Bodhisattva rambling

8 01 2009

in-chan-iiSometimes an uplift comes from out of nowhere. A pep talk from the Universe in a way.  I have a small following of students.  Very small compared to the other schools in the Federation and my classmates. Partly because I do not go out and seek students, partly because of the way I teach, partly because I will turn away students who just want to learn to fight and they have heard of Praying Mantis reputation. I do not over-stress the combat side of my Shaolin teachings. I want to have and alternative to the military style of teaching. Combat is there, we practice the applications, but I stress it is the smallest part of training, in some ways the easiest. It is my belief, one can learn self defense, how to “fight” in a weekend seminar.  Like teaching someone to sail or play golf. The basics can be taught in a weekend. It takes effort and time of practice to make it second nature, to develop, feel , understand the “Art”. What I try to teach is the “Art” of Kung Fu, the culture, the history , the way of life, combat and beyond.  SiSuk says if the student wants anything less the person may as well go to a gym for just physical conditioning.  I like to think I am teaching a way of Life not just a way to fight. When we have to fight, it is survival, anything goes! Biting, kicking, gouging, spitting, etc. It is better to avoid the fight, sometimes even if it means being called a coward. It is in some cases harder to just walk away. However when you can not, it should be ended as soon as possible, with the least amount of effort on your part to do the most damage..if needed. Shaolin training is about bettering oneself as a person. Everyday we get up, go to work, look for work, deal with the mess that is out there, it is a fight. Not a physical combat always, but many times a mental or spiritual fight. One’s training in martial art should be balanced. Not just with fists and kicks but with compassion, good health, and the like. The Shaolin Arts were born in a place that was about spiritual growth not just muscle growth. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing ok with passing that on when a student will say something like, Shifu, your teachings, class framing are more like a life style than a combat art. It seems like everyone has a different “specialty” even within the Tai Chi Mantis Federation, judging from the websites. I say yes. I say combat fighting is something we do not do often, if we are lucky never, but…living we do all the time. Shaolin Chan training, is about training to live a balanced life a more spiritual life. I have had students that leave because there was not enough combat stuff in class. They want to be fighters. That is ok, if that is what they want to limit themselves to but, it is a different kind of training. For as long as I have been teaching I have no “black Belts”. I was hoping to have one before I go to Nihon, but that student will be relocating. I have younger classmates that have many “Black Belts”, they are “Masters” Shigongs. Sometimes I feel like I should do more, but I’m still growing myself, I am still a student in my eyes not a Master. It is not my goal to be a “Master” but it is my goal to be better than I am and to have my students realize their own potential and to learn as much as possible…well. I see my teachers, at least some of them and I see I have a long way to go before I reach their level of mastership and It is not about how many students they have that I class them as Masters.

In my Shaolin Chan training it is said that we all are Bodhisattva, guides to help others grow and obtain enlightenment. This can not be done by physical means only. We are not only Physical beings, we live and operate on 3 levels Physical, mental and spiritual.

Sometimes I feel like I am making a difference. The troubled kid who comes to class and wants to not just to be a fighter but better his life. The Kung Fu/Chan is a tool and path for him/her. Once in a while I get some payback. This morning was one of those times.  I got this email from a long time student.

“When I first arrived at your doorstep I had a year free from a lifelong lifestyle of using a lot of drugs and alcohol and living a selfish lifestyle. My mind was a complete mess. You had a lot to do with helping me to get it together. At first I just wanted to learn how to hurt people and could not comprehend how to put Kung Fu in practical application. I remember you told me to just hang out in a bar. I did as a bouncer lol. I hated it though. At the time I could’nt see the internal side of the art. My mind cleared up though. You also told me to try out some other martial arts. And I did. They gave me a simple style to defend myself, very easy to learn. They lacked something though. I needed to come back and learn to grow my internal spirit. It needs to be fed in order to grow. I learned so much from Tai Chi. I now sort of understand Chi Kung and the external side of Gung Fu now makes sense through Tai Chi. You are an excellent teacher of the internal and external side of the arts. I don’t believe I could find anyone else who could teach us the same way. We are blessed to have you. Thank You.”

Wow! I was close to eye misting. It was a nice pickup for the upcoming first class of the year.

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