Picking a martial art, as well as a school is an important decision. Spending too long in the wrong school can leave you feeling jaded and put an end to your martial arts career. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide? The first step is to figure out what interests you. Do you want to focus on forms, self-defense, or both? Do you want to compete, or are you more interested in training on your own? Do you prefer kicking, punching, or grappling?
In my experience, even more important than a good teacher and school, is finding an art that you enjoy. After all, if you’re going to be doing something for years, or ideally the rest of your life, it’s pretty important that you not like it, but Love it!
So figure out what you enjoy and find a style that matches. If you’re not sure then try out a few different classes and see what feels right. Remember, even a great teacher can not make you love a system.
Once you find the system you like you need to find a teacher. This can be complicated. There is a shortage of qualified Kung Fu teachers, and a plethora of phonies; and finding a True teacher in your chosen style can prove difficult. So here are some tips.
Look at the students, especially the seniors. Are they fit? Skilled? Are they people you would choose to be around? Seeing the senior students is like taking a look into the future. It’s also a good look at the type of people the teacher attracts.
Next thing is to do some Research! I’m amazed at how many people decide on a school just because it’s convenient. Research the school, the teacher and the system. See if anything negative or fishy pops up. Here are some warning signs.
1. No lineage. Although having a good lineage does not make you a good teacher, having no lineage is suspect.
2. The teacher made up the style. Usually this means they didn’t train long enough, or weren’t good enough to be recognized in a system, so they made up their own.
3. The teacher claims to be a master of a rare system (usually handed down by a monk or shaolin priest) that only he knows.
4. It has anything to do with Shaolin temple or shaolin monks. Sorry, but for the most part you are doing a performance art and not a martial art. They use phony weapons, flashy moves and a lot of drama.
If you can’t seem to find exactly what you’re looking for, then you can find the closest thing to what you want and at least get a good base there. If you choose wisely your training will not be in vain. Of course, if you are a serious student then you will simply have to travel. I’ve spent hours in cars and planes just to go to a class and never felt the time was wasted. It all comes down to dedication. And honestly, if you’re not willing to spend some money and time in the beginning, how do you expect to make it to the end?