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VIEW KUNG FU BABBLE

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!
Home | Kung Fu Babble

Posted by Shen     7 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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Posted by Shen     2 Comments Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Ancient Alchemy aka: The Wisdom Sutra

Here is more of my late night inspiration. This one came to me after being asleep and waking up at around 3:00am. I hope it does something for you.

Ancient Alchemy

 
It is a truth from lost ages

That Wisdom is choice and not gift

 

Great Labor and Effort

Endless Practice

The Quest of many lifetimes

Clarity its lonely goal

 

Power is Fleeting

Fame is a Lie

Wealth is Hollow

Strength is Fading

All are Castles in the Sand

 

Fear is the Chain

And Ego the Golden Cage

Mirrors and Reflections

Hide the Door

In plain view

 

Knowledge and Faith

Mind and Spirit

Put into Action

Ancient Alchemy

 

Reaching the Abyss

to Jump

Is Wisdom

Awaken from the Dream

 

By Mario Figueroa

November 25, 2007

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Martial Arts Supplies In San Diego - Shen Martial Arts Showroom Opens In Oceanside, California

The once legendary martial arts supply store, Shen Martial Training Supply is now back in a new incarnation as Shen Martial Arts in Oceanside.


 

Shen Martial Arts Showroom
3830 Oceanic Dr. suite #407 Oceanside, CA 92056
760-305-7603


Shen Martial Arts offers Quality Martial Arts Equipment and Supplies for the traditional arts and for modern combat sports. If you practice any style of martial art and have been looking for a difficult to find item, chances are you will find it at Shen Martial Arts. Finding rare and difficult to locate items is our claim to fame. If we don't have it in stock, we can get for you fast.

Shen Martial Arts carries everything from Uniforms to traditional weapons, training equipment, safety gear, shoes & apparel and more. Our famous line of authentic lineage Dit Da Jows for healing, strengthening and conditioning, Herb packs to make your own Dit Da Jow, Tonic wines for energy, flexibility, internal strength, and Chinese Patent medicines can all be found here. Shen Martial Arts has become well known for our high quality hand made Iron Palm bags. These are made to order with a 2-3 day turn-around and can be ordered and picked up at our store.

Shen also offers an excellent selection of books, videos, DVD's and our own line of Chow Gar instructional videos featuring Sifu Paul Whitrod. Sifu Whitrod's book on Chow Gar Southern Mantis is also carried.


If you can't come to Oceanside, visit us only at http://www.shenmartialarts.com


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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Miracosta College Tournament, September 15, 2007, Oceanside CA



The Miracosta College Kung Fu Club, Shen Martial Arts and Don Hamby's American Hung Gar Association are honored to invite all martial artists to the 2007 Open Martial Arts Tournament to be held at the Miracosta College Gymn on Saturday September 15, 2007.

All are welcome to come and join us for a day of friendly competition, fun and comaradery. Spectators are welcome and for those who have are curious about the martial arts and want to see various styles in action, this event is a must.

For more information, please contact Sifu Don Hamby at 213-364-2171 or Sifu Mario Figueroa 800-925-3043. You can also visit : http://www.shenmartialarts.com/about.asp

 

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Posted by Shen     1 Comments Tuesday, June 19, 2007
3 Star Drill Part 2 1/2 - Shin Star aka Chi Geurk

Before we get into the nitty gritty, the meat of how the 3 star drill benefits your health, longevity..... and yes its internal aspects, we must mention one of its companion drills, one that is rarely seen anymore but is just as important... the Shin Star drill also known as Chi Geurk or Chi Geuk.

The first strike involves the crest of the shin itself. This exercise starts with a lap sau or nap sau strike and grab of the arms.
 
The leg is then swung around and back striking the side of the calf muscle
and around and back striking the other side of the calf muscle.
 
The Chinese martial arts utilize single leg stances, referred to as crane stances as an important bridging and defensive techniques. This drill conditions the lower leg to withstand strong impact and to deliver devastating leg strikes. It also works single leg stance balance and rooting. But, one of its most important results is the development of leg sensitivity and the ability to "bridge" with the legs much as you learn to do with the arm Kiu.
 
There are many other drills to strengthen other parts of the body used to strike, or to defend but the 3 star and shin star drill are the most essential.
 
Preparation for shin star is also essential and involves massage, herbs and preliminary exercises, according to Chinese methodology and tradition.  These aspects must be learned from a knowledgeable instructor. And of course, Dit Da liniment is a must.

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Posted by Shen     1 Comments Thursday, May 10, 2007
Sam Sing Kiu - The Venerable 3 Stars Blocking Drill: Part 2
The way the 3 stars drill is done varies from school to school and style to style. At its most basic, 2 students face each other and begin striking arms, 3 strikes right, 3 strikes left and repeat.  This form of 3 star works specifically on strengthening the Kiu or bridge arms.  However, as stated in our first installment, there is more to be gained from this exercise, even at its initial phase.


Horse Stance (Sei Ping Ma) and Butterfly Palms (Wu Dip Jeung)

This exercise presents the instructor and the student with the opportunity to drill stances as well as the transition between stances while executing a hand motion. independent of bridge conditioning, this is of value in working the student's balance, rooting and generation of power from the stance. One stance transition is Square Horse to Bow and Arrow Stance (Sei Ping Ma to Ding Ji Ma). Timing is also drilled as the student works to generate momentum from the shifting of the stance, movement of the waist and hips, to the sinking of the next stance as contact is made.


Students turn to left Ding Ji Ma and make contact with right Lau Kiu

 The next stance transition is from Ding Ji Ma to Diu Ma as the students make contact with Yeung Kiu. Rooting and balancing on the Diu Ma stance is more challenging as is the use of the waist to direct power to the Yeung Kiu and to absorb the force from the opponent's strike. Sinking in the stance (Chum Ma) is essential. Since most of the weigth is the rear, supporting leg (90%), rooting, balancing, and sinking is done virtually on one leg.

 Then it is back to Ding Ji Ma before turning to the other side and repeating with the opposite hand and stances in the opposite leg.

 

Shifting to right Diu Ma while turning the waist to the right for Yeung Kiu

 The student is also taught to use the guard hand when going from one bridge to the next. The guard hand is the hand that is free and is used to protect and close openings. The 3 stars exercise is one of the best ways to get students used to 'guarding" until it becomes second nature. It is simple to describe but somewhat more difficult to perform, at least in the beginning. When hitting low, cover up, when hitting high cover low. So, as one goes from on strike to the next, one stance to the next,  one hand is striking, while the other shifts from covering the face to covering the abdomen.

Finally, the first stage of breath control are also introduced. The student is taught the difficult task of .... breathing normally. When dividing up the attention to so many aspects going on at the same time, it is fairly normal to forget to breath. Students learning 3 stars find themselves completely exhausted in a matter of just a few sequences since in effect they are holding their breath. So, the first lesson of breath control is to continue to breathe normally even if so many other things are going on. Ignore all hand movements, leg movements, leg fatigue, and painful contact... keep breathing.

 A by-product of all of this work, coordination and attention to detail is expanded mental capacity and increased focus and concentration.  This is perhaps the most priced result and one of the main reasons for the exercise, as our Shaolin forefathers priced self-development and self control, mind over body... above the wordly gains in strength, and conditioning.  Like Indian yoga, the goal was to gain control of the body, to subjugate the body with the mind. Little by little to overcome pain, little by little to gain poise, balance, flow. So, in effect this was the original goal and design for these exercises and it is the physical gains that are the by product of this deep training.

In Kung Fu, all teachings are advanced... there are only beginning students,.

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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:
http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dockets/06d0480/06d0480.htm.

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
http://www.healthfreedomusa.org/.


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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Posted by Shen     1 Comments Sunday, December 31, 2006
Self Defense Law and the Martial Artist
There is a general lack of knowledge about the use of martial arts training in self defense and even in what constitutes self defense according to the law. Below is an article I found while researching this subject.
 
 
Self Defense Law and the Martial Artist

by Peter Hobart, Esq. Source: www.ittendojo.org

Introduction

Anthony Ervin was a career criminal. He was arrested eight times on assorted robbery, weapons, and assault charges between 1987 and 1996. On October 8, 1996, he accosted Courtney Beswick, a blind man who must have seemed like an easy target. After Ervin’s demands for money were repeatedly refused, he attacked Beswick. Beswick, a long time practitioner of martial arts, threw his assailant over his shoulder, onto the pavement. The fall broke Ervin’s neck, and he subsequently died. Having survived this terrifying ordeal, Beswick still faced the possibility of criminal and civil charges. In this case, however, the police and estate of the deceased decided not to file charges against Beswick, since he clearly acted in self-defense.

But this outcome is hardly the rule in the United States. In fact, a recent law review article indicates that a disturbing trend toward targeting martial arts practitioners is emerging in the field of tort law. With this in mind, it seems that the modern martial artist must have at least a rudimentary understanding of the applicable law if he ever hopes, or fears, that his training may be called upon outside the dojo. In an effort to provide some practical answers, this article will address the national majority position, and any substantial minority positions regarding criminal and civil liability with respect to the use of force in defense of self, defense of others, and defense of property. Pennsylvania law, where relevant, will also be examined. The majority position reflects the practice of most states, and is increasingly consistent with the Model Penal Code (MPC). Pennsylvania law regarding these issues is largely based on the MPC.

The author regrets the ubiquity of the terms "reasonable" and "generally" in this article — that these terms are essential merely reflects the complexity, and often the vagueness, of the law.

Case law varies widely among jurisdictions, and is constantly modifying and reinterpreting the rules of law. In an effort to provide some concrete conclusions, a list of relatively unqualified guidelines is provided at the end.

CRIMINAL LIABILITY

Self-defense, non-lethal force:

Criminal liability is distinguished from civil liability in that it is the state which brings charges against the defendant, as opposed to the victim or his estate. The general criminal law allows for the use of necessary and proportionate, non-deadly force in self-defense anytime the victim reasonably believes that unlawful force is about to be used on him. Pennsylvania law is generally consistent with this position. The critical language under this standard is ‘reasonable belief’, ‘unlawful’, ‘about to’ and ‘necessary and proportionate’.

In order to establish a reasonable belief, the court will use both a subjective and an objective standard. The subjective standard determines whether this defendant did in fact believe that an attack was imminent (whether reasonably or unreasonably). In arriving at this conclusion, the defendant’s state of mind is relevant. Thus, a paranoid defendant might introduce evidence of his condition to show that his belief, however unreasonable, was at least genuine.

The reasonableness of the defendant’s actions is judged by an objective rather than a subjective standard. The reasonable person standard is one of the most difficult aspects of the law to understand. In an effort to do justice to both sides, the law requires the trier-of-fact (usually the jury) to consider whether an ordinary person in the defendant’s position would believe that force was about to be used against him. The defendant’s (and the assailant’s) physical characteristics and past history will be taken into account, but mental condition is of no concern. Thus, comparative size, weight, strength, handicap or pre-existing injury may support a reasonableness finding, but unusual sensitivity or fear will not.

There is no simple formula for the legal application of force in self-defense under American law. The confusion is due, in part, to the complexity of the issue itself, and in part to the variety of state laws within the American legal system. The requirement that the force defended against be unlawful simply excludes the right of self defense when an ‘assailant’, such as a police officer, is legally authorized to use force. It must be noted however, that a majority of jurisdictions allow the use of force, including deadly force, in resisting an attack by a person not known to be a police officer, and the use of non-deadly force against a known police-officer attempting to make a wrongful arrest. Pennsylvania does not allow the use of force in resisting wrongful arrest, but it does allow the use of force if an arresting officer unlawfully threatens to use deadly force, or does not identify himself.

‘About to’ refers to the imminence requirement for the right to self-defense. It is not enough that the assailant threatens to use force in the future, or upon the happening of a certain event. Thus the statement "If you do that one more time, I’ll punch you" is insufficient to trigger the right to self-defense. The threatened use of force must be immediate.

The force used in self defense must reasonably appear to be necessary to prevent the attack, and must be proportionate to the gravity of the attack. Thus, for example, if an assailant is about to slap the victim, responding with the use of a fire-arm would be excessive and therefore beyond the scope of the right to self-defense. The proportionality standard under Pennsylvania law is articulated as a prohibition on the use of excessive force, but the fact that death results does not automatically produce a finding of excessive force.

Self-defense, lethal force:

The standard for use of deadly force is, predictably, higher. The general criminal law allows for the use of deadly force anytime a faultless victim reasonably believes that unlawful force which will cause death or grievous bodily harm is about to be used on him. Again, Pennsylvania law is generally consistent with this standard.

The faultlessness requirement does not mean that the victim must be pure of heart and without sin. It does mean that the right of self-defense will not be available to one who has substantially encouraged or provoked an attack. The general rule is that words alone are not enough to be considered a provocation under this standard, but there are exceptions. For example, saying ‘I am about to shoot you’ might well constitute sufficient provocation.

One of the circumstances which helps to determine the level of threat encountered by the victim is the nature of the assailant’s weapon (if any). As a general rule, anything which might be used to kill a person, no matter how odd, is considered a deadly weapon. Thus, a chair, a lamp or a screwdriver may all be considered deadly weapons. In some instances, the law will treat a trained fighters hands as a deadly weapon, but in order to trigger the right to self-defense using lethal force against such a person, the victim must, of course, know of the attacker’s special training.

