Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are tournaments required for rank advancement?
A: We have a tournament every February in Austin, TX with visits from the Grandmaster and senior masters. The events are a lot of fun and always followed by a huge demonstration/performance. All are encouraged to participate of course or at least to come in the evening with family to watch the exciting demonstration. But you are not required to participate. We view tournaments as a fun way to test your skills and get further motivated to practice.
Q: Do all students of Shaolin, worldwide, consider Grandmaster Sin their master?
A: Definitely not! First, you should realize that many schools using the word Shaolin, bear no direct relationship to the actual Shaolin temples in China. Often the name Shaolin is added to any Chinese art in order to borrow its incredible reputation. Now consider the history of the Shaolin art, which was created at least 1500 years ago. People left the temple constantly during its history. Every person that left the temple claimed to teach the art of Shaolin. However, a person that left the temple in 700 AD would not recognize the art as it was being taught in 1800 AD (1100 years later) Compare what is taught in a science department at any university now to what was taught just 100 years ago. So not only would the 700 AD person teach a different art to their lineage, but would never know of any of the masters that followed, back in the temple. Therefore, students following other masters, in other Shaolin schools, have no reason to have a knowledge of Grandmaster Sin. Shaolin-Do students are indeed fortunate to have a lineage that was at the temple right up to its destruction, so we now have the final version of the Shaolin teachings. When you hear the name Shaolin-Do, you now know that it refers directly to the art that descends from Grandmaster Su Kong Tai Djin, of the Southern Shaolin Temple in Fukien.. From him it passed to Grandmaster Ie-Chang Ming, and now resides with our current Grandmaster, Sin Kwang Thé.
Q: Is Shaolin-Do primarily a children’s School or Adults' School?
A: We have strong programs in both, though we have a greater number of adults than children. Many families join as well, but the children's classes are separate from the adult.
Q: Is Shaolin-Do wushu or a traditional Chinese art?
A: Shaolin-Do is definitely a traditional Chinese art. We have been told by many famous Chinese masters that the generation doing the forms that we teach died many years ago. Here is an excerpt from the China trip page. In X'ian we were greeted with an incredible reception. Master Zhou had his 75 year old Master attend and a younger but equally famous master join us. Master Zhou's students performed first and then we put on a 1 hour show. The two visiting Masters never stopped commenting to each other excitedly while we performed. They kept talking about the heavy weight of our weapons and traditional style of our forms. In fact, at the end of our performance they were both so excited by the material they saw, they got up on stage to perform a set themselves. The elder Master performed the Shing Yi linked 5 elements form and the younger one performed a Mantis form. A student in the school exclaimed that this was the first he had ever seen the old master actually "do anything" in the 13 years he had been training at the school. We exchanged presents with the Masters as they grinned ear-to-ear, all the time shaking our hands. The national news was on hand to interview some of our tour members as well as Master Zhou. He had very nice things to say about our performance and stated that our spirit for martial arts was very strong. Especially since most of our performers were at least twice the age of the average student in their performance. He told us that the next time we visit he would round up all the older Kung Fu people from the surrounding region so that we could see the similarities between our Kung Fu forms and theirs.
Q: Is there a gender bias in your school?
A: The instruction is not biased between the men and women in our schools. Some martial arts schools have different exercises for the women, different sparring rules and in general, expect less from them. This is not so at Shaolin-Do. We have separate sparring categories for tournaments, though women may compete against the men in sparring if they wish. In class, men and women spar together.
Q: What if I have previous experience?
A: For those with skills and fitness levels more advanced than a typical beginner, we encourage attendance of our conditioning class and our warrior-training program. Of course, since the material for Shaolin-Do will differ from that of other styles, all newcomers must begin at the white belt level, regardless of rank in another style.
Q: What if I have to spar someone more aggressive or more experienced than myself?
A: The class rule is that when two people spar, they spar at the lower level of the two. This means if one is less experienced or less comfortable with sparring than the other, both spar at that level-regardless of gender. Always, the main concern is on the safety of your partner. Protective gear is worn as a precaution.
Q: What if I've been a couch potato until now?
A: All vegetables are welcome at Shaolin-Do! Seriously, we assume that everyone joining our school is looking for a way to improve their strength, stamina and/or flexibility. Therefore we begin at a very gentle pace and slowly step it up as you progress through the ranks.
Q: Why do Shaolin-Do students learn so many forms?
A: Why not? Seriously, one could spend years learning a few forms from one particular system and eventually reach mastery, or find that that particular system is not for them. Our curriculum is designed to take a student from beginner to competent fighter very quickly. This is accomplished by exposing them to many different styles over a short time. This way a student naturally gravitates to the techniques that work for them. Then further along in their training they focus on a particular style or internal system. In this fashion the student finds their area of mastery by testing what works best for them over time. However, they can competently defend themselves throughout the journey. While a fighter might actually only need to learn a few forms to be lethal, the average persons needs to be challenged by something new, both physically and mentally throughout their life. This was the technique used in the Shaolin temple to insure longevity.
Q: Why do Shaolin-Do students wear "Japanese" uniforms to practice Chinese Kung Fu?
A: Actually the "Gi" uniform is much closer to the garments the Shaolin monks wore than any other uniform commercially available. What is now called a "traditional kung fu uniform" has only recently become popular for martial arts and was mostly worn by normal, non-martial arts people in China. I have several pictures of ancient statues of Shaolin monks taken when I visited the Shaolin temple in 1998, and they all wore a wrap-around style "Gi". In fact, this uniform is similar to a style of garments worn by peasants and farmers (and monks) during the Tang Dynasty in China (the golden age of martial art development at the temple). You will not find the frog-button style "kung fu" uniforms that we have become used to seeing in martial arts movies.
Q: Women in Shaolin
A: The female enrollment in San Antonio schools is 30-40% with women present in every rank all the way up to the highest student and instructor levels. Women spar with men in our style, they workout on equal levels with men, though we always emphasize individual modification for men and women depending on different fitness levels. We see no difference and only bother to bring it up so the women searching for a school that will treat them like students (regardless of gender) will know where we stand.
Q: Can I do both Kung Fu and Tai Chi at the same time?
A: Of course you can! While today we split our training into two separate but equal paths, it was not like that in ancient times. You would learn whatever your master taught you, whether it was internal like Tai Chi or external like Kung Fu. We find that these days it makes sense for many people to focus on just one path at a time, so we have that option available as well.
Q: How long does it take to get to black belt?
A: That depends on the student. There is no set time for rank advancement, only minimum time spent between ranks. If you are a dedicated student who can attend class several times per week, then you have a greater chance of progressing quickly. However, rank advancements are done at the discretion of your teacher, so only they can tell you when you are ready to test for the next belt.