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Author Topic: Ray's a Kung Fu Master.
Ray Bingham
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Time for another pointless update of Ray's personal life, to the group that well... doesn't care... but maybe you can post stuff and mock me, cuz that's what I live for.

Okay. I took my three daughters to Kung Fu class yesterday. It was pretty fun. I was the oldest person in the class, the next oldest was maybe 13... and my daughter Emigail was the youngest (she'll be four end of this week). All the other parents and adults that were there (other than the teacher who was maybe 10 years younger than me) sat and watched their kids. My plan is to train my daughters to be super-powered crimefighters that can kick real booty, like Charlie's Angels.

I was amazed at how difficult it was to simply swing my arms repeatedly and stand with my legs apart in a powerstance (fists on belt, legs apart, knees bent, shoulders forward) for 45 minutes.

We went over some simple and not so simple moves, and the basic rules of the class, which was essentially, don't talk, and listen to the Kungfu master, and do what he says. We did a couple kicks, the Tiger's Claw, the Tiger's Jaw, a couple kinds of blocks, the snake as both a block and strike, and we even tried tried the Crane.

He told us the story of how Kung Fu came to be, that there were three men who went out to learn how to fight the Mongols, one learned from animals, one learned from the "elements (fire, wood, water, rock (I forget?)), and the other learned from the workmen like farmer with tools and stuff.

My wife and baby watched. In the end my baby daughter who's still too young, wanted to get out and do some moves too.

To console ourselves afterwards to cap off family night, we went and ate Chinese food.

My kids did not seem to be nearly as tired as me... why is this?

I was surprised at how well Katie (my oldest daughter who is very mild mannered) took to the moves. She has dance class too, and so she's used to following, but she did work pretty hard to learn the moves.

I think I see where much of the training comes in, in that you learn forms, blocks and strikes and counters and it's as much about moving and chosing these moves strategically as it is being strong and fit. I thought this aspect was the most fascinating. Definitely gonna have to practice a bit, and try to get good at it, so that my kids can start beating up on all the kids in the neighborhood... no... wait... that would be wrong! They will be able to break branches with their fists so that they can attack any killer tree that comes their way! Kee-yah!

Welp, that's my report...

Anyone else out there had siblings or have done any martial arts themselves? Impressions? Thoughts? Warnings? Wisdom?

--Ray

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ben5
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I'm a fencer [Smile]
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FIJC
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It's very good that you are putting your daughters through martial arts. It will put you more at ease when they grow up and move away, or simply go away to school. Knowing martial arts is better than simply being defenseless. Most people who live near urbanized areas aren't allowed to carry concealed weapons, so I suppose that martial arts is the next best line of defense, especially for women.

Edited to add: I am not familar with Kung Fu--is it Chinese martial arts? Around where I live, people do Tae Kwon Do (Korean). The big trend in my area is now Capuera, which my brother has been training in for almost a year now. It's kind of neat to watch, but it is too pretty to be in any way practical, IMHO.

[ April 20, 2004, 10:23 PM: Message edited by: FIJC ]

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noah
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quote:
He told us the story of how Kung Fu came to be, that there were three men who went out to learn how to fight the Mongols, one learned from animals, one learned from the "elements (fire, wood, water, rock (I forget?)), and the other learned from the workmen like farmer with tools and stuff.

But which one was Kung-Fu?

In other news, I used to do karate, but I quit because I had other things to do at that time. Plus, it's so ornamental and dance-like that I can't imagine it being any use.

I also use to fence, briefly. That was back when I lived in a town with a fencing place.

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LetterRip
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I was (am?) a fairly dedicated martial artist. During much of college and shortly after it was not unusual for me to spend five hours a day in martial practice. (Fencing - the foil and epee - mostly classical italian style, but a bit of french and modern sport style as well; Shodokan Karate; and Seishinkai Aikido; A smidgin of other styles as well American Style Judo, American Taekwondo, and another Karate the style of which escapes me).

quote:
I think I see where much of the training comes in, in that you learn forms, blocks and strikes and counters and it's as much about moving and chosing these moves strategically as it is being strong and fit.
Well, you don't really 'choose moves'. The practice is to develop muscle memory and ingrain proper technique so that it is automatic even (and especially) when you are extremely fatiqued or in the heat of a fight. Martial arts (in the physical and combat sense, I'll avoid philosphical discussion right now...) are primarily about being aware of your opponent (and surroundings) and keeping yourself in such a state that you can adequately react.

