Sifu’s System Message – 28th June 2024

When a lay person approaches the study of a “Martial Art” there may be many questions and “unknowingness” in his or her mind.

Why should this concern you, as a Teacher (or black or senior  belt) who he/she approaches ?

It must matter – because it will have been many years ago when you were in the position that they are in – and if you are a  true and honorable black belt or senior of the Shaolin GaocanMun Nampaichuan, you would be imbued with the fire to kindle understanding and impart knowledge to such students.

THAT is the way for us.

If you do not feel that spark within you, then I am afraid you are beginning to lose your way on this Journey.

You should recognize that the enquirer has his/her own mountain to climb ( as you are climbing) and that it is your duty as Brother/Sister or Senior to give a helping hand.  The extent and timing of the help that you give must depend on the individual circumstances, of course,

There are times when to delay or withdraw help is beneficial to the students’ progress – in the same way that occasionally fasting helps our physical bodies detoxify and prepare for revitalization, or the leaving of farming land fallow and unplanted for a season, after a few busy and productive years – an old wise Farming tradition.

To understand your enquirer or student, you may wish to view his/her enquiry in the light of the FIVE essential questions which we consider paradigms of the art of enquiry and knowledge.

I have often posed them to myself, whether in respect of a legal problem or anomaly that I was struggling with, or a personal or emotional life complication which we all encounter.

I have found the 5 questions essentially to be clustered around these :-

  • WHAT
  • WHY
  • HOW
  • WHEN
  • AND …..

So, if the question (for example) were to be something along the lines of “What is Martial Art, which one should I learn and what is special about that one that the others do not have?”   how then would you begin to respond?

The question is not an easy nor indeed a straightforward one.

For a start the enquirers idea of “ martial art”  may be a completely erroneous one influenced by movies, rumors, Bruce Lee, Manga comics and Hollywood.

These 5 sources have been rich areas for the dream creating industry and creative personnel giving full rein to their imagination.

Why did the Chinese begin using the generic term KUNG FU  for their martial arts, denoting the requirement for extreme hard and rigorous work to achieve excellence.

So much so that the term is also used to denote excellence in other areas such as cooking, flower arranging, legal expertise etc….

The Japanese use the term DO which means WAY to set it apart from mere physical effort requiring little use of the Mind.

These all provide a realistic harness for our imaginations and fancies.

For myself then, a true Martial Art would need to have the following essences:-

  • Ethos (Jingshen)
  • Pragmatism (Shiyong Zhuyi)
  • Inner Spirit (Zaiza Jingshen)
  • Breath (HuXi)
  • Sustainability (Kechixu Fazhan)

Anything that lacks any of these essences, albeit that they contain the physical trappings, is just that – an empty shell containing little substance.

For a new student then, he/she must first begin to recognize and appreciate these attributes of our Art if he/she seeks to learn it.

So, we would come to the question of Why this Art and not another “

.. and No, it would not be enough to respond “because we are better !”

There was a time when I felt that our Art was for everyone.

As time went on, my thoughts became more precise and I now believe that whilst this Art is indeed good for anyone, they must come to it at the correct time in their own development and life cycle.

I now understand that there are some who do not wish to or are not yet ready to climb their own mountains, and we cannot climb it for them.

Our Art IS good for everyone, at the right time in their development.

 Our Art is fuller, more comprehensive, more holistic, more life-changing and more fulfilling for all our lives and not just a few years, as long as we grow with it.

In ancient days we are told, young people would gather around a fire and listen to their elders who would teach them about life and all the other Aspects of living and survival.

It was believed that THAT was how real knowledge and common sense was passed down from Father to Son, elders to the young ones and those yet unborn.

Those days are gone.  In these modern times, we have formalized education into institutes such as Universities Polytechnics and what have you.

There are many who feel that the jury is still out as to how effective these are.

There are a few (rare) modern equivalents of the ancient teaching methods such as the Master Craftsman’s apprenticeship schemes, the mentorship-locum methods of the medical, legal and accountancy professions.

One example that remains exists in the traditional oriental martial arts and dance schools of China, Japan, Korea, and India,

It is here that the Master still teaches the young students not reserving his/her attention only to the senior students.

In this way, the Teacher rekindles his/her own flame dipping his wick into the fire now and then…

This is our Art.  This is our calling.  This is what a student of our Schools will learn and must in turn pass on.

As always good fortune, in your journeys

Lai Khee Choong
Sifu
Shaolin Gaocan Mun Nampaichuan

London,  28 June 2024

       

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We are one of the largest and most respected Shaolin Kung Fu schools in the world.

Our style originates from the Shaolin temples in northern and southern China, and is taught at centres around the world.

We employ traditional training methods which have been used for centuries to teach Kung Fu to Shaolin monks, alongside more modern methods to help our students learn self-defence techniques and improve their fitness.

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