Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

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Have you ever given advice or instruction to anyone in your life that came to you for help, yet it seemed like your words fell on deaf ears, or the person deliberately did the opposite of what you advised, perhaps even compounding their problem. even more?

Many times this is due to the concept of Secondary Gain. The problem becomes so much a part of the person’s identity that the perceived benefit of having the problem is much greater than the benefit of solving the problem.

For more enlightening information on why people hang on to their problems and how to rid yourself from Secondary Gain, check out this article by author, speaker, counselor and Kung Fu Master Jeremy Roadruck : https://medium.com/@KungFuGuyJeremy/secondary-gain-or-why-people-keep-their-problems-e8b4c4a3770e

Origin of a Kung Fu Sifu (part 1)

At 35 years of age I was settled into this routine of work, gym, sleep and living for the weekend. To be honest, I am and was pretty fortunate. I have a roof over my head, a full belly most of the time, and I have been happily married to my best friend. But, I was lacking...something. At the time, I felt my job was tedious and that 90% of the the people I encountered on a regular basis were dolts. Plus the optimism of my 20s had long faded as I was well into my 30s having accomplished next to nothing in the traditional American sense, except earn a pretty worthless college degree more than a decade earlier. Since childhood, my self-esteem was pretty low on a consistent basis, aside from a brief uptick during my college years when I knew that I was ripe with potential. But like a #1 draft pick going pro, the years after graduation were fraught with multiple fumbles. I was pretty angry and frustrated, mostly with myself, on a regular basis. .

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In the later half of the 00’s I began to enjoy watching MMA on TV. I really respected the conditioning that these athletes put themselves through, and the strength and determination that I thought they must possess in order to engage in such a pursuit. Plus, self-defense skills seemed to me like a body of knowledge worth knowing. I had gotten in a few scuffles as a child where I didn’t fare too well, and I administered one beatdown as an young adult, but even then I realized I had no real skill. So about a year before I started formal martial art training, I started watching videos on how to strike, and I collected workouts that were suggested for fighters, and I would get up in the morning before work and do these workouts; calisthenics, and rounds on the bag, hitting with my jab, cross, hooks, uppercuts, Thai round kicks, and maybe and elbow or knee. At some point the idea of training somewhere with others entered my mind, but where? There are so many schools and clubs and martial art styles in the Cincinnati area. I wasn’t sure where to start. My brother-in-law had been doing Taekwondo for about 5 years by then, but the amount of legwork involved was a bit intimidating because I did not feel it was a good match for my attributes.

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A few weeks before I started training Shaolin Wing Chun, I figured it out! I had gone to the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, OH, mainly to mingle among the bodybuilder crowd, when I wandered into the martial arts section. It was fascinating to watch all these different competitions live and up close; Kung Fu weapons forms, Muay Thai fighting, Kendo/Gumdo sparring...and Filipino stick-fighting.



That was it, that was the art that spoke to me; practical, effective, and it would allow me to connect with my Filipino heritage. I also looked forward to participating in an activity that would expose me to people with like-minded values, and interests. It might be a good way to make a few friends. Soon after I got home, I searched online for any place that might teach Kali, Eskrima, or Arnis, and was pleased to find out there was a club only a couple of miles away from my house.

I called the facility and made appointment; however, it did not go quite as planned. The Cincinnati Balintawak Arnis Club DID practice at that location, but I found out that I actually called a Wing Chun Kung Fu school. I had no idea what Wing Chun was. The Kung Fu instructor was, then, Sifu John Lambert. He patiently and expertly explained his art to me, and even let me participate in a one of the drills. It was fascinating and I felt like he understood what I was looking for. At the end of my visit, I found out the membership fee and was assured that I could also train with the Filipino martial arts club at no extra charge if I signed up for Wing Chun Kung Fu. When I got home my wife, Becky,  asked me how it went. Evidently, I told her it went well, because when I said that I was not going to go back because it cost too much, she said that “she had never seen me get so excited about anything in her life and that I HAVE to sign up. We would make it work with our budget.”

After much reflection, I took the first step on my martial arts journey when I signed up about two weeks after the initial visit with Sifu Lambert. I felt like maybe this was a place where I could finally feel that I fit in. More on the results of this first step and why I stayed on the path in Part 2...




Can You Change? Can Anyone? (part 2)

In internal training, we have to start with emotions. Most of our decisions are made based on emotion. Any good salesperson can tell you a customer buys because of emotion and justifies the purchase with logic. Emotions, like everything else, are energy, neither good nor bad. It is your mind which chooses whether they are good or bad. Emotions are just responses that are part of our evolution of survival skills.