U.S. courts are split with respect to an additional factor in the lawfulness of the use of deadly force in self-defense. A minority of jurisdictions require a victim to retreat to the wall if it is safe to do so, before using deadly force. ‘Retreat to the wall’ is generally construed to mean taking any reasonable and apparent avenue of exit. However, even minority jurisdictions do not require retreat under three circumstances. There is no duty to retreat from one’s own home, if one is being or has been robbed or raped, or if the victim is a police-officer making a lawful arrest. In 1996 the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that "although a person is afforded discretion in determining necessity, level and manner of force to defend one’s self, the right to use force in self defense is a qualified, not an absolute right." Pennsylvania is a retreat jurisdiction.

Even an initial aggressor may be given the right to self-defense under certain circumstances. If the initial aggressor withdraws from the confrontation, and communicates this withdrawal to the other party, he regains the right to self-defense. Also, if the victim of relatively minor aggression ‘suddenly escalates’ the confrontation to one involving deadly force, without providing adequate space for withdrawal, the initial aggressor may still invoke the right to self-defense.

Third parties:

The right to defense of others turns largely on the reasonableness of the belief that the victim deserved assistance. A minority of jurisdictions require that the rescuer be a member of the victim’s family, or the victim’s superior or employee. Similarly, a minority of jurisdictions require that the rescuer’s belief be correct, reasoning that the rescuer ‘merely steps into the victim’s shoes’, while the majority requires only that it be reasonable. Pennsylvania law imposes no such restrictions. It does, however, require the additional showing that the rescuer believed that his intervention was necessary, and that the rescuer retreats if the victim would be required to do so.

If in the course of intentionally defending himself or another, a defendant recklessly or negligently injures or kills a third person, self-defense will not bar liability, but it will reduce the gravity of the charge from an intentional crime to a reckless or negligent crime.

Defense of Property:

In Pennsylvania, and a majority of jurisdictions, a victim has the right to use non-deadly force in defense of his dwelling when, and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate another’s unlawful entry or attack upon his dwelling. Deadly force is authorized when violent entry is made or attempted and the victim reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent an attack on his person. It is also authorized when the victim reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent entry into the dwelling by one who intends to commit a felony therein. The rationale for allowing self-defense in these scenarios is based upon the right of inhabitants to be secure in their homes, rather than the right to defend property, as can be demonstrated by the law regarding defense of uninhabited property.

Non-deadly force may be used merely to defend one’s property from imminent, unlawful interference. Force may not be used if some other, reasonable means would have the same effect.. The only exception to the immediacy requirement is that force may be used to regain wrongfully taken property after the taking (i.e. no longer a prevention of immediate interference) if the victim uses such force in ‘immediate pursuit’. The legal rationale for this exception is, of course, that the interference continues as long as the aggressor retains control of the property.

 Deadly force may never be used in defense of uninhabited property. The popular misconception with respect to this law emanates from confusion over situations where the right to defend property and the right to defend persons therein overlap. Pennsylvania allows the use of reasonable, non-lethal force in the protection of property and notes that such a defense of property will not be regarded as ‘provoking’ an attack on the defender’s person. Pennsylvania allows the use of force necessary to eject a trespasser, short of inflicting serious bodily injury. If the defendant reasonably believes that the trespasser intended to commit a felony, then serious bodily injury is justified. When two people claim ownership over a piece of personal property, Pennsylvania law provides that force may not be used to prevent one from taking it.

Use of force to prevent crime:

A citizen has a privilege to use non-deadly force which reasonably appears necessary to prevent a felony, riot or other serious breach of the peace, and some states (such as California) have extended this privilege to the prevention of any crime. Deadly force may be used only to prevent the commission of a dangerous felony, involving a risk of human life. A citizen has the same right as a police-officer to use non-deadly force to effectuate an arrest if he reasonably believes that the alleged criminal has in fact committed the crime. A private citizen may also use deadly force to effect an arrest, provided the alleged criminal is actually guilty. Here, a reasonable belief is not enough.

Pennsylvania phrases this provision differently. A private citizen is justified in using the same amount of force as if he were directed to prevent the crime by a peace officer, except that lethal force may not be used unless the defendant reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to himself or another. At the direction of a peace officer, a private citizen need not retreat from making a lawful arrest, and may use any force he believes necessary to defend himself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest.

CIVIL LIABILITY

In a civil case, it is the victim (or his estate) bringing the action. While there are many similarities to a criminal charge, it is important to understand that the civil plaintiff must only prove his case ‘by a preponderance of the evidence’. This is a much lighter burden than the criminal standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. The principal tort actions which a victim who defends himself might face, include battery, assault and wrongful death.

Battery and assault:

In virtually every jurisdiction (including Pennsylvania), to make out a case for battery, the plaintiff must show that the aggressor made harmful or offensive contact with the plaintiff’s person, that the aggressor intended to bring about such contact, and that the aggressor’s actions in fact caused the contact. While harmful contact is easily determined from the specifics of the situation, offensive contact is judged by the objective, ‘reasonable person standard’. As a prominent Philadelphia law professor explains, "tapping a person on the shoulder is not reasonably ‘offensive’ whereas, tapping someone ‘considerably lower’ would be." ‘Plaintiff’s person’ means in general anything connected to the plaintiff’s body. This would include a hat, a cup in plaintiff’s hand, and on a recent bar exam, even the car in which the plaintiff was sitting! Thus, snatching a book from a person might well constitute a battery.

The causation requirement can also be deceptive. Not only would a thrown projectile which strikes the plaintiff constitute a battery, but ducking to avoid such a projectile, and hitting one’s head would also be actionable. Moreover, no actual damage need occur to bring an action for battery. The offensiveness of a non-harmful contact will support an award of nominal damages.

Assault, briefly, is the creation of a reasonable apprehension of an imminent battery, in the victim. Simple fear is not enough. The aggressor must have a present apparent ability to bring about such contact. In other words, the victim must actually expect to be struck or touched. Conversely, the fact that the victim was not in the least bit afraid does not bar recovery. Thus, a professional boxer may successfully sue a weakling for assault, even though there was no actual danger of being hurt.

Words are generally not enough to support an action for assault, but words coupled with some act may be. For example, shaking one’s fist and threatening with words might well constitute assault. Similarly, a conditional threat such as ‘your money or your life’ is also sufficient to support a charge of assault. Like battery, no actual damage need result.

Wrongful death and survivor acts:

Although traditionally any tort action abated at the death of the victim or the perpetrator, most states have now enacted ‘survival acts’ for wrongful death (it is from this old common law rule that the concept of escaping liability by killing, rather than injuring a victim, derived). Now the estate of the deceased may bring an action against the killer for all damages which occurred between the commission of the tort, and death (e.g. pain and suffering).

Further, every state has now enacted a statute providing for a civil remedy for wrongful death. Here, the a designated representative sues for the pecuniary injury to the next of kin (lost wages, lost companionship). While the wrongful death action is quite complicated, the critical aspect for present purposes is that the same defenses against the plaintiff apply as if the victim himself were suing.

Self-defense in tort law:

While the principles of self-defense at tort law are similar to those at criminal law, the mode of analysis, and areas of emphasis differ. In general, self-defense is valid when a person has reasonable grounds to believe that he is about to be attacked. Under these circumstances, he may only use such force as is reasonably necessary to protect against the potential injury. Since only reasonable ground are required, a genuine mistake with respect to the attack will still support the right to self-defense. Once the attack or tort has ended, so does the right to self-defense. Retaliation is never permitted.

As at criminal law, there is generally no duty to retreat, and deadly force may be used to prevent death or serious bodily harm. Even in the minority jurisdictions which require retreat (like Pennsylvania), there is an exception to the requirement if the victim is in his home. Although the attacker has no right to self defense, if the attack is non-deadly, and the victim responds with deadly force, the aggressor may defend himself with deadly force.

Third parties:

Under tort principles, a victim who accidentally injures a third-party in the course of defending himself is also protected from suit by that third party. A majority of jurisdictions also allow the defense of victims only if the victims themselves have a right to self-defense. Thus, if the rescuer makes a mistake regarding the victim’s right to self-defense, he too will be liable. However, there is a strong modern trend toward protecting rescuers from suit if their wrongful assistance of a victim is based on a reasonable mistake (Pennsylvania tort law allows for a reasonable mistake). The rescuer may use as much force as the victim could have used in self-defense.

Defense of property:

In the defense of property, a request to desist prior to the use of force is required, unless it would be futile or dangerous. There is almost never a right to self defense when the ‘intruder’ in fact has a right to be on the property. Thus, it is unwise to attack a supposed intruder without ascertaining his identity first! A significant exception occurs when the ‘intruder’ contributes to the ambiguity regarding his identity or purpose.

As at criminal law, there is a right to use force in the recovery of stolen property, as long as the victim is in ‘hot pursuit’ of the taker. Also as under the criminal standard, deadly force may never be used simply to defend property. Finally, the right to trespass for necessity supersedes the right to self-defense. Thus, a home-owner is not privileged to use force to turn away those who need refuge from an emergency.

Prevention of crime:

Since the right to use force is limited to the prevention of the commission of a tort in civil actions, one who subdues an attacker and then continues to use force to hold him until the police arrive, must be aware that he has moved over from a tort privilege, to the privilege of arrest under criminal law.

Martial arts teachers’ liability:

Under the Theory of Agency, the principal is liable for unlawful acts which he causes to be done through an agent. There are three possible ways in which a martial arts instructor might be held liable as the principal for the unlawful acts of his students, as agents. First, if the instructor appears to ratify or approve of unlawful conduct, he may be held liable for the commission of such acts. Thus, a dojo which encourages the use of excessive force, or lethal force in inappropriate situations may be seen to ratify and approve of unlawful conduct. Similarly, an instructor who continues to teach a student who has abused his knowledge may be held responsible, if not liable, for subsequent torts.

Second, an instructor may be held liable for having entrusted a student with ‘an extremely dangerous instrumentality’. "[W]hen an instrumentality passes from the control of a person, his responsibility for injuries inflicted by it ceases. However, when an injury is caused by an exceptionally dangerous instrumentality, or one which may be dangerous if improperly used, a former owner or possessor may ... be charged with responsibility for [its] use...." The implications for instructors who teach potentially lethal techniques is clear.

Finally, an instructor may be liable for harm to the student or other parties as a result of negligent instruction. Anyone who holds himself out as an expert capable of giving instruction is expected to conform to the standards of his professional community. Thus, any instructor who, by his own negligence, fails to provide, teach and require adequate safe-guards and supervision, may be liable for any resulting injury.

CONCLUSION

The law, and the facts underlying a cause of action are rarely clear-cut. Statutes and case law vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Lawyers are skilled at recasting the facts in their client’s best interest. Juries are given broad discretion with respect to determining guilt or innocence, and may feel the need to compensate an injured party regardless of fault. And even if a defendant successfully raises one of the defenses discussed above, litigation is costly both in terms of time and money.

It would be foolish to try to rely on a general understanding of the legal principles at work in these situations, in order to engage in behavior which falls just within the realm of legality. Rather, the wise martial artist will attempt to avoid any hint of liability or criminal conduct. The following general principles may be of value in this endeavor.

  • Avoid physical confrontation. If there is a safe avenue of retreat, use it (regardless of jurisdiction). At a minimum, retreat to the wall.

  • If confrontation is inevitable, give a warning when defending property, unless doing so would be dangerous or futile (which is often the case). This does not mean that you should list your qualifications, as the samurai of old were wont to do. Rather, you should simply give the aggressor notice that you intend to use force against him, in order to allow him to reconsider his position.

  • Ensure that you are not seen as the aggressor. This does not require ‘taking the first hit’, but it does require being certain that physical contact is imminent prior to reacting (for an in-depth examination of the danger here, see the Goetz case).

  • Be aware of the aggravating and mitigating factors. Is there a size, age, or ability differential? Are you or the attacker armed or trained? All of these factors will help you determine the appropriate level of force.

  • Use only the amount of force necessary to deter the attack. This does not require the use of ineffective technique, but rather mature reflection prior to a confrontation about what technique (including flight) is appropriate in which situation. It would be wise to introduce this as part of training.

  • Once the initial threat is neutralized, stop. This does not mean that you must give your opponent a fighting chance. Rather, you may immobilize the attacker while awaiting the police, but do no further damage.

  • When intervening on behalf of a third party, ensure (as much as possible) that the intervention is justified and necessary. As a rule, interference in domestic disputes is unwise. Reconciliation can mean trouble for the would-be rescuer.

  • Remember that, in this country, human rights are superior to property rights. The use of force in the protection of property is very risky.

  • As an instructor, you are both morally and legally responsible for the actions of your students, both inside and out of the dojang.

  • As an instructor, you should know the law at least to the extent of whether your state is in the majority or the minority with respect to the issues raised above. If you do not have a lawyer or law student in your dojang, any law school library will have a copy of: Your State Statutes Annotated (i.e., Texas Statutes Annotated). Simply look in the index under the headings listed in this paper for the applicable law.

 DISCLAIMER: This analysis is not intended as a comprehensive statement of the law, or a legal opinion. It represents a general overview of the law, accurate to the best of my knowledge, at the time of publication. It is not intended for public consumption, and should not be relied upon as a defense to any criminal or civil charges or complaints.

 Peter Hobart is a prosecuting attorney. Currently a member of the Itten Dojo, Mr. Hobart has trained for many years and is a licensed instructor of Santo Niten Ichi Ryû kenjutsu and kempo, and holds black-belt rank in aikijutsu. He can be reached via e-mail addressed to “kishido@ccis.com.”


