Why Kung Fu Is Perfect for Nerds

With today being the first day of the Chinese New Year, I figured it’d be a perfect opportunity to post this incredibly in-depth guest post on why Kung Fu is perfect for nerds, written by NF community member Anna Spysz.

“If you want to learn how to change positions, throw a catfish in the bathtub and try to catch it.”

This pearl of wisdom, spoken by my sifu (master, or the kung fu version of a sensei) during a recent class, is a fairly typical thing to hear at my kung fu training. Nearly two years ago, I walked into my first Wing Chun Kung Fu class one cold March evening, equally nervous and curious. In the weeks before I had come to two realizations:

  • I needed to start working out, as the long winter had turned my body into mush
  • gyms bored the ever-loving crap out of me.

I wanted an alternative that would keep me in shape while teaching me new skills that would train my mind as well as my body, so when I saw a poster for a local kung fu class advertising a free lesson for beginners, I signed up.

I had always thought martial arts were cool in movies, but never expected to find myself not only practicing one, but diving headfirst into it. Now that I have some experience with Wing Chun (one of the many branches of kung fu out there), I realized why I took to it so quickly: kung fu, and specifically Wing Chun, is perfect for nerds. If your impression of kung fu is all about Jackie Chan flying through the air with fists of death, you might be a bit disillusioned.

But if you’re interested in a form of training that emphasizes speed over strength, brains over brawn, bodyweight and simple tools over expensive gym equipment – in essence, most of the principles of the Nerd Fitness Rebellion – read on.

It’s all about physics

Looking around my kung fu class, I realized that if you took all of the guys and girls there you could easily put together a decent IT department. Most of the guys are pretty skinny, a few look like they could front a metal band, and all of them are decidedly nerdy. As for the girls, I’m the tallest at 5’ 7”. And yet, any one of the students in my intermediate class could hold their own in a dark alley. Why?

Because of Newton.

Ok, specifically, because of Newtonian kinetic energy: Ek=(1/2)mv^2.

Or in English: the energy of an object in motion increases with the square of its velocity. Or in even simpler English: when you’re hitting something, speed is more important than mass. If you double your mass, you’ll hit with twice the force. But if you double your speed, you’ll hit with four times the force, and so on. Quite handy to know when you only weigh 140 pounds.

Wing Chun Kung Fu is all about using speed to your advantage. Our sifu usually places as much emphasis on improving our speed as on helping us get stronger, and with good reason. A lot of us on Nerd Fitness tend to side with the underdog – the smaller, but usually faster guy in a battle. I know I do. With kung fu, the underdog gains all the tools he needs to beat the bad guy (as for getting the girl, you’re probably still on your own there).

There are no flashy acrobatic leaps or flowery techniques in Wing Chun; every move is necessary and based on scientific concepts of human movement rather than animal forms, as in many other martial arts. One of my favorite parts of the class is when our instructor explains the physics of any given move, and why it’s more efficient than doing it another way. Most moves aren’t taught because they’re part of a tradition; rather, they’ve been proven to be the most effective attack or counterattack in a given situation.

But don’t listen to me when Bruce Lee said it best: “Wing Chun Kung Fu is a very sophisticated weapon, nothing else. It is a science of combat, the intent of which is the total incapacitation of an opponent. It is straightforward, efficient and deadly. If you’re looking to learn self-defense, don’t study Wing Chun. It would be better for you to master the art of invisibility.”

Girl power

According to legend, Wing Chun Kung Fu was invented by a woman, which is why it’s designed to rely on speed and efficiency rather than brute strength.

The history of Wing Chun goes back to the famous Shaolin Temple in China, where a group of rebel fighters gathered to train and plan attacks against a much stronger invading force (sound familiar…?), but it was burned to the ground in the 17th century. One of the survivors of the fire, a nun, fled to a village where she met a beautiful young woman named Yim Wing Chun, who was being threatened by a brutal landowner demanding her hand in marriage. Using a combination of the techniques she knew, the nun taught the young woman a modified form of kung fu that was tailored specifically for her size and relied more on speed and agility than muscular strength.

Yim Wing Chun then took the skills she had learned from the nun, challenged and defeated the brutal landowner and married the man she had chosen as her husband, and he then passed on the system that carried her name to the next generation.

Today, Wing Chun continues to be a system that can give women and smaller men the advantage in a fight. But next to speed, smarts are also essential.

