Important Factors For Authentic Chinese Martial Arts!
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Elaborate facilities, fancy uniforms and flashy moves mean nothing in real martial arts. Once you sign up at many schools your monthly fee is only the beginning (but they won't necessarily tell you this up front). They will want to charge you for equipment, regular belt tests, special classes or events, private lessons or who knows what else. Training in good martial arts does not require a lot of equipment (mainly your own body). Real martial arts are economical, fair, direct and based on common sense. Some of the best instructors in the world teach out of very small facilities.
Free offers are to get you in the door and to sell you something. Free often has a high price.
Schools have to charge money to survive, but they should be upfront about fees and the fees should be fair and competitive. Long term contracts favor the school not the student and are only required by schools who are too concerned about money and greed.
The terms "Master" and "Grandmaster" are highly abused. Many people using these terms are self-appointed and haven't earned these titles. In traditional Chinese martial arts the term "Master" is only applied to someone who has completely digested the principles of a system earning the position in a particular system. "Grandmaster" is applied only after a master's teacher has died in that system (these terms are mostly used by cultures other than Chinese). A good instructor does not refer to himself as Master or Grandmaster (that demonstrates tremendous arrogance). Someone who suddenly creates their own system also instantly becomes the Grandmaster to their system (a common scam and shows a lack of loyalty and respect to their teachers).
The titles for teachers in traditional Chinese martial arts are Sifu (Cantonese) or Shifu (Mandarin). Beware of titles like Dai Sifu, Sigung, Guru, Abbott, etc. These are usually used because the instructor wants to sound special. These are not legitimate traditional titles with the exception of Sigung (used only by students who are referring to their teacher's teacher, but never used by instructors to refer to themselves).
Instructors that are too nice and accommodating are usually concerned about taking your money. The instructor should be kind and humble, but not too nice. Instructors should be great task masters and leaders, they get things done and expect their students to work hard. Classes should be enjoyable but should challenge you mentally and physically if you really want to become good.
Instructors who make claims like many Black Belts, Hall of Fame listings (there are only two semi legitimate Hall of Fame listings, most listings are easy to get into), being the best or most knowledgeable anywhere, displaying lots of trophies, claiming numerous awards or lots of recognition by others are all trying to impress people. A good instructor should be honest but also humble.
An instructor should teach no more than two complete Martial Art systems. Absolutely no one can master more than two complex systems in a lifetime, guaranteed. Those who claim to know more than two - may know a little about a lot of things, but know a lot about nothing.
Listing a history is very different than listing a lineage. A lineage shows a direct connection to a history (anyone can list a history). The instructor should list a lineage with direct training under only a couple of good teachers (at least 10 - 15 years of serious training and teaching under their teachers). Loyalty is very important. Too many teachers means too much jumping around to try to collect many teachers or styles to list on their resume. For example, in my lineage there are a number of famous names and although I trained with people from all over the world, I studied directly under only two head instructors. The other two names that are directly connected to me are older brothers of mine under the same instructor. I continued studying with them after our instructor died. Loyalty breeds trust, trust enables a good teacher to pass on the secrets of a system.
Training and learning should be the priority, not belts. Having belt tests every few months or getting black belts in a few years is a disgrace to legitimate martial arts. It is a false security and a dishonor to students to grant black belts in a few years and putting these belts on children is even worse. In authentic Chinese martial arts there are only two positions in a particular system - student and teacher (Sifu). Becoming an instructor in traditional Chinese martial arts takes many years and is only reserved for those who are mature adults with life experience.