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Posted by Shen     2 Comments Monday, October 16, 2006
Grandmaster Ark Y. Wong is Inducted Into the Musuem of Martial Arts Hall of Fame



Grandmaster Ark Y. Wong, considered to be the first to teach kung fu to non-chinese students and a true pioneer in the Chinese martial arts was recognized on Oct. 14th, 2006 by the members of the Martial Arts History Museum (http://www.martialartsmuseum.com/). GM Wong along with Master Buck Sam Kong and other influential figures in the history and development of the martial arts were inducted into the Martial Arts HIstory Museum Hall of Fame. Representing GM Wong was his grandson GM Seming Ma, the inheritor of the Ng Ga Kuen kung fu style.

This is a well deserved and well overdue honor for this great master and for his legacy. Congratulations to GM Wong's family, to GM Seming Ma, and to all of his direct students, who were fortunate to have shared, learned and worked with Ark Y. Wong. Thanks go to Michael Matsuda and the members of the MAHM for recognizing GM Wong and his contribution and influence in the growth of Chinese Kung Fu in the western world.

This has been a big year for the Ng Ga Kuen style and this honor on GM Wong tops the list!

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Posted by Shen     3 Comments Saturday, July 29, 2006
Green Dragon Studios - Making Waves in the Kung Fu World
----------------------------- Sifu John Allen ---------------------------

Sometime around the late 1980's and early 1990's, Green Dragon Studios and their controversial leader Sifu John Allen exploded into the martial arts scene. Opinionated, voiceful, rash, anything but shy, Sifu Allen told things the way he saw them, not worrying about the un-written rules of decorum in the Chinese Martials World and in the process not only stepped on but amputated a few toes, and caused many a Chinese Master to loose face.

Not only was his message, that most Chinese martial artists could not fight, controversial, but his approach unorthodox. Teaching selected forms from as many as 30 or more styles, Green Dragon Studios offered a different option and defied the one style mentality engrained in the Chinese Martial Arts.

Innovative yet staunchly traditional, Green Dragon Studios and Sifu Allen preached the most traditinional of all doctrines, there is no substitute for repetition, practice, HARD WORK, after all the real meaning of Kung Fu.

Green Dragon Studios produced and distributed a series of videos on their interpretation of a wide variety of styles of kung fu and these videos became wildly popular and even today most are fiercely sought after. The videos were home made and edited, of fair to good quality for the time but what made them stand out was the depth and detail of instruction that Sifu Allen put into them. In contrast to most so called instructional videos which are little more than a rushed demonstration of a form, Green Dragon Videos provided enough detail to actually earn the title "instructional" videos. In some cases, GD videos provided more detail than had ever been available on certain sets and styles. Examples are the Stone Warrior, Iron Vest and Iron Palm videos which remain some of the best explained, in depth presentations ever made.

Today, Green Dragon videos are still available, but are mostly multiple generation bootlegs, of degenerated picture and sound quality. They are reportedly still available from Green Dragon Studios themselves, but horror stories abound about the several month delays, no contact infomation, and of course , the price which is as shocking as Sifu Allen's views on oriental masters.

Recently, Shen Martial Arts (http://www.shenmartialarts.com) has gotten into the picture, buying used original copies from the many that have purchased these over the years and re-selling those of good quality at reasonable prices. Shen specializes in unique, hard to find, high impact, training items. In addition, Shen's mission is to perpetuate important and diverse teachings and to make them available to more and more potential Kung Fu practitioners.

Whether you agree or not with the views spoused by Green Dragon Studios, to their approach and their philosophy, credit must be given to their innovative spirit, their penchant for quality and detail in the content of their materials and their courage in going against the grain.

Anyone interested in selling their old collection of Kung Fu training videos can contact Shen Martial Arts via email at
shenmartialarts@cox.net. Those that are interested in buying Green Dragon videos can also use this email for their inquiries.

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Posted by Shen     2 Comments Monday, May 29, 2006
The Best Dit Da Jow Part 3 - Tips for Selecting the Best Dit Da Jow for Your Needs

This is part 3 of this series addressing the all too common question: What is the best dit da jow? Parts 1 and 2 can be found below on earlier posts. As always, you comments are very welcome. Now, on with the topic at hand.

So, what is the answer to our quest for the best Dit Da Jow? If there is no one best formula, than what should one do? If you have been following the earlier installments it will be apparent by now that there is not a single formulation that is the best for everyone's needs but that does not mean that you should not look for specific elements to ensure you get the best quality Dit Da jow possible. Below are some tips to help you on your search:

  1. Look for a Dit Da Jow Formula that addresses your specific needs. Are you training hard and want to heal bruises and eliminate pain? Or perhaps you pulled a leg muscle playing racquetball. You may be having extreme sharp pain in your neck and shoulders or want to heal a hairline fracture on your foot. Determining what it is you want from the Dit Da Jow will help you look for and find the correct Dit Da Jow formula for your needs. And while general purpose formulas will work on a variety of needs, there are formulas for very specific needs that will work better.
  2. Dit Da Jow must be made from high grade herbs. The key to an effective Dit Da Jow lies in the quality of the herbs it is made from. Many formulas being offered up for sale are made with lesser quality herbs which are much cheaper than high grade herbs. The potency of the resulting Dit Da Jow is much lower. Still cheaper are herbs that are past their prime and this will result in even weaker, less effective Dit Da Jow.
  3. Darkeness, Murkiness or Sediment are NOT reliable indicators of High Quality Dit Da Jow. The Darkness or coloration of Dit Da Jow is a function of the type of herbs used and it is easy to manipulate color just by adding herbs that make the liquid darker. Floating herbal matter and amount of sediment are also easily manufactured simply by grinding the herbs into a powder prior to aging the Dit Da Jow. In fact, this is a common trick used by those selling improperly aged Dit Da Jow. It so happens that some of the best Dit Da Jow will be fairly clear, smooth and with little or no sediment. These are usually filtered prior to bottling so what you get is only the purest herbal essence as extracted by the alcohol base. Filtered Dit Da Jows are absrobed by the skin at a faster rate and are much less likely to cause a rash or upset the skin.
  4. Dit Da Jow Must Be Aged Properly. Dit Da Jow effectiveness increases with aging, and the longer it is aged, the better it will be. Aging occurs best at the batch level, when the herbs and alcohol are mixed and sealed. Some will say that Jow continues to age once it is bottled for use. This is incorrect and and excuse to sell you improperly aged Dit Da Jow. The extraction of herbal constituents takes place when the correct quantity of herbs is aged in the correct amount of alcohol medium. Period.
  5. The Bottle Makes a Difference. There are those who claim that using plastic bottles is ok. Well, it is NOT. While plastic is fine for other types of liquids and even for other types of liniments and formulations it is not good for storing or containing Dit Da Jow. Anyone with experience making Dit Da Jow will tell you that the herbal tincture will begin to decompose the plastic, almost melting it. The decomposed plastic will mix with the Dit Da Jow and will change its characteristics. You usually cannot see this as it happens on the inside of the bottle, but it happens and it is not good for the Dit Da Jow nor is it good for you. Dit Da Jow must be contained in glass. Dark, tinted glass is better to limit exposure to light. Bottles should be first use (not resused), and preferably be of food grade to ensure cleanliness. The bottles must seal out air completely. So you can see that the lowly bottle does play a key role.
  6. The Dit Da Jow Formulation must be from an Authentic Source. An authentic source can be a Certified Chinese Herbalist, or a more traditional source such as an ancient Chinese Herbal Text or a traditional formulation kept within a Martial heritage and passed on to students or members of that heritage. The key is that the formulation follow accepted formulation methods based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. Beware of newer formulas or formulas that claim to have modern components or a mixture of eastern and western herbs. While they may be excellent, they are typically hodpoges of herbs thrown together by someone who just finished reading a book on herbs. Follow the tried and proven. If the formula has been around and in use by a particular group for a long time, you will probably experience good results. It is not that new formulas cannot be good or that western herbs will not work, but rather that there are multitudes of people with little knowledge or experience making up formulas and claiming to have the best ever. Be safe and don't waste your time and money. Stay with the tried and proven.

The best way to ensure that the above points are covered and that you are getting the best formula possible is this: Find a reputable source, someone who is well known, of high reputation, that offers a wide range of formulas instead of one silver bullet. Someone who can answer your questions and who is willing to take the time to provide information, background and reasoning behind their recommendations. The biggest or largest organization may not be the best place to go. Use the Chinese restaurant criteria, small places do have great food and if the Chinese eat there, it must be good. In the case of Dit Da Jow, follow the line of martial artists and see whom they are getting their Dit Da Jow from. Experiment with various sources, examine their offerings, see how they stand behind they product and most of all, if their stuff works.

That is it, no magic, no silver bullets, just rational logical smart shopping and trial and error in a sea of offerings, all claiming to be the best. Good Luck!

Shown in the picture is the San Bao "3 Treasures" Healing Liniment. This liniment is specially geared for deep injuries and is particularly efffective for upper body injuries, pains or soreness such as of the shoulders , neck, upper back, etc. This formula can be found in ready to use form or in herbal pack ready to make form at http://www.shenmartialarts.com/smajow.html.


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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Sunday, May 28, 2006
Chinese Patent Herbs - Healthy Brain Pills
Over the course of the last 2 years, more and more people have been contacting me, asking questions and requesting information about Chinese Patent Medicines. So, I have decided to feature information about some of the most useful and beneficial Chinese herbal patents, in hopes that this will help some of you out in cyberspace who are searching for alternative supplements to help you feel well, and who are taking a more active role and responsibility for your health. So, I will start with one of my favorites, Jian Nao Wan - "Healthy Brain Pills".

There are many benefits to this wonderful herbal formulation. Simply stated, these pills improve mental function, increase the flow of internal energy to the brain, and help to optimize the replenishing effects of sleep.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) terms, this formula tonifies the heart and liver blood, calms the Shen (heart/spirit) and sedates liver fire. Healthy Brain pills are said to Nourish the Heart, Tranquilize the Spirit (Shen), and Benefit Wisdom.

As a remedy this is used for sleeplessness, agitation, mental exhaustion, dizziness, poor memory, fatigue, insomnia with nightmares, palpitations and restlessness. It is also known to be very effective for vertigo and tinnitus (ringing of the ears).

Jian Nao Wan is widely used in the orient where there is a long history of effective results from its use. So, if you are feeling stressed, uneasy, nervous and/or irritable which basically describes almost everyone that I know, this is an excellent formula. When you need the most of your mental abilities such as when making difficult decisions, or solving tough problems, this is an excellent aid. For those working on mental improvement, learning, meditation, this is a wonderful supplement and tonic. Finally, this is widely used a preventive against memory loss problems associated with age (this herbal formula is actively being tested for the prevention and reversal of alzhymer's disease).

Let's face it, most of us live with daily mental stress and worry. Multitasking, information overload, rising costs, and the many other constant demands on our time and attention result in constant depletion of our mental energy. Add to that the effects of poor diet and exercise which dimish the health of the tiny artiries that feed our brain and you can literally say that your life is driving you 'crazy".

Healthy Brain pills are both a tonic and a medicine. As a tonic, they can help maintain and increase the health and capacity of the brain. As a medicine, this formula may help regain some of the ground lost to years of mental fatigue.

The original ancient formula contained cinnabar as one of its components. The current version(s) formula does not contain cinnabar and is made up of 100% plant ingredients making it safe for regular and continuous use as a supplement.

You owe it to yourself to give this great chinese herbal patent medicine.

Ingredients: Semen Ziziphi Spinosae, Radix Angelica Sinesis, Rhizoma Dioscorae, Herba Cistanches, Fructus Cistanches, Fructus Lycii, Fructus Schisandrae, Fructus Alpiniae Oxyphyllae, Succinum, Concretio Silicea Bambusae, Dens Draconis, Rhizoma Anemones Altaicae, Rhizoma Gastrodiae, Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae, Radix Ginseng, Semen Botae.

Find Healthy Brain Pills at: http://www.shenmartialarts.com/brainpills.html

Note: None of the statements made here are to considered medical advice. The information provided here is observational in nature and is based on the experiences of a multitude of users. No claims or guarantees are being made. All responsibility lies with the user.

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Friday, May 19, 2006
The Best Dit Da Jow - Part Two (Again)
This is a re-issue of part 2 of a series of 3 posts addressing the so often heard question and the endless quest for "What is the Best Dit Da Jow". This picks up where the last posting left of. Remember, your comments are welcome so let me hear from you. OK, So the response was less than overwhelming, but I have to assume someone is reading this and will now end the gnawing suspense I left you with. Drum roll please - THE BEST DIT DA JOW IS ...... There is none. There is no one formula that is best for everyone or for every type of use. That is why there are many different formulas and different approaches used in the combination of herbs, number of herbs, Alcohol type, mixing, making, storage, aging, etc. Over time, like the martial arts themselves, different variations have been developed from many particular viewpoints of what each believes to be "the best" or better than the others. And being that there are so many herbs in the Chinese Pharmacoupia, there are many different combinations that will lead to a good formula that exhibits good results. But what are good results? Well, what is it that you are looking for? What results are you seeking? In Martial Arts, this usually means a distinction between 2 categories: Healing or Conditioning. Healing jows are those that have warmer formulations, increasing blood circulation and dispersing congealed blood. These are the formulas that clear up those nasty training bruises like magic, some much better than others. Conditioning jows are the Iron Palm formulas which are cooling in nature, disperse stagnation, and mobilize Chi. These are the formulas used for repetitive striking, such as done in Iron Palm training, or in blow resistance exercises like 3 star, shin star, roller bar, or in OkinawanMartial arts, Makiwara training. The conditioning formulas will prevent damage, avoid swelling, and dramatically increase the resistance and strength of the areas being conditioned. It would be nice if these two categories were discrete and distinct but that is not the case. First, there are formulas that have elements of both, a category of all purpose formulas, if you will. That is not too bad, a formula that takes care of healing and conditioning? More combinience. Yes but... there are so many people marketing Dit Da Jow these days and invariably there are formulas being sold as healing that are not, and others being sold as Iron Palm formulas that are not. In other words, these broad categories are being mixed and the terms are being used interchangeably. This further muddies the waters. But that's not all. No one said that there were only 3 types(Healing, Conditioning, General Purpose). In fact there are many more. There are formulas for healing deep tissue, formulas for healing muscle tears, formulas for fractured bones. There are formulas that heal conditions located in the upper body and others for lower body. There are specific formulas for the shoulders, for the knees, for the waist. And then there are those for internal, soft tissue bruising. And we can go on and on. So, in our search for the best Dit Da Jow, the first question that must be asked is: for what purpose? Stated differently, What do you want it for? And with that I will end todays installment, leaving you all on pins and needles, anxiously waiting for the next. Pictured is Grandmaster Ark Y. Wong's famous Iron Palm Dit Da Jow (5 Family / 5 Animal Style). See this and the many other formulas available through Shen Martial Arts at http://www.shenmartialarts.com/arkyeuyjow.html.

