As a responsible educational institute of self-defense, our studio must teach self- defense as an art yet recognize the responsibility of providing each individual an improved sense of security that is functional and realistic within the present context of violence in our society. No doubt teachers, police officers, blue collar workers, and medical personel face a workplace that can at times become very threatening. On the other hand, college and high school students naturally surround themselves with friends that provide a continuing sense of social security that can readily disregard common sense, and effectively spawn indifference and ignorance of any threat to their own well being.
History clearly reveals mankind’s corruption, one generation after another. It chronicles both the advantages of answering conflict with violence and the tragic disadvantages. Consequently, we find ourselves protected by laws that restrain and control the amount of personal liability attached to the amount of self defense a victim legally has. Thus, the instruction and application of self-defense techniques must answer one major question: How do we teach ‘Fighting’ without ‘Fighting’?
A Kung Fu Instruction Grounded in Ethics
There is little doubt that just having the knowledge of self-defense techniques doesn’t work. It can turn a student into a perpetrator or turn a conflict in a normal loving relationship into a perfect example of spousal beating and abuse. Without a sense of moral responsibility, self-defense techniques can cost you money as well as a prison term. In fact, studies indicate that the athletes who participate in violent sports like Professional Wrestling, Karate etc. are prone to respond with violence on the spouses or children during disagreements. In most instances these individuals are trained to vent emotional stress by striking out at others. Those nearest all too often pay the price for their irresponsible training. (Marino, Gordon “Do Sports Really Build Strength and Character?” The Wall Street Journal, 8/3/06)
What is necessary in the instruction of self-defense is an understanding of the dynamics of relational conflict and skills in curbing emotional overloading. (Maung Gyi, Ph.D. “Making Peace With Yourself, a Non-violent Approach to a Violent Art” Inside Kung Fu Magazine, Oct.96) Studies indicate that once violence has been used on children to manage their behavior, it becomes a feasible option for them to vent their anger on others. The kid with a weapon in his book bag has a long back story that brought him to place that weapon in that bag. The individual who gets drunk and suddenly beats or stabs his/her spouse has a history that somehow foreshadowed the usage of violence as a form of communication.
Tranquility in a Chaotic Mind
Having a background in the instruction of Conflict Communication and the experience of teaching and working in a juvenile prison for violent criminals, Master Illar’s teaching methods are geared to developing controls over impulsive behavior as well as the personal understanding that causes fear, anger, and greed that too often determine our success in resolving conflict rather than controlling it.
Each student in our program learns how to be patient, clear minded and focused because they have learned to productively counterbalance fear, anger, and greed. In doing so they are not only open to non-violent resolution but better able to control their responses to their own impulsive behavior. Intrapersonal conflicts from compulsive eating to impulsive buying suddenly become manageable when we manage our emotional responses to stress.
The answer lies in being able to understand what kung fu masters and Chinese Writers through the ages have taught when they gifted their audiences with the skill of being able to grasp the concept of ‘fighting’ without ‘fighting’.
Since traditional kung fu minds years ago labeled impulsive emotional behaviors as being the product of a Monkey Mind, the process of freeing man from the demands of his hubris was considered to be a task of awakening or civilizing the ‘Monkey Mind’ from its instinctive ‘Me First’ attitude.
The traditional tool employed was the usage of Kung Fu exercises to civilize the body mind, and spirit with the mind. It is the understanding of this Ko An, ‘fighting’ without ‘fighting’ that empowers those who study at our studio to secure themselves through the achievement of new goals and challenges. Some have managed to lose 100 pounds in 6 months. Others find themselves back in college or starting a new business. No matter what you do having a Kung Fu mind is good for you.
As our children point out “No challenge is too great!”
Our beginning adult classes are organized in three sections.
- The first experience offered in the beginning of every beginning adult class is our cool down breathing exercise. Adult classes begin with a 10 minute period of silence in which everyone is offered a period of quiet to release them from the hurried pace of technology lead lives.
