I’ve just come back from teaching the Shaolin Summer Camp in China. My sisters were there to help with the cooking, my three year old daughter and my wife were there, and my students – for that time – were also part of my family.By creating a safe family environment, it took away all feeling of competition. This is really important. Especially if you want to win. The great basketball coach, John Wooden, never talked about winning. he talked about his players being the best they could be, both off and on the pitch.
Once my students were there, they had no choice. Too much choice makes us unhappy. It’s been proven by scientists. This is why Buddhist disciples and monks take precepts. Having too much choice makes the mind busy and then it doesn’t focus on the things that are important.
We started every day with a run up the mountain. Some students said they couldn’t do it but I told them they could. By the end of 4 weeks, no one questioned running up the mountain. They ran and their stamina had increased dramatically.
We trained in traditional Shaolin forms, Qigong, fighting, and stamina. No one can be good at all of these exercises but when the body is training three times a day, it’s good to vary the workouts. But the real training was the training of the mind. I hope that what everyone brought home with them was the greatest Shaolin teaching of all.
If you really want to do something you can. You can create the life you want.
It just takes 4 easy steps:
1) Give yourself the right environment – that doesn’t mean you have to move your body but move your mind so it’s in the right place.
2) Give yourself no choice – you’ve made your choice, stick to it.
3) Compete Only Against Yourself – Don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on challenging yourself.
4) Don’t think about winning – think about being the best you can be.
With this focus, whatever the outcome, you’ve already won!
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.
Most of us love our smart phones. I use mine all the time to keep in touch with my family in China. But the constant multi-tasking of texting, emailing, social media and apps is over stimulating our brain and increasing the production of the stress hormone cortisol according to Neuroscientist, Daniel J Levitin, who has written a new book about his findings. So does this mean we have to throw away our smart phones? At The Shaolin Temple we tread the middle way, using Zen techniques to keep us tranquil and focused while still being a part of the modern world. Here I share with you seven Shaolin tips to help you stay calm in a crazy world
Take Small Regular Vacations Turn your mobile phone to aeroplane mode or switch it off completely two hours before you go to sleep. The same goes for when you workout, meditate, and eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These small, regular vacations from your smart phone will restore your inner peace.
Drink A Cup Of Tea Instead of drinking your plans, thoughts, and worries, drink a cup of tea. You will find it far more refreshing. Concentrating completely on this one action helps you come back to yourself. Being Here Now is a great way to banish stress and anxiety
Workout Zen Style Everybody needs to workout. Not only does it make us feel better but it’s good for our brain. If you’re not a martial artist then find a workout you love and make it your meditation. How do you turn your workout into a meditation? By simply concentrating on your breath and movement together and letting go of everything else. Modern research is showing that meditation leads to a more focused, tranquil and happier way of being. And who doesn’t want that?
Make Everything You Do Your Last In martial art’s there is only the present. Live now. Take care of now and you take care of your future. Give yourself completely to everything you do. Leave no energy left in reserve. Only then can you take in fresh energy
Balance Yin & Yang Health and fitness are like two wings of a bird, you need both Kung Fu (or anaerobic/ aerobic exercise) and Qigong (or an internal practice such as yoga). Exercise can prevent many illnesses from developing but we also need a restorative mindful practice to ground us and give us inner peace. I use my Qi to defend myself from kicks or bricks, you can use your Qi to defend yourself against ageing and ill health
Ring The Bell Of Now Thich Nhat Hanh, the great Buddhist Zen Master advises that every time we hear a bell – whether that’s a ringing phone or a church bell – we stop and breathe for three breaths. Try it and track your impatience.
Little Reminders A peaceful brain is a happy brain. Practice small steps of nourishment each day: one cup f tea, ten minutes of switch off, a fully engaged workout, 5 minutes of Qigong. These small moments will re-centre you and lead you to the health and happiness that is your natural birthright.
Kick off 2015 with these actionable training tips that will reset your martial art’s focus and help you live your best martial art’s ever.
