Women in Martial Arts
It’s unfortunate, but it’s true: the world isn’t always a friendly place. And even more unfortunately, it’s usually more unfriendly to certain groups in particular. Until everyone gets along well, learning a martial art as self-defense is a good idea for everyone, even though we hope you’ll never have to use it outside of our facilities. It’s an especially good idea for women, and we want every woman out there to know that this a safe place to learn and practice alongside other women on the same journey.
There might be a misconception that if a woman comes to a class here, they will be disrespected or overlooked. That’s just not true – we are all students, and we are all in this together. We’ve never had an issue with this, and we’ll make sure it stays that way, because we want every single person in our classes to feel empowered and capable of mastering the skills they are learning.
So why is it important for women to pick up these techniques? Especially if the chance of having to use them is small?
The main reason is because, in general, women are smaller and lighter than men. If you’re not physically imposing, it will likely be tough to overpower someone bigger than you – but one of the great things about kung fu is that it teaches you how to leverage your power and weight in order to compensate for that. It’s something that we stress a lot, because it’s one of the most important concepts you can use in order to get out of a bad situation.
However, one of the only things more important than that is the idea that such a confrontation should be avoided in the first place. They say that the best defense is a good offense, and being proactive and aware could be the key to staying safe. For example:
Don’t look at kung fu as “manly” or “feminine” or any of those other – frankly poor – words. Think of it as an insurance policy for yourself, one that you can always keep up to date. It’s a great way to stay in shape, it helps you feel safe in certain situations, and it reduces overall anxiety, not only because of the mindset but because of the social aspect and the exercise.
If you want a respectful environment that treats you well and teaches you helpful skills, a course that shows you how to make up for a lack of weight or height, or even a place that just allows you to make new friends where you can show off what you learn together – Kung Fu For Life is for you. Increase flexibility, be more comfortable in your body, and build your well-being to new levels, all right here in our martial arts classes.
Kung Fu. Jiu Jitsu. Tae kwon do, Krav Maga, Wing Chun, Muay Thai…the list of martial arts styles is nearly endless, each one focuses on different aspects of energy, motion, and force. So why do we think Kung Fu is the best? Because were totally biased and we love Kung Fu!!!
Kung Fu is, at its core is one of the most complete martial arts you can study. Encompassing a variety of forms and at least 1,500 years of history. In this case Kung Fu could just mean Chinese Martial arts but I’m speaking more specifically about the Shaolin and the arts or practitioners that were heavily influenced by their teachings.
Kung Fu has created and absorbed many hundreds of techniques over the centuries that either influenced or came from many martial arts systems – including some techniques that originated in the Shaolin temples, were added to other systems, and came back to the temple with an entirely fresh and new perspective. Martial arts is constantly refining and upgrading its theories and practices. In some Shaolin temples, fighters can train for 10 hours a day, mastering their mind and body, and still have much to learn.
The humongous amount of knowledge led to Masters specializing in particular sets of techniques or falling into a particular style. This is where “styles” or “ways” of martial arts come from. A particular practitioner gave preferential treatment and saw great benefit to the soft style, and hence Tia Chi comes along. Another practitioner prefers to use knees, elbows, feet and fists hence Muay Thai and Karate. When the the need arose to get around undetected, you can begin to imagine how Ninjutsu was developed.
Many of the Martial Arts that exist today arose out of a need, a desire or a philosophy of a just a single practitioner. These individuals are commonly known as Grandmasters. These people changed world and their names are honored throughout history. As a Grandmaster aged he would often name his most dedicated and proven disciple to be the new Grandmaster in order to see over the students and carry on the ways and the style of the art form.
Getting to why we think Kung Fu is the best (and of course we are totally biased), this is Kung Fu for Life after all... Let’s look at some of the Martial Arts you may be considering getting involved in.
Karate - is an excellent martial art, but it’s nearly all hardstyle and very energy-intensive – how long can you last in a real fight if you have the pedal to the floor the whole time? Kung Fu for Life often receives some criticism for taking some influence from this wonderful art and is hence “not real Kung Fu” but if you talk to any Karate practitioner they will tell you that the two systems are not the same. We teach to meet hardness with softness wherever possible, this saves on energy and perhaps could be used as a combative advantage. Also using softer techniques reduces injuries like bruising and bone fractures.
