In the best Kung Fu classes Students should be taught to understand and control their physiological responses in the face of confrontation. You can have great martial arts techniques that you use wonderfully in the Dojo or training studio, but if you haven’t learned to control the way your body reacts to such a stressful situation, you could find yourself frozen or barely able to move when a real self defence situation arrises.
Instruction must take account of the requirements of British law (or the local equivalent) to ensure that students understand the legal limits of their emerging skills. If your instructors aren’t qualified to teach self defence within the context of the law then they are merely teaching you to fight, which might seem helpful until you are confronted with a real life situation and you are either paralysed by indecision or find yourself arrested because you didn’t know what was permitted.
The best Kung Fu training will have a primary emphasis on developing focus & mastering your own reactions. Kung Fu can be translated to mean something like ‘mastery through hard work.’ The greatest struggle faced by most people on a daily basis is mastering one’s own nature. This is why, traditionally, many Kung Fu classes will include some meditation instruction and have an emphasis on those philosophical concepts that lead to character development.
The humble quiet confidence, that grows with martial expertise, inevitably overflows into every aspect of life. Increasing self esteem means that Kung Fu students become increasingly content with who they are - learning to be comfortable in their own skin. Saving them from self doubt and insecurity.
Good Kung Fu masters will make every effort to increase a student’s confidence and sense of their place within the group. It is the sense of belonging and comfortable camaraderie that enables students to feel more confident in all their their positive life choices.
While good Kung Fu training will enhance these, principally, physical attributes, the best training will take into account the development of the psychological attributes that they parallel. The flexibility of easily coping with different approaches to problems. The balance that comes with seeing empathically different points of view. The fluidity to adapt and take change in one’s stride. The strength of character that others can rely on to be a calm rock. The speed of thought that takes challenges with ease and quickly & calmly responds.
Some historical traditions should always be maintained because they can help create a separation between our everyday lives and the training studio. We bow as we enter to mark the transition to a space in which the ego, competition and life’s stresses are left behind. We bow to our training partners to acknowledge their co-operation and friendly intent as we enable each other to achieve our best.
By Sifu. Mark Ringer
“You don’t have to be a master to start, but you have to start to become a master”
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