We seek to talk about all the concerns that prospective new members have had about trying out a kung fu class. All those niggle question you sometimes would really want to know but are not sure about asking.
Welcome to this page! I am Sijo Robert Z, Chief Instructor and co-founder of the Shaolin Academy! Shaolin Kung Fu is in as much different to most other martial art styles in that we are not a martial art style! Yes, that is correct. Even the term kung fu does not mean martial arts! So what are we? Good question, i am glad you asked! This and other such questions are addressed on this page by me and if you do not find your question answered, call us on 0458 742 654 anytime between 10am and 5pm or send us an e-mail. We really do like hearing from you directly as this helps us answer question about ourselves much better, if we here them directly from you. So, please call or write!
Well the term was coined most popularly in the 70's by both Bruce Lee and the very impactful TV series with David Carridine called 'Kung Fu'. Although both were used in the correct way, the general public took them to mean that kung fu was the fighting art, the martial art. Although a bit ambiguous, kung fu has nothing to do with martial arts and you may have heard of Chinese people referring to a Carpenters or a Cook having good Kung Fu.
Kung Fu in the original sense is a term referring to any study, learning, or practice that has an excellent result which required patience, energy and time to achieve. Almost the same as the Japanese refer to Zen, Chinese would consider someone with good kung fu to be Zen like in their way or art. As with many words, the events of 70's and 80's relating to the use of kung fu in movies also saw Chinese people adapting the term. Yet, when you visited China and spoke with the common person they would often use terms other like even Karate. But usually such terms as The way of the Fist (Quan Fa or Boxing). China has 8 major dialects including Mandarin and Cantonese and some 400 sub-dialects. You can imagine that in a place lager than Europe and a history just as long, many terms were formed for martial arts. So, let's look at Shaolin Kung Fu specifically.
Around 1500 years ago, a group of Monks in Central China in the Shaolin Ssu (Temple)came to believe that they needed to stay fit in order to survive. Using Indian Yoga and Martial Arts, they developed a series of exercises that were based on Yoga and Kung Fu which they called it "The 18 Exercises of Lohan" around 547 CE. Then around 571 CE the temple, in which they lived and worked in, was destroyed. It remained so for some 30 years before rebuilding could be started. Then when they were able to reoccupy it they came to the conclusion that they needed to be able to 'take care' of themselves. They also realized that only slight modification to their existing exercises were needed to make the exercises well suited for self defence and protection. They redeveloped the 18 Hands of Lohan to the 72 Fists.
With the help of a Kung Fu Master, this style was further refined to become the 170 Moves of Shaolin. It took another Temple destruction around 400 years later to further redevelop the style to what then become the best form of Kung Fu ever, Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu. This remained the dominant style until the Shaolin Temple was destroyed from the invades around 1645 CE when all Kung Fu in China was forbidden by immediate imprisonment and death. Many masters hid their Kung Fu in the form of Tai Chi or trained in Secret. Shaolin was forbidden to do any form of training until around the 1800's.
Kung Fu is still forbidden in mainland China and Wushu is now the main style allowed and promoted by Chinese Government. Shaolin Academy though, teaches, practices and uses the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu. There is a reasonably good doco to the right, about 35 minutes long about Shaolin Temple, Kung Fu and the History. Have a look if you ant more info.
Most Martial Art styles were developed for war, oppression, assassination and just plain hurting people. As a famous quote goes;
Shaolin Kung Fu was developed in a Buddhist Temple; Buddhism dose not allow it's followers to harm or hurt any living being thus making most of then vegetarians. They are not allowed any action that is made in anger or fear, especially not hurting or harming another living being.
Shaolin Monks needed to master their kung fu to a high degree so that, even when defending themselves, they did not do undue harm to their attackers but still managed to prevent the aggressor doing harm to others. Unlike most martial arts, Shaolin Kung Fu allowed the individual monk to develop the style that is most inline with their nature. If you look at the matrix to the left you see the 4 natural style of conflict management; Based in the natural Abilities, through the skill of their Mind, Working with Empathy and Feeling or based in their Knowledge and Wisdom. This then translates to the 5 Animal Style where by the Tiger is about Doing, Panther Thinking, Crane Being and Snake Knowing. Tiger works on their Strength and Power, Panther on the Strategies and Cunning, Crane on Cooperation and Collaboration and the Snake stylist prefers they way of learning and teaching.
