GRATITUDE AND APPRECIATION FOR THE INTENSIVE SHAOLIN KUNGFU COURSE, SABAH 16-22 JULY 2012
I just got back yesterday from the intensive kungfu course and the friendly sparring session with Muay Thai fighters last Sunday. It's great to read the stories of the other participants -- thank you all for sharing!
I had been longing to join the intensive kungfu course for many years now, and I'm so glad I finally had the opportunity to join it. My main objective for going was to go back to the basics, which Sigung kept referring to as that which is most important.
I loved how from day 1 to day 5 we systematically and gradually covered the basic materials, from entering Zen (that we call this a 'basic' is a tribute to our school), to stances, moving with yin/yang harmony, Shaolin Wahnam philosophy, One-Finger Zen, Lohan Asks the Way set, combat sequences 1-16 and the corresponding sets, and finally free sparring and using kungfu against other styles.
Sigung is an amazing teacher, both in the clarity with which he presents these materials, and in the generosity of his teaching. I'm overawed and deeply grateful to him and all the past masters in sharing these precious arts. As Chia-Hua mentioned, it felt like coming home. These are just two words, but the experience behind them is profound indeed.
Some specific learnings which I particularly appreciate include having my posture corrected by Sisook Andreas (standing upright for hours on end is easy now), finding out that the pattern “Lohan Smells Armpit” is not the best way of retreating into a false-leg stance (i.e. leaning forward without proper ying/yang harmony, waiting to lunge back into bow-arrow), the incredible power of giving blessings (had a deep and profound experience of love and gratitude), and that the secret to the element of threat is relaxation.
I can't even begin to list all the 'small' corrections Sigung made throughout these five days, and how immensely this has already improved my kungfu. I can't recommend this course enough for appreciating and improving the fundamentals.
Finally, I'm extremely grateful to Sipak Dr. Damian Kissey for providing the opportunity to spar with Muay Thai fighters on Sunday in Kota Kinabalu. I've looked at the video recordings many times now, both those on Youtube by Kinabalu Fighters and the high-quality ones by Sipak Godfrey Kissey we got on DVD.
I was pretty scared to get into the boxing ring for the first time, even though it was just for friendly, light-contact sparring. However, I was also last out of the five of us honoured to represent our school (Sisooks Andreas, Tapio, Mark Blohm, Chia-Hua, and myself), which gave me the opportunity to observe the sparring and identify strengths and weaknesses.
When I finally got in the ring with my opponent Daniel I focused mainly on three things: stances, relaxation, and using pressing attacks at the sequence rather than the pattern level. I feel I succeeded pretty well in the first two and well-enough in the third, so that I managed to press my opponent and dominate the sparring.
It was truly a breakthrough for me and I can't thank my family enough for their support. Here are a few things I learned from the friendly sparring:
Muay Thai fighters give many free offers that can be exploited by moving in swiftly and safely
Knowing and using your strong points is very effective (in my case, reach was one of them)
Staying relaxed and in stances is probably half the work (it's hard, but incredibly effective)
Yin/yang harmony is very important when your opponent can deliver fast and powerful kicks (moving in stances swiftly and safely)
- Coming in with a strategy and sparring at the sequence level is immensely more effective than responding with individual patterns in the moment (something I could do more of)
I feel like I could go on and on, but I don't want to try your patience any more than I may already have :-)
It was simply wonderful to meet many old and new friends, to be hosted in Sabah by the loving Kissey family, and most importantly to be taught by Sigung.
Shaolin Wahnam Netherlands
26th July 2012
The above discussion is reproduced from the thread Discussion: Intensive Shaolin Kungfu Course, Malaysia 2012 in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.