This is a shout-out to all martial artists and would-be martial artists in the western Philadelphia exurbs, especially: Phoenixville, Spring City, Collegeville, Mont Clare, Upper Providence, Lower Schuylkill, Valley Forge, Charlestown/Malvern, Kimberton, Audubon, and Lower Perkiomen.
I train under Sifu Dale Yeager at the Kuntao Martial Arts Club in Phoenxville, and my school has a weird problem. It’s having trouble keeping students, and near as I can figure the trouble is that the school is too good!
Seriously. We have lots of people wander in, expecting the kind of near-useless pablum that’s peddled at endless numbers of interchangeable strip-mall karate emporia. Too many spend a couple weeks finding out how rigorously we train and bail. It’s not even that our style is physically that difficult; it’s way less strenuous than, say, kickboxing or hard-style karate. But it does demand concentration, mental flexibility, a willingness to learn challenging movement sequences, and the intelligence to integrate individual moves into an entire tactical system.
We teach a blend of traditional wing chun kung fu and Philippine weapons arts, with early emphasis on short blades (higher levels go to swords). It’s a close infighting style, and Sifu thinks a major reason we don’t pull in more newbies is that we look as scary as hell when we do it. I can’t disagree. There’s a quiet, ferocious intensity to the training that drew me in immediately but might turn off anybody who was just looking for exercise.
I’m posting because I’m worried about the school. We only have about twelve to fifteen people showing up regularly; sifu just told his instructors we need to get up to around thirty because the expenses for rent and equipment aren’t going anywhere but up. He doesn’t want to jack up fees because he doesn’t really run the school for money – he’s got a pretty well-paying day job, he’s interested in passing on what he knows to the best students he can find.
And we are good students. In more than twenty years of martial arts training at more than half a dozen schools I’ve found a style this interesting and a student group this impressive maybe twice. The level of commitment and mutual help is high. (It’s a mainly mixed adult group with a wide age range and one or two older children.)
If this sounds attractive to you, come train with me. You don’t have to be a twenty-year student like my wife and I, nor a natural athlete, but you do have to be ready to train with intensity and focus. Your mind will be exercised harder than your body.
I can especially recommend the training to the sorts of people most likely to be reading this. That is programmers, engineers, techies, and geeks of all description who already get it about mental discipline and flow states. Kuntao will engage you better than the strip-mall crap ever could.
Chase the link above or call 610-237-3902 ext 803