You will find all the information associated with the first level of Shaolin Kung Fu (Martial Art) Academy, Emai Shan, Gray 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. Using this material requires is free to Members of the Shaolin Academy. To continue just reading this invention go right ahead. But if you wish to use any of the materials we ask you to heed our warnings as Martial Arts is Dangerous and Risk Management is the Key. Know the risk and understand the Terms and Conditions under which this information is provided. Become a member, is very easy, and we will support your efforts. Read and watch the following please;
Hi, i am Sijo Robert Z and it is my pleasure to share the Shaolin Academy Kung Fu with the world! I think it is the best style on the Planet (of course), if it were not i would do something else. Of course again, such a statement has to be qualified or else it is stupid.
Every martial art has it's Uniqueness. There are those who tout themselves as the toughest or hardest, the most practical or most street wise. Then there are the Army styles, killing styles (shudder), sport styles and competition styles that pummel their adversary when they are down. We do not compete with any of these and we defiantly do not hit a person when they are down and not attacking us! Shaolin does not kill, we don't even attack (we protect and defend); we do work on toughness but will not be the toughest; we also work on speed but that is not our main aim, we fill skill is what is meant with martial ART; we feel we are very practical but with limitations and considerations; Shaolin is very usable as street defence but we are not ruthless and prefer a strategic approach; our members do compete in shows and competitions but we do not specifically train for them. So, you may ask, what is Shaolin Kung Fu about? Well allow a few words of perspective.
Shaolin Kung Fu was developed in a Buddhist temple for the health and well-being of Buddhist novices and masters. It's main aim was to keep the Monks healthy and able to endure the hardships associated with Temple life and the absence of police or official protections. They needed to take care of their own safety and well being whilst still being Buddhist. Thus they re-developed what could be called a combination of Yoga and Chi Kung to include Martial Art abilities. In this way they maintained their Health and Fitness whilst at the same time have superior defensive which is in line with Buddhist principles not really allowing any undue harm to be visited even on a person attacking them. That said, we do not follow any one religion and are accepting of all non-invasive and peaceful religions, philosophies and beliefs. We also are very accepting of martial artists of all styles and are happy to share training and knowledge with them.So, what is the Shaolin Kung Fu uniqueness; Dedication to Safety, Preference for Defence, Focus on Skill, Use of Strategy and Words as preference!
This level is a perfect example for these principle guides. It focuses on Breathing, Meditation, Posture, Flexibility and Foundation. This page has most all the information that you will need to help you with your training, if you are a Shaolin Academy member or allow you to train along with us if you are a Shaolin Cyber member using the video recording on this page for your training. But before we get to that we need to go through some legal obligations and then you are free to use the information on this page. Have fun and be safe - Sijo
The eastern range of the Himalayas extends to the edge of the Cheng-tu Basin in the remote Chinese Szechwan Province. At the south-western corner of the basin, stands the sacred mountain called Emei Shan. It is one of the 4 most sacred Buddhist mountains in China. Emei Shan is the general name for 3 mountains, Da'e, Er'e and San'e . The mountains are majestic, quiet and serene and acclaimed in China as "a Beauty under Heaven". Most of the monasteries and temples at Emei Shan were built during the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 CE), while others were added later. As a well-known Buddhist sanctuary of Samantabhadra, Emei Shan once had more than 100 monasteries.
Mt. Emei is located in Leshan City, Sichuan Province. It is towering, beautiful, old and mysterious. It is like a huge green screen standing in the southwest of the Chengdu Plain. Looking its winding and beautiful figure, you will find that it resembles very much an eyebrow of a girl. It is the highest one among all the famous sight-seeing mountains in China.
On the mountain there are four scenic regions: Baoguo Temple, Wannian Temple, Qingyin Pavilion and Golden Summit. Its main peak, the Golden Summit, is 3079.3 meters (10,103 feet) above the sea level, seemingly reaching the sky. In addition in Golden Summit there are four spectacles: clouds sea, sunrise, Buddha rays and saint lamps. In 1996 Mt. Emei was enlisted in the world natural and cultural heritage by the UNESCO.
Mt. Emei has a long history. According to the archaeological material, people in remote ancient times have lived in this place. As early as 5,000 years ago, the Emperor Xuanyuan paid two visits here to learn Tao thoughts. 1,900 years ago, a practitioner built the first monastery here, thus marked the mountain the birthplace of Buddhism in Yangtze Valley. Today the Buddhist culture has become the main body of Emei Culture. The Buddhist architecture, music, grottos and paintings in the mountain all reflect rich religious flavor and culture.
