Skinny MA Newbie: 7 Star Praying Mantis vs Wing Chun?

Nick Stanovic

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Warning: This is a long post.. I've never taken a martials arts class. I am very nervous about attending one and I always tell myself that I need to make my life more straightened out before I visit a school. I have a car, place to live, and a job but I always tell myself that I need to be better off before taking on something new. My social life is very bad (worst area of my life) since all but one of my friends are out of state and I mostly spend all my non-working time with video games or movies. I work from home so I don't have the ability to make any friends at my workplace. I tried weightlifting/working out but it was discouraging that I would put so much effort in but am still the weakest of my friends - some don't even work out. When I took my ex to various places, people would pick on me in front of her and I couldn't do anything about it so it was really embarrassing. My friends would always defend me but then the person/people would insult me if they ever saw me without my friends and always tried to start trouble.

I am a skinny build (5'10 155-160lbs.) and I want to start learning a system for self-defense and to build confidence that is designed for people who won't have to be extremely strong to benefit and do well in class. In my area, a suburb of Northeast Ohio, I have three choices: TKD, 7 Star Praying Mantis, or Wing Chun. From what I know about TKD it is more about sport than self defense. If anyone is familiar with any of those three systems can you tell me, which would work best for me?

My first interest is Wing Chun because, from what I've read in researching, it was developed by a woman to specifically defend yourself without trying to match force with the attacker. I really like that idea. I read about its concepts and they are very straightforward so it isn't hard for me to see how it applies in a self-defense situation. The downfall is that what I've seen on the internet about the school near me are very disheartening. An assistant/friend to the Sifu, Carl Dechiara, is very confrontational on internet forums and I've heard people describe the Sifu as a bully in his teaching style at his schools. There are videos of him on youtube doing trainings with his students almost more to show his superiority in the lesson by demeaning them and showing how easy it is for him to hit them rather than teach them and let them spare amongst each other. That makes me feel uncomfortable.

My next interest kind of hit me by surprise; I did not know there were any other schools besides TKD and WC in my area until someone told me about Akron Kung Fu (www.akronkungfu.com), which teaches 7 Star Praying Mantis. This school is much closer than the other two types of schools to my house. I haven't been able to find much information about the style itself but from what I've seen on the website, the school is very clean and nice-looking inside. The Sifu, Mike Biggie, seems to have a really nice reputation across internet forums and people speak highly of him. My problem is that the videos of the school's lessons/demonstrations on youtube make the style look like much more of an attacking style than defense and that the attacks, especially kicking in the videos I've seen would benefit more based on physical strength.

I don't want to learn martial arts to initiate an attack on someone but I want the confidence, if someone is picking on me, to be able to speak up and tell them to stop. I can't speak up now because if I do the next step would probably the person trying to hurt me more to inflate their ego and further embarrass me.

I hope this is not too detailed for me being a beginner. I figured this was the best place to ask since I was reading all of the other beginner stories.
 

oaktree

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Hi Nick
These are just my thoughts:
I've never taken a martials arts class. I am very nervous about attending one and I always tell myself that I need to make my life more straightened out before I visit a school. I have a car, place to live, and a job but I always tell myself that I need to be better off before taking on something new.

Everyone gets nervous when trying something new. Even people who have been to Martial art classes before can be a little nervous visiting another school. Try to focus more on the lesson and come to terms you will make mistakes and its ok because that is how you learn just accept yourself for who you are in the class and be happy for taking a hopefully positive step in your life.

I tried weightlifting/working out but it was discouraging that I would put so much effort in but am still the weakest of my friends - some don't even work out.
Please understand that in life there are people who are stronger and people who are weaker than you its just a fact of life. You can think in a more constructive way: When I was lifting weights I was stronger than I was before. Sure some people do not lift weights and may be stronger than you and thats ok because you are trying to be the best you can be not trying to compare yourself to others.


When I took my ex to various places, people would pick on me in front of her and I couldn't do anything about it so it was really embarrassing. My friends would always defend me but then the person/people would insult me if they ever saw me without my friends and always tried to start trouble.
I understand. Your friends were very nice to help you. Not everyone is good at fighting and handling confrontation.The good news is you can learn more constructive ways to deal with confrontation and martial arts is an excellent conflict solver(not just physical fighting)

I am a skinny build (5'10 155-160lbs.) and I want to start learning a system for self-defense and to build confidence that is designed for people who won't have to be extremely strong to benefit and do well in class. In my area, a suburb of Northeast Ohio, I have three choices: TKD, 7 Star Praying Mantis, or Wing Chun. From what I know about TKD it is more about sport than self defense. If anyone is familiar with any of those three systems can you tell me, which would work best for me?
Good news many martial arts do not rely on strength. Judo is an excellent example of leverage and using anothers force against them. Aikido is another art that uses harmony with a persons intent and taking a persons center.

Taijiquan is a great way of absorbing one's energy and redirecting.
There really is no best style. There is only what best fits you and a great teacher.
What draws someone to a martial art differs but usually it an agreement with the theory of that particular art. You may enjoy the arts you listed and there may be an art that you never thought of which has a wonderful teacher that understands you.

My first interest is Wing Chun because, from what I've read in researching, it was developed by a woman to specifically defend yourself without trying to match force with the attacker. I really like that idea. I read about its concepts and they are very straightforward so it isn't hard for me to see how it applies in a self-defense situation.
Wing Chun is an excellent art. You may enjoy the training many people here study Wing Chun and they may be able to tell you what to expect about the class and it may help relief some of the nervousness you have about the classs.

