You will find all the information associated with the third level of Shaolin Kung Fu (Martial Art) Academy, Wudang (Wutan), Orange Sash. This information is provided for both, the Shaolin Kung Fu (Martial Art) Academy Kwoon (Local) Members and the Shaolin Academy Cyber (Distance Education) Members. Those that are enrolled in the Kwoon Training are free to use this Material. For those who wish to use this material as a Distance Training Guide, wish to have support, be able to Grade and be Certified; you need to register with the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy for Support and Help.
Welcome back for the 4th time and again congratulations on passing the Yellow Sash Level and achieving Orange Sash! You are making success a habit and that is good; but you also need to step up a bit more as the techniques on this level need a bit more effort, a bit more sweat, a bit more of everything. She may be a strange person to quote but here goes, a statement from Dolly Pardon the singer and all around entertainer;
This was also a 'hump' level; if you look around, you may find that some Yellow Sash students are no longer with us. They reached the 'Danger Zone' too and were not able to raise to the higher level of Kung Fu. This is sad but it is also good; Kung Fu is not meant to be easy and simple, it is meant to be challenging, interesting and involved. Now you are either a person who also reached the hump and overcome it or you are about to hit it. What are the symptoms? Well let me put it simply; a lot of things give you the sh..s, willies. You do not feel like training, it is all a bother, you get agitated even possibly very reluctant to train sometimes.
This is normal and natural as everyone reaches a point where they need to either recommit and say 'yes i am staying and continuing' or, i am moving on! Again, neither of these is right or wrong! What you need to do is remember why you started training in the 1st place; is it still what you want; have you achieved the goals you have set and are they even achievable for you?! Well i would suggest that you stick around until achieving Red Sash at least. Complete the Temple Levels for two reasons. One - finish what you started at least to there; Two - the training changes after Green Sash and is totally different; Three - (yes i know i said two reasons) if you did your Assessments well you are now eligible to start assisting in teaching!
OK so I am interested in you staying; I do like all my students especially if they have managed to this level. So, if you need take a short break, a holiday and then return and join the Martial Art Professional (MAP) Program and learn the ropes (so to say). You will not only learn about teaching Kung Fu but teaching in general, People Management, Situation Management, Venue Management, Martial Art & the Law and many more things. You will start on the path of becoming a Martial Art Professional!
Not your cup-of-tea? Wasn't mine either, initially but look now, i am a full time Martial Artists, Small Business owner, WEB master, Advertising Manager, Customer Relationship Manager, Accountant and more. When you join the MAP Program you will be trained in most aspects of running your own venue, independently of the Academy if you want or with us if you qualify. The 21st Century may not allow people to 'retire' and having started a small enduring business like a Kung Fu Academy (one of the oldest professions around if you think), it is a fantastic way of being involved, keeping healthy and fit and being around people. Unlike many other professions like say Engineering, the older you get the better your skill and knowledge and no one will put you out to pasture; if they try.....
Now, back to this level; we will cover a few very important concepts on this level without loosing sight of what you have learned. You also need to start seeing the bigger picture of Kung Fu, start seeing the patterns of training, curriculum and application. At the same time you also need to continue working on all of that which you have learned before and make it work for you. Continue training in a very safe way and continue to use your breath to enhance you health and chi.
You may notice the pattern of Blocks; in the Gray Sash Level we had the Iron Shield Blocking System, White and Yellow Sash introduced you to the Crane Blocking System; the next two levels will be the Iron Bar Blocking System, an advanced system protecting you against heavy duty attacks with legs, arms, fits, elbows and knees. You have learned the three punching concepts in the first three levels, Arrow or Direct Punching in Gray Sash, Roundhouse Punching in White Sash and Whipping Punching in Yellow Sash; now you will learn some unusual punches in this level and the most effective two handed punches in the next level. You will also need to learn small circle and large circle movement as well as semi-circular evading and attacking. There are also new Stances, Stepping Methods, Self Defence, Kicks, Elbows and Knees and of course the Powerful Wudang Dark Warrior (Hammer) form. I really hope you enjoy this level as much as i enjoy teaching it!
Sijo Robert Z
Wudang Shan (Mountain) has an illustrious history as a holy Daoists mountain, the central site of worship for Zhenwu the Emperor of the North and the possible birthplace of Tai Chi. It is not one of the Five Holy Peaks of Daoism, Wudang Shan is considered the Great Peak anchoring the other five.
Wudang Shan has historically maintained prominence in its role as a Center for Daoists religious activity and as a consistent recipient of imperial patronage throughout the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Unlike other peaks, Wudang Shan is dedicated primarily to the worship of one Daoists deity: Zhenwu, or the Perfect Warrior. As such it is the only holy mountain in China whose iconography is thoroughly integrated into the tale of a single deity.
Originally known as Xuanwu, or the Dark Warrior, and depicted by the Tortoise (longevity) and the Snake (Wisdom), the image of Zhenwu first attained prominence in the Eastern Han dynasty among the tomb engravings. According to legend, sometime in the distant past Zhenwu wandered to Wudang Shan from the North where after forty years of toil and self-refinement he eventually attained immortality. Since then he and the tortoise and snake have forever been associated with the mountain. But it wasn't until 1412 that the Ming emperor Chengzi (Zhu Di), after having attributed his successful usurpation of the throne to the blessings of Zhenwu, elevated him to a status surpassing even Laozi among deities comprising the Daoists pantheon. So as to return the favor, Chengzi ordered a massive construction campaign on Wudang Shan in 1412 in commemoration of the god's blessings. Zhenwu “became the object of one of the few truly `national cults', involving all levels of society from the humblest butcher right up to the emperor”, with Wudang Shan as it cosmological center.
