Difference Between Traditional and Modern Martial Arts Training

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Traditional Training

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Traditional Training

The main difference between traditional and modern martial arts training is basically that traditional training is much more indepth at every level:  physical, spiritual, and ethical.  A life long practical study and practice that is about life and how you behave in it.  Traditional training is not about the perceived  concept of winning, but rather how you win and therefore what you win.  Traditional training is very much about fighting and using all your senses and physical prowess in a very powerful and controlled manner.

Everything has its place.   Sports fighting is mostly for entertainment.  Military style martial training is generally used for killing.  To put this question’s answer into perspective, traditional training is complete and is for life, about life, and with life.  Modern versions are about how to get the job done the fastest way possible.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Bowing – A Kung Fu Greeting

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Bowing

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Bowing

Right hand is clenched, left hand is wrapped around or over right fist.

This is the general martial greeting of kung fu as well as many other martial arts styles.  It is known as bowing.  A greeting of mutual respect and peaceful intention.  The right fist is a sign of rigorous practice and a strong and willing martial ability to defend or attack!

The covering of the open left hand is a sign of virtuous and disciplined wisdom or self-disciplined restraint.

Applying Kung Fu To Your Life

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu

As your traditional training progresses, you’ll get to hear older students interact with each other outside of class.  Sometimes it’s friendly banter and other times it might be to give or ask advice for any of life’s curve balls.  A curious observer would notice that for almost every question, the answer you’ll hear is “Just train”.  Having a hard time in school?  Train.  Having trouble with a family member?  Train.  Having a difficulty at work?  Train.

Is this just a simple cultural tradition passed down from master to student?  That’s what I thought when I first began my training.  My friends told me that it was a cleverly disguised marketing tactic to keep us coming to class.  But with unlimited classes per month, that didn’t make sense.

It didn’t hit home for me until years later but it all started with a very simple comment.

“Your movements are still like a blue sash.” Sifu told me as he finished counting First-Fist.  I was 2 weeks away from testing for my green sash so naturally I thought to myself, “Good! They should be! I’m still a blue sash!”  But as I reflected on this, I realized the puzzle. How could I expect to earn a green sash BEFORE I exhibited green sash-worthy movements?  And so I started pushing myself more.  Classes got harder, but another interested thing happened.  My discipline improved.  The surprising part was that it didn’t just improve in training but in other areas of life: studying, family arguments, finances, and even eating healthy.

What does training, studying, managing finances, family arguments, and eating healthy all have in common?  The answer is: to succeed in these, one must exercise some degree of self-control or willpower.  In fact, when researchers study self-control or willpower, they find that it is one of the main predictors of success in life.

However, fifty years ago, if you asked a scientist to explain what concepts like “willpower” or “self-control” were, they couldn’t have told you with any certainty. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that emerging research in this field began coming together to fully explain the mysteries of self-regulation.

As it turns out willpower and self-control are like a muscle – if you work it out, it becomes stronger. This may seem obvious to some people but what most people don’t know is that willpower and self-control in one area of your life affects all the other areas.  There is no such thing as willpower for eating healthy, willpower for exercise, willpower for spending, etc..  Rather, it is one system that can be strengthened collectively to affect all aspects of your life.

Even if you exercise self-control in something completely unrelated to your goals, your overall willpower and self-control improves.  In studies led by Roy Baumeister, people were told to sit up straight or stand up straight whenever they thought of it.  The results?  They strengthened their willpower in diet, exercise, studying, and even spending – tasks that had nothing to do with sitting up straight!

The studies were repeated with the same strategy but with different techniques.  Instead of focusing on posture, people tried using a different hand for regular tasks or they tried changing their speech habits by using formal words in place of informal ones (“yes” and “no” instead of “yeah” or “nope”).  All in all, the results were the same, willpower stamina and self-control improved in tasks that had nothing to do with the exercises.

If we relate this to our lives, we can see precisely WHY hard training improves willpower and self-control.  Practicing forms, single-step movements, kicks, sparring, and holding stances all require us to exercise self-control.  This builds our “willpower” muscle in everything. But beware, just doing the movement is not sufficient.  Studies have shown that if you don’t push yourself, there is no benefit to your willpower.  In other words, “No strain, no gain.”  So hold stances lower, kick higher and faster, press yourself and watch your willpower and self-control improve in everything you do. Having a problem?  Just train.

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Nathan Gershfeld

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Nathan Gershfeld

 

Dr. Gershfeld is in private practice in Yorba Linda, CA specializing in chiropractic and health promotion.  His approach emphasizes addressing the underlying causes of disease or discomfort and coming up with a strategy for prevention, treatment, and reversal.  He can be reached at (714) 986-9767 or by email info@gershfeldchiropractic.com

 

Better Sore Than Sorry

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Sore

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Sore

Traditional martial arts training involves pain.  There is no escaping it.  Mostly, we’re talking about pain that comes from sore muscles, some bumps and bruises, and maybe some hurt egos.  No one joined the school to learn dancing.  Each student who paid tuition assumes there will be some “discomfort” – probably a lot of it – in the course of training.  If they haven’t experienced it yet, then they haven’t trained long, aren’t paying attention, and/or are purposefully not giving their all.

The purpose of pain at our school is to develop oneself.  The body strengthens as the muscles get sore and grow stronger.  Muscles and bones bruise to teach the student to develop skill and defend better.  Egos are kept in check by every exposed weakness.  Strength, skill and character develop.