Brain strain

When making a move in Wing Chun, you’re always simultaneously defending and attacking.

While the system is relatively simple, there are still a few forms to memorize and perfect, and certain ways of moving that must be followed. All of that concentration can occasionally hurt your head – in a good way. Often after practice, my brain is the sorest part of my body. I might complain at the time, but then I think – would I rather be mindlessly punching a dummy for an hour (or worse yet, running on a treadmill), or concentrating on coordinating both arms while maintaining the proper footwork so that my punch is as powerful as it can be?

If you’re looking for something easy, then kung fu is probably not for you. But if you like the challenge of straining over an equation or piece of code for an hour followed by the immense satisfaction that comes from finally figuring it out, you’ll find a similar rush with kung fu.

Bodyweight for the win

While there are hundreds of styles of martial arts out there, Wing Chun Kung Fu’s advantage is its simplicity and efficiency. You don’t have to memorize hundreds of forms; rather, you spend most of your time discovering the natural movements of your body and how to make them more effective. And to get your body to its most effective state, you train using the same methods Steve advocates on Nerd Fitness: bodyweight techniques.

Our typical strength training consists of jumping jacks, sprints, squats, push-ups, burpees, side-to-side push-ups, and several other techniques also found in the Rebel Strength Guide. On days when we’re working our arms we’ll do hundreds of push-ups of all kinds, while leg days include squats and lunges in addition to various kicks. As far as equipment goes, the only thing we use in class is a wooden dummy to practice forms and occasionally punching bags, because they’re fun (and useful, of course, but not necessary). There isn’t a single barbell or piece of gym equipment to be found in our school – because the only thing that’s necessary is your body and someone to teach you how to use it effectively.

And finally: Bruce Lee did it. ‘Nuff said.

Kung Fu Training

But what does a typical kung fu training session look like? Of course, it depends on your school and the type of kung fu, so I can only give an example of my particular style, Wing Chun, as taught by my sifu, Andrzej Szuszkiewicz.

First of all, we begin with a dynamic warm-up – and when I say dynamic, I mean you will be soaked in sweat within 7 minutes, though it typically lasts about 15-20. Since as a writer I’m a fan of showing, not telling, I’ve included it at the bottom so you can use it before your own training sessions of any kind, whether it’s another martial art or just running or lifting weights.

Then we’ll do continue with intensive drills for the first hour, either working on kicks or punches depending on the day. Typically, that means throwing some 500 punches or kicks per session, with either push-ups (on arm days) or intensive stretching (on leg days) in between.

The last hour or so is spent on technique – this is when we learn proper forms and usually practice sparring with a partner. This is also the most educational and brain-intensive part of the training, because you’re often learning new movements and practicing them right away, so getting the technique right is crucial.

Of course, there are days when technique is pretty much all we do, and days when it’s mostly strength training (punching bag days are my favorite), and there are also seminars several times a year where either our sifu or a visiting one will focus on one aspect of Wing Chun, such as forms, wooden dummies, butterfly swords or even strength training with kettlebells, as we did recently. We practice three times per week for two hours usually, though the advanced class has extra sessions on top of that.

This all may sound tough now (and it sure as hell seemed that way back when I started), but of course when you’re starting out in the beginner class you won’t be expected or forced to do any more than you are capable of at the moment – the goal is to gradually get you stronger and faster, not to try to force it and have you end up either injured or disillusioned or both. When I first started, I could barely do two sets of 10 push-ups. That was fine (and I definitely wasn’t the only one), and our sifu encouraged me to do knee push-ups until I got stronger. And I did. Now I do 7 or 8 sets per session, usually on my fists.

In the end, kung fu, much like Nerd Fitness, is a way of life rather than a quick weight-loss fad, and it’s as much philosophy as it is training, both of which should prove quite valuable in life.

As Bruce Lee said, “‘Being’ is more valued than ‘doing’.”

Kung Fu resources

If you’re not yet convinced, check out these awesome uses of kung fu in movies:

Ip Man (2008)

One of my absolute favorite martial arts films is the excellent Ip Man starring Donnie Yen, as well as the sequel, Ip Man 2 (the later prequel is decent as well). It’s well-made, with a fantastic story as well as amazing fight scenes, and best of all, it’s based on the life of Wing Chun legend and Bruce Lee mentor Ip Man himself.

