shaolin halls

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.”


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.