About World Dragon Kenpo
September 15, 2010
Cultivating Your Qi
"Qi Gong is a system that cultivates vital life force.
Qi Gong arose thousands of years ago through the ancients' study of the interconnected cycles of nature, the universe and humans. By observing animals and nature's elements (water, wind, fire), the ancients began to closely follow the harmony and balance that nature created. Through their own movements, sound and visualizations, they began to access similar qualities within themselves, allowing this same harmony and balance to be experienced."
--- Carrie Laferty, "Cultivating Vital Life Force."
In This Issue
The Journey Continues by Coach Ron Pfeiffer, Jr.
Featured Article: World Dragon Kenpo: Distance Training with a Viable Curriculum by Jacob Patus
Experiencing Qi by Professor Frank Rinaldo
The Spirit of Qi Gong by Deborah Davis: A Product Review by Steve Amoia
by Coach Ron Pfeiffer, Jr.
Since there are a number of changes going on with World Dragon Kenpo it reminded me of one of my favorite axioms. "Remember, the only thing that is constant is change."
Site Transfer Operations
Our transfer of operations from the old .us site to our new www.dragonkenpo.net and .org pages has been mostly completed. There are still a few tweaks that we will be making, but we have things to the point where new persons are (and have been) able to find our new site, understand the process, request membership and activate said memberships for either home study or local lessons. If you are an affiliated member/instructor or state representative, please email Coach Pfeiffer about your membership.
A huge thanks goes out to Mike Sokolski (Dragon Kenpo Brown Belt and Tai Chi Student) who was responsible for the dragonkenpo.net virtual dojo project. Without Mike's help we wouldn't have continued the online training in current form.Our online school, World Dragon Kenpo Schools of Self Defense, has been a continuous online presence since July 2004 and is one of only a small handful of distance learning programs that have survived. To the best of our knowledge, we are the only one teaching Dragon Kenpo Karate.
We have been invited once again to continue our association with the University of Wisconsin at Parkside in Kenosha. Our local school, Midwest Tai Chi & Self Defense, will be providing lessons for the Mini Course program that begins on October 1st. The training is open to the public and serves as a great way to introduce people to the martial arts.
My Interview with the Kenosha News
Kevin Poirier of the Kenosha News interviewed me about my journey in Tai Chi. To take a look, please click here.
Health Fair at Nestle Foods
In another bit of news we, are participating in a Health Fair for the employees of Nestle Foods of Burlington. As we know, martial art training provides an interesting way to stay in shape, relieve stress and become more effective on a daily basis. Our instructors should consider health fairs and other low cost methods of letting your local community know who you are and what you offer.
And finally, in September 2008 we opened our school in Burlington. Two years later, and we find that it has taken awhile for the word to spread locally but it is spreading! Inquiries concerning lessons are up from the end of summer. One thing that we know is that success comes to those who stay in there and keep swinging.
I will end with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt. Please read it and then set or reset your goals for the future!
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
World Dragon Kenpo: Distance Training with a Viable Curriculum
by Jacob Patus, 1st Degree Black Instructor
I have been studying martial arts for over two-thirds of my lifetime. Most of that training has been in the realm of traditional Japanese karate. Shotokan to be specific. Eventually, my training partner (father) and I began searching for alternative methods of studying martial arts. We stumbled upon World Dragon Kenpo (WDK) and decided to look further into the curriculum. At first, the distance learning concept sounded a bit unrealistic to be honest, but we chose to try it anyway.
Different Type of Distance Learning Program
Once we began to train with WDK, my opinion of the distance learning curriculum was slowly changed. Unlike other organizations that I have been involved in, this curriculum was more than one of those “Pay me my money and get your promotion” sort of deals. Coach Pfeiffer did not just contact us for a check and actually cared about our progress through the program. Once I got into the higher ranks of Dragon Kenpo where your promotions require more than a request and a fulfillment of the time requirement, I became convinced that the distance training concept was actually a viable curriculum, if both the teacher and the student are committed to learning.