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Thursday, May 18, 2006
The Best Dit Da Jow - Not Quite That Simple (Again)

This is a re-issue of a posting I made on the first Kung Fu Babble. In fact, it is a series of 3 posts addressing the so often heard question and the endless quest for "The Best Dit Da Jow". Remember, your comments are welcome so let me hear from you.

This morning, while reviewing e-mails, I received one with a very common question: Which one of the Dit Da Jow's that you offer is the best? The answer: "It is not that simple", a close cousin to "It all depends". Unfortunately, most folks do not want to hear this, so for those that want the long version, this is my attempt at a giving this question the response that it deserves.There a literally hundreds of different formulations for Dit Da Jow. Thousands if you count the ones that are just slight modifications of a true traditional formula. Why so many? Let me ask an unrelated, yet similar question to help get us all to the same frame of mind... "Why are there so many different car brands, makes, models and types?". Here is one that is closer to home: "Why are there so many different styles of Kung Fu?". Let's maul on this for a bit, let the old noodle get a good grip on this.In fact, here is what we will do. I will end this entry for now giving you time to ponder this dilemma, determine if these are just trick questions (designed to muddle the issue and keep the best Dit Da Jow secret), and to send in your comments, and suggestions. Socratic method at its best.

Pictured is the latest addition to Shen Martial Art's selection of authentic, traditional Dit Da Jow formulas, Grandmaster Brendan Lai's 7 Star Praying Mantis formula. See this and the many other formulas available through Shen Martial Arts at http://www.shenmartialarts.com/smajow.html.

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Kung Fu's Deep Knowledge - Still Reserved for the Few

There are those that spent many years training in the martial arts but that never sought out the deeper aspects of their discipline, style or tradition. One can spend many decades without ever graduating from movement to deeper understanding.

In Kung Fu, each style has deep wisdom that is passed on only to a select few and to those that truly seek more than the outer. This is true Internal training, seeking the deepests aspects of your art, internalizing the art. This internal sphere of knowledge is where the "secrets" lie. A better description than secrets would be proprietary information, knowledge that is reserved for a few that deserve it, earn it and that can preserve and expand it.

This by the way is true of any field of study, discipline, art, science, sport, etc. There are stories of pitchers only passing on their best personal pitch technique to their son, mathematicians working on a problem for decades and giving their research and work to a selected succesor or a craftsman passing on his special skill to an apprentice. The key to this transmission is not just the desire of the student/aprentice/disciple, but also their ability to comprehend the knowledge and their respect for the knowledge received.
There are those that say there aren't any secrets. These are usually the people that never had a peek inside, that have stayed on the outside so long that they can't imagine there is more. Sometimes these people stumble on inner knowledge, but without the correct mindset, and prior preparation, it won't reveal itself to them.

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that years of training sometimes yield arrogance instead of understanding, and what the scholar is blind to is sometimes revelead to a babe (babe = unpretentious, humble, eager to learn, good heart, right intentions, desire to know).

Concentration, Spirit, Aura
Postures, Waist strength, Stances
Hardness can not withstand extreme softness
Softness can not withstand extreme hardness
Nothing is impenetrable
Only speed is impenetrable
Power is at mind (thought)
Internal (jing) comes from “den ten” (dan tien)

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Posted by Shen     5 Comments Monday, May 15, 2006
GrandMaster Wong Ark Yuey's American Seal
The seal used by GM Wong on student certificates and on all of his truly important documents to confirm authenticity can now be seen again. GM Seming Ma, grandson of GM Wong and inheritor of the Ng Ga Kuen(TM) system of kung fu has decided to use the original seal to confirm authenticity of materials and products associated with the style of kung fu. The seal will now be seen on GM Wong's original books, photos, posters, manuals and more. (visit http://www.shenmartialarts.com/arkprod.html)

This seal is full of history and nostalgia and is of importance to non-chinese Kung Fu practioners all across the world. In the late 50's GM Wong began teaching non-chinese his system of kung fu, being the first to do so. His Wah Que studio was the first to openly accept students of all races. Wah Que roughly means "overseas" kung fu studio perhaps hinting to his vision of teaching non-chinese or maybe just pointing to its location outside of China. While most Chinese masters use a chinese "chop" or ink stone as their symbol or signature, GM Wong chose a seal with an American eagle and english words for the definitive mark of his school. And while GM Wong also used a traditional seal and Chinese characters on certificates and other important documents, it was the english seal that denoted the school. The seal has some characteristic errors from missing words to not using the address of the school. However, this all adds to its unique quality and to its special mystique.

GM Ark Y. Wong personally touched the lives of many and indirectly influenced that of thousands. Many claim to have had a special relationship with the old master... Many more still never had the chance to meet him and only imagine what it would have been like. For those that did have the privilige and for those of us that only wish we had, GM Seming Ma has shared with us a great gift that only he could have and that most of us would not have otherwise ever seen. GM Wong's seal is now back in use by choice of his heir to continue as a symbol of authenticity and tradition.

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Posted by Shen     5 Comments Wednesday, May 10, 2006
In Memory of Grandmaster Brendan Lai
I first visited Brendan Lai's martial arts supply store in the early 90's. It was all that I would ever imagine a martial arts supply shop to be. It was not particularly clean or organized. If it had been, it would have lost something. It was just like it should be, rough, a bit cramped, with many nooks and corners ready to be explored. To a martial artist, specially a kung fu enthusiast, it was an almost magical place. Every time I visited, I would spend hours admiring and examining their many unique items, and each time I would find wonderful new things. I visited as often as I could and after a while, my face became familiar to Master Lai and his wife. These visits inspired the idea of Shen Martial Arts. One day, Master Lai asked me about my training and from then on he made me feel like I was part of his circle of friends. That first talk lasted hours and Master Lai even took me to the back area of the shop, the mysterious back room. There we practiced techniques and specially Chin Na which Master Lai was an expert in. He was loud and excitable, full of enthusiasm for kung fu. My wife was in the front and thought we were fighting, but after some time, we came out smiling, shaking hands and exchanging telephone numbers. I cannot say I was close to Grandmaster Brendan Lai, as I only new him for a short few years and saw him a few times a year. Yet he made me feel like I was part of his family, his kung fu family. His excitement and love of kung fu were contagious. I am a better person from the little time I spent with him. His memory and his energy live on.

Poem
Spirit, Posture, Body, and Mind
Spirit should be like an eagle swooping down to catch a rabbit,
Posture should resemble a cat ready to pounce on a mouse,
The waist should be as flexible as a dragon,
The arms should have the strength of a tiger,
Footwork of the monkey (quick and agile), Heart of the fox (cunning and strategic),
Hands of the praying mantis (lightning speed).
From: Praying Mantis Martial Arts Institute,
20th Anniversary, 1982-2002, Commemorative Issue,
New York, NY, USA, 2002.

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Posted by Shen     2 Comments Thursday, May 4, 2006
The Little Things - 3:00 am Inspiration

Ok, So this is not exactly Kung Fu, but work with me a little and you can see how your training and practice fits in. These thoughts came to me at around 3:00am and I just had to put pen to paper. This happens to me from time to time. So, stay with me and if this makes sense, great. If not, thanks for taking time to read it.

It’s the little things….

They say it’s the little things that count
So why do we long for the big things?
Little things happen every moment, every day
And add up to everything that is great and worthy
In this life

We are on this journey where every step is a lesson,
And each tells a story, a million stories of a life well lived,
Yet we seek to forgo the steps and leap to our end destination,
whatever it may be
Not realizing that the destination is determined while on the way

Everything Matters…
Every decision is meaningful,
Every act chiseled in the Heavenly Tablet
Every thought carved in the Cosmic Ether
And every word inked into the Book of Life

It is said that life is but a play
And as actors we must play our part well
But our role is not predetermined,
We do have a choice
To be a Hero or a Villain,
A King or a Pauper
A glorious Redwood or a Thorny Bush

It is the little things that make us who we are
And shape us daily,
Action by action, Word by Word, Thought by Thought

A kind word, a simple smile, a good morning to a passerby,
A heartfelt word of encouragement to someone in need,
A white lie, an exaggeration, a criticism behind your brother’s back,
A secret wish for someone’s lack of success….

Be self true and understand your heart
Lest you fool yourself by good deeds but dark thoughts
It is better to be a good Villain that to be a false Samaritan
Who helps others only for self gain ….
This is a great trap where many fall

Can’t we see the truth before our eyes?
That little things beget great things
And little things are the fabric of existence

So mind the little things, as they will take care of you
As it is the little things done and the small steps taken
Moment to moment, Breath to breath,
Thought to thought, and Day to day
That lead to all things great

Thus is the unguarded secret, in front of us all
It’s the little things that count……….


By Mario Figueroa 12/13/05

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Posted by Shen     3 Comments Thursday, May 4, 2006
Challenge The Impossible!

New York Times: May 6,1933
LI CHING-YUN DEAD; GAVE HIS AGE AS 197.
Inquiry Put Age At 256.

“Keep a Quiet Heart, Sit Like a Tortoise, Sleep Like a Dog,” His Advice for a Long Life.

Peiping, May 5 – Li Ching-Yun, a resident of Kaihsien, in the Province of Szechwan, who contended that he was one of the world’s oldest men and said he was born in 1736 – which would make him 197 years old – died today.

A Chinese dispatch from Chungking telling of Mr. Li’s death said he attributed his longevity to peace of mind and that it was his belief every one could live at least a century by attaining inward calm.

Compared with estimates of Li Ching-yun’s age in previous reports from China the above dispatch is conservative. In 1930 it was said Professor Wu Chung-chien, dean of the department of Education in Minkuo University, had found records showing Li was born in 1677 and that Imperial Chinese Government congratulated him on his 150th and 200th birthdays.

A correspondent of The New York Times wrote in 1928 that many of the oldest men in Li’s neighborhood asserted their grandfathers knew him as boys and that he was then a grown man.

According to the generally accepted tales told in his province. Li was able to read and write as a child, and by his tenth birthday had traveled in Kansu, Shansi, Tibet, Annam, Siam and Manchuria gathering herbs. For the first hundred years he continued at this occupation. Then he switched to selling herbs gathered by others.

Wu Pei-fu, the warlord, took Li into his house to learn the secret of living to 250. Another pupil said Li told him to “keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon and sleep like a dog.”

According to one version of Li’s married life he had buried away twenty-three wives and was living with his twenty-four, a woman of ’60.’ Another account, which in 1928 credited him with 180 living descendents, comprising eleven generations, recorded only fourteen marriages. This second authority said his eyesight was good; also, that the finger nails of his right hand were very long, and “long” for a Chinese might mean longer than any finger nails ever dreamed of in the United States.

One statement of The Times correspondent which probably caused skeptical readers to believe Li was born more recently that 1677, was that “many who have seen him recently declare that his facial appearance is no different from that of persons two centuries his junior.”

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given, than to explore the power they have to change it.
Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion.
Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare.
Impossible is temporary.
Impossible is potential.
Impossible is nothing.

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Posted by Shen     4 Comments Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Ho Family Dit Da Jow - A blend of Chinese and American Indian Herbology

Dit Da Medicine and Chinese herbology are fascinating fields of study and have long been of great interest to me. To this end, some time back I embarked in formal study with the Institute of Chinese Herbology along with my hands on mentoring by Master J. Wong, a highly skilled and very well respected traditional herbologist. Even after years of hard work, I find that I am but a novice in a field that is so rich and deep that a whole lifetime would not suffice. I am continously awed by the knowledge and experience of collegues and fellow martial artists and am thankful for their willingness to share what they have learned. My friend, Mike Biggie is one such person.

Mike is a long time practitioner of Chinese Kung Fu. He teaches 7 star praying mantis and has much knowldege of Choy Li Fut and a deep interest in the Ng Ga Kuen system of Great Grandmaster Ark Y. Wong. Mike refuses to accept the title of Sifu, which is a testament to his humble nature and his ongoing committment to learning. Over the years and through his Kung Fu training, Mike has amassed a great deal of knowledge about Chinese Herbs, particularly Dit Da Jow. The Ho Family formula is Mike's personal flagship formula and one that has received accolades from anyone who has had the fortune of being able to try it.

The Ho Family formula is based on a the Shao Lin Die Da Shen Yan Liang Fan or"Young Forest Striking Divinely Proven Effective Prescription". This traditional formula was brought over to America by Chinese immigrant railroad laborers in the 1800's. The Ho family formula differs from the original in a number of ingredients. The reason is that certain Chinese herbs were at some point un- available here. This is where the Ho family formula is unique. Chinese herbologists had observed that the indigenous people of America practiced a similar herbology with herbs that were found locally. Through research and probably some trial and error, and exchange with native americans, Chinese herbologists learned to use some of the western herbs as replacements for their Chinese counterparts. In fact, some of the resulting formulas proved even more effective than the originals. The Ho Family Dit Da Jow is such a formula, and the only one known to date to have this blend of Chinese and Native American ingredients.

