When I began training at the Shaolin Temple the focus was on simplicity. This is the best way to approach Shaolin. The traditional Shaolin Temple punches, kicks and forms are specifically designed to change your muscles and tendons.
Whether you’re training at the Shaolin Temple or training with my kung fu workout book and DVD in your home: day by day you transform your mind and body into a martial artist’s mind and body. But don’t think these exercises are just for beginners. I, along with most Shaolin monks and senior students still do these drills on a daily basis to fine tune my body and keep it working at its optimal. Here’s how you can do it.
Your Shaolin Kung Fu Training Plan
Set a goal. Use four weeks to learn everything in my book. Within these 4 weeks you will know the movements and be able to follow my Shaolin Workout DVD. Then use the next four weeks to push yourself.
Direct your focus. Take the focus off your problems and your limitations and focus on your goal. When you focus on your goal your problem will be smaller.
Run. At the Shaolin Temple we always begin our training with a run. Run for 10 – 30 minutes to warm your body then come home and follow my DVD.
Learn a little, train a little. Make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly. Don’t use too much power as you want your mind and body to have memory. When you can do the movement properly move on to the next exercise.
Here’s an example: 10 push ups. 20 – 30 Traditional punches. Body Movement to relax the shoulders. Repeat x 5
Squats x 20. Straight Kick. Squats x 20. Cross Kick etc. Move through the five fundamental kicks.
Click here to order your entire package which includes everything you need to get started on your Shaolin Journey today. And don’t forget to let me know how you get on in the comments below.
Without moving a muscle, imagine you’re training with me in China. You wake at 6am, hurry into your training clothes and begin your run up the mountain. You still feel sleepy, your muscles are tight from yesterday’s training, and the first bit of the run feels difficult. But soon your body warms up and as you breath in the fresh mountain air; you discover an energy you never had before.
Back at the school, your Five Fundamental Kicks that felt tight yesterday feel flexible, your stances feel grounded, and there’s a flow to your forms. We are what we repeatedly do and this everyday experience of Shaolin enables you to finally tune your body so it’s working at it’s optimum. Just like the strings on a guitar, your body is learning to be neither too tight nor too slack. It takes practice to be this natural.
Now bring yourself back to your computer screen or your smart phone or whatever you’re reading this article on. Just as I had never tasted coffee until I came to the West – and was surprised by its bitter taste – Shaolin cannot be expressed in words. The experience has to come from you.
If you can’t come to my Summer Camp, you can create your own Shaolin environment through training at your local school or in your home with my DVDs and downloads. Shaolin is about training your heart and your heart can only be found where you are.
Sometimes I get emails from people who say it’s always been their dream to learn Shaolin. They come for a session with me and after the session, I know I will never see them again. For some people, they prefer to hold onto a dream. Reality is too different from their dream. Please don’t be this person. It means you can never reach your true potential. If Shaolin isn’t for you, that’s fine, but if you feel drawn to it then see it through.
It’s similar to the Buddhist parable of the man who loved dragons. Everything in his home had a picture of a dragon on, his bedspread, his toothbrush, his cups, his plates etc but when a real dragon popped his head through the window to say good morning, the man ran away terrified.
Don’t be afraid to be the best you can be. Don’t be afraid to be healthy and strong and fit. Don’t hide behind illness and injury and excuses such as lack of time. Martial Arts creates time because it makes you more focused in your life.
The beauty of any martial arts is there is no victory or defeat. We all train at our own level. One stance is as challenging for an advanced student as it is for a beginner. Success is making 100 percent effort to perform at the highest level of your ability. Success is being your own champion.
If you don’t have a Shaolin teacher near you my Shaolin Warrior Programs give you instant access to the authentic teachings you would learn if you entered the Shaolin Temple. In order to learn Shaolin Kung Fu, you need to respect yourself and respect your teachings. Train regularly, five- six times a week and clearly define your goal. Why are you training? Do you want to learn Shaolin as a martial art? Or do you want a fast track to fitness?
My original goal was to test my skills. I was a very angry 15 year old who was always getting into fights. My Master – who is now the Shaolin Abbot – was fed up of coming to the police station to get me out of jail so he sent me to a very well known Zen master.
In the Cultural Revolution when Mao was destroying all the temples, this master risked his life to stay in the temple. For many years he lived in this destroyed temple and when Buddhism was allowed to flourish again he started to re-build the temple. Every morning he would sit in meditation and chant and I would train. He asked me to sit with him but I had no patience to sit. After a few weeks of trying to get me to sit he told me to make training my meditation.
When I came back to the Shaolin Temple, my training was no longer a way of being able to learn new fighting techniques so that I could conquer other people but it became my meditation.
Shaolin transformed my life, and it’s my goal to help as many people transform their lives. I’m very happy that thousands of students all over the world now train with my DVDs and books.
In this post I give a quick overview of each Kung Fu Program program, what benefit they will give you and some suggested training programs.
If you want to learn Shaolin as a martial artist then you need to start with Shaolin Workout 1, 2, and 3. If you’re not so bothered about Shaolin martial arts but you want exceptional stamina then train with Shaolin Bootcamp and Shaolin Circuit Training.
Shaolin Workout 1 is exactly the same as if you were stepping into a class at the Shaolin Temple. Don’t expect to keep up and understand everything. As you keep studying with the DVD, you will slowly see improvements and gain an understanding. Once you’ve mastered the five fundamental kicks and the five fundamental stances, even if you still can’t keep up, you’re ready to move onto Shaolin Workout 2.