Though the earliest evidence for the existence of practicing Daoists on the mountain comes from the second century BCE, there weren't established temples on the mountain until that of Five Dragon Hall built in the mid Tang dynasty. It wasn't until the Ming dynasty however that Wudang blossomed into the sprawling complex of Daoists monasteries, temples and shrines which it still resembles today. With around three hundred thousand corvée laborers assigned to this massive construction project, Wudang Shan became home to nine palaces, thirty-six monasteries, seventy-two cliff temples, numerous bridges, residences and shrines within six years. While laborers worked furiously on the Forbidden City in Beijing, so were engineers and workers dispatched to Wudang Shan to build a parallel Forbidden City at the apex of the central mountain. Renowned religious leaders were summoned from around the country to serve in the larger monasteries and temples and by the 1420s Wudang Shan became deserving (the dang in Dudang meaning deserving) of its appellation `The Great Peak'.
In the six hundred years since its establishment, Wudang Shan has maintained a turbulent historical tradition including skirmishes among rival schools of Daoism and gongfu who fought for supremacy over the centuries, bandits and rebels who periodically claimed and reclaimed the mountain as base and stronghold, and finally the heavy damages incurred from the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. Yet despite such setbacks, Wudang Shan has retained its role as one of the central sites for Daoists pilgrimage in China, a destination for affluent tourists over the centuries and today a treasure house for traditional Daoist culture, architecture and relics.
It is though to Zhenwu, the the "Dark Warrior" (Xuanwu) (changed to "Perfected Warrior" [Zhenwu]) around the 11th Century CE that we look for inspiration and martial art skill in this level as part of the preparation for Red Sash.
It is during the 2nd destruction of the Shaolin Temple in the anti-Buddhist uprisings around the turn of the first millennium that Shaolin Monks dispersed to many other temples including Wudang. It was not for 30 to 60 years before Monks returned to Shaolin with the many influences of the different temple styles but also some hardened surviving the many hardships of this era. It is after this dispersal and return that we have the 1st records of Animal Styles in Shaolin Kung Fu. Although there are records of some animal symbolism in Kung Fu, it is around this time (give or take 100 years) that Shaolin reputedly had over 100 Animal styles that were then sorted into the 5 Animal Style system.
Some scholars suggest that Wudang was a strong influence on this development. Although Animal Symbolism was associated with many aspects of Chinese life including Temples, the association of the Turtle and Snake with the Dark or Perfect Warrior may have made the leap to Kung Fu. Emei Shan which is another temple, records show, that Shaolin Monks escaped to during this time, use the symbol of two Cranes for it's healing and healing exercises based on Chinese and Indian Kung Fu.
Although all this is correct to the best of my knowledge, it is not really important and is meant to be seen as possible influences, developments and directions that Shaolin Kung Fu has grown through. As they say, "All care in the research and recording of these pages have been taken, but no guarantees of accuracy can be given!"
The pattern of information and curriculum established in the first 3 levels is continued in this level although there are some significant changes. Whereby up until now the techniques you will have learned may be found in many different martial art styles (rarely in any one of them though), we now come to techniques that are considered very traditional, sometimes even hidden; and some even considered style secrets (techniques that only graduates would learn).
We continue the focus on the Horse Stance, especially where the two subsequent stances are based on Horse Stance, but with a twist (literarily!)The Twisting Stance is not very popular in many styles as it requires good leg strength and a flexible waist; and that is exactly why it is here. The Riding Dragon is a forgotten stance although this can be found being used for Gym Workouts for strengthening legs and knees; we use it for a similar purpose but a safer version with more preparation as using this stance incorrectly can cause knee problems.
The two Guard Postures of this level are a variation of the Centerline Guard and were favored by different styles of kung fu. the Stone Guard can still be seen, in altered variations in quite a few martial art styles and was one of the favored Guard position by chuck Norris in a few of his Texas Ranger serial. The Iron Cross is both a Guard and a way to repel a charging opponent effectively. It is a very powerful guard against a strong opponent.
We now encourage that all evasion and counter attacking is practiced with at least one directional change, a bit like the Rook of Chess. No matter what exercises you do for this level, always practice with a directional change.
With the Iron Cross Guard we have the Iron Cross Blocks in which you will see that the Iron Cross Guard is also a Block. These Blocks are exceedingly effective against very powerful attacks by hand, foot or blunt weapon. With an inbuilt Capture possibility, the blocks, when mastered, are a devil when they work.
The Punches too are from the semi-usual to the unique. The Hammering Punch can be seen in most any traditional martial art style either in the short or long fist versions. But the Stone Fist (not to be confused with the Stone breaking Fist) and the Knocking fists add an extra dimension to effective defence without the need for excessive force. Especially the Stone Fist is later used as a pressure Point Accessing Technique.
Although the Crescent Kick may not be the most powerful of kicks in the way it is trained and practiced, the Crescent Kick action is a key to many, many Crane Kung Fu kicks in later levels. As it takes a while to master these movements, it is better to start now. These kicks also increase your waist flexibility and start teaching you the principle of a high center of gravity or lightness of body skills as needed for the Crane Style Kung Fu. Yet, the Cross Stepping method require a combination of heavy Foot and Light Body skills and thus, they will be challenging to learn and practice. Give them some time.
The pattern established in the previous levels in the form of systems continues with the Stance, Block, Punch and Kick systems, adding the techniques from this level to the previous three levels (first the let side then the right side). You stepping and movement patterns are bit more involved in support of the 4th principle of movement, round. Unicorn Leaping and Stepping are a part of the involved concept of Lohma and Twisting Lohma stepping, which is a system all of it's own. There are whole Traditional Kung Fu styles which specialize in only aspects of this form of stepping as their main movement principle. You will not have to learn and master the lot but you will need to know the Unicorn Stepping and Leaping.