The formula survived in the San Francisco area and was available through the late 1980's and early 1990's from the Great China Art Company. It was in wide use by Pa Kua (Ba Gua) practitioners in the Bay Area. After that, the formula was no longer openly available and virtually disappeared.

Mike Biggie was given the formula as a gift and was able to continue filling it but only at San Francisco's Chan Ning Kong (Peter Chang) through the 1990's. Since that time, the herbs have been harder and harder to obtain, many having to be ordered individually from separate sources around the world.

Over the years, Mike has gotten to know this formula intimately and has had the opportunity to research and experiment with the formulation. Using his background and also his knowledge of Michael Tierra's planetary herbology teachings, he added a single herb to the Ho Family prescription. This increased the strength of the Ho Family formula and its blood and chi circulating characteristics.

There has been much written about "Mike Biggie's Dit Da Jow" on internent forums and discussion groups. By and large, everyone agrees that his is one of the best, if not THE best all around dit da jow formula available. It is an excellent all around healing formula and is very effective for strengthening and conditioning. It has shown a special affinity for tendon injuries and for tendonitis and thus will help with heavy flexibility training. And while this is not an Iron Palm formula, many advanced practitioners report great results from using this formula for their Iron skills training.

The Ho family formula has a rich history dating back to the days of the railroad construction and to Shaolin before that. Thanks to friend and collegue Mike Biggie, it is still available. For more information post a comment here or you email
shenmartialarts@cox.net referencing Ho Family Dit Da Jow. This formula can also be found at www.shenmartialarts.com.

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Posted by Shen     6 Comments Saturday, April 29, 2006
New Start - Kung Fu Babble II

GM Seming and Mario



Hello Everyone!

Over the past several months, we encountered some strange difficulties with our first generation blog, Kung Fu Babble. After spending countless hours trying to figure out why my posts were not showing up, I decided to just start a new one! So here we are, Kung Fu Babble II!

If you are new, My name is Mario Figueroa and I am a Kung Fu enthusiast. Some say I am a fanatic, and I actually don't mind that at all so from now on you can call me a Kung Fu Fanatic! Yes, that has a nice ring to it. Although it brings images of me standing in front of a circle of people and saying, "My name is Mario and I am a Kung Fu Fanatic" .... :-)

The first Kung Fu Babble had some interesting stuff ( I hope), that I may bring over to this new incarnation. You can also visit my Shen Martial Arts website at http://www.shenmartialarts.com/articles.html to see some of the posts that made it over to the articles section. More articles will be coming to that page in the coming weeks including one that was published on Inside Kung Fu Magazine's June 2006 issue on Ng Ga Kuen and Grandmaster Seming Ma. For any Spanish speaking friends, I will be posting translations for some of the articles.

Please enter your comments on any of my postings. Your opinion, good or bad is important. Just keep it respectful and constructive. I won't engage in any debates, so don't try it.

So, sit back, read on and if you feel compelled, respond.

Thank you.

Mario Figueroa.


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Posted by Shen     6 Comments Saturday, April 29, 2006
Lords of the Ring: Wing Chun's Rattan Ring

This is actually the 3rd installment of the “Devil in the Details” article series from the first kung fu babble and also found at the Shen Martial Arts website (http://www.shenmartialarts.com/articles.html). Depending on the response, we may re-publish the series here in its entirety.

Here, we will look at the Wing Chun Jook Wan Huen or Tin Wan Huen. The name Jook Wan Huen means “Bamboo linked circle” where as Tin Wan Huen refers to an “Iron linked circle.” Both names describe the structure of a defensive weapon and training de­vice used to refine and develop explosive vorticular Ging in the Bridge arms of a Wing Chun practitioner. It may also be used in any standard southern system of Gung Fu including White Eye­brow and Southern Praying Mantis.

The source of the information in this article comes from two of my five Wing Chun teachers, Sifu R.L. Harris and Mr.. Edmund Kwai both of whom describe the Wing Chun Rings development in the following way. My own research has found limited addi­tional information on the subject.

Within the first and second generations of Wing Chun’s develop­ment, prior to a widely standardized Wooden Dummy regimen, the bamboo ring was used by members of the nineteenth-century group called the Red Boat Opera Company (aka Red Flower Union and Plum Blossom Opera) as a means of training their special style of Gung Fu under the guise of a dramatic perfor­mance implement. Brightly colored for visual appeal and wield­ed in choreographed dramatic routines, the rings allowed the Opera members to train their art subtly and could be used defen­sively (in the hands or by being thrown) against an armed attack­er if the need arose.The Red Boat Opera Company disguised its members as traveling entertainers, allowing them to carry out their primary objectives of espionage and assassination. Almost all lineages of Wing Chun, with the exception of the Pao Fa Lien branch, claim descent from the members the Red Boat Opera Company.

The Tin Wan Huen “Iron linked circle” was used to strengthen and develop the coordination of the Bridge arms in conjunction with the Yee jee kim yeung ma stance and footwork. Because of its heaver weight the practitioner’s elbows sink down while training, and thus are stabilized by gravity (through relaxed trapezius and deltoid muscles) and manifest what the Chinese call Jang Dai Lik (Elbow sinking power). Once the practitioner’s movements were smoothly integrated, training would progress to the Jook Wan Huen “Bamboo linked circle” (the lighter of the two versions) where the training of pliable isometric spring strength, individual rotation of the forearms, and vorticular rotation between the bridge arms culminated in an explosive expansion and con­traction of Bau ja Ging “Exploding power” and Cheun Ging “Drilling power”. If this article generates interest, I will present in future installments the first five of fifteen ring exercise sets to impart this training method to those who are interested. First Set of Five are:(1) • Lin Wan Bong Sao Wu sao(2) • Fun Sao Jik Chung Choi - or - Tan Sao & Yat Chi Chung Kuen(3) • Sik Sao Cao Sao - or - Gahn Sao Gwat Sao(4) • Jeet Kiu Sao(5) • Po Pai Jeung

I was originally taught twenty-seven in all, but some, in my opinion, are redundant and lack the compact cyclic power needed for fighting. Now let’s look at the dimensions of a training ring's construction because just like a good wooden dummy, the dimensions of the Wing Chun ring have to be in accordance with the user’s stature.

First - The diameter of the ring must match the distance from the individual's centerline to his shoulder, replicating the distance allowance of the right & left combat doors or bilateral fighting gates. Another way to measure ring diameter is to take the distance from your wrist to the bend in the arm as the length of diameter that is best for you.

Second - The thickness of the outer edge of the ring should not exceed that of two fingers. A thicker ring adds excessive surface area to the training devise and impairs the practitioner's ability to coil the bridge arms smoothly and quickly around and through it.

Third - The outer surface of the Ring or Hoop must, in the begining, be easy to keep contact with. This can be achieved easily by wrapping the ring with elecrical tape so that the practitioner can maintain good “Gahn geep ging” sticking to the outer surface.

Later oil may be applied liberally to the ring to simulate the viscosity of Blood, (Sifu Larry Gibson emphasized this aspect of training). This aids in the training of cohesive movement, which in the days of old would be especially difficult if the ring were covered in the blood of the opponent or that of the user. In the 2nd installment of this article I will teach the reader how too con­struct their own Ring and begin going over the first five ring sets as well as applications. Wing Chun's Jook Wan Huen Ring is a compact and advanced training aid which reflects the systems early development and allows the practitioner to cultivate and refine their bridge arm skills when alone or travelling.

Tyler Rea owns Chung Yung Martial Arts in Lawrence, Kansas. He spe­cializes in Hsing-I Chuan, Wing Chun, and has an interest in Southern Praying Mantis.

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Posted by Shen     1 Comments Saturday, March 25, 2006
Lords of the Ring - Wing_Chun's Jook Wan Huen

In this 3rd installment of “Devil in the Details” article series we will look at the Wing Chun Jook Wan Huen or Tin Wan Huen. The name Jook Wan Huen means “Bamboo linked circle” where as Tin Wan Huen refers to an “Iron linked circle.” Both names describe the structure of a defensive weapon and training de­vice used to refine and develop explosive vorticular Ging in the Bridge arms of a Wing Chun practitioner. It may also be used in any standard southern system of Gung Fu including White Eye­brow and Southern Praying Mantis.

The source of the information in this article comes from two of my five Wing Chun teachers, Sifu R.L. Harris and Mr.. Edmund Kwai both of whom describe the Wing Chun Rings development in the following way. My own research has found limited addi­tional information on the subject.

Within the first and second generations of Wing Chun’s develop­ment, prior to a widely standardized Wooden Dummy regimen, the bamboo ring was used by members of the nineteenth-century group called the Red Boat Opera Company (aka Red Flower Union and Plum Blossom Opera) as a means of training their special style of Gung Fu under the guise of a dramatic perfor­mance implement. Brightly colored for visual appeal and wield­ed in choreographed dramatic routines, the rings allowed the Opera members to train their art subtly and could be used defen­sively (in the hands or by being thrown) against an armed attack­er if the need arose.The Red Boat Opera Company disguised its members as traveling entertainers, allowing them to carry out their primary objectives of espionage and assassination. Almost all lineages of Wing Chun, with the exception of the Pao Fa Lien branch, claim descent from the members the Red Boat Opera Company.

The Tin Wan Huen “Iron linked circle” was used to strengthen and develop the coordination of the Bridge arms in conjunction with the Yee jee kim yeung ma stance and footwork. Because of its heaver weight the practitioner’s elbows sink down while training, and thus are stabilized by gravity (through relaxed trapezius and deltoid muscles) and manifest what the Chinese call Jang Dai Lik (Elbow sinking power). Once the practitioner’s movements were smoothly integrated, training would progress to the Jook Wan Huen “Bamboo linked circle” (the lighter of the two versions) where the training of pliable isometric spring strength, individual rotation of the forearms, and vorticular rotation between the bridge arms culminated in an explosive expansion and con­traction of Bau ja Ging “Exploding power” and Cheun Ging “Drilling power”.

If this article generates interest, I will present in future installments the first five of fifteen ring exercise sets to impart this training method to those who are interested.

First Set of Five are:
(1) • Lin Wan Bong Sao Wu sao
(2) • Fun Sao Jik Chung Choi - or - Tan Sao & Yat Chi Chung Kuen
(3) • Sik Sao Cao Sao - or - Gahn Sao Gwat Sao
(4) • Jeet Kiu Sao
(5) • Po Pai Jeung

I was originally taught twenty-seven in all, but some, in my opinion, are
redundant and lack the compact cyclic power needed for fighting. Now let’s look at the dimensions of a training ring's construction because just like a good wooden dummy, the dimensions of the Wing Chun ring have to be in accordance with the user’s stature.

First - The diameter of the ring must match the distance from the indi­vidual's centerline to his shoulder, replicating the distance allowance of the right & left combat doors or bilateral fighting gates. Another way to measure ring diameter is to take the distance from your wrist to the bend in the arm as the length of diameter that is best for you.

Second - The thickness of the outer edge of the ring should not exceed that of two fingers. A thicker ring adds excessive surface area to the train­ing devise and impairs the practitioner's ability to coil the bridge arms smoothly and quickly around and through it.

Third - The outer surface of the Ring or Hoop must, in the begining, be easy to keep contact with. This can be achieved easily by wrapping the ring with elecrical tape so that the practitioner can maintain good “Gahn geep ging” sticking to the outer surface.

Later oil may be applied liberally to the ring to simulate the viscosity of Blood, (Sifu Larry Gibson emphasized this aspect of training). This aids in the training of cohesive movement, which in the days of old would be especially difficult if the ring were covered in the blood of the opponent or that of the user.
In the 2nd installment of this article I will teach the reader how too con­struct their own Ring and begin going over the first five ring sets as well as applications. Wing Chun's Jook Wan Huen Ring is a compact and advanced training aid which reflects the systems early development and allows the practitioner to cultivate and refine their bridge arm skills when alone or travelling.

Tyler Rea owns Chung Yung Martial Arts in Lawrence, Kansas. He spe­cializes in Hsing-I Chuan, Wing Chun, and has an interest in Southern Praying Mantis.

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Posted by Shen     1 Comments Monday, February 13, 2006
GrandMaster Jimmy Woo and Kung Fu San Soo
This article originally appeared on the first issue of the San Soo Journal and was written by Master Larry E. Wikel. It is reproduced here with permission and thanks to Master Ron Gatewood editor in chief of the San Soo Journal. Master Gatewood is a great friend, and is one of the most senior students of Grandmaster Jimmy Woo and what I would describe as a "curator" for all things San Soo. Thank you Master Gatewood and and to Master Wikel the author. Now on with the article:

The clouds rolled across a starfilled sky as Grandmaster Chin moved across the courtyard to the main training hall - it would be two hours before first light. He stopped momentarily to observe the movement of the clouds, saying to himself that it would be cool today, a good day for training in the courtyard. As he entered the main training hall he noticed a young man in the center of the hall. He was stripped down to the waist and in a full-horse stance, arms outstretched and in-line at shoulder level, palms down holding two buckets full of sand. He could see that he had been there for some time as he was dripping with perspiration as if he had just stepped in from a down pour. Grandmaster Chin could see the young man's strong back with broad shoulders, large hands, and thick solid legs for he stood rooted to the floor of the hall as if he were made of stone. Grandmaster Chin, an extremely large man standing at 6;5" tall and weighing well over 320 pounds, was well known for his teaching as well as his prowess as a fighter in San Soo, with men calling him "Neow Gee" (the Crazy Devil). As Overlord for the entire Guangdong Province he had complete control over nearly every aspect of the lives of the people in the area. No decisions were made without consulting him. As Grandmaster Chin stood in the shadows observing the young man a warm feeling of pride welled up within him, for the young man was his great nephew, Chin Siu Dek, his prize student. Dek, the fifth generation of the Chin family, would carry on the art of Tsoi-Li- Ho-Fut Hung and the fighting techniques of San Soo and one day become the guardian and protector of the Buddhist training texts that have remained within the Chin family for five generations.

