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White Dragon Martial Arts - Spirit of the Dragon

One of the biggest things that sets White Dragon apart from other martial arts schools is our connection to tradition. A tradition that teaches not only a highly effective fighting system, but also the values that help students do well in everyday life. Values like respect for self and others, health, discipline, positive attitude, and martial spirit are a central part of traditional martial arts.

Wearing our school’s uniform is one important way you can express your support for the traditional roots of our system, and the values that system represents. It is for this reason that I ask each of you to wear the uniform proudly whenever you attend a lesson, class or do a personal workout at the school. Only when participating in combative workouts with others is it appropriate to wear the school’s black combative shorts and a school t-shirt.

The traditional Chinese jacket, kung-fu pants, and rank sash are hallmarks of traditional Chinese martial arts, and are meant to represent a student’s dedication to the school’s training and values. With this understanding, it becomes clear that wearing just any workout clothes when in the school falls far short of the kind of commitment to tradition we seek. Additionally, as a student moves up in rank, we depend on him or her to help our instructors teach the newer students by setting a good example in every way possible, including the wearing of the school’s traditional uniform.

As teachers and students of one of San Diego’s oldest and largest traditional martial arts organizations, we should be proud of what we have built together. Successful traditional schools that have been around as long as White Dragon are few and far between. So, help us celebrate the spirit and values of White Dragon by wearing our school’s uniform with pride.  

Nathan Fisher - Founder, White Dragon Martial Arts

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From time to time, students with backgrounds in the gi arts (those who wear a gi to train like Karate, Judo, & Jiu Jitsu) ask the equivalent terms of dojo, kata and gi in Chinese.

The most popular term is dojo. "Do" in Chinese is ado, which means the Way. This "way" is the spiritual way, which is spoken of in Chinese religions. "Jo" in Chinese is chang, which means the place. Dojo is the same daochang in Chinese character writing. It means the place to practice the "way", "do" or dao.

Let's take a look at the gi arts. Karate-do means the "way of empty hand." Judo means the "way of the soft art" and Tae Kwon Do means the "way of the foot and the fist." Aikido means the "way of combining or harmonizing the qi". The term dojo is the place to practice the martial arts mentioned above and doesn't mean school or academy.

Dojo or daochang originally came from Taosist and Buddhist terminology. It's a place to practice or cultivate the spiritual way, "do" or dao. 

White Dragon Martial Arts Clairemont Sunset

Today, the term daochang in China refers to the place that performs ceremonies of the dead. While the term dojo uses the same Chinese characters as "daochang," today it has nothing to do with the martial arts. Some people use the term "guan" or Cantonese "goon" or "kwoon."

"Kwan" means the same thing in Korean. The word "guan" is used for more than martial arts. It can be chan guan, the restaurant; lu guan, the hotel; tushu guan, the library; shu guan, the old term for regular schools; yi guan, the clinic; cha guan, the tea shop; shuhua guan, the art gallery; yan guan, the smoke shop; and many more beside just kung-fu studio or wu guan. Most Chinese in the West use the English term "studio" instead of the Chinese term guan or kwoon, because the word guan has too many meanings. In other words, there is no equivalent term in kung-fu for the term dojo.

Kata is the next popular term students are always asking about. Kata is a tao or taolu in Chinese. When speaking in the Chinese language with another Chinese person, the correct way to say hand kata is kuen too for Cantonese and guan tao in Mandarin. The weapons kata is bingqi taolu, which is a general way of using the phrase. When breaking the term down into different weapons we use the these terms: long weapon kata is chang bingqi taolu and short weapon kata is duan bingqi taolu. The double weapon kata is ruan bingqi taolu. Let's break it down to the individual weapons. Staff kata is gun tao; spear kata is qiang tao; straight sword kata is jian tao; and broadsword is dao tao. Just keep adding the Chinese weapon term in front of "tao" for all other weapons.

The above terms are most likely used by non-Chinese instructors. I use the term non-Chinese, because the Chinese would not use taolu as placement term for kata when speaking to their English-speaking students. Chinese instructors would use English terms such as set, pattern or form. For example, for hand kata they would say "the hand set" instead of the hand taolu or quan tao.

Gi is another word for robe. It originated from judo (jiu jistu) practitioners and is made with heavy cotton-like canvas for grabbing and throwing. When karate masters began teaching their students, they adapted the gi from judo and made it into a lighter-weight uniform for student training.