Ip Man Video

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

A very fit Robert Downy Jr. takes down his much bigger opponent with what seems like minimal effort. The secret? He’s using Wing Chun techniques.

And who can forget the Green Hornet, both old:


Green Hornet (Old) Video

and new:


Green Hornet New Video

Best of all, you’ll always be able to say in your best Keanu monotone, “I know kung fu”:


Keanu Knows Kung Fu

Convinced? Then the next step is to find a class near you and try it out – usually the first couple of sessions are free!  If you’d like to read more before diving in, here are some resources I found interesting and helpful:

The Kung Fu Warm-up

Note: this is an advanced warm up suited for Kung Fu – just looking at it might make you exhausted.  Do the best you can and work up to a full warm up!  Don’t forget why warm ups are so important.

First 8-10 minutes: a round of basic dynamic exercises to get your heart racing. During this time you never stop moving, even between exercises, when the default “rest” position is to lightly jog in place while loosening your muscles. In class, the sifu actually calls out the exercise and everyone switches, but it usually goes something like this:

  • 100 jumping jacks
  • 10 squat jumps (start in a squat position and jump with your arms up, like the first half of a burpee without the push-up)
  • 30 seconds jumping oblique twist (kind of like this, but we hold our fists up to our faces when we do it)
  • 30 seconds jumping jacks (or seal jumps)
  • 10 squat jumps
  • 30 seconds jumping jacks (or seal jumps)
  • 20 jumping windmills – forwards
  • 10 knee jumps (jump from a standing position, bringing your knees as close to your elbows as possible)
  • 30 seconds jumping oblique twist
  • 20 jumping windmills – backwards
  • 10 knee jumps
  • 30 seconds jumping oblique twist
  • 10 quick position changes (start with left foot forward like a normal kung fu/boxer stance, lightly jumping forwards and backwards, and then very quickly switch so now your right foot is forward – that’s one)
  • 30 seconds jumping jacks
  • 10 triple position changes (same as the position change, but change three times really quickly for each count)
  • 30 seconds jumping jacks
  • 10 punches from the left (start the same as for the position change, but this time punch with your left arm each time you jump forward, like a boxing move)
  • 30 seconds jumping oblique twist
  • 10 punches from the right
  • repeat until you hit about 10 minutes

This part of the warm-up ends with what I call a “burpee ladder”, though I’m sure it has a proper name, probably in Chinese. Basically, you’re starting with the basic squat jump like during the first part of the warm-up and building up with several varieties of burpee:

  • 10 jump squats
  • 10 crunch burpees (jump squat, then drop to your back and quickly do three crunches and get right back up, repeat)
  • 10 crunch + push-up burpees (jump squat, drop to your back and quickly do three crunches, from that position change quickly to a push-up position by moving your feet under your body, do one push-up and get right back up like from a normal burpee, repeat)
  • 10 crunch + push-up + back bridge burpees (jump squat, three crunches, one push-up and from there move your feet under you to get in position on your back and do one full back bridge and get right back up, repeat)

If you can’t do 10 yet, start with 5 or however many you can do.

Finally, about 5 minutes of kicks and stretches, focusing not on strength or speed but on stretching your legs and kicking as high as possible:

  • standing hamstring stretch, 10 seconds each leg
  • 10 straight kicks, right leg
  • 10 straight kicks, left leg
  • (repeat 5 more times)
  • standing calf stretch, 10 seconds each leg
  • 10 side to side kicks, right leg
  • 10 side to side kicks, left leg
  • (repeat 5 more times)
  • hip flex stretch, 10 seconds each leg
  • mix of neck rotations, arm circles, waist rotations and finish with seated leg stretches

If you’re still alive after that (and I really hope so, I can’t afford the lawsuits), your body is completely warmed-up, well stretched and ready for just about any workout you can throw at it!

So, do we have any future Bruce Lee’s in the community? 

What type of martial arts do you practice or would you LIKE to practice? 

Sound off in the comments! 

Anna Spysz is a freelance writer and translator currently living and kung fu fighting in Krakow, Poland. When not strength training, playing with her band or blogging at Saving Ink, she’s busy looking for freelance writing gigs to pay the bills.

###

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  • Kishi

  • Kishi

    I study shotokan – karate – and judo. We share space with a wing chun class, though. It looks like it’s a lot of fun!

