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  • How does training work?
    Traditional Loong Ying Kung Fu encompasses both the soft and hard (Yin and Yang) aspects of self defence, and you will train both of these elements. The soft side of the art is generally more nuanced, and over time, as you become more advanced, it will take on new meaning. ​ A training session therefore involves strength and flexibility exercises specifically designed to increase power, coordination, balance and speed. Breathing and internal energy exercises, as well as sensitivity training are used to develop the soft, inner strength, power generation (chi), and mental calmness (shen). Empty hand and weapon forms together with two person sets are used to teach precision and technique. ​ ​ A typical training session will involve a combination of: ​ - Fundamentals, movement, and tactics - Stance work and Hand Techniques - Individual Techniques, Combinations and Partner Work - Form work (Taolu 套路) - Sparring (Sanshou 散打) - Chi Kung and Power Generation - Fitness and Conditioning
  • Is Dragon Kung Fu a sport?
    No. This is something that differentiates Kung Fu from many other fighting systems. Unlike styles such as boxing or karate where you generally train within a set list of rules or to score points, the Dragon Kung Fu that we teach focuses entirely upon dispatching with your opponent. This can often include what in a sport fight would be classed as "dirty tactics". We attack eyes, joints and bones, throats, pressure points, the groin; anything necessary to damage an aggressor. Whilst we do teach techniques more appropriate for less severe situations it is understood by all of our students that these techniques are very serious tools and need to be used appropriately. Unless you intend to seriously harm the person you are engaging with (and the threat is considerable enough that such force is necessary) you should not be fighting at all. But when the threat is that serious, our aim is not to exchange blows and box with the aggressor, instead we aim to finish the altercation as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Who teaches the classes?
    Nigel Cooper is our Sifu. Prior to mastering Dragon Nigel was an acclaimed martial artist in a number of styles, famed for his impressive kicking technique. However, the overly showy nature of these other styles led him to train in Dragon when he was shown how brutally effective it could be. He is a long recognised member of the Loong Ying Dragon lineage and has trained under highly respected Dragon grandmasters in Hong Kong. He is also an intricately skilled Qi Gong, Iron Palm and Poison Hand practitioner. Professionally Nigel has now retired from a long career in the Police where he regularly put his skills into practice, be it disarming knife wielding criminals with his bare hands or training officers in tactical operations. Nigel has also trained and operated with special forces both domestically and around the world. Nigel's approach to teaching is incredibly generous and his years of experience both using his skills and teaching others is clear to see. Nigel does not believe in holding back useful information for the sake of pomp and circumstance instead aiming to train people to be effective in defending themselves as quickly as possible. That being said Nigel's knowlege is vast, and as and when the time is right he will impart detail and nuance that touches on another level of artistry. The well, it seems, never runs dry. Aside from Nigel, in his absence, the classes are run by his senior students, each with well over a decade of experience. Being an art form, once a high level is achieved it is normal for a practitioner to develop areas of particular interest and ability, and so each instructor, though adhering still to the traditional form of the style, brings their own flavour and perspective to their teaching which in itself can be highly beneficial to students.
  • How long does it take to get a black belt?
    Traditionally Chinese martial arts do not use a belt system, but it is recognised these days as a useful way of marking progress and so we do have a system of belts. It's very hard to say, but roughly speaking to achieve a black belt will take between 5 and 10 years, depending on how much practice and dedication you put in. We also do not charge for belt exams like many other styles and clubs. The tradition of Chinese Kung Fu is that we are a family, not an army, and as such we do not believe in profiting from the progression of our Dragon brothers and sisters.
  • Do I have to be in good shape before I start?
    Not strictly speaking no. However, training is still a physical activity and of course you will need a certain degree of fitness and general health to participate. Only in very extreme cases would lack of physical fitness prevent you from training, at least at a beginner level. Whist physical strength and fitness are always going to be beneficial to your chances of winning a fight, the techniques we teach are not dependent on it. We do not expect to engage in a lengthy sparring match with an opponent, instead training with the intention of out smarting them with technique and out manoeuvring them with speed and precision. We train under the assumption that our opponent is bigger and stronger than we are, and so use techniques that counter that.
  • Am I too old to start martial arts?
    No, you are not too old to begin martial arts training and we have students of all ages. Obviously as we age we get slower and weaker. But an effective strike to an attacker's eyeball, for instance, will always prove effective. We train with an expectation that any potential attacker is more than likely going to be bigger/stronger than we are, and so we prepare for this accordingly. Therefore we do not simply rely on brute strength, but technique, tactics, and precision - which are things that can be learnt at any age.
  • I am very busy with my work schedule, how much time do I need to devote to Dragon classes?
    You will get out of Dragon what you put in. It is very much like learning to play a musical instrument. To start with you must learn your scales, and in Dragon, you must learn your stance work, and your hand positions. You must learn to put your body into positions that it is not used to being in and that do not necessarily feel natural or comfortable. For a while too it may feel like you are getting nowhere. But then, one day, you will find you're able to play a tune, or in our case, that you make a hand movement without having to think about it. And things start to click into place. And just like a musical instrument, some people are very gifted and others need to try harder, but what is always true, is the more you practice the quicker the process moves forward.
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