(answers by me)
Is it safe to learn?
If you are training properly, you will get bruises regularly. It would be disingenuous to imply that you can learn to fight without some pain and bruises on the way. However, the injury rates for martial arts are much lower than other sports such as basketball, soccer or even golf. Proper safety equipment is a good idea before participating in sparring practice.
How long will it be before I can defend myself?
You will find that the techniques that you learn are nearly immediately applicable for self defense. Techniques alone won’t defend you however. Your training should cultivate a mindset, spirit and set of reflexes to apply these techniques. Within a few months, you will have a good foundation for self defense against common attacks. The pioneers in kenpo / kempo didn’t have the reputations as fighters to be reckoned with due to elegant techniques – it was through intense training.
How long will it take to get a black belt?
The time it takes to achieve the rank of black belt varies from student to student, teacher to teacher, and school to school. In some arts with a limited curriculum, a black belt can be obtained in as little as two years. Our curriculum is broad and covers striking, kicking, takedowns, grabs and weapons. Four to five years is an average amount of time given regular attendance and regular practice at home.
Should I take private lessons?
Private lessons are an effective tool for learning rank material and honing the finer points of your technique. At the beginner ranks, however, the group classes are usually sufficient to absorb the material, and provide the cameraderie of people like yourself as most of the classes are organized by rank. Upon reaching the intermediate ranks, supplementing your group classes with private lessons will help your progress dramatically.
I’m not big/strong/fast/flexible/coordinated – Can I still do this?
If you were an extremely big, strong, coordinated, flexible person, you probably wouldn’t need martial arts lessons. Through your practice you will become stronger, faster, more coordinated and flexible. The qualities you have to bring are only commitment and effort.
I’m a _____ belt in _______. Do I have to start over?
Probably. If you are coming in from another art, the curriculum, theories, concepts and even goals are probably different. If your basic skills are strong however, it will aid in your progress, and you will move through the ranks more quickly than the average student. If you come from another kempo/kenpo school you will be evaluated individually and placed at a rank accordingly.
Am I too old to start?
It’s never too late. The training is done at your pace, you have no one to keep up with except yourself. You will improve and progress. Mature students often have attention spans and life experience that help them absorb the technical concepts more readily. Patience and practice will compensate for the fact that you are not 18 anymore.