But Mt Emei is also harsh and unforgiving; the prevailing west wind creates an odd pattern of air currents that rake the monastery with winds of velocities up to 150 km (100 miles) an hour. The temperature can fall below freezing many nights of the year, the monks must maintain their health and fitness to maintain their life. Considering the long trail up the mountain, some 15 to 20 km's long, climbing up 3 km in the process, the monks require a high degree of fitness and stamina just to arrive at the temple.
From the Emei Shan Temple we take these two learning of Safety and Health maintenance through exercise and breathing routines. The first Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy level focuses on students health and well being as well as establishing healthy and safe training and exercise habits!
Each Shaolin Academy level has some information and teachings included that may not seem to be part of the Kung Fu training; well it is! If you skip it or feel that it doesn't fit then you will be missing a point and find that at later levels essential information and appreciation is missing. Although it is OK to skip parts that are difficult at this moment and come back to them later, but beware; Shaolin Kung Fu is exceedingly structured, meaning this goes with that and is built on that again. You miss one part it may come back to bite you, not immediately but it will. We have seen it over and over again.
So on that note, consider the following as an integral part in Learning Shaolin Kung Fu.
Long before Shaolin exercises took on a martial art inclination, Shaolin Monks practiced a form of Yoga and Tai Chi called the 18 Hands of Lohan. This was a set of movement and stretching exercises that focused on he 6 Harmonies. As this form was lost some 14 centuries ago, the Shaolin Academy's Emei Shan Breathing Set honors this first step of strong focus on the 6 Harmonies. And these also give you the instruction what is first to focus on and what is last.
As you learn and train this level, and the next and all levels there after, work on the harmony of your movements. When you first learn you reverse the priorities of the Six Harmonies. Fist have your feet and legs correctly; then the knee and elbows as they should, finally the Hips and Shoulders working together to achieve the next movement. Next harmonize your breath to the effort; then try and understand the Intent of the Effort and Harmonize this with your Spirit, your being or if you fee the Intent is to drastic, change the Intent to Harmonize with who you are and what your are, your spirit.
Seems simple enough? It will be once you allow yourself enough time to become one with kung fu by finding the right Harmony.
The Shaolin Kung Fu approach to martial arts incorporates many aspects of life and does not center on conflict and fighting but in management, resolution and peace. Each of the 20 levels of Shaolin Kung Fu focuses on a specific aspect of life, well being and Kung Fu. Vital-Breath/Chi is the focus of this level! Breathing is one of the most important and one of the most neglected aspects of life. We may be able to survive 30 days without food, 3 days without fluids but only around 3 minutes without breathing. Deep regular breathing is not natural to most people. We need to practice our breathing to cultivate our Chi. Then our Chi will enhance and strengthen our body, mind and spirit.
Both Buddhism and Taoism share similar approaches to medicine, believing that the mind, body and spirit should not be viewed as separate entities, but as a whole. Taoist's believed that certain breathing exercises would aid them in their search for longevity. They developed breathing systems. These breathing systems cultivate what the Chinese refer to as Chi (vital air). They believed that although Chi was an intrinsic force inherent in all living beings, it had to be cultivated through breathing exercises, much like the body through exercise and the mind through learning, problem solving and creating (imagining). The Vital Chi force was further complemented by the action of the 'yi' (pronounced 'ee' - meaning the 'wisdom mind'), which directs the energy throughout the body. The ancient Chinese called this principal mind force, the harnessing mechanism or agent for mental prowess. But, if you don't believe in that Chi-mumbo-jumbo; well here is some 'western' reasoning;
Breathing Detoxifies and Breathing Exercises Detoxify more as they Message Your Organs, Releases Tension, Improves Emotive outlook, Reduces Pain .... and a whole lot more. And the logic is clear. Put more oxygen into your body, your body has more energy to do what it needs to do; more energy, more cleaning, repairing, energy and even an increase in muscle strength. So, mumbo-jumbo or science, makes no difference, the outcome of practicing daily breathing exercises is clear.
The Chinese term 'Chi' (Qi) can be translated to mean air or energy depending on the context. However, the two meanings are related; one cannot exist without the other. There are also two ways of writing Chi in Chinese, refer to page 5 for the Chi (energy) character. There are 5 do's of Chi/Breathing
You can discover how improving your breathing can positively contribute to every aspect of your life by having more air, more oxygen coursing through your body and lungs; and through your blood to muscles and organs, providing energy and healing. So no matter which way you look at it, working on improving your breathing patterns WILL make a difference. No pills, no sigh-up, not miracle food, no easy payments; just twice 3 minutes a day exercising some deep breathing.
