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Being a Kung Fu Student

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

Kung fu is a study of a lifetime, the more you practice the better you get. There is a Chinese saying – "Three years you take a small step forward, six years you will get better, nine years you will accomplish a fairly good technique." Kung fu is a long term practice.

But when it comes to kung fu, most people feel it is only about learning how to fight. What people don’t understand is that kung fu is not all about fighting as they think of it. Kung fu is about discovering your true potential through the study of the science of fighting. It is a discipline where people can actually gain a better understanding of their true nature and nurture their real potential.

It is about developing yourself and your character. In the old days when people entered the Shaolin Temple for the first time, they were not even taught kung fu. They worked as servants, to help carry water, fix the meals, clean the clothes, gather and cut firewood and other things like that. This was done to help build the body as well as to observe the patience and character of a person to decide whether or not that person was worthy of learning kung fu.

Good character is key. To be successful in kung fu a student must have good moral character and a strong team spirit. They must not only have commitment to learn but also want to be part of a team. Nothing replaces the training in the classroom with your teacher and classmates. Consistent class attendance is the foundation to your success. Regular class practice will provide an opportunity to develop a good root through strong basics. It is just like a tree, if you do not have a good strong root, you will never grow tall. Your basics, when worked on a regular basis, will provide you with a good strong root which will then allow you to grow and learn from more complex, strong, and beautiful components of the art.

Unfortunately, there is no short cut to getting good at kung fu and the only road to travel is that of practice. It is as Master Yamamoto used to tell his students all the time, “You must be a slave to your art before you can become its master.” It was his way of informing us that only through consistent class attendance and practice could you master what you learn. The two go hand in hand. One cannot replace the other. If you want to grow as a good student you will need both; good class attendance and some personal home practice (to help you remember what you learn in class). You will develop your character and grow as a student through consistent class practice.

Kung fu training is a lot more than the physical moves or how fast you memorize forms. Kung fu is about time in and mastering yourself, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. As you train in kung fu you have to spend time developing your patience and good character. You must understand respect for those who have put more time in than you. Just like in the old Shaolin Temple days, your Sifu will test your patience and character to determine if you are truly worthy of moving to your next rank or the next level of your kung fu training. These hidden exams (since they are on a mental and emotional level) are many times much more difficult than any physical exam you will take. This process is what makes you a real student and helps develop your true self.

Leadership Talk 10-30-2021

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