The Journey Begins
When I moved to Johannesburg I started looking for a new martial arts school to train at. Having always had an interest in Kung Fu I was lucky enough, in 2003, to move in to a house around the corner from the Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre in Parkhurst. I was not aware at this point just how life changing this move would in fact be.
When I entered the school, I was met by Si Fu Marco who spoke to me and asked me a few questions and showed me a video of the school. I decided I wanted to try a class and that first class was the beginning of a wonderful journey for me.
It was shortly after starting that I realised this was the system for me and that in order to truly progress in my own training I needed to put the time and effort into both my kung fu and the school itself. It was not long after having started my path within the ranks of the school that I realised I wanted to not only train kung fu but to gain a better understanding and further my own learning, I wanted to get involved in teaching. After two years of training I was given the opportunity to begin down my path of becoming an instructor within the school.
Several years later, in 2008, I made a move to the United Kingdom. I was determined that the move would not limit my training and made a concerted effort to ensure I was able to maintain my training and learning within the school, as there were a few senior students. I have also been able to make regular trips back to South Africa to ensure my progression is maintained. It was shortly after moving to the UK when I started chatting with the students in the UK about potentially opening up a school in London.
A lot of discussions where had regarding starting a school, but every time we looked into it we realised there were several hurdles that we would need to face. The UK has a very different set of rules and regulations, especially when it comes to things like martial arts. There were various laws that we had to ensure we could comply with, for example the handling of our training gear, as well as ensuring the health and safety of those individuals looking to participate.
A few years later still, I had a conversation with Si Fu Marco who then asked me whether I would be willing to consider formally taking on the responsibility of setting up and opening a Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre in the UK. I was very excited about this, as I had never thought it would be possible for me to open up my own school. This was always a dream, which thanks to Si Fu Marco now had the potential to become reality. Having thought about the opportunity that was being offered to me, I accepted Si Fu Marco’s offer and started working towards setting the school up.
With all the various legal restrictions which I knew where facing me, I started doing some further research with the help of the other senior students that were in the UK. Having identified that insurance was a high priority to ensure legal cover both for the school and the students looking to start their own journey into the ranks of the Chinese Martial Arts and Health Centre, I looked for the best place to obtain insurance. After additional research it was evident that the best way to get the school started and obtain the necessary insurance would be to register with a sports council. Thankfully in the UK there is the British Council for Chinese Martial arts, I successfully registered the UK branch of the school with the British Council for Chinese Martial Arts. One of the requirements meant I needed to undertake training to become a qualified coach, which I have since completed.
Although senior students have been training for a number of years in the UK, the next and biggest challenge I am currently facing, is identify the best location to start advertising and building the student base. The hunt began to find a suitable venue to run more classes and be in a position which would benefit more people. At this point in my journey, I am continuing the search for a suitable venue to start building the necessary student base needed to successfully grow the school.
Even facing these challenges it has not stopped a junior class from forming. This first junior class of the UK branch has been with two students, and will hopefully increase as the school grows.
I will look to write another article once I have progressed with building the school allowing me to further grow my own knowledge, the schools lineage and the strength of Chinese Martial Arts.