Welcome to Shaolin Arts Online. This is the online beginner program created by New Orleans Shaolin-Do.
The goal of this program is two-fold. First, to introduce people to the Shaolin martial arts without them having to actually come in and train in person. This could make it easy for someone who is traveling or nervous about coming into the studio for the first time. Second, to give additional basic training to students who are training in the studio. These basics may not be covered in every class, and often, we prioritize sparring or using kick shields to help students build the timing, distance, and power that can only come from working with another person. This online program is for solo training only, and thus is the perfect complement for in-studio training.
Please follow the program, rather than skipping around or ahead. This program is laid out systematically. Have faith in the process. You have to have a strong foundation with the basics to be able to advance to more complicated material. It’s designed to last 4 weeks, but feel free to stretch that out as long as you’d like. Honestly, this material alone could last you a lifetime since you can always improve the basics.
Week 1: Basic Stances
Stances are the essence of martial arts. They train the body into a certain alignment to open up certain energy channels, build leg strength, and help focus and relax the mind.
More importantly, stances make you struggle through the desire to come out of the stance due to pain. This is the beginning of overriding your animal fight or flight systems, and of truly mastering yourself.
We’ll start with the warmups and cool-downs that we’ll be doing before and after every workout and then move on to the two most basic stances. For each workout, I’ll give you the name of the videos to watch and in what order. Each workout can be repeated as desired. The optional workouts will be for people who are ready for more.
Workout 1: Warmups, Horse Stance, Cool-downs
Workout 2: Warmups, Bow Stance, Cool-downs
Workout 3 (optional): Warmups, Horse Stance, Bow Stance, Cool-downs
Week 2: Shaolin Kung Fu
Now that we’ve set up our base with the beginner stances, we’ll move on to the martial aspects of Shaolin kung fu. We’ll begin with slightly more advanced stances and how to throw beginner kicks from these postures. You’ll also learn the most basic home workout you can do to improve your skills: our Shaolin Yoga Mat workout. This includes our three most basic strikes, three basic kicks, and three high-tension exercises called I-Chin-Chings, and you only need the amount of space it takes to lay down a yoga mat. I-Chin-Chings were the original Shaolin exercises, meant to increase the vitality of the monks at the Shaolin temple. They aim to strengthen the body, open certain energy channels, and focus the mind.
You’ll continue to do the warmups and cool-downs. These contain crucial aspects of the Shaolin martial arts and should be repeated with every workout.
Workout 1: Warmups, 1-5 minutes of Horse Stance (use video if necessary), Cat Stance and Front Kicks, Cool-downs
Workout 2: Warmups, 1-5 minutes of Bow Stance (use video if necessary), Monkey Stance and Side Kicks, Cool-downs
Workout 3: Warmups, 1-5 minutes of Cat Stance, Shaolin Yoga Mat Workout, Cool-downs
Workout 4 (optional): Warmups, 1-5 minutes of Horse Stance, 1-5 minutes of Bow Stance, 1-5 minutes of Cat Stance, Shaolin Yoga Mat Workout, Cool-downs.
Week 3: Self Defense and Sparring
The whole reason the peaceful monks at the Shaolin temples started training martial arts was so they could defend themselves against those who would take advantage of them and disrupt their spiritual development.
In modern times, usually our biggest enemy is actually the fear of being attacked. By learning basic martial techniques, you’ll begin to feel the peace of mind that comes with knowing you COULD defend yourself if you had to. This confidence allows you to release the anxiety of fear and live more fully in the present moment.
This week we’ll begin looking at more practical applications of how to use martial arts to defend yourself. First we’ll practice using specific attacks to avoid or break free from an assailant, and get up off of the ground safely. Then, we’ll move on to sparring which simulates being in a more serious fight. These two scenarios require different skills that are both equally important.
Workout 1: Warmups, 1-5 minutes of Horse stance, Practical Self Defense Techniques, Cool-downs
Workout 2: Warmups, 1-5 minutes of Bow stance, Sparring 101 (stance, shuffling, strikes, and breathing), Cool-downs
Workout 3: Warmups, 1-5 minutes of Cat stance, The 3 Distances of Sparring, Cool-downs
Workout 4 (optional): Warmups, Shaolin yoga mat workout, The 3 Distances of Sparring, Cool-downs
Week 4: Tai Chi
After 3 weeks of strenuous exercise, it’s time to take a break and get an introduction to the gentler and more precise side of the Shaolin martial arts. Like yin and yang, you must take time to nourish yourself after stints of hard work. Tai Chi takes you on a relaxing exploration of your mind and body through joint-loosening exercises, slow, flowing movements, and an internal focus.
Tai Chi is, of course, a martial art, but at the beginning the focus is simply on calming the mind, releasing muscular tension, and sinking into the ground. Try to keep this in mind while following these videos.
In this section, we’ll no longer do the kung fu warmups, and instead switch to the tai chi warmups which focus mostly on loosening the joints.
Some of these videos are from Sifu Joseph Meissner, who is the founder and Head Instructor of New Orleans Shaolin-Do.
First, watch the video titled “Why you should begin a Tai Chi practice now.” It explains the point and the benefits of Tai Chi.
Workout 1: Tai Chi warmups, Ready Position and Rising Posture, Shaolin cool-downs (same as above)
Workout 2: Tai Chi warmups, Rising Posture: Feeling the hands, cool-downs
Workout 3: Tai Chi warmups, Tai Chi Stepping for Calming the Nervous System, cool-downs
Finally, watch the Introduction to the 1st “Road”, or section, of our Tai Chi 24 posture form. A “form” is just a connected series of movements. This is what you’ll begin learning to memorize in our Tai Chi classes. You should recognize the first few movements from the previous videos. No need to worry about memorizing it now, though; I just want you to understand that this form is the basic tool for learning tai chi. You learn the movements, and then you refine them… infinitely.
If you are interesting in learning this form, please purchase our other video guide that takes you through each movement one video at a time: Tai Chi 24-Posture Form: 1st Road Video Guide.