shaolin training

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

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.