Selasa, 31 Juli 2012

Feeling Burnt Out? Five Steps To Unleash Your Energy

1) Get Moving

The more that you sit in front of a computer, the less you will want to workout. At the end of your working day your body will tell you that it's tired and give you another excuse to skip your workout. But if you can motivate yourself to push through your tiredness, once you begin to move, you will be surprised to find that you feel energized. This is because movement and exercise unleash your body's energy. We are born to move. We are not born to sit down all day. The Shaolin Temple movements help us to bring our body and mind in harmony. It's only when our body and mind are working in harmony that we can feel truly energized and happy.

2) Use Your Shaolin Workout As A Refuge

We are so goal focused and driven in our work that I think it's good to take the pressure off when we do our workouts. Use this as a time to tune out of your daily life and tune into your body. Each of your workouts gives your body a different experience. There is the challenging anaerobic training from the Kung Fu Workouts, the aerobic training of running, and the internal balancing Qigong Workout. As you move through these different workouts try to be aware of the different energy-producing states and what effect they have on your mind and body. What do you feel when starting the workout? How do you feel when you've finished?

3) Become Your Best Friend

The Buddha said that it is our mind which makes the world. When I was young boy at the temple I had the arrogance to disagree with the Buddha and think he was wrong! But now I realize that he is exactly right. We can be in the most beautiful place in the world but if our minds are angry or depressed then we can't appreciate it. Our life is created by our thoughts. Thoughts can be trained just like muscles. Thoughts are energy so be aware of whether your thoughts are bringing you positive Qi or negative Qi. Tune into the positive and let go of the negative.

4) Wear Jade

If you spend most of your time in front of the computer then balance this out by going for a walk or doing some Qigong in the park. You can also wear Jade. Alongside Qigong, jade has been used for thousands of years in China as a powerful longevity tool. I know that the West doesn't have this tradition but the Chinese believe that jade is a living thing that can give us positive Qi. Not only the stone itself but also the carving. When I'm not training I wear a jade Guan Yin. I don't understand why people in the West wear jewellery made from man made material. I believe we should use every tool we have to increase our health and longevity.

5) Take One Step Today

These are four simple steps to increase your energy. I suggest you take one step a week and then by the end of the month you will have taken all of the steps. Remember, when you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur.

Jumat, 27 Juli 2012

3 Essential Ingredients For Powerful Kicks - Part 2

In last week's post I wrote about the 3 essential ingredients, here I show how to make these ingredients work for you. 

People sometimes think if you want to make your shin and feet strong you need to kick hard things all the time but this is  wrong. If you want to make your leg hard then the first thing you need to do is have good stamina, if you don’t have stamina it’s not possible for your leg to be strong as you won’t have energy. It’s like a car without petrol, it simply can’t move, you won’t be able to lift your leg up or kick therefore you have lost everything.

This is the reason why stamina is so important. After you have gained stamina you then work on your flexibility and then you can work on your speed and power and then you can start on the conditioning training for your leg.

Iron Leg
The best way to warm up is to do the Si Bi Quan form from my Workout One DVD. This form consists of two ingredients: stamp and punch, the more power you can use with the stamp, the more you will build the power of your leg muscles and bone.  This movement is simple and useful. After doing this form you can then start to do bag work.

Kick Bags
It’s best to kick different bags, some hard and some soft so that your body can get used to kicking different weights. Soft bags eat energy and if you have a powerful kick then you have to hold your power otherwise you may get an injury. This is all part of the training.  When you go in the ring, people’s bodies are different, people move differently so it’s best to be as adaptable as you can when you train. Keep changing your combinations and the bags that you work on.
Kick Bamboo
After we have kicked bags we then kick bamboo. Bamboo is better than wood because it is both soft and hard at the same time. If you have ever been into a bamboo forest, then you will have seen the trees bending with the direction of the wind and this is why  they are  incredibly strong.

When you embark on kicking bamboo you have to be careful. Never try this alone but always train under a qualified teacher. You need to have a good understanding of your body, take the training step by step and keep listening to your body.

When we do this hard training we also practice Qigong to look after our bodies and our legs. One of our Qigongs is called Bone Marrow Cleansing Qigong because it literally cleans our bone marrow. We use an Instant Health Massage brush to massage ourselves. This is the first step to body conditioning and it is a powerful way to open our meridian channels.