Make A Goalless Goal Shaolin Training doesn’t underestimate a person’s strength of body and mind. The masters knew how much we could achieve and they wouldn’t let us get away with anything less. The first goal young disciples have when they come to the Shaolin Temple is “Never Give Up“. Once that statement is made, it’s like sitting on a plane and knowing the destination is Beijing. We don’t need to think anymore about where we’re heading. Our mind is no longer caught up thinking maybe I should head to Chicago or London instead. There’s no way we can get off the plane, so we let go and focus on the journey. The goalless goal is away of simplifying our life.
Just Do It Forget willpower, it runs out. That’s why it’s important to train at least 4 times a week and if possible at the same time. Training like this changes the neural pathways in the brain and makes training a habit rather than something you have to make yourself do. Do you need to make yourself brush your teeth in the morning?
Sharpen Your Knife Shaolin Training encompasses the fitness of a fighter coupled with the internal training of a Zen master. You’re not training in Shaolin if you don’t train both Qigong and Kung Fu. If you do another martial art, you still need to train in both of these in order to balance your body and prolong your martial art’s life. A professional cook must sharpen her knife in order for it to be functional. Qigong is the sharpening of the knife. Kung Fu is the knife being used.
High Intensity Training High Intensity Training has been used by Shaolin Martial Artists for hundreds of years. Research has shown that high intensity training is a more effective workout than longer moderate workouts. Not only that but high intensity training is the only way to keep your metabolism high for several hours afterwards which means you keep burning calories. Moderate exercise doesn’t do this.
Get Bored In order to perfect your martial art you need to repeat the same movement thousands and thousands of times. Don’t allow pride to get in your way. Practice the movements that challenge you and you find the hardest. You have to work hard, often, and consistently in order to see results.
Stretch Dynamically Why are Shaolin monks so flexible? Because we do two types of stretching: static and dynamic. The Shaolin dynamic stretching we do are the five basic kicks, and the five stances from Shaolin Workout 1. This opens the hips and warms up the leg muscles. When our muscles are warm we then statically stretch our legs. A flexible body is a relaxed body, centered and more in tune with itself. Flexibility improves posture, makes training easier and helps the Qi to flow around the body.
Be A Disciple Of The Bodhidharma The Bodhidharma gave us a roadmap with clear instructions as to how use martial arts as a meditation. Each person who learns from me, either in person or with my DVDs and downloads is a student of the Bodhidharma. In the West we tend to over complicate things. My master never allowed me to do this. Coming from a Zen Temple meant I wasn’t allowed to ask my master many questions because if he gave me answers then they would be his answers and this would cloud my direct experience. Keep your training simple. Combine Qigong with Kung Fu. Focus on your breath and your movement. Don’t over complicate. Don’t judge yourself or others. Just do it. This means you a disciple of the Bodhidharma. This means you are training in Zen.
The world of traditional physical exercise is beginning to catch up with what Shaolin martial artists have known for thousands of years. Fitness is not just about burning calories and sweating. It’s about being healthy from the inside out. Here our 7 super-effective training tips from the Shaolin Temple.
1. Skip stretching before your workout, your ligaments will thank you.
Stretching before a warm up has no benefit and doesn’t bolster performance. Start with a gentle warm up and when the muscles feel warm and loose do two types of stretching: static and dynamic. If you already train with my DVDs, downloads or books then you’ll be already doing it this way.
2. Your body is smart already
Shaolin Qigong and Kung Fu helps you go beyond your small individual self and find a connection with the fabric of the Universe. It doesn’t give you anything new; it simply connects you with your body’s internal power and automatic wisdom.
3. Not all workouts are created equal.
A person can look strong but this doesn’t mean they’re healthy. Body builders may be inflexible and internally weak. Yoga practioners may be flexible but ask him or her to perform a martial art’s kick and they have no power or speed. The Shaolin Workout is a full body workout which addresses every single body part and integrates flexibility and strength with power and speed.
