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Blog posts March 2016

Congratulations to our Saturday morning graduates!

Great job on sash ranking!

The kids are really starting to grow in their kung fu. Don't forget to check out our new Youth Kung Fu Video on our YouTube channel - Chesapeake Kung Fu.

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Family Class Sash Ranking

Reminder, our youth students and family members (that take Saturday only classes) will be sash ranking this Saturday, March 26, at 9:00 am.

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Focusing on The Basics

Appreciate the importance of basics. Good kung fu skills are all about being an expert on the basics. The underlying premise in kung fu is that we try to achieve mastery through hard work. It doesn’t matter what we’re learning. What it all comes down to is becoming super-good by putting a lot of effort into something that we want to be skilled at. But there’s a very important lesson to be learned that all long-term students of kung fu are bound to experience at some point on their paths.

Enduring through the basics

No person can truly understand the importance of basics without going through the tough beginning. All masters have been students at the beginning of their paths. The beginning is the toughest phase, because our expectations are high. We are enthusiastic about learning kung fu, perhaps because we saw the old kung fu movies, or just something we always wanted to do. But as we take the introductory class, we find out how challenging and repetitive kung fu really is. This is how it starts for every student. And there are good reasons as to why beginners are expected to perform certain exercises, repetitiously. Below is a list of the most significant ones:

  • Strength – Stance training strengthens our legs.
  • Form – Effective power generation needs proper form. We have to learn how to generate power with our whole bodies.
  • Concentration – We must learn to concentrate on single actions and learn to coordinate our bodies with minimum effort. Concentrating on one thing at a time stimulates focus.
  • Discipline – We have to be conditioned, because we must be able to withstand physical and mental pressure. We need to learn how to control ourselves when we are constantly bombarded with temptations to give up.
  • Hard Work – To weed out the frivolous students. There is nothing in kung fu for those who do not wish to put effort into achieving great skills.

In kung fu, the basics consist of a simple array of techniques that are connected with stance work and movement. The techniques themselves may sometimes look simple but there is so much more to them than just their outward appearance. The “real power” is hidden under the surface. Proper execution requires the practitioner to master all the mechanics behind a technique. A simple punch can’t be polished to its fullest potential without mastering the basics.

Towards enlightenment

Getting to the point where you finally understand the importance of basics is preceded by hundreds or thousands of hours of practice. The shift, or moment of enlightenment, is not a sudden feeling of awareness and realization. It comes gradually. It’s so slow you don’t notice it until you’ve finally acquired the knowledge. By investing time in learning the basics, we can master the fundamentals that are essential to progressing further. Feel how the basics are the building blocks that everything else will be built on. Don’t be hasty. Find beauty within the style and stick with the basics. It’s the surest way to your success.

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Student Etiquette Common Amongst Chinese Martial Arts Schools

Saluting (traditional bow): When and Why

Salute when entering and exiting the school to honor this space. Be sure to salute when first seeing an instructor in the school to show respect for the hardships they endured to achieve those positions and for providing the school and passing down the art. Everyone starts as a beginner, and the challenges that stand before you now stood before each of your instructors at one time before. Salute anyone that you might workout with, especially for blocking exercises and sparring. This signifies that you will work together on these skills, without trying to injure each other. Salute at the beginning and ending of lessons, to signify that this is the lesson time and that your attention will be undivided.

Be first to salute. Do not wait for your teacher or a senior to salute you. This demonstrates your alertness, quick reflexes and most importantly, your respect. These salutes should be observed at every practice.

Lesson Etiquette

Arrive at your lesson promptly, dressed neatly (school t-shirt tucked in or a tradional uniform top with sash), warmed up, and be ready to go. When your instructor signifies that it is your lesson time, quickly gather up your classmates and meet together on the floor. Lessons are not the time for idle chatter. Make your questions pertinent and give the lesson your full attention. Do not interrupt others during lesson time.

Some lessons may differ slightly from instructor to instructor. This may be for a variety of reasons. Since many of the techniques have multiple interpretations, different people may have an alternative emphasis. For this reason, do not attempt to teach something to someone else unless you are asked to. You may not have the complete technique quite yet, and it would be a shame to teach someone else your own bad habits. During your lesson, be flexible enough to adapt to any variation, without question. Although some things may seem contradictory at first, with practice, you may well find that it was just two different ways of saying the same thing.

Some lessons may seem shorter than others. This is usually because that particular technique has some subtle movement that you will only achieve after you have practiced it for a while. Be eager to repeat it over and over and over. Do not badger your instructor for more techniques, since what good is a new technique, when you have not comprehended the old ones?

The school is not a place to sit and socialize. While we are all friends and family here, we all came here with the same intention to improve ourselves and our quality of life through this martial discipline. During practice, if you have enough breath to talk, you have enough breath to work out. Often times, unnecessary conversation is just another excuse not to practice. If you are tired, it is best to walk in circles, and keep moving. When you sit down, you will cool down, and it is difficult to get back up from there. This school is here for practice.

If you decide that you wish to practice beyond your lesson times (and everyone is encouraged to do so), be respectful of the lesson times of the other classes. For example, during the Tai Chi class period, Tai Chi has priority. Kung Fu students may be in the school warming up but they must be ready to enter the floor when Tai Chi class has finished. Tai Chi students should not engage kung fu students in chatter which will distract them from getting on the floor in time for the start of their class.

During open floor practice, do not be obtrusive or disruptive. If another student practices something that you are unfamiliar with, do your best to follow along, and ask for clarification later without interrupting. Each piece of material has its own intrinsic value, so some variations can be very useful to add some contrast to your repertoire of skills. Never belittle another student for practicing something differently and never question a teachers instruction.

Most important is that you enjoy your practice. Sometimes, Kung Fu and Tai Chi can be a very humbling experience. Some people make it look so easy. However, behind that look of ease lies practice, practice, practice. If you do not enjoy practicing, you will not spend the time to really get good at it. When you achieve some skill that you set out to learn, therein lies true satisfaction.

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