My training with WDK has allowed me to learn more about martial arts than just what one would think Kenpo has to offer at first glance. I have fully integrated what I have learned in Shotokan with what I have been learning in Dragon Kenpo. There have been multiple situations where when learning a new technique in Dragon Kenpo, I have been able to see it as an application of Shotokan techniques that I have learned in the past. In this sense, not only have I learned Kenpo in my training with WDK, I have learned more about other the other styles of martial arts in which I have studied.
Hands-On Methods of Coach Pfeiffer
Coach Pfeiffer has been an integral part of what has made my training with WDK so enjoyable. Unlike other groups that I have trained with, Coach Pfeiffer understands his students’ will to learn more than one medium of martial arts at a time. He has supported my experimentation with other styles while training with WDK and even encouraged my integration of my WDK training with our previous knowledge of Shotokan.
My WDK training experience has been great so far and I plan to continue to study with Coach Pfeiffer. Not only does WDK offer a great training experience, the curriculum is easy to follow yet credible. The distance learning videos are shot using instructors who do a good job in terms of describing the techniques at each level and displaying examples using a training partner. Another important thing to note about WDK is the documentation of your progress as you train with WDK. I learned the hard way that if there is no paper trail behind your training, your progress in that martial art is not very credible beyond the school in which you are studying. WDK distance learning provides a great method of learning and practicing martial arts on your own time while still following a valid curriculum and making progress that can be documented.
In my experience, it seems that people who do not believe in Qi have never felt it. People who do not teach Qi either do not really know it or don't want to teach it to their students for specific reasons. Let me clarify this by saying that everyone has Qi. Just that people do not know how to control it or if they can control it, they can not use it in a martial arts situation. If you have the ability to control and use your Qi, then controlling a 300 pound individual is easy to do. Remember the Tai Chi quote: "Use four ounces to control 1000 pounds."
The Need to Feel the Essential Qi
Qi has many meanings and interpretations. When I refer to Qi, I mean the essential Qi that one uses in martial arts applications (Fa Jing). It takes many years to be able to control and use your Qi to 'bounce' someone. This is, of course, a big problem when trying to explain about Qi in martial arts situations. Words tend to be very inadequate. One really needs to feel it. This also implies that it is virtually impossible to really learn about Qi from a book or a video.
Finding the Right Instructor
You must first find a teacher who really has the ability (VERY difficult to do), then he has to be willing to teach you (it may take months/years before he really trusts you enough), then you have to have the commitment and ability to learn (it takes years to master.) Even then, it is still a struggle. But once it is developed, using it is instantaneous.
The Need to Experience Qi
The only real way to learn about Qi is by experiencing it. At least that has been my experience. This might be similar to the Tao Te Ching. If you think you can name the Tao then that is not it! Any description of Qi is incomplete. It must be experienced.
How do you know if you are doing it right!?
When you practice Tai Chi you must ALWAYS be relaxed. This applies if you are interested in improving your health or for martial arts applications. Alert and relaxed, but not limp. The Tai Chi classics have a phrase: “… like a cat waiting to pounce on a mouse…” (Paraphrased). The cat is totally relaxed, but extremely alert… it can pounce in an instant.
If you are using a garden hose to squirt water and you then grab the hose very tightly in one fist – the water will stop flowing. So will your Qi. Contracted muscles will block the flow of Qi. Tai Chi does NOT depend on physical strength. How else can “an old man defeat a great number of younger men”? The apparent contradiction of using no muscular strength (so your Qi can flow) in a martial art application is very hard to overcome. People (especially men) tend to tense their muscles in a ‘tense’ situation. A well-built (muscled) individual has a most difficult time to learn to control their Qi. Their automatic response is to tense their muscles thereby blocking the flow of their Qi. On the other hand, it is much easier for women and children to learn to control of their Qi.
