Saturday, December 26, 2009

Segment of Nan Quan (Southern Fist)

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Chang Quan in Slow Movement


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You can easily learn Chang Quan by following step by step.

Amitofuo!

Sifu Zhao Hui

Beginner - II Hand Form


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Sifu Zhao Hui showing Hand Form for beginner. You can follow the move easily and specially designed for you to learn from this small clip.

www.shaolinmonk.co.cc

Phone: +91-0-9899694640

Email: zhaohui@in.com

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Arhat Arts

I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance from a qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience.
There are a few ways of doing this exercise.

Shut your eyes while waking up. Massage them gently with your thumbs 14 times. Keep your eyes closed and rub them from left to upper-right, to upper-front, then to downward-right. Then from right to upper-right to right and downward-right. Then from downward-right to downward-front, to downward-left and then to the left. Do this seven times. After massaging your eyes leave them closed for at least a few minutes and then open them wide suddenly. Silence while doing this exercise is essential. Use the back curvy bone of the thumb to press the small acupoint (Zhuan-Zhu Acupoint) in the tip of the eyebrow. Do this seventy two times. Then rub the cheekbones with your hands rotating the Eardrop Acupoint for 36 times. Rub the forehead in the reverse direction, beginning in the middle of the eyebrows toward the back of the head for seventy two times (see your fingers to massage like you would when you are washing your hair). By doing this you will find that you’re swallowing lots of saliva. Now paste a light green piece of paper onto a wind lamp which is burnt with sesame oil, and the flame of which must be small. Put the lamp in a dark room. Stand away from the lamp about 6 meters away, cross your legs and sit on a bench using intense concentrating of your will. Withhold your Qi and watch your lamp intently for about 15 minutes. Then close your eyes making your eyeballs rotate around 36 times (from left to right). Now rotate 36 times in the opposite direction (from right to left).
Now open our eyes wide again and watch the lamp intently. Five to ten minutes later close your eyes again and practice the “Open-Close Eyes Arts” on the left and right, then vice-versa. Each night, practice for about 2 hours. After 3 months you can deepen the color of the wind lamp paper a bit and the position of the lamp can go back further by about half to one meter away. Gradually over time you can deepen the color of the paper from light green to dark green and the lamp can eventually go back to 33 meters away. The size of the flame at this distance will be the size of a small bean. You should now be practicing for about 4 hours in total. When you have practiced this for a while you will be able to see people/things in the dark up to 33 meter away. If you perfect your “jujuebe” (the symbol of eyes) you can gain extra advantage in combat. Eating sheer liver will also increase your internal energy which will help your vision/eye sight.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Overload Elbow Arts

I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance from a qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience.

To start with, lay on your back on the ground. Bend your forearms at your elbows with your fists closed. The punching surface of your fists must be facing upwards. Straighten your legs with your feet flat on the ground. Lift your body off the ground with our elbows. Now direct your energy to your elbows and continue to hold your body up with them. You must hold this position for 15 minutes then take a break. While you are suspending your body in the air you must breathe regularly to aid you in concentrating. Do this 10 times in the morning and 10 times at night. The second stage is to use just 1 elbow and 1 foot to suspend you. Try your right hand side then when you need to rest go back to both elbows and feet. Now try your left hand side. Do this 10 times on each side. Do this art for 1 year on earth then use smooth stone against your elbows and feet. Do this art for 2 more years then do the same on rough stone. Do this art for 1 year then dig a trench 3 feet in width and 6 feet in length and put small and large cobbled stones mixed with mud and sand into the trench. You must also put water into the trench to and let it harden a bit to form a cobbled board. Now practice the above inside the trench on the cobbles. You will feel pain so you will need to treat your elbows with medicine. Keep practicing until you feel comfortable with the exercise. Now add crushed stone, mud and sand to the trench with some water to harden it up a little. Do the same until your elbows and heels are hard. To achieve this skill it requires at least 3 years of practice.

Sunlight Hands Arts [Yin Hands] - One of the 72 Secret Arts of Shaolin

I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance from a qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience.