The Close Quarter techniques continue in the 8 Elbow, 8 Knee System that will be completed by the time you start Panther Kung Fu, the Animal Style that Specializes in 'unusual' distancing and techniques. The System of Stances, Blocks and Punches is extended to include this levels techniques. The Self Defence has you learning to escape from head Locks.
Obviously, the levels form is Called the Wudang (Dark Warrior's) Hammer Form. It is a form that incorporates many aspects of Traditional Kung Fu and introduces minor differences or variations to the execution of learned movements..
The Sparring of this level encourages you to participate in a Touch Contact Competition, such as the AMAC. This is an optional component and not a requirement but if you do chose to spar at this level you will need the Shaolin Academy Safety Sparing Kit as picture to the left. This is a legal requirement but you do not need to source you equipment from us but talk to us first so that it is the right equipment allowed for our use and competitions.
In spirit of the perfect warrior we work on our Speed and Timing; which also means that we need to work on our Coordination and Control and achieve a high degree of proficiency approaching perfection!
Speed will deliver the technique before the attacker can react; Coordination is the skill that allows you to move the way you want and on target; Timing is the skill that enables you to chose the right moment for success and avoid incidental problems; Control is the ability that give you the confidence to deliver as much or as little force as required, without worrying about apply to much or to little. And Perfection is that which allows these 4 to work together. Any one of these is important but only when you make all work together for you do you have Kung Fu
But you have already been producing this since Gray Sash! Each technique has been explained to you in detail; where to target, the precise movement of the technique, which part of the body you are using for the impact or block. You already have been working on Control and developing your body and mind muscles for this. We have also worked on Speed by increasing the speed of the count. If you have been aiming for the right spot as in Solar Plexus for the Dragon Kick and Dragon (Straight) Punch, Jaw for the Uppercut, Ribs for the Roundhouse, Neck for the Cross Cut, you have been working on targeting which is an aspect of Coordination. And when we do partner work where you are attacking or defending you are practicing your timing, your ability to judge the right time to launch you defence or attack for optimal result. You may not have been aware that you have been doing all this and that is natural but: to truly grow, we need to make our selves aware of our abilities and retrain them for a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness. This usually means that in order for you to get better you need to get worse, you need to change what is working for you and do it a different way!
Speed - Set a timer to one minute and see how many proper punches, kicks, strikes or blocks you can do in one minute. Do this three times and keep a record of your results to see when you have peaked using this method (referring to the graphs just above right).
Speed - Start by performing your form in a specific time, say 60 seconds and then reduce the time by 1 second each week without compromising the flow or technical quality of the form. Once you have reduced it by 10 seconds stop there for a while and allow your instructor to check the quality of the execution then try again to reduce it over the next ten weeks.
Accuracy - Get yourself 5 empty matchboxes and a small bucket. Line up the 5 matchboxes on a railing and put the bucket directly 2 meters behind them. Now in rapid succession, hit the 5 boxes with one hand (first left then right) and make them all go into the bucket. Repeat this until you can perform this with both hands three times without missing.
Timing - Get yourself a ring about twice the width of your closed fist (between 15 cm and 20 cm). Hang it from a string about solar plexus height and and then; Make it spin at a moderate rate and punch into the ring without touching or disturbing the ring or its rotation; Make the ring swing from side to side without any spin and punch through it as it passes through the center of its swing; If you are really patient and have managed the two previous exercises, have the ring swing and spin....
Coordination - Have someone throw 5 balls at you initially one at a time and you punch, kick or block the ball. Add Control to the technique by punching them back to the person back or to a designated target (like the bucket in a previous example) located beside you.
Coordination - Put 5 balls on top of matchboxes and kick them into a target; and then without disturbing the matchboxes (Control).
These are only some example ideas to get you started; if you need more speak to me (Sijo) after or before class; or by e-mail us. Also, train only with techniques that you have already graded and confirmed that you perform them mostly correctly. Check with your instructor if you are not sure.
Usually people think that improvement is linear and continuous process; it isn't. More effort does not continue to equate into more results; more effort can only get you good results in the beginning and middle of your learning cycle but there is a learning plateau and even a learning drop-off. The attitude, thinking and training that make you successful in the beginning can only bring you so far before they seem to fail. It can even lead to a worsening of results and you come to a point where you try harder and harder but achieve worse results. You have reached the peak of what this method of training, this attitude, this way of working and learning can give you. There is a name for this but it escapes me right now.This can be exceptionally clearly seen in our education system;
When you reach your Learning Style Plateau and the amount of effort you put it gives diminishing returns, you need to change your way of working; if you do not you may have ever reducing rates of return on the effort you put in! This is not necessarily 'your fault'; you either progress of regress and not changing for longer period usually means regression. There is one caveat, one exception that is fairly standard. You can work yourself into such an effective and efficient routine that you maintain a certain effectiveness and efficiency over long periods of time without reaching the Learning Plateau. Usually if you are a professional scholar, teacher, or some such when the circumstances around you and your materials used do not change.
But then, should anything change, new materials, new attitudes, new circumstances, higher expectations, a new twist or side-step required, you may find that then establishing a new pattern of learning is vastly more difficult if not almost impossible. This happens a lot to older people who are very experienced at their skill or knowledge.. When this happens, when you notice you have reached a Learning or Working or Relationship or some-such Plateau, it is time for a Change, a different approach. You have two choices, two paths to choose from; Initiate the Change Process Yourself, or choose someone to help you to Initiate a New Cycle of Doing or Learning.