  • http://www.ombailamos.com/ chacha1

    I think I would have to do that warmup for a couple of years before I’d be fit enough to study Wing Chun.  🙂

  • Rtalencar85

    I practice Isshin Ryu Karate at the moment, have been for just over 4 years now.  Before that I practiced Judo for about 5 years.

  • Anonymous

    great article, Anna. i have a black belt in Tang Soo Do (Chuck Norris’s style). I’ve dropped out in recent years, though, due to an achilles tendon injury. kung fu looks just as challenging and i’d actually like to learn it as well. 

  • Crystal Spirdione

    I study Tang Soo Do Karate, general MMA and Judo. I’m also trying to work in some Ju Jitsu classes.

  • Felipe

    That’s cool, I study Kung fu Wushu in Mexico City and we do a lot of alike exercises for warming up. The difference is that this style is way more acrobatic than wing chun but it’s really fun to train it! I’d like to learn Wing Chun, but i don´t know any school where i could go, the only resource is internet! Good article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Hunt/1164892780 Chris Hunt

    I study Hap Ki Do (Korean) it sounds like Wing Chun has a lot in common with it. I have to agree with you that the martial arts are where it’s at. When I decided to do something to get myself in shape 4 years ago, I showed up at a class to check it out. I haven’t stopped going since. Now that I am in shape I go just because I love it.

  • Lessjos

    Great article, Anna. Very inspiring.
    I just started capoeira two weeks ago. It is very tough but I hope I can talk about my ongoing experiences years from now too!!

  • David

    Awesome article! I’m going to be taking T’ai chi this semester, although it’s more focused on the meditation. I’ll think about trying this out later this year when I’m out of college.

  • http://www.annaspysz.com/ bildungsroman

    No way, that’s why you start in a beginner’s class! Trust me, there was an overweight guy with grey hair in probably his 50s or 60s that started at the same time that I did, and now he’s kicking it with kids half his age in the intermediate class.

  • http://www.annaspysz.com/ bildungsroman

    Thanks! And that’s pretty badass, I can’t claim to be anywhere near Chuck levels yet…

  • Ninja

    Great article, loving the ankle flexability in the photos! Awesome!
    I had/have a green belt in Judo, I don’t practice anymore, but I love the ‘Arts’, they’re so much more than a sport. At the moment I’m learning Parkour… Also a dicipline, not a sport, but no combat, just … running away…

  • Chelsea Conlin

    Very interesting! I’d actually been thinking of trying Wing Chun for a few months how, and your article has given me that extra push to check out the Las Vegas dojo. 🙂

  • Jason

    Wing chun seems like a perfect fit for me, but none nearby. What other similar style would you recommend?

  • Chad Hastings

    I’ve been studying Shorin-Ryu for 19 years now.  *I agree with everything said in the article.*  I tried Wing Chun, and didn’t find it right for me.  Perhaps I didn’t find the right school — perhaps I’ve been doing karate too long and the change in mindset was too much for me at the time… who knows?

    At any rate, I have one counter-point argument in favour of karate to make.  Wing Chun, as you say, doesn’t make you memorise hundreds of forms.  I hear this statement (attributed to whatever martial art they’re espousing) often as a disparaging thing about karate.  The sad thing is, the statement stems from a lack of understanding what kata (forms) are intended to do.

    Many people think kata are pre-choreographed combats against multiple opponents.  They could be farther from the truth if they said it was about flower-arrangement, but you’ll take my meaning if I say they could not be farther from the truth.

    A KATA IS A PHYSICAL SYLLABUS.

    A kata is a physical syllabus — a complete fighting system.  It’s a seed that you must water and grow by studying it.  Take any movement in a kata — the opening moves of Pinan Shodan (sometimes called Heian Shodan), for example.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWX6T0Ip3NU

    The guy’s technique is a little different from mine, but he moves slowly enough to make out the movements.  Pinan Shodan starts with a weird-looking double block, followed by crossing the arms, and a straight punch — to the karate-ka’s (fancy word for someone who does karate) left, and is then repeated to the right.  In the NF tradition of questioning everything… why?  On the surface it looks like he’s fighting two people on either side of him, one of whom is courteously waiting his turn to attack.  The karate-ka (let’s call him Bob) defends against an attack coming in high, then in the middle, and then follows up with a punch to the head.

