Health, Mindfulness, Joy
Learning the Shaolin Arts is much fun - and we teach it in a way that everybody can learn it. It helps you get into the flow, while increasing your strength and focus.
After training for a while, you will notice benefits for your physical and mental wellbeing: Stress release, resilience, increased strength, balance, agility, better memory, more vitality.
Many students use the mental principles of Tai Chi and Kung Fu in their every-day life, as they learn how to work with their energy. For example, they learn when to focus and when to relax. They can sense better which projects or relationships drain or revive their energies. And they gain generally more self-confidence and self-awareness.
Ken, you have attended the Shaolin school for almost two years now. Why did you start Tai Chi Chuan?
I started Tai Chi Chuan because I had practiced various styles of martial arts (and I still do): Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do and Wu Shu Kwan.
I have always been interested in Tai Chi Chuan as a more 'internal' style; It is soft and flowing, but a very strong system. When I saw the Silver Wing flyer, I thought I would "give it a go".
Can you remember how you felt at the beginning? How was it to start?
Of course when you start anything new there is always a sense of uncertainty, of not knowing what to expect. However, that disappeared as soon as I got started. It is a very friendly group and you can work at your own pace. It is intense and focused, but there is no pressure whatsoever. I have made new friends... not only in the classes but also on the social side.
"Tai Chi is not to fight, but to discipline your mind and body, it is the story of the spirit."
What do you get out of it?
I like learning a new style martial art and get a lot out of learning the "forms" and practicing foundation techniques. There is also the spiritual side which I find very calming. And I also appreciate the chance for me to pass on my (limited) knowledge to new students. Tai Chi is not to fight but to discipline your mind and body, it is the story of the spirit.
What do you like about the class?
I like the chance to practice Tai Chi with distinguished instructors. Everything is clear with a lot of explanations and practical instruction. You can work at your own pace and aptitude, as they say: you only get out what you put in. The social side to the group is a bonus: good conversations and regular social gatherings.
How about Self Defence?
Tai Chi Chuan and Kung Fu are very effective and powerful martial arts system. However, to use it for self-defence in modern times, we would have to train in very intense ways; several hours per day. Still - some training is better than nothing - and training certainly increases your alertness and awareness of dangerous situations.
More importantly - the training will help you avoid or neutralise tense and aggressive situations.
Sun Tzu, in his famous book The Art of War said: "To win without fighting is the best victory". We would like to take this a step further and say; What you learn in our school is not fighting or winning at any price, but increasing your ability to create win-win situations and non-aggressive problem-solving in your life; which is based on a grounded, healthy self-confidence.
In our school, we have a broad approach to "self-defence". Nowadays, the 'attacks' on our bodies and minds often are more complex than physical assaults.
Environmental pollution, bad food, poisonous substances in our everyday products, stress, toxic relationships etc. - all these can threaten our health. We can support our bodies and minds in their struggle to fend off these negative influences. Making ourselves stronger (not just in our bodies, but also developing inner strength) and being more relaxed, balanced and joyful are excellent defence strategies against these kind of dangers.
Benefits of Tai Chi training for other Martial Artists
Even if you are an experienced Martial Artist of a so-called external style (Karate, Tae Kwando, Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, etc.): Practicing some Tai Chi Chuan can considerably improve your ability and can help you overcome performance barriers.
Tai Chi Chuan's slow and fluid approach to training is - paradoxically - a core ingredient of developing speed and power. There is some great truth in the Shaolin saying: "You have to slow down to speed up".