It has never been clear why the books were placed into the Chin family's possession by the Kwan-Yin Monastery, but 300 years ago they were already quite old. Within the pages of these texts is contained the original recorded structure and teachings of the art for the last 1,500 years. Grandmaster Chin remembered when Dek began his training at the age of five and how he seemed to learn extremely fast. He loved the contact and grueling workouts, working out twelve to fourteen hours a day, and now at the age of eighteen Dek was a traveling teacher of the Art. When village elders decided it was time for the young men to learn to defend themselves, Dek would be sent to teach them. When anyone in the Province needed someone to come and settle a grievance, Dek was the enforcer. Chin Siu Dek, known to us under the passport name of Jimmy H. Woo, had a very colorful and exciting life as a young man training under his Great Uncle Grandmaster Chin Siu Hung. A life filled with many stories of struggle, disappointment, superior fighting skills and bravery, but those stories are for another day.

For now let us look at when Grandmaster Woo decided to teach San Soo to the American people by opening his school in 1962 in El Monte, California. It was pretty bold on Grandmaster Woo's part to take this knowledge which had been contained for many centuries within his family and teach to the Caucasians. Why Grandmaster Woo broke tradition, or chose to break tradition, is a question that will go unanswered due to his passing in February of 1991 . But, there are many of us who will always be grateful that he did make that break. Grandmaster Woo had a saying that "San Soo was a subject about which he was most knowledgeable and teaching San Soo to others was probably the activity that he loved the most". I, too, am very knowledgeable in the Art, and I, too, love to teach it, and have done so for close to 30 years. I believe he instilled this knowledge of the Art and the passion to teach it into many of the Masters of San Soo.

San Soo is a martial art in the purest sense of the word. It is a fighting Art employed in actual combat situations. It is an Art of breathing techniques, attitude control, of inter-emotional balance through concentration and focus. It is an Art of mind and body, it is a five family system. There is nothing derivative in San Soo if you are learning San Soo you are being taught from the exact knowledge contained in the collection of texts that Grandmaster Woo brought to the United States. I am confident that anyone reading this article knows that being ancient does not automatically imply better, but on the other hand San Soo's effectiveness as a fighting art has lasted due to its original form and structure of movement being taught as laid down in the Buddhist Training Texts. San Soo is built upon a solid foundation that has withstood the test of time. Surely it is better to build upon a solid foundation than to build upon an ever changing one. In contrast to a lot of the other martial arts, the discipline within San Soo is not like that of the military. We draw upon the students to discipline themselves and pull their disciplining from within. Though the atmosphere in San Soo is a relaxed family atmosphere, absolute seriousness and adherence in the learning of the Art is the pursuit of each individual. The school is primarily for the teaching of San Soo and the Art of Tsoi-Li-Ho-Fut-Hung. Classes are very simple and straight forward. We commence with warm-ups and stretching exercises which deal directly with the Art in one way or another, whether it is the movements for blocking, stances, kicking, and punching exercises, etc. This is followed by what we call "two and two" workouts, a time for the students to take turns working techniques on each other after lessons are given. During this workout both students are immersed in a nonstop learning process for the development of an automatic faculty for selecting the most effective techniques to remove oneself from the situation by neutralizing the enemy.

San Soo amazes me, even after being involved in it for so many years, watching the evolution of techniques that come from continuously creating the Art. It amazes me each time I do it, or when I see a student go through a lesson and watch them create with it. Grandmaster Woo would say "I am more than happy to give you all the knowledge I can, for there are no secrets here. The knowledge of San Soo is not a mystical thing that cannot be shared or shared only with a select few, it is there for anyone who expresses an interest beyond questioning".

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Saturday, January 7, 2006
Kung Fu Thoughts for the New Year - Challenge the Impossible!

New York Times: May 6,1933
LI CHING-YUN DEAD; GAVE HIS AGE AS 197.
Inquiry Put Age At 256.

“Keep a Quiet Heart, Sit Like a Tortoise, Sleep Like a Dog,” His Advice for a Long Life.

Peiping, May 5 – Li Ching-Yun, a resident of Kaihsien, in the Province of Szechwan, who contended that he was one of the world’s oldest men and said he was born in 1736 – which would make him 197 years old – died today.

A Chinese dispatch from Chungking telling of Mr. Li’s death said he attributed his longevity to peace of mind and that it was his belief every one could live at least a century by attaining inward calm.

Compared with estimates of Li Ching-yun’s age in previous reports from China the above dispatch is conservative. In 1930 it was said Professor Wu Chung-chien, dean of the department of Education in Minkuo University, had found records showing Li was born in 1677 and that Imperial Chinese Government congratulated him on his 150th and 200th birthdays.

A correspondent of The New York Times wrote in 1928 that many of the oldest men in Li’s neighborhood asserted their grandfathers knew him as boys and that he was then a grown man.

According to the generally accepted tales told in his province. Li was able to read and write as a child, and by his tenth birthday had traveled in Kansu, Shansi, Tibet, Annam, Siam and Manchuria gathering herbs. For the first hundred years he continued at this occupation. Then he switched to selling herbs gathered by others.

Wu Pei-fu, the warlord, took Li into his house to learn the secret of living to 250. Another pupil said Li told him to “keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon and sleep like a dog.”

According to one version of Li’s married life he had buried away twenty-three wives and was living with his twenty-four, a woman of ’60.’ Another account, which in 1928 credited him with 180 living descendents, comprising eleven generations, recorded only fourteen marriages. This second authority said his eyesight was good; also, that the finger nails of his right hand were very long, and “long” for a Chinese might mean longer than any finger nails ever dreamed of in the United States.

One statement of The Times correspondent which probably caused skeptical readers to believe Li was born more recently that 1677, was that “many who have seen him recently declare that his facial appearance is no different from that of persons two centuries his junior.”

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given, than to explore the power they have to change it.
Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion.
Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare.
Impossible is temporary.
Impossible is potential.
Impossible is nothing.

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Wednesday, December 21, 2005
The Jow Jumped Over The Moon - Using Lunar Phases to Improve Your Dit Da Jow



This is a very intriguing hypothesis which my friend Rod Morgan is experimenting with as this is written. There is so much that we do not know and our world continues to reveal mysteries to those who will listen. Thank you Rod for your exploration and quest for knowledge. Don't let us forget old knowledge and keep seeking for new.

I have a personal belief that you can use the power of the "waxing" moon cycle to "brew" jow by. This is a personal belief of mine and is not scientifically proven. I will however site my theory. Farmers for centuries have planted crops, castrated animals, weened animals and humans and hunters followed the movements of animals by the phases of the moon. It is a scientific fact that the moon controls the ocean tides, influences the ground water tables beneath the earth and the movement of fluids in plants. Even continental land masses are said to rise 2 to 3 feet in elevation with the changinig of the moon phases. From the time a "new" moon is sited until it reaches the height of it's power as a full moon, makes the cycle of the waxing moon. The moon goes through an entire cycle of waxing and waning about every 28 days. Native Americans believe the moon and it's phases are the clock with which a woman's cycle flows, new moon being the begining, full being the ovulation. It is interesting to note that the human body sheds a layer of skin every 28 days. A common practice in Chinese Herbalism is to cook or brew herbs for use a total of 2 times. This normally applies to herbs for internal use, but I have tried this theory for jow also. The first time the temperature energy is released and this affects you on the qi level. It is superficial or yang in nature. The second is the taste energy and affects you on a blood level, the yin is affected. You should then combine them both for balance for use. I realize this is a litlle more involved than just adding the brewing medium to the herbs and let stand for 12 weeks, however I believe it is worth the extra effort to produce a more potent jow.

Here are the steps:

1. I begin in the new moon. I grind my herbs for use to a coarse consistancy. I add the herbs to the appropriate size container then add 1/2 of the soaking medium ie; vodka, 1/2 gal. for a 1 gal. size, 1gal. for a 2 gal. size. I heat the vodka using a double boiler set up ie; the vodka in a quart jar submersed in a water bath. I bring it to just below boiling. I then add it to the herbs and seal. I agitate it daily for 28 days.
2. On the next new moon, I strain of the liquid from the herbs using a peice of screen door mesh, into a seperate container and set aside. I then repeat the first process, agitating daily for 28 days.
3. At the next new moon, I add the first brew to the second in the orginal container and let set for the last 28 days. 3 moon cycles. The longer it sits the better , however after 84 days you should have some pretty potent jow ready for use.

Not all jow formulas are suitable for a heated method. My favorite formulas are "golden lotus" and "monks fist" which contain alot of hard barks and resins which are suitable for the method described. The same method can be used without the heating of the soaking medium, especially if the formula contains alot of fauna type herbs which sometimes can be harmed by excessive heat. If you have any ?s' Mario is always happy to help. Good luck and happy brewing.

Ron started a batch of Golden Lotus on the last full moon and will be reporting on the results at the end of the 3rd cycle in a couple of months. He is also sending me a sample to test out and compare. Please enter any questions, ideas or thoughts regarding this theory and experiment on the comments section. Myself and Rod will answer to the best of our abilities. Thank you.

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The little things... - 3:00 am Inspiration



Ok, So this is not exactly Kung Fu, but work with me a little and you can see how your training and practice fits in. These thoughts came to me at around 3:00am and I just had to put pen to paper. This happens to me from time to time. So, stay with me and if this makes sense, great. If not, thanks for taking time to read it.

It’s the little things….

They say it’s the little things that count
So why do we long for the big things?
Little things happen every moment, every day
And add up to everything that is great and worthy
In this life

We are on this journey where every step is a lesson,
And each tells a story, a million stories of a life well lived,
Yet we seek to forgo the steps and leap to our end destination, whatever it may be
Not realizing that the destination is determined while on the way

Everything Matters…
Every decision is meaningful,
Every act chiseled in the Heavenly Tablet
Every thought carved in the Cosmic Ether
And every word inked into the Book of Life

It is said that life is but a play
And as actors we must play our part well
But our role is not predetermined,
We do have a choice
To be a Hero or a Villain,
A King or a Pauper
A glorious Redwood or a Thorny Bush

It is the little things that make us who we are
And shape us daily,
Action by action, Word by Word, Thought by Thought

A kind word, a simple smile, a good morning to a passerby,
A heartfelt word of encouragement to someone in need,
A white lie, an exaggeration, a criticism behind your brother’s back,
A secret wish for someone’s lack of success….

Be self true and understand your heart
Lest you fool yourself by good deeds but dark thoughts
It is better to be a good Villain that to be a false Samaritan
Who helps others only for self gain ….
This is a great trap where many fall

Can’t we see the truth before our eyes?
That little things beget great things
And little things are the fabric of existence

So mind the little things, as they will take care of you
As it is the little things done and the small steps taken
Moment to moment, Breath to breath,
Thought to thought, and Day to day
That lead to all things great

Thus is the unguarded secret, in front of us all
It’s the little things that count……….


By Mario Figueroa 12/13/05

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Saturday, November 19, 2005
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants - Weapons Training Part 1

It is common these days to question the validity of many of the traditional kung fu training methods handed down to us from antiquity. It is also terribly frequent for modern no holds barred combat experts to conclude that many of these most revered principles of traditional training are no longer practical for the "Modern World". Most maligned of all is our traditional kung fu weapons training heritage. So, is weapons training just a left over remannt from days past? Or is it an inherent and integral element of martial arts training? Is there a deeper, more fundamental purpose to weapons training? This first installment addresses some of these general questions, while the remaining parts will deal with specific kung fu weapons and their individual essence, benefits and purpose.

It is interesting to note that all traditional martial systems and styles have weapons training in their curriculum. When taught correctly, weapons are introduced at the upper intermediate or advanced levels, after the student has achieved a solid level of proficiency in their chosen style. It easy to discard this as impractical and no longer valid but in reality there is a deeper purpose for this that goes beyond the practicality and use of the weapons themselves. We must remember that our predecesors spent countless hours, measured in lifetimes, of blood, sweat, tears and contemplation to develop, refine and organize this knowledge, accrued over centuries and passed on from teacher to student over the ages.

It is egotistical, and disrespectfully naive to believe that we can discard the treasure throve that has been passed on to us, just because it seems not usable. Unusable for what purpose? Today as in all times, there is ignorance and lack of understanding. Just because you don't see the purpose, does not mean there is none. Those that question their own lack of understanding and focus on the deeper aspects will reach the higher levels indeed. But, how many of us are willing to invest the time and effort that this may involve? Just remember, if you don't see a value, it is because you did not reach this level of understanding and if so, question the student not the teaching.

Sir Issac Newton, in response to praise given to him for his many scientific accomplishments wrote: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants". It is admirable to analyze and question what you are given, as this leads to knowledge and understanding. But it is arrogant to brush off what does not make sense, since in reality that is just your own lack of understanding.

