Unlimited Classes

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Unlimited Classes

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Unlimited Classes

Most schools out there – be it for other martial arts, yoga, pilates, personal training, etc. – offer the student a set number of classes a week or month.  Most times, the classes are limited to a few sessions per week. This makes mastery in whatever is being offered quite difficult – assuming mastery is even something of interest.

Our school has offered – for 30 years at the time of this writing –  UNLIMITED classes for a reasonable monthly fee.  This means that with the few exceptions, students can train 3-4 hours a day, 6 days a week.  For those of you who might want to become masters and teachers of these ancient arts and want to open your own school someday, it is definitely advisable to get to every available class.  The same applies to those who truly want to maximize their learning and ability.  Our school teaches an incredible variety of complex skills from striking to joint attacks to Chinese wrestling to weapons that require a tremendous amount of time and effort to master.  Mastery in our martial arts is not for the weak-willed and flighty – it demands consistency, grit, humility and patience.  Each and every class is of value.

Of course, much can still be gained for those able and wanting to attend 3-4 classes per week.  Not everyone has the time or inclination to invest in maximizing their training – and this is perfectly fine.  A great realization is that in time and with consistent, dedicated training, these students can still develop excellent martial skill and robust physical fitness.  But for those who are interested in more… attend more.  Try to stay for 2, 3, even 4 classes a day.  It will quickly take you to new levels of ability and understanding.

In the News….

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu School - In the News

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu School – In the News

An article featuring Sifu Robert and a self-defense class he’s running in Laguna Woods was recently on the front page of the Laguna Woods Globe (Thursday, March 13, 2014).

“Kick It!”

By Jennifer Karmarkar – Staff Writer

Laguna Woods ~ Master Charles Robert darts nimbly among the lines of students, like a dancer choreographing a waltz.

Casting his eyes on their stretch kicks, he fine-tunes their form.  “Relax your shoulders,” he instructs one woman.  “Don’t bend your front knee.” he cautions another.

Later, Robert pairs up participants to practice the ancient escape technique of Chin-na.  About a dozen had turned our to preview the new Kung Fu Self-Defense Class at Clubhouse Six.

The eight-week session begins at 10 a.m. today.

Sponsored by the Recreation Division, the hourlong class teaches participants the basics of Shaolin Kung Fu.  Students will learn stretches, kicks and forms as well as self defense strategies such as hand strikes, escape techniques and leverage over brute force.

Classes are designed to flow at the pace and skill level of each student, building upon what they’ve learned.  By the end of the session, students will have increased their balance, strength, and endurance substantially, Robert said.

“They will also have the concept of self discipline, and what it takes to get better at what they’re doing.”

As students’ ability increases, so will their confidence, Robert said.  “They walk as if they know what’s going on.  They’re alert.  Typically, bullies don’t like that.”

For many residents, this class is their first foray into the martial arts.

“As you get older, young thugs want to pick on you.  They think you are easy prey,” said Stanley Skinner, 65.  “This is a way to defend yourself and your loved ones, and keep them safe.”

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu School - In the News

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu School – In the News

Barbara Bennett, 71, an avid hiker and camper, said she is taking the class to learn to defend herself in the wilderness.  “I want to be sure I’m safe.”

Shaolin Kung Fu emphasizes technique and ability, rather than power, which is why it’s ideal for seniors, Robert said.  “The movements don’t have to be extreme, but it still increases strength and endurance.”

Originated 1,500 years ago in the Shaolin Temple in Henan, Shaolin is considered the premier martial style in China, and is practiced worldwide.  Based on the Buddhist philosophy of nonviolence, the intention is not to kill your opponent, but to stop them from harming you.

Before and after sparring, opponents pay respect to on another by placing their left hand over their right fist, symbolizing knowledge over aggression.  The’s followed by mutual bows.

Robert began his Kung Fu training in 1979 and has won gold, silver and bronze medals at the International Praying Mantis Tournament in Yantai, China.

He touts Shaolin-style Kung Fu for its “live and let live” philosophy.  “It’s not just beating up people; it’s how you live your life, how you interact with others and how you do things.”

Classes will be held in the Clubhouse Six Main Lounge from 10-11 a.m. Thursdays beginning today.  For information or to register call 597-4273 or visit the Recreation Division Office in the Community Center.

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Escape Techniques

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Escape Techniques

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Escape Techniques

Along with the first few stances, kicks, single step movements and San Shou, new students begin to learn escape techniques as their introduction to Chin Na.  As a beginner, these movements are essential to be able to break away from someone who is trying to control you with a strong grab.  Escaping a bad situation is most often the right decision for someone who has not yet learned how to effectively defend him or herself.  The escape techniques are excellent for making that happen and students should not discount the importance of perfecting those movements.

What new students don’t realize is how these “beginner” escape techniques become the first piece of some advanced techniques they’ll learn in the future.  They usually see higher rank using sticky hands to attack their partner’s joints and hear the smack of their partner wincing in pain.  They think “Why escape, if I can simply use sticky hands to lock them in and inflict as much damage as necessary?”   They want to skip past learning escape techniques and onto things that make someone hurt immediately.  It’s understandable to think that, but there is a reason for everything in our training.

Kung fu training is cumulative.  Much like with learning math, kung fu skills build on each other.  It’s quite hard to do trigonometry without a solid base of geometry and hard to do geometry without basic arithmetic.  Without strong foundations, more complicated techniques simply won’t work.  By building a solid foundation of escape techniques, you will eventually learn how to successfully follow the escape with a technique that often reattaches to the opponent in a more advantageous position for you.  This reattachment is usually followed by a vicious joint attack.  Additionally, many escape techniques put the opponent in an ideal position for a pretty forceful strike.  Like the rest of our kung fu, Chin Na is supposed to flow from one technique to the next.  So learn the escape techniques well and their will be more to follow in time.

Self-Study: The New Form

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu - Forms Practice

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu – Forms Practice

As you train, new forms are taught to advance the number of techniques you know and develop your physical abilities.  These forms are an essential part of the art and each movement contains many techniques for fighting.  As mentioned in a prior post, it is not enough to know the form.  You must really know the form.   So much so that there must be no chance to get it wrong.  That is when you truly “own” it and are able to utilize the techniques inherent in it.  This may take hundreds – even thousands – of repetitions and many evolutions of the form for it to become ingrained in your body.

Besides attending class every day, a simple way to develop mastery of your form is to practice your newest form(s) at least once or twice every day.  As there is usually a good space of time between learning new forms, you will have the opportunity to practice this form (or perhaps the last few forms) at least dozens of times.  Maybe it’s when you wake up, before you leave for work/school, after dinner or sometime before bed.  Practice it slowly – on count – at first and then do it again at full speed.  Make a habit of it and your forms and your martial skill will improve faster and you will test for your next rank with much more confidence.  Don’t forget – this does not take the place of attending class regularly!  Take as many classes as you can to maximize your progress in the art!