"How often should I train Kung Fu?"
There’s an old saying that says people need about 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. So if you didn’t sleep for nearly 14 months, and trained all day, every day, you could become a kung fu master in that time. Easy enough, right?
Okay, so maybe not that easy. But it does lead to the question: what is the best amount of time to train? Is there a “sweet spot” of dedicated time per week you should aim for?
Everyone is different, but our standard recommendation is about 2-3 hours per week of moderate to hard training. We know – it sounds like that’s hardly anything at all! But it’s important to remember that in kung fu, more training doesn’t necessarily mean better training. It’s much more about consistency than it is about total time.
Some people come in for 10 hours per week, and that works well for them and their lifestyle. And that’s great! Others can only do 2 or 3 per week, but they are very satisfied with the balance that it brings. And that’s great too. Listen to your body and work within your own personal “sweet spot” to find what’s best for you. As long as you are training and happy with what it does for you, that’s better than chasing an arbitrary time that you feel like you “should” be working.
Another good tip? It can be easy to think that training for, say, an hour straight once a week, is best. To be sure, it’s better than nothing. But instead of training once a week for 60 minutes, reframe it to 60 times a week for one minute. This way you are constantly refreshing yourself and your knowledge, and it will be quicker to recall and reuse – especially in the event that you have to use it. You don’t want to be caught in a conflict on Saturday night when the last time you even thought about training was last Sunday morning!
Our best advice is simply this: do the right amount to keep you happy with your progress. Martial arts are about learning what you’re capable of and how to harness your inner concentration, and when you do it the perfect amount, you’ll notice the positive effects coming through to the rest of your daily life too.
And if you’re the type that simply can’t get enough of the Kung Fu for Life studio, well, we’re open Mon-Fri from 1 – 9 PM, and 10 -2 on Saturdays, so there’s plenty of time for you to practice in our out of our classes. We look forward to seeing you the next time you drop in to recapture your zen!
Am I Meditating Properly?
If you’re only going by what you’ve seen in the movies, you may think of meditation as something that only monks or masters do – an exercise in discipline where you must sit perfectly upright for hours, clear your mind of every last thought, and always have a grand revelation or uncover some deep divine wisdom. In reality, meditation is nothing nearly so fancy. It is simply a way to re-centre yourself, be more aligned with your body and surroundings, and to be more mindful of what your senses are telling you. In other words – don’t feel pressured to have an epiphany, because there are no expectations!
Here are some of the questions we get asked most often about the best way to meditate. If you’re curious about this ancient (and provably beneficial) practice, read on for more information.
Can I lie down?
If that’s what works for you, sure! Some people believe it enhances your chi energy if you sit upright with a straight back, which is where the traditional “meditating monk” image comes from. But if that’s uncomfortable or not working for you, feel free to lie down and stretch out.
How long do I have to do it?
The length of a session depends on what you want to achieve. To overcome depression or sadness, 5-10 minutes a day is a good place to start, and it’s short enough to easily set aside the time, even in a busy schedule. For anxiety, go a little longer to get in the practice of letting go of worries – 15 minutes or so per day. If you have a focus on healing injuries, 30-60 minutes is best. For all of these, if you miss a day you can make it up the next day, which is nice to know!
A good recommendation is that you should meditate one minute for every year of your age.
Is it okay to think my thoughts?
Absolutely! It’s very difficult to stop conscious thoughts altogether, so embrace them and allow them to continue. Our only guideline is to make sure that the thoughts don’t take over, or bring you to a negative place – if you’re having an internal argument, or only thinking about all the other things you have to be doing, those are not constructive and you should refocus.
What’s the best way to control breathing?
When you are new to the process, you should control your breathing to be as slow and steady as possible, for as long as you can. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth, all while compressing your abdomen from the top downward. Over time, and with more experience, this will get easier, and the breathing itself will become a tool you can use to reach a meditative mind state. An ultimate goal is to eventually be able to reach that mind state first, with the breathing following automatically.