Light an oil lamp or a candle and place it onto a table. Stand about 3 feet away from the candle in horse riding stance. Channel your Qi down to your dantian and concentrate on yourself. Thrust out your fists towards the lamp or candle for about half an hour. Practice this art every morning and evening. Once you can put out the flame you have successfully passed the first stage. Now move yourself back 8 paces and repeat the same exercise. Once you can put out the flame from this distance you will be successful. It is said that once you have accomplished this that you can hit a person without even touching them.

Yin Fist Arts [Yin Hand] - One of the 72 Secret Arts of Shaolin

I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance from a qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience.

Stand in front of a well or a big tail container of water. While in horse riding stance thrust your fists towards the surface of the water 100 times. Do this during early morning or after midnight. You will seem like you are achieving nothing for a long time. After 1 or 2 years your fists will cause the water to stir slightly. Lots more practice will cause the water to become agitated and noisy. More practice will make the water sound like waves. At least 6 to 8 years practice will pay off as the water will sound the rolling of waves and your punches will be devastating.

Iron Broom Arts [Iron Legs Gong] - One of the 72 Secret Arts of Shaolin

I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance froma qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience.
On a daily basis, stand in horse riding stance. If you get tired take a rest then try again. When you can stand in horse riding stance for 2 hours you have achieved the first stage of this art. You must now start to run long distances; this will make your legs very strong and tough: It says in the old texts that your legs will be invincible. For the next stage bury wood stakes (at least 6 inches in diameter) in the ground and continually kick them with your feet and legs. At first your legs will hurt a lot and will become bruised, but within a few weeks your legs and muscles will become tough and you will not feel the pain. Once you can shake or even break the stake, bury bigger stakes into the ground and resume practice. It says that after three years of training, your kicks can shake the branches of big trees or brake the trunk for a small tree.

Iron Knee Arts - One of the 72 Secret Arts of Shaolin


I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance froma qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience.

Sit cross legged and strike your knees 72 times with your fists. Now loosen your fists and press the palms of your hands onto your knees. Now massage then 36 times from outwards to inwards and then 36 times again from inwards to outwards. After massaging repeat the above gain 8 times. Do all of this before you go to bed and when you get up in the morning. After 1 year your knee bones will be very hard. Now get 2 wooden hammers in the shape of a ball with soft rattan handles. Hit your knees simultaneously 72 times with your wooden hammers. Massage them as before but only 9 times. Do this for a year and your knees will be extremely tough. Now use 2 iron hammers about the same shape as the wooden ones. Repeat the same training as with the wooden hammers and after 1 year you will accomplish this art.

Iron Shirt Arts - One of the 72 Secret Arts of Shaolin

You first have to find a piece of long soft cloth and bind it around your chest and back, several times.
Give yourself a forceful massage all over your body. Hurl your arms forwards and backwards, opening your chest right up, then closing your chest. At night sleep on a hard wooden board, this will make your muscles and bones tough. When your muscles and bones feel tough you should set up an iron bar (like a chin up bar) in your garden. Dig a pit around a foot deep in front of the bar and fill it with sand. In the morning and night, practice hanging from the bar and tossing yourself into the sandpit. When you land in the sand pit practice landing on your shoulder/back/chest/abdomen and arms. Do this for three years then remove the soft cloth from around your chest. Now you must beat your body with a wooden hammer. When you are used to the wooden hammer use an iron hammer to beat your body. Concentrate and use your Qi to withstand the beating of he iron hammer. After another three year your upper body will be as pliable as cotton and you will have been successful in the Iron Shirt Art.

NB: I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance froma qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience.

Foot Shooting Arts - One of the 72 Secret Arts of Shaolin

While you take a walk try to kick stones or bricks with your toes. Afte3r a long time the muscles in your toes will become elastic and tough. You must now attempt to kick bigger stones or bricks with more fore. When you kick the objects far away practice kicking at a target. Practicing this technique will result in very good gripping stances.

NB: I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance froma qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience.