The downfall is that what I've seen on the internet about the school near me are very disheartening. An assistant/friend to the Sifu, Carl Dechiara, is very confrontational on internet forums and I've heard people describe the Sifu as a bully in his teaching style at his schools. There are videos of him on youtube doing trainings with his students almost more to show his superiority in the lesson by demeaning them and showing how easy it is for him to hit them rather than teach them and let them spare amongst each other. That makes me feel uncomfortable.
I do not know maybe Wing Chun people know about this. You may visit another school first. I think visiting a school for your first time with a rumor like this is not a good idea it may turn you off to martial arts. You may call him and see how his tone is when you talk to him. He may be a great guy or not I have no idea but the focus is on you and getting you into a great first impression and experience.
My next interest kind of hit me by surprise; I did not know there were any other schools besides TKD and WC in my area until someone told me about Akron Kung Fu (www.akronkungfu.com), which teaches 7 Star Praying Mantis. This school is much closer than the other two types of schools to my house. I haven't been able to find much information about the style itself but from what I've seen on the website, the school is very clean and nice-looking inside. The Sifu, Mike Biggie, seems to have a really nice reputation across internet forums and people speak highly of him. My problem is that the videos of the school's lessons/demonstrations on youtube make the style look like much more of an attacking style than defense and that the attacks, especially kicking in the videos I've seen would benefit more based on physical strength.
Oh wow he trained with some great teachers and he teaches Yang Taijiquan thats cool. He also knows some herbal formulas thats good too. Mike's students look very nice and humble and Mike seems like a caring guy he also likes Rush so anyone who likes Rush can not be that bad. I know you saw the video but do not let that be the determing factor visit the class see how he teaches see how the students are see if the lessons are something you enjoy.


I don't want to learn martial arts to initiate an attack on someone but I want the confidence, if someone is picking on me, to be able to speak up and tell them to stop. I can't speak up now because if I do the next step would probably the person trying to hurt me more to inflate their ego and further embarrass me.
I think martial arts is a wonderful way to learn this. You will have confidence to not just stand up for yourself but to know you are strong enough to not let it bother you.
 

xfighter88

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The truth is that all martial arts work to some degree for self defense. Some are better than others depending on your build or personal preference. Once you get down to it though the fighter is the biggest variable in self defense. Out of those 3 arts I would say that Wing Chun has the most direct self defense application. That being said the most important thing for self defense is mindset and how you carry yourself. No bully sizes someone up thinks to himself, "that guy looks like he wouldn't put up with my crap" or "he could probably kick my ***" and then proceeds to pick on that person. If you walk around with an air of confidence most powertrippers won't mess with you. That sounds like your biggest hurdle. Any martial art will help with your sense of self. I would pick the school that has the instructor that you respect and click with. Steer clear of schools with instructors that act like the people that you get bullied by. It sounds like you are leaning towards the mantis class. I say go for it.

As far as it being an attacking art instead of a defending one, I am curious what you mean. Do they never practice blocking? Are their drills not scenario based? If you are serious about defending yourself you need some viable attacks more than you need 27 different escapes. Look up some videos on actual street fights, muggings, etc. and you will see lots of offense and very little defense from both. (assuming the defender puts up a fight)

Best of luck to you. You should give it a go. Martial Arts are one of the most benefitial activities you can do for yourself.
 

xfighter88

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So after a bit of research I think I do like Mantis for self defense as well. Lots of low kicks elbows and joint locks. It also covers close range stand up combat which TKD tends to lack and this is where most fights actually start. Given your build it also seems to compliment you well. They have you doing a lot of moving instead of direct line defenses. I would check out that school if I were you.
 

MartinYoder

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Hello. I have known and been a student of Carl's since 1993. I have not been able to train with him much because I have been working on my masters degree at Ashland University. I can attest to you that Carl is a guy with integrity. He does not bully his students. He is very precise and can teach you a great deal. The question is, "what are you willing to do to learn it?" If you have studied martial arts before, he will test your metal. Good training produces great skill. Chop Suey schools teach little. Carl has had all sorts of characters come into his school and many of them not so good in technique or ethics. If you have not studied martial arts before, he will ease you into it and push you as hard as you can handle. He knows when people have been working, he can feel it. I can feel it. Carl is one of the best martial artists I have ever met. I can see why people think he might bully. He doesn't. Carl is a sharp sword. He hones himself and his skill everyday. You don't play with sharp swords. I would at least recommend giving the school a month. He won't sell you his school, himself, or the training. Either you like it or you don't. If you're willing to work hard, you'll like it.

Marty Yoder
 

shima

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Keep an open mind, and visit any school you have a fleeting interest in at least once (regardless of reviews). Anything that gives you a good vibe request to take part in a sample class and by the time you've tried out a class from a couple styles you'll know which one feels best for what you're looking for.
 

OKenpo942

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I tend to agree with the others that recommended trying the schools that interest you the most. To me, this sounds like the Wing Chun and the 7 Star Praying Mantis schools.

Get a feel for yourself what would be the best fit for you. Go in with an open mind and develop your opinion based on personal experience, not on others who may or may not have an agenda or a bad experience with someone.

Sounds like you may be your own worst enemy. Martial arts would be great for you. Notice I did not mention a specific art? Only you can decide which is best for you. When you find it, the confidence will come.

I applaud you for doing your own research. Keep it up and keep MT posted on what decision you make.

Good luck,

James
 
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