Are guided meditations as good as individual ones?
Guided meditations are excellent for beginners, and can still be useful for intermediate and advanced practitioners. Once you are more familiar with the practice and your own capabilities, you will develop better control and will eventually reach a state where you can meditate without outside assistance – but everyone is different, so don’t feel rushed.
Is it wasteful to meditate before bed?
No! It is actually extremely beneficial. It completely clears your mind and gives you more peaceful, restful sleep. In addition, if you put a healing intention behind it, your body can heal better during sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
Alternately, if you wake up before your alarm, use those extra few minutes to meditate – for about twenty minutes before we sleep and after we wake, our brains are in transition to a different state and are a lot more open to suggestions.
How do I know if I’m meditating correctly?
Actually committing to the act of meditation is half the battle, so just by sitting to do it, you’re already on your way! Despite what martial arts movies might say, there is no such thing as doing it “correctly”. There are 100+ methods of meditation if you look into it – you can do it while driving, standing, walking, reading, anything. Why?
Because meditation is simply focusing. It is being completely focused on what you’re doing, even if that is nothing in particular. You will know if you are doing it incorrectly, because your mind will be jumping back and forth between ideas and you’ll have a hard time concentrating. If you are getting angry or emotionally attached to your thoughts, then you’re further from a state of meditation.
What’s the best advice you have for improving my meditation?
Be consistent with it daily, be immersed, and keep your mind open. Don’t let yourself get attached to thoughts or everyday stress when you’re trying to relax your mind, but in turn, don’t beat yourself up if every session isn’t a 100% success.
Meditating is a release, not a chore. Let yourself go, see where it takes you, and enjoy the benefits that follow!
The Importance Of The Mind
Our past two blogs have been about the importance of the mind-body link, and we’re going to finish off that series today with this final entry. You may want to read the first and second parts at these links before jumping in to this one, but feel free to start here if you really want to!
When it comes to getting your mind and your body trained to perfection, it’s all about discipline and consistency. Intermittent fasting is something people build up in this way; some people do this with TV and purposely cut themselves off after an hour or two so that they can focus on their bigger goals. You can even start with just 15 minutes of reading, training, practice, or meditation a day, because it’s not about going from 0 to 100% all at once. It’s about the habit and the constant improvement. Build up in small steps, and you’ll be flexing your mind power and your willpower. A goal that starts with “No more junk food or TV ever again, with 4 hours of exercise a day!” is bound to fail because the ego has taken over. And one that doesn’t even bother trying has no ego at all. The key is finding the sweet spot in the middle.
One of the things that can break people in the early stages of training is stress, and therefore it’s important for you to have a plan to deal with it. Physiological stresses in the body can be relieved by simple stretches, a walk around the block, or even a good belly laugh at a good sitcom joke. Bad stresses that dig in and cause negative effects – worry about debts, emotional turmoil, etc. – can really have the opposite effect, though. Use your mind, keep your head up, and know that you’ll get through. It’s up to you if your mind is strong enough, if you’re up to the challenge – but remember that there’s always stress in this world, and the better you can deal with it, the better off you’ll be overall.
Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of quiet time for health and reflection. It’s not always about your mind and your external body; you can go inside your own head too. Take time to be okay when you’re alone and quiet, to be comfortable with yourself, and to strengthen your mental abilities through meditation and focus. You’ll see benefits almost immediately! One great side effect of this is that it can help avoid reliving past negative emotions or trauma, and allow you to overcome things that you may have thought would always effect you, possibly giving you a freedom you thought you’d never have. Yet one more bonus to building up the strength of your mind.
Once you’re comfortable doing this, you can even use your mind to control your energy level. Just like when devoted parents work two jobs for their kids and somehow still find time to cook dinner and help with homework, you too can draw on your inner abilities once you’ve allowed them to flourish. It isn’t always easy, and it definitely takes dedication, but it’s possible because the mind creates your energy and perseveres when you consciously tell it to. Build up this strength and watch your life get better in uncountable ways.
