365 DAYS OF SHAOLIN KUNG FU: THE ASAD APPROACH
Sifu Anthony Korahais
Chief Instructor, Shaolin Wahnam USA
28th April 2011
365 Days of Shaolin Kung Fu: The ASAD Approach
Continuing with the theme of my 365 Days of One Finger Zen thread . I'd like to talk about a habit that I adopted this year.
In short, I practice a set a day. No matter what. Every day, without fail, I practice a set. Of course, I often practice more than one set, or I do many repetitions of the same set, but the bare minimum is a set a day.
The ASAD (A Set A Day) approach has been incredibly helpful for me, and also for some of my students. What you quickly realize is that most sets hardly take any time at all. Many, like Lohan Asks the Way can be done in under a minute. Even long sets, like the Shaolin Pakua Palm Set , can be done in 2.5 minutes.
As Sifu says, we can practice Shaolin Kung Fu in the space where a water buffalo lies. By adapting the footwork, you can practice any set in a small space. Those of you who have been to my house know that Akemi and I have a tiny practice room. Even though it is small, I can still practice the Pakua Set in there, which normally requires a lot of room. All I do is modify the footwork.
I encourage everyone to try the ASAD approach. If you are a beginner, this will help you to get much more mileage out of your practice. If you are more advanced, then it will help you to manage both spread and depth .
Once upon a time, I was overwhelmed by all the sets. Today, I enjoy having such a wide repertoire. This week, I've already practiced the Monkey Set, the Pakua Set, the Taijiquan 24-Pattern Set, the Tiger-Crane Set, the Wing Choon Siu Lin Tou Set, and the Five-Animal Set. And the week isn't even over yet!
Does that sound like a lot? If I did all of those sets back-to-back, it would take less than 30 minutes, even if I did chi flow in between. If you spread those sets out over the course of a week, it's quite easy to do.
If you start doing ASAD, you'll find that once you've completely memorized a set, it needs very little maintenance. For example, if you're currently working on the Happy Bird Set, you shouldn't forget your other sets. Practicing the Black Tiger Set just once a week will only take you a few minutes, and it will keep the set polished.
For more advanced students and instructors, you'll have a bunch more sets to work with. In this case, you'll probably only need to do a set once a month in order to keep it polished. For example, here is a list of the sets that I currently know:
- Black Tiger Steals Heart Set
- Lohan Asks the Way Set
- Fierce Tiger Crosses Valley Set
- Happy Bird Hops up Branch Set
- Felling Tree with Roots Set
- Fierce Tiger Descends Mountain Set
- Crossroads at Four Gates Set
- Pakua Palm Set
- Five Animal Set
- Tiger Crane Set
- Monkey Set
- Flower Set
- Taijiquan 24-Pattern Set
- Cloud Hands Taijiquan Set
- Siu Lin Tou
- Phew Chee
- Cham Kiew
- Flowing Water Staff
- Plum Blossom Saber
- Traveling Dragon Spear
- Traveling Dragon Sword
- Human Character Butterfly Swords
If I simply do a set a day, then I can practice all of them in just 22 days. If I am feeling motivated and I do 2 sets a day, it will only take me 11 days. If I do 3 sets a day, I can do them all in a week. You get the idea.
Honestly, with basic sets like Lohan Asks the Way, I don't even need to do them every month. Once every other month is plenty. More complicated sets, like the Traveling Dragon Sword, require a bit more frequency.
What about depth? That's easy once you get the ASAD habit flowing. It naturally builds momentum. Some days, you'll repeat a set 5 times, going deeper and deeper. Or, you might practice a special set every day for a few months, doing the other sets now and then.
I hope the ASAD approach helpful. I look forward to getting feedback from those of you who adopt the habit.
Shaolin Wahnam, Florida
The above discussion is reproduced from the thread 365 Days of Shaolin Kung fu: the ASDA Approach in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.