Tag Archives: Taichi quan

Taichi and MMA

by Nick Osipczak

After my last fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) in 2010, I didn’t know whether I was going to fight again, so I was afforded the luxury of easing off the punishing training regimen that having an upcoming fight forces you to endure, and instead I could focus on training purely for the love of it once again. I found myself drawn to Tai Chi and immediately began noticing all the imbalances in my body, and it took about two years to undo most of the significant damage I had caused to myself from years of sparring and pushing myself to the limits in training.

The beauty and depth of the internal arts

Once I’d realized the efficiency, beauty and depth of the internal martial arts, I was 100% committed to its mastery. Having a somewhat obsessive-compulsive personality when it comes to doing what I love, I immediately devoured all the texts and videos on the subject matter and began my travels to learn from various masters around the world. I took three years off from sparring, and instead focused on moving as slowly and smoothly as possible. It was both a beautiful and humbling experience to feel like a complete beginner again, and this helped me realize that, more than anything, it is the learning that I enjoy. I love a challenge, and when I read claims that Tai Chi Ch’uan takes 10 to 20 years to master, my imagination was instantly captured and I knew what my future had in store for me. I had to completely “empty my cup”, detaching from my previous training methods, which is no easy task! As my brain was attempting to rewire itself to learn this new language, most of my old habits were actually in direct contrast to what I needed to be doing in order to evolve further in this new direction. The concept of doing less to achieve more is certainly a tricky one for Westerners to wrap their heads around!

taichi in Watlington

Changing beliefs

And now today, when I try to pass on what I have learned to my friends in the MMA community, I encounter two common scenarios. The first is the confused look as I try to explain a concept which is too alien to their current way of thinking, one that does not harmonize with – indeed, even threatens – their limiting beliefs, or the way they see the “sport” of martial arts. The other is simply an inability or unwillingness to “start over,” to throw away the old to make way for the new, even if they can see the value. People too often feel that they have invested so much energy for so many years that they would be doing themselves a disservice by starting anew. As I see it, our attachments can become our downfalls, and adaptation is the key to longevity and harmony.

After years of study on everything from nutrition to philosophy, anatomy to alternative health systems, as well as the classic texts on war and peace, every aspect of my training has shifted dramatically from what it once was. A significant moment came when I felt I was no longer just following what everyone else was doing, or what my coaches were telling me to do. I was coming from a place where I could draw on my own experience and research – and, more importantly, I was following my intuition.

Over the last three years, my main training partner has been my son Shen, who is now three. Becoming a father forces you to adapt in so many ways, and in order to fit the daily amount of training hours in, one is required to make changes both to lifestyle as well as the type of training. Motivations change too. Now I am inspired to lead by example and I have to be more consistent and thoughtful with my approach. Shen is of the age now where he can spot anomalies and he loves nothing more than to ask, “Why, Dad….?”

Four ounces to move a thousand

Tai Chi Ch’uan talks of using four ounces to move a thousand pounds, so when I wrestle my son, it’s not a case of the strong and experienced versus the weak and unaware. Instead, I make it so I literally use as little effort as I can, and would have to say that he becomes the stronger of the two of us. I constantly play around with his balance, trying to affect it so subtly that he is unable to grasp what is the cause of his instability.

Jumping knee

Taichi principles in training and life

From my many years studying ground fighting, I am well-versed in the best offensive and defensive techniques; but I have yet to teach any to Shen. Instead, I just put some weight on him, pinning him to the ground or against something upright, and ask him if he can get out. Then I let him try and wiggle and squirm his way free using movement and the principle of finding space. Sometimes he says he is stuck and I give him a pointer on which part of the body he should move to free himself up. He has become blocked, limiting his own movement through lack of awareness. We all do it, becoming attached to one way of thinking; and when that doesn’t serve us, if our vision has become too narrowed, then we are unable to come up with any new, creative ideas because we are drawing from memory instead of feeling in the present.

A Karate friend of mine recently asked Shen to punch his hand and was surprised that I hadn’t taught him “correct technique” yet. But that will come later, and it will come easily and quickly once he knows how to move correctly and has cultivated a mind which stays open to assimilating new information. Besides, I don’t really want my three year old knowing how to punch just yet!

