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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     0 Comments Sunday, April 29, 2007
Sam Sing Kiu - The Venerable 3 Stars Blocking Drill: Part 1

The 3 stars blocking drill is the one of the most important drills in Chinese Kung Fu. This wonderful and simple training exercise is at once basic, and very advanced.

At first glance, one can see that "3 stars" helps build arm resistance and strength for blocking. However, there are other benefits stemming from the deeper purpose for ongoing practice of this drill.  The practice of striking the body goes back centuries and can be traced to the ancient  muscle/sinew changing and marrow washing exercises that are credited to the great Sage Damo (Boddidharma) of Shaolin Temple fame.


These practices stimulate hormonal and glandular activity, increase bone density, and drive "Chi" or internal energy to the body parts being exercised. From a more modern analysis, the exercises increase blood circulation, while the incremental trauma and healing activate the human body's adaptation mechanism, making the body more resistant, stronger.

 These are very simplified descriptions yet they convey the depth and importance associated with the 3 star drill. Guidance from a trained, experienced instructor is of the upmost importance when pursuing the deeper aspects. The proper Chi Kung (noving meditation), meditative and breathing techniques are needed, and these are different as one progresses. In addition, herbal liniments and herbal wines are a must to supplement the body as on reaches deeper into the realm of internal energy.

 In the beginning it is sufficient to do the drill as it can be very painful and uncomfortable. It is not uncommon for some people to suffer from fever and stomach upset for days after the first sessions of the drill. This indicates excessive force was used and that the practitioner needs to back off and start softer.  A good Dit Da Jow liniment must be used from the very start. The herbal liniment will immediately begin its work in directing Chi and blood to the arms, and is essential to aid in the on-going healing necessary for the incremental strengthening and conditioning of the striking surfaces.

 You will find that your Dit Da Jow is your best friend as you will need to use it frequently and copiously as you embark on your kung fu strengthening journey.  Dit Da Jow should be applied before, mid-way through, and at the end of your 3 Star session or as you progress, your overall conditioning routine. Many find that using Dit Da Jow prior to and after any training session, whether it involves strength conditioning or not, is very, very effective and increases progress exponentially.

 Body conditioning, in the tradition of the Golden Bell, Iron Vest, Steel Armour, and Stone Warrior methods of old is an essential element of Chinese Kung Fu training. The 3 star drill, is at once a basic and a very advanced practice that will lead you to the higher levels and great benefits of this type of training.  Get guidance from an experieced instructor, be patient, be diligent and use make Dit Da Jow your best friend.

 Part 2 coming soon.....

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Thursday, April 26, 2007
FDA Attacks Complementary & Alternative Healthcare - take action!

I received this from friend and colleague Dave Copeland and hope that by posting it here, some of you will voice your opinion and help safeguard our rights to complementary and alternative healthcare.


by John F. Gilbert, Ph.D.
 - President/NTCB

I just spent three days reading, re-reading, researching and discussing the proposed FDA guidelines for “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” with two FDA attorneys. You can download a copy of this proposal for yourself at:

When I first heard about this FDA attack on complementary and alternative health care, I considered it another “Chicken Little” rumor. On further study, I'm appalled at the speed with which the pharmaceutical companies are implementing Codex Alimentarius in the USA. If you don't suspect the pharmaceutical companies control the FDA, you may want to research that further by visiting

Shen Dit Da Jow Herb Pack no more! Don't let this happen

This insidious proposal is designed to redefine every complementary and alternative health care modality and product as “medicine.” This has direct implications on the services and products provided by every alternative health care professional. There is no facet of complementary and alternative health care that is not affected. If the FDA adopts this proposal, all natural health care would be illegal even for medical doctors.

Essential oils, herbs, herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, minerals, nutritional supplements, plant enzymes and vitamins are redefined in this proposal as “medicine.” Very simply, medicine is under the jurisdiction of the FDA and, by law, only licensed medical doctors may prescribe “medicines.” Anybody else who advises, advocates, counsels, distributes, markets, recommends or suggests anybody use “medicine” is practicing medicine without a license. This is a felony in the USA punishable by fines and incarceration.

