Students often complain that due to their busy life styles they find it hard to accommodate training outside of the class room. To put this into perspective a Chinese boxing practitioner should put in a minimum of two hours a day to gain any real progression in the art.
Fifty percent of this training time should be spent on the basic fundamental building blocks: such things as basic stances for strengthening legs, gaining improved rooting and better overall balance. Excellent flexibility through warm up and stretching exercises. Quickening reaction time by drilling techniques and working with dynamic body workouts. Using bodyweight and anaerobic exercises to increase muscle, joint and bone strength. Taking part in realistic partner drills and sparring to establish a good sense of both distance and enemy.
Of course all this is fine if you’re living in a retreat centre under the watchful eye of a kung fu master or perhaps in a Buddhist temple on some isolated mountain range. However, the average person lacks the stability afforded to those that live far from trappings of modern living: job, car, house, friends, partner, children, gym membership, yearly holiday, bank loans. All of which are spawned from the matrix that is called, not with out its degree of irony, civilised society.
So we find ourselves working the nine till five and seeing more of our boss than we do of our loved ones. Struggling to find enough spare time to meet with friends, enjoy our favourite pass times or tackle anything else on that ever growing ‘to do list.’ It’s no wonder that finding even ten minutes to condition your wrist for the rigors of chin na training becomes an impossible task.
The answer is not easy but, like most things in life, it’s through hardship and perseverance that we gain the most rewards. The words that fit are ‘life style change’ but these are bandied around all the time and in fear of losing your attention let me quickly explain what I mean: your fundamental training must be weaved into your daily activities if you are to stand a chance of keeping any remnants of your modern life and in turn gain progression in your Chinese Boxing.
Let’s take an example: Due to the nature of their work cooks are often depicted as great fighters in the kung fu films. They can be found standing for great lengths of time lifting heavy pots, chopping, peeling, stirring, tenderising, kneading etc. The by-product of which is body conditioning that builds the foundation for a superior kung fu practitioner.
Now I’m not asking you to quit the day job and take up work in some antiquated kitchen void of electricity and the modern utensils that come with it. However, look at your daily activities and ask yourself how can you integrate your fundamental training into what you already do?
Here are some ‘weaving’ examples of my own:
I’ve been told that I spend longer than most brushing my teeth; clocking up over five minutes at each sitting. Here I find an opportunity to ‘weave’ my training into a daily activity. So in the morning, during half the brushing, I stand on my left leg and hold the golden rooster stance, working both balance and leg strength. Then repeat the same for the remaining brushing time on the right leg.
During the week I work the nine to five office job. Meaning the hour lunch break, as long as I’m willing to eat the sandwich at the desk, allows me to fit in forty five minutes of training each day. However, on top of this, being the only male in the office every department regularly asks me to move heavy boxes into the store room. Here, choosing not to use the step ladder, I practise my power or jing manifestation by firing the boxes onto the shelves.
In the evenings at home I’ve become very quick at preparing bread dough. After putting the kids to bed I take the prepared dough and kneed it for ten minutes before baking. This is something I’ve always enjoyed and the by-product isn’t just fresh bread and happy family members; my hands, wrists, arms and upper body get a good workout and conditioning.
Obviously my examples don’t suit everyone but everyone has opportunities in their day to weave: If you travel to work on the train remain standing during the journey and practice your balance and rooting by trying to remain upright without the aid of the hand rails. While waiting for the train choose to go through your stretching exercises on the platform; you may be surprised to find that other people ask to join you. Keep a soft rubber ball in your pocket and regularly squeeze it in your palm to builds up great grip and finger strength.
As you can see the possibilities are endless but you must make these changes part of your life. Weave them into your daily activities until they become so instinctive you forget your even doing them.