Mentoring is the easiest way to achieve some sort of perspective. Approach someone for a little guidance, someone you can talk through. Now often you do not know what the problem is you just feel that you are not achieving the results, the outcomes, the success you want. It needs to be someone new, someone without a hidden agenda, someone you would normally not talk to about this subject but who you could talk to and they would appreciate the environment, circumstances and /or materials.
Experimentation or just doing things differently has the advantage of being self-sufficient and self developing but the disadvantage of being hit-n-miss approach. This has the advantage of Character Building (toughening) but is also often limiting unless you develop this skill. Often it is the only way and does not require any external help.
Research is so easy now days through Books and Internet and sometimes even TV documentaries. The advantage of this method is that you have the world to choose from; the disadvantage is that you have the world to choose from!
Gods are often a misunderstood concept and translation. I do not wish to offend anyone who believes about the One God; i am talking about cultures which have 'god' as part of their daily lives, much like Catholic Saints. these Gods or Human-Ideals often represent some specific, special, attitude, achievement, spirit, success or the-like. There are many such examples in the past and in the present. often that is why people read biographies, to learn from how one of these successful people achieved their success. Martial Arts has many such achievers, read their story....
No matter which way you choose to 'break' out of the Standard Learning Curve, do it and try the Total Quality Management or TQM Process. It is the process that gave rise to the quote:Work Smarter not Harder and/or Longer
Especially in the 80's and 90's some of the most successful organizations in the world were spearheading the TQM Process and often achieving exceptional results. Now in the teens of the 21st century, every major business, even small business and professional sporting organization all use the TQM process in the development of their strategies, business and people. It is inbuilt into the organizational structure to find the point where growth, sales, innovation and improvement cease and break away into a new working style to achieve new growth!
Looking at the 2nd graph where you see the yellow lines, is when you want to change your method of operation, training and/or development and start with the new way of working. There is a real skill involved in this, whereby if you beak off to early in the current successful process you may be setting yourself up for failure with the new process. You need to have gained the most possible from the current method, which is working for you, as it is the Foundation for all future processes and improvements. Staying to long on the foundation develops a too strong a foundation thinking; moving on too quickly and your foundation is to weak. What you want to achieve is an improvement curve as depicted in the third graph, recognizing when you have reached the end of the period of greatest growth and 'skip' over to a new way of working.
Yet, this is the ideal view, the mechanically perfect view. In reality you need to consolidate what you have learned, try it out, work with it, fines tune it. As humans we work best when we balance order and chaos, Yin and Yang rather than searching for mechanical perfection. This means that we travel two paths when we reach that point of change. We need to adapt to two ways of working, two methods of operation, walk two paths.
We need to keep in touch with the foundation, keep training the original method much of the time whilst starting on anew path. We also need to experiment what the new path is, which will work for us before we commit to anything. Fortunately there is an easy immediate answer.
Well actually there are several immediate and easy answers; it all depends on what you have been doing so far and what suits your personality. Following are some 'suggestions';
Visualization Meditation is a very easy and effective way of taking a new approach toward your learning and training. It is not difficult to do and we are one of the few (if not only) martial art clubs in the world which offer you most of the tools needed for this. The principle is very simple; have a look at the training videos that we have for each level and just look at them consciously. Then when you think you have it 'Imagine' you being the person doing the demonstrating in the videos. Once you have managed this, Visualize yourself training the technique, form, drill, what-ever without the help of the recording, even to the point of improving the technique to perfection and then customizing it to your body type and MO! This is one of the best and most powerful ways of improving your Kung Fu, and it takes far less time doing your training in your mind than it does to do it physically. Here is one of the better Visualization Meditation Sites.
Home Work is another easy way to start the process and even a way of finding a new process. It has been long established that if you repeat what you have learned within a 24 hours of learning it you can improve you retention and comprehension five fold. This includes just going over it in your head but it is better still including your body and spirit; even if it is only for a few seconds each item.
Training Group/Circle has given some of the most enduring and consistent results of all. Even just getting together with a friend once a week or even once a fortnight and training together, covering some of the learned and sharing what you know or want to know. This is one of my personal favorites that that which got me through my Engineering Studies and got me into Kung Fu.
Teaching/Assisting in the class is a tried and true method of increasing your skills, abilities and knowledge. Why? Well whilst learning the path is one way, in to you. When you have to show and tell to someone else you find what is missing, what you didn't know you didn't know or could not do. Helping people is a great way of being confronted with the unexpected. The Shaolin Academy has a great Kung Fu Instructor in Training (KIiT) Program, have a look at the outline!
Competitions are another way to engross yourself in a different environment, a different way of thinking that gives you immediate feedback on how well you are progressing and an exposure to a wider view.
Cross Training is a way of looking at your style from the outside in. By training with a different martial art or style you are able to see a different view of the same thing in principle. Now a warning in this. Many martial art organizations do not like being 'checked out' in such-a-way, so inquire if they allow cross-training from other styles; at least for a trial lesson. Be careful not to fall for one of those "sign this 13 year contract please" Styes. Shaolin Academy on the other hand is quite happy for students from another style to cross train. We even allow them "three months training" in their own uniform without needing to pay the full joining fee!
Ultimately, if you are really into almost anything including martial art training, you will work through most of the above listed methods. The reason you started your martial art training will not be the same reason you continue and there will be another reason for staying with it for a very long time; things change. The same goes for your method of learning. Where initially you will be happy just to do and follow, sooner or later you will seek different ways to augment your training. Often martial art schools incorporate Competitions and Challenges to keep their members interested and after that possibly Assisting and Teaching. But there is a lot more possible and often, if you do not find ways to keep it fresh you may be killing your interest in the art.