Kung-fu schools in China don't have a particular training outfit. You often see wushu performers wear a nice exhibition Chinese outfit when they perform. Each performer is wearing a different color as well as a different outfit. Therefore, it's not even a uniform. To call it a uniform, everyone must wear the same outfit. In the 1970's when kung-fu was becoming well known in the Western world, some kung-fu schools had their students wear Chinese-style kung-fu clothing when training. Some people called it a kung-fu gi. However, the Chinese don't know what a gi is, because it doesn't mean uniform, nor does it mean robe.

by Doc Fai Wong

Published in Blog

by Quinn Early

People are always looking for ways to improve health and get in better shape. They need to look no further than martial arts for the answer. Looking better and feeling stronger and healthier are the major byproducts of adopting a martial arts discipline. There are as many debates about the best way to build strength and increase fitness as there are styles available to the practitioner.

Quinn Early Power of the Animals

I began my martial arts training in 1990 when I was drafted by the San Diego Chargers. Shortly after my second season in the NFL, I began looking for ways to improve my football skills and overall health. Since I was a huge Bruce Lee fan growing up, I thought a great way to get in shape was learning kung-fu. After all, despite his smallish stature, Lee was a physical marvel. If I could incorporate some of the training techniques that made him pound-for-pound the fastest and most powerful martial artists of his generation, those skills might help me become a better, more effective football player.

I sought the help of a kung-fu instructor in my area and settled on the fantastic, diverse world of Shaolin Five Animal kung-fu, which incorporates the best of both the internal and external disciplines of Chinese martial arts. 

HEALTH BENEFITS

Shaolin five animal kung-fu teaches many fighting techniques, but more importantly it gives the martial artists a great foundation through stance training, breathing applications and a mixture of internal and external energy training. All these attributes help build strength, power and overall health.          

Many factors make the five animal form optimal for health and martial arts cultivation: the practitioner will develop physical strength, libido, chi development, bone development and internal spirit. Since these are a mixture of both internal and external training techniques, it is said that when these five things are combined the result is a far superior martial artist.

HISTORY

Chan (Zen) Buddhism was introduced to China around A.D. 550. During the North-South dynasty, a monk named Bodhidharma traveled from India to Songshan Mountain in the Henan province, the site of the Shaolin Temple. There he meditated for nine years. At the age of 76, he began teaching healing arts to the monks of the temple. Since the monks spent much of their time in meditation, they were in poor physical condition. Bodhidharma gave them a set of exercises that would develop the physical strength necessary to maintain the monastery and protect them in the event of an attack. He gave them three exercises: lohan shi ba (18 hands of arhats); yi ji jing (book of changing tendons); and xi shui jing (book of washing bone morrow). At the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Zhue Yuen, Li Sou and Bai Yu Feng developed the fine animal form, which helped to complete the new shaolin system and had a major impact on the state of shaolin kung-fu.

THE FIVE ANIMALS

The shaolin five animals consist of dragon, tiger, snake, crane and leopard. Each animal has characteristics that provide the practitioner with an array of offensive and defensive techniques. Only through a mastery of each of these animals can one hope to become a complete kung-fu stylist.

DRAGON (LONG XING)

The Chinese dragon represents internal strength. Contrary to popular belief, there is no relation to the Western dinosaur or fire-breathing dragon. Instead, according to Buddhist writings, the Chinese dragon is a mystical creature that can show itself to those he wants, especially to those who have reached the highest levels of enlightenment. Chinese dragons also are said to live in oceans or large bodies of water and are believed to produce rain. They can make themselves large or small, and are sometimes said to be visible within the clouds if you look closely.

The dragon form combines internal and external energy to produce awesome and devastating strikes. Dragon techniques feature circular movements that can penetrate with sudden explosiveness. Though the claw is the primary hand technique used within the dragon form, there are also various palm and fist attacks that add to the dragon form’s effectiveness. However, using the waist in a whipping action to generate power is essential to the development of proper dragon energy. The dragon form uses internal conditioning through proper breathing techniques to develop qi (internal energy). This is done by using the lower body to pull in air with relaxed breaths. The breathing develops flexibility, strength and power.

