Weird Shaolin Forms

So, I should be studying since it is finals week here at the University of Georgia, but I’ve been hitting the books for the past few hours and I needed a break to lolly gag a bit. So, I decided to surf YouTube for a bit. First thing that pops up on the recommended is Shaolin Forms! As I was watching some Shaolin monks perform, I stumbled upon some weird Shaolin forms that I didn’t even know existed.

Majority of you guys know the typical animal forms in the Shaolin system like Eagle, Tiger, Crane, Monkey, and Mantis, but did you know they have frog and dog forms? I was intrigued!!!! I was like, “WHAAAAAT!?!?” So, I had to share these:

  • Shaolin Frog Form

  • Shaolin Dog Form

I’m now curious what other forms they have….. is there a lizard form or a llama form now? Maybe an alligator form or a freaking hippopotamus? Shaolin always amazes me. This is why I go every year.

Kicks Going Up on a Tuesday!

The Cap Kick

While Drake is turning up, partying, and making the club go up on a Tuesday, I’ll be practicing, working hard, and making my kicks go up on a Tuesday! Kicks take a lot of practice. Think about a kicker on a football team. Sure it may seem as though he has the easiest job and all he’s doing is swinging his leg, but there are a lot of technical procedures that a kicker must follow to generate the most powerful and accurate kick to score for his team. To a martial artist, technique is everything! Without good technique, both strength and accuracy are lost. Today, I’m going to discuss the cap kick. It is also known as the one arm handstand kick or the banana kick (in Capoeira).  This is actually not a common kick, it is really only used in Capoeira, but I think it is an awesome kick just to show off a bit!

This kick will take some coordination and strength. I honestly don’t expect many of you guys to use this kick, but I’ve been looking into Capoeira for a bit and I am really liking it so far! If you guys don’t know, Capoeria is a Brazilian martial arts that combines dance, music, and acrobatics. It is a very interesting style and it seems really fun! If any of you viewers have taken classes on Capoeria, please let me know how it is! I’m very interested to know!!

1.) So I’m guessing you know the trend by now, you start with a balanced stance.

2.) Go into a one arm handstand. It will take some time. I know it isn’t easy, but hey practice!

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3.) The one arm handstand. The hardest part, but the easiest way to explain this is to swing your body into it and use your core.

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4.) Swing your body over and kick with the leading leg! My hand is around my leg for balance and you can pull your leg a little bit to make it look cooler!

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5.) Finally, use you core to pull you back down.

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And in full sequence:

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Patience…

#ChineseThinkingPosition

#ChineseThinkingPosition

Though physical training is hard, being mentally fit is harder. In martial arts, you have to train your mind to motivate, push through barriers, but most importantly…patience. Yes, patience is key and here’s why:

  •  You will always be waiting for something, but do you have the patience to wait? What I mean is, are you going to be smart enough to get through the wait instead of torturing yourself by thinking about it the entire time. For example: In the last couple of weeks, I thought I was going to explode because I was so freakishly excited to see one of my favorite bands to play live! I talked non-stop about it, I would listen to nothing but their music, and I wouldn’t sleep at night because of all the excitement!! Well, it was torturing to me because the excitement was giving me insomnia, but in the end I took my mind off of the concert by going out with a few friends then letting my excitement all out at the concert Saturday night! (BTW…..All Time Low is amazing!!! 🙂
  • That was just a general definition like waiting on an event, but another definition is like in martial arts, getting your black belt. It seems so tedious to have to go through all those ranks to get the black belt, but it is up to you not to quit. It is up to you to make your mind strong enough to have patience to go through the most boring and the hardest days of training.
  • During scolding. Everyone makes mistakes, but no one likes to be called out on it or chewed out about it. It is up to you to have the strong mind and patience to take in what your instructor says or someone else who is scolding at you.
  • Coaching is probably where you will need the most patience. You will always have a bad students or a class clown, but honestly I look at them as a challenge. They will test my patience, but it will only make me stronger by being able to push through it.

The Cartwheel With No Hands!

So about a week ago, I posted a tutorial for a cartwheel! Hope you’ve been practicing because, here’s the aerial tutorial! If you haven’t, click here to go see the cartwheel tutorial.

1.) The first step is making sure you have the cartwheel down. Make sure that you are spring off the front leg and swinging your legs over like so:

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2.) Once you’ve gotten a simple cartwheel down, take away an arm. This is a little harder, but like I said before, it is all in the spring and swing motion. The main thing in this step is to practice springing off of the front leg.

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3.) After practicing step 2 a few times slowly, it is time to speed up the swinging. As you can see in this GIF, I’m swinging my legs down faster. This is what will help and get your body to flip. Also, I’m pushing a little bit with my base hand to lift me a little to practice swinging.

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4.) The scariest step! Taking your hands away. I would make sure you get the springing and swinging motion down, and practice step 2 and 3 a lot before this. During this step, just go for it. Lifting your chin up is another little trick to help you get through this. Also, don’t immediately take your hands away, put your hand down and slowly take it away. Ease into just tapping the floor, then no hands!

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IT TAKES PRACTICE!! A LOT OF PRACTICE!! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment!

Tricking Thursday!

