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It's All In the Reflexes

Hand catching falling camera
Developing highly sensitive reflexes is just one of the benefits of the Shaolin Arts.

I love training Shaolin Kungfu for a myriad of reasons: the strength and poise it gives me, the way that has increased my confidence over the years, opened my heart, and sharpened my mind. The fun of sparring and actually using the skills I learn in sparring with opponents, large and small, and all of the fringe benefits I have gained, including those I never knew I could have.

When we train energetic arts like kungfu and qigong, we develop an awareness of our bodies, something that is increasingly more important in our ever distracted world. That awareness enhances our lives constantly, from just being truly present to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, to helping us avoid the little and big mishaps that can often throw a wrench in our day.

I talked a few weeks ago about the practical benefits of stance training in keeping me from falling on my butt in the slippery Minnesota winters. Humorously, I published that post weeks before the early spring melt that came and turned the hard snowpack into wet glassy sheets of ice everywhere. I am happy to report that I still haven’t bitten it yet, despite coming close nearly 20 separate times. I suppose that's part and parcel of the keen reflexes one develops in training traditional Shaolin Kungfu. No, there’s no specific exercise for it, it just happens over a period of time. I’ve lost count of all of the impressive catches I’ve made where something should’ve fallen to the ground and shattered, and yet, I managed to relax and catch said item all before realizing what was going on.

Training the Shaolin Arts have made me much more aware of the space around me. I also notice this while driving, I’m more aware of the person inching out of a driveway ahead who might pull out and run into me, so I slow down and course correct. The little habit I’ve developed of leaving space in front of myself and the car ahead at the red light, so I can maneuver around them should they decide to put their left blinker on at the last minute (over half of them do!), the way that I walk around corners carefully and leaving plenty of room for someone coming who might not be as attentive. No, these things aren’t as glamorous as spitting toothpicks through trees or a really awesome sparring session, but they help me navigate my day smoothly and so much more pleasantly than I ever did prior to starting my training.

I suppose that I attribute these skills to a combination of fluid movement, being centered at the dantian, and mental clarity. Packed onto these seemingly mundane yet important skills, there are the powerful benefits of feeling strong, having a confident and joyful heart, and being able to enjoy life to its fullest while having a practice that is so much fun. Our level one beginning kungfu class starts next month and just a few spaces remain! Sign up here and take your life to the next level!

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