    Now forget what you think you know, and look at it again with this idea in mind.  A KATA IS A PHYSICAL SYLLABUS.  It’s there to teach you how to do things, and when to do them.  The fact that Bob turns to his left doesn’t matter — he turns to his right a few seconds later anyway.  What’s important is that he turns to his side.  What the kata is teaching here is that this technique is most effective when done from the *opponent’s side* (not yours).  The back hand is holding something — usually the opponent’s hand/wrist/sleeve, and the forward hand is blocking.  A little tip here: a block applied with enough speed and force is indistiguishable from an attack.  So that forward hand sweeping across the vertical plan can be (a) striking the opponent’s jaw, (b) smashing into his chest to knock him back a step.  A tiny modification and it becomes a crippling groin strike.

    The second movement, a crossing of the arms, makes no sense if you don’t look at the previous position.  Once you understand that the back hand has your some part of your opponent in it (you’re still on your opponent’s side), it becomes a little easier to see that move becoming an arm bar.  This will force your opponent to bend forward to relieve the pressure…

    Which sets him up nicely for the third movement — a punch to the head.  A punch delivered from this position to an opponent that close and already off-balance… well, let’s just say it won’t end well for him.  You don’t even have to be strong; the position already gives you a significant advantage.  You’re not limited to a punch, either.  A kick or knee works just as well from that angle.

    One of the game-changing ideas I learned from karate — many years already into study, mind you — was that if you have to use strength to make a technique work, you’re doing it wrong.  Every technique must work against someone bigger and stronger than you, or you’re not doing it right.

    Sorry this turned into a mini blog post by itself…  but I think I’m okay, since most people don’t read comments anyway.  🙂

  • Chad Hastings

    I’ve been studying Shorin-Ryu for 19 years now.  *I agree with everything said in the article.*  I tried Wing Chun, and didn’t find it right for me.  Perhaps I didn’t find the right school — perhaps I’ve been doing karate too long and the change in mindset was too much for me at the time… who knows?

    At any rate, I have one counter-point argument in favour of karate to make.  Wing Chun, as you say, doesn’t make you memorise hundreds of forms.  I hear this statement (attributed to whatever martial art they’re espousing) often as a disparaging thing about karate.  The sad thing is, the statement stems from a lack of understanding what kata (forms) are intended to do.

    Many people think kata are pre-choreographed combats against multiple opponents.  They could be farther from the truth if they said it was about flower-arrangement, but you’ll take my meaning if I say they could not be farther from the truth.

    A KATA IS A PHYSICAL SYLLABUS.

    A kata is a physical syllabus — a complete fighting system.  It’s a seed that you must water and grow by studying it.  Take any movement in a kata — the opening moves of Pinan Shodan (sometimes called Heian Shodan), for example.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWX6T0Ip3NU

    The guy’s technique is a little different from mine, but he moves slowly enough to make out the movements.  Pinan Shodan starts with a weird-looking double block, followed by crossing the arms, and a straight punch — to the karate-ka’s (fancy word for someone who does karate) left, and is then repeated to the right.  In the NF tradition of questioning everything… why?  On the surface it looks like he’s fighting two people on either side of him, one of whom is courteously waiting his turn to attack.  The karate-ka (let’s call him Bob) defends against an attack coming in high, then in the middle, and then follows up with a punch to the head.

    Now forget what you think you know, and look at it again with this idea in mind.  A KATA IS A PHYSICAL SYLLABUS.  It’s there to teach you how to do things, and when to do them.  The fact that Bob turns to his left doesn’t matter — he turns to his right a few seconds later anyway.  What’s important is that he turns to his side.  What the kata is teaching here is that this technique is most effective when done from the *opponent’s side* (not yours).  The back hand is holding something — usually the opponent’s hand/wrist/sleeve, and the forward hand is blocking.  A little tip here: a block applied with enough speed and force is indistiguishable from an attack.  So that forward hand sweeping across the vertical plan can be (a) striking the opponent’s jaw, (b) smashing into his chest to knock him back a step.  A tiny modification and it becomes a crippling groin strike.

    The second movement, a crossing of the arms, makes no sense if you don’t look at the previous position.  Once you understand that the back hand has your some part of your opponent in it (you’re still on your opponent’s side), it becomes a little easier to see that move becoming an arm bar.  This will force your opponent to bend forward to relieve the pressure…

    Which sets him up nicely for the third movement — a punch to the head.  A punch delivered from this position to an opponent that close and already off-balance… well, let’s just say it won’t end well for him.  You don’t even have to be strong; the position already gives you a significant advantage.  You’re not limited to a punch, either.  A kick or knee works just as well from that angle.

