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

Fifth Summer Intensive Program: Lohan Quan. By Joseph A. Bondy

My name is Joseph Bondy, and I am one of Shifu Hengxin’s senior students. Shifu and Shimu Arlene have asked that I chronicle the school’s Fifth Summer Intensive Program, from July 9 to August 5, 2016. The Summer Intensive Program consists of ten training hours each weekend. Each year, we learn a particular form and series of techniques. In the past, our studies have included the brilliant Sunrise, the heart and mind of Xin Yi Ba, and the speed and power of Shaolin Tiger forms.

This summer we will study a classic form named Lohan Quan, which is considered a traditional component of Shaolin’s curriculum.

Saturday, July 9, 2016, 1:00-5:00 pm: Today marks the first day of Summer Intensive! Let me start by saying, “Amituofo,” which is not only the name of Amitabha Buddha in Chinese, but also our school’s way of saying, “hello,” “thank you,” “please,” and “goodbye.” The practice of using “Amituofo” as a greeting is traceable to a tenth century Chan master named Yongming Yanshou, whom it is said never stopped reciting Amitabha Buddha's name! This year, we have students returning from Germany and Greece, as well as from their respective American colleges, to study with Shifu and Shimu. We are men and women, ages 14 to 48, who comprise a veritable melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. Many of us have known each other for years, from childhood to young adulthood, and from younger adulthood into
middle age. Some of us have just recently met.

We began our day with a standard running, stretching, and front, outside, and inside kick warmup. Then, over the next two hours, we did repetition drills, including many of the individual techniques associated with the Lohan Quan. Along the way, we did pushups, horse stances, and stretched some more.

After a water break, Shifu briefly explained to us the history of the Lohan form that we were going to be studying. A Lohan, in Chinese, known as an Arhat, in Sanskrit, is one who has attained Enlightenment. Lohans are known for their great wisdom, courage and mental powers, and are akin to guardians of the Buddha and community. Tradition has it that there were 18 primary Lohans. For nearly one thousand years, Chinese martial artists have sought to portray these mythical figures. As each one of us has his or her own way of expression, our embodiments of the Lohans will, no doubt, express our own individualities.

After learning the form’s origin, we began to learn its execution. For the next two hours, we practiced the first two sequences of the larger form. These included moving from ready stance into jumping lower stance, then into bow stance with double punch, followed by turning 180 degrees, with swallow hands, then dropping into cross-stance with a right knife-hand, then turning 180 degrees again, with arms like a willow, and right leg raised, into bow stance and double spear-hand. From there, we transitioned into horse-stance and double downward punch, then into a 360 degree arm rotation and corresponding 90 degree body shift, into empty stance.

Our legs were quivering like Jello when Shifu culminated the day’s training with horse stances and splits! It was a great start to the Summer Intensive 2016. Tomorrow, we are meeting at 8:00 am, in Riverside Park, to train in nature. Thereafter we are going to return to the training center, and study “The Eight Fundamental Training Techniques,” before continuing our Lohan studies. Amituofo!

Sunday, July 10, 2016, 8:00-11:00 am, 1:00-4:00 pm: Today, we met at 8:00 am at Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, to train at “The Rings,” an area named after the two sets of gymnastic rings that are set into a sandpit there.

Among us was Josh Lewis, a student for the past three years and veteran of Summer Intensive, who explains that his fondness for martial arts started at a young age, with video games, Power Rangers, and classic kung fu films. Although Josh admired many different styles, it was Shaolin’s nearly flawless “mimicry of animals into forms and styles of their own” that drove him to want to study with Shifu.
As Josh explains, the Summer Intensive Program:

...Pushes you to your limits, or rather, aims to push you beyond them. Clarity, Courage and Confidence are key when it comes to getting through the many exercises and techniques that you will endure for the entirety of the program. Shifu and Shimu are excellent teachers and are there to help you, push you, motivate you and guide you along your path. Motivation also comes from within oneself, as well as the other students around you—a great group of people I might add, who also are working just as hard as you are—and that energy and camaraderie is shared amongst us all.

We are also joined this year by John Liang, who served two combat tours as a United States Marine. John explains that, to him the program is much more than “rigorous constant movement,” over the course of a “grueling, intensive six-hour training session,” that left him exhausted :

…Having served two tours in Iraq in the United States Marine Corps, the training among a group of devoted students resembles and reminded me of the camaraderie from those experiences; enduring different activities and performing exercises all together in unity. My reasons for joining 'Summer Intensive Program' is not only to promote my 'health, fitness, discipline and strength,’ but also to cultivate my inner spirit.

We started out with a fifteen minute group warmup run, then, we went through a standard stretch, before performing several slow Qi Gong sets, as we faced the still-rising sun in the East. Then, we performed multiple sets of technique drills, before moving on to upper body conditioning. From the rings, we executed sets of pull-ups to failure before then moving to incline pushups off the concrete perimeter of the sandpit. Out hands were covered in pebbles and grit, but everyone endured.

For leg conditioning, we performed nearly 100 one legged springing park-bench jumps, or, in the case of several senior students, one-legged springing bleacher seating jumps. These were followed by sets of bow stance jumping, one legged hopping, and bunny jumping up stairs. The morning culminated with a group crawl down the steps, before we took a lunch break, and returned to the school for another three hours of work.

We began the afternoon session by repeating the technique sequences that we had executed earlier in the park. Shifu reminded us that these conditions were less adverse and the distances shorter—and, thus, that we should be moving even faster and sinking even deeper.

Then, after more sets of front, outside and inside kicks, vee-ups and crunches, Shifu lectured on Shaolin’s “Eight Methods of Martial Arts,” which include: (1) Fists are like a shooting star; (2) Eyes are like lightening; (3) Body moves like a snake; (4) Feet are like a drill; (5) Spirit must be sharp; (6) Qi must sink; (7) Reach the target smoothly; and (8) Effort must be pure. We then returned to our Lohan Quan studies, reviewing yesterday’s patterns, and learning the next sequence of a right slap kick from empty stance into the posture known as “rooster standing on one leg,” then a jumping right slap kick into standing with left hand above right as if holding Qi ball, then stepping forward with right foot while rotating the right arm backwards and returning to empty stance.

Shaking from movements such as jumping from ready stance into a lower stance eaglespreading- its-wings posture, we ended our day strong, with ninety (90) more pushups and stretching into splits.

Everyone was incredibly sore, but very happy. Week one is behind us and going very strong. Amituofo! Joseph A. Bondy

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