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Shen Martial Arts Web Journal on Thoughts, Experiences, Tips, Ideas and just about anything relating to the lifelong practice of Chinese Kung Fu - Your comments are welcome!
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Posted by Shen     15 Comments Tuesday, June 7, 2011
It's What You Do Most of the Time ......... part 1

My Choy Lay Fut  kung fu teacher used to repeat this to us often, almost like a Mantra.... "It is what you do most of the time that counts, not what you do once in a while".  This simple statement is in fact a powerful principle, one that has guided me out of trouble, and slapped me out of delusion and self-justified stupor that we tend to fall into when we least expect.

It took me some time to understand the basic meaning of this statement and I know some of my fellow students who never did understand it or dismissed this important teaching altogether.  At the face value, it means that whatever we do the most, is what affects us the most. Pretty simple, right? Some might say, obvious or just plain common sense. Well, common sense is not all that common and the humble simplicity of the words hide a wealth of wisdom.

The reality is that most people do not know what it is that they do most of the time. We may think we know, but upon closer examination, we find that what we think we do "normally or "regularly" is NOT actually what we do. Huh? Yes, that is right, You do things that you do not really know you are doing while at the same time you convince yourself that you do certain things that you do not actually do.  Boy, if you weren't confused before, I certainly got you with that doozy.

In Kung Fu, ask any practitioner how often they train and for how long. You will be surprised at how often and how long everyone trains! Common answers: "6 times per week 4 hours per day", "3 hours a day, every day except sundays", "Dialy 4 to 5 hours". Wow! If everyone was so dedicated, we'd all be Masters!  So, are these people lying? No, and yes. They are lying to themselves.  That may be their television watching schedule, but it is not their kung fu training regimen. It is what they wish it would be, and what they convince themselves that it is.  And by the way, we ALL do this, and have done this in one way or another, all of us, yours truly included.

So the next obvious questions is... Why? Why do we do this? This is a complex question with a simple answer.... because we spend much of our time half asleep and on auto pilot. We are not fully aware of the moment, not fully awake, and so hours pass while we engage in things of little importance, in meaningless pass-times and mind-dulling "entertainment. When the time for something of value comes along, we "Don't have time".

The first meaning of my Siu's mantra is: Wake up and do most often those things that TRULY matter, that are of true value. Fill every moment with the proper action, even when that action is rest. Choose how you spend each moment, not letting time go by inadvertently. Watch yourself, check yourself that you do not fall into wishful thinking.

For my kung fu brothers and sisters out there, kung fu is about true, repeated, consistent and continuous practice. My Sifu had another mantra, "Practice, Practice, Practice". Don't think you practiced, don't dream you practiced, don't hope you have time to practice....... PRACTICE.  As Nike so effectively put it..... "JUST DO IT!" 

When your actions become what you do most of the time, the results will be surprising and real.

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Posted by Shen     2 Comments Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Dit Da Jow - Intimate Understanding via a Rich Empirical History

Back when I started making Dit Da Jow available to the public, there were few who had heard about it or who knew what it was. Fast Forward 25 + years and ..... well, like the saying goes, "the more things change, the more they stay the same". 

Yes, many more people are now familiar with the name, Dit Da Jow and there are new sellers and self-proclaimed experts on dit da jow popping up regularly. Still, there quite a bit of confusion, along with a good measure of miss-information, all leading to a familiar condition in modern times..... controversy.

I have spent the last 2 decades educating  people on benefits of Dit Da Jow usage but clearly, but the need is greater now than it was when I began.

Before there was language, writing, newspapers, books, cell phones, email, internet or telepathy, humans acquired knowledge and understanding by observation and direct experience. The method of learning via observation, trial and error and direct experience is termed Empirical learning or Empirical Science.  Empirical learning is by definition, practical, dealing with real needs, challenges and problems.

Dit Da medicine is and Empirical tradition supported by centuries of observation and millions of "data points" that demonstrate the effectiveness of herbal elements and combinations . This effectiveness is cofirmed and re-confirmed over time as learned practitioners follow the traditional knowledge to treat trauma, illness and by Martial Artists to train, heal and strengthen their bodies. 

Martial Artists had a different scope than healers, a different agenda and therefore different approach and different expectations when gathering their empirical results and building their empirical knowledge-base. Martial artists traditionallly trained in Dit Da have proven evidence of the effectiveness of Dti Da herbal formulas. There is no question... IT WORKS... period.  How well specific formulations work for particular results is stil and empirical process. In other words, you have to experience it to determine if it works on you for what you want it to do.

No matter how much jargon and techno-science babble is used, there is not yet a scientific, experimental test that will prove or disprove whether Jow works or not, or even less to determine which Jow is more effective or of better quality. It all comes down to the proof is in the pudding. 

Don't believe me? I spent 20 years in the field of quality assurance and quality control working in the high tech and medical device industries. My specialty was and still is DOE, or statistically designed experiments to fine tune, control and predict product quality and performance.  I have worked in everything from magnetic coatings to micro-membranes for separation of microscopic particles.  I believe in the science, the statistics and in experimental prediction, just not for everything, and not for the  art of Dit Da.

Martial Artists over the centuries determined that the regular and consistent use of certain herbal formulas improved their conditioning and resistance to blows and strikes. They also experienced great increases in the power of their strikes, and in their muscle strength.  When healing injuries, they found that the injured area was stronger after healing with the herbal formula than before it was injured. Through trial and error, they found that extracting the herbs in alcohol of a specific concentration (proof or %) gave the best results. These findings were confirmed and re-confirmed and added to the verbal and written lore that was passed on and that became  the inheritance that a few still practice today,  the art of Dit Da medicne or Dit Da Ke.  This is what is now retained in the original recipes and formulas from different martial lineages, clans, families, and traditions, after being distilled and perfected over centuries of observation and refinement. This is why we should respect and the integrity of these original formulas and continue observiing and collecting empirical results and learning from those before us. 