There is no physical effort when you release your Qi (Fa Jing). Another quote: “releasing it is like shooting an arrow”. Think about this… to ‘shoot an arrow’… you do not try to throw the arrow by moving the bow. All you need to do it relax your finger tips and the arrow is released. Qi is controlled & released by your mind. If you see a Tai Chi person moving their arms or shifting their weight to push someone then they are using physical strength, not Qi.
Professor Frank Rinaldo teaches in the Department of Human and Computer Intelligence at Ritsumeikan University in Japan. He has studied Yang style Tai Chi for more than 30 years.
A Product Review by Steve Amoia
Qi Gong (Life force + Work or Purpose) is an ancient self-healing art from China that promotes Dan Tien abdominal breathing, graceful movements, and meditation. The practice of Qi Gong maintains health, prevents illness, and potentially increases our longevity.
Deborah Davis, L.Ac. received her Masters from Santa Barbara College of Oriental Medicine, and is licensed in acupuncture and herbal medicine by the Medical Board of the State of California, the National Commission of Certification of Acupuncturists, and the Oregon Board of Examiners. She is the author of "Women's Qi Gong for Health and Longevity."
The Spirit of Qi Gong is a self-paced distance learning program designed for men and women. It is based upon the Five Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), along with the healing sounds of nature. The DVD is 62 minutes in length, and was produced in 1999. It is sold via her web site, and also at Amazon.com.
Benefits of Qi Gong
- Slow aging
- Stimulate sexual vitality
- Balance hormones
- Reduce stress
- Enhance memory
My first impression of the contents was the beautiful images, sounds, and natural surroundings. The imagery helps to enhance the emotional and physical benefits of Qi Gong. In my opinion, the different environments that she uses to demonstrate exercises and healing sounds are extremely tranquilizing in and of themselves. They help to prepare your mind and body for optimum results from the various movements. The exercises and movements have a dance-like quality, and I found them to be very enjoyable.
Ms. Davis has a soothing voice, and is a very patient teacher. While she is the principal instructor, all of the movements feature students to provide a different perspective. She stresses the importance of the basics of qi gong, along with warm-ups. For example, the proper stance, along with Dan Tien (sea of Chi point) rhythmic abdominal breathing. Proper inhalation is a key component for all of the exercises and movements. Each movement, which are executed by six repetitions, is associated with a specific healing sound. For example, "shh..." (similar to the sound of the wind) for the lungs, and "who" for the spleen.
Five Chinese Elements
Metal: Lungs and Large Intestine. Season of Autumn.
Water: Kidneys and Bladder. Season of Winter.
Wood: Liver and Gallbladder: Season of Spring.
Fire: Heart and Small Intestine: Season of Summer.
Earth: Spleen, Pancreas, and Stomach: Season of Indian Summer.
One thing that I found very educational was her demonstration of various acupuncture meridians. This helps you to understand the reason for a specific movement, and also teaches you some of the more prominent meridians. Such as the lung, kidney, spleen, and heart, respectively. If you take a look at the bottom of this blog, you can view detailed diagrams of acupuncture meridians.
Complement to Dragon Kenpo and Tai Chi
The slower motions and movements of Qi Gong would be a good complement to the study of Kenpo or other harder (Yang) arts. If you have studied any of the Tai Chi modules by Dr. Paul Lam, you will find these Qi Gong exercises and forms easier to execute. But mastery is another matter. Qi Gong has to be practiced daily. Much like herbal medicine, it acts as a tonic to keep us in balance, flexible, and flowing.
My Rating: Five stars. *****
The book reviewer and WDK were not compensated for this article.
Please remember to update your online account information and make promotion requests to Coach Ron Pfeiffer. Advancements and promotions are not automatic. They are conferred at the sole discretion of Coach Pfeiffer or his certified instructors.
Articles contained in the World Dragon Kenpo Slayer News represent the opinions of the authors. WDK is not liable for any misstatements or errors, and does not necessarily support the views of the writer.
Coach Ron Pfeiffer thanks you for your continued support. Please forward this edition to your friends and martial arts colleagues.
Editor, World Dragon Kenpo Slayer News
September 15, 2010
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