There are as many reasons for starting martial arts as there are people. If you are thinking of giving it a go then walking into that first class can be daunting. Courage my friend, take that first step and never look back – you have nothing to fear but fear itself. But isn’t the Instructor going to be scary /terrifying/ immortal?
Chief Instructor Dennis Ngo (6th Dan but still mortal) talks about why he takes on beginners in his classes. What’s in it for them? What’s in it for him?
“I have been teaching for more that 35 years. Although I am approaching 65 I have no plans to stop teaching, and I certainly have no plans to stop training. I am on a lifelong journey of learning and improvement – I may never achieve perfection but I’m going to die trying. Given that some of my students have now been training for over 30 years themselves, why do I still say “Beginners Welcome”? Do I really mean it?
Well the simple answer is, yes I do mean it. It’s not only the old saying about “everyone was a beginner once” or ancient wisdom about the “master learning from the student”. It’s because every new student is a potential master* themselves. It is both my pleasure and my duty to provide them with the best possible start – to set them on the correct path. This is an obligation that I have to the White Crane System of Kung Fu. To sit on high and only impart wisdom to my senior students is not my way of meeting that obligation. But that’s enough about me. What’s it going to be like for you?
Do I calmly and patiently explain the most basic of principles and movements to any person who just happens to turn up in my class? Well, sort of. If you want to come along and give it a go you are very welcome. My class is full of students of all levels of training. We work hard and I expect a high level of commitment to frequent, regular training. Mentally exhausted from their day jobs, they nevertheless come in with their bodies ready to work and their brains ready to process. But as a beginner I will make sure that you have the best possible start to your training with a combination of general class training and individual attention.
Many people start as beginners with a once a week class, just as they would expect to do with most things they consider a hobby. That’s ok if you think of your training as a hobby – maybe you also think of your mental and physical wellbeing as optional to your life. Perhaps you think that food is merely something that you put in your mouth for the taste without needing to consider what your body is going to use it for. This is getting a bit serious, a bit heavy maybe? Yes, that’s right, I believe in taking certain things seriously – like training Kung Fu for your own sake. I take food and nutrition very seriously indeed – you will hear plenty about that in my class. Being fit and strong to help with looking after your loved ones is deadly serious too. But if you want a new hobby then I guess once a week might do it.
That sounds a bit tough on someone who just wants to do a bit of training, fitten up, slim down, act like they’re doing something “mindful” doesn’t it? Maybe, but for the beginners in my class who stick it out, they rapidly find that they get more than they bargained for when they first contacted me to see if they could try a class. Much, much more.
Some of them have realised that there is more to life than work, and more to work than stress. Some of them have found mental space to indulge their creativity. Some of them find relief from mental overload and rediscover a feeling of physical fitness that has been missing since they were teenagers (and some of them still are teenagers). Some of them find that their performance in their beloved sports (Kung Fu is not a sport) is boosted far beyond their expectations of “cross-training”. Some of them have travelled the world with me, stretching their backs on a barge sailing down the Nile, climbing up one of the Holy Mountains of China, training at the top of Mount Wudang, snorkelling with lion fish in the Red Sea, holding on for dear life in the back of a jeep driving down huge sand dunes. Mindfulness comes as standard, because living in the moment that is Kung Fu.
I’m on a journey to excellence – maybe not perfection, but excellence. I train everywhere. Want to join me?”
Some of our FWC Kung Fu Instructors run classes specifically for beginners – we call them Foundation Classes. These classes focus on more individual attention to learning the basic techniques and principles. Our Club is consistently praised by beginners for the welcome they receive not only from the Instructors but from the other students in the class.
“Beginners Welcome? Yes, most definitely. Welcome in my classes. Welcome in any of our Instructors’ classes. Welcome in our Club.”
Dennis Ngo – Chief Instructor
*Master – in Chinese Martial Arts “master” refers to a level of expertise and experience and is used for both men and women.