Something I see a lot in a variety of students is this pattern of being in a rush or skipping steps. I see new students wanting to try out the more advanced kicking combinations without having learned the individual kicks that make up the combo first. I’ve seen intermediate students who have studied other styles try to skip immediately to an advanced form stating, “I already have some experience, I don’t need to see your guys’ basics.” Even advanced students sometimes feel that they’ve become so skillful; that they already fully comprehend the body of material they have learned.
Whether it’s the beginner, intermediate, or advanced student almost always at some point in their learning I’ll see a student leap for a technique, form, or concept that’s too advanced for them. Sure, it’s good to challenge yourself with something new…but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about rushing headfirst into something without having established the necessary foundations.
Because this is such a prevalent issue, I wanted to take the time to write a few posts about the subject to help recognize the following: Incorrect assumptions, dangers of rushing, and how to go about training with the “proper” approach/mentality.
First and foremost, let’s lay out on the table a reality that HAS to be addressed. I know Shifu Zhou has touched on this before but it’s worth repeating and really driving home the point.
It’s not uncommon to see folks who practice martial arts as a hobby taking a class perhaps twice a week for about 2 hours each practice. That means 4 hours of dedicated training hall time. Now let’s assume that perhaps this same student practices on their own an hour a day when she/he is not in class. So that’s going to total 9 hours a week.
While we love nothing more than a dedicated student who’s completely gung-ho about training we HAVE to talk about the amount of time spent training.
Students: I get it, you love martial arts and already right off the bat I think that’s great. But really listen to me now: a love of martial arts CANNOT compensate for the sheer time that needs to be put in in order to become proficient in it.
In a previous blog post, Shifu Zhou outlined what his average day training on the mountain was. In one day alone, Shifu would practice a total of eight and a half hours.
Eight and a half hours. Yes, you read that correctly. Let’s continue: Shifu trained full time as well which meant pretty much doing this every single day. That means in one week, Shifu would train 59 and a half hours a week.
Earlier in the post, we mentioned how your average student trains 9 hours a week. Suddenly it makes a lot of sense why the teachers, experts, masters, whatever-you-want-to-call-them are as good as they are, and just how much ground the rest of us have to cover in order to start to reach their expertise.
Everybody: I’m not writing this to discourage anybody or to send the message of “give up now, you’ll never be as good as your teachers.” Instead, I just want to emphasize: don’t be in a rush. There’s always going to be something to work on, so take your time and enjoy what you’re working on in that given moment.
Closing up this post, I just want to remind everyone of an important point: the only real thing you need to become skillful at the martial arts are the following: dedication and TIME. No matter what: you have to put in the time which means there’s one other thing you’re going to HAVE to have. Patience.