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Martial Training as a Timeless Portal

Thanks to several centuries of enlightened teachings by extraordinary men in the martial disciplines, we don't have to be restricted to lives of getting and spending, waiting in quiet desperation for the pain to cease.

Most of us in the Arts focus on the tasks in front of our noses (the correct hand forms/kicks/body alignments), forgetting our option to consciously evolve along the way to physical perfection.

Words are easy, but we can avoid just blowing mouth-wind here by listing some timeless guides for self-growth, followed by training suggestions:

* The physical and cerebral functions die, while the spirit continues to grow. This is a no-brainer, but it's amazing how many clubs are satisfied with learning only to kick butt. What's left when full contact is a thing of your matured past, with only knee pains to jolt a dim memory? Lots of ways to answer that one-and it's better to cultivate chi and meditation practices now.

* Assume you know nothing-then the Superior Man will appear. The most formidable opponent is your own ego. In training, first learn to listen and watch carefully, then proceed with selfless attention and caution. Your higher functions will then operate without impediments.

* No authority exists outside of your Self. The successful student-master relationship is necessarily a symbiotic one. Each needs the other in order to bring the task at hand to fruition. Many modern followers of the martial arts have forgotten that the grading system produces no absolute ranks. The system is circular: the student must decide by what criteria he wishes to be graded, and then he finds an acceptable person to confer the content of the desired curriculum. Similarly, the teacher must decide the qualities of a potentially desirable student, then contract with that candidate. Both are dipping from the same well, both are reflections of a Being offering meta-cultural sustenance.

* Nature points the Way. It is not possible to express in words what is most real, sublime, and ultimate. Recognizing the limitations of the intellect, martial training traditions guide with the lamp of direct experience. The fool wastes energy talking, while the Master gets on with the work-usually outside.

* Change or die. You are here to evolve, and that means transformation-rarely pleasant, always necessary if we wish to do more than languish in a past of illusions. That which does not change dies soon thereafter. It's important to keep your training fresh and stimulating; this usually will mean putting some quality hours into solitary disciplines.

* Comfort is dangerous, seek the difficult. In training, eat bitter every day. Don't forget to hammer the basics: they will keep your workouts honest-and provide you with powerful tools to manifest new ideas.

* Bitter alone is a poor diet. Eating bitter every day is only one side of the tri-lateral equation. One thousand kicks daily will not stretch your mind's rational capabilities, nor will it feed psychic circuits of intuition. A complete Art of leg maneuvers combines proper attention, visualization, and conscious breath control patterns, along with repetitions of well-aligned kicking form.

* Suffering is a great Teacher, but life-threatening poverty is not Noble. It is a fact of human existence that we learn a great deal more from our struggles than from complacency. But if we are to advance in training, we must maintain a decent standard of living, thus guarding the Three Treasures of the Temple.

* Chasing the illusions of wealth, position, status, social power will stunt your evolution. Modern men have been divested, emasculated, and tamed through social programming by the culture of commerce. We are told to defend marketing strategies, bottom lines, and aggressive growth policies of business cartels. These social programmers love money. What do you love?

View this article in its entirety here:

Sifu Orem holds the following ranks:

-Certified Instructor, Guang Ping Yang T'ai-Chi Assn.;

-Black Sash/Instructor, from Gung-Fu Wu-Shu Institute;

-6th Degree Black Sash in Chinese Boxing, from the International Chinese Boxing Federation;

-8th Degree Black Belt in Zen Kempo-jitsu, from the World Nibuikai Budo Federation.

He was also voted into the World Martial Arts Masters Society (head-quartered in Germany), as the ranking member of the Society.

Sifu Orem is the author of several manuals focused on the practicum and methodology of effective training, including the acclaimed SENG PING TAO: PATH OF THE WARRIOR MONK and ESOTERIC MARTIAL ARTS OF ZEN: TRAINING METHODS FROM THE PATRIARCH. He has also created and produced 50 training videos with such diverse topics as Kempo Ki/Chi Development, Northern Shaolin for the Mature Athlete, T'ai-chi and Pregnancy, a children's Kung Fu series, plus many northern and southern Shaolin hand and weapon forms. He's a featured writer with the on-line martial arts magazine DRAGON'S LIST (



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