question is this:
In 8 months, have you learned so much as to question the style you're studying or do you just have questions?
 
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flowOfTheCentury

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Im not so much questioning the content of the style as the method in which its being taught.

I was curious to see if those who have studied kung fu would say 'thats fairly typical as kung fu is a very complex system' or 'thats an ineffective way of teaching the style and youre wasting your time'

I feel like there are a lot of great techniques to learn at my school, but we also spend a lot of time on techniques Im not interested in, and not enough time focusing enough on either to really let them sink in.

I feel like Im watching a great movie on fast forward.
 

clfsean

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Hi All,

Ive been taking Kung Fu for about about 8 months now. Ive loved my class until recently, when I suddenly started having doubts about it. Chief among them are:

8 Months... look at the length of time that isn't... but you're justified in asking questions to be sure.

1) I feel like Im not learning how to deliver powerful strikes: our instructor is not a fan of 'overpowering' your opponent, but using leverage, still, I sometimes feel like at least hitting a bag or something.

There should be some kind of contact. If there's not, there's a question for certain. How do you practice "leveraging" your opponent/partner without making contact? Then again... 8 months...

Do you see senior students making any contact?

2) A lot of what we're learning has questionable usefulness: a lot of our time is spent learning to fight with weapons, which is cool, but I cant help asking myself, 'when am I ever going to need to fight with a sword?'

Weapons are integral to TCMA. Part & parcel. However 8 months is kinda soon for a newb for weapons.

3) Learning so much that I cant remember it all/ dont get to apply it: There is so much to learn in our style, that Im constantly getting new info, without having fully absorbed the old info. The problem is though that the class is not designed to go into great depths about REALLY learning a certain move, because theres always the next thing to learn.

**BUZZ** If you haven't gotten the basics because there's constant movement forward... either 2 things... 1) you're not practicing hard enough, or 2) it's not being taught properly.

I'm not trying to sound insulting, so I'm going with "I DON'T KNOW" for your class, but those are the two main indicators I've experienced & will leave you to place yourself.

4) I have doubts about how prepared I would actually be for a real street encounter. Its not that the content is not there, its just that its not taught 'in your face' enough for me to remember it in a panic situation i think.

See above...

So my questions for you all are:

1) For those that have studied/ are studying kung fu, did you ever reach a point where you felt VERY confident about your ability to defend yourself in a fight?

Yep... only after basics were absorbed, drilled, practiced, felt & used. Like anything...

2) Am I just going through typical newbie growing pains or are these signs that this style not right for me and I should think about switching schools?

Yes.... but not without cause or grounds.
 
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flowOfTheCentury

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There are GREAT variations between styles

Here is my usual link to show you just a bit of what you are saying when you say "Kung Fu"... there is no typical for Kung Fu

Im sorry, Its an 8-animal Shaolin style. For each level we learn a couple forms, a couple weapons, and several self defense moves.

I practice a lot and my Sifu complements me on how well Im doing, but I'll learn a self defense only to never see it again (I know 8 months isnt that long).

More than anything, I just really want to pressure test what Im learning, but its not happening. Its like I know the moves (ie the sequence of movements), but I dont feel like I KNOW the moves. And I understand that only comes with time and practice, but at my school I havent seen any activities that would pressure test the moves to drill them into me, and hence I dont feel confident that I could apply these moves in an emergency. And its that confidence that I want most.

My biggest fear is that I get several years down the line with this style and still feel the same.

But again, Im inexperienced, so thats why im asking all of you for opinions. I just want to make sure that Im being provided the tools I need to succeed.
 

Xue Sheng

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8 months is not that long, most CMA takes time, and somes styles take longer than others

However if you are looking for pressure testing and quicker learning of MA applications you may want to look to something Sanshou.
 

jks9199

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Discuss your concerns with your instructor. It may be that you're not hitting pads or bags yet because you still aren't getting proper body alignment and will get hurt, for example.

Especially discuss feeling overwhelmed; it's often tempting for a teacher with a wealth of knowledge to try to share too much, and one person I know has compared training sessions like that to drinking from a fire hose. The thing about that sort of training is that it's great if you have time to work on the material and figure it out & develop it... but it's no good if you don't get to work it in. Imagine if someone set you down on day 1 of a college course, and gave you all 40 or so hours of instruction... non-stop!
 

geezer

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I've been taking Kung Fu for about about 8 months now. Ive loved my class until recently, when I suddenly started having doubts about it...

