How to Choose a Good Instructor - March 2001

It is vital for all prospective students of the martial arts to make sure they're getting the best instructor possible. Distance and cost should be the last consideration in choosing a school, not the first. You want to find a teacher that is close to the source of information--lineage is imperative. If you remember playing telephone in grade school, you start with a statement, and by the time you get to the last person, the beginning statement is distorted and incorrect. Find out who the instructor's direct teacher is and how long it took for them to receive their teaching status?

I have diligently trained for years to receive my teaching status, but I personally know others who have received their certifications after a two day seminar. This is truly an embarrassment to the martial arts. There are people, wanting to be a black belt or black sash for show and they enter a school that says, "black belt in one year," and they join for the reason of ego. After one year they have their new trophy, a new belt, as a token to a lie, a counterfeit of the self indulgence of the ego. In one year, you are just warming up, please do not fool yourself. In a year, you are not a master of any authentic martial art. In reality, the black belt you're wearing will do little more than to hold your pants up. Now, you might be thinking, "is he saying I can't learn to protect myself in a year?" On the contrary, I am speaking on an art form that has its sole existence in giving you a black belt. Your motivation is wrong--Gung Fu is more than a set of routine forms or katas, what Bruce Lee termed, "the classical mess."

Gung Fu is a process of enlightenment of one's true self, a way to discover your fears, anxieties, and weaknesses. Your strengths are more than mimicking animals and reptiles. God has placed the human entity higher than all the other creatures on the earth. Gung Fu will teach you how to be an efficient director, economically in your martial arts and in your life.

My best advice to you is to in finding a true Sifu (teacher) is to research many arts. Books and magazines can help, but you are always at the discretion of the author of the message. Does the instructor communicate well with his students? Does the information he is presenting make sense to you? Real and true information will be understood at all levels. Does the instructor flow well? How are the performing skills of the class? What is you personal view of the art, could it really work on the street, or is it for show? Politely ask if you can inquire information from a few of his students. Ask them how long they have studied and how they like the school. Make an equal comparison school to school, student to student. It would not be fair if you, when searching for a school, observe an advanced class at one school and a beginner class at another school and made your selection based on advanced skill. Save your time and the school's by knowing something about the art form. If you don't care about the totality in martial arts, then my school would be out of the selection process.

My teaching, or tao, concentrates on truth and the truth eventually lies outside of the fixed patterns. I believe, that to be true to one's self, you must have the total package. You need to be able to punch, kick, throw, lock, trap, choke, grapple, and anything in between the lines.

Totality fighting at its best, with a dose of philosophy, that is what the Gung Fu Institute is all about. Totally expressing oneself to one's full potential, realizing that you look for efficiency of the human body. You have two arms and two legs, and it really comes down to how well you refine these tools. Remember, the human is not in bondage to the style, but subdues the fighting approach, and controls it. I realize that I am not the way, I am just a pointer of the way, a sort of road map for my students. I am always evolving my Gung Fu. I know there will come a time when I will meet with my maker in Heaven, but my evolving process will still spin alive in my students when I am long gone. Some instructors look at martial arts as a business; I look at martial arts as a passion. I am selective about whom I accept into my school--good morals and ethics are part of my requirement for a prospective student. I should be the student's priority, as well, in choosing an instructor. Unrealistic, fancy, high aerobic kicks, marble floors with gold trim, fancy uniforms with an out of shape instructor that barks out orders to the students as if they're dogs is not what a quality school should consist of. A good school consists of unity, friendship, and camaraderie. Many schools have lost the true essence of what Gung Fu is, was, and will become.

At the Gung Fu Institute, I train my students to be truth seekers, and with enough training, they will become truth finders. My sincerest hope is that your search has come to an end at our institute.

Grandmaster Gallaher