training for Life
Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
November 2010 Issue

Chan Heung's Guiding Principles

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Chan Heung, the founder of choy li fut kung-fu, drafted 10 principles that would act as guidelines for the aspiring student who wanted to reach mastery. These 10 principles impart insight on subjects ranging from diet and training to fighting mentality.

Though all 10 principles are an important supplement in the development of the avid student of choy li fut's training, the first three provide a strong base for anyone interested in studying the martial arts. The first three principles of choy li fut are; He must have an experienced teacher; he must work hard; and if he has to use his martial knowledge in combat, he should focus all his intent on winning the battle.

He must have an experienced teacher.

An experienced teacher knows the value an experienced teacher knows the value of passing on the essence and techniques of the martial arts as purely as possible. It's as if they were transmitted from the past masters themselves. Through years of dedicated training and teaching, an experienced teacher knows what to look for in a student and delivers detailed corrections and guidance to the student in a safe and appropriate manner.

Today, anyone can look, read a book or watch a video and mimic what he sees. This is one way to learn, but not the best way to learn. An experienced teacher will hand down knowledge of what works as well as why it works. The teacher will also prevent needless injury from mistakes that could put the student's training on hold for weeks or months. Learning from an experienced teacher increases the potential and efficiency of the student through the depth and knowledge available. It is then up to the student to take from what is available and make it work for him.

He must work hard.

The teacher, regardless of experience, can only guide the student in his training. Ultimately, it is up to the student to put in the time and hard work necessary to master himself and the martial arts. Under correct guidance, the student must study the system, learn the history and lineage, the philosophy and tactics, and the movements and techniques.The student must practice and process what he has learned until it becomes a part of him.

training is not something that can just be discussed; it must be done physically and wholeheartedly. The student must learn how to be self-motivated, to practice with full intention, speed and power. The student must commit to practicing without letting his training schedule fall by the wayside even when outside influences distract him. Students in my San Francisco studio read a saying after every class: "Practice makes perfect, we need more practice and patience." It is a simple motto, but vital for the student's growth. When the student works hard and practices what he has learned, the experienced teacher will give him more to learn.

If he has to use his martial knowledge in combat, he should focus all his intent on winning the battle.

When the student has become proficient in martial arts, it is then, upon encountering a combative situation, the student must focus all his knowledge and experience on winning the battle. There is an old saying. "If you have mercy, don't fight. If you fight, don't have mercy."

The martial artist needs to realize that it's not about beating people up; it's about avoiding a confrontation at all costs. But when the chips are down, he must be willing to do what it takes to win.

Following these three principles will supply the aspiring student with the concepts necessary to make his goal of mastery obtainable. With an experienced teacher and a good work ethic, the student can effectively grow in the martial arts and prepare himself for the moment when he most needs his training.

Doc-Fai Wong writes a bi-monthly column for Inside Kung-Fu.

November 2010 Inside Kung-Fu