Fair questions all. The classic response is that you haven't been training long enough to really be able to answer these questions yet. On the other hand I think that after eight months of serious training, you deserve answers to these questions. Back in the 70's, I trained at a Shaolin Kung -Fu school for about a year and a half and came up against the very same questions. I later found out that I was not alone. Many of these questions are part of a debate about styles and training methods that has gone on in the martial arts, including traditional Chinese martial arts, for centuries.

1) I feel like I'm not learning how to deliver powerful strikes: our instructor is not a fan of 'overpowering' your opponent, but using leverage, still, I sometimes feel like at least hitting a bag or something.

Getting good power in your strikes is absolutely essential and is not the same as "overpowering your opponent" with brute force. That said, many of the "softer" systems train you to develope a very relaxed type of power that is not at all rigid and tense. Developing this kind of energy takes a good deal of patience and time. Rushing the process and trying "too hard" to get a lot of power in a hurry can definitely be counterproductive. Still, if you don't see evidence of good power generation demonstrated by the instructor and senior students or si-hings, I'd say that is a big red flag!

2) A lot of what we're learning has questionable usefulness: a lot of our time is spent learning to fight with weapons, which is cool, but I cant help asking myself, 'when am I ever going to need to fight with a sword?'

Weapons training can be very useful or just a pretty dance depending on how it's done. If it is taught as a means of helping you build good body movement, form, focus, power, and so forth... that's useful in developing all your martial skills. If you are taught how to translate your techniques from classical martial arts weapons to improvised weapons and empty hands... well, that's very useful too. On the other hand if it's taught primarily as an art form, then the most you'll get is some conditioning, flexibility, and coordination training. Not bad, but not the most direct path to fighting skiills.

3) Learning so much that I can't remember it all/ dont get to apply it: There is so much to learn in our style, that Im constantly getting new info, without having fully absorbed the old info. The problem is though that the class is not designed to go into great depths about REALLY learning a certain move, because theres always the next thing to learn.

This is a huge problem with some martial arts systems, especially some classical kung-fu systems, depending on your personal learning style. I've met people with incredible ability to memorize forms and movements. I don't have that ability. I prefer to learn basic concepts and movements really well, then develop more and more ways to apply them. Realizing this about myself was a big part of my decision to switch styles.

4) I have doubts about how prepared I would actually be for a real street encounter. Its not that the content is not there, its just that its not taught 'in your face' enough for me to remember it in a panic situation i think.

If you are being taught a lot of elaborate sequences whose applications you don't understand, or can't apply under stress, then this is a very good question indeed. Even in the little YMCA class I teach just twice a week, I try to make sure that at the end of a couple of months, students have essential techniques that can be applied effectively under stress. But then that's part of what I value. Every school is different.

So my questions for you all are:

1) For those that have studied/ are studying kung fu, did you ever reach a point where you felt VERY confident about your ability to defend yourself in a fight?

Heck yes! But I switched from an elaborate, complicated system to a very practical branch of Wing Chun that emphasizes this. For weapons, I train a pragmatic branch of Escrima, and everything we do is designed to translate to a variety of improvised weapons, and empty-handed applications as well. So again, practicality is part of the philosophy.

2) Am I just going through typical newbie growing pains or are these signs that this style not right for me and I should think about switching schools?

Again, thes are very important questions. Talk to your instructor, think about what you are learning, look at other schools if you want to... eventually, you will have to make up your own mind. There are so many kinds or training out there. None are worth a damn if you don't stick with them, but on the other hand, you don't want to stick with something that doesn't work for you for years and years either. Good luck in your search.
 

Xue Sheng

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Im sorry, Its an 8-animal Shaolin style. For each level we learn a couple forms, a couple weapons, and several self defense moves.

I practice a lot and my Sifu complements me on how well Im doing, but I'll learn a self defense only to never see it again (I know 8 months isnt that long).