It is wise to have Plans in your life; short term immediate, medium and long-term achievements. But it may be better to give a clearer identity to the different plans and process involved. Why? Well you to actually talk to yourself (no it is not just you!), and having clearer definition of what you are doing and trying to achieve, in your own mind, is more likely to allow you to be successful by increasing your ability to judge you time and resources!
Dreams are the vaguest of what you see in your mind. Dreams are all the little and big 'would like to haves' that everyone seems to have. Dreams are the Castles in the Sky. They may or may not come true. If you ever have a clear picture of a Dream you could have a;
Vision which are the dreams that have more substance and are realistic. it still my be a Castle but no longer in the Sky. Visons are the Dreams that you can taste and smell and feel and see and you really want. If you are serious about them you need to;
Research is the next step. Find out all that you may be able to find out about what you intend to have, do, make, purchase or what-ever. Don't go overboard with the research and listen to your instinct/intuition to decide when you have enough. But do the research and the leg work including possibly listening to people who have gone through the same process as you. Once you feel you have the information you need then;
Imaginering is the process to define the Ideal solution or product that you want. You may make a list of all the items and features it should have and make a list of them. You may even sort this into a Mind Map type of diagram grouping items together that are of a kind. Either way, sort out your research and your dreams and make them into an ideal list.
Imaginering is where your whittle down your Ideal to something real within the constrains of what is possible. It is the counterbalance to your Imaginering. You can think Ideal but you need to make it Real!
Plan is the actual way of getting there; the road map. Do this, turn here and the like. What has to be done when in order to do the next. And when you have the road map you set yourself;
Goals are the bite size steps along the plan. With simple plans the next two part may not be necessary but Goals are essential; achievements or cross-roads to cross. Now, you also need to make a timing plan of when you expect to get there. these are called;
Targets as alluded to above are the things to do, the entire individual little and big things that need to be done to complete a Goal. Targets are Goals Chunked down! It's a bit like a cupboard having draws.
Benchmarks are the places you sit down a review that all is going well or do you need additional planning and action. They are the checks that you but in place where you sit-down and review that you are still going in the right direction and or that the direction you are going is still the one you want. Sometimes/Often as we find out more detail and information our Visions Goals and Plans can change!
Review and Check that all is as good as you need it to be. Give yourself some time to review the whole before you change it into an;
Action Plan is in reality just a check list or a copy of the Targets but related to your daily life and what is possible. Where by a target may be say, Get Wood for the Gazebo, an action plan will also include from whom, when and how it will be say delivered. This may not be necessary for all the Targets, but it is a good habit to get into; also called action-detailing.
Rewards for Success is the insurance that we will want to continue succeeding and achieving. So once you have completed a benchmark, Target or Goal, an appropriate small or such celebration is in order. Have a quiet drink with your partner or friend, or give yourself some me time. If you have achieved a Goal, go out to a movie and/or dinner, share it with your partner and/or friends. If you have fulfilled a Vision, do something very special! Have a holiday, go away for the weekend or buy yourself that item that you've been wanting for so long. Rewards for success condition you positively for future success and having an excuse for reward may curb your need for spending or wasting.For if you don't celebrate your achievements, you may lose the need to succeed!
Set reasonable targets or goals, not too high and not too low; make your visions almost realistic at least. Work your way up slowly, learning along the way, practicing your usage of these tools, and you will notice that almost anything is possible. By all means, stretch your abilities, allow yourself to fail and make experiences, and allow yourself to aim for higher than what you may expect to achieve: For what is a vision if not something you have not achieved before?
Set reasonable targets or goals based on your abilities, time and the expected outcome; not too low and don't trivialize your visions, as you may not feel the proper challenge and satisfaction of success. You need to stretch your wings and dig in with your claws: For what is life if not a series of challenges to conquer and enjoy!
Renew, Review and Recover Perspective, consider the big picture, your commitments, dreams and future plans. Thing change, you change, dreams change. Consider whom and what is important to you, and once you are fairly clear in your mind, then decide what you want to do and Just Do It: For there is a time for planning and thought and consultation, and there is a time for action!
Stop and take stock often along the way, stop and reconnect with why you are doing what you are doing! Step back, see the big picture, say thank you, reconnect with what is important to you, friends, family, etc.: Remember the little things in life and do not loose too quickly.But when all is said and done, one thing cannot be undone.
Yes, the above list can seem extensive and to a greater or lesser degree you may be able to skip some points; but don't! It is much like walking. If you have learned to walk correctly it will serve you well for the rest of your life, without you needing to think about it. If you follow the process a few times and make it your own, it will become second nature and efficient and will serve you all your life, if you continue to use it. It is a bit of a time and effort investment but the dividens will pay-off for as long as you live (and use the process).
We seem to be in the craze of being slim and trim (well not me...hehe), and we ignore the consequences of extremes! My mother used to complain that young people look like they spend time in 2nd World War concentration camps, as thins as they are and the way they dressed in grudge, tares, seemingly dirty jeans and such. Well there is no accounting for fashion and in reality no criticism from me, but there will be consequences of starving your body during your growth years!
Like anything in life, extreme behaviors cause extreme results. Too much food is as bas as to little food; too much food will lead to your body being over taxed and too little food will starve your body and underdeveloped. And for an older fellah, this super body awareness is stupid; your are not going to stay healthy and slim so you are being a fraud. Like make up, hiding who you are and who you are becoming. But this is another issue, so back to food.Have you ever wondered how you can be full and hungry at the same time?
You, your body, skin, bones, organs, tissue, muscles, etc., all need certain common but also unique vitamins and minerals. With different body function the various parts of your body need both food and specific nutrients to function, repair, replenish, filter, renew and recover. The 7 Major Organs and the 7 Minor Organs, each fulfill a different function and thus requires different nutrients from your food intake. If you do not supply these there will be long term consequences to these organs. But then also we need to consider the needs of blood, bone marrow, muscles, Tendons, Uterus and more. Each of these has a different function and thus need some different nutrients!
