Jeffrey Baker (UK)


Jeffrey Baker
Three months (June 5th, 2010-August 28, 2010)


To come to Shandong province in China and study Shaolin kung fu here at the school in Qufu has been, a dream come true in the most significant sense.

Having had some experience in Kung fu in the form of Lau gar, a southern style of Shaolin that I had trained in for almost two years with the Greenford Lau Gar club, under my foremost instructor Norris of whom is a constant inspiration to me I felt that I had some understanding as to what it means to have passion towards kung fu. Having said this the time that I have spent here and the growth that I have achieved I feel would have been impossible to of been experienced anywhere else in the world. Here you are learning from those of whom are masters, have perfected their skills to the highest level and are the very best. Further to this they expect you to try your best, day in and day out and with absolute sincerity and so because it has been expected of me, this has been a form of motivation of tremendous force.


Kung fu means something different for everyone, for me it has been a way of life that has made me a more positive person and though the Shaolin training in which the Buddhist principles can be felt, lead me towards becoming more spiritually aware. But as I understand the literal meaning of the term it is to achieve something through hard work and dedication and so through the commitment to your practice that is emphasized by the masters here, in particular by Wei Shifu whose tuition I feel I have been privileged with, I have learnt a great deal in a relatively short amount of time. Namely I now have at the end of these three months an improved basic skill set, strength through the power training and conditioning exercises and flexibility, something which would be quite impossible not to develop as we stretch a lot! An essential part of a warm up before each and every class. Further to this I have gained an understanding as to the nature of power, and that place that it originates from, the heart.

In a well known conversation with Bruce lee he said that “Water can flow or it can crash” to relate this to the Shaolin kung fu that I have practiced it would seem that for this martial art to be effective, you must flow and then crash - as water would - with your whole self and not without a single drop and so when you punch, there is no power left within your body as you have expressed all, in one instant, all mind body and spirit. This is a description of my experience in training under Wei Shifu, never before have I been made so aware of the essentiality of unity in movement, within a technique and that all power should follow one direct path as when a wave crashes on a rock.

With this in mind to practice form becomes more than practice, it becomes something more real. Through the theory lessons we have had here at the school, I understand that Shaolin kung fu was born through the necessity for monks from the temple to become more able to support the spiritual way of life that they led, through training that would give them the strength towards essential things in life such as the collection of water, the gathering of food, the acquirement of fire wood and most importantly, self defense from those that would attempt to ransack the temple and attack the monks. Meaning that the traditional training that we do here was created for the potentially life threatening situations that the monks of the Shaolin temple would of faced a thousand of years ago. The training was so extreme because there life genuinely depended on it, with this understanding that I felt rise up within me, to train like your life depends on it takes on an entirely new meaning. No longer are you training for the sole purpose of having the best practice session that you could have, your training because you love life. And so really the question is how much do you love life? And for me it is this question which I have tried to answer through my training, through the forms in particular and through the expression of a willingness to be alive! To give everything in training so that you can gain all that could be gained from your kung fu. In this way I feel that I have practiced real kung fu, and have realized my potential and above all, developed a deep reverence for all Life. I see this as a huge step towards martial art that is an expression, of a deeper more spiritual goal and so I feel that I have furthered myself in mind and body, and in appreciation of what Shaolin kung fu really is.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the masters here, in particular Master Wu whose companionship in training I feel I have been truly blessed by, and for the knowledge that has been passed on to myself and my fellow students, I will always be grateful to you.

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Experiences of the students

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