June 4th - Shaolin Chan and Wisdom

Morning Meditation

Meditation without Master Ning, I knew this was going to be interesting. Roll call happened and we were a few students short due to them being sick/injured, I ran 2 km and witnessed some farmers start fighting each other, and I got back to the school, waiting to see who would guide us in meditation. Master Bao wasn't here again so Master Peng said he'd watch us meditate and teach the Chinese kids. It wasn't long until Master Peng saw a couple of us not concentrated on meditating,  so he talked to us.

He explained that meditation is learning how to control yourself. You focus on one thing, maybe its breathing or maybe its a problem, but you focus on that until you feel calm. Sure, the Chinese students made noise while training, but don't the birds as well?

After that short discussion, we started again. During this sitting meditation, I only focused on my breathing. No deep insights, no cool daydreams, just bugs crawling on me and my breathing. It was nice to just focus on breathing for a bit, not a bunch of moves, no sweat pouring down my face. Just. Breathe.

Discussion - More of Master Peng's Wisdom

Time was up and Master Peng sat down with us to talk some more. Specifically on the idea of Chán , which is deep contemplation/Zen (to put it simply). Shaolin has two ways of improving yourself; one is the "physical way" which is martial arts/Wu Shu. The other is through Chán, "the mental/spiritual way"; things like Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Meditation all fall under this. The basic idea is to learn to control yourself, to control your mind, your thoughts. An example is: We study martial arts, we learn to use our fist and feet to fight but Chan, or the spiritual side, teaches us how to control ourselves so that we don't use it unless there is no other choice. Meditation is also a very personal thing, so what one person experiences or feels during it might not happen for another.

Master Peng also explained that he believes martial arts focuses on two things, speed and power. There is no mystical "energy" or anything to it. He does admit there are things that he has seen at the Shaolin Temple and other places he trained which are hard to explain, like an old man punching a young man so hard he flew back or monks doing one finger push ups. This led him to talking about us finding what we're good at. He sees us training so that we're "so-so" at a lot of things or maybe we're focusing on something that we can't do at the moment so, he told us to find the thing that we're good at and practice it until we're amazing. His example was that he couldn't jump as high as the rest of his Kung Fu Brothers but he found out he can kick really well. So he kept training his kicks and flexibility until he had the best kicks among his Kung Fu Brothers.

This conversation was a really nice one. I think the advice and stories he told helped all of us a little bit.

Power Training - Legs

...was tough. Another 4 km run defeated on this really hot day but... man I wasn't expecting Power Training to be that tough. Lots and lots of Jumping. Single Leg Jumps, Double Leg Jumps, Frog Jumps, Single Leg Squats, Squats, 4 Direction Hops and some jogging too. We went beyond the bell for this class because it took us so long to complete the sets. Master Peng really does know how to make a tough Power Training session.

Evening Reflections - Tired

I'm sure if you look back at all of my posts you'll find some sort of pattern in moods, thoughts, and other things. Even though I've said it before, I'll say it again, Thursdays always make me feel week because of Conditioning and Power Training yet I make it through each time.

Ready for Friday? I know I am.

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