Shen’s favorite film is The Jungle Book, and there’s nothing more he likes doing than climbing on me. Even my 10-month-old has started joining in, crawling as fast as he can across the room to get in on the action. We mimic animal movement, moving primally across the floor like gorillas, monkeys, snakes, bears…

Aside from our training together, just observing how a baby navigates this world is enlightening for those of us obsessed with movement. From the first few months when you can feel the strength of their grip and how all limb movements originate from the dantien, to when they begin to perform deep squats and exhibit perfect posture. Getting to feel true softness, noticing how their pliant muscles can move freely around the bone, and realizing what is actual full-joint mobility.

It can be an awakening experience knowing that we all once moved like that, and somewhere along the line we picked up some bad habits, and are continually paying the price for it as we age and strive to unlearn, simplify, return to our youthful ways.

When I was a boy, my friends and I would regularly dare each other on, challenging one another, pushing our boundaries in the quest for new experiences and overcoming fears. I find myself continuing that tradition with my son. When we come across some cold water and I ask Shen if he wants to go in, I’m really asking myself if I want to go in. Without him there, I may not always verbalize the idea, which brings it one step closer to reality. Like all good training partners, you find ways of fitting more training into the day and bond through the shared experiences.

I am a believer in the saying, “Do one thing a day that you are scared of.” It is an excellent way to prevent the mind from calcifying. When the mind begins to set, this is a sure way of letting fear creep in, and it only needs one foot in the door. The mind is like a parachute – only useful when open!

When carrying Shen on my shoulders, it forces me to adopt more and more efficient posture. With him constantly growing a little heavier, it reminds me of the old story of Qing-Gong training when one jumps out of a hole every day and each day the hole gets made 1cm deeper.

When he climbs on my arms as I am sitting, my structure is tested and I strive to apply all the principles that Zhan Zhuang practice cultivates – keeping the shoulders down, elbows heavy and spine tall.

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Practicing patience

But most of all my son helps me develop PATIENCE! An integral component to successfully training internal martial arts, it is something we could all have more of – the ability to not get frustrated and to continually adapt to our ever-changing circumstances. Having kids has forced me to reassess how I spend my time each day, and trim off the unnecessary. Time is more precious, and sleep, food and even breathing has to be respected even more due to their significant contributions to my energy levels. When you start your day with breathing exercises in the morning, it forces you to become more aware of your environment, more in the present, and has the ability to make you consider how you will spend the rest of the day a little more carefully. As the saying goes, “The yi leads the qi.”

The chances of the average MMA student today incorporating standing practice into their daily routine? Slim to none, and Slim just left town! The current MMA fighter wants quick results, and there is the prevailing dogma that if they haven’t finished the day exhausted and beat up, then they haven’t trained properly. There is also the irony of being partly motivated to rush through the stages of training in order to hit the “big time” in their twenties, believing that they will be “past it” by their mid-thirties, not realizing that it is this very mindset that will cause the damage to their bodies (and brains) that unfortunately force so many of them into early retirement. With often irreparable knee, spine, and shoulder injuries to name a few, it is a sad situation when professional athletes cannot even nurture their health into their forties.

Maintaining a neutral state

Nowadays, it is a rarity when I feel sore, and I enjoy the process of returning my body to a balanced, neutral state as soon as possible afterwards. This enjoyable process of putting a little wear and tear into the body before healing ourselves can be likened to the tempering of steel, where thousands of oscillations between hard and soft alchemically transcend us to a new way of being. There are no shortcuts for the sword that is destined to become great; it must be willing to endure and persist. It must also love its journey, and believe in its destiny.

Another lesson MMA fighters would do well to learn is to tone down their competitive natures for partner drills, and increase their sensitivity. They are like a fighter-plane locked onto a target with one objective: seek and destroy. This extremely yang approach doesn’t lend itself well to being aware of what the opponent is intending, limiting the amount of information one can garner through touch and even sight. A simple grounding drill where one applies pressure slowly and steadily to their partner becomes a great challenge for the MMA adept, as they are not used to toning down their force and learning to vary it in such small increments.

Future goals

One of my goals is to help spread the internal martial arts into MMA, not just because I believe the current standard of fighting on display is well below where it will be a few years down the line (the sport is still relatively young – the first UFC was in 1993), but I am also highly motivated to spread the health benefits to my fighting brothers and sisters. For this to be achieved, I am regularly reminded of just how much I will need to continue learning from Shifu Shen’s main lesson – the art of patience!