Self Hitting Arts - One of the 72 Secret Arts of Shaolin

First, make a hard wood “Pai-Brick”, this must be one foot in length, 6 inches in width and one and half inches in thickness. Holding the center of the brick beat each part of your body with the edge of the brick. At first you should beat lightly then start to beat more heavily. Start by beating your upper then lower arms at least a hundred times each section of your body. Now beat your thigh and shank in the same manner. When beating the left side you must hold the brick in your right hand. Now beat your abdomen and chest and lastly on your shoulder blades. At morning and evening execute the beatings one hundred times on each of the above mentioned body parts. After one year use a kiln baked brick instead of the wooden brick. Half a year later use a metal brick. You will accomplish this art after half a years practice with the metal brick.

NB: I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance froma qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience.

Golden Clock Arts - One of the 72 Secret Arts of Shaolin

The masters say that this skill is one of the most important arts in Kungfu.
You must first make a hammer out of cloth and beat your whole body with it. At the beginning, it may be painful but time will make it feel less painful. Once you feel ready to move on beat your body with a wooden hammer instead. After lots of training you will not feel pain from the wooden hammer, this is when you should move onto the iron hammer. When you can finally feel no pain from the iron hammer you must start to learn the other following arts:- Somersault Arts/Iron Shirt Arts and Iron Cow Arts. After two or three years of training you should develop muscles in your back and chest as hard as stone. It is said that after this final stage is attained that no form of kick or punch will harm these areas of your body.
NB: I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance froma qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience. A

Iron Head Art - One of the 72 Secret Arts of Shaolin


Coil soft silk around your forehead about ten times. Now wrap one or two iron pieces around your forehead on the outside (you could use something like chain mail etc). Bump your head against a wall two times only each day. While training you MUST lift your Qi to fill your brain. At first do not over exert force otherwise you will damage you no so touch skull. Gradually over time bump the wall with your head a bit harder. Slowly increase the force. After more than one year later use seven or eight pieces of silk instead of ten. Then after hundreds of days more practice, decrease the silks to four or five rounds. One more year later you can bump the wall without using silk. It is very painful for the trainee to bump their head straight against a wall but step by step your head should now be as hard as a brick. One must first cultivate one’s character before practicing this skill.


NB: I'll not be held responsible for any injuries or suffering if anyone tries this techniques. It requires special guidance froma qualified instructor. I doubt you will find many instructors that know this technique as they are very old techniques and are only usually taught to special students with high potential, dedicated, respect teacher and self-respect, and patience.