More than anything, I just really want to pressure test what Im learning, but its not happening. Its like I know the moves (ie the sequence of movements), but I dont feel like I KNOW the moves. And I understand that only comes with time and practice, but at my school I havent seen any activities that would pressure test the moves to drill them into me, and hence I dont feel confident that I could apply these moves in an emergency. And its that confidence that I want most.

My biggest fear is that I get several years down the line with this style and still feel the same.

But again, Im inexperienced, so thats why im asking all of you for opinions. I just want to make sure that Im being provided the tools I need to succeed.

Question: After you are shown all this do you train it outside of class or do you only train in class?
 

yak sao

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You have valid questions.

As already stated, 8 months is a short time. Look at who's ahead of you. Not just the "black belts", but look at the brown belts. By that level they should be pretty tough and able to generate good power and show a defimte fighting ability.

I feel your pain. I studied a shaolin kung fu style for 14 years and still sometimes questioned my overall fighting ability. Sure I looked good doing forms, could generate power and spar, but I felt something was missing.That's when I decided to switch to another kung fu style that was known as a fighting style. That was 15 years ago...best thing I could have done.
 
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flowOfTheCentury

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Question: After you are shown all this do you train it outside of class or do you only train in class?

Yes, I practice all the time at home. Weapons and forms. I practice the self defense moves too, but its just with air. I will say that I can do the forms definitely above average, this is the one thing my Sifu and fellow students say I do very well, and I would attribute that to home practice.

Getting good power in your strikes is absolutely essential and is not the same as "overpowering your opponent" with brute force. That said, many of the "softer" systems train you to develope a very relaxed type of power that is not at all rigid and tense. Developing this kind of energy takes a good deal of patience and time. Rushing the process and trying "too hard" to get a lot of power in a hurry can definitely be counterproductive. Still, if you don't see evidence of good power generation demonstrated by the instructor and senior students or si-hings, I'd say that is a big red flag!

See, this is one of my concerns then. There are no pads/punching bags in our class not even hanging on the wall. We do have a Wing Chun dummy, but thats it. In my eight months in class, we've never done a punching drill, we've done some kicking drills, but that was more for balance and only in the air. Also, Ive never seen my Sifu instruct our senior students on punching either. The most physical we get is a sparring session once a week. I will say that it does get pretty physical and tiring, but still, our Sifu doesnt get nearly as involved in sparring as he does in regular class. Hes even said that he doesnt really like sparring/ like to spar, even though when Ive seen him spar, he looks fairly competent.

I think it all comes from our Sifu being a more peaceful passive person, which theres nothing wrong with, its just that I wish he would put a little more mustard on his lessons.
 
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flowOfTheCentury

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As already stated, 8 months is a short time. Look at who's ahead of you. Not just the "black belts", but look at the brown belts. By that level they should be pretty tough and able to generate good power and show a defimte fighting ability.

And thats another thing too, while our class is fairly small, the impression I get from our advanced/intermediate students is just 'meh'. They honestly seem just like me only theyve memorized more forms than me.

When I spar with the advanced students, (and Im not trying to be egotistical here) I feel that theyre only marginally better than me. I never feel like theyre dangerous or holding much back on me either. Obviously theyre better, but not brown-belt-better. There are students who are better, but I honestly feel that its more because of their natural athleticism, than combat skills theyve picked up in class.
 

wushuguy

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traditionally in cma i think hitting a wall bag or punching bag, etc isn't needed to train for stronger hitting. there are some cma that have it, but many just work with what they have, often times it's no gear. take for example, some internal martial arts practitioners, many do not use a wall bag or hanging bag for training, yet they can hit quite strong. same with shaolin i believe. there are other ways of strengthening your body and increasing your hitting power.

also, knowing that you're doing shaolin, it will have weapons, and from what i've seen, lots of emphasis on forms. if it's not doing good for you, you can always supplement training on your own, or find a different martial art that is more in line with what you are looking for. that said, there's no fast martial art, they will all take time to get good at. some seem to be practical faster, such as wing chun which can be seen as practical in a short time, but to get really good at it, still takes years of practice.
 
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flowOfTheCentury

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Does it have a name?

It does, but I dont want to write it here, because its his own name for the style, and googling it only returns our school. So for that I dont want to associate a quasi-complaint thread with the school name in case it ever shows up on a search result.

