Sifu Matt Staley
Greensboro Martial Arts Academy takes quality and safety seriously. We want you to get to know our instructors even before you walk into our school.  Our instructors aren't just good martial artists, they are good people too.

How many years have you been involved as a martial artist?
 I’ve been involved for about 20 years now.  I started when I was 10 or 11, I got lucky in that my mother had trained in Southern Dragon when she was younger and a school of that lineage was still in the area when I finally convinced her to start my brother and I in it.  I’m not sure I would have stuck it out had it been in a more commercial setting.

What is the most difficult obstacle you had continuing your training?
 I tore my left rotator cuff when I was 18.  It pretty much took me out of the art for 6 months or so as it healed.  All through the healing though I showed up at the school, I taught a lot and did some of the sets with only one arm.  It was hard to maintain any level of dedication and to keep showing up knowing I was in a holding pattern until I healed.

Why did you pursue martial arts?
Honestly, because I wanted to be a “ninja”.  I was ten or so, after that it was just something I really enjoyed, and finally it became such a major part of my life I don’t know how I could ever stop

Were you bullied in your youth?
A good bit by my brother, but not much outside of that.  I was homeschooled so most of my interaction was people outside my age since it was through the Gong Fu school as opposed to a regular school.

How long have you been teaching martial arts?
It all depends how you define it, I started as an assistant instructor in the Bai Long Quan school when I was about 15, just teaching basics and helping my fellow students since I became one of the senior students in the school by then.  I opened my first school, here in Greensboro actually, when I was 22 and I’ve had classes under my own authority pretty consistently since then.

What kind of teacher are you?
Detail oriented, but patient.  I have a pretty clear path of how the art should progress but I do a lot of individual tailoring to make sure the student is getting the most out of their training.  I am a stickler for small detail though, so the longer someone trains under me the more details I work on, so we refine finer and finer skill and manipulation.

What do you teach best and what don't you do well?
I teach structural alignment and issuing power or Fa Jin best.  I’m not so great at Qin Na or ground fighting.  I know how to handle myself alright on the ground but I can’t teach it to someone else really.

Do you consider yourself a good martial artist?
 I have seen very good martial artists; Sam Chin, William Luciano, Bruce Juchnik, Kong Cheng, David L Smith, and Chang Yu Kai, to name a few.  I do not consider myself to be in that realm yet but I hope to be.  I consider myself to be decent at my arts though.

What do you recommend for students who have anger issues?
Learn to not let in to it.  Learn control of it.  Studies have proven every time you learn to not have an outburst or control the outburst it gets easier to control them.  It is like anything, diligent practice will help any situation.

What experience do you have teaching outside of the martial arts?
 I’ve helped a few people get started in guitar, and I have worked with people in construction areas helping them learn how to lay tile or do other assorted tasks with varying degrees of success.

What is your career?
 I am a Banker, recently I got promoted to work in the credit solutions department of the Credit Union I work for and I’m very excited about the problem solving aspects of this career move.

How did you choose your career?
I was in a dead end maintenance job, and a friend/student was a branch manager.  I had worked in customer service and cash handling before and she needed a teller.  We both took a chance and I’ve loved it.  I mostly enjoy the fact it allows me a schedule I can freely teach and have a healthy life outside of work but I do enjoy my job.

Do you enjoy teaching children?
I enjoy teaching older children and young teens.  The last few years I have spent mostly teaching the Internal Arts and typically kids do not have the patience to devote to those styles.  I would help my Dragon Style teacher with his kids class and teaching Kids can be very rewarding.

What groups of people/students are you best at teaching?
For the internal I have excelled at teaching mid level martial artists who have left their original style for a time and are coming back for a fresh start.  I have also done very well teaching newer people Northern Long Fist.  It seems that typically my internal classes draw people with a history that are looking for a more refined approach to the arts.

What promise do you want to make to your students?
That if they come to me and are willing to work I can improve their health and abilities.  A lot of how I teach is very ergonomic and can improve whatever art they pick or in general their every day life.  For those few who want it, if you work diligently with me, I can teach you to effectively Fa Jin or Issue Power.

How are you going to help your students be successful?
Lay a foundation of good basics, offer a course that builds continually and coherently from those basics, gradually offer more details, and adhere to consistent and definable rules for body motion.  This is the way to depth in the art, in my opinion.

Do you have a formal education?
 I am just shy of an associate’s degree and in the spring of next year I intend to finish it and begin school for Accounting.

What life lessons can you teach well to students?
 The outcome of Diligence and Commitment.  I have committed most of my life to pursuit of the arts and it is how I have achieved most of my accomplishments in life.  Either through the art or lessons taught to me by it.

Why do you teach martial arts?
 I love teaching, I love the problem solving and seeing a student light up as they finally grasp a concept or a body method I’ve introduced them to.  Knowing I have left a positive mark on someone’s life through the art is a great feeling.

Have you ever been in a physical fight outside of the dojo and what we're the circumstances surrounding it?
I was in one as a teenager that lasted for two punches.  It was the typical name calling and the other boy was being disrespectful to my parents property and would not leave.  I forget exactly how it escalated but he swung first and I struck him back.  When he realized fighting actually hurt he ran away.  Since then I’ve not been in any serious altercations, I have been in a few where someone threatened violence but quickly backed down when I stood up and informed them I would not be threatened or that they should not speak to a woman in such a manner.

How do you feel about recreational drugs in your personal life?
I do not use any and personally think they are a waste of money and detrimental to ones health.  I have a strict rules in my class that no student shall attend while under the influence of alcohol or any recreational drugs.

What advice could you give a young student who is being bullied at school?
 I think it depends entirely on the situation and the person being bullied.  Every situation and individual is different and it needs to be handled delicately.  Helping inspire confidence and the ability to stand up for themselves is a very important aspect of any school though and would be one way to help with the bullying, coupled with more individual advice pertinent to the situation.

How old are you?
I turn 31 this year (2016)

What styles have you Learned?
The ones I have experience and hold lineage in are; Yang Style Tai Ji, Gao Style of Cheng School Ba Gua Zhang, Hebei Style Xing Yi Quan, Northern Shaolin, Three Step Long Pole and Bai Long Quan.  I am currently Pursuing lineage in 18 bronze man Iron Dummy as well.  I have studied to varying depths and have experienced; Hop Gar/Tibetan White Crane, Fu Jian White Crane, Qi Family Tong Bei Quan, Bai Mei, Northern Mantis and Ba Ji Quan.  These arts I don’t claim any titles in, they are ones I have sought out for my own enjoyment and to round out my personal education.

What is your favorite style of martial art?
 I personally love Xing Yi Quan, it is how I got started with my Internal Master and why I ended up in Greensboro, NC.  I enjoy Bai Mei and Southern Dragon as well, and have even read some arguments that those styles have a link to Xing Yi Quan.  I enjoy all the Internal Arts and think most systems are worthwhile, but at the end of the day I am a Xing Yi guy.

What's more important, showing that you're a competent martial artist or demonstrating that you're a competent teacher?
At this stage in my Martial career, I believe showing I am a competent teacher is important.  It allows to me to show depth and my ability to perpetuate my lineages.  Skill is good, but if no one is passing the skill on, we run out of people to share it with.

Watch some videos to get to know more about Sifu Matt