Continuing with that point – you can elevate this habit to a whole new level when you use your mind to control the chi (your own inner energy force that radiates outward from you) inside the body. With meditation, and a lot of practice, you can control your lungs, heart rate, or even temperature. There is an energy inside the body that is only used naturally, but by concentrating, it can be moved around the body (just remember – we’re saying outright this requires consistent training!). Chi is very real and can be used for what you want; we use this largely in kung fu at our studio for healing. Doctors have proven that electrical energy can increase healing, and since our cells function on electric signals from our brain, it stands to reason that we can channel it into very positive effects.
Let your imagination go: use your mind power to control and overcome addiction and negative behaviours, by being honest and up front about your actions. Build up your mental endurance to hard situations or seemingly hopeless ones. Become a better person to be around by considering yourself from other people’s points of view. All of this, and so much more, is done by training your mind to do its best.
If we can leave you with one thought, it’s this: nothing worth doing is easy or quick. People respect masters because they have put in the time and effort over years and decades to become masters at what they do, and they have earned it. The journey of learning and improvement is far more important than any goal, as our natural human state is to want to constantly grow in our abilities.
So in one, or five, or ten or twenty years, when you look back at all the things you could have done, what will be on your list? Will you be consistently moving forward? Or will you always be looking back
The Importance Of The Mind
In our last blog we talked about how your mind and your ego can affect your body, your strength, and your capabilities. We’re going to continue on that idea, and today we’ll discuss some ways that we can optimize our thought patterns, reduce our negative egos, and build up good habits to ensure responsive and effective physical reactions.
Let’s start with how we train our minds – our conscious choices to align our thoughts to certain ways of thinking, and to focus on where we want to be with our mindsets. Just like any other skill, it takes practice and commitment and dedication, but eventually it leads to high mental endurance, which is something that greatly benefits us throughout our lives (just like control of our muscles, our breathing, our emotions, etc). The more you do it, the better at it you’ll become. And what’s one of the best ways to practice these methods? Martial arts! Kung fu helps focus your attention and avoid distractions, cultivating a higher threshold of mental ability. This means better control over every situation and a refreshingly calm approach to any of the many encounters – both positive and negative – that you may have on any day. This kind of control is why it’s often said that the greatest martial artists learn the discipline so that they don’t have to use it. The focus on mental strength is so high that physical violence is a last resort.
So what are some ways to “pre-program” your mind for dealing with stressful situations? And how does that lead to physical results?
Think of it this way: no matter what people who are always trying to be constantly positive say, adversity is unavoidable in life. There are instances when you’ll have to deal with not being the winner, and not getting everything that you want. But rather than disheartening you, that should simply allow you to tell yourself that it’s okay! This is how we grow. Nobody is perfect 100% of the time. And furthermore, not doing 100% of something all at once doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. It means that you’re learning – that you’re training. Allowing this, and embracing it, is where the true strength of your mind lies.
Use this strength to develop a proper mindset in training. Off the bat, know that you can do anything you’re determined to – if, and only if, you’re willing to work to get a little closer to it every day. It’s not all-or-nothing; and just because you didn’t become a kung fu master overnight doesn’t mean you should spend the next week on the couch watching TV. Every big success is rooted in many more small ones, and those are the victories that you should aim for and celebrate. Each one sharpens your skills and gives you a little more control over your mind and body.
Start with small things. Whether it’s doing ten push-ups a day, or not checking Facebook while you’re at work, or committing to eating less fast food, everything big is manageable by breaking it down into smaller pieces. The details don’t matter as much as the fact that you make a goal and stick to it. When you reach those goals, the next ones – the slightly bigger ones every time – don’t seem so bad, and before you know it you’ve done something you never thought you could.
In a few weeks, join us again when we dive deeper into how to train our minds, and what the results and benefits can be. Remember, kung fu is as much about how you think as it is about how you move. Understanding this is lesson #1!