Wing Chun - designed specifically for the defense of women. Truly one of the noblest of goals and a credit to the practitioners and teachers who carry it forward. This system is technically Kung Fu and is, at least of women in legend, derived from the Shaolin arts. There is no merit in criticizing this or any other martial arts system except to say that perhaps Shaolin Kung Fu incorporates a larger variety of techniques that may be of more benefit.
Boxing - (which may not be a “martial” art) teaches you to fight with your hands, block with your arms and bob and weave through punches. It’s not very useful if you are on the ground, or if your opponent knows how to kick. It’s a blast for young men and other sport enthusiast but the love tends wear off (for most, at least) after a few hard punches to the face.
Muay Thai – The King of Martial Arts - at least that’s what it always says in the posters. People love the fitness aspect of this art, they tell us that it’s fun and a great way to stay in shape. The only complaints that here about this is that it’s not a super forgiving sport and can be potentially dangerous. It may not the best sport if you have injuries or limitations. We're not sure what the mental aspect of the training is but we've always been told never to underestimate a Thai Fighter.
The list and the discussion could potentially go on forever. We don’t have that much time, but we can tell you that if you train with Kung Fu for Life we will do everything we can to make sure that you become the best possible version of yourself.
Kung Fu will help you embrace and incorporate the mind/body connection. We will help you train your reflexes, accuracy, timing, control, reaction speed and more. Mental discipline and focus will become your ally as you take regular fighting moves and combine them with chi and pure effort. In fact, there is potential in our school for some of the highest-level practitioners to train thousands techniques in the various forms and patterns taught in this system. When you are ready we will give the tools you need to help pass down this great art on to the next generation and lay bricks in this continuously built art form.
Kung Fu is the birthplace of many other martial arts. So many systems are derived directly from it – but they tend to focus and simplify complex sets of movements in order to make them easier to master. The wide variety of moves in our system tends to require more study and more skill but usually has an advantage over the simplified form, as it can accommodate for more situations. For example, some systems will only teach attack or defense from one angle or one distance, but our training gives you multiple ways to either attack or defend from a variety of distances and angles. This allows you to appreciate how details like footing or hand placement can affect the outcome of a fight.
Our system is designed to help you progress and move at your own pace – not requiring you, but giving you the opportunity to master each individual step fully before moving on to the next!
We view Kung Fu as an art form, which means you can combine the moves in your own unique way, like creating a painting out of the component colours. In a combination of both hard and soft style, you will learn which is most useful to you in a combat situation. You will be allowed to make extensive use of your body to gain leverage and give you the most efficient way to deal with an adversary.
The admitted drawback to this kind of extensive training, is that it takes longer than most people are willing to commit – as is true with most of high quality and form. In our school it is much more about focus, and form, and full understanding of each technique, than it is about being fast and forceful. It is about the details, the fine-tuning, the exact knowledge of what you are capable of, and how to go a little bit further every time you practice. It’s about the little things, like controlling your breathe so you can conserve energy and react effectively. It’s about training your mind through meditation and mindfulness to be as sharp as your physical skills.
Keep in mind, though, that if we have criticized another martial art, it is only about the worst example of them. Each discipline will have fantastic students and teachers, as well as terrible ones. To be very clear the definition of a terrible student or teacher is firstly determined by attitude and respect, everything else is secondary.
Speaking specifically of Kung Fu, we know for sure how well-rounded and useful it is – not just physically, but mentally as well.
Kung Fu for Life is open 6 days a week, and we make custom made programs for each student at a reasonable cost. Our school is designed to allow you to work around injuries, and busy schedules. So don’t be afraid to drop by today or you can call us at (403) 243-5433
We've heard people say that the “style” is not as important as the as the student who studies it. It follows that saying is also true for teachers and we hope it is. As our students and professional teachers are some the best people that we have ever found.
Our system is tough when it needs to be, but is carried forward by some of the most kind-hearted and caring individuals you will ever meet. We're very proud family that we’ve built here.
It’s a question we hear often: why do you have student teachers?
The answer is actually quite simple: teaching martial arts techniques is part of becoming a black belt, because you can’t be an expert at anything if you haven’t taught it. It forces you to draw on all your knowledge, and when you are asked questions you’ve never thought of before, it makes you branch out and apply what you know in new ways.
Student teaching is an important part of your training journey, and an important step in making you a stronger, faster, and more adept martial artist when it comes to efficiency of motion and technique. Masters say that teaching is better for learning than when you are actually trying to learn as a student.