4. Balancing Yin and Yang is the key to health and longevity.
A bird can’t fly with one wing. You can’t be 100% healthy and fit without a balance between Qigong and Kung Fu. This is the two wings of a bird. Qigong is your Yin training, which melts the barrier between your mind and body while kung fu is your Yang training, which pushes your limits and raises your awareness of your unlimited capabilities
5. Self-massage matters.
The Shaolin Temple has a long tradition of self-massage, which is one of the oldest healing practices. Massaging with the bamboo rods of the Instant Health Massage Brush combines sports, acupressure and deep tissue in one massage. Because the self-massage is convenient and cheap – it’s just the cost of a brush – you can do it on a daily basis after you’ve finished your training or if you’re pushed for time, a few times a week.
6. What you give, you receive.
Food is medicine and fuel for your body. What you give to your body, you receive. You give it fast food, you receive energy slumps, sluggishness and sugar drops. You give it wholesome food, you receive high energy, vitality and stable sugar levels.
7. No Mud, no Lotus
Lotuses grow from mud. It’s the same with you. All of your problems, all of the stuff you don’t like about your life make up the mud so that your lotuses can take root and bloom. Beautiful lotuses can only grow from the un-beautiful. Everything you experience can help you to become a happier person. The Buddha said, “It’s your mind which makes the world, speak or act with a pure mind and happiness will follow as your shadow. ”
A house can only stay strong with good foundations. It’s the same with your kung fu. The movements in Shaolin Workout Volume 1 are your foundation. If you were to get on a plane and study at the Shaolin Temple in China, these are the movements you would learn.
These exercises were created thousands of years ago so why do Shaolin Monks still study them? Because they’re the only movements where every muscle is engaged and you’re simultaneously building flexibility, strength, endurance, balance, and power in one fully integrated unit. They then teach you how to move in your modern life, whether that’s carrying your groceries home or climbing the stairs to the subway. Everything becomes part of your training: total mind-body wellness.
The tools you need for total- mind body wellness are the same tools you need as a Shaolin martial artist.
Stamina – Shaolin stamina training consists of short bursts of intense exercise. Research has shown that it’s one of the most effective ways to build fitness levels and lose weight.
Flexibility – Shaolin Monks stretch the whole body from the neck down and include dynamic stretching as well as static.
The Five Fundamental Kicks – These kicks are one of the reasons Shaolin Monks are so flexible. Don’t underestimate them. They open the hips at the same time as stretching the leg. (I practiced hundreds of them every day as a boy at the temple and still practice them today. They are a great warm up for fighting kicks and bag work.)
The Five Fundamental Stances – Stances work the legs as hard as any squat or lunge and there’s a purpose to them, self-defence, internal and external strength, as well as acting as a gateway to the forms.
Traditional Combinations – These ancient forms come from nature. They awaken the body, helping us to let go of our small self and experience a connection with the very fabric of the Universe. They bring us closer to the meditation experience of Zen.
We call it the Shaolin Workout but we could call it the Zen Shaolin Workout because all of the movements are done with your heart and mind fully engaged. If you’ve been training with my DVDs and downloads for many years, always remember to go back to Shaolin Workout Volume 1 and go through the fundamentals of your training.
If you’re just starting out then do Shaolin Workout Volume 1 for about 6 weeks before moving onto the next one. Don’t get too comfortable. It’s imperative to vary your routine. Once you know the moves and you can go through the workout then work with Volume 2 and Volume 3 so your weekly warrior training will look like this: Monday – Workout 1. Tuesday – Workout 2. Wednesday – Workout 3. Thursday – Workout 1 . Friday – Workout 2 or 3. Saturday – Self-training without the DVDs.
The training is designed to transform you into a martial artist. This means you become fighting fit, flexible, have strong willpower, inner confidence, sharp reflexes, peaceful sleep, an abundance of energy, look younger than your years, and there is a glow to your skin and eyes.
High Intensity Training (HIT) is the best way to torch fat, build lean muscle, and boost your metabolism. Research has shown that it reduces our appetite and continues to help us lose weight after our training session. But what does this mean for the martial artist? And should we change the way we train? When my muscles were tested by scientists. There were rated highly in both short intensity and long endurance stamina. This is because a martial artist needs both. We’re not training purely for exercise or to lose weight, we’re training to hone our skills. Want powerful kicks or punches? Work on stamina first then flexibility then speed then power. Don’t underestimate how important stamina is for the martial artist. Without stamina, no skill.