The Importance Of The Mind
A lot of people focus on how they look and what their bodies can do, but less actually consider how they think and how it affects everything else. The old saying “mind over matter” can come across as a tired platitude about the power of positive thinking, but it turns out that there’s actually a fair amount of truth to it.
The first thing that a truly successful person understands about the mind is the role that the ego plays in it. This is, essentially, your perception of yourself and how you use that perception to interact with the environment – including how you see your own skills and abilities. Obviously, this is rather important for training in martial arts classes! Your ego, for example, plays a huge part in how you defend yourself: if your hands are down because you’re overconfident that you can react in time, you could be a multi-degree black belt and still get hit in the face by someone new.
But there’s a flip side to the ego, if used in proper moderation and that is self-confidence. If you’ve got your hands up in defense, and you’re sure you have trained enough and that your muscle memory is in place, you could be a yellow belt and walk away without a scratch.
There’s a fine balancing act with ego – you don’t want to get too cocky, but you don’t want to be negative and overcritical of yourself, either. You have to find a middle ground, and be confident that you are getting better as you practice, all the time. This doesn’t just apply to martial arts, either – it’s good advice for everything you want in life! Learning to control your ego, even when you get really good at something you’ve practiced at, is a skill that will allow you to unlock the true mastery of what your mind can do with it.
Your mind, at a macro level, controls your body – what time you get up or go to bed, what you eat, what you do from one moment to the next. All of those are decisions made, at some level of consciousness. Further down, on a more personal level, it controls the fine movements that you do in any sport, martial art, action, etc. and so a fine-tuned mind/body connection is crucial to success. The most successful people are those who make both sides of this coin work for the benefit of the whole! The strongest man on earth likely can’t hold his arms straight out for more than a minute or two, but there are martial arts masters who do it for longer as a warm up, without hesitation.
That’s the power of the mind, and of proper ego training. It’s the power inside all of us to achieve better, if we believe that we always can. If we consciously choose to train our mind – just as we would choose to train our muscles, our lungs, our cravings, our sleep patterns, and so on – we gain greater control in the end. We bridge the subconscious interface of the body with the conscious methodology of the mind.
But how are some ways that we can change our thinking, reduce our negative egos, and alter our habits for the better? In the next blog, we’ll talk about all of that – so be sure to check back in a few weeks for that one!
Martial Artist's Christmas Wish List
Do you have a martial artist in the family, and you’re not sure what to get them for the holidays? Or maybe you want to surprise your spouse or child with a new hobby that will keep them active during the cold winter months? Look no further than Kung Fu for Life!
It may seem strange, but there are plenty of gift options that come from us directly, or that can be used in conjunction with our training programs to really reach the next level. And of course, there’s even more that’s just fun when you need to take a break from whipping your mind and your body into great shape.
First, for the advanced martial artists in your group, it’s likely that they would appreciate some training tools and weapons. High quality materials can add up in cost if a student is trying to get a lot of equipment at once, so helping to offset the investment is an excellent idea for a Christmas gift. After all, there’s always something new to learn about in kung fu! For weapons, look into nunchuks, bo or three-section staffs, swords, knives, or chain whips (and if you need guidance on how they can be used, transported, handled, and stored, check out our previous blog about laws on that very topic).
If you don’t believe in weapons, that’s okay too! A new pair of sparring gloves can go a long way, and is guaranteed to get good use as training progresses. Same with other sparring equipment, like mouthguards or pads. All of it is necessary for the full kung fu experience. Even secondary accessories, like mat shoes, a yoga mat, or a new uniform are all good choices for the budding martial artist.
And of course, life isn’t just about practicing all the time! Both minds and bodies need time to relax and recover, no matter how fit or driven we are. So if you want to give thoughtful gifts that still tie in to a passion for martial arts, consider things like gift certificates for massages or acupuncture, Medigraph software (to track physical therapy progress and documentation) tiger balm, or ginseng and other herbal supplements. Books to help with meditation, or classic genre movies like Kiss of the Dragon or Fists of Legend would go over well, too – and who could say no to a DVD collection of Dragonball Z?