So lately, I’ve been really interested in the art of Tricking. Martial arts tricking is basically a combo of gymnastics, parkour, and break-dancing mixed with martial arts kicks. For example, you may see things like flash kicks, butterfly twists, or hooked aerials! Tricking is such a cool art, but it is mainly for competition purposes and for show like in XMA (Extreme Martial Arts) or WuShu. It is generally not used in combat, unless it is like in a movie or something. Still, despite the little purpose technique wise, I still love it. Some times in training, you need that fancy and flashy movement to lighten up the atmosphere. Here are some examples of people performing the art of tricking:

  • Invincible Worldwide is a perfect example of tricking. This group of men and women are absolutely incredible. I wish I could do half of what they do. Check out their channel!

  • Shane Seo. He is the son of Grand Master Young Seon Seo, a 9th degree black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do and the current president of the United Tae Kwon Do Associations. I know Master Shane personally. I trained under him and his father back when I first started martial arts in Albany, GA. He is incredibly talented and here is just a sampler of what he is capable of.

There are plenty more on YouTube. These people are absolutely incredible, and I envy them. Then there is me, who is currently trying. Anyway, here’s my sampler video if you haven’t already seen it. Maybe one day I’ll be as good as them!

Kata or Forms

Throughout my training, I’ve seen numerous incidents where students sigh or roll their eyes at practicing forms. Everybody always wants to spar or grapple, but honestly forms are my favorite things to practice. Some may call it ‘Kata’ but that is mostly Japanese styles. Personally, I’ll probably call it kata more because I’m used to calling it that. Today, I want discuss the significance of kata! Here are the main reasons I think kata is important:

  • Katas are representations for techniques. Where do you think martial artist learn how to perform a hip throw? Where do you think martial artist learn how to do a cool lock or choke? Through Kata!! In every movement of a form, there are infinite possibilities of techniques you could do! A punch may not be just a punch, and a kick may not be just a kick.
  • Katas represent levels. In martial arts, you start with the most basic kata then you move up to more advance ones based off of your rank and what you have achieved. Think about kata as though it was a job. If you get a promotion, you get more money in the corporation. In martial arts, you get a new kata to add to your repertoire of knowledge with new techniques.
  • Katas are a great way to practice techniques. Sure you can practice kicking a sandbag all day, but you probably would kick all over the bag. In kata, you can practice precision and power. For example, in some katas there are some techniques that aim high and some that aim low because it is a sequence and as stated before, there is a purpose for it. So as a coach, I would always fix a student’s hand positioning because it wouldn’t look right and it it gives that technique a target.

That is just a brief crash course on the significance! Hope you will take kata seriously and practice them hard!! So here’s an example of the beginning kata in Wushu/ Shaolin Kung Fu:

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The Spirit of First Beginning

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Never forget the spirit of first beginning” -Kenwa Mabuni (Founder of Shito-Ryu)

One of my biggest pet peeves is arrogance. Yes, I am guilty of being arrogant to, but that was easily shut down (you can read about it in “Buckling Up“). Anyway, recently someone came up to me and asked about where I currently do my training and what I do. Well, I kindly answered and explained what my style was, what my dojo does, and I ended the conversation with an invitation to come try out our dojo. He kindly accepted the invitation and came to showed up to class the next day. We started off with our basic warm-ups and stretches in the first half, and later we were going to move into the second half for forms and techniques. Well, during the break, I introduced the new guy to my instructor and asking about his martial arts experience. To my surprise, he was really diverse prior to coming to our dojo! He received a black belt in Jujitsu, Tae-Kwon-Do, and Hapkido! I thought that was really cool because I’ve personally have never taken Hapkido and I wanted to improve my ground fighting in Jujitsu. I was really excited to have him to share techniques and everything!

(Since there will be two other beginners, we will call this guy George for confidential reasons 🙂 ) 

The second half of class was a review of forms then techniques so we pulled George to the side with my instructor, two other beginners, and I. I was basically used as a test dummy for my instructor to teach a few techniques we use in Shito-Ryu.  So starting off, we allowed George to show us a few techniques of his. I learned the flying arm bar, hip throws, and a whole bunch of other throws that I didn’t even think existed! Well, it was my instructors turn to tell him about our style. While the other two beginners were all eager, I realized George began to space out and look around instead of paying attention to my instructor after three techniques. When my instructor gave the group a technique to practice, George gave a sigh.

Well at that moment, I was a little annoyed, but I let it go and worked on the technique with him. After maybe twice, he gave up and said, “This is kind of boring. Can we spar or use those weapons or something?” My response was, “Dude, you did the technique like twice and you’re bored?” He claims that he already knew the technique and can do it in his sleeps. Wow, ok. I called my instructor over after that response, and he asked George to perform the technique on him. Obviously, it was bad. It was a simple break-away technique.

George obviously had no interest in learning anything new from our bag of tricks, but he had a big interest in the weapons. Of course, with our dojo being traditional and all, we have certain rules for the weapons. The main one was that you needed to be a certain belt rank to use one of the weapons. Since he was new to us, he was considered a newbie and a white belt until the instructor said so otherwise. So, we told him about the process that you had to go through to earn the rights to do certain things. Of course, he argues that since he has a black belt in three different styles, shouldn’t he get privilege? HA! Please…a true black belt doesn’t act like a kid when his mother takes his toy away. A true black belt’s journey has just begun with much to learn.

In the end, George never came back. Sorry dude, if you’re not willing to learn basics prior to weaponry, then we’re not going to teach you and have our butts get in trouble if you hurt yourself. So, the lesson that you should take out of this is that you should “Never forget the spirit of first beginning.” Remember when you first started martial arts and you were so eager to learn everything? Don’t forget that feeling. You can learn something every day no matter what your rank is or what your age is. That determination will take you far!