Should I stick with my Kung Fu school?

rune katana

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We all train for different reasons. Some train for self defense, some train for fitness, others train for competition, etc. If you are looking to study more practical self defense methods, perhaps another school or another style is what you need. As others have said, look at others ahead of you in belt rankings, and see what they are working on. You can see the future progression of yourself this way. If you don't like what you see, look around for something else.

I've been studying Kajukenbo for about a year now, so not too much longer than you've been studying at your school. Kaju is all about self defense on the street as well as developing core physical fitness. Check out a Kajukenbo school if you can, you might like it, since it focuses more on self defense and strikes/takedowns yet also has forms. Plus, kung fu is one of the styles of Kajukenbo.

Best of luck!
 

kaizasosei

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Your first schools teach you the most if not some important basics. Special times. I would treasure them even if you move on for example when i took a few classes at temple kungfu as youngster. The main reason for quiting was that it was too expensive. But i felt i learned quite a bit and that it gave me a good idea of what i needed to do alone.

Weapons i see as a great opportinity, but memorizing form after form i find tedious sometimes too. As it was said, everyone will be looking for somewhat different things.


j
 

SensibleManiac

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Where are you located? There might be other more suitable styles for you in your area.

Why don't you go check out some other styles and see if there is something else out there that might be more for you?

It seems where you are at isn't meeting your needs and if you aren't enjoying it, then you will most likely end up quiting so you're better to go.
 
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flowOfTheCentury

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Thanks everyone for your input. Ive decided to check out a few other schools in my area with more of an emphasis on pressure testing the material taught. If I can find what I want somewhere else, I'll make the change. Nothing against Kung Fu though, its a great style, just not what Im looking for right now. I would still like to return to it one day as I think there is a lot of value to what is taught, but I think Im needing a more concise style as a beginner.
 

clfsean

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Thanks everyone for your input. Ive decided to check out a few other schools in my area with more of an emphasis on pressure testing the material taught. If I can find what I want somewhere else, I'll make the change. Nothing against Kung Fu though, its a great style, just not what Im looking for right now. I would still like to return to it one day as I think there is a lot of value to what is taught, but I think Im needing a more concise style as a beginner.

It's understandable, but honestly as a beginner, any martial art is perfectly capable of giving you what you're after, if the instructor is capable of teaching it properly. That's the whole thing right there. Hopefully you can find the teacher that can teach you properly.

Let the pieces fall where they may.
 

Golden Harvest

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Having doubts is not good.

You should have a chat with your teacher and let him know of your interest in the practical self defense aspect of Gung Fu?

If you are not happy with his response, you should look elswhere or even a different martial art style.

Since your desire is to learn how to fight in eight months, I recommend Wing Chun Gung Fu. This style is all about fighting and the science of fighting. You could become an effective fighter within a short time. It's very effective and practical.

Good luck on your decision.

Regards.
 

Kyosanim

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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 do not do Gung Fu, but I do know that every person has their Ideal learning format, and if it all goes to fast for you ask your sifu to work on somethings one on one. It may be his teaching style does not match your learning style, but don't jump the gun. Talk to him first.
 

Mark Jordan

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I suggest discussing your concern with your instructor. You should also give yourself some more time - 8 months is too short, so be patient.

See if you can sit in on some other kung fu classes and compare. If you can speak with the head instructor, try get a feel for their teaching style....
 

ap Oweyn

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Eight months is absolutely not too soon to be feeling like you can throw a punch with authority. The broader question of whether you can handle yourself in a fight is a different matter. But you're well within your rights to be asking this sort of question. Training in a martial art does require some level of trust in your trainers. But don't let that relationship substitute for your common sense.

I think you've got a couple of options here. I can completely relate to that feeling that a class is trying to cover too many topics. The class becomes about conveying information rather than internalizing a method. And that's a problem. The answer, regrettably, isn't as simple as "practice more."

You could find another school or style. Something that addresses fewer things, but trains those things rigorously enough for you to feel that you own them.

Alternatively, if you want to stay where you are, consider how you use your solo practice time. If you believe that the forms and weapon practice are of questionable use to you, then take the practice times that you control and focus in on the other things. You could easily spend a full practice session (or multiple sessions) just grooving a simple transition from punch to round kick, for instance. And it's precisely that sort of practice that's going to make you feel like you own that combination.