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Fear can keep you safe from danger or keep you from prospering. Interestingly enough, in Chinese, the word “crisis” is the combination of the characters for danger and opportunity. Happiness balances sadness. Anger balances fear. But you have to be able to control it. It is self-destructive to live there perpetually. Too much ego, can cause an imbalance in between your emotions, which leads to a loss of focus.

Our method of practicing meditation is Qigong, which means "energy practice”. This concept is important since, as stated in part 1, everything is energy.

Qigong regulates our  breathing, our movement, an  our thoughts -- our feeling, action, and thoughts. Everything becomes mediation when these 3 elements are in harmony.

Focus of the mind should be at the forefront of your training, because everything starts with a thought. The When the mind becomes focused, the emotions become calm. Then the correct action can take place.

A scattered mind cannot focus. Thoughts wander, and a scattered mind is susceptible to illusions that can lead to a negative emotional response. Western psychotherapy refers to  illusions as Cognitive Distortions - extremely harmful and destructive thought processes that appear normal, rational, and reasonable. Illusions have the power to distort the view of yourself or others, and poison your sense of equilibrium. There is a saying, “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” Persistent negative thinking influences how you feel, causing destructive behavior that reinforces negative patterns of thought. Negative patterns of thought prevent you from living a fully expressed life. As a warrior, your mind has to be able to control itself, in order for you to survive and thrive.

Lack of focus taps into the negative emotional state. Clarity of mind allows you to slowly detach from the five senses; ridding yourself of the burdens that come from the five senses.

This results in a calm (heart) emotional state .

First of all, Qigong practice begins with breathing. Breathing affects the body, heart and mind.

A human being can live 3 days without water, up to a month with no food, but we can only live a few minutes without breathing. Breathing affects the organs. It seems simple but most people do not think about how they breathe.

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Breathing triggers the:

Relaxed body- action

Focused mind- thinking

Calm heart- feeling

As you breath, slowly, rhythmically, and deeply (natural breathing - Breathing should have the rhythm of a wave) you clear the mind.

Second, the emotions become calm - You start to eliminate ego.

Third, the body becomes relaxed - this allows qi to flow.

Stillness happens when the body is relaxed, the mind is clear and the heart is calm.

When you can achieve a state of calm, you can change perspective. Different perspectives allow you to envision more possibilities, which can lead to a life change. Ultimately, it can lead to self-mastery.

In closing, adapting to change and achieving self-mastery isn’t easy. It takes time and effort. In fact, the definition of Kung Fu is “skill and ability developed over time through hard work”. And remember, when we talk about practicing meditation; it is just that, practice! True meditation happens when you can remain calm under pressure, under fire.

One of the most damaging obstacles to our self-improvement is the statement that we tell ourselves, “I don't feel like it” - This means you are harmonizing on the inside, letting the outside control you. *After saying.” I don't feel like it” your next statement should be “now I must.”


Can You Change? Can Anyone? (part 1)

Chan, Health, and Combat make up the Three Treasures of Shaolin. In modern times we understand the importance placed on health, and combat skills are widely regarded as a crucial component of self-defense. Chan, however, is not a familiar term to most.

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The concept of Chan can be referred to by the English words “wisdom” or “self-improvement”. It is the philosophy employed by the Chan Buddhist monks of the Shaolin Temple to understand reality and discover the meaning of life. The warrior monks of Shaolin understood that death is just another phase of reality. The majority of people I have come in contact with are not familiar with the term Chan, but they are familiar with the  synonymous Japanese term “Zen”, which has taken on a mystical meaning for many Westerners.

Chan or Zen simply means “meditation”, and meditation can be defined as mindfulness.

The goal of meditation is to increase the clarity of conscious thinking to have more control of the subconscious. Your Habits + Your Beliefs = Your Subconscious Mind. There is unlimited potential in the subconscious mind.

A defining characteristic of Shaolin is the concept of the Internal and External Triads.

The Internal Triad is comprised of what we think, feel, and do, things that we 100% can control. The External Triad is the time, space and energy of the world we live in. We cannot control the External Triad, instead our goal is to harmonize with our environment. In Shaolin Wing Chun we refer to the Internal Triad as “attitude”, meaning: What we think, we create. What we feel, we attract. What we do, we become. The Chinese have the concept of heart-mind; meaning thoughts and feelings are intertwined. Our beliefs are generated by our thoughts and feelings, and our habits are a result of our actions. Therefore our subconscious mind is completely under our control.

