- The Animal Forms of Shaolin Kempo
The influence of nature on Chinese martial arts can be traced back many centuries and the natural instincts and methods of animals were often imitated in the martial arts forms.
The dragon is especially noted for its wisdom and flexibility. It is the only mythological creature of the Shaolin Art form, thus the only one that can fight on land, the water or in the sky. the dragon uses rising and falling motions as well as twisting and turning to overcome adversaries. The dragon helps develop inner strength.
The tiger is noted for its strength and courage; tenacity and power. It is the physically strongest of all five animals–using straight-headed attacks, ripping and tearing as it moves, and always pressing. The movement of the tiger develops strong bones and a strong back.
The leopard teaches us timing, footwork, speed, and coordination. Although smaller than the tiger, the leopard is stronger in his size because of his long smooth muscle structure and sleek body frame. The leopard’s power is primarily produced from a relaxed whip-like action generated by speed and balance as well as limber waist and hip movements. The leopard helps develop conditioning of the skin, tendons, and bones.
The crane is noted for its agility, balance, and grace. It represents longevity and teaches us concentration and patience. It has a calm and quiet nature. Its movements are soft, relaxed, and circular. However, they are also explosive and can be used at a close or far away distance. The crane helps develop strength in the arms, fingers, and wrists while conditioning overall leg and ankle strength.
The snake is noted for its Chi or Qi or internal strength and deceptive movements. It has the most flexibility and rhythmic endurance of all the other creatures. It is cunning, accurate, swift, and uses deceptive movements in its fighting. The snake can coil, zigzag, and use rapid twisting motions to compensate for its lack of limbs. The snake helps develop chi or internal strengthening of the body and spirit.
Principles of conduct
Always do your best. Remember, you read what you sow.
Always use good manners. Follow the conventional code that governs behavior in society. Good manners establish goodwill with those around you.
Always tell the truth. Be honest in mind and intention. Say and do exactly what you mean.
Control your mind, body and spirit. Always be in control over your impulses, emotions, strengths and weaknesses. Always do just what you have to do. Always finish what you begin.
Strive for moral excellence. The sum of your qualities defines who you really are.
The shield is the badge worn by all Steiner Academy of Martial Arts instructors and students.
The roof of the shield represents a protective cover for all those who reside under it.
The point of the shield represents the point of a spear, indicative of a constant state of readiness to engage in battle.
The eight pointed web with diamonds represents the eight basic angles of movement.
The tiger represents strength and the physical prowess of a Steiner Shaolin Kempo Karate practitioner.
The dragon represents wisdom, flexibility, and the mental calmness needed for the higest levels of execution.
The Yin and Yang is an ancient Chinese symbol where the Yin (dark) represents negative and the Yang (light) the positive. Together they show the inseparable duality in every possible object of thought.
The entire shield stands for an open mind and the never-ending commitment to endeavor for higher levels of proficiency in the physical, mental and spiritual paths of study.
Kempo is my secret. I bear no arms. May my God grant me perseverance and self-control and help me if I must reveal my secret in defense of myself or another. Let conscience be my guide and peace be my goal. I shall fall seven times only to rise again. My life begins now.
Progress and Promotion
Ranks and Testing
Within the ancient traditions of Shaolin there were no ranks between white belt (beginner students) and black belt (advanced students and teachers). Initially the student would train under the master for years, and when he decided the student had reached his expectations in training and development, he was granted the rank of Black Belt. At Steiner Academy of Martial Arts we have ten ranks with degrees and middle belts which are earned between white belt and Black Belt. We have these varying ranks to help motivate students towards their goals in development of the mind and body as well as to provide feedback while training.
At Steiner Academy of Martial Arts (SAMA) achieving rank is secondary to quality training and character development. Rank testing and advancement varies depending on the individual progress of each student. Most beginning students advance every 3-4 months however there is no set time-table on achieving any rank at SAMA.
Testing is completed in a group setting with other SAMA students and generally we notify the student or parent(s) when to expect it. Testing does not always result in a promotion, however it’s a vital part of the training and development process. We teach students to train to be their best and train for continuous improvement; if they do this they will achieve the rank they earned and deserve.
Advancing in rank through training and testing allows the students to demonstrate what they have learned and take ownership for their accomplishments. In addition, an important part of our training is learning mental and physical focus. Although testing can be stressful, demanding and exhausting for many students, we guarantee all training and testing is done in a safe environment with responsible instructors. Our process helps students learn to face and cope with stress, anxiety, and fear with calm strength, patient persistence and courage.
Determining whether or not a student is ready for advancement is completed by the instructor. If you feel you are ready to test for rank advancement and have not been invited to do so by your instructor, talk to him about it. Open communication throughout a student’s development allows the instructor to let the student know if there are specific things they need to work on.
If a student is invited to test, it is very likely they are ready to advance, however it is not pre-determined. If they do not pass, the instructors will work together to help the students achieve their goals. As a student and a parent of a student, it is important to focus on areas of opportunity in at-home practice so the student can be ready the next time.
There is a moderate testing fee associated with testing for advancement in rank. This cost is associated with promotion materials like the student’s belt and Master’s Guide. A student’s advancement is not dependent on this cost because at SAMA our focus is the student’s training and development. For details on cost please contact Sensei Steiner.
How does a student know if they’re ready for advancement? At SAMA we ask that students and parents refrain from asking for a promotion simply for the purpose of advancement. The essential key to a student’s growth is performance improvement. Not all students begin at the same level or capacity for learning. Based on their unique abilities, each student will have opportunities in different areas. In the beginning we take serious consideration for the innate abilities of each student and expect to see effort and improvement at a reasonable pace, however promotions should not be viewed as a race with other students, but as a personal challenge.
The Belt Ranking System at Steiner Academy of Martial Arts:
(highest to lowest)
Black 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and etc.
Brown 3rd, 2nd, and 1st