Kungfu: Areas of Study - Part 2

This is the second part of "Kungfu: Areas of Study - Part 1"
Joint Locks
Joint locking is the art of attacking the joints to break, sprain, or cause extreme pain. Joint locks are usually combined with pressure points to make the Kungfu practitioner a very well rounded martial artist and self defense expert. Joint locks involve the use of twisting the various joints of the body in directions that they weren't meant to go.The practitioner usually has full control over each lock and can determine the force necessary for the situation. A little use of force restrains the attacker with pain, medium force will dislocate while full force will break the joint. Most joint locks are done to the wrist, elbow and shoulder, but many other parts of the body are used as well. A joint lock favored by movies is when a person forearms someone around the neck and twists the head quickly, breaking the neck.
Throws
Throwing techniques use the body, hip or legs to throw or knock the person off-balance. This gives you great advantage for in-close fighting situations. Once a person loses his balance, he can no longer defend himself or fight back. In Kungfu, the student learns to use throwing techniques for in close fighting along with his punches and kicks. This way he's never limited to what he can do in a self defense situation. Kungfu also uses leg trapping and sweeps that are not found in any other arts.
Sparring
Sparring is the actual one on one practice of using the techniques against another opponent randomly. The student uses all his techniques in a controlled environment to practice his throws, pressure points, locks and punches and kicks against another student who's trying to do the same thing. This teaches the students control, distancing, application and counters.By developing sparring skills the students gain confidence in their abilities as they learn about bridging the gap, critical distance, initial speed and angle of attack. The students wear protective equipment and all matches are monitored by Black Belt or Laoshr instructors. The students learn to develop a relaxed mind and control during aggressive situations. This helps the students to develop self discipline.
Chi Kung
Chi Kung means "breath work" or more commonly "internal work." Kungfu practitioners know that having a strong mind and body doesn't just rely on the strength of your muscles, but also on the strength of your internal organs (heart, liver, kidneys, etc.) The Chinese developed special exercises, commonly known as "Chi Kung" as way to exercise the internal organs and keep them strong and healthy. If the internal organs become weak or sick, then the rest of the body becomes weak and sick also.The Chinese developed a complex set of breathing exercises to stimulate various organs. Sometimes these exercises are combined with specific sounds to help stimulate organs even more. These exercises involve simple standing postures to complex forms and stretching routines combined with some very specific breathing patterns. These are all aimed at stimulation of the organs, increasing the body's natural energy flow.
Herbal medicines
Herbal medicines were a necessary ingredient in Chinese martial arts to prevent injuries to muscles and bones and also to heal injuries that practitioners might receive. Herbal remedies are passed down from Sifu to Sifu and most formulas are kept secret within each style. More advanced practitioners learn how to make herbal remedies and apply them to specific injuries. The most common herbal formula is called "Dit da jow." This is a complex formula of herbs mixed in a rice wine. It's used for the healing of bruises and for preventing injuries which may be incurred during iron palm training. Other formulas include balms for muscle strains, and liquids for healing the inside of the body.
First Aid
Most Kungfu schools teach techniques used for first aid. These techniques can range from stopping small nose bleeds to the setting and healing of broken bones. Much of the first aid is combined with the herbal remedies and use of pressure points to stimulate healing and lessen the pain of an injury.The Different kinds of trainingTraining, as any one knows, is so important in martial arts, but I was surprised to find not every one knew the different kinds of training, and how to do it! The following is an example of the various kinds of training that are important. But be sure to ask your Sifu about it, because he or she may have some other training methods, or more to add on to what I have to say.
Speed Training
In speed training, the form or taolu is performed fast without much concern for form or technique. No muscle is applied to the form, and the movements must flow into each other as fast as you can. This is just for speed. Another method is doing the form or taolu with weights. Again, keep going as fast as you can, and after time of doing this with weights, your speed will increase naturally. If you are using weights be careful with your joints.
Form Training
The point of this kind of training is to achieve perfect technique. The form or taolu is practiced slowly with no speed or power. Each stance, movement, punch or kick are carefully looked at, and corrected. Stances are adjusted, punches and kick are adjusted. Everything is performed in a circular motion. Breathing and movement are coordinated. Body should be centered. A mirror or even better a mirror AND a video Camera can dramatically help you.
Rhythm and Tempo
Every taolu or form has a rhythm. Finding the rhythm is very helpful to coordination. For our musician readers, here is an example. Music is played in 4 4 time, 3 4 time, 2 4 times etc... This can be the same as martial arts forms or taolu. Also, like music, there are various tempos. Now for you non musicians, the rhythm is like the beat of music if you can find the beat and the speed that’s your rhythm and tempo. Sometimes people play music to find the tempo. If that helps, do it! Some people even play music to memorize the form or taolu, and I even knew a guy who would sing the song when performing his form!
Power Training
The only kind of power technique I know of is based on a Shaolin technique. In this technique, energy is taken into techniques from the abdomen through a slight shaking motion in the hips. This allows a person to load energy into a technique, send it to the hand, lock down the technique, and rebound into a countering movement. More simply do your form while putting as much of power possible; it helps also creating a very strong mindset.
Focus Training
All of the other movements are an external kind of training. This is a more internal one. Focus training brings speed, power and technique together. One way of doing is to be distracted. Have a person stand there and yell at you, try to confuse you. Ignore him as best you can. Practice with noise is helpful. Another technique is trying to do all the other trainings together. Perform the taolu or form fast, but correctly, with weights with the rhythm and tempo there. Once you can do that, practice al the training styles with some one trying to distract you and confuse you.
Partner Training
All of the other methods of training are for self development, and improvement to give you the understanding of your own level of development and ability. Partner training is to develop an understanding of a opponent. Defending against speed, strength, and ability. It also allows new ideas to be developed, such as timing and distance. Practice each move of the form with the opponent on different sides of you: the front, back, and side. Also try with you in a unfavorable position such as against a wall, or the ground. The point is for the person to understand the many ways of using his form or taolu. An advanced method is to try this blind folded, but that can be dangerous! Partners are to join in good will to help each other. If the partnership becomes a contest, then the point of the training is lost. Those are a few examples of the many different kinds of training that can be practiced. Like I said before, ask your teacher about more kind of training, and addition to these.