    One of the game-changing ideas I learned from karate — many years already into study, mind you — was that if you have to use strength to make a technique work, you’re doing it wrong.  Every technique must work against someone bigger and stronger than you, or you’re not doing it right.

    Sorry this turned into a mini blog post by itself…  but I think I’m okay, since most people don’t read comments anyway.  🙂

  • http://twitter.com/Spauracchio_ Gabriel (ガブリエル)

    I KNOW KUNG FU! For those who don’t you, I practice Wing Chun too. I can’t love this post anymore. I think it’s my favorite one so far, because it talks about one of the things I love the most. Thank you very much, Anna!.

  • Jamilvideoman

    Very Good i really like how you have to do 500+ punches a day compared ti the 30 a day that most martial arts schools let you get away with That is why Bruce Lee was the best.
     
    Steve if your interested in increasing your martial arts potential look into the book “Dynamic strength” by harry Wong. I would love to see your take on that.

  • Jamilvideoman

    something especially you would find very interesting

    http://www.amazon.com/Dynamic-Strength-Harry-Wong/dp/0865680132 

  • Fogg

    Great post! Great warm-up!
    It looks pretty similar to the one I do in my Savate class (Savate = french kickboxing), and yes, it’s definitely a great warmup !

  • Kevin Faulk

    I tried Wing Chun for a few months also and while there is a lot there to like, I kind of had the same opinion that Bruce Lee ended up having; that it would be best when mixed in with another style or two. I was never fully convinced that if you took a slender person against a big one how they could effectively defend themselves without the big guy just taking those rapid punches and charging on through. I study Enshin Karate now, which focuses on circular movements to prevent just that situation.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the article, and that class sounds like a great workout!

  • http://www.elliotthermanwallace.com/blog Elliott Wallace

    I practice Muay Thai and love it, but I have been thinking of cross training with Judo or even Tae Kwon Doe. Anyway, I love martial arts. 

  • CaliforniaMountainSnake

    Absorb what is useful, reject what is useles, add what is essentially your own.

  • Kevin Asuncion

    I’d like to study muay thai, judo and bjj. For me choosing a martial art to practice would be more about function, like could I defend myself if I ever were attacked. 

  • Owen

    Ok, now I want to do kung fu! Great article 🙂

  • Arjan

    This is the exact reason why I choose Wing Chun over muay thai/kickboxen 🙂 Very practical techniques! Our school actually teaches Wing Chun and Sanda (chinese kickboxing) and I think Sanda becomes practical quicker (punching harder and taking a punch is usefull right away) but after about 6 months you start getting your wing chun techniques down, and are in better shape self-defense wise I’d say 🙂

  • http://www.facebook.com/marian.chicu Marian Chicu

    Great mini blog Chad! Kata is just poetry in motion ;-).

  • R.

    I studied martial arts (taekwondo) when I was a kid, and it was great.  I also took a short practical self defense course more recently, which was taught by some karate instructors, also great.  Mostly they taught how to break holds and where to strike.  By the way, there’s a huge difference between sport martial arts and practical martial arts; the one you can study for fun, and it has tournaments and belt ranks and etc., the other is designed to stop people who actually want to hurt you, and it’s not meant to be fair or safe.

    I’d love to take more martial arts, but you know what?  It’s expensive.  As with so many things, the people who need it the most can’t afford it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1405105 Dave Linsalata

    Really interesting article – thanks for sharing! To you or anyone else who studies martial arts, two questions:

    1) I’m fairly tall guy (6’1″) but also fairly lean. Are certain martial arts better for someone with my frame, or does that not matter?

    2) Given my work schedule (a lot) + commute time (2.5 hours a day), I don’t have time for a 2.5 hour class 3x per week, so my exercise plan has revolved around shorter workouts more frequently. Are any martial arts classes designed that way, or do most focus on longer workouts?

    Thanks!

  • http://www.annaspysz.com/ bildungsroman

    I’ve seen several MMA classes that offer 30-minute workouts. It’s not martial arts training in a traditional sense, because you’re not really being taught technique, but it is a hell of a workout in a condensed form.

