Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Difficulty in Learning Chinese Internal Martial Arts

Internal Martial Arts (IMA) are difficult to learn

IMA takes a long time to unpack and process into the body, I tell my students it is a “custom fit” meaning you have to discover it yourself. In today’s instant gratification society people taking years to really dig into something and learn it are the minority. The mind set it takes to spend hundreds of hours practicing forms, push hands, standing, alone or in a small class setting, and receiving individual corrections is few-and-far-between.

Unlike a lot more accessible martial arts (BJJ, Muay Thai) it takes a significant investment of time and energy to reach a minimum threshold of competency, just to embody the basics. I am not demeaning Muay Thai or BJJ, I think they are fantastic arts, but when people with no experience come to me and say they want to learn fight with Bagua Zhang I tell them to go learn Muay Thai. They are going to be happier, sooner (e.g. they are going to learn how to fight) years sooner by learning Muay Thai or BJJ than they would learning Bagua Zhang. Bagua, Xingyi, Taiji are going to take a long time to achieve even a basic level of competency.

This brings me to my second issue, these arts cannot be learned, from the ground up, from a video. Sorry, I just don’t think it is really possible. These arts are hard enough to learn and transmit with a dedicated student/ teacher relationship. A student and teach showing up to class multiple days a week and training. In many cases that is not even enough to reach a minimum threshold of competency. A practitioner who understands the basics and can articulate the correct body mechanics can learn another set or art from a video, no problem.

So, how do you do it? Find a good teacher, practice daily, go to class and train with your class mates as much as possible, think about it a lot and ask questions. 

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