kung fu life

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.

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