How to start learning Chinese Kung Fu.
The below article will help you understand better on how to start learning Kung Fu :
Firstly, you have to identify your reasons for learning Kung Fu. Do you simply wish to have fun with a dynamic hobby, do you wish to get exercise and obtain good health, do you wish to pick up skills to protect yourself and your loved ones, or do you want to become a "powerful fighter" in combat sports? Whatever it is, Chinese Kung Fu can satisfy your needs. The problem is, NOT every Kung Fu instructor can satisfy all needs.
Secondly, there are also many different approaches to training in Chinese Kung Fu these days and you need to be very careful in choosing the Correct Approach in training Kung Fu. As a wrong choice will be waste of your valuable time & money, in the worst case scenario it will be Harmful to your physical and mental well-being.
Choosing a Suitable Instructor or School :
Bear in mind that some instructors only practice Kung Fu as an exercise or hobby, so they are not able to teach you combat skills. Some instructors only do combat sports, the kung fu you are learning from them may not be of much difference from other martial arts and you will not be enjoying the complete fun and health benefits of Chinese Kung Fu. Hence, the first step is to identify the reason for your interest and whether the schools or instructors you are looking at can provide you with what you need.
Usually in Chinese Kung Fu, trainees will start by practicing the basic exercises to condition themselves for the physical and mental demands of Formal Training. Without sound basics, one’s skills Will Not Go Far be it for performance, health or combat purpose. As the trainees proceed, depending on the schools', instructors' or trainees' preferences, some may move towards solely learning combat techniques, sparring, set patterns (套 路), or conditioning drills. Those who only practice set patterns or routine (套路) are likely to have joined a solely performance Contemporary Wushu group. Those who only do conditioning drills are likely to have joined a hard or soft Qigong (气功) group.
Here are some matters you need to take note to ensure you receive what you required. If you expect to learn combat techniques and pick up the ability for self defence but you only taught to do set patterns (套路) for performance, you need to ask your instructors do they teach any combat skills. In fact you should ask them Before Enrolling in any classes.
I knew individuals who have done Contemporary Wushu and are Incapable to use any Kung Fu techniques in combat or sparring. After being defeated in sparring sessions, they lost confidence in Chinese Kung Fu and some even resented Kung Fu. It is real pity, as they could have learn the world acclaimed Effective & Artistic Kung Fu fighting skills from another school instead.
On the other hand, if you enrolled in a school that only teach Kung Fu Combat applications, techniques & sparring. But the instructors are Not teaching you effective techniques & strategies to win during sparring sessions or tournaments and you can’t figure out any wining strategy by continuously losing, you should consider learning from Other Schools or Instructors. As these days every trainee should be treated equally, No Secrets should be kept, all trainees should be allow to combat with both brain & brawn in tournaments and have a enough chance of winning.
Correct Approach in Training Kung Fu :
Conditioning exercises, it is especially important to do conditioning exercises correctly as doing it wrongly can leave permanent harmful effects on your health. Pushups, skipping ropes and basic stretching for flexibility are harmless, but if you see on TV or the internet some martial artists punching a boulder with his fists then soaking their hands in a bucket of ointment to harden their hands. You Must Not Try to imitate them without having a experienced & good instructor to properly guide you through. These boulder punching martial artists hope that others are aware of what they are capable of through their performance, but they are unable and certainly not intending to guide you.
Let me tell you what may happen if you do conditioning for your hands Without proper guidance, you will kill your nerves, damage your bones & joints and you may not be able to write or type with your hands again. Only a experienced & good instructor can make sure you are doing the right conditioning for your hands. You are supposed to concentrate your Qi (气) & Jing (劲) onto your hand with a proper striking technique and use the correct Chinese herbal medication to aid healing. Thus, you also have to give your hands enough time to recuperate and only practiced again when the injuries heals.