About Nick Osipczak:

Nick Osipczak began Hung Kuen at age 18 and six years later was competing for the world’s largest fighting organization – the UFC. No opponent could finish Nick in any of his 18 career fights. For 5 years he ran a martial arts club in London where at one stage his students amassed a 22–0 record in professional MMA bouts. Now specializing in Tai Chi Ch’uan, Nick passes on his knowledge and experience through seminars and intensive workshops.

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Becoming A Seventh-Generation Disciple of Yang Lu Chan

This is the story of how three men from the US became seventh-generation disciples of Yang Lu Chan, the creator of Imperial Yang style of tai chi.

On the 25th April and until to the 5 of May, Ray Abeyta and Wolf Carter from the Texas School of Tai Chi in El Paso and Michael Paler from Colorado Springs will on the invitation of Dr. John Fung, officially a sixth-generation disciple of Imperial Yang Style will visit Beijing, to spend 10 days learning from his kung fu sister Wei XiLan the daughter of the late GM Wei Shuren. These three men will become the first Americans to be included in this particular linage of tai chi.

The story began when on the request of Ray Abeyta, Dr John Fung a 6th generation lineage holder of Imperial Yang living in Sydney Australia visited El Paso to teach a number of seminars. On seeing the dedication, skills, plus attitudes and personalities of Ray, Wolf and Michael as well as with much reflection Dr Fung decided to ask them if they would like to become disciples and join the Imperial tai chi family.

Dr John Fung’s lineage: 

Wei Shuren – Wang Yongquan – Yang Jianhou – Yang Luchan.

Yang Lu Chan
Yang Lu Chan

This in itself is a huge deal for the tai chi community in the United States as Ray and his fellow tai chi brothers are all keen to return and share their knowledge with those who attend their classes as well as further afield.

Ray said. “There are other Yang family organizations, but this is the only one considered Imperial Yang style. You have to remember originally, Yang Lu Chan was hired by the emperor to teach his guards how to fight. He was the best fighter in the land back then. That continued in Beijing, where he continued to teach people. We are going to become official disciples of this linage. Very few people are picked. I don’t deserve it, but I’ll take it. I’ve going to do my best to honour the art.”

Knowing what I do of Ray I know this to be true as he is already sharing the information he’s learned from Dr. John Fung not only to the people in his existing classes in El Paso, but also to students in Santa Fe where he teaches every three months, and also with some people up in Colorado Springs. Anywhere people want to learn, Ray will share with them.

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Wei Xinlan daughter of the late GM Wei Shuren, Dr John Fung, 6th Generation Lineage holder, Sifu Wolf Carter, Sifu Ray Abeyta, Sifu Michael Paler, 7th Generation Lineage holders.

Catching up with the group on my return to Beijing from Cebu I enjoyed listening to their stories and the whole groups enthusiasm for this rare art which is effectively what Bruce Frantzis calls Old Yang Style Taichi. An art that comes directly from Yang Lu Chan who was said to have only taught the emperor’s guard, the aristocracy and a select few disciples to a high level of excellence. The best of these students were his sons Yang Chien Hou, and Yang Pan Hou and Wu Chuan Yu from which Wu Style Taichi originates and which then subsequently led to the development of Sun Style Taichi.

Over some delicious Yunnan food we discussed taichi and martial arts related topics. Listening to John Fung and Ray I was struck by their genuine openness, kindness, knowledge and of course passion to share this fascinating art.

A delicious dinner of Yunnan food with my new friends, the day before the left Beijing.
A delicious dinner of Yunnan food with my new friends, the day before they left Beijing.

If you are ever in Sydney, Australia or Texas, USA and would like to learn more about Imperial Style Taichi. Check out the following links:

Sydney: with Dr John Fung – www.imperialtaichi.com

Texas: Ray Abyeta – Www.TexasSchoolTaiChi.com

Colorado Springs: Michael Paler – www.taichicoloradosprings.com

At http://www.studymartialarts.org we are keen to support those on their various epic martial arts journeys so please let us know if you have anything you would like to share.

Kung Fu & Dreams

Master Lu

An opportunity for those that are daring enough to make the leap and change there lives!

I’m flying to Beijing on Jan the 15th for intensive martial arts studies.