That is where the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu was so superior as it has the inbuilt feature of adapting to a persons TAASK (Talent, Ability, Attitude, Skills and Knowledge) and develop their Kung Fu in a direction and style that is in keeping with their beliefs and world view.
Thus a person who loves the physical aspect of Kung Fu most would possibly choose Shaolin Tiger Kung Fu whereas if you are into mind challenges and strategy Shaolin Panther Panther Kung Fu is for you; then, if you love tradition and detail, you might ultimately prefer Shaolin Snake Kung Fu which teaches the old ways of doing things. If you are a person who can not hit someone even to protect your own life, Shaolin Crane Kung Fu is the art of not being there and doing this in the utmost style!
Yes it is, for some people! Shaolin Kung Fu is possibly the most complex of all health and fitness styles. But that should not be surprising! With 1000 years of development it is both an Art and a System which looks at the deepest aspects of human nature and a whole of life, life-cycle. The Animal Styles, for example, are also personality Styles and we have a whole page just dedicated to this aspect of the Shaolin Animal Kung Fu. But, as with any integrated and developed system, we have a traditional and very functional structure, that allows you to focus on the which is most important to you at this time, in this aspect of your life and development and in your current circumstances!
Shaolin Kung Fu is great for full contact sport. I adapts to most any of the different style rules. We can mix it with Karate as easily as with Tae Kwan Do, with little preparation have a bout with a Boxer or a Muay Thai fighter. But at the same time we would also be very comfortable at a Tai Chi session, Yoga Workout or even a Parkour run. We have members who do this and some member who occasionally cross train with these. But you do not need to be into any of this!
Most of our members prefer to train Shaolin the way it was meant to be, as a health and fitness exercise. In this there is absolutely no contact involved. Occasionally we do partner-work where by you try out what you have learned, carefully, slowly and gently. Once you advance in levels, if you choose, you can go harder and be more realistic but you first need to learn the fundamentals and principles of Shaolin Kung Fu!
Yes, there are some 'Fundamentals' that need to be learned; the foundation to Shaolin Kung Fu, the 5 Temple Levels. It is in a way the Primary School for Shaolin Practitioners where you learn 80% of all the Techniques that you will most ever need. This is also where you develop those 5 important Principles of Shaolin Kung Fu, Technique, Delivery, Target, Timing & Distancing. And then there are the 5 Shaolin Academy Virtues; Patience, Detail, Knowledge, Appreciation & Understanding.
These are all part of being able to use, what can be very dangerous skills, for your benefit in Health and Fitness without needing to hurt others or even yourself. Causing yourself hurt and pain for the sake of becoming fitter and healthier seems kinda stupid. that said, at higher levels some of our members work on improving their own Mental, Spiritual and Physical Toughness. It is their choice; it will be your choice.
Never, because they never happen in the first place. Muscle pains after training is for stupid people and totally unnecessary. Now if you were going to become a Champion, enter the Olympics or want to go into Fighting Tournaments, there may be a reason for causing yourself pain. But the Shaolin way is to push the Comfort zone not the pain zone. You achieve much the same result with far less body damage. It requires you to be a bit smarter and maybe a bit more patient but aside from that; Pain = No Brain!
There will not be any Morning-after-pain or problems. We do not want any of our students training in such a way that they cause themselves or others any pain. The Shaolin Academy has a full 30 minute warm-up at every beginner class. Based on the publication "Exercise Danger" and Master Robert Z's 45+ year experience as martial art teacher, coach and master. The essence of the warm-up exercises derive from elements of Chi Kung, Yoga, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, Meditation, and just some plain old sport & wellness stretching. What this means is that with 13 classes a week, each with between 8 to 15 students, 50 weeks a year for over 17 years, we have had maybe 2 strained muscles
Bruises come from hitting or being hit. This does not happen to beginners and later only if you wish to work on your touching and hardening. This is your choice though. Occasionally we have a clash of legs or some such but this is more likely to happen to the more experienced students who are pushing the limit. And if you do choose to work on your Toughening; Shaolin Iron Body, Iron Arm and other Iron exercises are gradual and often do not leave any marks. A combination of breathing, exercises and ointments following a 1000 year old way of training helps student get the most from this course and enjoy long term benefits which do not include pain and suffering!
Well, that seems like a good reason to start training! With the Shaolin Academy, any student can stop at any time and take a break without any concerns. We have members with a variety of chronic and other health issues including Asthma, Shallow Breath even things such as MS, Autism even Narcolepsy that get through a beginners class most of the time. We also have several students over 40 that have never done a days of exercise before they came to us. No problems.