Posture is another major problem; I knew an individual who read online that the Qigong (气功) in Hung Gar kung Fu (洪拳) should be done with a rounded back. Nothing wrong about that, as certain Hung Gar techniques require this posture. However he had mistaken the rounding of back as having to bend his neck forward and downward doing training, and he ended up having a Hunched Back after a year of Wrong Practice in self learning. Hung Gar's "rounded back" has Nothing to do with the neck! Bending the neck will not only cause the practitioner to hunch his back, it will block the blood and air flow to the brain. Fortunately, some Kung Fu elders noticed the individual, managed to correct his posture and his back is gradually straightening up.
Rounding the back in Hung Gar (洪 拳) actually means relaxing your upper back muscles between your shoulder blades so your shoulders move to the neutral position. In that position the upper back looks rounded, When you get the postures right you will have more control over your movements and you will be able to generate more force; pure force. It takes a Experienced & Good Hung Gar Instructor to keep physically adjusting your postures until you get it right.
With all that being said, if you learn Kung Fu or any other martial arts from someone who was formerly taught the "Wrong Ways" or you learn solely from videos or internet without advice from a proper instructor, y ou will most properly end up learning the all wrong methods of training. Hence, harming your health and maybe causing yourself Permanent Inner Injuries....
Regrading doing research and learning Kung Fu solely from videos, internet or books, this kind of learning is not accurate. The fact is, many Kung Fu techniques can never be learn by reading a book, watching instructional videos or through online learning. Some Kung Fu techniques look fanciful and can be easily done but they actually need a lot of skill and power to pull off. More often than not, Kung Fu techniques learn from videos will not work in real life because one does not have the proper strength or reflexes to pull it off.
It is definitely impossible to learn internal style Kung Fu such as Tai Chi (太极拳) and Hung Gar's Iron Wire Fist (铁线拳) from videos, internet or books, as you need a good Kung Fu Instructor guiding you to feel the force or "Qi" within you in order for you to be able to understand and use it. Even the more external styles of Chinese Kung Fu such as Praying Mantis (螳螂拳) and Wing Chun (咏春拳) have some intricate Internal "Qi" features which allow them to do what they are good at. On a side note, these internal skills of Kung Fu will aid healing and improve your health if learn and practice correctly..
Lack of sparring experience and hands-on feeling is another factor why self learning is not a wise way to learn kung fu. If you don’t know how combat feels like, how are you going to use the fighting techniques in Kung Fu? Thus, in order for Kung Fu to work, it has to become second nature to you, you have to frequently drill and test the Kung Fu techniques you have learn with a training partner.
Then why do Kung Fu instructors & martial artists produced instructional videos or DVDs? Well, These mediums are merely serving as a force generation and control method.
As you may already noticed, all these instructional videos or DVDs don’t have the full instructions which teaches you everything you need to know, the Kung Fu instructors & martial artists can’t impart their skill completely to you, unless you learn from them in person. Most Kung Fu instructional videos or DVDs are actually produce to gain publicity and to spread awareness. Many of the Kung Fu instructional DVDs are also meant for those are already learning or have learn the Martial Art from a school. These DVDs help Kung Fu practitioners recap the moves, helping them do revision. The same goes for the Kung Fu Reference books & magazines you see in book stores.
Many of us know that we can pick up IT skills online or we can learn how to bake cakes online, but Kung Fu is Much More Profound than these skills. Just like Chinese medicine it is impossible for you to learn Kung Fu online. Kung Fu has its own philosophy which you will only understand after reaching a certain level of experience, for example the unique Kung Fu systems such as the bridge hands concept (桥手) and the footwork applications (步法).
Chinese Kung Fu has its mental and internal cultivation which goes along with it, these cultivation may take up to years to attain depending on which skill and level you are trying to achieve. Like the celebrated Kung Fu's martial ethics, Wu De (武德), it can only be perceived and integrated after the Kung Fu practitioners have spend months with Good Role Models; Kung Fu instructors, seniors or learning buddies. If one learns and uses Chinese Kung Fu or any other combat system without martial art ethics or Wu De (武德), the result is disastrous as he may develop a wrong mindset causing him to be violent, short tempered or feel inferior.
Having the right mindset in life is critical, as I have met individuals growing up to become angry and abusive adult after they head down the wrong path. Some of them started to show these unacceptable behavior when they just primary school kids! If you are a parent do you want this to happen to your child????