Every so often we get asked a question along this line:
Jason, I’ve never taken kung fu, but have always been interested. How long does it take to get good at it, to master it?
The long and short of it is this: It depends on your goals and how much time and effort you put into it. For everyone it’s different. With that said: Mastering kung-fu is different than reaching your goals. As I wrote in an earlier blog, everyone comes to our kwoon (i.e., school or learning hall) for different reasons; have different goals. One seeking to honestly master kung-fu should be ready to commit to the system a long time, as anything worth mastering is worth investing the long-term (e.g., your retirement or career or family).
If you’re thinking of learning kung fu, or martial arts, or self-defense, or just looking to accomplish any other goal in your life, here are a few things to consider before blindly going about trying to reach those goals:
1.) Know your goal. This sounds elementary, and maybe it is, but there are a lot of people who come to our kwoon who don’t have a clear understanding of why they’re there. They think they do, until it comes time to do the work.
2.) Defining and clearly understanding your goals requires planning. Are you looking to loose weight? What’s your goal, not just with your weight but with your sense of wellness or quality of life?
Are you looking to learn self-defense? What kind? Are you thinking of a sports-like fighting system or street-applicable (or otherwise combat-applicable) martial art system?
Are you strong but want to be more able in your everyday life (i.e., learn to use your wellness)? How so? Are there things you’re doing now that have lead to this decision?
Defining and clearly understanding your goals allows you to communicate those to others, so they can understand and help you reach them (or, otherwise, be an accountability partner). It also empowers you to know when and how to invest yourself, assuming you’ll do the next step:
3.) Patiently seek the right system to help you reach your goals. As I wrote in an earlier blog, just because there are multiple schools that teach a martial art system doesn’t mean all schools are organized and managed the same. Don’t take for granted your past experiences somewhere else or a marketing pitch (on television or radio). Know what you’re getting into, and make sure you understand how it will help you reach your goals.
4.) But, don’t make excuses for not starting. Some people confuse patience with procrastination. When you find the path to your goal, you either take it or you don’t. Anything else doesn’t make the destination. It reminds me of an old Chinese proverb that I often expand upon. It goes: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, but the journey doesn’t end there. In order to reach the destination that one step must be followed by another. If we have a thousand-step journey and take 999 steps we still won’t reach our goal.
5.) Prioritize your goal in yourself and life. As I wrote in another blog, having purpose in relation to your journey and goals is of paramount importance. Those who cannot see the value in each step will only look at the number of steps left, or think about how they feel after taking 999 steps, or any number of other temptations to quit. While it can be easy to give up on our goals, there are reasons you set those goals to begin with. If you clearly defined and understood those goals in the beginning and they were important enough to start the journey, you owe it to yourself to complete that journey and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
6.) Don’t allow negative influences to remain in your environment. If your goals are important to you, don’t allow environmental stressors (e.g., other people) to prevent you from reach them or be constant obstacles distracting you from your journey (i.e., path to reaching your goals). Mange your life.
I’ve always said that everyone is a business owner. They own their life. It is their life to manage. And, when one chooses not to manage that life, they open the door for predators to come in and feast on whatever valuables they deem worthy, leaving you resourceless.
Consider this: Have you have had such a demanding day at work (e.g., a lot more customers than usual asking for your help) that you felt exhausted before the end of the work day? Sure. We all have. But, did you settle for that condition, or find ways to mitigate (even remedy) that condition?
7.) Surround yourself with those who will empower you in your journey. This is so important! I can’t tell you how many times, in my own life, that there was that one person who stood up and gave me what I needed in a moment of weakness – that motivation and belief, truth and honesty, helping hand and encouragement, etc. – that propelled me past a momentary obstacle (within or without myself) toward my goal. These types of people are a necessity. It reminds me of an old saying:
“No man is an Island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” ~ John Donne’s Devotions (1624)
So, it is with learning kung fu. I hope this helps.
If you have questions about learning kung-fu or want to learn more about the Yost Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy in Terre Haute, Indiana, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (812) 229-4097.
Empower yourself to life!™
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