What makes Shaolin-Do different from other martial arts available in New Orleans?
Shaolin-Do Kung Fu is a traditional martial art which started its long history of development during the sixth century AD. In the Northern China province of Honan, Ch'an Buddhist monks began practicing kung fu as a way of self-defense and of disciplining both mind and body. (more details)
While the fighting skills of the Shaolin monks were legendary, their underlying philosophy was always focused on the avoidance of conflict by approaching potentially dangerous situations from a position of discipline, strength, and skill. Combat techniques and knowledge honed over centuries of practice and application have resulted in a martial arts system that is unparalleled for both its effectiveness in combat and as a way of mental and physical development.
Shaolin-Do is committed to being the best martial arts school in New Orleans. We are confident that the training you will receive at our school will far exceed in both depth and breadth anything you will find at another school in New Orleans. For example, most martial arts schools will focus solely on the self-defense and aggressive nature of the art. At Shaolin-Do, we make sure to balance out these "yang" aspects with the "yin" activities of passive stretching, breathing meditations, and chi kung (qigong) exercises.
It's not all about martial arts, though. We also have free weights and other training equipment available on-site. Whatever your level of dedication to self-transformation, we will be there to support and encourage you along the way.
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What will I learn?
In your first class we will start with a comprehensive warm-up set for conditioning and stretching. You will learn traditional kung fu stances and the proper method for executing basic punches and kicks. You will get a good overall strength and aerobic workout and learn some simple and effective fighting combinations and self-defense techniques.
Core kung fu curriculum: (more details)
Shaolin Short Forms: A series of movements which develop agility and endurance and include various fighting techniques.
Chin Na: Techniques from the ancient Chinese art of holds, grabs, joint locks, and releases.
Street defense techniques: Two person drills using quick strikes to vulnerable body parts against common street attacks.
Animal forms: Fighting techniques based on the movements and behaviors of animals such as Tiger, Dragon, Praying Mantis, Monkey, and Crane.
Weapon forms: Some of the weapons used are the Staff, Spear, Broadsword, 3-section Staff, Chain Whip and Kwan Tao.
Freestyle sparring: emphasis is placed on safety and avoiding injury while we build confidence and calmness during intense confrontation.
What if I've been a couch potato until now?
All vegetables are welcome at the New Orleans 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 Now is the perfect time to make positive changes in your life. Contact us for a brochure and to schedule a free trial lesson.
What are the age ranges of students at your school?
At New Orleans Shaolin-Do we have always specialized in adult instruction for health, fitness, self-defense, and personal growth. Teaching adults and teaching children martial arts are two COMPLETELY different things, and we have a separate program for children under 13. We have had adult kung fu students ranging from age 13-61, and tai chi students ages 18-80. Most of the students at the school are adults in their 20s to 40s.
We welcome people of all ages and levels of fitness. We have exercises to challenge everyone and we emphasize modifications to make the exercises more or less challenging, depending on your goals and skill level.
Is Shaolin-Do primarily a children's School or Adults' School?
Our primary focus has always been on teaching adults, which is the complete opposite of most martial arts schools in America today. As a complement to this, we also have a Kids program that learns the same skills but at a much slower pace.
Are there women at Shaolin-Do?
The female enrollment at New Orleans Shaolin-Do is approximately 40%, with women present in every rank all the way up to black belt and instructor levels. Women spar with men in our style and workout on equal levels with men. Instruction is not biased between the men and women in our schools, though we always allow for individual modification for any person depending on his or her fitness level and abilities. 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.
Is there a commitment to acceptance of marginalized peoples?
Yes! Shaolin kung fu has always been about pushing oneself to become a better, stronger person who stands up to tyranny and oppression for those who need help. At Shaolin-Do in New Orleans, we strive to keep these traditions alive. We consider our studio a safe place for people from every walk of life and do not tolerate any sort unwelcoming of overly "macho" behavior in our classes. We hope everyone feels accepted and comfortable in our school and will eagerly accept suggestions on ways we can improve upon this commitment.
How many classes a week can I / should I come to?
To really make progress, you should consistently come to at least 2 classes/week. Three classes a week would be ideal, and many committed students come four or five times in a week.
The main beginner adult kung fu classes meet Mon/Wed 6:30-8pm and Sat 12-1pm. Schedules page.
What if I have previous experience?
Since the material for Shaolin-Do will differ from that of other styles, all newcomers must begin at the white belt level regardless of their rank in another style.
The beginning material is subtle and challenging enough to engage students at any level. Meditation, push hands, and the complete tai chi curriculum, along with periodic seminars with Sifu Joseph and visiting masters are enough to challenge the most insatiable martial arts devotee.
