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Defying the Odds

Through my 40 plus years teaching martial arts, I have seen a sizable number of people decide to start attending martial arts classes but then, do not continue.  These beginning martial arts students might have thought that they had set high standards for themselves. They incorrectly think that these “high standards” that they are setting are good and that one should “aim high.” The student is expecting to be able to master unfamiliar movements with little effort and very quickly, within one or two classes!  This is a set-up for disappointment and failure. 

The CORRECT high standard that one should be setting is the perseverance one can have to stick it out and learn, defying the odds.  I have found that it makes little difference how coordinated or bestowed one might be.  The new students characteristically have the same expectations in terms of how fast they can learn.  It’s never fast enough.

You, the new student can HAVE success in WingTsun.  You just must have a realistic attitude about your abilities.  Not even the most gifted can learn a new thing instantly.  I have seen many uncoordinated students work their way through the early training and then several years later, find themselves at near the top of the heap in our school!  I have also seen MANY gifted athletes who should have had an easy time, give up on the training.  It has nothing to do with natural gifts.  It’s more one of a realistic attitude, ego, and expectations.

Most of those trying Wing Tsun out for the first time are not prepared to be uncoordinated.  Their thoughts might go something like this, “By golly, I should have gotten that footwork in no fewer than three classes. Why can’t I continue with the cool material?” The part that isn’t being spelled out in their mind is, “This is an affront to my personal view of myself.”  I say, “Get over yourself, tough guy.”  Wing Tsun is the one thing that will keep you grounded and more of us modern people need that than anything else, myself included!

The saddest excuse I have heard is the “If I cannot give it 100% then I should not do it.  I have too many previous commitments.”  The reality is that it’s still a personal choice.  You tie yourself up in multiple commitments that you’ve convinced yourself are more important than your personal safety, health, and fitness, that way you have an excuse not to exercise.  You have an excellent-sounding excuse why you couldn’t join that class – OR you can get some perspective and see the previous commitments as what they are, an over-extension of your time which will be harmful to your health and well being over the short and long term.  Ladies and gentlemen, its time to change your priorities and take real classes in a superior martial arts class and environment.

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg

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