In teaching, you usually put 100% effort into showing it, and doing it yourself, and thinking about the finer points slowly, always critiquing your own technique – and even after all of that, you are often put on the spot to answer questions. Even if your performance is flawless, you have to know the answer when you are asked, “Why do you do it this way?” and be able to express it in words. As soon as you can explain the answer, it makes much more sense to you as well, and you have improved not only someone else’s knowledge, but your own. These are important steps toward becoming the best you can be!
After you teach something, it is nearly impossible for you yourself to forget. For example, when you give small feedback such us, “Move your knee this way to make the movement more fluid”, and your student can tell the difference, you’ll be more likely remember that moment and that advice for yourself down the road when you do the same movements. Thus student teaching can be very mutually beneficial.
In addition, having student teachers in our classes keeps costs down for the studio as a whole, and varying the instructors helps each student become well-rounded and responsive to different styles. Since different teachers emphasize different concepts, and have varying approaches to their lessons, there is more likely to be something useful that sticks with every student by doing it this way.
Overall, teaching and training others is the fastest way for students to progress along their final path to a black belt – you are usually only allowed to begin training others after you have achieved brown belt (which is 2-6 years depending on the person). It is a tremendous emotional boost to know that you’re contributing to the studio and to others, and since the skills we teach aren’t meant to be used out in the field, it’s nice to feel you have a purpose when you are using it to train others in the studio. One of the people you teach may have to use the skills they’ve learned one day in order to save their life, even if you never have to!
A student teacher here once said that student teaching makes you immortal, because your personal spin on the subject you teach can end up being passed on for decades, or maybe even hundreds of years. Your personal fingerprint could be left on the art for a very long time, passed on to the next generation of learners; you can see this in students who learned from specific black belts and carry the knowledge with them like a torch. You can spot it in how someone holds their knee, or their stance, in the slight weight shifts from one teacher’s style to another. It is a way of passing down your own self-expression.
Student teaching has another big effect: it increases your appreciation for teachers from then on. You will know it isn’t easy, and will notice other teacher’s techniques and mannerisms. You’ll like how they physically show some things, and just speak about others, and you’ll question in your mind why they chose to do it that way – leading you to think more deeply about what you’re learning, and causing you to take something from that for your practice and for your own teachings in the future. You will also appreciate being a student even more after you’ve taught, gaining a sense of satisfaction from the experience. You may even start to feel like you’ve “made it”…as long as you remember that there is always more to learn!
And lastly? You can also learn things from your students that you may have never thought of… while you’re teaching them. Since even our teachers are students, we encourage everyone to always keep learning and improving!
One of the biggest questions that people ask – to themselves, to others, to nobody in particular – is this: what is the meaning of life? Why am I here? Maybe they are looking for an easy answer, or maybe they are wondering if the things they are doing are “worth it”. But the actual truth is both very simple, and quite complex.
Life can be viewed as pointless, unless you create your own meaning within it – and this is dependent on your own philosophy and your own approach to it. Many people get up, go to work, and punch in and out mindlessly, always looking forward to their next days off so they can drink or do nothing or binge on TV and junk food. And all the while, the clock is ticking, their health is declining, and they are getting older and older. The imbalance between working too much, a bad diet, bad habits, and stress takes a terrible toll on our health, and over time, all the small decisions we make can add up to big problems. Drinking, smoking, lack of sleep, frustration…other people will see it in us and subconsciously pick up those negative emotions.
Recognizing these traits is the first step to fixing them, but we must also do something about them in order to overcome them. This is why we encourage our students to set goals for themselves – an endpoint, a place that they can work towards, so they know they are progressing and making good choices for themselves.
Think about a goal like acquiring a black belt, or an orange belt. This requires lots of mental and physical training – though it is nothing impossible, if done in a series of very small steps over a long period of time. The discipline needed to achieve these goals often reverberates back into your regular life, and the strong habits developed here in the kung fu studio can translate into achieving more in your everyday life.
For example, think about the last time you went out to drink with your friends – chances are the bill can get very high, very quickly. Imagine all the money you have ever spent, accumulated over dozens of weekends out at the bar or on 6-packs every Saturday night at home, added up over years. And at the end of it all, what have you achieved? What you have gotten out of it? We can safely say, nothing as healthy or as useful as the discipline you would get from setting proper goals and working toward them in all aspects of your life.
