In modern China, the term “Wushu” is the actual word used when referring to the Chinese martial arts. However, combative proficiency has been all but abandoned in favor of aesthetics. This has resulted in gymnastic artistry that is impressive to watch, but in the end is simply a cultural experience. Outside of China, the word “Kung Fu” is used to describe the fighting arts. In China, however, Kung Fu roughly translates to “great skill obtained through hard work”. Thus, it can be applied to almost any life endeavor. At the Shaolin Center, students learn what it means to work hard to obtain great skill as a martial artist. We get a look at the Shaolin Center, and the man at its helm, Mike Jones.
EXAMINER: Mike, what is the Shaolin Center all about?
MIKE: Our goal is to give the student a thorough education in Chinese martial arts, to which there are two basic training methods, the hard and soft style. The hard style is easily discerned by the sheer physicality of the training, while the soft style is more devoted to internal energies, mental, and spiritual training. Against this structure, we have forms or choreographed fighting sequences, which are at the heart of our system. Our founder, Grandmaster Sin Kwang The, learned over 900 forms from his teacher, E Chang Ming, who was taught by the last grandmaster of the Fukien Shaolin Temple that was burned down in 1875. These forms, preserved on scrolls that only Grandmaster The has access to, contain all the knowledge from that time period. These forms cover the width and breadth of Chinese martial arts; weapons such as the Chinese broadsword, nine section steel whip, staff; animal forms such as Tiger, Crane; two person forms, and so on. What we offer the student is the chance to tap into this huge physical library of movement and become part of the tradition that stems from the Fukien Shaolin Temple.
EXAMINER: Certainly sounds like a lot to learn.
MIKE: Yes, it is. While this sounds daunting, what we want for the student is longevity, both in learning and in physical well being. To us, being a martial artist should be a lifelong endeavor of learning. For example, I have 60 long forms completely committed to memory; this is after 15 years of training. I still have a long way to go, and I have absolutely no problem with remaining a student; I feel this is a key point that I hope my students grasp.
EXAMINER: What about self-defense? Arguably, it’s the reason most people begin the study of martial arts.
MIKE: We don’t feed students illusions such as prevailing against swarming hordes of opponents. The reality of the street is that survival is the goal. This includes giving up your wallet, verbally defusing the situation, or better yet, not getting into a situation that necessitates the use of force. Shaolin monks were, for all intents and purposes, pacifists, but retained the ability to transform into deadly fighters if there was no other choice. This is what we want to emulate as well; be calm, be quiet, but if things get out of hand, we want you to be able to take care of yourself.
For more information on the Shaolin Center, contact Mike Jones at (719) 520-1522, or [email protected]
AUTHORS NOTE: glowbass.com, Eric Taimanglo, Mike Jones, and Shaolin Center disclaim all liability from any personal injury or damages resulting from the use or misuse of the techniques demonstrated in this article. All techniques demonstrated are for information purposes only.