Health Kick Kung Fu

From An Ancient Tradition, A Modern Practice

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“Buddhism and Martial Arts are one. The study of martial arts requires great concentration. When a person focuses their mind on practicing their martial arts, they clear their mind of all distracting thoughts. This is analogous to Ch’an (Zen) meditation, where a person tries to settle their mind of all distracting thoughts. This also involves the question of “body and will.” Even when a martial artist practices their form with their body in motion, they are still cultivating their mind. It is the same with meditation. When a person sits in meditation, they are cultivating their mind, even though they are motionless. In the martial arts, a person is in motion, yet is still cultivating their mind. Martial arts is a vehicle to practice Ch’an Buddhism and is a part of Shaolin’s unique culture.”          Shi Guolin 

This talk discusses using the body as a practice vehicle.   It focuses on both sitting meditation and martial arts practice.



“Our experience with Healthkick Kung Fu summer camp was both positive and rewarding. Our boys really, really enjoyed themselves.  Our sons (ages 10 and 7) were enrolled in the Half-Day camp. The camp met outdoors in Lincoln Park near North Ave, MondayFriday from 9-12. Given the relatively short Chicago summer season, we appreciated the plan for students to spend the day outdoors all morning, weather permitting.  If the forecast called for inclement weather, Sifu Paula and her staff were prompt communicators regarding meet-up location (on rainy days, they met at the studio). They also gave us reminders when the camp would head to North Ave. beach to swim.


Sifu and her staff have a routine in place for the campers! Our boys spent the morning practicing drills, forms, and sparring outdoors near the zoo, beach, and park! This crew definitely draws attention, lots of oooh’s and aaah’s, from other camp groups when they practice! We have one son who is athletic and one who needs some nudging when it comes to physical activities; I mention this because Sifu Paula and her staff worked with their dispositions so well, in such a respectful manner,  building their physical strength, stamina, and determination, all while getting them all to work together among the different ages.


They also play, snack, and talk easily between different age groups. Their Kung Fu practice improved by leaps by the end of camp.  And they slept like rocks M-F from the workouts!  But for us, one of the best aspects was the mentoring that took place by the older students, which taught them to work together and build friendships across the age span.  My boys felt so accomplished by the end of camp! They earned and graduated a sash level while having lots of fun outdoors in Chicago. More importantly, they exuded a certitude, an ease, and a strength of spirit. They felt like warriors- they were warriors!   We will be enrolling them again this summer and can’t recommend the camp more enthusiastically!”


-Grace Palacio


“There are many options during the summer months for our children to enjoy a well deserved break from a  hectic school year. Activities such as  coding camp, sports camps or theaters, the city offers many options.  Their favorite anchor camp is partaking in the Summer Kung Fu Camp at HealthKick Kung Fu. Both of my kids have participating consistently  for the past few years. What we love about the camp is that you can either be true kungu warriors and join the entire session, or you can join in when as it make sense for the rest  of your schedule. Either way, Aiden and Sonya will not miss it. They  both treasure having a blast exploring the city while advancing their kungfu skills.  As a mother, I am pleased that they are leveraging the outdoor space, working on both their minds and body in a very safe and fun environment.”


-Min (Lisa) Hu


“Sifu Paula and HealthKick Kung Fu have been so much more than just serious martial arts instructors to my 10 year old son, who is currently a devoted brown sash working diligently toward his black sash.  She and her colleagues have taught him to be disciplined, respectful, strong, kind, and mindful.  Signing him up for both year-round lessons and summer camp (a Kung Fu intensive – awesome for summer!) have had a hugely positive impact on him in countless ways.  I wholeheartedly recommend HealthKick!”


-Alexandra Laris


“My son has been going to HealthKick Kung Fu camp with Sifu Paula and her team for the past 2 years.  

What started out as a one week ‘let’s see if you like it’ trial turned into an absolute obsession for my son.  He came home energized, excited, (and exhausted!), from the various day’s activities which include not only Kung fu (in Lincoln Park and North Avenue beach), swimming, learning more about the history of Kung Fu,  but also learning life skills like first aid and cleaning.   

He was 6 when he started Camp, and he loved the mixed age group, especially learning from the older kids who took him under his wing.  The staff, it goes without saying, is exceptional: not only are they experts in their craft, but they are incredible teachers and mentors, lively, fun, and captivating.  


This will be our third year of Kung Fu Camp, and my now 8 year old has asked if he can do it for the whole summer!  I can’t say enough good things about the quality of this camp and how much I have seen my son grow and learn from the amazing experience. “


– Rebecca Kempton

This talk focuses on Buddhist practice.

If you are curious about aspects of that practice and how it might correlate to martial arts practice, you may 
find this interesting.


In addition to class attendance, help with instructing, and specifics for each test,
RED, BROWN & BLACK SASH children & teens will be required
to help with Sash Testing for those underneath them.


Must sit on the following panels to be promoted to the next Sash level:


If they are RED SASH – 2 Testing Panels
If they are BROWN SASH – 3 Testing Panels
If they are BLACK SASH EAGLE – 5 Testing Panels


If they are BLACK SASH TEENS – 5 Testing Days For Lower Ranks
They must observe testing days before age 15
They must run tests after age 15


Giving back to the community and encouraging those who come up behind you are important components of martial arts training. 

We want to make sure our students understand this very important aspect, not only for their martial arts,
but for whatever they decide to do in their lives.