Aromatherapy, auricular therapy, biofeedback, color therapy, homeopathy, hypnotism, naturopathy, neurotherapy, nutritional consulting, reflexology, sound therapy and wellness consulting are among the alternative health modalities being redefined as “Alternative Medicine.” This subtle change of vocabulary from “alternative health care” to “alternative medicine” makes all of these industries subject to control by the FDA as medicine. Only medical doctors would be allowed to provide, prescribe and supervise the delivery of these services. Anybody else who provided any of these services would be practicing medicine without a license and subject to incarceration and fines.

That's the bad news. The good news is we have until April 30, 2007 to voice our opinion against this proposal to eliminate complementary and alternative health care in America. Almost 100,000 people have already filed their objection. According to Dr. Rima Laibow, medical director of the Natural Therapies Foundation, we need 50 times that many people to respond by the end of the month.

Please stand up and be counted. Go to
http://tinyurl.com/2u7ghc and file your petition in support of natural health care, in support of complementary and alternative health care as we know it today. If you require more information, please visit http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/ or read the FDA proposed policy at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov.

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Posted by Shen     1 Comments Saturday, April 21, 2007
Chinese Martial Heroes - Kwan Kung (Guan Gong)

Well, no sooner did a post yesterday's blog entry than the questions started coming in about who that was in the picture. Not much response on my poetic effort though... oh well Ermm. Just kidding, in fact I am happy to have a chance to write a bit on one of the most important historical and symbolic figures in Chinese kung fu,  General Kwan Kung (Guan Gong), the patron saint of Chinese Martial Artists.

General Kwan

General Kwan lived during the late Han dynasty and early 3 kingdoms period, sometime in the 2nd century B.C.

 General Kwan is said to have embodied the qualities that all martial artists strive for: Courage, Loyalty, Morality, Honesty, Self-lessness, Honor, Patriotism and of course, the highest skill and Martial Ability.  You may notice that one other quality is missing... Humility. 

 Humility may be the most important virtue that General Kwan embodied and the highest lesson to be learned from his life. It is said that his very success in battle and as a leader turned into arrogance and this led to his eventual downfall.


Even in his ultimate failure, his story or folklore teaches us a lesson today, nearly 2,000 years later. That even at the highest of attainment, we can still sucumb to our ego. The battle within is the most difficult of all and the self is the most dawnting and unrelenting opponent, ready to spring up and slay us when we aren't vigilant, when we think we have succeeded.

 Kwan Kung is a model for a Warrior Knight. Dignified, Wise, Respectful, Fair and Just. He is the symbol of the ultimate greatness of Chinese Culture.

 Today, we see his figure in altars at traditional kung fu schools, but also at many businesses. Why businesses? Because Kwan Kung is the symbol of Loyalty to one another. It is customary for 2 people entering an agreement to visit a temple to Kwan Kung and make and offering together. This creates a symbolic spiritual agreement. One that honor holds together.


Most depictions of General Kwan show him weilding a large haldberd like weapon. This is the weapon he designed and that still bears his name the Kwan Dao or Kwan Knife.  Folklore tells us that this weapon weighed over 40 kilograms (90 pounds)! General Kwan is frequently portrayed holding the Kwan Dao in one hand while mounting a horse. This all symbolizes the strength in battle of a martial artist and the rigor of training that kung fu practitioners must endure to achieve the highest levels of skill and strength.

 Practice of the Kwan Dao remains an important part of the curriculum of many kung fu styles, however today's versions weigh closer to 20 pounds, and some Wushu versions are but a mere 4 pounds! At 4 pounds, I think General Kwan would be insulted rather than honored Cry.  The 20 pound versions are quite the task to maneuver and do a better job of representing the true essence of the weapon.

 General Kwan is the model of discipline and virtue for all martial artists to strive for and his life and achievements guide us today.

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Posted by Shen     1 Comments Friday, April 20, 2007
No Ordinary Moments aka. Warrior Living.

I haven't written in my blog for some time and I was looking for something to make a new entrance. While cleaning up some old files, I ran into some old newsletters that I used to write and send to customers of the old Shen Martial Training Supply store front.