Finally, Chi/breath is only half of the equation, the other half id Foundation/Earth!
Shaolin Kung Fu practitioners have a lot of choices and options for advanced levels and Mastership. Both Shaolin Snake Kung Fu and Shaolin Crane Kung Fu specialize in specific striking points. There are many with varying degrees of difficulty and effect of outcome. You do not need to specialize these unless you wish but you need to know most if not all to be able to protect yourself from attacks on these points.
There are a number of different types of these Vital Points;
Many Martial Art styles favor certain points. It is also such with Kung Fu styles although having been working at it for over 5 to 6 thousand years they have discovered more of these than most any other culture. Shaolin being focused on avoiding damage even to those who wish to harm or kill them have discovered many of these and classified them into the Permitted arts and the Dark Arts. Although we will cover most of these sooner or later only the permitted points will be explained in detail and function whereby the Dark Arts will only be explained in order to protect yourself against attacks.
Of the (Shaolin) Permitted Arts, the most effective and benign are the Dragon Points which affect Breath and Vital Air without causing permanent or enduring damage, harm or even pain. The head of the Dragon Points is the Solar Plexus, a very effective point to aim for and an essential point to protect. It is also the center of the Center-line principle of Attack and Defence in Kung Fu. There is not a lot of force required to activate the Breath Stealing nature of this point.
The mechanics are fairly simple to understand. Although the lungs expand and contract, it is the diaphragm muscle that provide the motor, the function for this action. As can be seen to the left, the lungs are well protected by the rib cage (although later you will learn a Mortality Technique using it), the motor for the lungs, the Diaphragm, is actually not as well protected. It is accessible through the small spot just under the breast bone and just over the abdominal muscles through the Solar Plexus. Although most any strike will have some type of result, it is our the very first punch that we learn in this level that is ideally suited to access this area and have just the right amount of impact to cause a 15 to 75 second shut down of the diaphragm function.
But there is a skill to it so that you do not break the little bone extending downwards from the breast bone. This will have unwanted and possibly long term effect on the target. This is not the Shaolin Way. There are two variables, Power of Impact and Angle of Impact. Angle of impact will determine how likely or unlikely damage to the Xiphoid (process) and the power of the impact, although contributing to the possible damage of the Xiphoid is more determinant on the duration of effect on the diaphragm. And it is important to have the right balance. Using the Dragon Punch or more commonly know as the Stone breaking or Straight Punch, the right balance between angle and impact is achieved. Although, in the training videos below the exact angle and impact will be explained, the brilliance of this technique should receive a little bit more focus.
Keeping the power of the Punch the same, we know that the angle of impact will have a significant input to the amount of impact. As can be seen from the graph below, when punching at a smaller person, the punch angle will be higher thus reducing the strength of impact and projecting the power further down; thus causing less effect on the smaller person. Whereby punching at a larger person (right figures) will have a director projection at the Solar Plexus thus having a greater impact on the Diaphragm. Ergo, maintaining the strength of the punch and adapting to the size of the opponent, the angle of impact has a self adjusting nature. What does this mean?
It means that with practice all you need to do is vary the strength of the punch based on bulk of the attacker and the amount of time you wish them to be winded. The angle is self regulating in relation to the hight of the person attacking you. Yes, there are other variables such as penetration depth, horizontal angle, size and shape of fist, speed of delivery and Chi projection. But this applies to most all techniques. With this Dragon Point, there is a bit more regulation and moderation; control possible when using the Shaolin Academy Dragon Punch (also Straight and Stone Punch). Is there more to it? Well yes, lot's more but that is all part of the journey of the Shaolin Art.
This is just an introduction, a teaser. There is one such area for each of the 5 Temple Levels, just enough to give you an idea of possibilities so that you know if you wish to be a Vital Point specialist (10,000 Bees Style) or just specialize in the Dragon, Snake, Crane, Panther or Tiger points.
The way you hold yourself, the way you stand, your posture is really more powerful then a punch. If you relaxed and prepared, this radiates around you. It is a bit like two identical cars parked next to each other and one has a blinking light (suggesting that there is an alarm system and the other doesn't. Which would the car thief rather try and steal. Two identical people standing next to each other and one is standing straight and the other is slightly hunched; all else equal, who would you choose as a team mate, employee or representative?
