I had always wanted to practice a martial art but I had no idea which one. I had boxed for several years in my late teens, but stopped due to going out drinking and socialising in my early twenties.
After a life-changing event, I made the decision to go and do some thing that I had always wanted to do. Still with no idea which martial art I wanted to learn, or the difference between them, I started visiting a few different schools and clubs to check out the different styles of martial arts taught in and around Leicester.
After visiting several schools or clubs, I felt that they were not passionate enough about the teachings and were mainly interested in the money, and at others the style did not feel right for me. As I still did not know what I was really looking for, I was just going off my gut feeling. I was almost ready to give up on my search for the right martial art and school when a friend suggested that I speak to the owner of a local martial art store who could possibly recommend a place for me. I went and visited the store and spoke to the owner. Some of the places he suggested I had already tried. He then mentioned a Shaolin Kung Fu school, a style that I knew nothing about, so I decided to give it a go.
I had no idea what to expect as I had never seen Shaolin Kung Fu before, other than in movies. I remember my first lesson; it was very challenging and tough, and I pushed my body to do things I did not know it was capable of. After the warm up, I was taken aside with other new students and we were taught some of the basics like horse stance, punches and kicks.
Towards the end of the class I remember watching two brown belts sparring. I was in absolute awe of watching what I saw as a really beautiful dance between two highly skilled martial artists. I remember thinking “wow that must have hurt” as I watched, but at the end of it neither person had sustained any injuries as the master of the school highly promoted skill, speed and above all else control. I remember thinking and promising myself that, no matter what it took, I too would one day be able to do what they did and even more.
This was one of the many reasons why I chose the school. It was also because of the sense of family, and their genuine passion and care for teaching people Shaolin Kung Fu. This has stayed with me through out my entire martial arts journey, especially when I started teaching about 7 years ago.
I think its really important that people who want to learn martial arts choose a place that is right for them. I would think about what you want to achieve from learning martial arts, as although many share similar concepts and culture, each style has its own unique benefits.
Remember its not just about choosing a school or club from a style perspective but also what feels right in your mind, body and soul.