Authentic traditional kung fu training as embodied by weapons training, is a treasured gift to be studied, analyzed, and internalized. Only then can it be a platform on which to add on your own knowledge and discovery, that can then be passed on to those that will come after. This is how our martial arts have advanced and improved over the passing of time. It is a deep and solid foundation to build on, not one to take apart and rearrange, as often what ends up is a weaker version. Standing on the shoulders of the Giants that came before, we can look farther out and see beyond our biases, preferences and justifications.

There is great value to our traditional martial arts training, value both for combat as well as for higher purposes, that is waiting there to be discovered.


"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent"
- Sir Issac Newton English mathematician & physicist (1642 - 1727)


For more informataion on the fan shown in the picture, visit: http://www.shenmartialarts.com/pheonixironfan.html

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Tuesday, November 8, 2005
Nature's Penicillin

Just in time for flu season, this article comes from my good friend and Kung Fu brother Rod Morgan. Rod is an avid student of all things natural and is currently conducting research on Dit Da Jow. We post this with best wishes for health and well being for all, and to exort everyone to take personal responsibility for your health. With that, on to the article:

I would first like to thank Mario for the opportunity to share info with you. He has been a blessing in my life ....

"let thy food be thy medicine"
-hippocrates


As the 2005 cold and flu season is upon us, and horror stories in the news of the "bird flu" cirrculate, I would like to share a little known home remedy with you that has been known to work wonders. Let me start off by saying this: don't fall victim to all the hype about the "bird flu". If you do the reasearch you will find that there are only 60 reported deaths in the past few years directly related to the "bird flu" and all those had direct contact with infected fowl. However there are many different strains of the flu and 1000s' die every year from it's effects. Prevention is the best weapon ie; wash hands frequently, healthy diet, exercise, rest, chi kung (especially iron vest) and grateful prayer go a long way. The remedy I will share today is a garlic based preparation that is used at the first signs of a cold or flu, but can also be used as a preventative, to bolster the immune system.

garlic (da suan)
bulbus ali sativi
energy and flavor: warm; acrid
properties:anthelminitic, nutrient, antibacterial, antifungal, tonic


Garlic's history of medicinal use goes back at least 5000 yrs. Garlic's documented anti-bacterial, anti-viral properties date back to ancient egypt and early chinese culture. Records in an ancient inscritption in the great pyramid of Cheops state that the sum of 1600 talents of silver-equivalent to $30 million US dollars today- were paid to supply the workers with garlic, onions and radishes while the pyramid was being constructed. Another cool story is that during the bubonic plague in 1722 in marseilles, France there were 3 thieves going around robbing the homes of the dead. They were immune to the effects of the plague. They were caught and sentenced to death, but were offered clemency for the secret for not being effected. Their secret was 50 cloves of garlic soaked in 3 pints of wine vinegar, which they rubbed on the face, hands,arms,clothes and drank before they went out. The authorities passed this info on to the public and many were saved. Ok, enough history and on to the formula:

Take 3/4 lb. of each of the following; garlic, white onion, horseradish root, and ginger root. Chop all finely and place in a 1 gal. jar. Now add 4 tbls. of cayenne pepper, preferably african bird, the hottest you can get. Fill the jar the rest of the way with applecider vinegar, let set for 2-3 weeks agitating daily. Use 1 oz. every other day as a boost during the flu season, or if you feel something coming on, 3-5 oz. before bed. It goes without saying that organic is preferable. Honey can be added to taste. I hope this will help. If you liked this article or didn't, please e-mail feedback to:
taochi123@yahoo.com, or shenmartialarts@cox.net. You can also enter your questions or comments on this journaland we will be happy to reply. Until next time GOD bless you all.
rod.

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Monday, November 7, 2005
Ode to the much Harangued Horse Stance
The horse stance, Ma Bo, Sei Ping Ma, the source of Kung Fu Strength, Ability and Jing. So misunderstood, attacked as useless and abandoned by its own practitioners, the golden key to advancement in our chosen path.

Strengthens the legs, tendons and sinews, but much more than that, it harnesses the lower jiao, enhances the kidneys and empowers the jing, the essence that is the crowning jewel of martial rigor.

As if that wasn't enough, ongoing practice helps moisten and empower the lungs, enlivining the Chi and opening the door to the higher regions.

Scoff as they may, the key is in front of your eyes. It is the grand exercise, the great posture, the basic horse stance.

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Posted by Shen     2 Comments Tuesday, October 25, 2005
The Best Dit Da Jow Part 3 - A Few Tips for the Weary

So, what is the answer to our quest for the best Dit Da Jow? If there is no one best formula, than what should one do? If you have been following the earlier installments it will be apparent by now that there is not a single formulation that is the best for everyone's needs but that does not mean that you should not look for specific elements to ensure you get the best quality Dit Da jow possible. Below are some tips to help you on your search:
  1. Look for a Dit Da Jow Formula that addresses your specific needs. Are you training hard and want to heal bruises and eliminate pain? Or perhaps you pulled a leg muscle playing racquetball. You may be having extreme sharp pain in your neck and shoulders or want to heal a hairline fracture on your foot. Determining what it is you want from the Dit Da Jow will help you look for and find the correct Dit Da Jow formula for your needs. And while general purpose formulas will work on a variety of needs, there are formulas for very specific needs that will work better.
  2. Dit Da Jow must be made from high grade herbs. The key to an effective Dit Da Jow lies in the quality of the herbs it is made from. Many formulas being offered up for sale are made with lesser quality herbs which are much cheaper than high grade herbs. The potency of the resulting Dit Da Jow is much lower. Still cheaper are herbs that are past their prime and this will result in even weaker, less effective Dit Da Jow.
  3. Darkeness, Murkiness or Sediment are NOT reliable indicators of High Quality Dit Da Jow. The Darkness or coloration of Dit Da Jow is a function of the type of herbs used and it is easy to manipulate color just by adding herbs that make the liquid darker. Floating herbal matter and amount of sediment are also easily manufactured simply by grinding the herbs into a powder prior to aging the Dit Da Jow. In fact, this is a common trick used by those selling improperly aged Dit Da Jow. It so happens that some of the best Dit Da Jow will be fairly clear, smooth and with little or no sediment. These are usually filtered prior to bottling so what you get is only the purest herbal essence as extracted by the alcohol base. Filtered Dit Da Jows are absrobed by the skin at a faster rate and are much less likely to cause a rash or upset the skin.
  4. Dit Da Jow Must Be Aged Properly. Dit Da Jow effectiveness increases with aging, and the longer it is aged, the better it will be. Aging occurs best at the batch level, when the herbs and alcohol are mixed and sealed. Some will say that Jow continues to age once it is bottled for use. This is incorrect and and excuse to sell you improperly aged Dit Da Jow. The extraction of herbal constituents takes place when the correct quantity of herbs is aged in the correct amount of alcohol medium. Period.
  5. The Bottle Makes a Difference. There are those who claim that using plastic bottles is ok. Well, it is NOT. While plastic is fine for other types of liquids and even for other types of liniments and formulations it is not good for storing or containing Dit Da Jow. Anyone with experience making Dit Da Jow will tell you that the herbal tincture will begin to decompose the plastic, almost melting it. The decomposed plastic will mix with the Dit Da Jow and will change its characteristics. You usually cannot see this as it happens on the inside of the bottle, but it happens and it is not good for the Dit Da Jow nor is it good for you. Dit Da Jow must be contained in glass. Dark, tinted glass is better to limit exposure to light. Bottles should be first use (not resused), and preferably be of food grade to ensure cleanliness. The bottles must seal out air completely. So you can see that the lowly bottle does play a key role.
  6. The Dit Da Jow Formulation must be from an Authentic Source. An authentic source can be a Certified Chinese Herbalist, or a more traditional source such as an ancient Chinese Herbal Text or a traditional formulation kept within a Martial heritage and passed on to students or members of that heritage. The key is that the formulation follow accepted formulation methods based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. Beware of newer formulas or formulas that claim to have modern components or a mixture of eastern and western herbs. While they may be excellent, they are typically hodpoges of herbs thrown together by someone who just finished reading a book on herbs. Follow the tried and proven. If the formula has been around and in use by a particular group for a long time, you will probably experience good results. It is not that new formulas cannot be good or that western herbs will not work, but rather that there are multitudes of people with little knowledge or experience making up formulas and claiming to have the best ever. Be safe and don't waste your time and money. Stay with the tried and proven.

The best way to ensure that the above points are covered and that you are getting the best formula possible is this: Find a reputable source, someone who is well known, of high reputation, that offers a wide range of formulas instead of one silver bullet. Someone who can answer your questions and who is willing to take the time to provide information, background and reasoning behind their recommendations. The biggest or largest organization may not be the best place to go. Use the Chinese restaurant criteria, small places do have great food and if the Chinese eat there, it must be good. In the case of Dit Da Jow, follow the line of martial artists and see whom they are getting their Dit Da Jow from. Experiment with various sources, examine their offerings, see how they stand behind they product and most of all, if their stuff works.

That is it, no magic, no silver bullets, just rational logical smart shopping and trial and error in a sea of offerings, all claiming to be the best. Good Luck!

If you are in the search for good quality Dit Da Jow, check out the selection at http://www.shenmartialarts.com/smabotjow.html


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Posted by Shen     1 Comments Sunday, October 23, 2005
Ark Y. Wong's 5 Family / 5 Animal Kung Fu Curriculum

I decided to post the curriculum of this famous but now rare style for the simple reason that it has prior to now been unavailable to the public. There were a number of inacurate, unauthentic or incomplete versions floating around on the internet, mostly posted by those claiming to know the system and by some who actually claimed to have inherited the system when GM Ark Wong passed away. The actual inheritor and current head of the system, GM Seming Ma has now made the authentic currriculum available. Take a look and be sure to send any questions or comments. So here it is, for the record. Enjoy!


Five Family Style Curriculum

Basics
Southern style kung fu is commonly known for its quick foot works and hand movements which derives from speed , balance, power and agility. The development of quickness depends on the thoroughness of a basic training program. In Five Family Style, it starts with learning the correct posture and mechanics of the stances, punches, blocks, and kicks. The next step is to work on power and speed, practice with weights to increase strength and mobility, zigzag around obstacles to gain slalom speed. Then comes balancing training, traditionally it was done on top of a pole formation named plum flower poles (five poles), but it is acceptable to substitute with bricks. For focusing, it is desirable to use a wooden dummy for blocking, stuffed bags for punching and kicking. The final step is to be able to integrate any stances, punches, blocks and kicks into a single movement or a series of techniques randomly. Of course, lessons of proper breathing is included in basic training. Our simple concept of breathing is: inhale when hands are in, exhale when hands are out. However, the advance level requires the dynamic of the breathing rhythm be synchronized with the flow of techniques in order to endure fatigue.


Stances
Front stance - Straight stance - Side stance - Cat stance - Cross leg stance - Low stance - Kneeling stance - One leg stance - Jumping cross leg stance - Sliding stance - Turnaround jumping stance


Punches
Flat punch - Straight punch - Uppercut - Leopard punch - Back hand - Hook punch - Chicken heart punch - Overhead punch


Slaps & Cuts
Front slap - Back hand slap - Side slap - Finger tap - High chop - Medium cut - Push hand - Angle slice


Blocks
Outside block - Slapping block - Hammer fist block - Cut block - Hook block - Upward block - Knee block - Arm block - Elbow block


Kicks
Front kick - Side kick - Stomp kick - Snap kick - Heel kick - Crescent kick - Double kick - Horse kick


Sweeps
Front sweep - Back sweep - Double sweep - High sweep - Hook sweep - Slap sweep
Hand Forms


Salute
A salutation at the beginning of the following five hand forms, to show greeting and respect, and to identify the uniqueness' of the style.
Small Cross - Butterfly - Combination - Black Bird - Palm


Ten Animal Forms
Snake - Tiger - Dragon - Leopard - Crane - Lion - Elephant - Horse - Monkey - Panther


Combination Animal Forms
Dragon and Tiger - Crane and Snake and Dragon - Tiger and Leopard


Two - Men Forms
Fighting Form One - Fighting Form Two


Supplementary Hand Forms
Exercise Form One - Exercise Form Two - Exercise Form Three - Eagle - Golden Dragon - Gliding Crane - Side Tiger - Bull

Weapon Forms
Butterfly Knife - Double Head Stick - Short Stick - Long Pole one - Long Pole Two - Single Saber - Double Saber - Single Sword - Double Sword - Green Dragon Sword - Spear - Nine Ring Big Broadsword - 3 Sectional Staff One - 3 Sectional Staff Two - Quon Do One - Quon Do Two - Single Dagger - Double Dagger - Tiger Hook Sword - Tiger Fork - Single Crescent Spear - Steel Whip Chin - Double Monk's Cymbal - Monk's Spade


Two - Men Forms
Butterfly Knife vs Empty Hand - Short Stick vs Same - Double Head Stick vs Same - Spear vs Sable - 3 Sectional Staff vs Spear - Single Butterknife with Shield vs Spear

Ranking
No sash - Grey 1,2,3,4 - Green 1,2,3,4, - Red 1,2,3,4 - Blue 1,2,3,4 - Black 1,2 - Instructor Black - Master Black




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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Thursday, October 20, 2005
Dit Da Jow Formula and Preparation Instructions.



This article was submitted by Friend and Kung Fu Brother, Dale Dugas. Dale has long time experience with Chinese Herbs and Dit Da Jow. Here he speaks of his encounter with this strange stuff, gives us some advise based on his experience, and then does the unthinkable .... He gives out a formula!!! Not only that, he proceeds to explain how to prepare it for your own use!!! When was the last time you heard of anyone giving out the ingredients for a Dit Da Jow formula? Thank you Dale for your unselfishness and sharing. You are a true Kung Fu brother. If anyone wishes to contact Dale or learn more about his background, a short bio and contact information are included below.