I can give you details about the style though if you want.
 

wushuguy

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And thats another thing too, while our class is fairly small, the impression I get from our advanced/intermediate students is just 'meh'. They honestly seem just like me only theyve memorized more forms than me.

When I spar with the advanced students, (and Im not trying to be egotistical here) I feel that theyre only marginally better than me. I never feel like theyre dangerous or holding much back on me either. Obviously theyre better, but not brown-belt-better. There are students who are better, but I honestly feel that its more because of their natural athleticism, than combat skills theyve picked up in class.


I've had similar experience before, when i was taking some kung fu classes on the east coast. the students even didn't think their sifu knew the principles or meanings behind certain techniques... and with a little bit of effort, it was possible to trap them up and have advantageous positions, but that is because the focus of most of them was not learning to fight, but they just liked doing kung fu. not all were like that though, but most were. In that situation, i only stayed as long as i did because the sifu could explain things to me clearly and helped my understanding a lot, but the sifu was usually not teaching, the highest ranking student usually taught.
 

mook jong man

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Hi All,

Ive been taking Kung Fu for about about 8 months now. Ive loved my class until recently, when I suddenly started having doubts about it. Chief among them are:

1) I feel like Im not learning how to deliver powerful strikes: our instructor is not a fan of 'overpowering' your opponent, but using leverage, still, I sometimes feel like at least hitting a bag or something.

2) A lot of what we're learning has questionable usefulness: a lot of our time is spent learning to fight with weapons, which is cool, but I cant help asking myself, 'when am I ever going to need to fight with a sword?'

3) Learning so much that I cant remember it all/ dont get to apply it: There is so much to learn in our style, that Im constantly getting new info, without having fully absorbed the old info. The problem is though that the class is not designed to go into great depths about REALLY learning a certain move, because theres always the next thing to learn.

4) I have doubts about how prepared I would actually be for a real street encounter. Its not that the content is not there, its just that its not taught 'in your face' enough for me to remember it in a panic situation i think.

So my questions for you all are:

1) For those that have studied/ are studying kung fu, did you ever reach a point where you felt VERY confident about your ability to defend yourself in a fight?

2) Am I just going through typical newbie growing pains or are these signs that this style not right for me and I should think about switching schools?

Thanks in advance.

I reckon you should probably leave , its obvious that the place is not meeting your needs .

After 8 months you should at least have a bit of confidence that you would be effective in a street situation.

Some styles just have way too many techniques and too many forms , its questionable as to whether you would be able to respond by reflex if you have endless repetitions of abstract technique combinations and forms running around in your head.

Or if you feel that you really must train there then just take a few of the moves that you feel would be most applicable to self defence on the street and practice the hell out of them.

Grab a friend , get some focus mitts , a kick shield , and do some power training and sparring outside of school hours.
 

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Do you have friends or family that study a different martial art? Maybe they can demonstrate some self defense techniques.

Ever thought of visiting other schools? See their self defense techniques.

About punching air. This may not give you the feed back you are looking for. If you punch bare knuckle on a punching bag (medium strength, do not go full power) you will notice marks on your knuckles. This will give you an idea if you are punching correctly for your style. Some schools use the first two knuckles, others use the middle two knuckles. I personally prefer a relaxed open hand.

How do you spar? Do you spar with gear or no gear? Do you spar for points or go two minute rounds? Full contact? If you never been hit you might be in for a surprise.

If by chance you live in the Los Angeles area send me a PM and we can do some training.
 

Phoenix44

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I'll give you my 2 cents, for whatever it's worth.

1. I agree with those that say that 8 months is probably too early to develop any real confidence in a street defense situation, especially if you have no prior fighting experience.

2. I agree that you should look at the upper ranks, people who've been training steadily for 4-5 years. If they look competent, and you love the art, then stick around. If they look lame, leave.

3. Bear in mind that some very effective martial arts don't really focus on practicing specific "powerful strikes." Power and efficacy come from many places: speed, timing, leverage, balance, awareness. I'm not familiar with the philosophy of your specific art, but bagua and tai chi, for example, are very effective, even powerful, but you don't specifically practice power moves.

4. If you personally are interested primarily in power or self-defense, you might consider a different art, krav maga or some kind of karate.

Good luck. I hope you'll let us know what you decide.
 

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