After we have finished our body conditioning we then use traditional medicine. I make my medicine every two years. It comes from a traditional recipe from the Shaolin Temple but there may be slight variations depending on the Shaolin Master's  personal experience and the type of body conditioning that they do. It is very different from fight oil that many fighters use. Fight oil only penetrates the skin where as the body conditioning tincture goes right into the bones and helps to strengthen the bones, helps the blood to flow and protects the skin.
How To Use
All of these ingredients make your leg into a weapon but this doesn’t mean that you know how to use this weapon or that you are a good fighter, it just means that you have a sharp weapon. So the first thing you need to do is link your punch and kick together and learn how to trick people so that you can get through their defenses. How do you fight with different people? Some people have good kicks, others good knee, other good elbows. At the Shaolin Temple we usually choose one good traditional technique and combine that with our fighting punches and kicks. We then spar against many different opponents to test ourselves and hone our skill.

Mind Control
When we fight in the ring, the judge says start and no one knows what will happen. This is why we practice our fighting kicks over and over again and we imagine many different opponents so that we can be ready for anything and even though we have no control of the outcome, in our mind all of our training gives us an inner confidence and this gives us the control.

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Rabu, 18 Juli 2012

3 Essential Ingredients For Powerful Kicks - Part 1

In China there were originally two Shaolin Temples, one in the south and one in the north. It is said that the Southern Shaolin Temple was famous for their punches and the Northern Shaolin Temple was famous for their kicks. But hundreds of years ago the Northern Shaolin Temple was burned down and the only record of it today is in history books. The skills from both temples have now merged, and the knowledge that has been passed down through the ancient books shares with us three vital ingredients we need in order to have powerful kicks. In this article I will share with you the first two and in next week's post, the third ingredient and also how to use these ingredients effectively.

1) Flexibility - If you want to kick with power and speed then you need to train it to have as much flexibility and dexterity as your arm. 
2) Speed and power - Flexibility doesn’t lead to speed and power so the next thing you have to concentrate on is gaining speed and power.
3) Strength - In Shaolin we have seventy-two different styles and one of these styles in called Iron leg. The purpose of training in iron leg is to literally to make the leg as hard as iron.  

If you can combine these three essential ingredients successfully then your leg will be a weapon and you can then progress to the fourth element, which is.
4) How to use your weapon.

I am always advising martial artists to add running to their training. No boxer would ever go into the ring without stamina training and as everyone knows, all boxers include running as part of their stamina training. At the Shaolin Temple it’s the same, we always begin our training with a run, this not only helps us with our stamina but it also makes our body hot. Once our body is hot we then stretch our arms and our legs. Once we have stretched out our muscles we then begin to do The Five Fundamental Kicks, which are taught in Shaolin Workout One DVD. The five different angles of these kicks increases our flexibility much more than stretching ever can 

Mixing traditional with modern

Once we can do the five fundamental kicks we can then mix them, for example we can perform the inside kick with the outside kick and link them together. We can increase the number of kicks in the combination. We can use the five fundamental kicks as a warm up before our fighting kicks. 

Speed and Power

All traditions of fighters use footwork to link the link the kicks together and practice various fighting combinations. At Shaolin we link fighting kicks with traditional training. The purpose of this is to strengthen our legs. 

We may stay in Ma Bu (horse stance) for five minutes and then we will do the fighting kicks as quickly as we can for one - three minutes. This combination of stance and kick links power with speed. Or we may run up a hill and when we come back we kick bags as quickly as we can. We will make a goal to kick one hundred or two hundred times. Our legs will feel so tired that it’s hard to lift them off the ground but we will not stop until we’ve completed our target. 

Optimize The Power 

If you want to kick with speed then you need to make your leg tired, once your leg is tired, you have to train your body to relax. Once you are relaxed you have to learn how to get maximum power from your kicks. When you kick, ask yourself, which part of my body am I using? Once you know the answer then you will save energy, as you will only be using the parts of your body that you really need. 

This dramatically optimizes your power and energy. This is the reason if you want a powerful swift kick then the only way to achieve this is through kicking a lot. Through kicking a lot your body will understand. In martial arts we can never understand with our head, we always have to be led by our body’s inherent wisdom.