While strength, speed, agility, and other physical attributes do play a part, they are primarily of interest only when the two opponents are closely matched in skill or when the physical advantage of one is overwhelming.

LetterRip

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LetterRip
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FIJC,

'Kung Fu' is a generic term used to refer to the Chinese martial arts - it literally means 'hard work'. Usually it is understood to be refering to Shaolin Kung Fu. Although the myth Ray repeated bits of doesn't sound quite right for the cannonical version so it may not be Shaolin he is refering to.

LetterRip

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LetterRip
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Ray,

I think you might have got your history wrong (or your instructor may have...)

Here is the timeline of Kung Fu development

http://www.shaolin.com/page.asp?s=shaolin&content_id=1011

The origins of animal styles was developed a thousand years before the mongols, and the five fist forms (five form fists/five elements) came after. Usually 'Kung Fu' is viewed as starting with Tamo/Damo/Ta Mao/Da Mao. Long before the Shaolin began resisting the Mongols.

LetterRip

[ April 20, 2004, 09:08 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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FIJC
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quote:
"'Kung Fu' is a generic term used to refer to the Chinese martial arts - it literally means 'hard work'. Usually it is understood to be refering to Shaolin Kung Fu. Although the myth Ray repeated bits of doesn't sound quite right for the cannonical version so it may not be Shaolin he is refering to."
Thanks, I know more about Asian organized crime than Asian martial arts. It is always interesting to learn of stuff like this.

So was anyone here inspired to pursue martial arts after watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Yeah, it perpetuates the stereotype that all Asian chicks want to do is kick butt, but it is such a great movie.

Shameless plug: http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony/crouching_tiger_hidden_dragon/tr_lg.htm

[ April 20, 2004, 10:15 PM: Message edited by: FIJC ]

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Rte66
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quote:
'Kung Fu' is a generic term used to refer to the Chinese martial arts - it literally means 'hard work'. Usually it is understood to be referring to Shaolin Kung Fu.
I've been told that Gung Fu (the Cantonese pronunciation) mean "skilled man". It probably has the combined meanings.

I've read that the term that best translates to martial arts is Wu-shu. The use of Gungfu in the West to describe Chinese martial arts is credited to (blamed on) Bruce Lee.

I've been studying Jeet Kune Do (JKD) for 11 years now. I've also studied Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ), Freestyle Wrestling and Shito-Ryu Karate. For girls I strongly recommend BJJ. In my opinion it best suits the self-defense needs of women.

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FIJC
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quote:
"For girls I strongly recommend BJJ. In my opinion it best suits the self-defense needs of women."
Probably the best defense need for a woman would be a handgun. The truth is that no matter how proficient one may be in the martial arts, your opponent having a gun would put you at a terrible disadvantage. Of course, knowing martial arts is better than nothing.
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pickled shuttlecock
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quote:
My kids did not seem to be nearly as tired as me... why is this?
Less torque.
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Sancselfieme
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Hap Ki Do is better [Razz] [Wink]

I wouldn't recommend it for kids though.

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Zyne
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Everybody was kung fu fighting...
di di di di dee dee deet deet diiiiii
Those cat were fast as lightning...
di di di di dee dee deet deet diiiiii

[Razz]

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LetterRip
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Rte66,

Hmm, have never heard the 'skilled man' before, perhaps it does have that meaning as well.

As to the alternative spelling...

quote:
This is yet another result of western linguists confusing both eastern and western speakers. In the once near-universal Wade-Giles spelling, a Chinese "G" sound was written in English as "K", while what the Chinese pronounced as "K" was transcribed as "K' ". Thus if kung fu were supposed to be pronounced with a "k" sound, it would have been written as "k'ung fu." When Bruce Lee introduced American audiences to his martial arts, he both spoke and wrote the American "G", hence "gung fu." Confused? Don't worry about it, so is everyone else....
FIJC,

a handgun is only really useful if you see the attack coming. Also, hand gun courses don't do much to improve your awareness of suroundings.

Depending on amount of time available to study, I'd recommend 1) a half day course on how to use a kubakon (not the correct spelling, but it is a small stick, you can jab it into pressure points and soft spots, use it for controls and other stuff - a small rock, stick, keys, etc. will likely be at hand in the environment if you are attacked thus the methods will still be available, also you can use fingers if you have to) 2) a 'self defense for women' day class plus possibly a week intensive or equivalent course. 3) Finally if time is available BJJ and Aikido for a long term commitment.