How long does it take to get a black belt?
A student gets a black belt when they are ready, and not before. This usually takes a minimum of 3 years. With those defining moments that mark our progress in life, it is the journey that holds the true value, not the destination. There may be martial arts schools in New Orleans that will hand you a black belt in 18 months as long as you can pay the test fees along the way, but to get a black belt in our system requires knowledge, experience and skill that can only be acquired by years of practice.
There are no shortcuts.
Who will be teaching my classes?
Most of the classes at the New Orleans Shaolin-Do are taught by the head instructor, Sifu Joseph Meissner, a 4th degree black belt who has taught Shaolin-Do since 1997.
To see a biography of Sifu Joseph and our other instructors, please visit our Instructors page.
Are tournaments required for rank advancement?
Tournament competitions are not required and are not a major emphasis of our school. We have tournaments in February and August in Austin, TX, which include visits from the Grandmaster and senior masters. There is a tournament every September in Lexington, KY with seminars.
We have periodic smaller practice tournaments in New Orleans. The out of town events are a lot of fun and always followed by a huge demonstration/performance. All are encouraged to participate, 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 not as an end in themselves, but as a fun way to test your skills, connect with other people who share your enthusiasm for training, and get further inspired to advance your practice.
What if I have to spar someone more aggressive or more experienced than myself?
The class rule is that when two people spar, they spar at the lower comfort & intensity 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.
Is Shaolin-Do wushu or a traditional martial art?
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 a story of Master Joe Schaefer's first trip to China: 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.
Why do Shaolin-Do students learn so many forms?
Why not? While a fighter might actually only need to learn a few forms to be lethal, the health and happiness-seeking person needs to be challenged by something new, both physically and mentally throughout his or her life. This was the technique used in the Shaolin temple to insure longevity.
Click here to read about a study that links life-long learning and challenge with increased longevity and lower incidence of dementia.
Why do Shaolin-Do students wear seemingly 'Japanese' uniforms to practice Chinese Kung Fu?
Our Great Grandmaster, Ie Chang Ming, had to emigrate to Indonesia to escape political persecution in China in the 1940s. Indonesians were hostile to Chinese immigrants and outlawed the teaching of Chinese martial arts. To help his students keep a low profile, Great Grandmaster Ie adopted some of the outward trappings of Japanese martial arts. Our current Grandmaster, Sin Kwang The, has retained that tradition to honor his teacher's legacy.
Do all students of Shaolin, worldwide, consider Grandmaster Sin their master?
Definitely not! 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. New Orleans Shaolin-Do students are indeed fortunate to have a lineage that was at the Fukien 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.
Are you affiliated with the Shaolin temple in China?
The curriculum we teach originally comes from seven sacred mountain temples in China where martial arts were practiced. Our Great Grandmaster Su Kong Tai Djin was the grandmaster of the Southern Shaolin Temple at Fukien at the time of its destruction. The present-day Shaolin Temple was established by the People's Republic in 1980 after the success of the Jet Li movie Shaolin Temple. The wushu that they practice is different from the traditional forms of Shaolin-Do, and the modern temple is essentially a theme park for tourists. More info: New York Times, Feb 10, 2005 article on the Shaolin Temple.
Here is a partial list of the forms in our system and the temples they came from:
- Honan: (The original Shao-Lin Temple): Northern Fist, Monkey, Praying Mantis, Drunken Immortals, Golden Snake, Spear, Staff, Broadsword, Three Sectional Staff, Chain Whip, Daggers, Hand Axes, Butterfly Knives..
- Fukien Temple: Southern Fist, Golden Centipede, Sparrow, White Monkey, Wild Horse, Iron Bone, Iron Palm, Iron Shirt, Short Fist (Tuan Ch'uan)
- Shantung Temple: Shantung Black Tiger, Tan Family Leg Techniques
- Omei Shan Temple: White Crane, Eagle Claw, Golden Chicken, White Swan, Ostrich
- Kwangtung Temple: Tiger-Crane System, Fist of Ch'a, Golden Roaches, 10,000 bees attacking
- Wutang Mountain Temple: T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Pa Kua Chang, Hsing I Ch'uan, Liu Hsing Ch'uan, T'ai Chi Broadsword, Straightsword and Spear, Ta Mo Sword and Double Sword, Green Dragon Sword and Spear, Seven Star Sword
Hua Mountain Temple: Classical Fist of Hua, "Modern" Fist of Hua, Chang Ch'uan