This piece was part of the newsletter for October 1997. It  made sense to me then, and it makes even more sense now. I call it: Warrior Living. May it speak to all the sleeping Warriors out there......
No Ordinary Moments
There are No Ordinary Moments.
Athletes practice their sport,
musicians practice their music,
artists practice their art.....
The Warrior Practices Everything;
that is the secret of The Way.
Walking, sitting, breathing, eating;
they all deserve your utmost attention,
For in every moment, the quality of your Life is at stake.
LIfe is a series of moments in which you are either awake or asleep, Alive or relatively Dead.
So... Wake Up!
The quality of every moment depends on what you bring to it.
Treat no moment as ordinary,
no matter how mundane or routine it may appear.
It is by practicing everything with you full attention,
that you will begin to experience life as it was meant to be;
As a child shows wonder, awe and excitement at the smallest of details.
Life has not changed,
it is as magical as it was when you first began discovering it.
It is you who changed,
losing sensitivity to every day miracles.
By treating every action with respect
and every moment as sacred,
you will renew your relationship with Life
and will return to a Life filled with Passion and Purpose.
Adapted from Dan Millman's Book, No Ordinary Moments.
Visit Dan Millman's Website at: http://www.danmillman.com/

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Sunday, April 15, 2007
Dit Da Jow: Why So Many Formulas?

I am often asked why we at Shen Martial Arts offer so many different types of Dit Da Jow. The reason is simple and complex at the same time. First of all, there are many different formulas of Authentic Dit Da Jow. I specify authentic because there are a large number of un-authetic formulas also widely promoted.

When I decided to become a provider of Dit Da Jow to the public, my goal was to make all of the authentic formulas that I had earned and been given through my years in the martial arts available to those that would not otherwise be have access to them. So far, Shen Martial Arts have released only a portion of the formulas we have and more are coming. So the simple answer is this: There are many formulas, so we offer as many as we can.

Now our intent is not to confuse and overwhelm those looking for a formula but rather to give them choices and variety as well as the ability to explore the differences and finding the one that works best for their specific needs. Dit Da Jow Formulas are like Kung Fu styles. As long as they are authentic, they are all great, each with its own approach and specific strenghts, all leading to the same goal. 
Chinese herbs are like moves or techniques, they each have un-limited applications, depending on how you use and combine them. In addition, like kung fu techniques, any one of a number of herbs can be used to address a specific situation and therefore there is more than one herb that is the correct one to use for a specific purpose. With the number of herbs in the Chinese pharmacoupia the combinations would seem endless however over the centuries, herbologists, dit da healers and kung fu masters (sometimes one and the same) have determined which are the very best. These are the formulas that have survived intact and that have been preserved and handed down teacher to student within most lineages of Chinese Martial Arts. These are what we refer to as Authentic Dit Da formulas.
There is a common misconception that all Dit Da formulas have the same base or a very similar base of herbs. This idea has been perpetuated by those that have only seen formulas from a single source or a single lineage. In reality, most formulas are quite different, each representing the choice of herbs that a particular master had preference for or following a particular herbal approach. There are herbs that appear on various formulas but an examination of the overall combination of herbs will exhibit a different herbal signature for each formula.
This amazing variety is truly a blessing and a testament to the wisdom of old. The ancient masters understood that we as humans are very similar yet at the same time, as individuals, we are also different from everyone else. A single herbal formulation while effective for you, may not work very well for me. Why? Age, genealogy, diet, temperament, sex, state of health, location, lifestyle, etc. In addtion to all that, we each have our own affinities to certain substances, and thus to certain herbs. True, authentic Dit Da formulas are all excellent and very effective, but not for everyone. Each person must find a formula that really works for them. Luckily, these formulas which in the past were mostly kept within their particular group, lineage or clan are now being made available to the general public. Shen Martial Arts strives to offer as many Authentic Dit Da formulas as possible, allowing individuals to try, and to select a formula that works best for their specific situation. 

Finally, we must also remember that there are different types of formulas for different purposes. By and large the above commentary focuses on general purpose formulas but it also applies to those formulas that are geared for certain parts of the body, for certain tissues or for certain conditions such as cold wind damp, etc. 


The bottom line remains the same: Find the authentic formula, that works for you and your needs. Take advantage of the wider array now available and try different formulas, to find one that works for your type of training or for the results that you are looking for. Beware of those making claims to having the best or the ultimate as there is NO SUCH FORMULA. Exaggerated claims are a sure sign of a made up or murky pedigree. Become familiar with a variety of formulas and learn from them, their feel, their effects on you and on others. Make this a learning process and have fun at the same time.

The best and largest selection of Dit Da Jow formulas from different lineages: http://www.shenmartialarts.com/displayproducts.asp?id=10&origcat=1

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