One of the reasons for moving up quickly is so that your body doesn’t reach its plateau, in order for your body to keep improving, you need to keep surprising it and keep finding the edge of your training. Alternate between Workout 1 and Workout 2.
If you’re only interested in fighting techniques and not traditional Shaolin then skip Workout 1 and 2 and go straight to Workout 3, where you learn fighting kicks and fighting punches and combinations.
As a martial artist continue to come back to these three DVDs, and now to improve your strength and stamina and challenge your body even more, add in Shaolin Bootcamp 1 and 2. These DVDs use your own body for strength training and are more challenging in terms of stamina.
You can alternate the days so now you have a complete 5-day workout:
Monday: Workout 1
Tuesday: Workout 2
Wednesday: Workout 3
Thursday: Bootcamp 1
Friday: Bootcamp 1
Saturday: Self-train without the DVDs perfecting your techniques.
If you’re a fighter or you want to work more on your stamina and modern fighting techniques then alternate between the Circuit Training DVDs and the Bootcamp DVDs. Circuit Training Volume 1 focuses on punches and Circuit Training Volume 2 focuses on kicks.
It’s good to do each of the Circuit Training DVDs twice a week:
Monday: Circuit Training 1
Tuesday: Circuit Training 2
Wednesday: Bootcamp 1 or 2
Thursday: Circuit Training 1
Friday: Circuit Training 2
Saturday: Bootcamp 2
With the Bootcamp DVDs, correct form is not as important as pushing your strength and stamina. If you’re working with all 7 of the DVDs then work out a program that fits with your goals.
I have two other kung fu DVDs, these are more specialist DVDs specifically for martial artists, Fighting Punches and Kicks Volume 1 is exactly what the title says Kung Fu Ch’an and Fighting Punches and Kicks Volume 2 teaches takedowns so you need a partner to practice with, Kung Fu Ch’an demonstrates how kung fu can be a direct gateway to the teachings of Ch’an Buddhism or Zen, this is not a teaching DVD as such.
You can share your training experiences with other students by joining this Facebook page.
At the Shaolin Temple, our masters told us that it took 40 days before any lasting change would happen in our mind and body. Buddha sat for 40 days under the Bodhi tree before he gained enlightenment. Jesus and Mohammed fasted for 40 days before they went back into the world to share their teachings. Scientists have found that after 40 days, the neural pathways in our brain make a lasting change.
If you are just starting out, or have been working with my DVDs for many years and want to reinvigorate your practice and transform your mind and body into a Shaolin Warrior then the 40-day challenge is for you.
It’s 40 days of putting a stronger emphasis on your practice, of training more than you usually would – which may mean getting out of bed an hour earlier -, training 6 days a week, and doing some additional mind training throughout the day. After 40 days you will see a significant change in your mind and body.
These are my 7 Guidelines to your 40-day challenge
1. Attitude Of Mind. Train where you are with what you have. All you need is faith you can do it and your bamboo or metal brush. Just play my DVD and follow the training. You can follow it in a small flat, outside in the park or on top of a mountain.
2.Surrender to the teachings. One thing that slightly irritates me is the amount of questions I get asked by my Western students. I know that your education is different to mine but coming from a Zen Temple we put the emphasis on practice. If I asked my Master so many questions he would beat me! The more answers I give, the more I take away from your experience. Everything you seek is in the teaching if you can only surrender to it.
3. Practice AM & PM. In the midst of your busy life it’s difficult to train twice a day but for the next 40 days this is what you must do in order to progress. Even if you only have 10 minutes in the morning, do a little Qigong and stretching and this will help your day flow better while reminding you that you are training to be a Shaolin Warrior. I like my main training to be in the morning, this sets me up for the day; I then do Qigong in the evening to revitalize my body and give me a deep and peaceful sleep. Find the way that is right for you.
4.Be A Shaolin Warrior In Your Life. Breath is the link between the mind and the body. It’s the key to a powerful martial art’s practice. A Shaolin Warrior is grounded and focused so keep reminding yourself to breathe throughout the day. If you have a digital watch, you can set a few alarms or get it to beep on the hour as a reminder for you to stop and breathe.
5. Eat Right. Check out my blog post about food. For these 40 days put an emphasis on eating well. Make sure you eat a big breakfast every day, don’t drink any sugar drinks or eat processed food. Try to cook your own food.
6. Train Intelligently. The beauty of Shaolin is in its many exercises. What do I practice every week? The five basic kicks, the five stances, some traditional kicks and punches, bag work, pad work, exercises from my Circuit Training and Bootcamp followed by Qigong. Once you know the exercises from my DVDs, mix it up so that your body never gets used to any workout, this means your body will never get lazy and you will always be working to your optimal.
7. Schedule Your Challenge. Write in your diary the day you will start. Throughout the 40 days make a note of the changes that you experience as well as what happens to your fitness levels. How many press-ups and squats can you do now? How many can you do after 40 days? How flexible are you now? How flexible after 40 days? How about your focus and your peace of mind? Shaolin is as much about the mind as it is about the body.
Join the new Facebook page I’ve made for people training with my DVD so that you can join with your fellow Shaolin Warriors to share your journey and support each other. Or come and train with me at the Shaolin Summer Camp this year in China. Remember. Great mind and bodies are not born that way, they are trained.