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.
Find out more about Shifu Yan Le’s Shaolin Summer Camp
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