There are lots of tiny little variables in terms of timing, angle, footwork, etc. that can improve on even the most fundamental techniques. A person can spend a lifetime perfecting boxing, for instance. And that's, what, five punches, some evasions, and a bit of footwork. But it's not the breadth of technique that makes it effective. It's the mastery of nuance. What sets a Sugar Ray Leonard apart from another boxer? Mastery of those small variations. Not using additional techniques.

It sounds like you're talented enough that you can afford not to devote your personal training time to forms all the time. So use that time to address your own questions. At the very least, doing so will help you clarify the questions you're asking.

There may also be fundamental problems with the teaching here. I don't know. But when you say that, each level, you learn a couple of forms and a couple of weapons, I balk. People spend lifetimes mastering one weapon. Dropping two on you every few months is a recipe for mediocrity. And that doesn't even address the actual need for these weapons.

Like Geezer, I'm an FMA guy. We start with weapons. But that makes more sense to me because of the universality of weapons in FMA. Club, knife, bigger club, bigger knife, flexible weapon, etc. You can get some more specialized weapons in FMA. But very often, the concepts of a given weapon translate pretty readily to the sorts of things you could lay your hands on in a pinch.

In any event, keep your eyes open. Don't just accept that it'll come with time. Or it's just your inability to make it work. Or any of that. Keep asking questions of yourself. Whatever that feeling is, it isn't unjustified. And it isn't to be ignored. Don't make a nuisance of yourself at the school. But know that you have the right to move on if you're not getting what you want from your training experience.


Stuart
 

jks9199

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Alternatively, if you want to stay where you are, consider how you use your solo practice time. If you believe that the forms and weapon practice are of questionable use to you, then take the practice times that you control and focus in on the other things. You could easily spend a full practice session (or multiple sessions) just grooving a simple transition from punch to round kick, for instance. And it's precisely that sort of practice that's going to make you feel like you own that combination.

There are lots of tiny little variables in terms of timing, angle, footwork, etc. that can improve on even the most fundamental techniques. A person can spend a lifetime perfecting boxing, for instance. And that's, what, five punches, some evasions, and a bit of footwork. But it's not the breadth of technique that makes it effective. It's the mastery of nuance. What sets a Sugar Ray Leonard apart from another boxer? Mastery of those small variations. Not using additional techniques.
Great advice. It's often impractical in a class session to really get enough practice in. As an instructor, I'm trying to teach certain things or accomplish certain goals in each class. I have to expect students to take time on their own to work more with the lessons. It's kind of like doing the homework in math class; I learned the hard way that, in a math class, I couldn't do just the assigned problems. I had to do EVERY problem in the book, and I'm not alone!

There may also be fundamental problems with the teaching here. I don't know. But when you say that, each level, you learn a couple of forms and a couple of weapons, I balk. People spend lifetimes mastering one weapon. Dropping two on you every few months is a recipe for mediocrity. And that doesn't even address the actual need for these weapons.

It depends. It depends on how you define "form", among other things. Is a set drill or sequence a "form"? I teach 5 to 6 drills, and you can easily learn those over several months. I could even teach a new student all the basic forms in my system in about a year, year and half (or even less, really), if they trained hard and worked hard on them. We just don't have that much... THERE. But to really learn and understand them? That'd take years more practice.
 

ap Oweyn

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It depends. It depends on how you define "form", among other things. Is a set drill or sequence a "form"? I teach 5 to 6 drills, and you can easily learn those over several months. I could even teach a new student all the basic forms in my system in about a year, year and half (or even less, really), if they trained hard and worked hard on them. We just don't have that much... THERE. But to really learn and understand them? That'd take years more practice.

Oh, I don't have any particular problem with the introduction of two forms per belt. But two weapons. Even two weapon forms is fair enough, I suppose. But the idea that you've learnt two weapons per belt level...

You could spend years and years just getting a basic handle on broadsword technique. But because there are 18 (or whatever) classical Chinese weapons, there's this constant impetus to drop a new one into the mix.


Stuart
 

Yondanchris

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one thing off the bat,

Learn Humility and Patience, that will solve 90% of these problems.

1) you could get a bag for at home or go to a gym to practice your punches on a bag. I think the instructor if focusing on technique at this point in your training.

