Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan: they all had to start somewhere. And as Oxford doesn't have a Peking Opera School, we'll have to make do with one of Oxford's martial arts classes.
I tried out the Classic Tiger System Kung Fu class at Brookes - and enjoyed it very much. First off, it's a sociable and varied class - teens, college students, people at uni, working folk, men and women. And it offers a flexible approach to a flexible art. Here are a few things that appealed to me.
The classes are structured but it doesn't matter if you miss sessions here or there. Occasionally the class might split into two groups, so more experienced people can practice some advanced techniques. Each session starts with important warm-up exercises. Light jogging, stretching the arms and legs, and getting the cardiovascular system working is essential prep for the kicking, punching and blocking exercises. Bruce, Jackie and Jet would certainly approve.
At the centre of it are the ancient tiger-style forms, based on the power and technique of the tiger, which you'll learn, and which incorporate a series of practical moves. You do some work in pairs - defences against kicks, grabs and punches - and, when you're established enough, you can do some supervised safe environment sparring. You also work on pads, learning a variety of kicks (side, front, reverse, spinning) and effective punches.
It's done barefoot, but happily you don't need to shave your head like a Shaolin monk or have the surname Lee/Li. You just turn up in a t-shirt and trackie-bottoms, bring a bottle of water and give it a try. And you can join any time.