LetterRip

editted to correct lysdexia

[ April 21, 2004, 01:31 AM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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EvanWeeks
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Hapkido is good, but brutal, especially when combined with traditional chinese open-hand techniques and japanese locks and throws... very, very brutal, to-the-point art. Masochists welcomed.

I practiced that for several years before I found a Kendo/Kenshitokai teacher. Now, I don't know what I'd do without being able to draw steel in the morning and go through kata. It calms the mind and heart and sets me on a much more peaceful path through the day.

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Ray Bingham
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Thanks for the clarification. Since the class was geared to younger people, I could tell he was trying to get folks more inspired in the program. He did mention the use of weapons too.

I would ask more questions during the course, but I fear we'd never do any exercises, cuz I'm fascinated by this stuff, especially the historical aspects.

Kids hate that stuff though.

--Ray

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musket
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The term "kung fu," Romanized in that way, was in use way before Bruce Lee became well known, for example in the books of Robert W. Smith. "Wu shu" means "national arts" and is now used for a standardized, official PRC version of what we usually call kung fu. This is a synthesis of many different systems.

There are a zillion legends about the origins of this or that system of kung fu, most of them about as accurate as our own legends of the wild west.

In the past I studied Hung Gar, Liu Ho Pa Fa ("six combinations, eight methods," a soft martial art similar to Taiji), and two different versions of Wing Chun... which is by far my favorite system for practicality and lack of flowery, showy, moves which are pretty useless in combat. The best known system of Wing Chun, as taught by Yip Man, has only three fist forms, one form with a prop (the so-called "wooden man"), and two weapons, the butterfly knives and six-and a half point pole. For fists and low kicks, it's the most effective and simplest system there is (high kicks are nice for suppleness, but dangerous to use in a real fight unless you are very skilled indeed).

If I wanted to continue my martial arts education, with the goal of learning how to defend myself more completely, I would also study western boxing, and a grappling art like Brazilian Ju Jitsu. But I don't have time and don't really feel the need, since I'm not the type to get into street beefs, and could do plenty of damage as is if the need ever arises, which I hope it won't.

I was a fencer in high school in Northern NJ, way back in the mid-late 60s. Twice Junior Olympian, once in foil and once in saber, second in the state in saber 1966, winner of the Megaro-Cundari saber trophy 1967, eighth alternate to the US Olympic saber team same year.

Fencing in the NJ high schools at that time was the equivalent of fencing in college in any state except NY or CA. Many future US Olympic fencers came out of Ramapo high school especially... those guys were my arch enemies and I didn't beat them often.

I fenced mostly on brains, not being all that talented physically. Eventually I came up against opponents who were as smart or smarter, and a whole lot more athletically adept. Mike DeSaro, who was US Saber Champion back then, carved me up like a Thanksgiving turkey at a meet at the NY Athletic Club in 1968.

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Gaoics79
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I took Muai Thai for a couple months, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn practical fighting and get into peak physical condition. Basically, it's Thai Boxing, and my 1.5 hour classes used to leave me a broken heap on the ground in a pool of my own sweat. I'll tell you, I'm in pretty damn good shape, but Muai Thai will pulverize just about anyone. If you want to burn thousands of calories per session, and learn real street fighting, nothing beats it. (more to the point, it beats YOU)
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musket
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There is a difference between street fighting and self defense. No disrespect to Muay Thai or any other system (including those I studied), but far as I can see, if you want to learn street fighting, the only way to do so is get into street fights.
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EvanWeeks
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I have to agree with Bruce Lee and say that no single form of martial arts has "the answer" for hand to hand combat. Hapkido teaches a very direct style of kicking and punching, full of straight lines and ki-manipulation for extreme amounts of power. Kendo and Kenshitokai (The Art and the Study of the Japanese Sword, respectively) are all about curves and circles. The derivative arts from these sword techniques, Aikido and Jujitsu, are full of the same circles, focused in hand techniques, locks and throws.

All are useful in some form or fashion.

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Rte66
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FIJC,
I agree with LetterRip. If you see it coming. Also I think the most likely danger for a woman, where self-dense could come into play is date rape. I don't know how access able your handgun is in such situations. Also punching-kicking style lose most of their effectiveness when it goes to the ground.