TIGER (HU XING)

In China, the tiger is said to be the king of all land beasts. The Shaolin Monks adopted the spirit of the tiger for its courage, strength and power. Because its energy is external in nature, the energy of the tiger is different from the other animals in the form. The tiger’s strength comes from hard-pressing attacks. Developing a strong back and neck is essential for strong stances. The primary technique in the tiger form is the tiger claw, which targets the opponent’s face, neck, groin, arms and wrist. The tiger form also utilizes palm strikes, fists and special kicking techniques, such as the tiger tail kick (fu mei geuk). Like the dragon, proper breathing is important for developing power and force. The practitioner produces certain sounds to expel carbon dioxide and replace it with the oxygen necessary to deliver the proper energy within his strikes.

SNAKE (SHE XING)

The snake form is important for developing qi within the five animal form. Because the snake is a calm animal, it has more relaxed energy. When the practitioner cultivates this energy, the combination of relaxation is mixed with quick, piercing strikes. There are no closed fists within the snake form. Instead, the hands are open and used for penetrating chops and finger strikes. The snake’s spirit is calm and deliberate and once the practitioner develops the proper energy, his strikes are focused and lightning-fast.

CRANE (HE XING)

The crane is known for its longevity. It is believed that the crane lives such a long life because its body contains a large amount of jing, or essential energy. A calm, meditative animal, the crane can stand on one leg for hours, without shifting its weight or growing restless. The crane form helps the practitioner hold his internal energy, which develops strength while building bones and muscles.

Like the dragon, crane techniques are circular in nature. However, the crane is always soft and relaxed, but strikes with penetrating speed and force. The crane form is known for using the “beak” to strike to targets such as the temple. It is also known for its long, extended strikes that mimic outstretched wings. The crane form allows the practitioner to deliver flowing, relaxed power as well as sudden and focused attacks.

LEOPARD (BAO XING)

In China, the leopard’s fierce and ferocious power yields only to that of the tiger. Though the leopard is smaller animal, it is believed to be, pound for pound, stronger. The leopard relies on a lightning-fast, powerful force that is produced from relaxed, whip-like techniques. It is important for the practitioner to develop a flexible waist, which allows him to develop quick footwork and explosive strikes.

Since the leopard form focuses on quick movements, there is little internal energy training. But the internal strengths of the dragon and snake blended with the speed and force of the leopard make a devastating combination. The mail technique used in the leopard form is a leopard fist that penetrates vital areas of the opponent’s body, such as the throat, solar plexus and groin. There are also elbow and forearm techniques. The leopard’s footwork is quick and short, which helps the practitioner develop strong stable stances.

3 STAGES OF TRAINING             

Once the five animal practitioner has mastered the pattern within the form, he practices the three states of training. In the first stage, the practitioner performs the whole form slowly, mimicking tai chi or moving meditation. The slow and soft movements massage the organs and lead to health and longevity. The martial artist also learns the essence of each animal by moving slowly and methodically. Breathing is deep and from the abdomen to improve the circulatory system and build the practitioner’s qi.

The second stage of training is practiced with external power. The emphasis is on conditioning the bones, tendons and muscles, while developing speed and power. This type of training helps the practitioner build strong stances while increasing stamina and external strength. The five animal practitioner puts all his skills together in the third stage of training. The emphasis is on the spirit and strengths of each animal – both internal and external energy are intertwined to give each animal life within the form.

The snake and crane forms are preformed with relaxation and soft, or internal, energy until explosive power is released at the moment of impact. The tiger and leopard produce devastating, lethal attacks that are performed with quick and powerful, yet relaxed, external energy. The dragon combines both internal and external movements to deliver powerful techniques.

Five animal training not only provides the martial artist with the strength and power for devastating fighting techniques, but also teaches him to remain calm and relaxed in even the most dangerous self-defense situations.

I have truly benefited from the health aspects I received from studying five animal kung-fu. My kung-fu training contributed greatly to my success and longevity in the NFL and even though I am now retired, five animal remains an integral part of my physical and emotional well-being. (For a better understanding of the shaolin five animal form, read “Shaolin Five Animal Kung Fu” by grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong and Jane Hallander. For more information visit the plum Blossom International Federation at www.plumblossom.net.)

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White_Dragon_Martial_Arts_-_Safety_First.jpgMartial arts -- the term is based on fighting. Originally, martial arts training was often the deciding factor in life and death combat situations. Some martial arts started with armies, where soldiers learned the military art of survival at the enemy’s expense. Others were developed for common people who needed to defend their families and possessions.

Today, the fighting aspect of martial arts is for self-defense . Our modern society says that settling disputes by first or weapon fights is antisocial and illegal. So we learn self-defense, on the premise that it might just save our lives someday -- and it might.