If you chose today to redirect all that money toward getting healthy with kung fu training, you would not only keep more of it in the long run, but you would steer clear of many bad situations, gain improved health and fitness (which can add years to your life, instead of shortening it), and have a series of goals to constantly work toward. It would give you a reason to not drink – when was the last time you saw a black belt get drunk and lose control?
It’s always sad to see some people leave school after grade 12 and simply stop learning, and lose the motivation to strive for more. Years down the road, you won’t feel proud of drinking every weekend, and wasting your potential, but if you work hard towards the goals you’ve set for yourself and systematically achieve them, there will be no stopping you. The best things in life take dedication, commitment and sacrifice – but that’s what makes them worth the journey, because the people who can reach those goals are rare!
For you, it may not be about the money. Plenty of people have high-paying jobs that they will never leave, but they go home completely unfulfilled and feeling lost and unhappy – financially they are successful, but by every other measurement, they are miserable. Taking up proper hobbies and walking the longer, more winding path to your goals is one of the best ways to remedy this. We have many people just like this who come in to our studio, searching for fulfillment and meaning, and when they set their goals and reach them, the difference in their mood and attitude is incredible. They feel they have purpose, they feel they are advancing, and they are moving forward, both physically and mentally. There is something new to look forward to and they are no longer stuck in the same mindless loop.
We have an introductory program for people like this to give kung fu a try, and you’ll know very quickly if our teachings help give you direction. You’ll meet positive people, you’ll get a new outlook, and when you see how much this affects your life, you’re going to love it! We even have a limited-time sale on this right now, so there’s never been a better time to give martial arts a try. You can come take the plunge with something new… or go back to a job you dislike, and Netflix on the couch every night, watching your life slide by and thinking of all the things you could have done someday. The choice is yours to make!
Call Kung Fu for Life today and experience all the positive benefits, both direct and indirect, that our training can offer. From the improvements in your muscles to your mind, in your breathing to your body, in your health to your happiness, you’ll be very glad that you did!
Kung Fu For Kids Recreation
As short as it may seem when we look back, childhood is one of the most influential periods of our entire lives: it’s where we develop the habits, hobbies, and discipline that we will carry with us through the years. We learn social skills, how to deal with adversity, and how to focus our skills and energy into meaningful outlets. So what makes kung fu such a great kids’ activity?
Let’s start with one of the biggest benefits of studying martial arts – helping build focus, mindfulness, discipline, self-control, and routine. All of these traits are incredibly important as we grow up, and any child that develops them fully has a much better chance of setting and achieving their goals later in life. Some even suggest that the increased focus and mental training can help with ADD.
Beyond that, kids’ kung fu classes bring together many different types of children in one place, allowing them a safe place to develop these skills together. This leads to increased socialization and confidence in groups as well. Of course, some kids may feel too self-conscious to learn in a group as they start out, or are just more suited to individual instruction, and that’s why we are now one of the few martial arts studios in Calgary to offer private lessons for those children.
Another reason why kung fu is great for kids’ recreation is the physical aspect. Studying a martial art works on your body as well as your brain! Your child will gain increased flexibility, coordination, reflexes, and timing, as well as improved overall health. Kung fu is an excellent way to stay fit, no matter your age.
Some people might worry that kung fu classes for kids would encourage them to be violent, or to resort to violence at school or with their friends. The truth is, our goal is the exact opposite – we teach self-control, meditation, and restraint, so that your child will walk confidently and strongly, but uses their skills strictly for self-defense in a bad situation. As the old saying goes, Speak softly and carry a big stick: we teach that fighting is a last resort, only to be used when absolutely necessary. But if it ever comes down to it – if your child is surrounded by bullies, if they’ve gotten stuck in a dangerous situation, if they need to make a split-second decision – we know you’d agree that having experience with and confidence in such activities would beat the alternative, every time.
And speaking of good and bad influences – we have overwhelmingly heard that the kids we’ve taught in Calgary have enjoyed having healthy mentors and role models in their lives. This, combined with the long-lasting positive influence of our teachers, can make all the difference to a child that needs structure and guidance, especially if the parents are working a lot to help ensure a good life for their family.
Along those lines, many parents would love to improve their kids’ recreation in this way, and are wondering if they can afford it – or if it really is worth the price. In our experience, as long as your ability to live isn’t greatly impacted, it’s absolutely worth every penny! The benefits are lifelong, and the memories and training can stick with your kid long after they walk out our doors. They will meet new friends, gain new skills and confidence, and look back fondly on the days when they got to learn all the coolest “ninja moves” from our teachers.
