- While solitary practice is a very important component of Kung Fu training, it is the group practice that offers the most return for our psychological, physical and emotional investment. It is in group practice that we turn this physical, technical, emotional and spiritual exercise into a real world lifestyle and practice.
Peer Pressure Increases Compliance
- It is a widely known fact in exercise circles, that people who do group classes or train with partners and friends have a higher rate of compliance and consistency.
- Martial arts practice is no different. Shaolin is a physically demanding experience. Knowing we have people who expect to see us in class, be it our teachers or classmates, motivates us to get to class. Having support to meet challenging goals helps us accomplish these goals and work past any limitations.
Competitiveness To Surpass Limitations
- Human beings by nature are competitive beings. Anthropologists argue competitiveness lies at the heart of our survival as a species. The group class helps us honestly think about and experience this.
- One of the challenges of being human is knowing when to use competitiveness to help us evolve. The other side of that challenge is knowing when to listen to our bodies, take a step back and take the softer, non-competitive route.
- Without other people participating with us to serve as an impetus for competition, we don’t develop the ability to use competitiveness effectively, maturely and with sound reason.
- Technical Advantages
Testing Ourselves Against Other Opponents
- Repetition is the key to technical success. It is imperative to repeat technique with as many people of different shapes, sizes and skills as much as possible.
- It is also important to understand what is realistically working and what is not for each unique individual. Tweaking and refining will assist our experiential understanding of why something works or doesn’t work.
- Martial arts practice is not about winning and dominating, it is about experimenting with the different ways bodies and the forces they create interact with each other.
- We come to terms with failure. We maturely understand how failure of a technique points out what we need to work on and guides us to increase our understanding and knowledge.
- Emotional Advantages
Understanding Ourselves Through Our Emotional Responses
- This supportive, peer-induced, physically rigorous, at times competitive, at times not, repetitive practice that has small moments of success and failure, undoubtedly bring up different emotional responses in each participant.
- It brings up different responses according to the roles we are playing – for ex. teacher-student, senior-junior, older-younger, male-female, peer-to-peer – and the many combinations of those roles. It brings up different responses according to the activity we are participating in – forms, weapons, self-defense, penetration, sparring etc.
- Acknowledging and being aware of this fact and having a willingness to work with these responses points us to an exploration of our ego. Not “ego” in a negative sense, but in its strict definition as that which distinguishes itself from the self of others and the outside world. Our emotional response to any given activity or situation helps us explore how we may consciously or unconsciously be defining ourselves. It helps us get a handle on the picture of ourselves we have created. It helps question the image we think we are projecting to the outside world.
- Spiritual Development
Going Past The Ego To Spiritually Evolve
- By becoming comfortable with this exploration, we may experience moments within this practice where we exist in activity without discrimination or classification.
- If we do, then we can explore the way of relating to this “no-thinking” if the “no-thinking” is happening.
- If there comes a time when you are on your way to class and you feel some resistance, reflect on how much
- good you are doing for yourself and be grateful to your Kung Fu compatriots for the fertile ground we are all
- helping each other to create.