Summer Intensive Training 2016   week 1  week 2  week 3  week 4  week5

Saturday, July, 30, 2016, 1:00-5:00 pm: Today marks the start of Week Four of the SKFTC Summer Intensive Program, 2016! The group has been diligently studying the Lohan Quan (form), along with a number of techniques, old and new. Last week, we persevered through extreme heat, and a few minor injuries, as our journey unfolded.

Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch Of Ch’an, and author of the Platform Sutra, used to say, “Look within!... The secret is inside you.”

It’s easy to see that this summer we have achieved new feats and are stronger than before. Frequently, the beginning focus of training is on improved physical health and ability. Over time, we learn that mental growth is necessary to further physical development—indeed, proper execution of forms and techniques requires a very high degree of mental focus. At its highest levels, execution and application requires that one act with wisdom and compassion. This progression from physical to spiritual is intrinsic, and must be personally experienced by the individual practitioner. As Huineng said, The secret must be found by looking inside of ourselves.

Today, we began with a brief run and then a stretch, followed by kicking drills interspersed with more stretching.

Continuing on to our Lohan Quan studies, we were able, if we wished, to look within, for the remarkable secret to ourselves. We reviewed all of the prior sequences learned through repetition of multiple sets, before moving forward.

You may recall that we had left off Week Four with a sequence just after the Drunken Lohan, in which we were palm striking from bow stance. From here, the group moved forward into the next sequence of the form, which, after back stepping, grasping, downward punching and rotating our bodies, culminated in an almost seated posture, with head resting on right fist, as though asleep—like a “Sleeping Lohan.” From there, we jumped up while rotating 180 degrees, into a left-facing horse stance, with hands up in a ready position. Once we had performed several sets of this last sequence, we broke for water and fruit.

Shifu then continued his “Method of the Kick” lecture from last week, before moving on to the history of the Shaolin Lohan form. As to its history, the form is one of the earliest of what are called “outstanding” forms in the Shaolin curriculum. Attributed to Shaolin monk Fu Ju, the form is a mix of strength and smoothness, with a very fast-paced rhythm. It is neither empty nor solid, with extremely efficient attack and retreat patterns. It is a steady, unique, and enigmatic form.

After Shifu Hengxin had concluded his discussion, we ended the day with a set of 45 pushups, and a week four group photo.

Sunday, July 31, 2016, 8:00-11:00 am, 1:00-4:00 pm: Today, my own challenge is the pain in my left knee that began at the end of week two. I’m going to stay high in my stances, not run, and avoid doing any type of movement that could exacerbate the problem.

The group started with a fifteen minute run, with Thompson beating the pack and Matt and David close behind. We then stretched, under the threat of impending rainstorms. During the course of the next ninety minutes, the group engaged in a series of Qi Gong movements, working on stances, body alignment, purifying our efforts, and moving smoothly to target. Staying high in my stances, and gingerly pivoting my knee from one position to the next provided some relief. Focus in the moment was also very helpful. Everybody moved with silent rhythm and coordination. The lines moved together, with a synergistic consciousness of each other.

After our Qi Gong movements, the group moved to our standard leg training apparatus: the park benches and stadium bleachers. I watched as my kung fu brothers and sisters performed over one hundred one-legged jumps, and then moved on to sets of one-legged hops and bunny jumps up stairs.

We ended the morning session with another group picture, and broke for lunch.

Unfortunately, my knee had become swollen. Given the futility, pain and possibility for increased injury, I opted out of participating in the afternoon training session.

The group reconvened at the Center, and started out with a warmup stretch, before reviewing the Lohan sequences learned to-date. After sufficient repetition, the group spent the remainder of the session studying a group of standing hand techniques, which included knifehand, elbow, back-fist, crane and tiger claw strikes, blocks, and flowing swallow-like hand movements.

After more sets of this new sequence, the group ended the day with two sets of forty-five pushups. Everyone was tired but feeling gratified, and spirits remain high. Although I am among the injured, my spirit remains high too. I am so happy to be learning Lohan Quan, and to be training with such a wonderful group of kung fu brothers and sisters. Looking forward to resting this week, and being back for the finale.

Four Summer Intensive weeks down, one more to go! Amituofo! Joseph A. Bondy

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