Maybe you’re thinking that the person you’re buying for doesn’t do martial arts. We even have a gift for that – the beginner’s program at Kung Fu For Life!
Of course, some of us are tight on money, and that’s okay too – because at the end of the day, it’s not the specifics of what you get, it’s the thought and the feeling that comes along with the holidays. Offering babysitting, being a training buddy, or even a homemade card are all perfectly good alternatives, along with thousands of other “gifts” that are meaningful because they come from you. That’s the most important thing, and it’s what they’ll remember.
So whatever you end up doing this holiday season, we hope for nothing but the best for you and your family and friends. Stay active, stay safe, and we’ll see you in 2019!
Women in Martial Arts
It’s unfortunate, but it’s true: the world isn’t always a friendly place. And even more unfortunately, it’s usually more unfriendly to certain groups in particular. Until everyone gets along well, learning a martial art as self-defense is a good idea for everyone, even though we hope you’ll never have to use it outside of our facilities. It’s an especially good idea for women, and we want every woman out there to know that this a safe place to learn and practice alongside other women on the same journey.
There might be a misconception that if a woman comes to a class here, they will be disrespected or overlooked. That’s just not true – we are all students, and we are all in this together. We’ve never had an issue with this, and we’ll make sure it stays that way, because we want every single person in our classes to feel empowered and capable of mastering the skills they are learning.
So why is it important for women to pick up these techniques? Especially if the chance of having to use them is small?
The main reason is because, in general, women are smaller and lighter than men. If you’re not physically imposing, it will likely be tough to overpower someone bigger than you – but one of the great things about kung fu is that it teaches you how to leverage your power and weight in order to compensate for that. It’s something that we stress a lot, because it’s one of the most important concepts you can use in order to get out of a bad situation.
However, one of the only things more important than that is the idea that such a confrontation should be avoided in the first place. They say that the best defense is a good offense, and being proactive and aware could be the key to staying safe. For example:
Don’t look at kung fu as “manly” or “feminine” or any of those other – frankly poor – words. Think of it as an insurance policy for yourself, one that you can always keep up to date. It’s a great way to stay in shape, it helps you feel safe in certain situations, and it reduces overall anxiety, not only because of the mindset but because of the social aspect and the exercise.
If you want a respectful environment that treats you well and teaches you helpful skills, a course that shows you how to make up for a lack of weight or height, or even a place that just allows you to make new friends where you can show off what you learn together – Kung Fu For Life is for you. Increase flexibility, be more comfortable in your body, and build your well-being to new levels, all right here in our martial arts classes.
Kung Fu. Jiu Jitsu. Tae kwon do, Krav Maga, Wing Chun, Muay Thai…the list of martial arts styles is nearly endless, each one focuses on different aspects of energy, motion, and force. So why do we think Kung Fu is the best? Because were totally biased and we love Kung Fu!!!
Kung Fu is, at its core is one of the most complete martial arts you can study. Encompassing a variety of forms and at least 1,500 years of history. In this case Kung Fu could just mean Chinese Martial arts but I’m speaking more specifically about the Shaolin and the arts or practitioners that were heavily influenced by their teachings.
Kung Fu has created and absorbed many hundreds of techniques over the centuries that either influenced or came from many martial arts systems – including some techniques that originated in the Shaolin temples, were added to other systems, and came back to the temple with an entirely fresh and new perspective. Martial arts is constantly refining and upgrading its theories and practices. In some Shaolin temples, fighters can train for 10 hours a day, mastering their mind and body, and still have much to learn.
The humongous amount of knowledge led to Masters specializing in particular sets of techniques or falling into a particular style. This is where “styles” or “ways” of martial arts come from. A particular practitioner gave preferential treatment and saw great benefit to the soft style, and hence Tia Chi comes along. Another practitioner prefers to use knees, elbows, feet and fists hence Muay Thai and Karate. When the the need arose to get around undetected, you can begin to imagine how Ninjutsu was developed.