Having your kid in an organized sport like martial arts is also one of the best ways to ensure they avoid potentially negative activities after school, and beyond. They’ll have the confidence, willpower, and self-awareness to think critically about how their decisions affect themselves and others, leading to smarter outcomes with drugs, drinking, and reckless behaviour as they get older. And they’ll not only treat themselves with more respect, but everyone else they encounter, as well. The only way to build up this kind of personality is to be familiar with it and incorporate it from a young age – so the more exposure your child gets from a positive role model, the better!
We could write a thousand more words about why kung fu is a good sport for kids, but the best way to know is to simply see for yourself. Drop in for a class with your son or daughter and let them find out on their own how much fun it can be to learn crucial skills, while getting a workout at the same time. Our non-competitive environment is the perfect place to hone the art, and who knows? They might stick with it, and become a kung fu teacher themselves after they achieve brown belt status – continuing the circle of knowledge, and sending a message to the younger generation that they can achieve their goals, too.
Call us or use our contact form to enroll your child in one of the best kids’ activities in Calgary, or come by and visit our studio space at 345 39 Ave SE – just down the street from the 39 St C-Train station – and find out why more people than ever are getting into kung fu for life!
The Art Of Kung Fu Meditation
When you hear about martial arts, the first thing you think of is probably a blazing fast flurry of fists and kicks, or maybe a pair of nunchuks flying through the air. But one of the largest aspects of the entire culture of martial arts has much more to do with the mind than with the body that holds it – and it’s arguably one of the most important skills to master. We are, of course, talking about meditation.
At its core, meditation is the art of shutting out distractions and focusing intensely on what your body is telling you: breathing, heartbeat, temperature, sensations, and all the minute details that are all too often overlooked. While it is normally associated with “clearing your mind” and thinking of nothing in particular, the actual emphasis of meditation is quite the opposite. You want to reflect on yourself, and connect the deep, innate parts of your consciousness with the chaotic and complex side that interacts with the everyday world. By bridging the two together, and strengthening the bond over time, you gain a better understanding of who you are, your place in the world, and how you can live the best life for you.
Research shows that even small amounts of meditation has beneficial effects for practitioners. Even five minutes a day can bring noticeable improvements! Regular meditators see benefits to their blood pressure, stress levels, focus and attention, productivity, sleeping patterns, emotional health, social interactions, immune systems, and so much more – but don’t just take our word for it; here’s an article from Psychology Today that links off to study after study discussing this very topic. Experienced meditators, who have dedicated thousands of hours to this activity, have even been shown to use every region of their brain at the same time when they are in a full meditative state – a phenomenon that cannot occur without practice and discipline.
While it’s an excellent idea to unwind and reflect at home – before bed or in the morning are perfect times for it – if you really want to get the most out of your meditations, having a guide to help you along is essential. When you meditate with us here during class at Kung Fu for Life, you engage not only with your mind, but also the rest of you – body, breathing, and chi. An active relationship with chi, (instead of the inactive, passive approach that we usually have) is the key to true self-discovery, and when you do our meditation, your brain is 100% engaged with the motions of timing and breathing, repeating full and satisfying breaths, over and over again. This can be hard to do on your own, especially if you are new to the process.
The original creator of the Shaolin martial arts is said to have spent seven whole years meditating in a cave by the first Shaolin temples, and for much of it simply sat in place – eventually developing the stretching and movement exercises that allowed him to recover afterwards. These exercises are still used today to maintain continuity between the mental meditative state, and the physical motion afterward, because martial arts are all about bridging the gap between not only conscious and subconscious, but mental and physical. As you develop the connections between both sides, they will become more synchronized – and it follows that your “intuitions” will get better, your “instincts” will improve, and your awareness of yourself and the world around you will sharpen. This is because your subconscious mind will be able to more easily express itself to your conscious mind, and vice versa. Experienced meditators can even use their conscious mind to tell their subconscious self how to deal with bodily problems or injuries, and see results by bringing the two into alignment over time. It all comes down to communicating within yourself, and trusting that you can overcome problems together!
If you’ve always wanted to try meditating, but feel like you don’t have the time, or that you aren’t sure what to do, there are some excellent apps like HeadSpace to get you started. Remember, even a few minutes a day is better than none at all, and the science backs that up. As the saying goes, “If you can’t fit five minutes of meditation into your day, you should do 20!”