2) weapons training is more useful than you can imagine, it tones muscles and gives you an awareness of your body you did not know before. You train your body with new "arms" and "Legs" to become a new extension of yourself. Weapons are an excellent training tool. Perhaps you should look into training with Escrima (very practical)

3) It is true that group classes are not normally designed to teach material but to re-enforce learned material, also instructors expect students to practice on their own to develop and master skills.
Perhaps you should talk to your Sifu about "private lessons" thats the way I learned and became proficient in each belt level.

4) have you thought about doing competitions, especially point sparring
I think that would give you a good "live action" feel to your training in a controlled environment, while giving you the immediate adrenaline rush your looking for.

Overall this is extremely common, and I would suggest you voice your
concerns to your Sifu and talk them out. Most Kenpo students leave after
about a year due to lack of patience or humility. Evaluate your reasons for taking lessons versus the benefits of the lessons and make your decision after talking with your Sifu.

My .02 cents,

Chris


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.
 

ap Oweyn

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one thing off the bat,

Learn Humility and Patience, that will solve 90% of these problems.

That's the thing though. The idea that patience and humility are the solution is predicated on the idea that it's basically impossible to teach martial arts poorly.

Clearly, it's possible to teach poorly. So the onus may not necessarily be upon the student to "just hang in there" until things become clear. My feeling is that not asking questions leads to tacit acceptance. And I don't want that as a teacher.

1) you could get a bag for at home or go to a gym to practice your punches on a bag. I think the instructor if focusing on technique at this point in your training.

I think this is part of the problem though. If actually hitting something isn't included in the teaching of technique, how good can the technique be? It's no wonder that people begin to worry about whether they can use something. Even if their technique is good, they have no empirical experience upon which to base their confidence.

2) weapons training is more useful than you can imagine, it tones muscles and gives you an awareness of your body you did not know before. You train your body with new "arms" and "Legs" to become a new extension of yourself. Weapons are an excellent training tool. Perhaps you should look into training with Escrima (very practical)

Can't argue with that (as an eskrima advocate).

3) It is true that group classes are not normally designed to teach material but to re-enforce learned material, also instructors expect students to practice on their own to develop and master skills.
Perhaps you should talk to your Sifu about "private lessons" thats the way I learned and became proficient in each belt level.

If classes aren't designed to teach new material, then what is? Personal training isn't, because you don't have experienced supervision. That leaves private lessons, which are typically an additional (and not inconsiderable) cost. I think some classes absolutely ought to be designed to introduce new material. But they ought to be part of a continuum toward internalization of the material.

4) have you thought about doing competitions, especially point sparring
I think that would give you a good "live action" feel to your training in a controlled environment, while giving you the immediate adrenaline rush your looking for.

I wouldn't advocate a sparring contest if you don't already have confidence that your training is leading to proficiency. There's that saying that you don't rise to your expectations. You fall to your training. And it's unlikely that your performance is going to impress you very much in a high-pressure tournament if it's not doing so in regular training.

Overall this is extremely common, and I would suggest you voice your
concerns to your Sifu and talk them out. Most Kenpo students leave after
about a year due to lack of patience or humility. Evaluate your reasons for taking lessons versus the benefits of the lessons and make your decision after talking with your Sifu.

I definitely agree with talking to the sifu. We need to lay to rest, once and for all, the idea that asking questions is somehow disrespectful or inappropriate. Personally, as a teacher, I find it much more hurtful that someone would think they can't ask me questions, either because I might make them feel stupid for it or because they're concerned I can't handle being questioned.

If I can't handle being asked questions, it doesn't seem likely that I have any answers worth hearing.

Just my view.


Stuart
 

xfighter88

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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 don't personally do Kung Fu, but I had a very similar experience with a Taekwondo School that focused on sport tkd over the more self defense oriented parts. First off I would meet with your instructor and voice your concerns. If his answers don't satisfy you then you have some choices: Stay, go, or stay and go. If you are really feeling the need for self defense then search out a place that focuses on that (Krav Maga comes to mind). If you still love doing Kung Fu but just want some self defense work do both. Take a self defense seminar, get some Self defense DVDs and play around with the stuff. You could even sign up at another dojo along with the Kung Fu one.