Build Stamina & Skill In 6 Easy Steps
Start your training session with a run. This is your long endurance stamina.
After your run, begin your HIT training. This is your short intensity training. I teach HIT training in my Shaolin Circuit Training DVDs . You can do HIT training with a bag, pads, or sparring with a partner.
Challenge the large muscles in your upper and lower body. This is the key to successful HIT training. (if you’re doing bag/ pad training you need to combine exercises from my Circuit Training DVDs).
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone. It’s the only way to improve fitness and not hit a martial art’s plateau
Alternate. Do HIT training 3 – 4 times a week, or every other day of your regular martial art’s training.
Shaolin HIT Training is one of the challenges on our pathway to Zen. We can be as peaceful and spacious when we’re out of breath as when we’re sitting still. Try it and see
There’s a belief in the West that the only way to flexibility is through static stretching but latest research shows that the way Shaolin Monks warm up and stretch is the way to get maximum performance from your workout.
“Dynamic stretching may be the most important element of a warm up… it involves moving and waking the tissues that will be called upon during the subsequent exercise.” The First Twenty Minutes.
At the Shaolin Temple we do two types of stretching: static and dynamic. The Shaolin dynamic stretching we do is the Five Fundamental Kicks, and the Five Fundamental Stances. These movements open the hips and warm up the leg muscles. We’ve stretched and warmed up our muscles this way for thousands of years.
Want to gain the flexibility of a Shaolin Monk? Follow these simple steps below.
7 Steps To Maximize Your Flexibility
1. Stretch am and pm
My early morning sessions at the Shaolin Temple always began with a mountain run then we would take time to stretch our muscles before beginning our kung fu training session. Stretching in the morning is harder than in the evening but it’s one of the best ways to increase flexibility.
2. Always stretch after your workout
Your joints and muscles are warm, which means you can go further with your stretch. It also helps to decrease the build up of lactic acid in your muscles. Not stretching after a workout leads to stiff muscles.
3. Do the Five Fundamental Shaolin Kicks
These kicks increase flexibility to not only the legs but crucially the hips. Start off in a relaxed and loose way, kicking from the hip rather than from the leg. Stretch in between the kicks to loosen the leg and kick again. When you move into the splits you’ll be surprised how much further you can go.
4. Do The Five Fundamental Shaolin Stances
These stances open the hips, stretch out the legs including the calf muscles, and make the whole body move as one. They are an excellent way to increase strength in the muscles while stretching them at the same time.
5. Find creative ways to include stretching in your day-to-day life
If you like to watch TV then find a way to stretch while you watch TV. On the escalator, place your left heel a little off the step and stretch out your calf muscle.
6. Alternate your stretching
Our bodies quickly adapt so alternate your stretching and consistently challenge your body.
7. Focus on Optimal Flexibility for you
We all need to have a certain amount of flexibility but remember we are all different. It’s crucial that you never push yourself too hard and you work with your own body. If you want to get your head on your knees, don’t strain to get there or bend your legs in the process. Remember there never should be any pain when you stretch only patience.
I teach warm up, stretching, The Five Fundamental Kicks and The Five Fundamental Stances in my DVD, Shaolin Workout Volume 1
Stress is a natural part of our life. The way we react to stress plays a major role in the health of our mind and body. Seventy-five percent of all doctor’s office visits in the USA are for stress-related ailments and complaints. If we don’t return our mind and body to its natural relaxed state then stress can lead to ill health or anxiety and depression. Stress is very easily fixed with the practice of simple Qigong movements.
Last month, a business man came to me who worked 50 hours a week. The doctor told him that if he continued to live like this, he would probably have only ten more healthy years to go, he is forty-five years old. Through training twice a week with me and working with my Qigong Workout DVD at home, he’s now got his mind and body back and the all clear from his doctor. It’s really simple to take control and fix stress.
Your 7 Step Fix Stress With Qigong Plan
1) STOP ( even just for five minutes). When we are “stressed-out”, it’s very difficult to stop but this is what we must do. It’s amazing what a five minute Qigong Timeout can do.