Q & A: Practicing Kung Fu

Q & A with Shihfu: ASPECTS OF PRACTICE

Question: How much should you practice?

Answer: I tell beginning students to start with five minutes a day. Like a pin in a map, it establishes the practice time which can then be expanded. Beyond that, it depends on how deep the results are that you are seeking.

Q: How should you ration your practice time?

A: You should have the following elements in your practice:

1. The newest information; especially within 24 hours of having learned it
2. Some review; maybe a set you haven’t done in a while
3. Some basics for strength and flexibility; for example, Ba Shih.
4. Some playing around; like games or bag work
5. Something meditative for your soul; standing. You don’t need to do all of these everyday. The trick is to know which one you are practicing.

Q: And WHY you are practicing it, I assume?

A: No. You are practicing because you want to get better. Nothing ever evolves by knowing WHY it evolves. We have to train the mind to not always want to have a safe, secure grip on everything.

Q: What is the best way to remember the information you are taught?

A: You have to own it. First and foremost, it is a physical art. Start with postures and actions. Everything else is secondary. In China, a lot of our verbal instruction would be unnecessary. But since there is a cultural gap, we talk a lot. Most of that is mortar, not bricks. A student’s responsibility is to memorize the postures and actions. One realization that students should have is that they need to memorize only what the teacher presents. The teacher acts as a filter for information and extra questions can disrupt that filter. In other words, you may be worried about your hips being level or the specific position of your hands, but if your teacher lets it pass, the general shape is all you need to memorize. On a social level, that’s why you are paying him. On a personal level the first step in discipline is to have discipline enough to trust someone.

Have any ideas for topics, themes, a focused series of questions? You can email your ideas to me ([email protected]). Thanks, Jean Andrews.

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