Rank in the Martial Arts

Shifu does not make the adults take belt tests. He does not like the belt system.  In the Temple, they do not use a belt system for rank.

He incorporates the belt system for the children and allows the adults to partake if they wish.   He says that the parents expect a belt system so he added it into the curriculum.

Many schools use belts as a way to earn more money.  With Shifu, belt tests are not over priced as in many schools and there are no added stripes either.

Now, that doesn’t mean he passes everyone.  At the last testing, about half of the applicants did not pass.  That is almost unheard of in modern martial arts schools.

Now a days I look at rank more as a marker of years in a system and a hierarchy of who you can trust to teach or help with learning techniques within a system.

Outside of the training hall, the color of my belt doesn’t matter much to me.  What matters to me is personal achievement, overcoming obstacles, and reaching goals.

I don’t mean to de-value rank.  It takes years of dedication to earn rank and that is something to be proud of.  But Rank, doesn’t make us supermen and superwomen.

For me, reaching Black belt brought more questions than answers.  And with more questions,  I searched for more answers.

Ex: Am I really that good?  What am I lacking?  Where are my strengths?  Should I even practice this movement or let it go all together?  Should I continue in this system?  Is this only the beginning of a longer journey?  How good can I get?  Does it matter?  If so, why does it matter?  What does training mean to me now? And so on……

Although I can impress others with my TKD kicks, I am constantly reminded that I am still a beginner while training other systems and with other people, most whom I find to be better than myself.

To me, rank is relative to the training hall I am in and should never be over hyped and used to inflate the ego.

Martial Arts injuries and prevention

I have definitely had a few injuries while training martial arts.

  • I have over extended my knee by misjudging a kicking target, I was out for over a month.
  • Got stitches in my foot after slicing it open on the base of a free standing kicking bag.
  • I have over stretched during the splits when I first started training. That took years to properly heal.
  • I’ve also blown out my shoulder, due to a weak rotator cuff.
  • I have had a minor tear in the meniscus during rolling

What I have learned

Before training I do joint rotations and dynamic stretches every time.

I also no longer do static stretching before a work out, leaving it for after the workout or independently on off days.

Also, know your limits, and understand distancing and focus.  Don’t show off!

Build up the muscles that you utilize while training  with body weight exercises and low weight/ high rep for weight training.  (Check out Elastic Steel on you tube for some great tips)

Take your time, be patient, proper technique will only be reached with repetitive practice.

A few thoughts on martial arts forms

Forms can be

-An encyclopedia for techniques within a system

-A way to build muscle, speed, flexibility,and power in areas otherwise undeveloped or underdeveloped

-Unrealistic and dangerous when not understood and when practiced within an improper context

-Monumental in making you a better fighter when practiced properly, understood, and put into proper context, within a style and with a Teacher that can teach (Muscle, speed, flexibility, power,technique, flow). At the same time, practicing forms is not the same as fighting.

-A moving meditation which puts you in a state of flow, or the zone,  placing you in the present

I find some systems and Teachers use forms much better than others

Vietnamese, The Flu and Shaolin Kung Fu

It is time to begin working on my Bucket List for 2013.  Yesterday I went back to my Shaolin class after 3 weeks of having that awful flu that’s been going around.  I walked in and everyone yelled out, “Happy New Year”, “Your’e back”, “Where have you been?”.  Shifu (meaning: teacher in Mandarin) asked in his best English accent, “Have you been lazy Jeremy” and let out a chuckle.  I’ve been sick, I proclaimed as I walked onto the mat and greeted all of my classmates.  I was ready to train!  After three weeks out, I knew I was in for a challenge.

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