Kungfu: Areas of Study - Part 1

The term Kungfu doesn't generally mean the fighting arts in Chinese, but means skill, ability and hard work. It also comprises three major areas of development:
a. Self Defense,
b. Health and Fitness, and
c. Character Training.
The term Kungfu is readily accepted by all people to mean the Chinese fighting arts and more. The Chinese now are trying to correct this misnomer by using the correct word for fighting arts, termed "Wushu." But what would you rather study, Kungfu that requires skill, ability and teaches hard work or Wushu the war arts?I think the Chinese are doing an injustice to the Chinese fighting arts by pushing this term. In fact, most traditional schools are now calling themselves Kungfu schools, making a distinction between the new Chinese fighting arts and calling them Wushu. Even tournaments now separate traditional or old Chinese fighting arts (Kungfu) and Wushu (modern Chinese fighting arts) into separate categories. It seems most traditional Kungfu students and instructors have little use for the modern version and vice versa.The more modern version of Chinese fighting arts encompasses more gymnastics with less emphasis placed on the self defense and conditioning that promotes health and longevity. The new modern Wushu arts are geared more for younger students, much like modern gymnastics. The old traditional Kungfu has been around for hundreds of years and teaches self defense, health maintenance, and character training. Thus old style Chinese fighting arts can be practiced by anyone no matter what their age.Kungfu and Chinese martial arts in general encompasses a wide variety of subjects for study. Most Chinese martial arts have, to one degree or another, all of these subjects: basics, combinations, self defense, forms, partner sets, weapons, pressure points, joint locks, sparring, Chi Kung, and herbal medicines and basic first aid. Below is a synopsis of each of the major subjects of Kungfu.
Basics
Basics are individual techniques that are practiced by students to perfect the form, coordination and power for each technique. Some of these techniques are punching, blocking and kicking. As the student progresses in skill and concentration they learn new basic techniques that are harder to perfect. This always keeps the student challenged to perfect his mind and body to higher degrees. Each basic technique is made up of a collection of elements that the student learns and perfects. For example, elements for a punch are: wrist straight, twist the hand, elbow in, and toward the middle of the body. The student must gradually perfect each of the elements that make up each of the basic techniques.
Combinations
Combinations are basic techniques that are put together to develop greater coordination and concentration. The student should have a good foundation in basics before trying to do the combination techniques. Some combination techniques might include upper circle block and punch, punch and kick, or even an upper circle block - punch and kick. Combinations involve the integration of the mind and body to work together. Like basic techniques, each individual basic technique must have the proper speed, power and coordination, and since Kungfu uses a lot of circular techniques coordinated with the hips and body it requires total mental concentration and focus.For example, a student might circle one hand in an upper level block while the other hand travels in a straight line for the strike. The student now has to make sure his block is relaxed, circular and smooth, while the punching hand is fast, coordinated and has power at the end. This involves both hemispheres of the mind and is the reason why many students have trouble with combinations when they first start. After they develop better concentration the techniques become easier to do.
Self defense
Self defense is the process by which you learn to use the moves against specific attacks and attackers. At Lamka Shaolin School, the students learn a systematic approach for self defense. This means we teach a series of moves for each type of attack. The student learns to flow from one movement to another.The basic idea of Kungfu is to move like the wind or the water...continuously. This continuous movement can create tremendous force like a tidal wave or hurricane. This continuous movement also means that the student never has to rely on one technique to handle a self defense situation. That way if he misses with one or the attacker moves or does something different, the student already has countered the movement or he flows to the next defensive technique without any hesitation and never has to worry about what do to next. These classes teach why Kungfu uses the smooth flowing movement and the practical applications.
Forms
Forms are the encyclopedia of your Kungfu techniques. They contain all the movements in combination with each other. Forms can be as short as 10 moves or as long as 1000's of moves. Forms are similar to combinations, but much harder to do because now you have to perform a long series of moves in combination with each other and maintain the proper basic technique elements.Forms help the student develop tremendous concentration, coordination and discipline. Chinese forms emulate different animals. The most common animals are the tiger, leopard, snake, crane and dragon. Each animal represents a specific attribute the Chinese practitioner learns. The snake teaches breathing, the dragon builds flexibility, the leopard speed, the crane balance and the tiger develops strong muscles and bones.Each Chinese form also contributes specific developments to the student's overall abilities. Some forms develop stances, while other forms develop kicks or breathing.Forms represent the essence of Chinese Kungfu for in them are found all the elements and secrets of the Chinese arts. Students learn mental and physical control, patience, and discipline, along with discovering the secrets of self defense, conditioning and flexibility.
Partner Sets
Like forms, partner sets are a series of movements put together in a sequence that can run from ten to hundreds of moves long. The difficulty of partner sets is that they are done with a partner as if one is actually fighting the other. Partner sets require more coordination and concentration because one slip by either, causing a missed block or strike, might cause an accident to one or both partners. These forms teach the students flow from one movement to the next without using their movements against actual attackers. This also teaches the student timing and distancing. These two attributes are necessary to develop exceptional self defense skills and confidence. Partner sets come in two types: open hand (without weapons) and using a variety of weapons.
Weapons
Weapons are taught as part of the Chinese Kungfu tradition. Though these weapons are not used today, they play an important part in the development of strength, dexterity, concentration and coordination. Weapons require much more skill to perfect than regular open hand forms and some are quite complex. Weapons forms can also vary from ten to hundreds of moves.Chinese weapons are classified into several major groups: long, short, and flexibility weapons to name a few. The reason for this is that Chinese Kungfu teaches over eighteen different types of weapons from the basic staff to the steel chain or double broadsword. Chinese Kungfu is the only art that specializes in this wide weapon variety and it makes the study of Chinese martial arts both complex and fun.
Pressure Points
Kungfu teaches the use of pressure points to maximize the potential of grabs, strikes and kicks. Most all techniques are aimed at or are using pressure points in one form or another. Pressure points include those along the bone, shutting off blood flow and those that attack the air flow. Pressure points are weak points on everyone's body, so Kungfu practitioners can defeat attackers much larger or stronger than themselves.There are about 308 points on the human body. Thirty-six of these can cause great injury or even death. Some of the major pressure points that most people are familiar with are the groin, throat, eyes and sides of the neck. Kungfu always takes full advantage of these points during confrontations. Students learn about these points through forms and self defense training methods. To be continue.....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Martial Arts Guide for Beginners

