Discussion in 'Chinese Martial Arts Articles' started by RedRebel, Jan 30, 2018.
What are some of the most common mistakes kung fu beginners make?
Drinking the cool aid. or Bringing their own cool aid with them, Starting questions with the words "Bruce Lee... "
not asking enough questions. too much respect. leaving the brain at the door. a key part of any self defence program is learning to take responsibility for your own learning. as David Prowes said " I'm your father Luke" or was it "I won't be there when you cross the road." Should you ever have to use your art for real it is unlikely that your instructor will be on hand to give you advice. It is a tricky balance to leave your preconceptions at the door but still bring your critical thinking mind with you and to accept that part of learning is to eventually become responsible for your own learning. (but not in a hurry). like I said - triky
Deciding when the teacher says watch me, that it is time to start having conversations with other students
An over-romanticised view of what kungfu is.
Also, unwilling to learn new things or from differing perspectives.
I had one guy come in, with a WC background. And in every class, he always had a... "well in WC we did this..." I wouldn't mind so much if he was good at it. He wasn't. He trained for like 6 months and left that school and somehow ended up at my group.
To give a better view...everything he did was focused on "lap sau" and into chain punching.
Otherwise, just general new student stuff..just like me when I'm in a new class learning new things. I'm attentive but also always doing something wrong.
I find a quick 1-2-3 solves that delusion....
To put some context to the above, here Darth Vader before he was famous
You mind has to be empty enough to learn but you cannot simply be an empty vessel you have to engage with what you are learning, try it out, see what works, see what doesn't work try and find out why.
Ego is often a big problem for beginners - but ego is a big problem for all martial artists as a whole. as evidenced by the way many of the threads on this forum degenerate into cat-fights.
that said - lack of assertiveness can also be a reason why students seek out martial arts training. ego is not a bad thing per-se, its just what you do with it that matters.
Once again, having his voice replaced
One of the things I liked about Bristol when I first came here in the 90's was, no matter how intimidating a person might look or act, the accent always took the edge off it
Not incorporating regular fitness training as an adjunct to martial arts classes (e.g. separate cardio and strength workouts). In my experience, a large percentage of recreational students are not fit enough for activities of daily living, never mind being able to cope with the demands of martial arts practice.
One of the more common misconceptions I encounter is that traditional martial arts of Asian origin (kung fu, karate, taekwondo etc) are somehow exempt from the need to work on one's fitness outside of classes. "The old masters never did squats" is a typical (and illogical) justification put forward by instructors and students alike.
For example, when kicking, if you sit for long periods of time and don't do effective strength exercises for your low back regularly, you have an increased risk of injury due to the forces transmitted from the ground to the striking limb via the lumbopelvic region. You should be fit to train in martial arts; you shouldn't aim to get fit by doing martial arts.
One of the biggest things I think new students fall victim to is the conceptualisation of violence as flashy and to a certain extent orderly.
I think irrespective of style a lot of new student's carry this misconception and it's likely born from cinema, games and print media and in the worst environments it is fostered.
As a general comment I think a lot of 'traditional' martial arts can be massively opaque to the beginner and inherently demand a certain degree of faith which as has been mentioned can make things difficult when assessing the nature and quantity of a piece of training's value.
There is no place for belief or faith in either teaching a martial art or in learning a martial art.
In fact there is no place for belief or faith in either teaching or in learning regardless of the subject.
I agree that much of what is done in traditional martial arts can be opaque to the beginner. I do not agree that this demands the student to respond with faith. In my opinion responding to a lack one’s own understanding with faith is a fundamental mistake in learning - regardless of the subject. If you don’t understand why you are being asked to do something keep asking questions until you are satisfied with the response.
That's another issue. The answer might appeal to a beginner who has never been in a fight but not appeal to someone who has experience in it.
Could you please expand on what you mean by "that's another issue" and "the answer might appeal". I think I know what you might mean but I am not sure.
My point is that satisfaction with an answer (what i think you mean by appeal) should be based on logical reasoning not faith.
