How Hard is Kung Fu to Learn?



i'm 17 and i really really really would like to learn kung-fu, but i would like to know before i start how intense it is, what should i prepare for, how should i prepare for it, how long will it be before i can master any form of it, and what should i look for when trying to find a place to learn it. 
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17 is a very prime age to start training in Kung Fu and I highly advise you do. On average, it takes about five to ten years of training to master any style Kung Fu. External styles take less time, whereas internal styles take longer. 

As for intensity, it all depends on the instructor. Nothing really to prepare for either, the instructor will tell you what to do. 

Be aware that Kung Fu is very broad... there are contemporary styles meant for performance, styles meant solely for combat, styles meant for both combat and philosophy and etc. Research different styles and figure out what's for you.

Also be aware of internal Kung Fu such as Tai Chi or Bagua. Chen style Tai Chi master Ren Guang Yi said that he had always wanted to learn Shaolin Kung Fu, but became so impressed by the power of Chen style Tai Chi that he decided to dedicate his life to that instead.

Its only as intense as you and your instructor wants it to be. Some martial arts school students I see hardly gets up into a sweat after every lesson while others come out with big bruises all around their fingers and limp away because their legs are too tired to walk properly. 

However, I would suggest that you don't prepare for it except warm up a little before a lesson and remember to bring a water bottle and a towel to wipe sweat away with! There is no need whatsoever to be so nervous though, buddy! The instructor will know you are a beginner, and you would start off with the basics. It may be a little painful or overwhelming at first (at least it was to me) but you will get through it and enjoy it. 

Learning kung fu can take you a life time (literally) as there is so much to master and perfect and there is always people who can or who has the potential to beat you in a sparring match. If you've got grading at your school though, then a typical black belt (or whatever equivalent to that) will take you around 3-5 years? It depends on your ability though and the timeframe might be shorter or longer. I know some people who got their black belt in two and a half years time. Likewise, I also have a friend who is into her 7th year of taekwondo and is still a red belt (two grades away from black). However, if your future instructor tells you that you can master something under a year, then you may have landed yourself in a macdojo/mcdojang. 

Ask your neighbours/friends/family and see if either of them do kung fu. Its nice to go to a gym and already know someone. If no one does, just walk around the district and search the web. 
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