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 are haven’t trained long, aren’t paying attention, and 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.

Ton Toi

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Ton Toi

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Ton Toi

Ton Toi’s are a set of training exercises that are used by most styles of Kung Fu.  They originated in the northwest of China – probably having come from a long ago extinct style, but picked up and used by many current styles.

There are three types of Ton Toi’s. The 12 patterns or sets are the most often practiced. They have probably remained the same as they were taken in and used by other styles. Another type is the 10 smashing fists sets used by Tung-lung practitioners.  There is another 12 set Ton Toi’s that is used by Ba Gua styles.

Ton Toi’s mean “springing kicks”.  The sets are primarily used to develop powerful kicks.  Combined with hand sets that create a very strong body frame, Ton Toi’s prove to be very useful for all styles.

Training With Sparring In Mind

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Sparring

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Sparring

 

Everything that is taught at our school is designed for sparring – for the martial purpose of defending yourself and others and ultimately controlling your opponent(s).  The demanding regimen of punches and kicks, exercises, stances, forms, San Shou and Chin Na are all done to not only learn and develop proper movement, but to also sap the student’s energy before sparring begins at the end of class.  With exhausted bodies, the student is forced to rely on technique and proper breathing during sparring instead of trying to out-muscle or out-speed his/her opponent.  Speed and strength are certainly important to fighting ability - but good technique is superior and sparring when there is nothing in the tank draws it out of the practitioner.

Because sparring is the ultimate expression of our art… spend time thinking about it and studying the higher rank.  When sparring, understand that your fellow kung fu brothers and sisters are not going to kill or injure you like someone outside of the school might in a street fight or if they broke into your house.  With that in mind, don’t be afraid to try new techniques with them.  Learn from both your victories and failures on the mat.  Study your forms – what are the purposes of each movement?  Pay attention in class when Sifu is teaching techniques.  Practice and drill down on movements you are interested in developing during San Shou and Chin Na before implementing them in sparring.  Don’t give up if they didn’t work perfectly the first few times.  If the movements survived hundreds of years of use in actual combat, there is certainly something to them.

Sparring is the closest thing to real-world fighting we have – without beating each other to a pulp.  It’s purpose is to prepare you for anyone outside of the school… both untrained and trained fighters alike.  You MUST have the attitude in class that you are training for a potential life or death situation.  Imagine invisible opponents in front of you during kicks, single step movements, forms, etc.  Do not give up during sparring or cower should you be bested in an exchange.  Roll out or do our best to escape or counter the situation before being forced to bow to your opponent to stop.  Having purpose and intensity in your training at the school will make you a very formidable opponent outside of it.

Yes, incalculable benefits are derived from this training beyond those of fighting.  Much of the valuable philosophy of our martial arts can not be taught and understood with words, but only learned through the resolve of consistent effort and the skills that result from it.  Fantastic physical fitness is a given after many years of consistent training.  Confidence and character are earned – not given simply by putting on the uniform.  All of these are the result of training with sparring in mind.

 

Be A Victor Against Your Will

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Lao Tzu

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Lao Tzu

“With the fruits of victory desist;
Never seek to break a beaten foe,
And flaunt no prowess with the victory,
Assert no strength, show no pride;
Be a victor against your will
A victor who will not dominate.”

Lao Tzu (604 BC – 531 BC) Ancient Chinese Philosopher and Author.  Tao Te Ching, V. 30 (Moss Roberts Translator)