Friday, February 21, 2014

Choosing A "Base" Style And My Personal Choice

If you are serious about studying the martial arts, then you should try out several different styles throughout your lifetime. If you do, you will be a well-rounded fighter who can handle most common street attacks. While no one is invincible, having a variety of techniques (which you have internalized through intentional practice) will greatly increase your odds of survival in this increasingly dangerous world.

That being said, there does come a point when you eventually have to commit to a "base style." While you should keep the most effective techniques from the other martial arts which you have practiced, it is much more fulfilling to have a deep understanding of one art than to just know the basics of twenty different ones. It's like the difference between getting married and serial dating. It may be more stimulating to always be with someone new and exciting, but you will only truly be happy if you commit your life to the "one."

In August of this year, I will finally take classes again. I haven't been able to train since last August due to personal trials, a job loss, and having to move. However, after getting hired this past November, I am finally getting back on my feet. During this time, I have given a lot of thought to which style will be my "base" style. After all, I am already in my late twenties; it's time for me to move beyond the "martial dating" phase and walk down the self-defense aisle. I still plan to study Brazilian jiu-jitsu, catch wrestling, and capoeira, as well as resume my Krav Maga training this fall with Steve. However, these styles are going to be the equivalent of my male buddies. My "bride" style, the one which I will commit my life to wholeheartedly, is going to be Kung Fu. In particular, I want to earn my fifth-degree black belt in Pai Lum under Pastor Michael McClure at the Valour School of Self-Defense in Delray Beach, Florida. He is a sixth-degree black belt under Professor James Cravens, who in turn studied under Daniel Pai himself.

I decided on Kung Fu for one main reason: it is really fun! When I was a kid, I loved the idea of fighting like an animal and copying the movements of the tiger, crane, praying mantis, snake, and dragon (a.k.a. dinosaur, but we'll get into that later). For several months last year, I finally got to do it, in addition to fighting like a leopard. I had an absolute blast training under the guidance of Pastor McClure and his daughter, a third-degree black belt who has also taught the martial arts overseas. Additionally, the kata did wonders for my health. The more I did them, the younger I felt. They were like a macho version of yoga: I became more flexible, relaxed, focused, and alert. Also, I started noticing many similarities between the self-defense techniques of Kung Fu and Krav Maga. This validated my belief that Kung Fu is still a deadly martial arts system, in spite of criticism that it has received recently by members of the MMA community.

At the same time, I'm not blind to Kung Fu's main weakness: groundfighting. That's why I will cross-train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which I consider the self-defense equivalent of my male best friend. However, at the end of the day, the lessons I learn from other systems will ultimately be used to improve my development as a Kung Fu practitioner.

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