Train between classes.
As instructors, it’s painfully obvious to us when students haven’t been practicing between classes. We’re not saying you need to spend every waking moment thinking about martial arts, but if you’ve been shown some techniques, or form movements, to practice at home then at least try them a few times before your next class.
Find a teacher you can respect.
Many people waste a lot of time in martial arts because they stay with an instructor even if they don’t respect them as a person, or like them very much. Let’s be honest; if you don’t personally like your instructor then one day you will have had enough of them and leave anyway. So do it sooner rather than later.
Don’t think of your class as a social club.
Sure, we all like to make friends and enjoy our training. But so many people seem to view their martial arts class as some sort of social club where they go to chat and hang out. You’re supposed to be there to improve your skills. Don’t get drawn too deeply into the social aspect and neglect your training.
Stop asking annoying questions.
Questions like, “But what if…?”, are really annoying to deal with when you’re teaching. No technique is perfect, or unstoppable. There will always be ways out of everything. Stop worrying about that and just get on with learning the technique you’ve been shown. Save the running commentary for a time when you know enough to ask good questions.
Don’t criticise your instructor in front of other students
Just because your teacher is showing a technique differently to the way you’ve seen it done on YouTube, don’t try and correct him or her as they are teaching. It’s just possible that their 20 years of training experience does count for something, and they know more than you do.
Have a wash
Seriously, get clean! Nobody wants to train with somebody who has poor personal hygiene. This is especially important for grappling-based martial arts where body to body contact is part and parcel of the routine. But should apply equally to Kung Fu students too.
Learn how to learn
The key to genuine progress in Kung Fu is learning how to learn. If you’re too obsessed with beating your opponent then you’ll never pick up on the subtle details you’re missing. It’s these little details that will make all the difference. Take a step back and observe what’s happening. Be less concerned with winning and more concerned with learning and you’ll see your progress start to skyrocket.
Learn the history of your art. Find out about the most famous practitioners. Make sure you know what your lineage is. Read up on the classic writings of the masters. Most martial arts instructors will respond positively to somebody who shows an interest in the history of their art and start to help you more. It marks you out as a serious student.
Be on time
This is a lesson for life as much as it is for martial arts. But if you’re constantly late for class then you’re sending the message to your instructor that you’re just not that committed to being there. The same thing applies to the other areas of your life, so start showing up on time and watch how things change.
Stop being ‘that guy’.
Every gym has that one guy who doesn’t really listen to the teacher properly, does his own thing, hurts other people by showing off, thinks the warm-ups don’t apply to him and is generally disrespectful. Don’t be that guy (or girl). You’ll notice that they rarely get promoted. But if they do, and the instructor praise them, then you’re probably in the wrong sort of class, and should think about leaving anyway.