Perhaps you are searching for something different, interested in Chinese traditions, or you are simply an avid Kung Fu movie buff (because who can’t get enough of Gordon Liu and Donnie Yen!), all of which are reasons we seek out instruction in Chinese martial arts. But how do we find a decent school and for that matter, a quality instructor?
It is quite challenging to find quality Kung Fu these days, and rightfully so! Kung Fu is quite challenging and yet it is also quite simple. Schools and instructors are sparse and quality divides things further, but a keen eye and a bit of self-reflection can lead you to what you seek!
I spent most of my childhood as a diligent study of American Kenpo. Growing up I never knew much about Kung Fu other than David Carradine and Bruce Lee, rather I relied more on the American social culture of martial arts getting my inspiration from ninja turtles and poorly acted Karate flicks. I worked hard in my training and achieved that glorified standard of black belt! An achievement we set our sights on thinking it defines us as skilled in the ways of the art, or so we are meant to believe. The truth is that knowledge, understanding, and skill have no levels or belts and it is only our humility that sheds light onto the darkness which leads to the realization that the path goes so much further.
My first time coming to this realization was after I received my black belt in American Kenpo. I felt like there had to be more. Something deeper that I would find intriguing for years on end. I left my school and began my search, however, most other schools were more of the same and so I became discouraged to the point that I regarded all commercial operations to be no different. My mind was made up in hopes that some day I’d find an old man somewhere who was a genuine martial master who would teach me the way, my own Mr. Miyagi (as I said, American Karate flicks were my thing)!
During those years of searching I practiced various styles, such as Aikido and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I enjoyed all the training, but there was still something missing, and I still refused to get fully involved in a commercial school. Then during my first year at college I met a friend of mine who was an extreme fan of old Kung Fu movies (to this day, I regard him to be the authority on Kung Fu movies). He had told me that for as long as he had been a fan he had never had much of an opportunity to learn Kung Fu. And so he decided that he was going to go find a school and try things out. As his friend I told him that if he found one, I’d come by and check it out. It wasn’t long before he found one and joined up. So I went to one of his classes to see what this Kung Fu stuff was all about. While I was there I had an opportunity to speak with the Sifu and get some insight into the style he taught. I had never thought of martial arts in the fashion that was being shown to me. The style was Northern Shaolin 7-Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu, and at that moment I decided to join the school and ever since I have been dedicated to bettering my understanding and improving my skill in this fascinating and effective style.
So how does any of this help you decide on how to find a school? The answer is simple. Find a Kung Fu school and talk with the teacher. Take a class as well. Determine if you can find longevity and interest for yourself or not. The key is continuous improvement. You must be patient and humble, yet also be able to reflect on yourself and conclude what it will take to get better. Good Kung Fu is difficult to find, but if you search and find something that is nothing short of amazing, you’ll have found your school.
Interested in what Praying Mantis Kung Fu has to offer? Attend one of our classes and be immersed in this unique art.