We are changing the way we handle Sash Testing. These changes apply to all Sash ranks UNDER RED.
As lives get busier and HealthKick thankfully continues to grow, scheduling tests for eligible candidates continues to be a challenge.
Starting in November:
1) The third Friday of every month will be designated a “testing day” at the school.
You may already see the dates posted on the HealthKick Calendar.
2) Eligible candidates will be tested simultaneously between the hours of 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM.
Students will be given a specific testing time when they become eligible to test. Families DO NOT attend the test.
3) If a student cannot make the testing day, they may test the following month.
4) Students who pass their tests will receive their new Sash during a Promotion Ceremony held on the following day (Saturday) from 11:30 PM – 12:15 PM. Students who cannot make the Promotion Ceremony will receive their Sash the next time they come to class.
Red Sash, Brown Sash and Black Sash testing will still require special dates and coordination among all parties.

Email or call with any questions.

Adult Yellow Sash
Saturday, October 22nd
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Jack Cheng
Jocelyn Cheng
Rakish Amin?????

Kids’ Black Sash Test
Saturday, October 15th
5:30 PM – 10:00 PM

(overnight stay)

Kids’ Black Sash Test (cont)
Sunday, October 16th
11:00 AM – 3:30 PM

Andrew Meintz
Jack Tepper
Malcolm Laris-Djokovic
Max Rejman
Payton Garcia

Blue Sash Test
Saturday, Sept 17th 
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM 

Daksh Vermareddy 
Sebastian Kempton

Purple Sash Test
Saturday, Sept 17th
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Miles Garcia

Saturday, September 17th  
Green Sash Test 
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM 

Jordan Abell

Brown Sash Test
Friday, September 16th
5:30 PM – 10:00 PM

Timothy Kempton
Nathan Overmeier
Stella Overmeier

Blue Sash Test
Tuesday, June 14th

5:45 PM – 6:45 PM
Dana Eltayeb

Yellow Sash Test
Saturday, June 18th

11:15 PM – 12:15 PM
Garrett Purze
Max Krieger
Zoe Krieger

Purple Sash Test
Thursday, June 16th

5:45 PM -7:00 PM
Ethan Kennedy
Tat Liyapan

Thursday, June 9th
Green Sash Test
6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Razan Eltayeb
Rowan Eltayeb
Sunday, June 12th
Green Sash Test
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Aarya Gupta
Daksh Vermareddy
Gabriella Franky
James Harbin
Nikko Calcedo
Sofia Calcedo
Zoe Ellis

    • 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.

Physical Advantages


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.

Red Sash Test

Saturday, May 14th

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM 


Carlitos Murillo

Olivia Dorfman

Sava Casanovich

Enzo Rejman

Layla Zarei

Blue Sash Test

Saturday, April 16th 

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM 


Miles Garcia

Dylan Quintero

Ezra Quintero

Ryan Augustyn

Shefali Gupta

Kira Tepper 



8:45 AM – 9:00 AM

Drop off


9:00 AM – 9:30 AM

Walk to specific workout spot – various areas in Lincoln Park/North Ave Beach

Warm ups, light run, conditioning


9:30 AM – 10:30 AM

Kung Fu Curriculum


Depending on the day either:

Forms Training /Weapons Training

Flying Kicks & Acrobatics

Practical Self-Defense

Sparring Combinations & Sport Sparring


10:30 AM – 11:00 AM

Light snack/Free play/Swim


11:00 AM – 11:45 AM

Resume Kung Fu Curriculum


11:45 AM – 12:00 PM

Return to Pick Up Location

Pick Up North & Dearborn


Variations in Curriculum

Trip to the Zoo, Nature Museum or Conservatory

15 minute North Avenue beach swim if temp is over 75°


Survival Training every couple of weeks

How to secure water, make shelter, find food

First aid, cut, breaks, concussions



FULL DAY (Camp Continues)

12:00 PM – 12:30 PM

Group walk to HealthKick on Larrabee


12:30 – 1:30 PM

Lunch and rest

Full Day Campers bring sleeping bags to HealthKick and leave them at the school. The Campers will lie down for 20 minutes.  

(Kung Fu training in China, the athletes take a nap after lunch)


1:30 PM – 1:50 PM

School Cleaning

Campers learn simple cleaning tasks and these are delegated among the groups.

Campers will rotate being “Group Leaders” explaining the tasks, delegating and overseeing the work is done.


1:50 PM – 2:15 or 2:30 PM


We will read Kung Fu stories, or stories steeped in Western culture like Aesop’s fables and discuss the “moral” of the story.

The morals do not deal with religious concepts, but martial ethics and personal integrity.

Or –

We will discuss Shaolin history and theory as it relates to practice and application of the martial arts.


2:15 PM or 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM

Resume Kung Fu Curriculum outside in the park across from the school.

Variations in Curriculum – We swim at the Stanton Park indoor pool on Friday afternoon.


3:45 PM – 4:15 PM

Light snack /Free play


4:15 PM – 4:45 PM

Flexibility training (stretching)


4:45 PM – 5:00 PM

Pick Up On Larrabee


During inclement, turbulent weather, we meet inside at Larrabee for both Half-Day and Full-Day Camp. We make this decision

in the morning,approx. 1 hour before Camp starts and we keep in good communication with Parents/Caregivers.


We go outside even in light rain with the appropriate rain gear on. Our goal is to have them train outside as much as possible.

In China, Kung Fu athletes train outside all year and there are benefits to be gained from doing this.