Instead you find so called experts with lots of theoretical knowledge, but what amounts to only a superficial understanding and experience, making changes and adulterations to "improve" traditional formulas. Well, you have to have a pretty large head to think you can waltz in after a few TCM classes and start making things better.  Add a bit of this and a little of that, because the Materia Medica says it has this property and this temperature, etc, etc.....  This is all heresay and third party or further removed information. 

Real understanding does not come from regurgutating facts read from a book, a guide, a recipe compendium or a google search. You must become intimately familiar with each herb. Feel the herb, see it, smell it, in some instances eat it, observe it and finally.... USE it. Use it yourself, give it to  your students, friends, and family. Then observe and collect information about the results. Watch for patterns, trends, correlations and effects.

At Shen, we have been collecting and analyzing results from our dit da jows formulas for 25 years and for thousands of users.  We continue to learn from each customer, each feedback point, and continue to add to our empirical and practical understanding.

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Posted by Shen     6 Comments Sunday, May 22, 2011
Shen Martial Arts - A Look Back at the Last 5 Years

Retrospection is the act of looking back and reviewing the events of a past period of time. This gives us an opportunity to examine or evaluate ourselves and also to see where we are today in comparison.

For Shen Martial Arts, the last 5 years have been an roller-coaster ride. Not a mild, low level ride but a high-speed, turn you every which way, hang you upside down, dangle you by the legs,  10 story free-fall drop,  and take your picture so you can remember your agony type of roller-coaster. And, while we are happy and proud that we managed to survive,  somewhat disappointed that we did little more than survive. 

Shen Martial Arts was founded on the ideals of continuous improvement, constant innovation, on the concept of learning, adjusting, developing and growing. Growing in knowledge, in skill, in effectiveness, in efficiency and for our customers and followers this translates to increasing value, convenience, support, satisfaction, and improvement of the  overall , beginning to end customer experience.

Just what did we survive? We survived our own super success of 2006 and 2007. We survived the recession that we began to feel in 2008 and that continues today, regardless of what our President and his propaganda machine will have us believe. We survived a slowed market and growing competition, competition which we allowed to take hold  resulting in a smaller pie divided into more pieces. Last but not least,we survived ourselves, our mistakes, mis-calculations, poor decisions, wishful thinking and lack of experience.

So, did we do anything right?

Yes. We held on to our vision of being the Best Dit Da Jow and Iron Palm Liniment and Herb supplier in the world. We did not give up as sales stagnated and costs went up and at the same time customer expectations continued to rise.  We did not lower our standards to reduce costs and we refused to engage in exaggerated claims or negative marketing against competitors, even as they  attacked us directly, indirectly, openly and subtly all the while replicating our model and our approach. 

So why should you, our customer care about all of this? We like to think of you as a friend and supporter, and want you to know us intimately, but that is not the reason. The reason all of this matters is simple: We learned, gained experience, and became a stronger, more mature and cohesive team with an even stronger commitment and a renewed focus on you, OUR CUSTOMER.

There is a saying in Mexico that translates to: Their is no BAD that doesn't come to do GOOD and like Nietzsche said, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger". More simply stated, "No Pain, No Gain".  We went through some tough times, we had bad things happen, we experienced pain and difficulty, but it did not kill us and here we are, Stronger, Smarter, Better and More Committed than ever.

It is now 2011, and the next 5 years are ahead of us.  Expect more from Shen Martial Arts. More value, more innovation, the Highest Quality at reasonable prices. No exaggerated claims, just our honest pledge to provide you with products that work, products that help you advance your training and get real, tangible results.

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Friday, November 14, 2008
New Shen Durabag - High Strength and Durability Iron Palm Training Bags

Durabag Line of Iron Palm Training Bags

Shen Martial Arts has just released the Durabag line of quality, extra strength, high durability Iron Palm Training Bags. These bags follow the same traditional design as the standard line of Iron Palm Bags but are now made with a high strength, professional material.

The bags retain the feel and performance of the original bags, while providing a longer lasting, more rugged product, suitable extra heavy duty use, as in martial arts schools. 

Durabags are available in intermediate and advanced levels and include the iron palm striking bag, the conditioning bar, the grip bag and the iron palm hanging bag. 

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Sunday, October 19, 2008
Chow Gar Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu System on DVD!

Shen Martial Arts (www.shenmartialarts.com) is now offering the complete Chow Gar Southern Praying Mantis instructional series by Paul Whitrod on DVD. This is a wonderful series consisting of an amazing 28 volumes! In addition, there are 2 Tai Chi Chuan, 2 Xing Yin and 1 Bat Juan Din (8 pieces of brocade) volumes, for a total of 33 dvd's in the series. The dvd's can be purchased through the Shen Martial Arts website or on ebay through "shenmartialartspecials".

Shen offers a special consisting of any 3 DVD's and the rare Chow Gar Southern Praying Mantis book by Sifu Paul Whitrod at a considerable savings, for those wanting to acquire more than one dvd at a time.
This video series produced by Sifu Paul Whitrod in the 80's is considered one of the best examples of martial arts instructional video due to its breadth of coverage and depth of detail.

For more information, please email shenmartialarts@cox.net.

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