Congrats and best of luck to Wushu Kung-Fu Fed team

The team from the school where I take Taichi, Wushu Kung-Fu Federation, won the team himac.jpgtrophy at the recent combined Houston International Martial Arts Championship and USAWKF National Championships. I’ve seen the trophy, but have not seen the results posted anywhere on the net so if anyone has seen them please send me the URL in a comment (as the results are not posted at the website above yet).

The team won some 30 medals. Congratulations to Master Jason Jung and all who participated. The team is now off to China to compete in an international tournament (leaving yours truly in Texas to complete his first form).

I did not participate, having only been with the school for two months (and, last I checked, knowing half of a form doesn’t really get you in the door). But I obviously have been good or lucky or both at selecting instructors, having two excellent ones (or are they picking me??).

In both instances, I used sage advice from two of my friends who had long been black belts. Both Bob and Louis told me (1)pick a school that is close to where you live; and (2)watch and/or try one class.

It may not sound very scientific, but, trust me, it is. First, if a school is not conveniently located, you won’t attend as much as you should, so you will not learn as you expected and you will grow discouraged. This was especially important when my son and I took lessons together, as it’s important to keep kids committed and every little bit (like a shorter car trip) helps.

Second, many people take a class based on its reputation, and may grow frustrated with the style after a months worth of lessons (and money). Almost all martial arts schools offer trial classes or let you watch as much as you want.

I also remembered the hard way a lesson that I already knew: it is hard if not near impossible to properly learn without an instructor. Because of my work travel schedule, I could not regularly attend, so I read books, practiced through DVD’s and took some seminars. While the seminars (through Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, author of some of the best books on Qigong, Taichi, and other Chinese martial arts) were excellent (and highly recommended, you can find the schedule here), they were infrequent and short.

Each individual is different, but for me, a good instructor is a requirement. One example: there is an excellent Qigong (Chi Kung) book titled The Way of Energy by Master Lam Kam Chuen. The book runs through a series of standing meditations, which really become concentration and balance exercises, quite strenuous as you get to the end. I followed the postures, and based on my Qigong seminars worked on my breathing. I could tell my balance was improving, but other than these being a nice posture for meditation, I just didn’t get it.

Halfway through the Yang 24 form with my instructor, I have encountered almost all of these standing meditation postures as part of the form (or we have used them in our beginning stretching/meditation), and Master Jung has walked through each of them and explained what the physical and/or martial application of each is.

Perhaps I should have (or eventually would have) gotten this myself. But, for my own studying, there is no alternative to having an instructor (and one picked through the tried, true and lucky Larry method).

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