In Shaolin Academy Kung Fu, it is important that you have a straight and 'natural posture when standing still. So, following are some guides that you may want to practice in front of a mirror;
Should you need to stand for longer periods, just vary the amount of pressure between the 4 pads, alternating left and right foot every so often and then front and back of your feet (80% - 20%). Also consider anything that you may be carrying. Even small loads can have a long-term adverse effect when you establish a habit of carrying everything just on one side. This will influence your lateral body posture, develop one side of the body more than the other and lead to other, minor but significant inequalities.
If you ever watch people walk you will notice how some are very one leg/side dominant; always using that one leg/side to start climbing stairs, buses or into trams. Even when they walk you will notice that one leg/side does more work. In particular, if you have a look at their foot positions, you may notice that the one foot points out/side-wards more giving the two feet different angles when standing and walking. If you ever have a look at healthy young people you may notice that their feet/toes point forward when they walk. This gives a better, more graceful and healthy looking movement. It is a lot like professional runners who need to make the most from their foot movement, most efficient and effective.
Beauty and dominance is in the eye of the beholder. Studies conducted with infants, not yet influenced by media, advertising and environment, show that they prefer slim, athletic and symmetrical bodies and faces. The study group explained this with evolution and that instinctively the children were more inclined to look at the healthier, younger, more likely to provide safety and nourishment and be successful persons. This suggests that we would consider healthier, stronger and beautiful persons as more desirable and dominant.
This brings us back full circle to Success. Your posture, your bearing and stature will influence the way people look at you and in little ways have a continuous and lasting influence on your life, all your life. Consider investing a bit more effort into those stances and your posture when training Shaolin Kung Fu.
Have you ever wondered what it means "once you know kung fu, you do not need it"? Well it is all in the Posture, the Bearing, the Movement, the breathing and the Being! Humans have a reasoning brain for say arguably maybe half-a-million years. We have been developing our Instinct and Intuition by survival for over 65 million years. We have good instincts (well most of us) and we know when there is a person in front of us who is ... capable. It is part of human survival trait.
Posture and Internal Power, good Earth connection and Breathing just make for a powerful combination and thus for a powerful being. It just radiates from people who have it and can even intimidate. Aside from this a good posture extends your life as do breathing exercises and we could go on for many, many pages about this subject so, one final message.The Emei Shan level is all about breathing and posture, Heaven and Earth Chi, the 'martial art, the kung fu stuff is just a bonus!
Let's spin a logic thread for a moment. What are the reasons for training martial arts? Generally they fall into two main categories, Self-defence or Fitness and usually a bit of both. It would seem to me that the highest common denominator for both is Safety! Self-defence to be safe in the here-and-now and doing a Health and Fitness style that causes you damage, wear and tare would seem so stupid!
Specially with Shaolin Kung Fu that developed as a Health and Fitness exercise founded in Yoga, breathing and Meditation and later used kung fu movements for the physical exercise, Safety is the No1 Rule in the academy, really! If you do not have the time and patience to learn the Shaolin Techniques safely and correctly, there are a lot of other styles that will fast track you in the martial art levels and proficiency at the cost of your safety and health.
It is a matter of why you are training martial arts. To be better than other people or to be a better person?SAFETY FIRST AND ALWAYS
It is interesting to note, how often we tend to jump into action without any preparations or forethought! Imagine going for a pay rise and not being prepared to negotiate with reasons and examples; or wanting to land a big deal and not preparing and thinking about what the best outcome for both parties could be.; or even commencing a 2 week holiday without packing or possibly even booking! And then imagine doing some preparations without considering where you are and what you want. This is the 1st step that we are talking about. The step before you make plans, take action or even start training. Following are some example questions you may ask before;
This is also the reason that we, in the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy, 'bow' into an empty room/area that we use for training (First person bows into the room/area and subsequent persons bow to the most senior person). It may be a habit you also wish to take up before training at home or such; be in the habit of stopping before entering, having a good lock around and then, if all is clear, ready and safe, bow in (but only when it will be your training area; after you fish you bow out and the area becomes what it was).
Planning is important but being prepared for planning, training, asking, telling, etc.; knowing where you are and what you have (or have not) is essential for successful planning. And many forget this little step to Stop and Take Stock.