I’m looking for 2 people to join me on this journey, if your interested read on…

I will be training with Master Lu Sheng li who is the author of quite a few martial arts books in Chinese, English and Spanish. He is one of Wang Pei Shengs (WPS) top students and was selected by WPS to travel around America to help him conduct seminars while he was alive.

Grand master WPS was considered one of the greatest Taichi masters of his time and was the last master of the last martial arts golden age. He was a master in many Chinese internal and external systems such as Bagua, Xingyi, Tongbei, Tantui and Baji. WPS comes from very impressive lineages of great masters, who passed on their skills to WPS intensely over many years from a young age.

Master WPS also wrote what is said to be one of the best books on Taichi out there. You can read about who WPS was, his life and his achievements here in this Article Titled Remembering WPS. It’s a great read for any one who loves martial arts, culture or just the back ground story of a highly accomplished individual…

http://ycgf.org/WPS_Eulogy/WPS_Eulogy.html

The training we will under go will be under the Yin Chen Gong Fa association training methods, styles and principles. The best information available I can find in English about this group and what they train can be found on this site (ycgf.org) read the opening page, click English and scroll down, the information is quite informative and vast and will give you an idea of what you could expect if you join us and train.

The base of the training will be in Taichi but the training will be customized to each individual’s personal level to insure a proper foundation is built and a higher potential or mastery is reached in your time.

The training period is 100 days and is “everyday” for a minimum of 6 hours a day. (Ill be training a minimum 10 hours a day including Chinese language learning and theory) Master Lu’s students are movie stars, CEO’s of large companies, like the CEO of Intel and Lenova. He charges in some cases $450 an hour. Master Lu has earned a great reputation among masters with in the Beijing martial arts community and worldwide.

The 100 days of training for those who qualify to join me will be at a location Master Lu has rented in Beijing.

This is not an opportunity I would normally make public but the chosen 2 people who were aiming to come with me, now can’t make it, due to changing circumstances in there life. Everything happens for a reason, so now there is a chance for 2 lucky individuals to join us.

This will be a very transformational journey for who ever is up for the challenge.

This could also be an amazing start for a martial artist or a great way for a former martial artist to deepen their skills in real internal training and practices.

It’s short notice but I feel it’s important to put this opportunity out there. Maybe it’s a possibility for one of my friends here to join us. When I started my martial arts journey a chance like this would have been something I would have only dreamed of finding!

Master Lu has set aside this time to be committed purely to transmitting his kungfu skills and knowledge by setting up the ideal environment for us to grow and train. He has cancelled all of his commitments in this period to train other students and will be focusing purely on my self and the other students who join the group. He has rented a house that we will all live in, including master Lu for the 100-day period.

This really is a lucky opportunity and is not something you would find advertised publicly. The reason I am looking for other students to join is as follows.

1. Two spots are now available and since master Lu has put on hold all his training and teaching commitments to his other students over the 100 day period, I want to insure master Lu regains his cost for the commitment he is making, renting a house, providing food and training etc. Since the other 2 guys can’t make it there is an opportunity for 2 other students to join.

2. Although one on one is great with a master, for long term training it’s better to have others students to train with on the journey, so we can push each other, practice techniques 1000 of times to refine our skill level and discus the principles and ideas to gain a more broader perspective.

That’s my main two reasons. The last one is simply having another person in the world who gets affected by the attributes of internal martial arts training I believe sincerely and firmly, is a huge benefit to his/her family and friends and the world in general.

To qualify for this opportunity will come down to work ethic, and good character/personality. If you’re interested, send me a PM or comment below and Ill get in contact with you to arrange a call. You may also add me on Skype just msg me for my details.

I will be helping those who come advance out side in personal training time to insure we all grow together. Master Lu will be with us 6 hours a day daily and is Renowned for his attention to detail and his focus on transmitting skills to his students.

Since the date of commencement is literally right around the corner, those who can make it for a minimum of 1 week and up to 3 months may apply. Although preference will be given to those who wish to train more long term, as well as those who express a keen interest in training hard and pushing them selves to create a positive training environment. So from Jan the 15th through to April the 25th there is a chance to live and train with a world class Kungfu master.

Included in the cost is nourishing food, which is designed for the hard training and long days, accommodation and personal instruction from a world-class internal martial artist.

Below is photo of master Lu and some of my students and friends that joined me in Beijing late last year on a StudyMartialArt.Org tour.

