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#152374 - 06/03/05 03:48 PM How long before getting to the fun stuff?
18lohans Offline

Registered: 01/16/05
Posts: 321
I think part of the fun in kung fu is that you get exposed to a lot of cool stuff, such as 'rare' weapons. By this I mean whipchain, three section staff, rope and dart, kwan dao... etc.

However, every school I go to seems to follow a pattern. It takes being at least a black belt (or a senior student in non-ranked schools) before you get to those weapons.

I mean, I have to have perfect hands before I get taught the butterfly knives in Wing Chun. It's broadsword and staff for years before we get to the other weapons in Northern Shaolin. (We have people that have been training for 13+ years that didn't get to learn the soft weapons yet). Tai chi... I can't even imagine how long before the sword form is taught.

What weapons do you know and how long did you have to wait to learn them?

#152375 - 06/03/05 05:11 PM Re: How long before getting to the fun stuff? [Re: 18lohans]
Talimas Offline

Registered: 02/03/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
Many styles believe that you must master your own hands before training the extentions of your hands. Meaning you can not understand an external weapon before understanding the weapons attached to you. Especially in styles that weigh into the eastern philosophy of a martial artist, you must prove your dedication before being taught these things. I doubt that answers your question, but hopefully it tells why the wait is so long.
Some things move, most things breath, anything can be destroyed.

#152376 - 06/04/05 04:02 PM Re: How long before getting to the fun stuff? [Re: 18lohans]
Tk.09 Offline

Registered: 04/15/05
Posts: 16
mastery of any weapon is alomost impossible unless you are dedicated to training for you whole life. or unless u are the creator of the weapon. the most ideal will be trainin a weapon for at least half a yr before training with another and provided that the basics are well learnt(min 2-3yrs). the understanding and mastery of the weapon will improve along with experience in the art. so basically, one can learn another weapon in minimum half a yr's time (in my case). its also important to note that a better skill in a weapon is better than a so-so skill in many weapons. so its gd to have a favourite one and practice constantly. i've learnt sword, broadsword, sorthern and northern staff, sticks, three section staff (improvised). of course, with only a average mastery of all these.

#152377 - 06/05/05 01:56 AM Re: How long before getting to the fun stuff? [Re: Tk.09]
18lohans Offline

Registered: 01/16/05
Posts: 321
thank you all for the reply. it makes me feel better to know that the wait is common across all styles and schools. I guess it's just a bit of frustration and anxiety to learn certain weapons. Hopefully I'll have the chance to train for long enough, and eventually get to that point.

#152378 - 06/05/05 04:09 PM Re: How long before getting to the fun stuff? [Re: 18lohans]
Sanchin Offline

Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 174
You could always just practice your butt off and get real good! The better you are, the quicker you will be taught the more "fun" stuff.
"Everything is already, and always will be given" - Our New Pope. B

#152379 - 06/05/05 10:01 PM Re: How long before getting to the fun stuff? [Re: 18lohans]
ButterflyPalm Offline

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia
Actually, all this talk about being very good with your hands first before going into weapons was put out a long time ago precisely because students, since early times in China itself, couldn't wait to get into weapons. And because of this, old and modern masters put out this line to get students to stay around longer. Before anyone jump on me, consider the old samurais who don't really go into empty hand training much, but concentrate almost from the start on the katana.

My view is once some basic stances and empty hand techniques are done reasonally well, weapons can be introduced. I'll say about 2 years or even less if the student has talent or has done something else. It won't be good for the business side of things for the school of course. I'll argue that it may turn out the other way as once some weapons are learned, the student will settled down to learn the rest of the empty hand part.

Introduction of weapons early actually speed up the student's empty hand techniques, because you need to pay more attention to placement of stances and body co-ordination when swinging something around which may hit you.

Its easy for me to say; I've never taught commercially.

#152380 - 06/06/05 01:27 AM Re: How long before getting to the fun stuff? [Re: ButterflyPalm]
Bushi_no_ki Offline

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1669
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
It's not just the weapons. Most of the best empty handed techniques are saved for higher ranks/senior students. It all does relate to having a better understanding of the technical mechanics.

#152381 - 06/06/05 02:47 AM Re: How long before getting to the fun stuff? [Re: Bushi_no_ki]
18lohans Offline

Registered: 01/16/05
Posts: 321
I guess a better question would be then in terms of merit. Modesty apart, there are a lot of times I feel I'm doing better than the more 'senior' students. (This is also according to critiques/compliments the teacher makes in class). But yet, they usually get a first shot at learning the "funner" stuff, simply because they've been around longer. Once again, this is with the consensus that I'm doing better as far as proper form and understanding of techniques.