After receiving information from the world through the 5 senses, the conscious mind feeds the subconscious mind which results in habits and beliefs. The subconscious mind manifests energy through the heart and body. The result of energy (actions, intent) that you produce feeds back through the 5 senses, and the cycle repeats.

The most important skill that we strive to develop in Shaolin Wing chun is flow; our ability to adapt to change; to live in the “here and now”. The “here and now”, is defined by your present time and space. In Shaolin training we learn that 25% of our reality is comprised of what we think, 25% is what we feel, and 25% is what we do. The final 25% is our environment; our present time and space.

Therefore, we are in control of 75% of our reality. Because reality is change, the Shaolin Monks started practicing kung fu as a pathway to self-improvement.

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Fixed patterns are necessary in the developmental phase of learning.

In live combat fixed patterns equal restrictions. Restrictions are attachments. Attachment is the inability to change and adapt to the reality of the moment; the here and now. The biggest attachment is ego. We must keep some ego in order to function as physical beings day to day; for self-identity, but an overabundance of ego can manifest in behaviors such as blaming others and self-pity, when we have attachments that are not compatible with the current reality. Attachments lead to illusions, and illusions lead to suffering; hence matters of life and death are dependent on the ability to adapt to change. Detachment doesn't mean you don't care. It means that you can adapt and adjust, or live in the moment. Fighter or not, true wisdom is using the correct application in your reality.

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Scientific research has revealed that the states of matter such as solid, liquid, gas, are basically just differentiated by the amount of kinetic energy that their respective particles possess.

Energy connects everything. Time and space create separation. Our consciousness creates separation. Separation leads to disconnection. Disconnection can lead to extremism. This is evident in cultures where there exists a high level of conflict. Collectively the citizens are disconnected, not unified. It is easier to stay connected externally by making friends or creating strong family bonds. Most of us who live in a stable society are disconnected internally. The nature of energy is unlimited. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only change from one form to another. Thus, energy is change, therefore we must embrace it. We have awareness of change, therefore, we have the ability to adapt. So how do we train to adapt ? I’ll cover that in Part 2, coming soon.

Enter the 36 Chambers...

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One reason that my art, Shaolin Wing Chun is referred to as “Shaolin” because all Wing Chun originated in the Shaolin Temple. More importantly our main focus is on three areas of development, 1) Self-improvement/Chan (Zen) 2) Health and fitness 3) Combat/Self-defense skill. Collectively these are known as The 3 Treasures of Shaolin. A major concept of Chan or as the Japanese call it, Zen, is the concept of the Triads; Internal and External. The Internal Triad consists of what we think, feel, and do (things that are 100% under our control). The External Triad refers to time., space, energy; the environment that we cannot control. The art teaches us to control the internal and harmonize with the external.

Additionally, we consider our art to be Shaolin in nature because we employ the Shaolin Halls method of development. Any fan of vintage Kung Fu movies, or 90s hip-hop, for that fact, can tell you about the 36 Chambers of Shaolin, maybe even 108 techniques. How about the 72 secret arts? Well, it all sounds pretty esoteric, if not downright intriguing. Coincidentally, all these numbers are divisible by 6, which is what I really want to talk about: the 6 Halls of Shaolin.

The 1st Hall is referred to as Gei Bun Gong- Basic Exercises is the translation. However, 1st hall is not only limited to basic physical conditioning to build strength, flexibility, and stamina; it also refers to basic life skills, such as attitude, hygiene, communication, knowing right from wrong, and very commonly understanding how to act of adapt in YOUR own time and space.

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2nd Hall is called Gei Bun Dong Juk- Basic Movements. This is where your technical skill evolves. We practice drills and forms in fixed patterns in order to develop reflexes and muscle memory. We practice basic movements in all ranges of combat.




3rd Hall can be referred to as San Shou or San Da. Basically this is live application;  skill challenge or sparring. You are putting to use your mental and physical conditioning of the 1st hall combined with the skills acquired in the 2nd hall in order to effectively “harmonize” with an opponent. Effectiveness is the goal. Can you prevent an opponent from imposing their will/reality on to you? Can you create time advantages and own your space? Can you effectively resolve this conflict on your terms?

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Every solid, legitimate  martial art has Halls 1-3, even if they do not refer to them as such. From Karate to Krav Maga, if you can identify first, second, and third hall in your training, you are most likely in a good place. To be honest this concept of the Shaolin Halls methodology can be applied to a number of skilled endeavors whether they be athletic, artistic, mechanical, scientific, etc. Think about it.