Dit Da Jow: Herbal Healing Liniment

My first exposure to Dit Da Jow (Bruise Liniment) was while training in a Uechi –Ryu Karate Dojo in South Eastern Massachusetts where I grew up. I had been kicked in the shin very hard by a fellow student and my shin was already darkening as the blood began to pool below the surface of the skin.

My teacher went into the other room and brought back a bottle of very dark liquid, which he was shaking as he was walking over to me. I had never seen teacher with this type of bottle before. I was both curious to know what it was as much as I was apprehensive of his using this “liquid” on me. My teacher explained that this liquid was used in Kung-fu schools and helps heal bruises as well as other injuries which occur during training.

Man! What a surprise. I had never known there existed medicine for martial arts before this. I thought you took aspirin and iced and heated your injuries like other Western healing modalities common to injury first aid. Opening the bottle my teacher poured out into his hand a small amount of the liquid which he then rubbed into the bruised area of my shin. At first it hurt as my teacher was rubbing the bump that had already begun to form. He repeated this 3 times in the space of 15 minutes.

I thanked him, and then class ended and I went home. The next day I woke to find that the bruise which was an ugly dark mark under the skin had turned a shade of weak brown overnight. I was almost too much for my 14 year old brain to comprehend such healing power from a liquid. Thus began my introduction to using Dit Da Jow/Tieh Ta Jiu.


Within the last 15 years many people have been exposed to the healing benefits of this once mysterious dark concoction. Many people have hoodwinked others into thinking that one should pay thousands of dollars for a specific formula. Let me say that most of the herbs used in Chinese Medicine are cheap by Western standards. There are some herbs which are getting harder to locate and conversely you see their rarity reflected in the price the herbalist will charge you. I have been lucky over the years to make friends with herbalists as well as a few martial artists over the world who just happened to be large scale proponents of using jow for training in martial arts.

My first formula came from the Hung Ga/Hung Jia family of Kung Fu. The herbs were cool to look at as the herbalist filled the formula for me while I waited. I could not believe the amount of material he was pulling out of small drawers and weighing. He had a pile going and told me that this was half the formula. Roots, barks, leaves, and actual insects were in this formula. Not only that, he went into the back room and returned with a whole snake which he said was good to guard against rheumatism and arthritis as well as strengthen the qi.

I found myself a 4 gallon jar, added the herbs and a whole lot of cheap rotgut whiskey (some teachers seem to prefer gin, others vodka, even rice wine. I have found that all of the above makes great product. There is not ultimate liquor to use, rather one that performs the best for you. My favorite is 80 Proof Vodka.) and placed the container in my closet. 6 months later I drained off a smaller bottle of the jow to try. Brought it to a friends house and cracked it open to apply before our 3 Star hitting session would begin.

The liniment was dark, pungent and made my arms fill with energy and fluid within a few moments. This was the sign of a good liniment. You should feel your body reacting (in a good way) within moments of application. Too many commercial jows available to the public are watered down. Some say this is to increase sales, others that the regular strength liniment could cause a rash with those of tender skin. For whatever reason few jows are truly strong unless you know what went into them, hence I make all my own training jows.

I have included this formula for you to try. It’s rather balanced well with blood moving herbs as well pain killing and qi moving herbs. You can use this for most injuries and basic iron palm training. You will not be able to find eagles claws in the USA. I was taught to substitute chicken feet. 20 feet or 10 pairs of feet are to be used. Gather the herbs, and a 4 gallon jar. I use beer making carboys, but some people hate having to take the time to place all the herbs within the container. Again is preference. Never use plastic, only glass or ceramic. Some people steam their herbs before adding the alcohol. I have tried it both ways and do not see a large difference in efficacy. Add the alcohol, seal the container, label the date and then place it in the closet. Wait at least 8 weeks before you use any. I shake mine everyday for the first 2 weeks and then leave it alone until the 8 weeks is up. I then transfer some into a smaller container and reseal the original bottle and keep that in the closet out of sunlight.

I hope you enjoy your liniment!

Train hard, and use your jow when you need it.

Dale B. Dugas,
192 Holbrook Road Apt. 2R
Quincy, MA 02171
617-595-8097

Martial Arts Experience:
* 1st degree Black Belt in Uechi-Ryu Karate under Jack Summers
* Hung-gar Kung Fu under Yon Lee
* Aikido/Jujitsu/Judo under Testusaburo Maekawa
* Taijiquan, Hsingyiquan, Baguazhang under Kwan Sai Hung
* Jiulong Baguazhang (9 Dragon Baguazhang) under Dr. John Painter
* Iron Palm under GM Gene L. Chicoine of the ISCA




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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Tuesday, October 18, 2005
5 Animal Kung Fu - Innovation and Tradition Come Together
I wrote this for the Southern Fist Forum(http://hungkuennet.forumco.com/) in answer to their request for information about Grandmaster Ark Wong's 5 family / 5 animal Style.

Grandmaster Ark Wong is generally recognized as the first to teach Chinese Kung Fu to non-chinese students. This style inspired and influenced many and in many ways paved the way for Kung Fu to spread outside of China.

The official name for the style is Ng Gar Kuen which means 5 family fist. Many call it the 5 animal style due to its use of 5 distinct animal forms. The style was formed by Ark Y. Wong by combining what he believed to be the most effective characteristics of 5 different family styles of Kung Fu: Fut Gar, Hung Gar, Choy Gar, Lee Gar, and Mok Gar.

Stances are higher than those of most southern styles of Kung Fu but still defined. The style emphasizes mobility and fast, fluid footwork. Basics are at the heart of training in the style with forms being taught depending on the progress of the students basics. Basics are hand drills, conditioning, footwork, breath coordination, strength & stamina training, flexibility, speed and reflex training.

The system consists of 6 forms that introduce the various 5 family characteristics or techniques. Applications are emphasized. Sparring is also stressed but only when the teacher determines that the student is ready, so it does not begin at any particular, predetermined time. After the first six hand forms come the 5 animal forms. Tiger, Dragon, Snake, Leopard, Crane. These are very long forms that contain internal elements and that develop Jing. The "Breathing Form" is taught at this time as well. It is a combination dynamic tension set and Chi Kung set.

Weapons training begins at an intermediate level. The style has two man sets (hand, weapons, empty hand vs. weapon), a wooden dummy set, and uses the Moi Fah Jong, the plumb Blossom Poles. Iron Palm is in the curriculum as is Dim Mak, but students are selected for this type of training (traditionally).

One characteristic that stands out is the use of sweeps. This system incorporates sweeps (forward, back, 360 degree) much more than other arts that I have seen. A Ng Gar Kuen practitioner develops sweeps to a very high degree. The style does not use blocks per se, instead all moves are offensive. The constant drilling is meant to develop "maximum power with minimum effort, maximum efficiency" in the words of the head of the system, Seming Ma, Grandson of the late Grandmaster Ark Y. Wong.

After the 5 animal forms are completed, along with the core weapons (short, long, double, flexible)with an acceptable degree of proficiency, the core curriculum has been completed and the student receives a black sash. To continue, he/she is encouraged to begin teaching the style. There are advanced animal sets (elephant, eagle, etc.), and other higher level training.

It is a fascinating art, created out the knowledge and innovation of a great martial artist, but incorporating many of the traditions of Chinese Kung Fu.

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Monday, October 17, 2005
The Best Dit Da Jow - Part Two
OK, So the response was less than overwhelming, but I have to assume someone is reading this and will now end the gnawing suspense I left you with. Drum roll please - THE BEST DIT DA JOW IS ......

There is none. There is no one formula that is best for everyone or for every type of use. That is why there are many different formulas and different approaches used in the combination of herbs,number of herbs, Alcohol type, mixing, making, storage, aging, etc.

Over time, like the martial arts themselves, different variations have been developed from many particular viewpoints of what each believes to be "the best" or better than the others. And being that there are so many herbs in the Chinese Pharmacoupia, there are many different combinations that will lead to a good formula that exhibits good results.

But what are good results? Well, what is it that you are looking for? What results are you seeking? In Martial Arts, this usually means a distinction between 2 categories: Healing or Conditioning. Healing jows are those that have warmer formulations, increasing blood circulation and dispersing congealed blood. These are the formulas that clear up those nasty training bruises like magic, some much better than others. Conditioning jows are the Iron Palm formulas which are cooling in nature, disperse stagnation, and mobilize Chi. These are the formulas used for repetitive striking, such as done in Iron Palm training, or in blow resistance exercises like 3 star, shin star, roller bar, or in Japanese Martial arts, Makiwara training. The conditioning formulas will prevent damage, avoid swelling, and dramatically increase the resistance and strength of the areas being conditioned.

It would be nice if these two categories were discrete and distinct but that is not the case. First, there are formulas that have elements of both, a category of all purpose formulas, if you will. That is not too bad, a formula that takes care of healing and conditioning? More combinience. Yes but... there are so many people marketing Dit Da Jow these days and invariably there are formulas being sold as healing that are not, and others being sold as Iron Palm formulas that are not. In other words, these broad categories are being mixed and the terms are being used interchangeably. This further muddies the waters.

But no one said that there were only 3 types. In fact there are many more. There are formulas for healing deep tissue, formulas for healing muscle tears, formulas for fractured bones. There are formulas that heal conditions located in the upper body and others for lower body. There are specific formulas for the shoulders, for the knees, for the waist. And then there are those for internal, soft tissue bruising. And we can go on and on.

So, in our search for the best Dit Da Jow, the first question that must be asked is: for what purpose? Stated differently, What do you want it for?

And with that I will end todays installment, leaving you all on pins and needles, anxiously waiting for the next.

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Saturday, October 15, 2005
The Best Dit Da Jow - Not quite that Simple
OK, So the response was less than overwhelming, but I have to assume someone is reading this and will now end the gnawing suspense I left you with. Drum roll please - THE BEST DIT DA JOW IS ......

There is none. There is no one formula that is best for everyone or for every type of use. That is why there are many different formulas and different approaches used in the combination of herbs,number of herbs, Alcohol type, mixing, making, storage, aging, etc.

Over time, like the martial arts themselves, different variations have been developed from many particular viewpoints of what each believes to be "the best" or better than the others. And being that there are so many herbs in the Chinese Pharmacoupia, there are many different combinations that will lead to a good formula that exhibits good results.

But what are good results? Well, what is it that you are looking for? What results are you seeking? In Martial Arts, this usually means a distinction between 2 categories: Healing or Conditioning. Healing jows are those that have warmer formulations, increasing blood circulation and dispersing congealed blood. These are the formulas that clear up those nasty training bruises like magic, some much better than others. Conditioning jows are the Iron Palm formulas which are cooling in nature, disperse stagnation, and mobilize Chi. These are the formulas used for repetitive striking, such as done in Iron Palm training, or in blow resistance exercises like 3 star, shin star, roller bar, or in Japanese Martial arts, Makiwara training. The conditioning formulas will prevent damage, avoid swelling, and dramatically increase the resistance and strength of the areas being conditioned.

It would be nice if these two categories were discrete and distinct but that is not the case. First, there are formulas that have elements of both, a category of all purpose formulas, if you will. That is not too bad, a formula that takes care of healing and conditioning? More combinience. Yes but... there are so many people marketing Dit Da Jow these days and invariably there are formulas being sold as healing that are not, and others being sold as Iron Palm formulas that are not. In other words, these broad categories are being mixed and the terms are being used interchangeably. This further muddies the waters.

But no one said that there were only 3 types. In fact there are many more. There are formulas for healing deep tissue, formulas for healing muscle tears, formulas for fractured bones. There are formulas that heal conditions located in the upper body and others for lower body. There are specific formulas for the shoulders, for the knees, for the waist. And then there are those for internal, soft tissue bruising. And we can go on and on.

So, in our search for the best Dit Da Jow, the first question that must be asked is: for what purpose? Stated differently, What do you want it for?

And with that I will end todays installment, leaving you all on pins and needles, anxiously waiting for the next.

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Posted by Shen     0 Comments Friday, October 14, 2005
Tradition vs. Innovation - Yin and Yang Once Again
There is a reason that I chose this topic as the beginning of my Kung Fu babble. That reason is, that as of today, October 14, 2005, the argument over tradition in the martial arts rages on, much like it has for the last several decades and maybe since the very birth of the martial arts. Babble at its best, don't you think?

Seriously,isn't clear, looking at the history and evolution of the martial arts that there can be no tradition without the progress that innovation brings to a discipline and likewise that there can be no innovation without the foundation that tradition provides? So, like everything else in this universe of ours, one is because of the other and vice versa.

Tradition is necessary to promote the values and principles that are the backbone of every martial tradition, no matter the style: Hung Gar or Ha Say Fu; Wing Chun or Ving Tsun; Bak Mei or Bak Fu Pai; Choy Li Fut or Fut Hung Choy Lee Mok; Chow Gar Southern Praying Mantis or Seven Star Northern Praying Mantis; Chen, Yang or Wu Tai Chi; Xing Yi or Bagua; tradition is a core element of all styles.

However, in order for your tradition to survive and be transmitted to subsequent generations of kung fu nuts (myself included in this elite group, in fact many of the people I know fall in this category!), it cannot stagnate and must be infused with fresh interpretations and viewpoints that continue to support and add further relevance to its original design.

So, without further ado, honoring what has now become tradition, I hereby join the on-going debate and what may be the first Kung Fu Babble but with what I hope is an innovative twist, thus helping to ensure that this now improved dispute will live on to continue to distract future generations of martial artists from what we should all be doing in the first place..... TRAINING.

What do you think? Join the fray, be a part of the tradition!

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