Did you know that 80% of people die of Unnatural Causes and only 10% of natural (the remaining 10% die by misadventure)? This means that you dies because a major part of your body wore out or ceased to work whilst most other part of your system could continue working! You will die prematurely unless you balance your food intake to be nutritious for all your bodily needs. And it is not really difficult but may need some adaptation.
There is one small problem though before we proceed with some dietary suggestions. Research has shown that insecticides and pesticides used on our food, for the most are not dangerous. Well that may be wrong as they may not poison us but give us (most likely) Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) by damaging the bacteria in our bowls and preventing them from processing food. Although Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) symptoms are described as; including abdominal pain, mucus in the stools, and alternating diarrhea and constipation. Other terms for irritable bowel syndrome include ‘spastic colon’ and ‘irritable colon’. It seems that people with IBS have sensitive bowels that are easily ‘upset. More women than men are prone to IBS, and symptoms tend to first occur in early adulthood.
But this is not the full story. Prolonged IBS can lead to further complication including intolerance's to foods such as many fruits, lactose, gluten, sugar and many more. Experts still quote that the causes are unknown, but environmental factors such as changes of routine, emotional stress, infection and diet can trigger an attack. If you feel you may have the first signs of IBS speak to a real nutritional expert. Main stream medicos often will not look at food intake as a source of problems unless it cause diabetes, anxiety or other well know problems.
Now considering the above caveat i would like to introduce you to the result of a 10 year Monash University Study which researched food based on how it effects the human body and condition not Latin species types. This study found that there are 57 different food group (functions) and that to maintain a healthy diet we need to eat 30 of these weekly.
Finally, you can do a superficial health check by just looking at the Whites of your Eyes in the morning. They are the widows to your blood and health and a good indicator how well your body has been detoxified and purified during sleep. If you had a late night, restless sleep, food too late at night or too much, if you are unwell, low on energy, eating the wrong foods; all this will be mirrored in the whites of your eyes.You are the most important person in your life and the best you seek,
Sijo Robert Z
Imagine a book all written on one page, a tall boy with only one big deep draw or a city that is only one suburb. No matter what type of information you have to process, learn or assimilate, job to do or problem to solve, if it is a large amount, it's best chunked down!
A book has pages, paragraphs, sentences, chapters and even sometimes volumes; chest of draws have different sized draws so that you do not have to turn everything up-side-down to get at everything and city's have different suburbs. And this is what we humans do, we make things manageable by chunking/dividing large unmanageable parts into smaller manageable parts. This allows us a greater scope of uniqueness, flexibility and manageability. That is also why our training has different levels so that it is understandable and manageable. Imagine if you had to learn everything in one go, without breaks. Primary School, High School, University and then just one big massive exam..... What a hell. Most everything can be chunked down and if you are having a problem with any technique, the first thing to do is chunk it down to understand what your is causing your problem.
It's a bit like fixing a car. Imagine you would go to your mechanic and say "it doesn't run. Even if you did the mechanic would first eliminate possibilities until he chunked it down to an area of the car, a function of the system or even a group of components. Then they would generally further chunk it down until they found the part or problem.
Specialization is also a form of "chunking things down". How long would you have to study if you wanted to be a Doctor, and i don't mean GP but a full Doctor without specializations that can do everything. Just looking at a couple of general areas the New Health Guide list the following as Doctors Categories with further subdivisions within each group;
General physician is a doctor who offers treatment for mild conditions.
Internal medical doctor deals in Adult medicine, treatment and prevention of adult diseases.
Emergency doctor are on call 24/7 and specializes with emergency room practice.
Hospitalist cares for hospitalized patients.
Palliative care specialist reduces the suffering and improves the life of patients in pain.
General pediatricians treats general medical conditions in infant, adolescents and children.
Intensive care specialist treats life threatening conditions in need of invasive monitoring and organ support.
Geriatrician treats geriatrics (old people) related health complications.
Anesthesiologist administers and studies anesthesia for surgical procedures.
Surgeons performs surgeries that are related to different areas of medicine
Point made? It is actually a hallmark of our civilization which has seen us achieve far more than any individual could because of chunking down. Specialization has been the key to creating better, stronger, bigger and smaller. It would seem that it is natural for us to do so and achieve more by specialization and chunking rather than trying to do it all at once. There is though one caveat which specialists often forget; keep the big picture in mind or loose yourself in the detail.
The neck is a very crucial point of our body to protect. It is well muscled so to a degree, protected. It also has all the connections going through it that the brain needs from the body to survive and conversely, feeds the body with impulses that it needs to function. As a general rule, we consider the whole neck to be just one giant Vital Point that needs protection. It is the link between the driver and the machine, the mind and the body. Tiger Kung Fu Style specializes in neck attacks and there you may choose to look at the 1 and the 100 ways of attacking the neck. At this level you need to specialize in how to defend the neck and recognize the most dangerous and most likely Neck attacks.
The Neck is well muscled, more than most people think. It has a range of strong lateral and crossing muscles across the side and back of the neck. But the very center front is quite exposed and can be attacked by a number of targeted strikes.
Hyoid Bone which is a small floating bone just under the Chin. Attacked by one of the 72 Hidden Techniques which when correctly executed makes speech difficult and painful.
Thyroid Cartilage. is the (in men usually) prominent protrusion just below the chin line. It is both part of speaking and breathing system and any strikes to this will cause great pain up to the point of crushing this part of the Larynx. Angled strikes may push it into the Hyoid bone and this could result in permanent damage and death.
