Note: This article was originally published in the March 2000 issue of Inside Kung Fu Magazine.
Several years ago, I reluctantly put aside writing my Training For Life column because of requests from students and martial artists who wanted me to take the time to build my Plum Blossom Federation throughout the world. I found myself traveling almost every month throughout the United States, Europe and other locations.
Although I am still traveling a lot, when I’m not on the road I teach three hours of Choy Li Fut and Yang tai chi every weekday morning for the San Francisco City College. This is a large class, with over 100 people coming each day since 1974. After lunch I practice acupuncture in my two acupuncture studios, three days a week in San Francisco and two days in Sausalito, Calif. I personally teach three tai chi classes each week at the San Francisco and Sausalito schools. On weekends I am interning and practicing the Chinese art of feng shui with my feng shui master.
Plum Blossom Federation Choy Li Fut and tai chi schools around the world are now located in Tahiti, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Holland, Spain and Poland, with a new group starting in Hungary. Each country has different branches located throughout that country. In Spain alone there are 20 different schools. Poland now has over 12 schools.
Now those same people who called on me to train them and help them open schools across the globe are requesting that I provide them with training information through my Training For Life column.
It is with great pleasure that I resume my association with Inside Kung-Fu magazine to provide as much information to martial artists in the United States and throughout the world. I will try my best to share my own knowledge and experience with you.
Let me start this month with three basic, but very important pointers for success in your martial arts training.
Practice your martial art persistently. Never stop training. Your training is for yourself to keep in good physical shape and maintain your ability and martial arts standards. Remember, if you are a teacher you are the one to set examples for your students and their students.
Whatever martial art you start with, learn it well before you start something else. Give whatever you are studying your full attention until you are proficient at it. Think of this as similar to planting a tree that you want to bear good fruit. Nourish that one tree until it grows to maturity and produces your fruit. If you plant too many trees together with clutter, none grow right. It’s the same with martial arts studies. If you start learning another martial art, without fully understanding and being proficient in your first art, you won’t be good at it either.
Stay humble. Remember, you may think you are good, but there’s always someone better than you. If you flaunt your ability that person can easily haunt you when you least expect it.
My teacher, Hu Yuen Chou always said, “Take note from the upper rank, compare notes with the same level, and help the lower rank people only if they ask for help.”
This means that you should treat your martial art elders with respect for their years of study and their ability. Those who are on your own level are also treated with respect, by considering their ability the same as yours. Students of lower rank or training deserve respect and consideration, in that you always help them when they ask for help—not just if you want to make yourself feel important.
If you start with these basics you can’t go wrong with your studies. Your practice advances your physical condition and ability. Your focus on whatever you are studying ensures you will understand and be proficient at your art. Your humble attitude guarantees others will happily share their knowledge with you.
Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong, an internationally renowned and respected Choy Li Fut and Tai Chi master, authored the longest-running column in martial arts magazine history. His column, “Training for Life”, has always been interesting, insightful, and most of all, educational.
This particular column is the 108th column in the series, exactly the number of movements in the Yang tai chi form—also an auspicious number in Chinese numerology.
Perhaps now is the perfect time for a revisit.