Why put yourself through this?  Because it is better to be sore than sorry.  All the hours of training will undoubtedly be worth it that one moment when you’re martial arts training comes into action to defend yourself and/or your loved ones.  To be sure, class is anything but relaxing on a warm beach in the caribbean.  But, if something was to happen on your way to that beach – you’d be ready.  You’ve taken pain in class to best avoid taking worse pain out of class.

Elbow grease. Time. Thought. Persistence.

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu

 “I didn’t really know how to write songs. I knew I wanted to write songs, but I didn’t know exactly, did you just wait around for inspiration, you know, what was the deal? I learned through Jackson’s [Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Singer-Songwriter Jackson Browne] ceiling and my floor exactly how to write songs, ’cause Jackson would get up, and he’d play the first verse and first course, and he’d play it 20 times, until he had it just the way he wanted it.  And then there’d be silence, and then I’d hear the teapot going off again, and it would be quiet for 20 minutes, and then I’d hear him start to play again … and I’m up there going, so that’s how you do it? Elbow grease. Time. Thought. Persistence.”  – Glen Frey, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Founding Member of the Eagles

 

So it is in songwriting as it is in kung fu (or any skill you want to perfect).  If you want to develop in any arena, it requires persistent effort over time with conscientious, deliberate thought and desire for perfection.

Here’s Proof That Exercise Changes Everything

Below is a brief article from the Huntington Post reminding us of the importance of consistent exercise to better our lives… just one more reason to put the uniform on and join the class!

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Exercise

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Exercise

Here’s Proof That Exercise Changes Everything

The Huffington Post – By Sarah Klein

While most of us are probably aware of the powerful benefits of regular exercise, we’re clearly not all convinced: Just about 20 percent of American adults over the age of 18 meet the government’s recommended guidelines when it comes to physical activity, according to a CDC report.

The average adult needs at least two hours and 30 minutes of activity each week, if it’s at a moderate intensity level, like brisk walking. Up the intensity to jogging or running, and you can aim for at least 75 minutes a week. Add in a couple of strengthening sessions a week, and you can expect to build muscle, protect your heart, avoid obesity and even live longer.

That’s not to say that shorter bouts of exercise aren’t worth it. Even just in 10-minute increments, exercise can make a marked difference in health and well-being. But those of us who make exercise part of their regular routine — without overdoing it — are certainly reaping the biggest benefits.

Don’t believe us? Consider a few profound factoids: Regular exercisers have a 40 percent lower risk of developing dementia, and a 60 percent lower risk of any type of cognitive impairment, according to a 2012 study. In young adults, regular exercise can increase bone mineral density by as much as 2 to 8 percent a year, according to the New York Times, helping to prevent dangerous falls and fractures later in life.

Some of the big differences between sedentary and active people are obviously beneficial, like a longer lifespan or a less-taxed heart. Others are a little less clear, like a higher maximal oxygen uptake, or VO2max, which reflects a regular exerciser’s increased capacity for aerobic exercise, or a more efficient sweating response, which helps regular exercisers cool their bodies quickly. Check out these and other differences exercise makes. Then go ahead and lace up those sneaks.

Sedentary Vs. Exercise

Sedentary Vs. Exercise

The Better You Get, The More Your Enjoy It

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu

“Cooking should never be a chore.  The more you cook, the more confident you become.  That way, you actually start to enjoy it and that’s the key to good cooking – having a bit of fun along the way.”  Master Chef Gordon Ramsay, Restaurateur & Owner/Operator of Multiple Three Star Michelin Restaurants

With few exceptions, the better you become at some skill, the more you tend to enjoy it.  One major thing that separates our kung fu school from many other forms of physical activity is that unlike going to the gym to crank out reps, run some laps, or sit on an exercise bike, there is much to enjoy at our school.  There is a purpose behind the repetitions.  The challenge of learning an incredible amount of ancient knowledge with your kung fu brothers and sisters, developing and improving skills, and the joy that comes from finally mastering something that’s taken years of effort is quite compelling.  In fact, it’s for this reason that kung fu should be thought of as a lifestyle – a part of who you are – where training is no different from brushing your teeth, eating lunch, or retrieving mail.  Your training evolves as you evolve as a person and hopefully it’s there for the rest of your life to keep you safe, vibrant, and strong.  This way, you will continue to develop, improve and enjoy the vast benefits the art offers.

As your ability to spar, utilize various levels of power and control, apply technique(s), and maintain energy during class improves – training gradually becomes more and more fun.  Your confidence increases.  Things that were once seemingly impossible become almost effortless.  Your training partners who were once mere acquaintances are now truly kung fu “brothers” and “sisters” as together you’ve endured countless grueling classes as well as taken each other’s lives in your hands during sparring and weapons training.  Your body has adapted to better handle the rigors of class by strengthening and loosening muscles and joints.  Lungs and resolve were tested and the body’s of fighters were built.  A complicated puzzle is finally coming together.  A piece of art that resembled nothing is taking form.  All because you made the school’s training a part of your daily routine.

It’s for this reason that stopping after receiving your black sash should be out of the question.  Some have unfortunately considered the attainment of their black sash as the pinnacle of their training.  It is very much the opposite – it’s the beginning of their “real” training.  The black sash shows they had what it takes to grind through and develop solid core skills.  Continuing on and pushing their training further is when fluidity and real kung fu skills shine thru.  Of course, kung fu is not an escalator with a smooth and consistent ride up to mastery.  It has many tests of the student’s resolve, humility, and patience and possesses no finish line as there is no such thing as perfection.  Interestingly, it’s also at around black sash when the fun and the challenge of mastering this art begins.