What to Look For

So what are some of the things you should look for or ask about when visiting a school? Firstly, ask about the class schedule. If classes only meet when you can't attend, it crosses the school off for you. Another thing to look for is who is teaching the classes. Often, the person teaching your class won't be the head instructor. Frequently the head instructor will have some of his advanced students teaching classes. This is particularly true if the school you choose has separate classes for lower ranked and higher ranked students or if they have a "new student" class. Don't let this dissuade you. Often instructors teaching "new students" are doing so because they have shown an aptitude for helping new students learn the basics of an art, perhaps even beyond that of the head instructor. The ability to teach a physical skill is often dissociated to some degree from the ability to actually perform that skill at high levels.
Most professional fighters could whip the tar out of their coaches even though their coaches know how to box. While on the topic, find out if there is an "introductory" or "getting started" class or course. This can be a good way to get up to speed quickly with the basics of an art or to "sample" that school. While visiting a school, spend some time talking to the students before or after class. Talk to both high and low ranking students, they’ll have different perspectives. Spend some time understanding the atmosphere of the school; it will take more then one brief visit. Some are strict disciplinarian and some are easy camaraderie. Again, don't assume that the instructor that runs his school like a drill sergeant produces kick-butt martial artists while a more easy going school is lax or lackadaisical. They are simply different teaching styles and one may be more appropriate to your needs then the other.