  • QuinnFerno

    Preaching to the choir here baby!  God I miss it, unfortunately where I am there is no beginner class – everyone trains all together at the same level with army instructor style threats and at my sucky level of fitness it was just way too overwhelming.  I began avoiding it, and the classes were charged by direct debit so I was paying whether I went or not, so eventually I dropped out.  I’ve been working on my commitment to fitness so that I’m both fit and commitment-ready someday to return cos I did love the actual martial art … 🙁
    my plan is general fitness (cardio interval training plus bodyweight exercises) -> strength training -> parkour -> kung fu.  long road for me!

  • Jason

    OK, found a wing chun place, but seems expensive, how much should I expect to pay near a major East Coast city? Also, There are like three Wing chun places in the whole metro area, there is also shaolin kung fu place not too far and Siu Lum (northern and southern) right up the road. Want to avoid the kiddie Karate places that seem to be everywhere.

  • Scota

    Thanks for all of this.  
    Force isn’t the same thing as kinetic energy though.  Force =ma    Does the recipient of the punch feel the Force or the Kinetic energy?  I am curious. 

  • Foo

    Martial Arts is the reason I train.

  • Lauren

    My son takes Tang Soo Do, and I’m dying to join.  Can’t afford time or money for both of us right now, though.  So, I’m trying to get fit enough not to feel too awkward my first day!

  • bethske

    I am new here and reading heaps of the older articles…. this one made me want to take up Wing Chun….. I already do Muay Thai, MMA and Jujitsu…….. damnit, I want to learn EVERYTHING 😛

  • http://profiles.google.com/willbond007 William Bond

    I have only been with Jow ga Kung Fu for 2ish months now, but I am LOVING it. Finally I have found something I am good at… I have just finished my first form (Kung Lic), and so will be grading at the end of this month to go on to my long pole form.
    I really like the idea of forms – after all, martial arts is an art, so it would make sense to have an art ‘form’ as part of my learning! Plus it is a great way to practice getting proper stances while simultaneously going over punching, kicking, and blocking technique. Also, having the form there in my memory allows me to show friends and family my kung fu in a fun way!

  • Alex Phan

    I really enjoyed reading your Kung Fu Warm up. I will definitely be incorporating it into my Wing Chun routine and teach it to my students. Thank you.. Cheers..

    http://howtolearnkungfu.org

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  • Tomas

    for start i dont have anything bad against wing chun, just want to share what i know, please be more open minded:)) the legend about Yim Win Chun is only the legend 🙂 as i figured out wing chun is a castrate of a white crane “kung fu” and is called yong chun in chinese. Probably you have only 3 forms to learn at your gym, really there is 25 forms 17 of them are hands forms, the reason for that is that grand master tought his art in the kitchen where was very little space so he tought what he could, and that very well explains why wing chun nowadays is so incomplete – there is no technique in longer range and footwork is very poor, try to be more open minded and not belive everything that is written in wikipedia, try to dig in deeper to find the truth 🙂

  • Kendall

    I practice Wuzuquan with Master John Graham in Mobile Alabama.

  • Jonathan Lam

    I study Jeet Kune Do Concepts and have studied the Lam Family Hung Kuen Tiger and Crane in Seattle before. I’m trying to get back into it lately. I remember it being the most grueling work out of my life and the supreme conditioning gave me almost herculean strength by the time I was 19. My sifu is growing soft in his old age as I’ve heard the training was maybe 30 times harder in the 1960’s.

  • Melanie

    This is great! My whole family takes kung fu classes at the Chinese Kung Fu Wushu Academy in Hadley, Massachusetts. Me, my husband, and my two kids. Love it, love it, love it. And thanks for all the videos and resources.

  • Stephen Bristol

    I was just beginning Northern Praying Mantis when the whole class fell apart. I’m a Huge Li/Chan fan and something of a researcher on the life and cinematic lives of Dr. Wong Fei Hung and while a friend of mine actually takes Hung Gar Kung Fu and really seems to be benefitting from it, Another friends’ son is taking Wushu with great results. I’ve had an interest in Wing Chun since the first Ip Man movie based on it’s conservative use and basic seeming stances. All of my back issues of Black Belt magazine aren’t making my choices any easier either! Perhaps a basic Shaolin branch for starters?

  • Justine

    Sifu Binh is awesome!

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  • Adam Suhy

    What is a jumping windmill? Google just shows me a breakdancing move.

  • Leon

    Have you ever used it to defend your life or sparred with it?

  • Leon

    I liked your article by the way, I’ve noticed nerdy people study it too :).