Being a Kung Fu Prince. I have heard that term thousands of times if I have heard it once from Master Chin. Those of us who have been around martial arts can picture the Kung Fu Prince, without much verbage. Those of you can't, good for you, and I am not going to assist, stay on your path. We have lives outside of the kungfu, some with priorities that are important to our lives, family, school, a career, children, and so on. So how can we train and gain, yet not alienate the rest.
Sifu Chin in his wonderful simplistic way would say, lifes priorities are like cars on the train track, the life-locomotive pulls and directs these cars. It is up to us what the order of the cars are and to look at it from time to time. We have a no guilt guideline. practice each day, leave guilt at the door (guilt about I didn't get to do this, this wasn't just right, etc and so on). Just practice with a good attitude and move on.
So if you recognize 5-7 main priorities in your life, where do you slip it in? Perhaps we pull the intellectual, Cultivating Chi and Kung Fu is a section of my Health Train Car, and gets subdivided by my weighttraining and jogging. Perhaps we take our Meditation and Three Treasure Work and slip into the Spiritual and/or Self-Development Train-Car; again subdividing with church, or book reading. We divide into Posting/Meditation (Spiritual Train-Car) and Forms/Walking Hands/Silk Reeling (Health Train Car).
In my younger days I went through all of that. Trying to gain and not sure when to let go. Sifu Chin was wonderful about never forcing us to do something like stop lifting weights hard; because it really works against getting the mind to do the work, but he would gently make a statement from time to time of how certain things will interfere with our gains. With that tone:
Step One: Identify life habits that may interfere with our development. Not as a Kung Fu Prince or Princess, but as who we want to be. Adjust those life habits and replace the vacuum with something beneficial. It is highly regarded a much better technique to replace something than to eliminate it.
Step Two: Identify why you want to learn kung fu. What are you looking for? Perhaps it is several things, perhaps it is the combination of the unique activity with the touching into the culture philosophy. Embrace what you are looking for and share it with Sifu.
Step Three: Listen and Learn to where you need the highest priority of work. For most beginners it is calming the mind down, and then integrating the body with heart-mind. However, you may also need much work in the area's of softening, fluidiness, balance, grace, stamina, flexibility, health concerns, etc.
Step Four: Dedicate your time. Schedule the most important of every day, the one with you. Keep it and don't be late. Someday you may have longer times, some days shorter times. Whatever is, follow the Tao, and make the most of it. We use the term 'little cheater set' on shorter days, just to keep the links together. Short days are great days for a light set of posting and some light Chi Work
Step Five: What am I going to practice? Here we go, nuts and bolts. Use the following guidelines (those are different than rules for you hard-liners); when I worked as Strength Coach at UNCW and Asst. Strength Coach at ASU, we would use the following:
Maintance - You are comfortable (right now) with where you are in a particular area or skill - Twice week (once a week may hold some forms if you post regularly)
Need to Improve a Delicate or Subtle Skills of grace or understanding (ie. reeling silk exercises, Tui Shou (pushhands) or if a quarterback reading a blitz in a 3-4 defense) practice 4-7 days per week.
Need to Improve a Physical Skill (learn a form, walking hands, an application) 3 days per week.
Trying to calm down the mind and keep the chaos from taking us away - EVERY DAY
We must consider our other responsibilities, or those responsibilities may easily become part of the chaos.