#152382 - 06/06/05 05:27 AM Re: How long before getting to the fun stuff? [Re: 18lohans]
laf7773 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 4065
Loc: Limbo
Before i comment i want to make it clear i am NOT bashing anyone’s school.

A lot of times when a student feels they are doing "better" than some of the senior students it's because of one of two reasons.

The first is in my opinion the worst and is in part the reason for the poor quality of instruction in many arts today. This would be that the student feels this way because they are doing better than some of the senior students. There are several schools out there that will advance a student regardless of if they are ready, if only to keep them from leaving. It's not always a bad thing to introduce more advanced material to a student that isn't "ready" for it because it can help them make a connection they were missing to help them in understanding the more basic aspects of their training. It can provide them with a much greater step forward than if they were kept at one level until they were ready to move on. Unfortunately this is rarely the case and students are advanced simply because they have been there a long time and the instructor doesn't want them to get frustrated and leave. Even worse the instructor doesn't care and is only out to make money.

The second instance is much different. While you may think you are doing better than some of the senior students that's not always the case. While you may be doing very well with your form, balance or just in general they may be working with things that are beyond your understanding at this point in your training. Just because you learn something one way in the beginning doesn't mean it stays that way throughout your training. Maybe their form appears to be suffering because they are now focusing on proper alignment and staying connected while moving. Many good instructors teach in layers. They will give you the basics of what you need to know for now in order to teach a specific lesson or get a point across. In any form/kata you have a destination and a transition. In the beginning you are taught to focus more on the destination, that being the proper alignment of the body at the end of each "technique" or move. This is why many forms/kata are taught as numbered sequences, 24 "moves" in this form or 108 in another form. You are taught in the beginning to do move number one then stop, then your form and body alignment are corrected. Later after you are proficient and are ready you are guided to focus less on the end result of each "move" in a form/kata and focus more on "proper" transition between each move. Learning how to stay connected while moving changes you whole outlook. Later you are able to TRUELY do the form correctly with proper for and alignment in technique and movement. Trying to get to this point is an awkward time and can be more frustrating than when you first started. To others who haven't reached this point yet it could appear they aren't doing as well in some areas as you are.

As for getting to the "funner" stuff. Don't rush through the basics to get to more advanced techniques or weapons. Without a proper understanding of the basics the funner stuff will do you no good. Weapons training requires some dexterity and many instructors aren't willing to put a three section staff in the hands of a person with only a couple of weeks of training for fear they might seriously injure themselves. Most would prefer the student wait until they have a good grasp of the basics first. Just like jumping into advanced techniques with out proper basics jumping into some weapons training can give you bad habits that will take more time to undo. That is unless basic stances, rhythm, distance and movement are taught as part of the weapons training. This is generally only done in specific weapons arts like iaido. Most arts teach weapons as an element of the art and not the art itself so basics are rarely covered other than manipulation of the weapon.
Enjoy life while you can, you never know when things will change.

#152383 - 06/06/05 06:17 AM Re: How long before getting to the fun stuff? [Re: laf7773]
MAGr Offline

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 1147
Loc: London, home: Athens
Laf i completely agree with your post, and its a real shame that students get advance with out it being the right time. Kendo is an art on its own, and contains no empty hand forms, so all the skill is based on the sword. In wing chun the butterfly swords dont get taught until you are a black belt. That is not so that the students stay at the school, that is because the butterfly swords are an extention of the empty hand forms, without knowing the wooden dummy, without understanding energy flows and without chi sau, there is no way that you could benefit from the swords. Ok you will be able to do the sword form exactly like your teacher, but it wont feel like your teacher's. You will be able to use the sword but it will not imrove your emty hand you will not be able to make the connection and the training will not serve its purpose. I cant wait to do the sword form, but i will not sacrifice effectiveness for impatience. There are some arts like kali that teach you the weapons before the empty hand, but that is because the empty hand is based on the weapon movement and not the other way around. I can probably take some tai chi sword lessons and be able to copy the instructor in the movements exactly but the energy that is supposed to flow, the feeling that i am supposed to have just want be there. There is a big difference in being able to swing the club right and being able to hit a 300 yard shot.
If you trust your instructor to make the right judgments about your advancement and you can see that the art is structured that way then you shouldnt force it.
If you dont trust your instructor then you shouldnt be studying with him/her anyway.

P.S. I am itching in my pants waiting to learn the sword form, i think i have around 3-4 years!

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