I’m holding his recently publicised book on Wu style Taichi. (Currently in Chinese Only)

Over the 100 days there will be a focus on Wu style Taichi but also students may start to practice, Xing Yi, Bagua, Tong Bei, Baji, Qigong or Tantui depending on master Lu’s development plan. What ever the path is we will be heavily involved in the principles and philosophy, which lead to high-level practice.

This opportunity is not for the light hearted but beginners are welcome to apply. Personally I would rather people more experienced to push my self but that’s just my personal preference, Ill be pushing my self on my own to new heights with who ever joins me and I expect the same of them.

Other then the benefits of self defense, confidence, knowing one self and the spiritual attributes that arise from this style of training, that make you relaxed and cheerful. The health and longevity benefits are of the hook and have been well proven by the masters before us and explored and backed by scientific research.

Master Lu is 62 or 63 in this photo his movements are graceful, powerful and very precise in there attention to detail!

If any one would like me to elaborate in more detail about the lineage, the training, Wu style Taichi, WPS or master Lu please feel free to ask. I certainly don’t have all the answers, many I will discover on the path for my self but I have been studying all the above a couple of hours a day, most days over the past 3 months and have lived in China for many years, training martial arts full time. Since I’m investing allot of time and money I wanted to insure everything was what I truly wanted. I looked at it objectivity and tried to find faults to make sure I made the right decision. It passed my test and I’m sincerely looking forward to 100 days of intensive training with Master Lu Sheng li and training in the Yin Chen Gong Fa family!

The food, training, accommodation and the personal instruction 6 hours a day from master Lu will cost 100 USD per day which when you look at the time you get with a great master alone, it’s a pretty small asking price since we will be living with him also. This is something I did well to negotiate.

Master Lu is sincere in seeing that the Internal arts of China get passed on to dedicated practitioners, in the Yin Cheng Gong Fa association founded by WPS. They hold nothing back, there interested in the true and proper passing on of the skills and training methods as the generations have before them so the arts stay alive in full expression.

Other systems and masters do hold things back unfortunately this is why Chinese kungfu is dying or in some aspects have been lost and only held by a few, its different with the YCGF family.

Thank you for your time and tuning in!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

I will have my personal Site/Blog up very soon which Ill be writing in and giving updates to my progress over the 100 days training and living in Beijing.

When I return I will teach a one-week intensive seminar and open my first official martial arts school in Australia!

Best wishes for the New Year everyone and if your interested in this opportunity dive in, make it happen for your self and don’t waste time, it may never happen again!

You can read about Master Lu on this links

http://ycgf.org/Articles/Lu16/arti_Lu16.htm

and here is one of his books on amazon. Note most of his books are in Chinese.
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=dkPTM3IzeawC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Wang+Pei+Sheng+taichi+book&hl=en&sa=X&ei=MyvOUpmpNo7QkQXuuoHYAQ&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Wang%20Pei%20Sheng%20taichi%20book&f=false

You can check out Grand Master WPS book here which is considered one of the best books on Taichihttp://www.plumpub.com/sales/taichi/collbk_wuTC1.htm
.
You can read about Wu style taichi in this book also,
note that master WPS was the successor of the Northen Wu style Taichi group passed down from the founder Quan you. This book was written by WPS younger Kungfu brothers female disciple, who is a champion in her field. It gives a great introduction to the lineage, the style, the founder etc as well as other famous masters. This will give some idea on what Wu Style Taichi is about and an idea of some of the training.

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=nu3jRBsgv6gC&pg=PA21&dq=Northern++wu+style+Taichi+beijing&hl=en&sa=X&ei=nirOUunTOoiXkwXyg4GwDA&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Northern%20%20wu%20style%20Taichi%20beijing&f=false

Please feel free to share this if you think there is someone in your network that would be interested in joining me for this amazing training experience. Maybe you yourself are interested? if so email me at Rhynsma@gmail.com to find out more.

