Choosing a Kung Fu School

With the popularity of the Ip Man films, Wing Chun (Wing Tsun) is seeing revived interest among martial artists and film fans alike.  In the films, Donnie Yen portrays Grand Master Yip Man- Famed for bringing the Wing Chun style to the forefront of Kung fu in Hong Kong, as well as being the Sifu (Teacher) of Bruce Lee.  In these films, we can see a lot of the hallmark techniques of Wing Tsun.  Enthusiasts wanting to learn this system should be wary of schools that are all flash and no substance.  So what should a student look for when choosing a Kung Fu school in Phoenix?

Be sure to choose a school with quality instruction.  Some schools use the names of martial art styles as a marketing strategy: Slapping the names of popular martial arts in order to get you in the door. Don’t settle for a bandwagon Sensei! Be sure your instructor is well versed in the nuances of the style being taught.  Ask the instructor about their curriculum and what you will be learning.  If they don’t have a plan for instruction, that is a sign that they will be showing you martial art tricks rather than martial art techniques.

Similarly, a good school refuses to water down its curriculum in order to appeal to the masses.  My advice, be wary of schools that start students right away on chi-sau (Sticking hands). Chi-sau is a highly specialized skill that you will begin to understand once ideas of punching, footwork, yielding and trapping have been absorbed. Chi-sau that is tense, tight, and quick-  resembles chi sau in appearance, but not in function.  This is why it is critical to follow curriculum that is scaffolded in order to build proper technique, with a strong foundation.

A good martial arts school is focused on your safety.  Beware of the teachers that are not mindful of your well-being. I have had students come to me from other schools describing being beaten up in class without regard for their safety. The teachers and students should adhere to the golden rule. “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”  At the end of the day, you want to learn self-defense, but not at the expense of your health.  Wing Tsun is not a sports martial arts like MMA, it is a traditional martial art meant to be practiced over the course of your life; it is meant to build your body up, not to wear you down.  If possible, talk to students see what types of injuries (if any) they have encountered in class.

Make sure the school has a positive atmosphere.  When talking to your potential teacher, listen to how they answer your questions:  does the instructor appear to be sincere or arrogant?  Pay attention for clues, and go with your gut. If he or she doesn’t have personality you respect, you won’t enjoy the classes for long.

Studying martial arts is a lot of fun.  Choose a school that is focused on student learning. Be sure that the schools number one rule is safety.  Once you’ve found the right one do your part by attending regularly, learning consistently, and enjoying yourself! I wish you much success.


Want to learn Kung Fu in Arizona?  Contact Sifu John






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