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)

A Kung Fu Formula

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu Martial Arts - Formula

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu Martial Arts – Formula

When you are called on to perform a form there are a sequence of orders – a formula per se.  The name of the form first.  The name of the form (again), then “Ready!” second.  Thirdly, the name of the form, then “Begin”.  There is a reason even for this.

This same formula is used for possible conflict.  First order is to be aware of a possible situation or problem.  Second order is to size up the situation and be ready to act.  Third order, Act!

The psychology and mental discipline of a kung fu practitioner is as important as his speed and power.  All skill sets are learned through consistent practice and repetition in as many ways as possible.

Late To Class

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu

A point of etiquette when coming late to class.  When joining class after it has started, go to the back of the line when bowed in unless Sifu tells you otherwise.  Stay at the back of the line until that section is over.  For example, when joining class in the process of doing kicks, go to the back of the line until kicks are over.  When they are over and the class is directed into forms or something else, go into your normal place in line based on your rank.

The Day Of Your Test

It’s test day.  Hopefully, over the prior few weeks you have practiced and re-practiced all that you will be tested on.  On test day, however, there are a few things for you to do and know to help you have a successful test:

  • Be sure all of the testing paperwork is turned in to sifu well in advance of the test day.
  • Do not talk to sifu or any of the examiners.  You are to ask questions to the “second”, the black sash who are running the test.
  • Arrive at the test early (say 30 minutes) to warm up your body.  Stretch, do some kicks, practice forms, don’t be afraid to break a little sweat and get the blood flowing.
  • Try not to stress too much about the test.  Hopefully, you’ll be fully prepared to excel on your test, so simply do what you’ve been practicing.  If you’re not prepared, there’s nothing you can do about it on the day of your test so simply relax and do your best.
  • Line up in order of rank just prior to the test.  The second will instruct you if this is your first test.
  • Bowing properly is very important.  When called up, stand at attention, bow to the second and then to sifu before taking your place on the mat.  When instructed to sit down and rest, bow to sifu first, and then to the second before returning to where you were sitting.  Think of it like entering a room for testing and the second is a guard to the door.  You first bow to him or her – sort of like asking permission to enter the testing room.  When finished, you bow to sifu first on your way out the testing door, and then to the second before sitting down.
  • Students are to follow the directions of the second.
  • Mistakes.  Of course, you want to make zero mistakes during your test, but if you make an error there is a protocol to follow.  Stop, bow to the second and request to begin the form over.  If it’s granted (which it typically will for those testing for lower ranks), return to where you started the form, relax yourself and when ready to begin again, stand at ready position and await instructions from the second.  Those testing for higher ranks (brown and up), don’t have the luxury to start over.  They should just continue with their form the best they can or just bow and return to the starting position if totally blanked on a form.
  • While putting on your sparring gear or adjusting your uniform, be sure to turn your back to sifu just like in class.
  • Sparring is typically done with higher rank, but may be done with those you are testing with.  It is your responsibility to attack them and do your best to use as many techniques as possible to successfully get in on them.  Do not be disheartened if you don’t connect with the higher rank.  Be sure to defend yourself as best as possible when they counter your attacks.  You are not expected to best a higher rank, but you are expected to try hard to utilize speed, power, control, and, most importantly, technique suitable for your rank.
  • Forms must be done with as much speed, power and proper technique as possible.  Stances should be low and no hesitation between movements.

Do your best and enjoy the experience.

Circle Kicks Before Class

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu Circle Kicks

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu Circle Kicks

If class hasn’t officially begun 5-10 minutes after the hour, then it is the responsibility of the highest rank in class to start circle kicks.  There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The highest rank should run through all the kicks they know until class begins – starting with the more basic kicks and moving to more advanced.  These include:  stretch kicks, off-side stretch kicks, snap kicks, heal kicks, turn kicks, side kicks, outside crescent, inside crescent, back leg side kick, hook kick, back leg hook, double side, jumping snap, double snap, pema, outside pema, back leg spear, front leg spear, saltong, back leg saltong, rolling, and all sorts of combination kicks, etc.
  • Call out what kick is to be performed before starting.
  • If the class has a lot of people in it, form two lines for circle kicks
  • Should there be lower rank in the class who don’t know the next kick called out, then provide them an alternate kick that they do know.  For example, if they don’t know a hook kick, have them do a side kick.
  • If there is a very new student who knows only a few kicks, the highest rank asks the next highest rank to take the new student off to the side to work with them on what they know.  If there are many new students in the class, then have them sit at the side and watch.
  • When all kicks have been performed, start doing single step movements.  After all the single step movements have been performed, move into tan tuis.  When all tan tuis have been completed, check with sifu for direction.

Failing a Rank Test

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu School

Brea Shaolin Kung Fu School

When you are told you may test for the next rank, it means that you have learned sufficient forms, techniques, and skills to potentially pass that test.  However, there are two things you need to do to pass.  The first is to prepare yourself in the weeks and months prior to the test by attending class regularly and practicing those things you will be tested on.  The second is to perform well at the test.  Without the former, the latter can be quite difficult.

If you don’t prepare and you don’t do well on your test, you will not pass and get the next rank.  It doesn’t mean you are a bad person.  It simply means you weren’t up to snuff on the day of the test.  The purpose of the test is for the student to perform under a stressful situation that requires exactness, concentration, and execution.  Those three attributes are exactly what are required should you need to defend yourself or others outside of the school.  The higher the rank, the more that is expected of you and the better you must perform to pass.

At some point after the test, you will be told what specifically you did or didn’t do that caused the failure.  Take this constructive criticism with you to your next class and the classes that follow and try to work on the areas of weakness.  It is important to come back to class strong and continue your training.  Remember, this is not a reflection on you as a person, just a reflection on the quality of your movement during the test.  Lastly, and most importantly, kung fu is a way of life that can keep you vital, vibrant, and strong the rest of your days.  Rank tests are only a part of your training.  Consistent, hard training will take you as far as you want to go.

Forgotten Belt

It happens.  The forgotten sash.  Don’t go home and skip class!  Although it’s important to remember your sash, it’s more important to attend class and develop your skills.  Simply follow this protocol.  You are to go to the back of the line and stay at the back of the line for the duration of the class.  If the instructor calls out your rank, then you go up and do as instructed, but you are to remain at the back of the line.