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

Saturday, July 23, 2016: 1:00-5:00 pm: Amituofo. Week Three of the SKFTC Summer Intensive 2016 was a time of great emotional revelation and progress for our students, young and old. A “heat dome” in New York City pushed temperatures to over 95 degrees, which served to increase the mental and physical challenges of kung fu training.

In his book “The Essence of Chan,” contemporary scholar Guo Gu, who was one of the late Master Sheng Yen’s senior and closest disciples, writes that life’s goal is, “To live fully as a human being, with one’s inherent potential completely developed,” and ”to be awakened, to realize one’s own capacity as a human being and one’s inherent potential for wisdom and compassion.”

Bodhidharma, the mythical founder of Shaolin kung fu, is attributed with having identified a fourfold principle that defined a practitioner’s awakening in wisdom and compassion:

1. Receiving a transmission outside of doctrine
2. That is not dependent on words or language
3. Which directly points to the mind
4. By seeking one’s true nature.

For those of Shifu’s students who chose to experience it, there was a tremendous amount of opportunity to awake in wisdom and compassion.

Students labored under the pressures of heat and extreme training, and were taught things about themselves that were “outside of doctrine”—from our resilience and strength to our personal vulnerabilities—without words or language. Every time we returned to the training floor, it provided another opportunity to focus our minds and seek to understand our true nature. We were all given the opportunity to increase our wisdom and compassion by helping and supporting each other through the heat, being a team, protecting our weakest members, protecting ourselves, and doing our very best. Without a word, nearly everyone rose to the occasion and exhibited the highest of martial ethics.

And then there was the physical training! After stretching and technique drills, we went back over the sequences of Lohan Quan that we had learned so far. After multiple sets of repetitions of each sequence, we moved forward into the “drunken Lohan” part of the form, in which we emulated—no surprise here—a drunken Lohan.

Picking up where we had left off last week, you may recall we had ended with standing on the right leg, with left leg locked behind, right arm chambered and left arm blocking above head, with your body turned like a willow to the right,
and from this position, stepping back with left leg, while simultaneously looking rearward, bringing left hand to chamber and executing a right knife hand block. Remember?

From this position, we began to emulate the drunken Lohan, swinging our arms to the left and we lurched forward one step, with our left foot pointed forty five degrees to the left. We then lurched forward another step, simultaneously swinging our arms to the right, and leading with our right foot pointed forty five degrees to the right. Next, we pivoted our right foot to face forward as we stood in “golden rooster standing on one leg,” with both fists chambered at our waist. We then sank downward into cross-stance while executing a double knife-hand block, to end the sequence.

Sunday, July 24, 2016, 8:00-11:00 am, 1:00-4:00 pm: We met at Riverside Park, and the group started with a fifteen-minute out-and-back run, which was once again dominated by the teens. Since my left knee was causing me discomfort, I received special dispensation and watched our bags.

After a gentle stretch, the group executed a number of Qi Gong patterns under the rising sun. It was a warm morning, and the sky was beautiful. After about an hour, the group moved on to the gymnastic rings and performed pullups at their own pace. We then moved on to leg training, consisting of our bench/ bleacher one-legged jumps, hopping and bunny jumping up stairs, and stretching.

After a week three group picture, we broke for lunch.

Upon return to the Center, we did three sets of 40 sit-ups, before continuing to work on our kicking, focusing on the side kick that we were executing in the Lohan form. We then repeated all of our sequences, and broke for Shifu’s discussion.

This week, Shifu lectured on Shaolin’s “Methods of the Kick,” also known as “Complete Leg Methods.” After translating from the original Chinese text, Shifu answered questions. Among them, Ryan asked, “How do you improve your reflexes?,” to which Shifu replied, “With practicing the fundamentals.”

After our lecture, we practiced the next Lohan sequence, which is best typified as moving from cross stance into horse stance with a left knife hand, before pivoting into bow stance with a right palm strike, back into horse stance with a left palm strike, and then back into bow stance with a right palm strike.

The day culminated with two sets of forty pushups, and stretching into splits. Week three was tough, but everybody survived, and no one gave up trying their very best, notwithstanding the heat and dehydration, and a variety of pulls, pains and strains.

Looking forward to week four, Amituofo!  Joseph A. Bondy


Shifu Hengxin with students
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