So what is this accelerated learning stuff? Well most of it is used by your instructors and masters to help you learn, more, quicker and better. But you can help yourself when training at home or in the Kwoon by applying the same tried and proven strategies good instructors use.
Each class you come to training you will learn at least one new item, detail or improvement. Each class you come to there will be at least one items that needs a bit of work. Choose this item, learn it correctly, remember it and within 24 hours of learning it, practice it for 1 to 3 minutes again, at home or anywhere! This can increase your memory and learning by up to 500%. If you do this as a habit it will be no effort and you will be one of those people who seems to progress quicker, learn items more thoroughly and achieve better results.
There are several intermixed layers of presenting and teaching the Kung Fu to members. These can be explained in isolation from each other but work synergistically and are very structured. Although this structure does not suite everyone best, it is the structure that has resulted in the safest outcomes for the members learning.
Members of the Shaolin 5 Animal Kung Fu Academy first emulate learn and practice the ideal way of executing, delivering and using a technique, before, at an advanced and more practical stage, they learn to adapt and personalize for best effect, safest execution and individual adaptation to physical and spiritual needs.Showing good control, by demonstration of the ideal technique, at the speed that you maintain control
Power may be delivered through the hips but without Earth (Chi) there is nothing to deliver. Many say that the foundation is the most important part of anything, especially martial arts. After Control, Foundation and Posture is the next most important in the Shaolin Academy.Foundation and Posture are the Key to good Earth Chi and that is the real source of Power and peace.
There are two main reason people loose their independence in life, genetics and stupidity. Aside from doing something stupid and damaging yourself (ie. like training a martial art too hard or stepping in front of a moving train) you can also be stupid in not actively maintaining your mobility both physical and mental. Training to keep your self mobile, agile, flexible in body, mind and spirit is a sure way to extend the quality of your life, both when getting older and when you need it for defence or even avoidance of accidents.Physical, Mental and Spiritual Mobility is the third key to Superior Kung Fu and Application; it is also a Key to Wisdom
The Devil is in the Detail is an old saying goes or "Small ills are the fountains of most of our groans. Men trip not on mountains, they stumble on stones". Most anyone can punch, kick, stand, walk and talk but it is in how they do this that marks them a beggar or a king, a fool or a wise person.We often forget that the term is martial 'ART'; and art almost never relies on strength or speed but on skill and finesse.
Persistence, Patience and Promise; Persistence to Perseverance especially when times are tough and not everything is working out as you 'feel' you deserve; Patience with yourself and others to know when to push and when to coast. Promise the promise you made to yourself when you started; although with compassion. Some promises made in hast may need moderation.You are only as good as your word; Persist in keeping it and be Patient with those who do not - Sijo Robert Z.
There are many other key to Shaolin Academy Success but i feel that the above are the core. You will learn about Targeting & Timing, Coordination & Speed, Flexibility & Strength and other seemingly contradicting skills; and how to make the most of what you have. But these are specific focuses of each of the Shaolin Academy levels as is Safety & breathing the focus of this level!
It may be time to introduce you to the Shaolin Academy Movement! There are, at this stage, 5 distinct types of evasive movements; one each allocated to each of the Shaolin Academy Temple levels. The 1st is the most natural and easiest to use and learn but possible also the one that is least usefully in Shaolin Kung Fu
Moving forward and backward is fairly normal for us, it is that which we do the most and the best. As such it is also easy to learn and initially very effective; in out, out in. The advantage of a straight line attack is it's directness and simplicity but there are two distinct problems with this form of movement for Sparring and Self Defence.
Moving backward in a straight line makes it easy for the person moving forward as going forward they are quicker than you are going backwards. Also,you remain in the line of direct centerline attack. For larger persons, going forward and then quickly changing to going backward takes a lot of energy and is slow. So, at the beginner level we acknowledge this form of movement and teach the safest version but we quickly move on to Kung Fu stepping methods.
No matter which of the Evasion methods you end up using, what you ideally want is to keep your attacker in your Green Defence Zone whilst you try and maneuver into their 'not so strong' Yellow and Red Zone areas. This in itself is a skill to learn and develop as it also helps to control the situation. And just for completeness sake, the other stepping methods are; 2 - Side Stepping or Sliding; 3 - Cross Stepping or Snake Evasion; 4 - Circular or Wind Stepping and finally; Tall Oak or Stationary Evasion. To all these you can add enhancements including Leaping and Jumping as well as Tumbling and Rolling. But one thing at a time and right now it is Advancing and Retreating.The best form of defence in not being there! - Sijo