Shaolin Kung Fu Sparring

As kungfu is a martial art, combat efficency is an important factor of a good instructor


I have been learning Shaolin Kung Fu for six months and I was wondering how I could know if I had a good instructor?

-- Ricky, USA


My webpage Qualities of a Good Master will provide you with useful guidelines. You will also find helpful advice in another webpage, Getting the Best Benefits from your Training.

If you have the very good fortune to find a good master, show him due respect as explained in Showing Respect to the Master.

There are, of course, other ways to find out whether you have a good master or instructor. One practical way involves some simple arithmatics.

First, list out what you actually want from practicing Shaolin Kungfu. Check how many items on your list your instructor can help you realize them.

Next, list the negative effects from practicing with this instructor.

Then match the plus list with the minus list to find the balance. This will give you a good picture how good or bad your instructor is with regards to your needs and aspirations.

As different students have different needs and aspirations, their idea of a good instructor will be different.

For example, if you are interested in taking part in competitions and winning trophies, an instructor who pays much attention to this aspect will be good for you. On the other hand he may have little kungfu philosophy and his training may result in much injury.

If you are not interested in kungfu philosophy, this aspect is not important to you, at least for the time being, but you will have to balance his plus points in competitions and trophies against the minus points in injuries to decide whether he is a good instructor for you.

On the other hand, if your aim of practicing Shaolin Kungfu is to improve your quality of life, an instructor good for competitions and winning trophies may not be good for you. Sustaining injuries would be a big negative factor.

But you need to be specific with what you mean by improving your quality of life so that you can measure how well the instructor helps you to attain your objectives. You may, for example, examine whether your training has made you more relaxed and mentally fresh, or give your more energy to do your daily work.

A good instructor teaches by example. If he merely talks about winning trophies or improved quality of life, but he himself has never taken part in any competition before or leads a messy life, he is obviously not a good instructor.

Reproduced from March 2007 Part 3 in Selection of Question-Answer Series


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