Selasa, 10 Juli 2012

A Beginner's Guide To Transforming Yourself Into A Shaolin Warrior

I've had many enquiries from people who haven't done any fitness or martial art's training for many years and have asked me how they can use the Shaolin Workout DVDs to get back into shape. This month I share with you a programme based on Shaolin Workout Volume 1. If you're in okay shape or you want to move up a volume then you can use the same principles for Volume 2 and 3. Please note, that these are guidelines only and you shouldn't undertake a new workout regime without checking with your doctor first. 

The Shaolin Workout - A physical and spiritual overhaul

The Shaolin Workout is designed for the martial artist but it can also be used as an exciting fitness regime. The beauty of Shaolin Kung Fu is that it carries us through each phase of our life, boosting our metabolism, helping our heart and increasing our flexibility and coordination.

Welcome To The Class

The DVD is designed exactly the same as the beginner's class so it's perfectly normal if you struggle to follow it. If you come to my class, you wouldn't be able to follow it either and neither would I expect you to. I also don't slow the class down for you. I advise you to do what you can and do a little bit more each time until you can follow the whole class in one go.

If you're seriously unfit then before you undertake the Workout I advise you to do Qigong and combine this with walking then jogging. Only when you can jog for a full twenty minutes would I say it's okay for you to join my class. And remember, you should always check with your doctor first before beginning any workout programme to make sure that it is suitable for you. These instructions are for guidance only. If you experience any pain or dizziness then stop immediately and seek professional advice. 

The instructions below are meant to be used with the Shaolin Workout Volume 1 DVD so press play and let's get started.

Stamina Training

Your class with me begins with Shaolin Circuit Training. This anaerobic training consists of short bursts of intense exercise. It's very demanding but research has shown that it's one of the most effective ways to build fitness levels and lose weight. 

We begin with press ups. The quality of the press up is more important than the amount of press ups. In the time it takes us to do 10 press ups you do 3. It's the same with the horse stance squats. Keep your back straight and make sure your alignment is correct ( see p128 of my book Instant Health for details of alignment). As we do ten, you do five. Same applies for running. Keep your stomach muscles engaged and instead of doing 100 do 10 or 25. You will get out of breath, you will sweat, your face may get a little red but keep your body relaxed. One of the things we tend to do when the going gets tough is tense up. But this uses more energy. Think of yourself as relaxed as a great boxer or an Olympic runner. 

Stance Training

If you're totally new to martial arts then I recommend you go through the stances in my Instant Health book first. Correct alignment is crucial. If you are older, have back problems or you haven't exercised in a while then keep the stances much much higher than myself and my students. You will still gain the benefit of the stance. These stances build strength, flexibility and coordination. Getting the stances correct is the secret to getting the Shaolin forms perfect so follow them at your own pace. Speed is not important. Getting them right is.

Combination Training

If you are totally new to training then skip this chapter and move onto stretching. As you begin to find the class easier and easier then you can factor in the combination training later on. 


Pause the DVD for each section and take more time for each part of the stretching. This is a time to listen to your body rather than my instruction. Breathe into your stretch and tune into your body to see how far you can go. Please don't be put off by the splits. The splits not only stretches the legs but it also opens the hips too so it's good to aim for the splits and not to worry if you are miles away from the floor. 

Five Basic Kicks

The kicks are another way of increasing flexibility and opening the hips. The Shaolin Way To Flexibility is to use stretching first then power afterwards. This gives a different quality to our stretch. A person who practices yoga may be flexible and able to kick high but their kick will have no speed or power. If you are a martial artist then speed and power are vital. The muscles enjoy being used in different ways. It is good for them.  Do five of each kick rather than ten of each. Take your time and keep your kicks low but straight rather than high with a bent leg.
Maximize Your Power

One of the secrets to retaining energy and having powerful kicks and punches is to stay relaxed and only use power at the end of the kick or the end of the punch. Another trick is to imagine that there's an opponent in the room with you. You don't want to show them how tired or out of breath you are so you need to find ways to control yourself. 

Mixed Level Training

This is another chapter you can leave out until you are able to do the rest of the DVD. Go straight to Qigong. If you have time then run through the whole Eight Treasures Form from Instant Health or The Way Of Qigong Volume 1 then finish with the Instant Health self-massage. This will calm your body down, help your Qi to flow properly, oxygenate your internal organs and you make you feel energized and relaxed. 