Kind regards

Rhyn

___________________________________________________________________________________

Rhyn Nasser is a partner in StudyMartialArts.Org and has been traveling the world teaching and studying  martial arts with some of the best martial arts masters on the planet.

www.StudyMartialArts.Org

A Guide to Teaching English Abroad & Studying Martial Arts

Do you have friends or classmates that have taught English in China, Japan, or Thailand and wondered to yourself, “How can I get paid to live in China,  Japan or Thailand and follow my passion for Studying Martial Arts?”  With millions and millions of people learning English in Asia, the demand for native English-speaking teachers is insatiable and virtually any native or fluent English speaker can gain employment teaching English abroad.  But like any great endeavor in life, moving to a foreign country to teach English and follow your martial arts path requires research, planning, initiative – plus a few tips from teaching abroad experts like those at StudyMartialArts.Org who have experience of combining English teaching with Martial Arts studies.  Take a peak at these 12 crucial tips and pointers for teaching English abroad to help you get started.

teach-english-in-china1. Know that virtually anybody can teach English abroad

With approximately 1 billion people learning English worldwide, the demand for native English-speaking teachers is insatiable and virtually any native or fluent English speaker can gain employment teaching English abroad. Remember this:

  • A background in education or professional teaching experience is not required to teach English abroad.
  • You do not need to speak a foreign language to teach English abroad.
  • Prior international travel experience is not a prerequisite to teach English abroad.
  • A college degree is not required to teach English abroad. But it certainly will help. As more and more people take the English teaching route to discover Asia the market is becoming increasingly flooded with job seekers. With this increase tighter controls are being applied. Visas require more often now those with experience and so a TEFL certificate is becoming more handy. Ultimately, the more qualified and well connected you are the better employment opportunities you will get. Because after all you are here for the most part to study kung fu so the last thing you need is to be stuck in a job that requires too much travel, too little work to make ends meet or too many hours.

Remember that hiring standards will certainly vary from country to country, so remember to consider what countries you are qualified to teach in.

2. Research your tail off

If you plan to move halfway around the world to teach English and Study Martial Arts, you owe it to yourself to research all aspects of your great international adventure to make it as rewarding and successful as possible. To start, focus on the martial aspect. Where is that Shifu you have dreamed of learning from?What styles are you interested in? Also check out this country chart which compares salaries, hiring requirements, interview procedures and visa information for teaching English abroad in more than 50 countries around the world. Also, check out our other articles for more information about teaching English abroad. When you’re ready to start diving into program options, be sure to read reviews and weigh all of the possibilities. Salary, livability, conditions, benefits, time commitments, and the potential for an incredible and positive experience will all play major factors in your decision.

05.brucelee3. Make sure to earn your TEFL certification

Even though you don’t need a degree or professional teaching experience, if you want to teach English abroad professionally, you need to take an accredited TEFL certification course, especially if you have no background in teaching English as a foreign language (our guide to TEFL helps lay this all out for you). An accredited TEFL certification course will provide you with the skills you need to competently run 4-6 classes a day, and will outline the best ESL teaching tools. TEFL certification will also provide you with a recognized qualification that most schools and language schools around the world seek when hiring new teachers. Remember, most schools around the world will not hire you off the street to teach English professionally simply because you are a native or fluent English speaker! One of the biggest difficulties that new teachers face is the challenge of creating fun, engaging, and plenty of activities for the ESL classroom. TEFL courses will give you insight on the types of games and lessons that are successful with different age groups. Get a head start by reading our tips for lesson planning or take notes of the 10 best games for ESL teachers.

4. Consider whether to go with an organized program or independently

Many TEFL training schools do provide job placement assistance and it’s definitely something to check for when researching your options, because quality assistance should insure that you don’t have to pay for a job placement. Many top programs provide it for free with the course tuition. Others may charge additional fees for placement or assistance. Teaching abroad through an organized program is a great option for first-time travelers to a new region, especially if the local language is one you’re less-than-absolutely-fluent-in. For most people looking to go abroad, there are enough jobs and plenty of resources in the way of free job boards, recruiters, and other resources, that there really should not be a need to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a placement. Also, programs that guarantee or receive payment for placements will limit you to job options offered by the program, which are a drop in the ocean of the thousands of job opportunities worldwide that you may be qualified for. If you are looking to teach English in Asia, Russia or the Middle East, you may consider working with recruiters that interview and hire English teachers from the U.S., Canada and elsewhere on behalf of schools in these countries. Typically you should not pay such recruiters for placement. Working with recruiters can make the process of interviewing and lining up a position abroad easier though as they can provide assistance and guidance with matters like setting up interviews and arranging documents for your visa. The key, as always, is to research and work with reputable, well-established recruiters. But be aware, most recruiters who do this will then get paid by the school you work for so their payment could be coming out from your potential monthly wage.