What makes Shaolin Wing Chun special to me is this next bit, Halls 4-6. I have not spent as much time in or around other martial arts as I have Shaolin Wing Chun to say from experience, but Shaolin Wing Chun is the only martial art that I know of that employs the concepts of these additional halls in their teaching methodology .

Wing Chun Happens in Halls 4-6.  So once you have become effective through training Halls 1-3, how do you improve? You get more efficient. Hall 4 represents efficiency, Economy of Motion; you get good results with less effort Your expression becomes more fluid and efficient because of detachment from the limbs, and the lessons that the body has learned from experiencing reality.  Hall 5 is one of the definitions of Wing Chun- Maximum Efficiency. We not only want to obtain good results with less effort; we want our efforts to be so efficient that nothing can be added or subtracted from our technique to improve the result The absolute best result with the absolute least amount of effort is the purpose of Wing Chun. At this level you are able to also detach from your environment, in addition to your body. The ultimate goal is Hall 6- Emptiness; simply the ability to “live in the moment” or “live in reality”, reality = change. To be empty is to lack expectations, biases, preconceived notions, regret, or anything else that binds us to the past or future, so that we may live our lives in the only time frame that truly exists, the present. “Live in the present” is another way to say adapt to change, because the present is ever-changing. In a combat situation, the ability to adapt to change is crucial for survival. In day-today modern life, the ability to adapt to change ensures we have fulfilling, purpose-driven lives. Grand Master Moy Yat said, “When you have one foot in the past and one in the future, you are pissing on the present.”  Be present, be engaged in the precious moments of your life, don’t piss on them, my friends.





12 Signs You Belong to a McDojo

As most people know, McDojo is a term used to describe successful martial arts schools that seem to churn out black belt students who have no real skill at a high rate. Typically, when you see an article that tries to identify the traits of a McDojo, most often the dojo, dojang, kwoon or school is criticized on the characteristics of success; such as displaying many trophies, having a thriving children’s program, the leaders sound like motivational speakers, or wearing “flashy” uniforms. This stuff is surface level, though, and sure, may be a turn-off, for some martial art enthusiasts, but these things do not really indicate the value of the program. Listed below are some obvious and not-so-obvious signs that you belong to a McDojo:


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  1. Abusive attitudes or actions toward students.

  2. You never spar/ All you do is spar.

  3. Rank awards based on time or fees paid, not skill.

  4. You are required to compete / You are not encouraged to compete.

  5. Status comes before students.

  6. There is a sales pitch around every corner.

  7. Your relationships have not improved.

  8. Your health has not improved.

  9. The techniques don’t work.

  10. The instructor cannot explain “why”

  11. You cannot ask questions.

  12. You don’t know the history of the art.


1) No one should tolerate abusive attitudes or actions toward themselves or others in the martial arts environment. “Martial” does mean military, and a high degree of self-discipline is required to to not only learn new skills or techniques, but more importantly when and where to use these potentially damaging skills. Just like you would not want an irresponsible person wielding a firearm, you do not want a person like that with empty hand or cold weapon skill. However, an instructor's feedback or use of consequence should never injure a student mentally or physically. Push-ups may get you sore and words may be harsh truths, but at the end of the day, it is the instructor’s duty to educate and uplift. Students should not be punching bags for an instructor’s ego.

2) If you never do any type of live skill challenge, the purpose of the art is lost. You won’t really know what works in reality, or what works for you, or when and where to use what works. If classes are just sparring only, “fight club”, then you have the tendency to reinforce bad habits, skill refinement will be neglected, and you will only be as good as your physical attributes. Again the purpose of the art is lost. A true combat system has the potential to give you and edge in the event a physical attribute like size, strength or speed is less than your  opponent’s.

3) It is hard to believe that some instructors may dishonor an art by selling a rank, and this is a sure warning sign that it’s time to move on to a better environment. However, there are many places that  emphasize skill with the absence of rank, and it is easy for a student to get just as discouraged, It is important to remember that the skill is the reward, it is better to be a black belt that to have a black belt.

4) Being required to compete isn’t inherently a bad thing, it just means you joined a sports team. Unfortunately, if you just want to reap other benefits of martial arts such as physical fitness, coordination, stress relief, and had no intention of testing skill in a public forum, this may not be the school for you. If the instructor does not respect that, then it is time to move on. However, if an instructor deprives his students of the option to engage in the competition experience, then they are limiting their  students’ potential and growth, which is the opposite of what a good instructor should do.