Many of the Martial Arts that exist today arose out of a need, a desire or a philosophy of a just a single practitioner. These individuals are commonly known as Grandmasters. These people changed world and their names are honored throughout history. As a Grandmaster aged he would often name his most dedicated and proven disciple to be the new Grandmaster in order to see over the students and carry on the ways and the style of the art form.
Getting to why we think Kung Fu is the best (and of course we are totally biased), this is Kung Fu for Life after all... Let’s look at some of the Martial Arts you may be considering getting involved in.
Karate - is an excellent martial art, but it’s nearly all hardstyle and very energy-intensive – how long can you last in a real fight if you have the pedal to the floor the whole time? Kung Fu for Life often receives some criticism for taking some influence from this wonderful art and is hence “not real Kung Fu” but if you talk to any Karate practitioner they will tell you that the two systems are not the same. We teach to meet hardness with softness wherever possible, this saves on energy and perhaps could be used as a combative advantage. Also using softer techniques reduces injuries like bruising and bone fractures.
Wing Chun - designed specifically for the defense of women. Truly one of the noblest of goals and a credit to the practitioners and teachers who carry it forward. This system is technically Kung Fu and is, at least of women in legend, derived from the Shaolin arts. There is no merit in criticizing this or any other martial arts system except to say that perhaps Shaolin Kung Fu incorporates a larger variety of techniques that may be of more benefit.
Boxing - (which may not be a “martial” art) teaches you to fight with your hands, block with your arms and bob and weave through punches. It’s not very useful if you are on the ground, or if your opponent knows how to kick. It’s a blast for young men and other sport enthusiast but the love tends wear off (for most, at least) after a few hard punches to the face.
Muay Thai – The King of Martial Arts - at least that’s what it always says in the posters. People love the fitness aspect of this art, they tell us that it’s fun and a great way to stay in shape. The only complaints that here about this is that it’s not a super forgiving sport and can be potentially dangerous. It may not the best sport if you have injuries or limitations. We're not sure what the mental aspect of the training is but we've always been told never to underestimate a Thai Fighter.
The list and the discussion could potentially go on forever. We don’t have that much time, but we can tell you that if you train with Kung Fu for Life we will do everything we can to make sure that you become the best possible version of yourself.
Kung Fu will help you embrace and incorporate the mind/body connection. We will help you train your reflexes, accuracy, timing, control, reaction speed and more. Mental discipline and focus will become your ally as you take regular fighting moves and combine them with chi and pure effort. In fact, there is potential in our school for some of the highest-level practitioners to train thousands techniques in the various forms and patterns taught in this system. When you are ready we will give the tools you need to help pass down this great art on to the next generation and lay bricks in this continuously built art form.
Kung Fu is the birthplace of many other martial arts. So many systems are derived directly from it – but they tend to focus and simplify complex sets of movements in order to make them easier to master. The wide variety of moves in our system tends to require more study and more skill but usually has an advantage over the simplified form, as it can accommodate for more situations. For example, some systems will only teach attack or defense from one angle or one distance, but our training gives you multiple ways to either attack or defend from a variety of distances and angles. This allows you to appreciate how details like footing or hand placement can affect the outcome of a fight.
Our system is designed to help you progress and move at your own pace – not requiring you, but giving you the opportunity to master each individual step fully before moving on to the next!
We view Kung Fu as an art form, which means you can combine the moves in your own unique way, like creating a painting out of the component colours. In a combination of both hard and soft style, you will learn which is most useful to you in a combat situation. You will be allowed to make extensive use of your body to gain leverage and give you the most efficient way to deal with an adversary.
The admitted drawback to this kind of extensive training, is that it takes longer than most people are willing to commit – as is true with most of high quality and form. In our school it is much more about focus, and form, and full understanding of each technique, than it is about being fast and forceful. It is about the details, the fine-tuning, the exact knowledge of what you are capable of, and how to go a little bit further every time you practice. It’s about the little things, like controlling your breathe so you can conserve energy and react effectively. It’s about training your mind through meditation and mindfulness to be as sharp as your physical skills.