5. Remember: hiring and interview procedures vary from country to country

Be flexible and open to new experiences

Remember demand is high in Asia so schools hire all year-around, nevertheless elementary and high schools recruit primarily during the spring, summer and winter for positions beginning in Jan/Feb and September. Many Asian schools will hire new teachers directly from their home country, this is good for a number of reasons one being securing that all important visa and having the right papers from day one. This means that if you want the security of having a job waiting for you when you hop on a plane to your teaching destination, you should concentrate your efforts here.

6. Plan to break even

This means that even as a first-time English teacher teaching you can expect to earn enough to pay your bills – rent, food, daily transportation, etc. – and live comfortably, though modestly. This means that you’ll be able to travel and go out on the weekends and engage in other personal pursuits like taking language lessons and martial arts. However, this will often be very dependent on luck, your color and whether you are a native speaker. You shouldn’t expect, at least at first, to be making enough salary to put money in the bank at the end of every month. This can take time and it is often 6-12 months before you start earning back on your initial investment, the money you spent on settling in job, hunting and securing accommodation and finding with the right kung fu master.

640x450_thai_boxing7. If you want to make more money, this is possible but very dependent on your qualifications and experience

Most people don’t go into teaching for the money, but if you’re looking to make enough to save for extra travel it is possible with the right qualifications and connections. English teachers can typically make enough to save 30%-50% of their income after expenses, and often receive benefits like free airfare and housing. Monthly savings typically range from about $400 a month in a nation like Thailand up to $1000 or more in South Korea. However, be realistic. More and more these opportunities are limited to those with experience, the right papers and longer term commitment.

8. Consider using a Martial Arts School as a springboard

The growing number of martial arts schools in both China and Thailand offer a great opportunity for the savvy martial arts adventurer to use the schools as a base from which to explore teaching opportunities and of course training with other masters outside the international kung fu school system. To make the most out of these opportunities your current school location or planned schools location will be the key.

Rural schools in the depths of the Chinese, or Thai countryside will not be the most suitable if you’re limited to weekend for finding a school or another master. The good news is that StudyMartialArts.Org offers a great Free consultation service. They can easily help advise you both on potential schools, masters near by and that all important teaching job or employment contact.

9. Set a realistic timeline and plan ahead

Getting a job and moving half-way around the world to teach English or Study is not like choosing which parties you’re going to hit this weekend or selecting what you’re going to wear to the gym – it’s not a spur of the moment sort of deal. While hiring cycles and procedures vary worldwide, you should usually plan on taking 3-6 months from the point when you begin your TEFL certification and job search to actually getting on a plane and taking off to go abroad and begin your teaching job. In some cases, as when applying for government public school programs like JET in Japan. Remember the process of applying, interviewing and making travel arrangements may take 6-9 months or even longer.

10. Be prepared for start-up costs

Teaching English abroad may be the most cost-effective way to live and travel overseas for an extended period, but like most major undertakings in life, it requires a degree of financial planning. Major start-up costs typically include:

  • TEFL Certification: $1,000 – $2,500 for a fully accredited online or in-person class – trust me, it’s worth it.
  • Transportation to your destination country: typically $300-$1000 for North Americans traveling to other continents.
  • Support in your new country until you start getting paid: even if you have a job waiting for you when you arrive, you won’t typically get paid on your first day of work. These expenses can range from $500, if your housing is provided and your job is pre-arranged, to even higher while you interview for a position, wait for the right job, rent an apartment or find a conveniently placed master that you want to study with.

Although start-up costs for teaching English abroad in Asia are typically lower because in many cases you can line up your job in advance, and many schools, particularly in South Korea and China, cover airfare and housing costs. But more than often these are not paid until a trial period has been complete or certain part of your contract. In addition to this as your purpose is not just to teach but also to study kung fu extra complications and few choices may be available to you. This is why some managed programs with initial costs are worth considering.

11. Engage your friends and family

You will need their love and support, and in some cases, their advice and financial assistance. At the same time, don’t let their fear of losing you stop you from going abroad – Mom will just have to understand that you’re going to miss a Thanksgiving or two. The good news is that thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch from all corners of the globe. Email, Facebook and other social media make conversing and sharing photos a cinch, and with Skype, you can enjoy video calls with friends and family as often as you like, for free.

