I read this article about the 10 steps to becoming a Kung Fu master and I had to post it up here for all of you to read it as well, so here it is.

What is a Master?

A master of any skill is a person who has worked diligently to understand the martial art (or other skill) that they have studied. Part of that mastery is becoming aware of their own weaknesses or errors and working to correct them.

A real master also has the heart to show others what he has learned with compassion, kindness, humility and understanding.

So how do you become a 'Gung-Fu Master'? Here are 10 steps:

1) Work the basics: Always go back to the basics, whether that is stances, punches, kicks and stretching. We all forget that these are the foundation of more complex moves. Master the basics and the harder moves become much easier to learn.

2) Practice outside of class: Interestingly enough most people don't train outside of martial arts class times, but still expect to learn something new every class. They sometimes wonder why they aren't advancing fast enough. In many cases, your Sifu (Teacher) is eager to show you new techniques but can't until you master the basics and are ready to move on. You can actually turbo-charge your training by practicing outside of class several times a week - or every day, even if it's only a couple of minutes a day.

3) Use your Martial Arts Class for Instruction: Most people use their martial arts classes for practicing - not for learning and correction. For those of you that are learning musical instruments, you know that you practice every day working on what was last taught. So that the next time you see your teacher, you show what you have learned and are then corrected, able to advance futher. The same principle can be applied in the martial arts.

4) If You Don't Know - ASK: This can be hard, especially for us guys who think we need to know everything! But if you don't know something - ASK. That's what you're paying for. That's why you're in class. Nobody gets things the first time around - or even the second or third time.

Ask your Sifu, or senior student to repeat the technique or explain it again. You won't look silly. A good Sifu is always willing to show you again.

Just know what the rules are for asking. Some instructors prefer to teach the technique to everyone uninterrupted, so you can ask when your instructor is finished.

5) Take Notes: Take notes when you're done classes. These notes can be sketches, 'Do's and Don'ts', questions to yourself, personal insights, things to consider, or 'where could I use this technique' tips. Even if you want to take notes in class, most instructors don't mind as long as it doesn't disrupt everyone else.

I have books and books full of notes from old classes and it's amazing to go back and review them. It's like having a personal diary of your progress over time.

6) Use A Mirror:  No, I don't mean standing in front of a mirror to admire yourself in your martial arts uniform. Do your forms and techniques in front of a mirror. See what your form and technique look like from the front and from the side. If you can be honest with yourself, you'll be able to advance quickly.

7) Be the Snail (Go Slow): Most of us want to go full speed and full power when we learn a technique or form. It might look cool, but you're really not mastering it that way.

It can actually take more strength to do a technique slowly. You're using different muscle fibres and refining the movements in a way you'll never get by doing things quickly.

Do the forms or techniques S-L-O-W-L-Y. Make check points after each step of the form or technique. Look to see that you're right where you should be. Always check that free hand and your stance.

They say that it takes  practiving over 25 times before you can learn a technique. Either you can learn it quickly and spend the rest of your life trying to work out kinks that you put into it. Or you can do it slowly and deliberately-and then spend time making it faster, more powerful, more efficient, and more graceful.

8) Grab a buddy or buddies: Find a training buddy or group who are like-minded and want to perfect their gung fu. Spend time out of class training with your buddies. Be honest with each other when you observe each other's forms or techniques.

If you're the one performing, act as if you're being graded. Get together and work out last week's techniques, explore new techniques, make up your own drills/games. You'll find that you'll progress much faster with another set of eyes watching your technique.

9) Read: Go to your local library or bookstore and pick up books on the art you're studying. Also look up books on leadership, motivational, fitness, and anything else you're interested in. It will all help you in your training.

Did you know for example, that the Japanese Samurai were not only expert warriors but were well rounded individuals educated in such things as etiquette, poetry, reading and writing, calligraphy, leadership, philosophy, medicine and commerce? Anyone can learn to fight, but it takes real skill to learn how to lead or interact with others. Remember that you might only use your martial arts maybe five times in a real confrontation, but you can use all these other skills your entire life.

10) Commit to The Fun of Lifelong Learning: In our culture today we want to just 'get it done'. We want to progress through the ranks, get that belt, job, degree, etc. And there's nothing wrong with that. Achievement should motivate us.

But too many people stop learning when they get there. A true master is aware that they know only a fraction of what there is to learn. They are continually learning more, researching, and expanding their knowledge. Commit to the enjoyment of lifelong learning and self-improvement. You'll never know just how far you can go!

An extra point for all the Christian martial artists:
11) Spend time with God: Spend time daily reading from God's Word (the Bible), and in prayer. Remember that martial arts are a 'spice of life' (as my Sifu calls it), and that your relationship with God is eternal. You'd be amazed how much gung fu knowledge and true wisdom is found in the Bible (especially in Proverbs).

Keep Training, Keep Learning, Keep Growing

This article appeared here 1st.