The cost of training?

Jackie Chan's character practicing "Golden Bridge." Yes, he has metal rings on his forearms and his master is making him "sit" there until the incense stick below is done burning. I'm glad my master didn't make me do that! Image taken from

Jackie Chan’s character practicing “Golden Bridge,” one of the most famous variants of the Horse Riding stance. Yes, he has metal rings on his forearms and yes, his master is making him “sit” there until the incense stick below is done burning. I’m glad my master didn’t make me do that! Image taken from

The question posed on LinkedIn back in early 2013 May was: What is the cost of your training and your skill? For some, it is monetary, for some it is time, and others it is blood, sweat, and tears.

I’d say it’s a combination of all of those for me, though less on the blood side (thankfully). My own experience is that every teacher that I met who taught their art for free or that “coddled” their students did not have a very high level art to offer, or at least did not have a very high level of teaching ability. 

To use one example (again, my own personal experience, I’m not trying to cast judgment on an entire system), there is a Taijiquan teacher in Indiana who offers free classes. Unfortunately, his students don’t seem to get anything out of it other than some mental and physical relaxation even after studying with this teacher for three or four years! Barely any one of them can even stand in the proper stances, apply any of the patterns or strategies from the set they are learning, and some of them are even unhealthier than before (knee and hip problems because their stances were never corrected). I’ve met three teachers who were along those lines. 

Conversely, those masters who charge higher prices, and those who I’ve had to travel to reach (my first “serious” kung fu master is in Skokie, IL and the master who I consider my definite master lives in Gainesville, FL; I live in Lafayette, IN, so one master was a three hour drive away and the other a few hour plane trip away) were able to not only teach a lot in a short period of time, they were able to generate competent martial artists in the expected period of time. These masters have a lot going for them; systematic training, expectations that are known to everyone, and a proven system. It is only natural that they charge a proper price for their expertise.

Some people have asked me how much money they should set aside to attend my master’s or grandmaster’s seminars. I drafted a post on my grandmaster’s online school forum here back in November of 2011 with the particulars. I was able to manage that on a student’s budget, working part-time (about twenty hours per week) with a low wage library job. I’m sure that other people in similar circumstances who really, really want the skills Shaolin Wahnam can teach (using classical kung fu techniques in sparring and fighting, mental clarity, excellent exercises to maintain health and develop vitality, and many more) will be able to draft a budget that will see them to the end.


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