Learning how to meditate is one of the most important life skills we teach at Kung Fu for Life. Meditation is the focus of one’s own mind in order control oneself, build confidence and increase mental strength. After all, how does a monk stand in the cold for hours, or sit in a horse stance far longer than should be possible? It all comes down to mental strength – a mental strength gained through hours of meditation and disciplined, regular practice.
When you think about it, great achievements of the body are really just great achievements of the mind, and dedicated minds can achieve what others think is impossible.
Kung Fu For Healing
It’s a story that’s common all over the world: disease or disability can, at times, strike any of us without warning or even an apparent cause. Most of us know someone that has struggled with cancer, arthritis, joint degradation, or another condition that has greatly reduced their quality of life. Often these people are told that there isn’t anything that can be done for them. But is it as simple as that?
Over the last six years, our Grandmaster has begun training people on how to heal themselves, and how to take proper care of their body – a method that, when combined with the right professional medical advice, can make great progress in a fight against disease. For example, one student, who was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live, began to train in kung fu with meditation, breathing exercises, and a new diet. He is still going strong, years later! He is not the only one, either: another student, suffering from COPD, prostate cancer, and borderline diabetes just a few years ago, now says: “…my physical health is increased exponentially….In conjunction with the western medicine, it has made a huge difference.
By following the Grandmaster’s teachings, these and other students have made noticeable positive impacts on their health. But it does require commitment and willpower as well: just like when a doctor tells you that you need to take pills three times a day for a month, you have to follow the Grandmaster’s instructions equally diligently! If you follow the instructions persistently with faith, the benefits will come. Everything we teach is like a prescription for success, if you follow it correctly.
The Grandmaster has taught people who were headed for dialysis, and helped to improve the condition to the point where they only have to see a doctor once a year about it. He has had students with arthritis and helped them work through the condition, by using the chi and meditative methods
Like all people, the Grandmaster himself has to go to the doctor and have regular medical checkups. If something’s wrong, he uses the diagnosis to target the pain and cure himself with chi and deep mental focus. This speeds up the healing process and in his case prevents the need to take any drugs. Commitment and dedication are absolutely necessary in order for him to overcome any ailments. The same is expected of you if you want to be successful.
So if you have joint, muscle, nerve, breathing, or organ issues – or any other health problems that don’t require a quarantine – why not see what proper training and meditation can do for you? If your current treatment does not seem to be as effective as you like, or isn’t meeting your expectations, give us a call to see how we can help. Just ask for the Grandmaster directly, or leave a message for him and he will contact you himself to discuss the matter further. Don’t even worry about pricing – if you are in need of health assistance, we would simply like to meet and see what we can do. As with anything, we cannot promise results, but our track record is extremely good on the matter.
We want to see you be the best and healthiest you can be! Working alongside your doctors and medical professionals, we can help train your mind and body to perform at their best level. At Kung Fu for Life, we are all about living our best possible lives – so find out how we can help you today!
Kung Fu Competition Training vs. Self-defense Training
It is important to understand that you don’t have to compete in order to learn self-defense. The origin of our system, shaolin, was never meant for competition. It was designed to create good health, focus of mind and body, and of course learning to defend oneself.
Sometimes what you might think looks barbaric in the fighting ring, is actually civilized when compared to advance self-defense training. Ring fighting contains only a portion of true Kung Fu/ martial arts.
Let us start by saying, there is only one true competitor in your life and that is the person looking back at you in the mirror. We will explain in point-form the main differences of self-defense and competition training.
So let’s address each one for now - competition versus self-defense.
1. Limited space, this is also often the case in self-defense as a matter of fact, much less space is usually available compared to the ring. So close-quarters fighting techniques is an absolute must. Sometimes there is much more space than you would ever find in a ring. Remember that the only thing that matters in self-defense is self-preservation, you must do whatever it takes, including running away. There’s no rules, no competition, no crowd to impress, just defending yourself! True self-defense has a foundation in both common sense and ethics. Before you ever lift your hand to hurt another human being, it must be warranted.
2. A referee is there to ensure that no competitor gets out of hand, gets severely injured or killed. He is the calming agent between the two fighters, reminding them at all times to follow the rules.
