zondag 20 februari 2011

New School in Town - Shaolin Culture

New school in town

It is almost a year now that a new Shaolin Kungfu school opened in the Southeast part of Amsterdam. This area also known as the “Bijlmer” is home to various martial arts schools. On December 7th Shaolin Wuhun Helan -
少林武魂荷兰 (Shaolin Warrior Spirit) opened its doors to the public. Not so much as to compete with other schools but because teaching is a way to keep learning and also not to let all that what was learned go to waste. Not so longs ago the East and Shaolin kungfu were not accesable for the general public and now everybody can learn Shaolin Kungfu even in Amsterdam’s “ghetto”.
The school is headed by Erika Blackson. She started Karate at age 13 and has never stopped training since then. Karate, Taiji, Wing Chun, and finally Shaolin Kungfu. Se has won numerous national championships, her highest achievement being Pan American Champion Karate in 1988.
She has completely dedicated herself to Shaolin Kungfu eager to share this mainly as a result from visiting China for the first time in 2008 where she met her Shifu (teacher).
Students used to asked “will we learn how to fight?” To which the answer would always be, “No, not at first, against others that is”.
Actually there is a lot of ‘fighting’, against yourself! Going that little extra to improve, everytime, all the time. She has noticed that the children like to look at others a lot and without fail see all the errors in others. Paying too much attention to others is distracting and leads to arguments and quarrels. At one point the children were told that they were allowed to talk as long as it does not involve others….silence followed. They had absolutely nothing to talk about!
This rule is one of the most important ones in the school.
Look at yourself, being quiet and become calm. And yes, you can talk and even talk about someone but only if it is positive and something nice.
It took some time but the children are used to it now and you can see that in class.
They do talk but most of the time it is quiet, everybody works hard even if the teacher is not watching, they are enthousiastic and most important no more quarrelling.
Like many other traditional martial arts, Shaolin Kungfu and Chan (Zen) cannot be seen separately. Chan provides us with guidelines to help us in our daily lifes and our relationships with other people. Think about virtues such as, charity, patience, diligence and wisdom all of which one can find in the practise of Quanfa (aka Kungfu) itself.
Charity, not keeping to yourself but helping fellow students or by just working hard motivating and inspiring thus helping fellow students. Patience, there a no shortcuts in Kungfu. Diligence, keeping at it even if it gets hard. Wisdom, finally, when you realize after years of hard training what Kungfu really is about and you understand the meaning of:

chán quán hé
Chan (Zen) en quan (fist-kungfu) are one!


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