Another thing to take note of is injuries. Let's face it, martial arts are inherently dangerous. They are martial and no matter how safe you train or what safety equipment is used, there is a risk. There are bound to be some injuries. However, the nature and frequency of the injuries are what you should consider. A black eye is far different from an injured joint and if broken bones occur frequently, that may indicate a problem. You can't train while recovering from some injuries. Some injuries are permanent and will affect you the rest of your life. Finally, though uncommon, some schools have an "enrollment period." They operate like college classes in that you can only join at certain times of the month or year.

What Not To Look For …………………..

Some years ago a movie came out: They Call Me Bruce! In this comedy, an Asian man made his way through a number of people who thought he was a great martial arts Master simply because he was Asian, triumphing in the end. The moral is clear and directly applicable. Do not assume that because the instructor of a given school is Asian that he is, in some way, superior to the instructor of another school who is not. Skill in martial arts is not inherent to any given "race."

Likewise, do not make the same mistake concerning the sex of an instructor. There are many very talented female instructors.

Don't let yourself be distracted by a fancy school or unrelated goodies such as weight machines or saunas. A well kept, safe training area is one thing but extraneous features, though nice, ultimately only add to the expenses of the school. There are a good number of excellent instructors teaching out of their garages, basements, and back yards. Don’t get distracted by uniforms either. Many Asian martial arts wear the traditional "white pajamas" Gi (Uniform) while other martial arts have different uniforms and some, no uniform at all, preferring instead "street clothes" or comfortable, loose fitting training clothes.

Also, don't pay too much attention to numerous trophies and medals. Trophies are easy to come by in martial arts competitions. On top of that they are inexpensive and easily purchased by unscrupulous scam artists from the local trophy store. Though this practice is uncommon, it has been known to happen.

Don't judge a school or instructor by how much they charge. Its human nature to assume that a higher priced product is going to be somehow better yet this is not always true in the world of Martial Arts. Some instructors are simply teaching for the joy of teaching and not trying to make a living or any real money from it. Some arts and Organizations discourage their instructors from trying to make money from instruction and will therefore be inherently less expensive. Yet other arts are the flavor du jour and suffer from higher demand then there are available instructors, thus making them more expensive. As long as the price of instruction falls within the range that you are willing to pay, don't worry too much about it.
Further, don't pay too much attention to lots of certificates in Asian script decorating the wall, particularly if you don't read the language they're written in. Most instructors will display only the rank certificate of their top rank (or the top rank they hold in each art they're ranked in if they are ranked in more then one). In general, this should mean that there aren't many certificates displayed. With the state of current computer technology, it is easy to produce impressive looking certificates that say anything you wish them to say, even that the bearer is a high ranking martial artist.
Finally, don't be overly concerned with the rank of the instructor. While in the early stages of training in your new art (say the first 10 years) you probably won't be able to tell the difference between a 3rd Degree Black Belt and a 9th Degree Black Belt.

Rank

One of the most misunderstood things about martial arts is rank. Different people in the martial arts world have different feelings about the use of ranking in the martial arts. Some feel it is all important, some that it is of no important whatsoever and others that it is a valuable tool not to be given too much weight outside of its limited context. What you should know is that most martial arts have a ranking system but many do not and that rank within one system does not equate to skill within another system even though the systems may be similar. Just because you know how to drive a car doesn't mean you know how to operate a back hoe.
The most common ranking systems are the Japanese and the Korean systems. The Japanese systems start with sub-"Black Belt" or Kyu ranks and work from highest to lowest as skill increases, typically from 10th Kyu up to 1st Kyu and then "Black Belt" or Dan rankings, from 1st Dan and going up to 9th Dan. 9th Dan is typical y reserved for the (one) highest ranking instructor of the art, usual y in Japan.