It should go without saying (but it its worth saying anyway) that no teacher, whatever the subject should require any student to place faith in them and that no teacher should reply to any question with a call for belief.
What would you be basing your logical reasoning on, if you had no previous knowledge of, or experience with the subject matter?
Thank you for the much better explanation xD
Like yeah for a practical example in Wing Chun (sorry it's just an easy example) you might ask "why are we standing like this (goat stance)?"
And the reply might be along the lines of "you can get more power in a smaller space". If I don't know any better then that answer is perfectly valid.
An F5 and a pin? Bit harsh but I'll go with it next time.
Someone mention fitness outside of class. I totally agree that this should be more encouraged. And this generation has better opportunities to do so compared to the older generation.
Ok well, my Dad was a PakMei Sifu at one point. So he is easily compared to me as a "previous gen" and from Hong Kong and China...so pretty "traditional" as you can get from that region.
Back then they had no time to go to the gym. Firstly in Hong Kong there rarely was an one (70s n 80s) and if there was one, him like many other students were probably working full time (and then some) cos they were broke.
So when a bunch migrated to other countries and managed to open kung fu schools, held in restaurants after hours or in their back garden, they brought in that mentality of "we only trained during class and focused on forms and drills outside". Because they didn't know about strength and conditioning, short of what was passed down. (Push ups, static squats, grinding stones with hands etc)
Now we have a generation that actually has a little more time, better education in Health and gyms that are cheap and everywhere.
I agree with you in so far as a reliance on faith in leu of critical thinking is a learning error and that requesting it is a teaching flaw. But I think they both happen.
The inherent message in training particular applications and patterns of movement is that they are either directly functional or contribute towards functionality, in combat; but in truth they might not.
Despite that, scores of students place faith in the process and accept the reasoning of teachers who have simply done the same thing.
I'm not saying it's right, I'm not saying everyone does it: but it happens and it is something to be aware of as a new student ie don't fall into that trap.
And I say 'traditional' not to polarise or paint a false dichotomy but simply because it's here that a lack of pressure and adherence to tradition and dogma seems more prevalent (though not exclusive).
You only have to look at demonstrations of applications from various forms of karate, Kung Fu, silat, Jujitsu, ninpo, tkd etc to see this process at work else nobody would be training those techniques.
I entirely agree with you. You say more articulately what I meant when I said - drinking the cool aid or bringing your own cool aid with it with you is a problem for students beginning kung fu. One has to learn kung fu with a critical mind.
One of the problems with kung fu is that it includes many practices that inform the understanding of fighting and or that develop certain characteristics that are beneficial in a fight - e.g tendon strength. but the practices themselves have no direct function in fighting.
Traditional kung fu is a system for learning how to fight. - with that system comes a whole load of theory. theory a great strength when it comes to understanding things. it lets you understand things that are outside of your direct experience. - we understand the big bang, gravity waves, evolution, and how the liner vectors of tiger strikes can be used to displace an opponents centre of gravity past their base. The problem with theory is that until your test your understanding you dont know if you have actually understood it right.
In getting on for 40 years of martial arts I have come across a fair few fake ones and traditional arts are more subject to fakery. I have also come across teachers that are honest but mistaken as you describe. But I have seen and practised many genuine traditional arts with many highly knowledgeable teachers. In my experience genuine traditional martial arts place a high value on practical testing in order to ensure that the theory and the world match up and I have found the forms and practices in traditional arts to be hugely valuable in informing my actions in real world self defence situations.
Somebody, asked a good question. how can a student who does not yet know anything about fighting tell whether they should be satisfied with answer. One thing that would help is to ask for practical demonstrations. If a student asks, why do we do Win Chung stance ? and a teacher might reply "it is to fight in small spaces". This reply would be legitimate, but in my option not very helpful. If the student asks, "please show me a practical demonstration of why we use Win Chung stance. " The teacher should practically demonstrate on the student so the student can experience what is going on. Should the student require further clarification or follow up they should ask. (limitations of class size and time permitting). Ultimately if your teacher is unable to demonstrate the practical value of any practice to your satisfaction you should leave and find another teacher and/or another art.
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