The Bodhidharma Is Your Teacher
I've been studying martial arts for more than twenty years and I've been a teacher for more than ten years. I make my DVDs, and write these posts because I want to pass my experience and love of martial arts to people, like myself, who also love martial arts. I am a Shaolin Master living in the West, and I am saddened to see so much myth and magic surrounding the Shaolin Temple. My aim is to clear away the myth so that you can get to the heart of the practice. Whatever your view of The Shaolin Temple, this is not important. It's the teachings that are important. The teachings originate from the founder of Zen, Bodhidharma.
The Buddha said, do not rely on the teacher, rely on the teachings. When we take up the teachings, we owe a debt to our ancestors, and we must respect them for passing such great teachings to us. In many ways, I see the Bodhidharma as my teacher more than the Buddha because he showed me how to use martial arts as a meditation. Each person who learns from me, either in person or with my DVDs or book is also a student of the Bodhidharma. I see myself as a conduit, passing down what my master taught me. I'm always a beginner, always learning, always grateful for these teachings.
Does The Shaolin Temple Have A Gym?
The question I get asked the most about my own training is, do I lift weights? The Shaolin Temple doesn't have a gym. My muscles are purely from my martial arts training. What Shaolin does is make our training intelligent. When I train in Kung Fu I use my own body weight, and when I train in Qigong, I do specific Qigong exercises to strengthen my muscles and give them power and Qi. This is using the intelligence of the teaching. This is a very holistic approach. We don't just train for one reason, we train for many. In my latest DVDs, I demonstrate how to build muscles through kung fu and how to transform the shape of the muscle and give it energy through Qigong.
The Toughest Workout Ever
The movements in Shaolin Bootcamp may look deceptively easy but this is possibly the toughest workout ever taught on a DVD. As you move through the Bootcamp workout you train intelligently. When a martial artist does a push up, she also needs to punch. A strong arm does not mean a powerful punch. As martial artists we need to tune into the intelligence of our bodies and finely tune our training so that we are getting the optimal results for the goals we have set for ourselves. The Bootcamp is designed to keep us moving; push up, stretching, punch, shadow and speed training. It's designed this way for a reason: this kind of training is guaranteed to get us fighting fit; melting the fat and toning the body. It's giving our body new challenges while increasing its speed, coordination and power.
It's important to vary our workouts because the body is always trying to find ways that it can be lazy. Maybe it finds a comfortable way of doing push ups, so change the angle and make it difficult again. There are no surprises in weight lifting. You do a set and you don't move around so even though you are building your muscles, you’re not increasing your stamina. Shaolin Bootcamp builds your stamina, speed and muscles in one fully integrated movement.
Yoga Can Be Bad For You
I'm not saying that weight lifting is good or bad. I'm saying, what is your goal? If your goal is to build muscle then great. But if you're a martial artist, then your body has a whole set of goals and building muscle is just one of them. People who do yoga are very flexible in one way but if they wanted to kick or punch there would be no power so in some ways they have no flexibility at all. Martial Artists not only stretch but they also do the five kicks to extend and give their stretch power and movement. If you love yoga and you're not interested in self-defence, there's nothing wrong with this type of training. But if you're a martial artist then too much yoga can be bad for you!
Increase Your Peace And Your Punch
Another misperception is that some older people believe that all they have to practice is some gentle Qigong or Tai Qi exercise. But this isn't true because as we get older, not only do our organs shrink but also our tendons, muscles and bones. In Qigong For Upper Body and Qigong For Lower Body I address these concerns by teaching a Qigong form that links hard Qigong with soft Qigong. This is the first time I've taught hard and soft Qigong on a DVD. For fighters or young people who find it difficult to concentrate, these forms are more challenging so easier to focus on, they will increase the power of your punch while increasing your peace. Strengthen your Mabu and your meditation. Strengthen the internal organs while strengthening the external muscles. This is a tough Qigong because it uses your muscles in a new static way that is different from a push up. It gives your muscle Qi, energy, power. This is the Zen way to train intelligently.
Take Action Now
Now that I'm 38, and having trained for so long, I know that it's increasingly important that we practice these Qigong's. Doesn't matter what martial art's we do, Qigong can help us and prolong our martial art's life.
In the West we tend to get wrapped up in our minds and over complicate things. My master never allowed me to do this. Coming from a Zen Temple meant I wasn't allowed to ask my master many questions because if he gave me answers then they would be his answers and this would cloud my direct experience. The Nike slogan is nicked from the Zen philosophy: Just Do It. What does this mean? Stop thinking, stop making such a big deal, stop procrastinating. Make your health a priority. If you start thinking too much when you practice - where is the Qi? What am I feeling? Should I focus on my Dan Tian? - Just stop.
In Shaolin the focus is not on our Dan Tian. Shaolin is a holistic way of working with our body. Our body is made up of not just a Dan Tian. This is why the focus is on the breath and the movement. Simple. Always keep it simple. Just Do it. Combine internal with external, Qigong with Kung Fu. Practice movement and breath, breath and movement, train intelligently, don't over complicate. Just do it. This means you a disciple of the Bodhidharma. This means you are training in Zen.
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