BJJ is the art I recommend for women. For a seminar type self-defense I have heard good things about Impact Model Mugging, but I have no direct experience.

Jason,
I greatly respect Muy-Thai. In some situations I will use a thai-kick. My front kick is influenced by the hip of the thai-kick. I use some thai-style elbows. but
1) Street fighting is a very, very low probability for most women, while date rape is way to common.
2) Once on the ground Muy Thai is practically useless.
3) Muy Thai is a very high impact activity. It is very hard on the body. As you get older your joints will start to wear down.
Also, if you thought Muy Thai workouts where hard try BJJ. It uses entirely different conditioning.

I will admit that BJJ is also hard on your body. Sprained toes, and skin infection are common occurrences.

Musket,
The "skilled man" translation of Gung Fu I heard from Linda Lee Cadwell. Bruce called his first school Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in 1960. I am pretty confident that in America, knowledge of the word "Gung Fu" came more through Bruce Lee than Smith. The Green Hornet, Enter the Dragon, and the Kung Fu TV series (which Bruce help create) are much more influential to the use of the term than all other sources combined. It was from Jet Li's Web page that I read that Wu Shu was the generic term for martial arts in China. But your explanation makes sense and does not really conflict. (i.e. Wu shu does not literally mean martial arts but is the state sanctioned term for martial arts).

Evan,
You should check out some Western Combat oriented martial arts. Read through some articles on The ARMA web page

The western sword styles are better suited for your Honor Guard sword. And this come from a guy that has Samurai blood from both parents. Ironically, if I picked up a sword today for self defense my sword style would most influenced by Escrima.

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PlaydoughBoy
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I've taken a few different classes on different styles and one of my favorites was Kempo (or KenPo). But regardless of the techniques what makes a good class is the quality of your instructor. The one I learned the most from taught Kempo, which of course is mostly kung foo. What made it memorable was how functional he made the classes, he ditched much of the flowery and fairly useless forms and added Jujitsu and Judo. We spent as much time sparring in kung foo forms as we did grappling and learning to use common object in practical combat scenarios. While no one form is best I found his combination of styles and use of realistic techniches to be unique, and it was one damn good workout! Unfortunately I quit after breaking my leg and haven't since gone back.
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twinky
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I studied karate (uechi-ryu) for a couple of years, but sadly when I got to my fourth year of university I no longer had time. Once I'm done and settled, though, I plan to resume my study if I can find a suitable dojo.
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Ray Bingham
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How does one go about finding a dojo? What does one look for?
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EvanWeeks
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Depends on what you're looking for. There are hundreds upon hundreds of Western Tae Kwon Do schools scattered across the nation. You can usually find someone wiling to teach Tai Chi, one of my personal favorites. Kendo is a little less common in the US, though I've managed to find a small school here. Han-Mu-Do is taught mostly in the southern US and Korea. Master Kim Hyung lives and teaches in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as a matter of fact.

Do some searches on Google for styles you're interested in, and then try searching by your area. Sometimes you'll find small studies you didn't know existed in the area.

As far as evaluating these schools, all I can tell you is read, and ask if they're affiliated with an international certifying entity. Most of the martial arts taught here in the US have international organizations that regulate and standardize their arts. Read those organizations' sites, if they have them, and learn about the art and the philosophy behind the art before going to observe a class. It should give you a better idea of what you SHOULD be seeing there. Also, classroom discipline is a matter of taste. I prefer a well-balanced class of equal parts of regimented drills/practice and discussion on the philosophies and ways of approaching the martial arts.

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LetterRip
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Playdoughboy,

By 'mostly kung fu' did you mean it is largely a striking focused art? (It is of Japanese origin so Kenpo is a karate, not a 'kung fu').

I agree that the quality of the instructor has a profound impact, but disagree that the choice of art is not important. Different arts are appropriate for different individuals physical (muscle mass and strength, quickness, age, flexibility, agility) and mental make up (agressiveness, willingness to inflict injury and pain), as well as what goal they wish to accomplish in training (physical health, burn calories, flexibility, kick some ass, personal defense, impressing woman, street fighting, sport competition, self confidence, etc.).

Also some arts have specific disadvantages (although many instructors will avoid 'pureness' in order to 'round out' the art.)