Thyroid Gland. is a most interesting part of the Neck and has a number of Poison Hand Attacks dedicated just to this one part. Unlike the previous two targets, this one is best attacked from the side and at various angles for various effects including the 3 Day Sickness.
Trachea is the whole pipe of app 10 cm that is between the Hyoid Bone and disappears behind the Clavicle's/Sternum bones after which is it almost invulnerable to hand and foot strikes. Yet, it is that 10 centimeters, 100 millimeters of length that we are focusing on protecting at this level. Although the surrounding muscles limit unrestricted access to this area, they are not an Iron gate but more of a pillow. Though, 'Pulling You Neck In' or having your chin down when confronted by an attacker is a good way of protecting this area, if you are aware of the costs of this defence.
Neck at least the rest of it as in attacks from the side back and 45 degree angles does not have such high vulnerabilities as the 10 cm of Trachea but. The muscular system of the head and neck is defined by two movements: One is the relatively fine movements of the muscles activating the sensory organs of the head; the other is by the grosser movements of the neck muscles, which allow those senses to be properly targeted. Any strikes to the neck can result in a multitude of effects the least of which is pain. Then there is the blood and fluid interchange between the brain and Body flowing through the sides of the neck under very large and strong muscles; which can be effectively attacked with the Spade Hand.
This remaining area of the neck can be strengthened and Bull (Bronze) Neck Chi Kung specializes in making this area almost impervious to human strike force blows unless you have spare 5 years to train and then around 20 minutes a day, every day, every, every day, you will need to protect and guard access to your neck from a frontal 90 degree radius. Although the neck strengthening and stretching exercises we do before the start of all our training do toughen this area, remove stiffness and increase flexibility. This all make is slightly less vulnerable to effective strikes.
I have always thought that it is an advantage to understand a process that affects my life and circumstances. As Shaolin Kung Fu is a Life Long Learning Process it may be an advantage to understand the 5 steps of learning as i see it. It is not complex or difficult and may help in overcoming frustrations and utilizing the "Sweet Spot" of the learning curve to a fuller extent!
Unconscious Inability/Skill when you don't know what you don't know (or can't do). When you start martial art training especially but also when you start a new level for the first time, before you really know, (or sometimes cared) what you know or really can do, you will have a vague idea about what it is and how it works from movies and such. But unless you had previously practiced some martial arts or that level, you will not know what lies ahead of you. You are not totally aware of what there is to learn and what there is to know. You may have had a fair idea of what you would like to achieve, what the end result should be and what you expect, but you really don't know what you don't know. It is also the time when you, not knowing the culture and limits, will come up with the best ideas for improvements; or the worst.
Conscious Inability/Skill iw when you know what you don't know or can't do. Now you are aware of all the stuff you don't know and can't do; a very frustrating time. It seems that not know what you did not know was easier to handle that this obvious and confronting knowing that there is all this material and learning and you are at the beginning, the start.... again possibly (New level, new job..)
Conscious Ability/Skill is when you know what you know and often can do. Often this is the end for many people, they see what they can do and know and do not always see the need to practice, improve and make it their own. It is actually a very important part of the process as the practice is turning knowledge and ability in to SKILL! This may also be the time you get bored unless what you are doing is your thing, your calling.
Unconscious Ability/Skill is when it has so sunk in that it is like walking. You punching and kicking are executed as needed for the right target with the right distancing and timing, at the speed and strength you want without a lot of forethought on you behalf; the technique, routine or form is not perfect! You are now a real martial artists and have spent many years getting to this point.
Personalized Ability/Skill It is yours! Once you have trained and taught, realized more about yourself and understand your martial art aspect and truly not only can do to what and how and when and where but also the why. When you have made the technique yours and work for you with less effort than before and somewhat unique to who you are and want-to-be. You are starting to become a Master!
If you haven't read through the Assessment's Attitude (which has occupied this spot on the previous pages/levels) the first three time, you will be ignoring this too and you are not reading this; so let's move on for those who did the right thing and read through the Assessment Attitude Information and give you something totally different but relating; the Dragons of Shaolin Kung Fu (and Life).
We are talking about the 9 Yin and Yang balanced ideals of a Shaolin Life Warrior. Those ideals that pertain to their martial art, Kung Fu training and usage. These ideals, guides or Dragons are meant to give an fundamental metal attitude to your Shaolin Kung Fu. Each of these two aspects oppose each other, as in for example, Speed and Coordination; higher speed decreases coordination and better coordination decreases speed. But the ideal is that the two Synergize to achieve the perfect balance to each other in such a way create the Dragon Effect; more than just the parts would seem to be.
Speed v Coordination; The higher the speed the lesser the coordination. It is of very little use to have the ultimate speed if your coordination will not allow you to control your body part to travel the most effective and efficient and correct path to the target or put the right block into place. Together they represent the Dragon Right-Action
Timing v Targeting; means that choosing a target and going for it requires the right timing; timing when the spot is exposed and the amount of time to get there and recover. Choosing the right timing for the different targets is a high skill. Most martial art fighters seem to either just go for the opening or go for the same target over and over until they are lucky. And luck should not have anything to do with (martial) Arts. Together these represent the Dragon Path
Strength & Agility; Strength is often acquired at the cost of Agility. The stronger the body, larger the muscle the lesser the agility. In Shaolin Kung Fu these two must be weighed in accordance to the practitioners body and attitude to realize a synergetic rather than an opposing working. Together they represent Dragon Power
Stature and Flexibility; is a bit like the above but different. Good core-strength, a straight body does not need to be at the cost of your flexibility but it often is. We have lost the skill of balancing opposing physical needs to create a greater result. Together these two balanced represent Dragon Elegance
Endurance vs Power; Power and Endurance are also opposites that when correctly balanced can create a sum greater than the individual components. To much power will kill endurance and just endurance can be detrimental to power. All you need to do is compare a long distance runner and a power lifter to see what is meant by balancing the two. This represents the Dragon of Toughness.