Keep in mind, though, that if we have criticized another martial art, it is only about the worst example of them. Each discipline will have fantastic students and teachers, as well as terrible ones. To be very clear the definition of a terrible student or teacher is firstly determined by attitude and respect, everything else is secondary.
Speaking specifically of Kung Fu, we know for sure how well-rounded and useful it is – not just physically, but mentally as well.
Kung Fu for Life is open 6 days a week, and we make custom made programs for each student at a reasonable cost. Our school is designed to allow you to work around injuries, and busy schedules. So don’t be afraid to drop by today or you can call us at (403) 243-5433
We've heard people say that the “style” is not as important as the as the student who studies it. It follows that saying is also true for teachers and we hope it is. As our students and professional teachers are some the best people that we have ever found.
Our system is tough when it needs to be, but is carried forward by some of the most kind-hearted and caring individuals you will ever meet. We're very proud family that we’ve built here.
It’s a question we hear often: why do you have student teachers?
The answer is actually quite simple: teaching martial arts techniques is part of becoming a black belt, because you can’t be an expert at anything if you haven’t taught it. It forces you to draw on all your knowledge, and when you are asked questions you’ve never thought of before, it makes you branch out and apply what you know in new ways.
Student teaching is an important part of your training journey, and an important step in making you a stronger, faster, and more adept martial artist when it comes to efficiency of motion and technique. Masters say that teaching is better for learning than when you are actually trying to learn as a student.
In teaching, you usually put 100% effort into showing it, and doing it yourself, and thinking about the finer points slowly, always critiquing your own technique – and even after all of that, you are often put on the spot to answer questions. Even if your performance is flawless, you have to know the answer when you are asked, “Why do you do it this way?” and be able to express it in words. As soon as you can explain the answer, it makes much more sense to you as well, and you have improved not only someone else’s knowledge, but your own. These are important steps toward becoming the best you can be!
After you teach something, it is nearly impossible for you yourself to forget. For example, when you give small feedback such us, “Move your knee this way to make the movement more fluid”, and your student can tell the difference, you’ll be more likely remember that moment and that advice for yourself down the road when you do the same movements. Thus student teaching can be very mutually beneficial.
In addition, having student teachers in our classes keeps costs down for the studio as a whole, and varying the instructors helps each student become well-rounded and responsive to different styles. Since different teachers emphasize different concepts, and have varying approaches to their lessons, there is more likely to be something useful that sticks with every student by doing it this way.
Overall, teaching and training others is the fastest way for students to progress along their final path to a black belt – you are usually only allowed to begin training others after you have achieved brown belt (which is 2-6 years depending on the person). It is a tremendous emotional boost to know that you’re contributing to the studio and to others, and since the skills we teach aren’t meant to be used out in the field, it’s nice to feel you have a purpose when you are using it to train others in the studio. One of the people you teach may have to use the skills they’ve learned one day in order to save their life, even if you never have to!
A student teacher here once said that student teaching makes you immortal, because your personal spin on the subject you teach can end up being passed on for decades, or maybe even hundreds of years. Your personal fingerprint could be left on the art for a very long time, passed on to the next generation of learners; you can see this in students who learned from specific black belts and carry the knowledge with them like a torch. You can spot it in how someone holds their knee, or their stance, in the slight weight shifts from one teacher’s style to another. It is a way of passing down your own self-expression.
Student teaching has another big effect: it increases your appreciation for teachers from then on. You will know it isn’t easy, and will notice other teacher’s techniques and mannerisms. You’ll like how they physically show some things, and just speak about others, and you’ll question in your mind why they chose to do it that way – leading you to think more deeply about what you’re learning, and causing you to take something from that for your practice and for your own teachings in the future. You will also appreciate being a student even more after you’ve taught, gaining a sense of satisfaction from the experience. You may even start to feel like you’ve “made it”…as long as you remember that there is always more to learn!