Ray,

quote:
How does one go about finding a dojo? What does one look for?
You need to identify your goals first. However, here are some links on choosing in general.

http://jeremy.org/advice/dojo.html
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/history_of_the_martial_arts/98592
http://martialarts.about.com/library/weekly/aa041903a.htm
http://www.risingsundojo.com/choose.htm

LetterRip

[ April 22, 2004, 05:16 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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musket
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I don't doubt that Bruce Lee was the main popularizer, but I don't think use of the term "kung fu" or "gung fu" for Chinese martial arts originated with him. As has already been mentioned, this term can apply to high skill in any number of activities-- it's perfectly applicable to, say, calligraphy as well as fighting.

Usually, in the Chinese systems, the suffix applied to a style is "Chuan" in Mandarin or "Kuen" in dialects such as Cantonese. Both mean "fist" far as I know, even if the system includes a lot of leg work. Thus, T'ai Chi Chuan (using the old Wade-Giles romanization rather than contemporary Pinyin) means "Grand Ultimate Fist," Wing Chun Kuen means "Beautiful Springtime Fist" with Wing Chun itself being a woman's name, "Hung Gar Kuen" means "Hung Family Fist." An exception is Pa Kua Chang, which means "Eight Diagrams Palm," since this system is noted for use of the open palm rather than the closed fist.

As to what to study, the system is important and so is the teacher. Wing Chun was not developed for health or theatrical performance. Any health benefits that accrue are secondary, and the system is deliberately unshowy. It's for fighting, period. Southern Praying Mantis is much the same.

T'ai Chi is primarily taught today for its health benefits, and as "moving meditation"... though it has a fearsome reputation as a fighting art in the right hands, it isn't easy to find a teacher who stresses that aspect or, quite bluntly, even understands it in any practical way. There are exceptions, such as William Chen, but they are rare.

As I said, I tend to think that striking systems are not enough for the person who really wishes to be a well-rounded martial artist. Rte66 is quite correct-- as the Gracies never tire of pointing out, most real fights (in the sense of extended street beefs) almost always go to the ground in short order, unless you are capable of employing truly crippling strikes against your opponent with great efficacy. Wing Chun is also known colloquially as "the bum's kung fu," because it concentrates on dirty targets such as the eyes and the larynx... but even that may not be enough against a determined assailant who is a lot bigger than you are.

One of the most interesting and difficult to learn Chinese systems, T'ai Sheng Pi Kua, better known as Monkey Boxing, deals with this by literally striking from the ground up a lot of the time. It's very tough to hit somebody who is rolling around on the ground while simultaneously attacking your legs and groin! A Chinese friend and fellow student of mine started studying this system when he was a little kid, but gave it up because it was just too strenuous.

[ April 22, 2004, 06:39 PM: Message edited by: musket ]

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A. Alzabo
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Wow, this is a thread after my own heart! When I was very young, I studied Tae Kwon Do, Hap Ki Do and Tang Soo Do (same school). In high school, I learned Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. As I learned it "Kung Fu" means "cultivation of a skill/art" or "perseverence (at some activity)" whereas "wushu" was more specific and means "war art".

I really liked the Kung Fu because it was so vast in scope. The down side to this is that I felt it took a long time to become an effective fighter in the Long Fist style I studied because there was so much to learn. I mean, the first 6 months were just stances:
Sifu: "Does that hurt?"
Me: "Yes!"
Sifu: "Good! Kung Fu doesn't start until the pain begins. Now count to 500."
Me: "One...Two...Three.."
Sifu: "That's too fast. Start over."

We'd move from stance to stance to stance for the whole class, counting to 500 (or geting to 400 or so and having to start over if the counting sped up) in each one. For the first couple months it was almost impossible to walk afterwards, but later on it was good because we didn't have to worry about proper stances as we learned forms and techniques.

I also fenced (epee) and practiced Kendo (there are so few reasons people will accept you wearing armor around these days...).

I would say any fairly traditional martial art that is still around today is probably effective. Many of the newer ones are, also -- but I tend to like tradition/philosophy that older systems have. I think you have to decide what kind of environment helps you learn best. Traditional or experimental? Rigid or informal? Do you like the instructor/students? Do you like the "vibe" or atmosphere. What are the instructor's credentials? It's sort of like choosing a college. What do you want to learn and why -- and does it seem like this school can fulfill those goals?

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