In self –defense, of course, there is no such person mediating anything or protecting you from what your assailant is going to do to you, it is just you and your attacker. There is only one outcome and it must be that you survive. You aren’t a winner or victor but rather the survivor for life not glory.
3. Rules. There are all kinds of rules in competition, and you can thank civilized man for that. Just remember there’s no rules in self-defense, except maybe the law and that’s only after the fact, unless you’re very lucky. In Roman times, the spectators were the true barbarians and they promoted the violence. Unfortunately, you still see some of that today, not just in martial arts but in many sports, more blood, more cheering, lots of big mouths calling out for more violence… it’s easy when it’s not their own blood.
4. Prearranged time in competition, this allows many variables to be somewhat predictable within reason, good fighters know this and plan a couple surprises for their opponents. Self-defense situations always have an element of surprise which causes confusion, fear, hesitation, and sometimes locking of the body (also known as freezing). Which is natural but nonetheless can be very irritating and restricting. Examples of this are, you can be carrying your groceries to your car, riding on the bus, sitting at a donut shop, or any number of tasks we do every day when an attacker comes at you. One of the best ways to avoid these predicaments is to remain aware of your surroundings at all times which allows you more options than just self-defense. This could include calling 9-1-1, avoiding the potential danger by exiting, or finding another way around it. Good teaching promotes the understanding of self-defense is far more than just hand to hand combat.
5. Know your opponent. For competition there are many ways to study the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent. For example, watching recordings of past fights, physically seeing their fights, watching old interviews, and yet there are still many other ways. In self-defense, obviously, there are no such observations possible. There is little to no idea of your attacker’s skill or intentions, other than obvious postures. How do you compensate for this? There are numerous ways, but no matter which you choose, you are forced to react (after exhausting all non-violent measures). You have to use any techniques that will work and must exert 100% effort until the threat is gone. When the attacker has forced you to the point of no return... fight for your life!
6. Rounds. There are 2-3 minute rounds with rest in-between. In Self-defense there is no rest, as I mentioned before no referee, no choice, and no rules.
Most self-defense if properly taught will only last a couple of seconds, maximum a minute, any self-defense that lasts longer is considered a very long time. The energy used during that minute is equivalent to over half an hour of an intense work out, depending on the intensity used. As well, you are dealing with other energy draining problems such as nervous tension, possible lock up, anxiety, maybe fear (which is totally okay). Remember hurting others is not normal or natural, even in our own self-defense. Like we said before you must defend yourself!
7. You get time to prepare for the fight, sometimes months. Pre-fight warm up in competition is also possible. As a matter of fact, it is absolutely necessary in order to prevent injury and have better reflexes and movement. Self-defense must include cold response training methods. This can be very difficult to do because the lack of a warmup that may cause injuries to occur. We don’t do it all the time, but often enough to make it work. However, our students always step into the martial arts hall with a certain state of readiness. Because of this our main teaching methods always include situational awareness training, which is an important tool for self-preservation. Obviously you can’t know when a self-defense situation will occur so there is no chance for a warm up. The main tools of mental preparation for this case are conscious and subconscious recall.
8. In competition there are two people who want to fight, both want to win but only one will. Both are already warmed up, they have been training for months and have done their homework beforehand. In Self-defense there is at least one aggressor and one defender who does not want to be in the situation at all. An attacker usually makes the first move and has the element of surprise. If you have no inclination of the attack and get surprised, being aware of your surroundings beforehand and having proper training can put the advantage back in your corner.
9. No exit strategy. In the ring, no one wants out. However in self-defense there are many exit strategies. A good martial arts teacher will show you the way to leave a situation or at least come up with a non-violent solution. Peace should always be the top priority.
10. Your trainer is right there with you in the corner of the ring. This is an amazing advantage. If you could have your teacher right there telling you what to do when you get attacked it would seem 10x easier. Unfortunately there is no chance of this ever happening. The best you can hope for is that you listened so carefully to your teacher that the master’s words flow to you like water; as if they were right there with you, telling you what to do, while you’re getting attacked. Otherwise (and for the most part this is always true), you’re on your own and every move is your call. Whether it’s the right or wrong move it’s totally up to you.
Training for competition is good for health and self-defense, but you DO NOT NEED to compete in order to learn excellent self-defense, because there is only one true competitor in your life, and that’s the person looking back at you in the mirror.
Is The Canadian Government Being Unfair?