The Korean system works much the same way, simply substitute "Gup" for "Kyu." You should also know that some Occidental systems have a rank system, but, when they do, they usually do not follow the 10th-1st sub-black belt then 1st Dan-9th Dan ranking that Asian systems do. Frequently Occidental systems will rank a practitioner by number of wins in competition or a combination of skill level rankings and competition wins. Several schools will typically operate in this manner. Other Occidental arts use an archaic ranking system that includes 4 or 5 ranks starting with "Scolaire" (Scholar) and culminating with "Maestro" (Master).

Be aware that the color of a belt as a rank in one system does not translate to the same rank in another system. A "Green Belt" in one system is usual y not the same rank as a "Green Belt" in another system. The same goes for Kyu/Gup ranks. As stated earlier, a Kyu/Gup rank in one system does not equate to the same skill as an equally numbered Kyu/Gup rank in another system. Simply put, you can not compare a 5th Kyu in "Karate" with a 5th Gup in "Taekwondo" and they probably wear different colored belts. At this point, it should go without saying that a "Black Belt" in one system isn't real y comparable with a "Black Belt" in any other system. It only represents a certain level of skill obtained within that system; exactly what skill level that represents is entirely up to the instructors that define that system.

Again, don't be overly concerned with the rank of the instructor. You likely will be unable to differentiate between a 3rd Degree Black Belt and a 9th Degree Black Belt for many years. Further, there is a theory in the martial arts world that you can learn a lesson from anyone, even the lowliest practitioner. Learn the lessons that the instructor has to offer.

A final word of warning on the rank of the instructor

Beware claims of inflated or high rank. It is not unheard of for a martial artist to break away from his parent organization or instructor and award himself "9th Dan" and "create" his own art. More then one instructor has made the leap for 3rd Dan to 9th Dan in this way with no real increase in his skill or teaching ability.

Iron Head Arts: One of the 72 Secret Arts of the Shaolin

Iron Head Arts:

Coil soft silk around your forehead about ten times. Now wrap one or two iron pieces around your forehead on the outside (you could use something like chain mail etc). Bump your head against a wall two times only each day. While training you MUST lift your Qi to filly our brain. At first do not over exert force otherwise you will damage you not so tough skull. Gradually over time bump the wall with your head a bit harder. Slowly increasing the force. After more than one year later use seven or eight pieces of silk instead of ten. Then after hundreds of days more practice, decrease the silks to four of five rounds. One more year later you can bump the wall without using silk. It is very painful for the trainee to bump their head straight against a wall but step by step your head should now be as hard a brick. One must first cultivate one’s character before practicing this skill.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What it means to be a Disciple?
You may be curious about someone wearing black sash and others didn't, though both showed similar martial prowess. The Master was approached, and the questions presented to him. His answer was lucid. "What is a black sash? By now you know that it means entry into discipleship, one who has proven himself over a period of rigorous training. He is dedicated, loyal, knowledgeable and above all, trustworthy. So trustworthy, in fact, that they alone in the organization have a rank which automatically expires annually unless they prove they are still worthy. "It is not an automatic award; there are no specific physical requirements to meet for all. The number of forms is irrelevant. Intangible elements are the most important elements in this promotion. Taking responsibility for one's life and actions, the ability to respect a trust; the ability to be friend, counselor, sibling, or training companion. "They do more than what is asked of them, seeing tasks not as duties but as challenges to learn from. They sacrifice time and effort. Rather than neglect work or school, they learn to cultivate each with their Kung Fu. They are competent in their chosen field, and use this knowledge to enhance that competence. They do not forget the philosophical principles after each class; they LIVE them. And they persevere, even--ESPECIALLY--when things get rough. "They lead, not through intimidation or rank, but through compassion and respect. They are models, and people openly and genuinely respect them. And they learn, always." The student pondered this answer for some time. He watched the senior students and new disciples work out, then he watched them during non-training time. In time he saw the difference in action between those who acted in full knowledge of their actions, and those desperately fighting a flow.

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