Pro-Active vs Re-Active; one is go, go, go and the other is wait, wait wait. Being able to switch at will between the two rather than being controlled by situational preference or personal habits allows the Shaolin practitioner to Control a situation both actively and passively. Thus balancing these well represents the Dragon Control
Planning vs Adaptation; also order and chaos. Anything worthwhile doing, is worthwhile planning for; but as any good general knows, a plan does not survive the first contact with the enemy. Thus, always make a plan but always be prepared to adapt, adjust and arrange the plan on the given circumstances. Being able to do this is considered the Dragon of Achievement.
Observing vs Acting; there is a time to learn and there is a time to do. Often though we think we need to learn everything before we do anything and sometimes this may be true but; for the most, we need to have an active interaction between learning and doing. Sometimes we even need to teach before we can continue to learn and do and often we have to do before we realize what we learned. Either which way, getting these right represent the Dragon Growth/Advancement.
Mobility vs Position; there is a time to move, attack, avoid, evade and there is a time to stand your ground and be. This not only refers to your physical movement but also mental and spiritual. It is the interchange between the big picture and the detail, the distant and the near, the separated and the included, high and low, Yin and Yang. Balancing these gives you the final Dragon Perspective!
Forward and Backward, Left and Right or Side to Side, Diagonal Snake Movement/Evasion these are the fundamental options and directions. The next one doubles your options by introducing half-move directional changes. Or Crane Evasion as it will be know later one when you reach the Animal Styles.
So, in a way, it is a version of Snake Stepping except you are not limited to just forward and backward but can move in any direction with a change of direction. This is not just an evasion method, but a way of stepping and a way of thinking. If you are a Snake or Tiger type person you may have problems grasping this concept or even executing it. But, at this semi-final temple level you need to embrace the concept of 'mid-stream-lane-changes' (get it?). But if you bring it back to the previous level, it is just another form of Zig-zag stepping exceptStepping is how your feet work and Moving is how you body is moving from A to B to C
This form of movement is the first step to a different way of thinking. Even if you had problems with any of the evasion so far, it was all just one directional. In a way it was all just one type of evasion and movement in different directions. This time you have a fundamental change in thinking, a different way of moving and a more complex way of stepping. All your training so far has meant to prepare you for this!
Once you are comfortable with one directional change, you will need to be comfortable with a second directional change; and not like with Snake Stepping but with a backward directional change which will seem to be moving you in a circular way. But you know this way of moving already, you have trained it and you have successfully graded it. See the recording at the 4 minute mark to remind yourself →
←The tile just to the left is a simplified view of your options because in reality you have every direction combined with every other direction to choose from twice over. For those mathematically inclined; 8 directions with a directional change (not going in the same direction) is 8 times 7 = 56 with another directional change again not straight ahead means 56 times 7 = 392 options! Wow, but let's not get baffled by bulldust. It is not about mathematics but about the 2nd most advanced style of evasion, Circular Stepping or Whirlwind Evasion. Just for completeness sake,the highest form of Evasion/Movement/Stepping is Shaolin Dancing but it also requires the next levels evasion Tall Oak Movement.
It's all about staying in contact with the attacker, just out of their reach and never where they want you to be. Unless you want to evade entirely, run away ( i suggest the art of track and field running for this rather than Shaolin), this form of evasion and movement maintains your control over the distancing between you and the attacker without giving the attacker a clear target whilst allowing you to make minor distance adjustment to be able to counter attack! This is important at the higher level of Sparring and Conflict Management especially if you do not have the option of withdrawing from the conflict.
Each of the Animal Styles specialize in a Martial Art relevant stepping style. There are some fundamental rules to consider for each of the Animals but nothing is always 100% as displayed in the Yin-Yang symbol.
The Tiger is simplicity and directness; it always attacks and never evades or retreats. So the tigers movement direction is clear! Forward directly or slightly indirectly, but always at the target; at the opponent. It doesn't worry about guards, timing or openings, it seeks to overwhelm the opponent quickly, powerfully and directly. As mentioned, the simplest and most direct rout and way.
The Snake is almost the direct opposite of the Tiger. It's movements are exactly the opposite, directly back or zig-zagging stepping away from where the attacker is at the moment. It will though always seek to be off the main attack line and thus the directional changes rather than just in a straight line. But once in the corner the Snake will change and find the opening and finish the pursuit.
The Panther is all about being in control and creating Chaos. The Panther will use any direction for both attack and evasion except the Tigers and Snakes but than again, occasionally it will just to surprise you. Usually, the Panther will avoid the initial confrontation seeking to change the circumstances or the rules to suit it's own ways. Thus it dose it all but in a random unpredictable pattern; Chaos.
The Crane is the evader where the Snake is the Avoider, the Tiger the Attacker and the Panther (ideally) Chaos. The Cranes way is to evade and evade until the attacker tires out, beat's themselves or make a significant mistake. For the most the Crane will not attack but may strike whilst evading. The Crane as a light footed style will always make directional changes as this slows down and confuses the larger, heavier attacker.
You may now think you know what type of stylist you are and you may also be right but unless you learn all styles of stepping and evading you will never really know which is really you AND when you are confronted by someone who does do what you don't; you may not know how to deal with it. But in reality, Shaolin is a Health and Well-being style and the whole idea of variation is to keep it fresh,interesting and challenging for a life long exercise and well-being style!