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kung fu, martial arts, mixed martial arts, self defense, Terre Haute

Finding a New Sifu (Martial Arts Instructor)

I know a local Terre Haute, Indiana business that, after its founder passed away, was run by the founder’s son.  Unlike the founder of the business, the new owner had no clear ability to organize or direct the business.  He saw the business as a means to accumulate wealth – period.  What happened?  Well, after years of doing business with no legal liabilities, the business was hit with multiple lawsuits.  And, while they did settle out of court on all of the cases, they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process – not to mention the hit they took to their business’ “good name” in the community.

The situation at this company impacted its employees, too.  Many were struggling with what they thought would be their career and having to start over somewhere else.  Not only did the lawsuits have them concerned over the business’ future, they were struggling everyday with the disorganized environment.  Stress.  Uncertainty.  Fatigue.  Stagnation.  . . .  The list goes on and on.  These are symptoms of a situation no one wants to find themselves.


Yet, after a Sifu (or teacher) decides to change systems, retire or passes away, many students (whether by psychosomatic disposition or through real changes in leadership) find themselves lacking the kind of instruction they need (or want) in the new teacher(s).  It’s a hard place to be.  Do I stay out of loyalty to my beloved Sifu, or do I leave to grow elsewhere?  And, if I do leave, where do I go?

I found myself in that position.  After years learning from my Sensei [teacher], he retired.  There was no one to take his place. . . . .  I looked around for quite awhile, but after finding no one I just gave up.  I stayed away from training for years.  And, I always felt this emptiness inside, like I was missing something important, like a meeting, or church, or something.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Then, one day, my kid got into a fight with another kid, and I found myself struggling to deal with it.  It got me thinking:  I should have kept looking for a new Sensei.  When I got back to looking, I eventually found someone, and that emptiness is gone. . . . .  I think my first Sensei would be proud.


Here in Terre Haute, Indiana, we’ve seen all kinds of situations like this occur:

  • Schools relocate to another location for various reasons;
  • Instructors quit practicing a sports-orientated art to teach a program through retirement;
  • Instructors retired; or,
  • Students are forced to re-locate and cannot attend anymore.

I moved to Terre Haute six years ago.  Before here, I had studied Jeet Kune Do under Instructor Inosanto, and I loved it.  But, the forced move meant I couldn’t learn under him anymore. So, I looked around and went to the only place I could find that teaches Jeet Kune Do.  I was disappointed. . . . .  I found that the system wasn’t taught, and I couldn’t get certified, which was my main goal.  I’ve stayed all these years, but I go to seminars in other parts of the country to work on what I really want to achieve. . . .   I wish I knew about you sooner.

(Bruce Lee practicing Wing Chun Kung Fu with Grandmaster Ip Man)

If you’re in the position where you’re seeking an instructor, ask yourself a few questions before approaching a school.  Things like:

  • What are my goals?  What’s my real reason for wanting to learn (e.g., self-defense, sports, etc.)?
  • What kind of time do I have to commit to learning?
  • Do I really need to continue down the same system as I was previously to reach those goals?
  • What’s my budget?

Additionally, you may want to read my article on the Warning Signs of a McDojo.

Oh – here’s another important note:  Don’t go somewhere because of someone else.  Go looking to become your best.  I’m in the process of writing an article on this too (stay tuned).

Finally, don’t go somewhere to become familiar with something.  Go looking to master the art, so you have the ability to express your intentions – in time – upon any need to do so, in an efficient and effective manner.  I’ll write a blog on this soon too.  (I’ll try to make this and the previously promised subject the next two blogs I post.)

I hope these resources help you in your journey.  If you have any questions for me, write to me at, and I’ll do my best to get to your question promptly.  If you’re interesting in learning more about the Yost Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy, call me at (812) 229-4097, or email me at the address above.

Empower yourself to life!™

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©2018 Yost Wing Chun Academy. All Rights Reserved.

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