In the end you are the consumer. If you don't feel that you are getting what you need , then stop trowing money at somthing you don't believe in. Decide what would benefit you the most and go for it.
 

xfighter88

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Let me start off by saying that I have never done Chinese Martial Arts. So I don't know how long it takes to learn adequate self defense skills. I will say though, that in Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Boxing, Blauer Tactical, and many other systems 8 months is more than enough time to be able to feel confident in your self defense skills. It may take much longer to get great at the "art" side but the "martial" side should be obtainable much sooner.

Decide what you want to get from a martial art. If easily learned and effective SD skills are high on that list you may want to look elsewhere.
 

billc

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My advice, keep practicing, but start looking around at other arts. You may not be getting what you are looking for through this particular art. Check out the arts in your area, and use the internet to look at other arts as well. Different people fit into different arts, fortunately we live in a time where there is a chance to see and do a lot of different arts.

For myself, I enjoy the FMA and I have found that serrada, and modern arnis are neat but they weren't what I was looking for. I found DTS and am now a happy camper. Take some time and look around, you might find a new art or realize you like the one you are in.
 

WC_lun

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All your concerns are valid concerns, even for a short time of study such as 8 months. Talk to your instructor. If you don't tell him your concerns, he can't address them. It is alos quite possible that others are feeling the same thing. Look to the seniors. If the seniors do not show the skills that you are looking to learn, then they have not been taught them. If that is the case, you will not be taught them either.

Weapon training is common in most kung fu systems. The weapons are taught to reinforce basic skills, reinforce the different ranges of combat, and to increase certain physical skills. They aren't taught so you can use a sword to defeat the next ninja you see :)

Keep in mind that there are all sorts of teachers in all sorts of systems. Your current teacher may not provide what you are looking for. Make sure of that before leaving though. The eyes of a beginner are not the eyes of an experienced martial artist. What you think you are getting may not be the same as you are actually recieving. However, you must be comfortable with the training. Do not let this traing shade you against similiar styles of martial arts. It is a risk we all run when we see something, label it, and it turns out not to suite us. that label is often applied to other things which don't deserve it.

Good luck with your training. Whatever direction it takes you, I hope you find what you are looking for. If you'll tell us what area of the world you are in, someone on the forum might be able to help define your search a bit.
 

Indie12

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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.

12: Well I can tell you from personal experience that most Instructors (especially in Gung Fu) are more interested in leverage and bridge control, rather then overpowering your opponent, my advice is either find a new school (such as TKD, Karate, or a striking Art, more emphasis) OR getting a punching bag, most Gung Fu schools I've attended, visited, observed, do have punching sand bags or targets.

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?'

12: Good Point! Bare in mind that most traditional Gung Fu schools do utilize weapons as apart of the training, but your not alone in that thought process!

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.

12: Common among many Martial Art schools, there's way to much material to learn, cover, and absorb. Unfortunately most Instructors DO NOT spend enough time on each individual technique, it takes too much of 'their' time!

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.

12: Bare in mind that no matter how much 'training' you have, one cannot fully prepare for the rigors of Combat. Even if you join a system like Krav Maga, KFM, or Defensive Tactics, dealing with the physical, mental, psychological, and even spiritual realms of Combat cannot be fully absorb by simple training, even if it is simulated combat or sparring. Best way to prepare is by training itself! And understanding elements of a fight. Anatomy of combat, and human A&P helps!!

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?

12: I studied BL Jun Fan Gung Fu/JKD and Wing Chun Gung Fu, and have over 22 years Martial Art training, (including unfortunate incidents) and can still tell you, while I'm confident, I'm careful not to be overconfident. (If that makes sense).

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?

12: Give it a little longer, 8 months is really not that long, and usually for new people it takes about a year to fully understand what is going on. If your truly unhappy with this school, you can always look around at other schools and Instructors... Becoming Proficient in Martial Arts won't happen in a few short years, it takes Years, and Years, and Decades of practice/training!

12: Remember every system and Instructor do it differently!

Thanks in advance.

12: Good Luck!
icon14.gif
 

Josh Oakley

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Your class doesn't hit anything? I guess it would depend on the style of kung fu, but that does seem odd to me. The Seattle Kung Fu Club has a pretty cool set-up with a mix of normal bags, and some bodacious home-made stuff. We hit stuff (and eachother) in Kung Fu San Soo all the time.

I can only think of a couple of places that teach an 8 animal form. What's the name of the place?
 
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