There are many styles of martial arts, from Karate to Capoeira to Bagua Zhang and all vary in their form and delivery, yet the end result is the same when used in combat. But, which of these would you choose? Previously I posted on Good Character being an essential ingredient in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan. In fact many a treatise has been written on the type of character a person should have when practicing the Chinese martial arts and Good Character was heavily emphasized up until the 1940’s when much of this practice began to drop off.
Good Character is a building block in the art of Tai Chi Chuan and many of the martial arts I have studied. But, have you ever considered your own personality when contemplating the martial form you wished to pursue? I once knew a Sifu (Kung fu teacher) in my area and went to several of his classes to observe. I really believe its important for a potential student to go and observe classes, and the teacher before you make a decision to join a school. This particular Sifu taught Jiu Jutsu, Bagua Zhang, Xing Yi, White Crane and a few other styles and also had studied Aikido along with being the martial teacher for the local police department. One day after class I approached the teacher about joining one of his classes. He was very accommodating and of course said I could join his school, but before I could tell him the style I was interested in, he stepped right in and said he was going to teach me Xing Yi.
Now, I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with Xing Yi, but its is a very straight forward, unrelenting hard hitting art form. It’s said that Xing Yi teaches very little about defense as the best defense in Xing Yi is a great offense and it seeks to deliver a smashing blow to end the combat. When he said this, I cringed. I know within myself that during our conversations, and my observing his classes he had not observed me. One thing he would have known about me, if he would have observed me as I observed him, is despite my bodily stature, which he said was the basis of why he would teach me Xing Yi I am not an aggressive person. I’m not saying Xing Yi is an aggressive style, but I am not of the personality that fits into the Xing Yi mindset, I don’t have the straight forward fighter mind seeking the smashing blow. Needless to say I never joined his school.
Along with observing a teacher, or a school/dojo, you should also observe yourself and you own personality. Read about the style you are seeking and see how well it fits into your way of thinking, and personality type. The martial arts are all ways of expressing externally the internal self, that which makes you, you! The Ancient Egyptians taught the we should know ourselves, this is is quite a powerful tool when selecting a marital style.