Hi Howard, I’m enjoying reading all of the articles on your blog.
My question would be: What, in your opinion/experience is the most important thing a new student should do, in order to progress in the various Lee Arts ?
Respect/Regards, Nic Bravin - London
Great question Nic, thank you for that. Here is my opinion:
Over the last 45 years of practising and teaching the Lee Style Arts I have come to the conclusion that the most important thing for new students who wish to progress is to make time for practice outside the training hall.
This is easily said and I know from watching students that many find this difficult. But as an instructor it soon becomes apparent who practises at home and who doesn’t. Sports experts say that to become an expert in any discipline you need to practise for 10,000 hours. As a beginner this is perhaps a daunting thought. However, the Chinese saying of ‘A thousand mile journey starts with a single step’ holds true here, too.
If you allocate say 10 to 20 minutes a day for practise in whatever aspect of the arts you enjoy in the beginning that will kick in the habit after 30 days and practise will become a part of your day.
My favorite practise is the Tai Chi form but it can be anything, in my early days I was learning the art of Feng Shou Kung Fu and used to practise the Shou Pay Fah upstairs along the landing in an evening after work. Later when I also added Tai Chi I started practising the form and have stuck to that ever since supplementing various other parts of the arts now and then i.e. the sword and staff etc. In the summer I often practise for 45 to 90 minutes depending on what I choose to supplement my Tai Chi form practise with, usually 20 to 30 minutes. I much prefer practising outside when the weather allows and I am now fortunate that I can practise in the morning which sets me up for the day. Being a Gemini my brain is usually busy, we all have our problems, eh! My morning Tai Chi form practise calms and relaxes me, stretches and loosens my body, gets my energy moving. All this gives me an appreciation of just how lucky I am to be living in a wonderful country. Being alive and healthy and able to teach such a beautiful thing as the Lee Style arts to others. This is something I am very, very grateful for.
If you are a beginner, please continue, I have been given so many gifts from the practise of Tai Chi and our related arts. In times of difficulties Tai Chi training has always stood me in good stead. However, being consistent in my practise has not always been easy and there have been times when I lapsed a little but the benefits are too great to give up once you become accustomed to them to lapse for long.
So find time for your practise and enjoy the experience and soon you will find it is a part of your day that you cannot do without.
I wish you all I wish for myself
Howard, who was a student of the late Grand Master Chee Soo for 21 years has been practicing and teaching the Lee Style of Tai Chi and related arts since 1973.