5) Many times, an instructor’s desire for status is related to #3 and #4. An instructor may decide that they need a certain number of black belts to become a master, and may award rank to those who may not have the skill. Or, they may feel in order to become more respected as a coach they need to field a larger number of competitors in order to increase the odds of their school winning. These types of behaviors are a result of the ego taking over, causing backward thinking. Rank is an acknowledgement of skill development for the student, a true validation of an instructor’s methods is the amount of skill that any number of their students possess. Competitions are a way for a student to test their skill. The focus should be on the student’s experience. Win or lose, the instructor should feel privileged to have been a part of a growth experience.  

6) In this day and age, martial arts is a business, but no one likes to feel they are being sold. If a product or membership tier has value, then it should be expressed during honest interactions between the instructor and student or students. The mentor-student dynamic shouldn’t be exploited for financial gain.

7) The lessons that can be learned from a martial art should be much more than just about  physical fighting. A true martial arts system provides the tools to resolve conflicts in all areas of life. The goal of most Eastern martial arts is to harmonize in combat, as opposed to clashing. If you can harmonize on the mat or ring with an opponent, meaning the ability to adapt to the energy coming at you in order to avoid damage, and getting a better position to seize an opportunity to flee, strike or control, then you should also be learning, by studying your art, how to resolve conflicts with acquaintances, co-workers, and loved ones, thereby improving the way you relate to people all the way around.

8) There is a saying that, “The practice of martial arts without conditioning is just the flailing of arms.” Though most real fights are over in a matter of seconds, those few seconds can be exhausting no matter who “wins”. Just like you would not want our soldiers fighting with dirty, rusty firearms on the battlefield, the human body should be kept in the best shape possible for the worst case scenario. Any school that neglects physical (emotional, and mental for that fact) fitness is teaching an incomplete art.

9) if a technique violates the principles of physics, or the human anatomy, the it is obviously worthless. Techniques that rely solely on individual attributes, where mechanics cannot be developed are only worthy only to a few. If a technique cannot be demonstrated in a realistic or lively scenario, this is dangerous for the student, and it may even be safer to avoid the technique altogether in a real-life situation.

10) If an instructor cannot explain how or why a technique works, you will have a very difficult time learning or using it.

11) Again, martial or military arts must have a degree of etiquette and protocol in order to provide the most benefit to the student, but a student cannot grow if they are not given the opportunity to respectfully ask questions, and the teacher can grow if his perspective is not challenged.

12) Context is everything. Why was your art developed? When was it developed? Who developed it? You have to know where you come from to know where you are going. Knowing our history contributes to our  sense of purpose. The answers to those three questions can also answer a multitude of other questions like: “why do we use this technique?” “why do we use these weapons?” “when do we use this technique?” among others. It is the responsibility  of the instructor to have a deeper knowledge of the art, so he can broaden the perspective of the student.

This may not be a comprehensive list but if you encounter any of these indicators where you are training now, then know that there is a better place out there for you. If none of these indicators are present, I believe that means you are fortunate enough to have found a martial arts home.



Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Every day is a new day with untold potential. We experience change inconspicuously, minute to minute, second to second and so on. However, no other time of year in our modern culture seems to spur thoughts of change and self-improvement as the first day of our calendar year.

A lot of folks consider new year resolutions to be cliche or trite because one should be able to affect change at any time. Many forgo the tradition of new year resolutions citing the fact that they have been previous unsuccessful, so what's point?

To this I would say sure you can set foot on a new path at any time, but if there is something dear to you that you want to accomplish, the best time to start is always now. And, if that "now" coincides with the powerful symbolism of new year's day, and the tradition of resolutions (tradition=energy from the past) , why not make good use of this time, space and energy?

If you have been previously unsuccessful, do not attach to that illusion of past events. Every day you wake up you are a biologically, psychologically, spiritually a different person than you were the day before. Cells die and generate, experience gives birth to wisdom, and how we cope with our environment and relate to the people around us will feedback into our spirit. You will never have any more potential to reach your goals than you do TODAY, for in reality, there is no “tomorrow”. My point is do not dwell on what you should've, could've done in the past, or what can't possibly happen until a future date. Focus on what you CAN do NOW.

On the other hand, you cannot just "will" improvement. You need a plan. If you have a long term  goal, figure out what short term objectives need to be met in order for you to reach the proper time and space in which you can realize that goal. Make as many objectives as you want or need on this journey. Divide and conquer. The more you conquer, the more successful you feel and the more successful you will become.

Need help? Find someone who has done what you are trying to do or something similar and have a conversation. You could also learn from someone who has been unsuccessful in your endeavor as well. Learn from ANYONE. At the least use the Google. And as always I, and I am sure the rest of our kung fu family, would be willing to provide counsel as well.


-Sifu Paul