When it comes to weapons in society and how people should be able to use them, it’s hard to settle on an answer that suits everyone. It seems that the only thing that everyone involved agrees on is that all weapons, no matter how large or small, should only be wielded by those with the training and knowledge necessary to use them properly. Today we want to discuss some of the restrictions on martial arts weapons that you may not even know exist.
Many of the weapons that you might think of when you hear the words “martial arts”, such as nun-chuks, bo staffs, sais, and small clubs, originated as farming equipment in China. In the 1600s, the Chinese government outlawed weaponry for civilians, but also required that they were able to defend themselves and the country if needed. Due to this, they created new techniques with the objects they had on hand, and many of the modern symbols of martial arts were born.
Just like many other household items, like kitchen knives or construction tools, the danger of these weapons depends on who is wielding them. Yet, strangely, while you can own as many knives, chainsaws, nail guns, sledgehammers, baseball bats, and shovels as you want, you cannot own – or even carry! – nun-chuks, three-sectioned staffs, self-opening blades, or ninja stars in Canada. It’s illegal for you to own them, or even transport them for the sole purpose of training somewhere else!
This can be disappointing for martial artists, as it’s a double standard: we trust carpenters, arborists, and chefs with their tools, which are all equally lethal. We allow hunters to bring guns and crossbows into the wilderness, once they’ve shown that they know what they’re doing with them – and if someone gets hurt, we hold them responsible. Why is it not the same with martial arts weapons?
Now, we are not advocating that our students should be able to carry around potentially lethal objects and wave them around for fun – far from it. What we do want is for our students to be able to become familiar with, respect, and transport these traditional martial arts tools to a safe training session without fear of breaking the law, just like plenty of other people do with the tools of their trade. After all, why would a disciplined and knowledgeable martial artist be any more likely to cause trouble than anyone else, who could simply walk into any hardware store and choose from hundreds of potential weapons available? How dangerous is a chainsaw or a set of bolt cutters compared a sai or a set of nun-chuks?
There is a necessary and implicit trust present in many places of society. Just because someone wants to learn how to use a traditional martial arts weapon effectively does not mean that they will have any desire to hurt anyone, or ever use them beyond the walls of the gym. For example, we don’t assume that every gun owner is angry or maniacal – why would we treat martial artists any differently?
So what do you think? Would you like to see reform in the laws, and allow qualified martial artists to own and transport these weapons? Or do you think the risks are too high for the relatively small amount of people that would benefit from such a change?
Kung Fu Retreat
With the cold weather of the last few weeks, many people in Calgary are daydreaming about getting away in the summer and taking some time to escape the stresses of life in the city. If you’re already looking forward to long, hot days, mountain air, exercise, and the peace and quiet of meditation, then we have the perfect opportunity for you!
Kung Fu For Life is now accepting registrations for our summer seminar, which runs for your choice of 3-5 days on the shores of the beautiful and warm Christina Lake, BC. Your accommodations with the Grand Master, a simple one-minute walk from the beach, will be your home base during your stay, and the solitude and peace will allow you to practice meditating on the three levels that you will learn while you are there. However, the retreat is also aimed at building up physical skills as well, and the rugged landscape allows for in-depth training of both self-defence and endurance training.
The entire seminar is designed in such a way as to accommodate the level of fitness you are currently at, while enhancing each individual during the sessions of direct kung fu training with the Grand Master. Feel your energy return as you cleanse pollutants from your body and mind – all the smog, chemicals, distractions, light and sound interference of the city will be removed, allowing your mind to soar. Liberate your inner strength, cultivate your inner chi to a higher level, and develop a better insight into yourself and how you fit into this world. The structure of the days-long events is like a year’s worth of training all at once, since the direct lessons and knowledge from the Grand Master gives you the ability to streamline your skills and become your best “you”, and improve more quickly.
You will learn how to take energy from within in order to go beyond what you think you can do – what you believe you are limited to, based on your physical strength. Feel the pure joy of training on mountain edges, near waterfalls, and out in the beauty of nature, and appreciate the cleansing rush of vitality that comes over you as the days go on. As you meditate, you will learn how to push yourself to the limit – and learn much more about you in the process!
The price of the seminar includes training and accommodation, but please plan for your own travel arrangements and food for the duration of your stay. For more information, you can contact us by email or call us at 403-243-5433. And if you’re already hooked, simply fill out the attached form and get ready to have one of the greatest self-discovery experiences of your entire life!
Kung Fu For Life
Learn something new from us each and every month!