- The second experience is transitioned into slowly to maintain a developing focused connection between the mind and body through the usage of Nei Gung and Chi Gung floor exercises. ( Chinese Yoga – 30 minutes)
- The third experience presented brings the class to their feet to move through more active work in movement studies and to promote an understanding of both physical and internal intelligence to develop functional strength, quickness and clarity in self-defense.
(Tuesday night class offers a necessary application experience with a variance of self-defense techniques.)
At the Baton Rouge studio each beginner is offered three sessions a week of beginning adult classes that are each at least 90 minutes long. Intermediate studies begin after a student has studied 6 months. At that time they can additionally attend another night class as well as a Saturday morning class. There they experience the presence of weaponry to challenge their focus and sense of physical and mental control. These additional classes offer a variety of weapon studies. This work lessens the complexity of their normal empty-hand exercises in both structure and application. The mindful focus used to promote speed, accuracy, and power is the byproduct of weapon training.
Instructional Sparring – Fighting without Fighting
No new student will ever be expected to compete with instructors or classmates nor will any classmate or instructor compete with students to test or prove their skill.
Through the intelligence of Kung Fu minds adaptive methods of instruction have stood the test of time. Case in point was the film effort, Fearless, by Jet Li. In his excellent portrayal of Huo Yuan Jia, Jet Li not only made another splendidly choreographed Kung Fu movie but one that like the art itself will stand the test of time because it promotes ‘Fighting’ without ‘Fighting’ and chronicles the legend of a man who gave his life to exhibit the value of non-contact fighting to protect Human Life and real Kung Fu. Huo Yuan Jia freed fighters from the drudgery of killing or maiming one another for the pleasure of an audience. Jet Li freed men from having to prove their skill by hurting one another. Teaching how not to hit others leads to nonviolent Kung Fu or ‘Fighting without Fighting’.
Since Kung Fu instruction has not only been historically preserved and developed through writing and now through film, it has also been systematized far beyond others martial arts. ‘Fighting’ without ‘Fighting’ comprises structured but reactive self-defense practice drills that enhance vision, reaction time, counter balancing, and emotional control into functional skills. The drills are often the very hand sets performed by movie actors such as Jackie Chan and others. These ancient exercises offer a storehouse of options to eventually answer every possible self-defense predicament without the threat of any aversive or serious harm. When mastered they bring instant, well timed, responses and solutions to street attacks.
Muscle Intelligence, Memory, and Function
We create behaviors that develop muscle intelligence, memory, and function. Each self defense instruction is preceded by forty minutes spent on developing movements that coordinate the mind with your body. We offer a psychology of balancing between pushing and pulling, rising and falling, coiling and unwinding. We explore breathing exercises to develop energy, to sharpen focus, to relax, and to become fearless. The first segments of every class period begin by breathing deeply and moving with little noticeable movement. These warm up exercises provide a life time of challenges to your personal self respect and health. In this journey, teenagers discover that they need guidance and mature adults begin to discover the rewards of balancing patience with determination. Our “Chi Gung exercises immediately seem to strengthen and relax both the lower back knees and neck.
Why do these methods work?
They work because each student learns to develop and respect structure and after ten years of study, understand it as adaptive. Our application drills develop focus, speed and reaction time without injury. These exercises moderate focus. They compel the student to slow down, to wait, to change the bodys sense of time. Self-defense instruction must be based on developing and caring for the health of all students. Ours provides exercises that not only develop discipline but clear minds and provide a detailed vision of possible opportunities or threats. We offer sporting games like pushing hands or working hands and a myriad of other entertaining ways of developing physical skills and health. Our students develop into competitive athletes. Some find themselves on the high school track team, others find themselves on the wrestling team. It’s not surprising to see others become award winning pianists or concert flutists. Others lose weight fall in love and marry. Yet more often than not, students eventually discover that learning is the greatest gift of living well and pursue further academic achievement. Obviously, our methods improve lives, by building courage and functional behavior. We believe: No matter what you do White Crane Kung Fu is good for you.