Track Your Progress

It's a good idea to make a note of how many press ups, squats and runs you do each time so that you can see how much progress you made.  You'll be surprised at how quickly you progress. And it's not all about the external, it's about the changes that you are making internally. Alongside your growing fitness, you'll find your confidence growing too. I've had many students who have made changes in their life that they've always wanted and their regular Shaolin Workout has helped them to make them.

How Many Times A Week?

If you're training as a martial artist then you need to train 6 days a week, for health and fitness, four times a week is fine. Make sure you keep surprising your body, read my blog post: Are You In A Workout Rut to find out more, and add in some kung fu running from my  youtube video.

When are you ready to move up a class?

Don't get too comfortable. It's good to vary your routine. Once you know the moves and can go through the DVD then you can start to work with Volume 2 and alternate the workouts.

The key to stay motivated is to keep a regular routine.  There has to be a very good reason for you not to do it. Tiredness and not enough time are excuses not valid reasons. Track your progress, stay relaxed and enjoy your training. This is time for you. Forget life and family pressures. By taking time out, you will be able to handle the stress in your life in a much calmer way. You are transforming yourself into a Shaolin Warrior. And rememeber, Shaolin Warriors come in all shapes and sizes.

The Shaolin Workout Bundle: Volume, 1,2 & 3 

Senin, 02 Juli 2012

The Shaolin Way To Happiness

The Buddha said the one thing we all seek is happiness. And my martial art's practice is one of my greatest sources of happiness. The ancient movements of Qigong and Kung Fu that were practiced by monks and nuns thousands of years ago on the mountains of China, give me a feeling of calm and happiness. And I can see that my students feel the same way so I have been interested to read some research that may help us understand why we feel so happy when we practice.

Aerobic exercise triggers brain growth

Recent research by Cambridge University scientists have shown that aerobic exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells and improves the memory and ability to learn. The study was conducted on two groups of mice, one which had unlimited access to a running machine and the other which did not. The mice were put through a series of memory tests, and the mice that had been running were almost twice as successful as the sedentary mice, which got steadily worse as the tests progressed. Researchers are not yet clear on exactly why exercise triggers the growth of brain cells, but speculate it may be because exercise increases blood flow, or because it elevates certain hormone levels. Exercise has long been known to reduce stress and help with alleviating depressions and this may be because it reduces the level of the hormone cortisol. 

Martial Art’s gives us greater aerobic ability

Research by the British Journal of Sport’s Science shows that people in their forties and fifties who regularly practice martial arts have greater aerobic ability, balance, flexibility, muscle endurance, strength and less body fat than the sedentary controls matched for age and sex.

Meditation has a positive effect on mental health 

On-going research on the brain demonstrates that it can learn, adapt and re-sculpture itself on the basis of experience and training. Just as London cab drivers' grey matter enlarges and adapts to help them store a detailed mental map of the city, a meditator's brains change and adapt. Scientists are starting to become aware of what Shaolin Monks have known for centuries – meditation has a positive effect on mental health. Several neuroscientists in the US have stated that meditation increases brain activity in the areas of the brain controlling emotion, happiness and enthusiasm. Meditation can help us to feel calmer and happier and more understanding of other people.

Martial Arts Is Not Just For Martial Artists

Meditation used to be only practiced by those engaged on a strict religious path, yoga used to be practiced only by Indian Yogis but today, people from all walks of life practice, and more and more people will take up the practice of martial arts. Shaolin martial arts combines aerobic exercise with Qigong and meditation in one fully combined unit, targeting the mind as well as the body. It not only gives us an aerobic workout but it also helps us to relax, focus and maintain balance. 

Yin and Yang Training 

The Shaolin Temple have always emphasized the importance of Yang training (aerobic) which Yin training (Qigong). If a person only does one then they will not gain full benefit of the health they can achieve. Yin and Yang are like the two wings of a bird; we need both so we can fly. 

Qigong not only increases the potency of our martial arts or aerobic activity, it also lengthens our martial art’s life. Of course, an older person doesn't need to train as hard as a young person but they still need to train. It’s down to the crucial percentage factor. How much Yin training and how much Yang training. And I explain this in more detail in my book Instant Health: The Shaolin Qigong Workout For Longevity.

So if you ever feel you don't have enough time to exercise, remind yourself that taking time out for your workout gives you more time. And make sure you do Yin and Yang training to get the most out of your workout. 

The best time to start training? NOW!