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You Get Back What You Put In

It’s a very common saying but, really, what does it actually mean? 

Kung Fu is, first and foremost, a martial art, but it is also a way of life that incorporates ancient wisdom and philosophy. The practise of the art allows you to access this knowledge directly, through lived experience, rather than in a theoretical manner, the outcome being that you live the philosophy, rather than just knowing it academically. You become wise, rather than knowing wisdom.

If we put aside the physical and practical skills which it is based on, Kung Fu training is, on this basis, an incredible investment in yourself. But please don’t get me wrong – you can’t actually put the physical and practical skills aside. You will only yield the results if you do the hard work. Kung Fu means, essentially, hard work. You get back what you put in.

The Work – Life Conflict

Located as we are, on the Northern edge of the City of London, and with my previous career as a Chartered Engineer, I do tend to attract an unusually high percentage of young professionals into my classes, and I do appreciate that when you are ambitious to succeed in your career in such a competitive environment, when deadlines are looming, that it can be really hard to find time to get to class.

But let’s switch this problem around. Many of the most successful (in their careers) students in the club will actually tell you that 

  • The unique set of skills and perspectives that they have gained from their Kung Fu training have helped them to shape their careers and outshine their competitors. 
  • They make time for their training, because they can’t afford not to. 
  • They decide which evenings are their training evenings, and they are not available for work on those evenings (or they swap evenings if this isn’t possible).
  • They leave the office on time and go to train, and their colleagues respect this, because the results still happen.

Of course, you know that it’s not the amount of time spent on a task that is important, but rather how effectively you use the time that you have available so that the outcome is successful. This is the Art of War, and Kung Fu is the root of this art.


All of our lives have several different facets – work, family, friends, hobbies, etc. But how often can we find ourselves in a situation where they are in competition with each other? What Kung Fu teaches us is the understanding that each facet of life is part of a harmonious whole, each supporting and feeding into the others, allowing you to find balance, and ultimately happiness in your life.

This is one of the ultimate forms of wisdom of Kung Fu mastery. Balance starts in yourself, and spreads out towards everything around you, and everything you do. At the centre of the ability to find balance, and the glue that holds everything together, is your Kung Fu training.

Kung Fu teaches us to work towards an ideal, and to keep working towards it. To persevere, to be resilient, to recover from our mistakes, pick ourselves back up and continue with our journey in the best way possible.

It might be argued that success in life is actually in finding balance; in balance, equilibrium; in equilibrium, peace; in peace, happiness. 

It Actually Doesn’t Take That Long to Get Good

As we have come out of the lockdown restrictions of the last couple of years, many of our plans that unfortunately had to be put on hold are now starting to fall into place.

We have opened new classes in Highgate, Hackney and Liverpool Street, and are very pleased to welcome many new students into the club to begin their Kung Fu journey, both at our new locations and in my classes in Islington.

Five of my students have become BCCMA National Champions this year, three in sparring and two in forms. While these are great successes for the club, and we applaud Maki, Ela, Theo, Maya and Gregg, as well as all of the other students who won medals or competed, we also understand that this can actually be a bit intimidating. How can someone who is just starting ever get that good? But what would the champions themselves say?

  • They haven’t all been training for that long…
  • They haven’t all been training completely obsessively…
  • But they have stuck at it, on a regular basis.
  • They won’t tell you how good they are because, just like you and me, they want to get much better.
  • They got as good as they are much quicker than they thought it would take.

And lastly…

  • Try to squeeze a little bit of training in here and there through your day. You will progress so much faster if you practise outside of class, even in small amounts.
  • Do sparring. You can’t learn to maintain equilibrium without external forces on you. There is no faster way to learn about yourself.
  • There will always be reasons not to train. Turn it round – a good way of creating a positive mindset is to try making excuses to train. New habits don’t take that long to form!
  • Set yourself targets. With dates. When are you doing your next grading? When are you going to try your first competition? Targets will help you to keep your training on track, and your improvement flowing.