And lastly? You can also learn things from your students that you may have never thought of… while you’re teaching them. Since even our teachers are students, we encourage everyone to always keep learning and improving!
One of the biggest questions that people ask – to themselves, to others, to nobody in particular – is this: what is the meaning of life? Why am I here? Maybe they are looking for an easy answer, or maybe they are wondering if the things they are doing are “worth it”. But the actual truth is both very simple, and quite complex.
Life can be viewed as pointless, unless you create your own meaning within it – and this is dependent on your own philosophy and your own approach to it. Many people get up, go to work, and punch in and out mindlessly, always looking forward to their next days off so they can drink or do nothing or binge on TV and junk food. And all the while, the clock is ticking, their health is declining, and they are getting older and older. The imbalance between working too much, a bad diet, bad habits, and stress takes a terrible toll on our health, and over time, all the small decisions we make can add up to big problems. Drinking, smoking, lack of sleep, frustration…other people will see it in us and subconsciously pick up those negative emotions.
Recognizing these traits is the first step to fixing them, but we must also do something about them in order to overcome them. This is why we encourage our students to set goals for themselves – an endpoint, a place that they can work towards, so they know they are progressing and making good choices for themselves.
Think about a goal like acquiring a black belt, or an orange belt. This requires lots of mental and physical training – though it is nothing impossible, if done in a series of very small steps over a long period of time. The discipline needed to achieve these goals often reverberates back into your regular life, and the strong habits developed here in the kung fu studio can translate into achieving more in your everyday life.
For example, think about the last time you went out to drink with your friends – chances are the bill can get very high, very quickly. Imagine all the money you have ever spent, accumulated over dozens of weekends out at the bar or on 6-packs every Saturday night at home, added up over years. And at the end of it all, what have you achieved? What you have gotten out of it? We can safely say, nothing as healthy or as useful as the discipline you would get from setting proper goals and working toward them in all aspects of your life.
If you chose today to redirect all that money toward getting healthy with kung fu training, you would not only keep more of it in the long run, but you would steer clear of many bad situations, gain improved health and fitness (which can add years to your life, instead of shortening it), and have a series of goals to constantly work toward. It would give you a reason to not drink – when was the last time you saw a black belt get drunk and lose control?
It’s always sad to see some people leave school after grade 12 and simply stop learning, and lose the motivation to strive for more. Years down the road, you won’t feel proud of drinking every weekend, and wasting your potential, but if you work hard towards the goals you’ve set for yourself and systematically achieve them, there will be no stopping you. The best things in life take dedication, commitment and sacrifice – but that’s what makes them worth the journey, because the people who can reach those goals are rare!
For you, it may not be about the money. Plenty of people have high-paying jobs that they will never leave, but they go home completely unfulfilled and feeling lost and unhappy – financially they are successful, but by every other measurement, they are miserable. Taking up proper hobbies and walking the longer, more winding path to your goals is one of the best ways to remedy this. We have many people just like this who come in to our studio, searching for fulfillment and meaning, and when they set their goals and reach them, the difference in their mood and attitude is incredible. They feel they have purpose, they feel they are advancing, and they are moving forward, both physically and mentally. There is something new to look forward to and they are no longer stuck in the same mindless loop.
We have an introductory program for people like this to give kung fu a try, and you’ll know very quickly if our teachings help give you direction. You’ll meet positive people, you’ll get a new outlook, and when you see how much this affects your life, you’re going to love it! We even have a limited-time sale on this right now, so there’s never been a better time to give martial arts a try. You can come take the plunge with something new… or go back to a job you dislike, and Netflix on the couch every night, watching your life slide by and thinking of all the things you could have done someday. The choice is yours to make!
Call Kung Fu for Life today and experience all the positive benefits, both direct and indirect, that our training can offer. From the improvements in your muscles to your mind, in your breathing to your body, in your health to your happiness, you’ll be very glad that you did!
Kung Fu For Life
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