Kung Fu beyond Combat – The Series: intro

15 01 2011

Let me begin this by saying KUNG FU does not only mean a style(s) of fighting or a hard, external style of fighting. Tai Chi Chuan is Kung Fu as well. A good carpenter, potter, dancer, healer has good Kung Fu. A good Archer has good Kung Fu, a good sailor has good sailing Kung Fu. Kung Fu in the true sense means a skill attained through work, time and patience. Limiting Kung Fu to just fighting is like limiting Zen to just a religion, God to only Christians, Jews, or Muslims, Catholics, Healing to just medical pills and surgery. They are all bigger than that!

I have a conference in Las Vegas, it is by the American Sailing Association. I am an instructor via this group. I really do not care for LV and really the only reason I am going is to listen to a Zen Master discuss Zen and teaching sailing. This is close to home and he is a friend. I can learn something not only from the perspective of teaching sailing but teaching my Shaolin Kung Fu. In the world of Zen “everything is connected”.

While in LV I decided I would pay a visit to a Kung Fu classmate who runs a school there in Sin City. The Lohan School of Shaolin and teaches Northern Shaolin, Tai Chi , Praying Mantis, and southern Five Animals Kung Fu. My classmate is also a Chan Buddhist Priest. This got me to thinking about his tie-in to teaching Chan and Kung Fu, we have not spoke of this before. With him being in Las Vegas I have only seen him twice in the years we left the school, which was back in the early eighties. On his website spiritual Kung Fu is listed as part of the training. I thought it would be interesting to speak with him on this.

As my own interest in Zen came about in order to be a better Kung Fu teacher and being in Vegas due to teaching and Zen, even in another format I saw a tie in. As I said in Zen we say all things are connected. This was very much so.

From that the idea grew. I have another Kung Fu classmate who is also a Zen priest from the Korean lineage, which I found out just recently. He teaches Wing Chun Kung Fu. He is also an acupuncturist and has studied Aikido, besides Shaolin Tai Chi Mantis.

Added to this thought another Zen Priest came to mind. He does not teach Kung Fu but he studies Tai Chi Chuan from the same Shaolin lineage as myself and the others. Though he does not teach Kung Fu he does teach Kyudo and is one of my favorite coaches. He is from the Japanese lineage of Soto Zen.

The four of share a commonality not only with our martial training but also our Chan philosophy even though from different branches of the same tree. I thought it would be interesting to see how each relates Zen to their teaching/training in “Kung Fu”.

Over the months of Feb, March and April I will be connecting with these men for a short interview and post the thoughts and opinions on this blog under this topic of Kung Fu beyond Combat.


What is your martial background?

How do you see the future path of Kung Fu, as far as direction and quality having been taught by old school instructors? Less or more quality?

What is your Zen/Chan background?

What lead you to Chan?

How do you relate your Zen/Chan practice to your Study of Kung Fu?

Do you bring Chan to your students in a formal form?

In what way?

Do you feel your Chan study has helped you be a better instructor?

In what way?

Are there any Chan practices, drills that you do with your Martial Students?

Do you consider Kung Fu Zen?

Any advise you would give to people seeking a martial arts and or a spiritual path?

Stay tuned coming in Feb part I

* If there is a question you would like presented to these Sifu’s please leave it in the comment section.





6 responses

15 01 2011

I look forward to the follow up!

16 01 2011

Sounds interesting, and like the start of a new article. Something I’m curious about is how they/you see the spiritual side of their/your arts evolve out of the study of a physical discipline. Does it happen spontaneously, or do they employ methods to help develop the spiritual side that are outside the scope of physical technique? Likewise I wonder about cultivation of moral or ethical discipline — whether that plays any role at all, and if so, how it is developed? It seems like in a combat discipline, there might be a need. And then also how (or if!) they/you integrate the philosophical teachings of Buddhism. Say, something fundamental like the four noble truths?

Just stuff I’m curious about.

17 01 2011

Hmmm, you’re concept is somewhat off, The spiritual gave birth to the physical.

Guess I’ll do a blog on this subject to explain.

Kung Fu beyond combat – The Series : Shaolin Chan

17 01 2011

Well, no surprise that I’d be off track. In Kyudo, though, you do sometimes hear people say that the emphasis in the beginning should be exclusively on the physical discipline, technique, and that the various mental/spiritual aspects follow from that, either naturally or just that it’s necessary to get technique down to the point where you can do it without thought, before shifting to cultivation/exploration of internal aspects.

Other teachers like to teach both aspects from early on, so that they can reinforce each other, perhaps depending on the student. So I just wondered how it is with Kung Fu.

18 01 2011
Sensei Strange

I like the idea about interviewing teachers. One of my teachers is a Rinzai zen priest and an Aikido Judo guy. Perhaps I will send him your final list to contribute to the knowledge.

Thanks for the inspiration. I too will do some interviews,

7 05 2013

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