←R. We, the people pictured left, are Shaolin Kung Fu Instructors and Masters. We teach the skill of Shaolin Kung Fu and that is what we do best! How you use your Kung Fu skills is then totally up to you; be it for Health and Fitness, Improving your Posture, Keeping your Mind Active, Improving Agility and Flexibility, Strengthen your Posture, Deepen your Breathing and Stamina and a whole host of other very interesting possibilities. We teach you the skill and the art of Shaolin Kung Fu and you choose what you do with this, not us.
No, we will not be calling you back weekly, fortnightly or even monthly or yearly just because you tried us out and chose not to stay. We know how annoying and awkward such calls are and frankly, we would not want to ask anyone to make these calls or hassle people who visited us one by calling them. No reminders, birthday cards (sorry), quick check-ins, updates or any of that marketing gaff. If you try us out and don't come back, we will not try and convince to try again. We would appreciate to know what you liked or didn't like but we feel our Members privacy is more important than our marketing success.
So if you need a week, month or a year or more to make up your mind, no problem. We will be happy to see you back whenever you want and when it suits you best. If we don't see you again, well, never say never. We have had members showing up again after 20 years of absence. We hear such statements as; always wanted to do it but haven't had the time until now or as the kids grew up we wanted to do it together or now that i am retired i need to get back into it again. With the Shaolin Academy you will always be welcomed back!
That's too bad but no problem. You can start and stop anytime you want. You can either Freeze your membership or cancel it entirely. There are no penalties or fees or any of that type of Garbage. Just talk to us and well take the steps you want us to or talk directly to our accountants Debit Success and cancel your payments yourself; easy. If you do not wish to continue your training; we will not stand in your way. As a matter of fact, if you change your mind a week, month, year or even 10 years later, you will be welcomed like an old friend and we will not charge you any more when you come back!
Shit can happen, that is the Law of the Universe and Dao. We at the Academy are very flexible and when in doubt decide your way. But, and it has not happened so far, you should want to go to a higher authority, you have two choices;
Contact Sijo on his mobile 0458 742 654 directly and tell him what the problem is, no matter how large or small. Shaolin Kung Fu instructors in general are like Monks towards their members and will keep your privacy private to the full possibility of the law.
MAIA is a Government accredited Martial Art, Kung Fu guidance organization. There are a few of these but this is the one that has the most clout and professionalism. The Martial Art Industry Association can be reached by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning the National President Walt Missingham on 02 8116 9822.
Shit Happens, we try and not make it worse. You can't pay, talk to use!
We are not a Commercial oriented organization. We like to think ourselves as Members Centered Professional Academy. What's the difference? Our bottom line is about content members and not about how much we earned. Yes, we need to earn to live! But you, our members are a bit more important than the bottom line. So, having financial problems, no specifics required. Talk To Us!
Absolutely not! Hepatitis B, C, AIDS, etc. If we see Blood we immediately follow Standard Blood Management Procedures! It be a real tragedy to come to training for health and fitness and walk out with one of those. We are an Blood Free Area, except when the Blood Bank comes, than we donate.
All registered Martial Art Clubs and for that matter Sports Organizations need to be covered by an Indemnity and Liability Insurance. Most any club that has been around a few years and operate in public will be insured as otherwise they would have run afoul of the law. There are still some operating in back yards and garages, and some of these instructors are very competent martial artists but... Long term commitment to students requires that instructors not only think about how effective their students are in martial arts, but also how to, at the same time, reduce the amount of long term damage that can be created.
For example, regular hitting of a bag over several years period with your fist will will result in damage to you knuckles, joints and/or fingers. Traditional Kung Fu styles vary the training between Fists, Palms, Hand Edge, Finger, forearm, elbow and shoulder techniques to prevent overuse or RSI injuries. If we were in a war zone and needed to defend ourselves on a daily basis, future consequence would be a lesser issue> Barring major change, some researchers are speculating that humans will, in the future, live to 1000 years. It is speculated that in the next 25 years or so, life expectancy will be greatly increased and there is some speculation that the first human to live to 150 years of age is already been born. It would be a shame if one were to damage ones body and then have a long life regretting it...
In Australia call us on 0458 742 654 or e-mail email@example.com!
Then there is really only one choice for you now; come and try us out. Just-do-it! Here is a free training voucher!