Guilin12. Be open-minded and flexible

If you won’t even consider teaching anywhere but places that are just like the home, you’re only cheating yourself. The fact is that you are unlikely to get a job just like at home. This should not stop you from experiencing the adventure of living and traveling abroad, whether it be in China, Thailand, Japan or anywhere else. Also, bear in mind that you are not limited to one destination – you can always teach in one country or region and then move on to another and as in any field, the more experience you gain, the more opportunities will come your way.


Essentially the only way that you can’t teach English abroad is if you don’t have the initiative to make it happen – so let’s go! That means researching your options, getting a TEFL certification and putting together a timeline. Be realistic and organized, but don’t hesitate to broaden your horizons and take chances either. Moving abroad is meant to be adventure, so embrace it! Inspired by – Go overseas.

Finding the right master? Not as easy as you think

by Nathaniel Cooke

Phew – for some time there, it looked like my epic Kung Fu pilgrimage was looking like  turning in to the most extravagant wild goose chase in human history. Ok, apart from the search for the Holy Grail. And Noah’s Ark. Oh, and there was the Ark of the Covenent for a while there, and something about a golden fleece for the Greeks? Oh no they got that in the end, didn’t they.

OK fine it’s not the most extravagant wild goose chase in history, but grant me a little dramatic invention with a splash of poetic license and things will go much easier for the both of us in the long run, I promise.

Anyway, where was I?  Ah yes.  After a week of searching, I was beginning to worry having not seen an ounce of Kung Fu, anywhere – and this was only confirmed by a student in one of my first classes who took no small pleasure in telling me that the nearest place that specialised in Wing Chun was halfway across China, and nobody really did Kung Fu in Sichuan Province. Having travelled several thousand miles specifically for this sole purpose, this came as something of a disappointment. It turns out that I have managed to pick the only province in China where nobody really gives a monkeys’ about Kung Fu – not even Kung Fu with monkeys in it (yes, for those uninitiated in Kung Fu lore, there is such a thing) or Kung Fu done by magical ghost monkeys (I can back this one up too – put ‘Monkey King’ in to You Tube for the most random five minutes of your life). There is, in fact, a distinct lack of Kung Fu, or monkeys, or any combination thereof, in this province. I hope I am clear.

Indeed it was all beginning to look rather bleak, until the wife of a fellow English teacher at the university mentioned a group of older women that do Tai Chi every morning, right outside my flat. Now I have to admit that two weeks ago this news would not have filled me with joy, but by this stage I was beginning to panic that my best laid plans were rapidly laying to waste, so I decided to check it out.

Which is why, at 6:45am on a Sunday morning I was roaming the streets of the campus in a pair of tracksuit trousers and a t-shirt in rain that, were it any heavier, would have required a pair of armbands instead of an umbrella. After about twenty minutes of soggy wandering the nearby streets I began to wonder if they came out in the rain after all, and was set to turn home when I espied an open door to a hall, with music drifting out of it and in the gloom, an elderly gentleman inside, wearing duck-egg blue silks and moving slowly, ethereally, slipping through the air as if he were floating on top of it. I had found my Tai Chi.

Cautiously I sidled up to the door, lingering awkwardly in the foyer like only a Brit can. Taking pity on me, the old man smiled and motioned toward a chair, indicating it was OK to watch. I tried to explain that no, I wanted to learn, and we soon discovered common ground in that I spoke not a word of his language, and he not a word of mine. This led to an awkward five minutes of miming and pointing from me and much awkward, albeit patient, grinning from him until realisation dawned and my brand new Sifu invited me to follow him. Two things immediately sprang to mind. One, that in China Tai Chi is not so soft and slow as it is in the west (the martial form is punctuated with snaps of speed and power that I was not expecting) and two, that although it is slow (or because it is slow) Tai Chi is actually one heck of a workout. After the first hour I was sweating; movements that I would have used kinetic energy to achieve in the past (kicks, stretches etc) now had to be achieved through strength and suppleness alone.

I am put in mind of a swan floating on a lake; the beauty visible above the surface of the water belies the churning effort of the legs to create all that graceful floating. And disguises an incredible power – the swan also, as the saying goes, has the power to break a man’s arm. I ended my first two hour class exhausted and excited. Tai Chi Quan is not the Kung Fu I came here seeking, but it may well be what I find.

To read more stories from Nathaniel click http://www.hownottogethit.com