However, there’s a big difference between self-defense fighting, where anything goes to save yourself from bodily harm, and sparring, the most common expression of martial arts fighting. Too many people seem to think that sparring and fighting are one and the same. If you’re tough in the studio or tournament, you’ll be tough on the street, because fighting is what it’s all about.

Wrong. Self-defense fighting and sparring are two entirely different things. Those of you who teach martial arts are going to have to realize that, because the number of injuries across the country in martial arts schools and tournaments is forcing insurance companies and state regulatory agencies to crack down on the concept of sparring.

Although it may have been rough and tough in the good old days of the survival of the fittest, things are different now. Major insurance companies are telling school owners and tournament promoters that no head contact is allowed in the school or at tournament. They’re requiring students and competitors to wear protective head, hand and foot gear, or they won’t carry the school’s insurance policy.

I don’t know about other states, but California’s martial arts tournaments are regulated by the state athletic commission. They put out a rule book every year, nicknamed the “red book”. Here’s how the red book describes martial arts sparring contests.

Article Two, Section 18627 defines the term full and light contact for martial arts. It says, “Full contact means the use of full unrestrained physical force in a martial arts contest. Light contact means the use of controlled martial arts techniques whereby contract to the body is permitted in a restrained manner, no contact to the face is permitted, and no contact is permitted which may result or is intended to result in physical harm to the opponent.”

In California, all full-contact, and that includes head contact, contests must be licensed by either the state athletic commission or the Amateur Athletic Union. So if you’re putting on a tournament that allows any head contact, and it’s not license, you’re breaking the law. Of course, if your insurance carrier finds out, they probably won’t honor any claim from your tournament.

What amazes me in the very few California tournament promoters who are even aware that their tournaments come under state jurisdiction, much less know the laws about light and full contact. Even though California’s law is clear, many people still misunderstand, allowing what they call kiss contact or light head contact in their tournaments. Each year these promoters unwittingly sponsor illegal martial arts contests. Since California is planning to crack down on such events, those unknowing promoters may unfortunately find out the hard way.

Many schools advertise full-contact training. It’s legal to train full-contact fighters in schools, at least in California. Boxing (kickboxing and mma) gyms do it all the time. However, are these martial arts schools really full-contact schools? Are the students actually knocked out during training? Do they allow punches and kicks to the face? Remember the insurance companies say that if you allow contact to the face, there could be a chance of knocking out the student with a blow to the head of his head striking the floor on the way down.

Personally, I think that insurance companies are right. Today’s martial art schools are not the same as in the old days. Not only can a blow to the head cause injuries, it can create negative feeling in the school. Sometimes when students get punched or kicked in the face, they lose their tempers and fight back in anger. And, for those of us who teach minors, parents hate to see their child injured.

That controversy about pulling punches ruining your ability to actually hit something is not true. You can use bags for power and penetration. If you can hit your opponent’s body in sparring practice, you’ll still have plenty of ability to hit a face in self-defense.

Don’t misunderstand me. I teach sparring and I teach self-defense. Most self-defense techniques cannot be practiced safely in sparring class, so students develop their fighting power on bags, dummies, forms practice, and two-person sets. Sparring is a way to develop better timing, tactical knowledge, footwork, reflexes, and awareness.

by Doc Fai Wong

Published in Blog

White Dragon Martial Arts was featured on Fox Sports San Diego SDFit with Brook Roberts. Brook joined us for a workout with a private lesson and group class.

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Nuestra Misión y Valores...

En White Dragon Martial Arts, nuestra misión es ser el mejor del mundo en mejorar las vidas de nuestros estudiantes a través de la práctica de las artes marciales. Logramos esta misión a través de nuestro método único de entrenamiento y por inculcar valores fundamentales. Por enseñar valores importantes come la disciplina, la humildad, la actitud positiva, y el respeto por uno mismo y por los demás, nuestros estudiantes aprenden que las artes marciales son una manera de vivir, no sólo un sistema de defensa personal. El método de White Dragon es enfocarnos en desarrollar una mente más fuerte igual a un cuerpo más fuerte, con la esperanza de producir individuos seguros y completos, capaces de alcanzar la excelencia en todas áreas de la vida.

¡Entrene Duro, Viva Mejor!

White Dragon empareja cada estudiante con su propio instructor para proveer el entrenamiento personal y de grupo más completo que se puede encontrar. Nuestra combinación única de Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Kickboxing y AMM crea la experiencia más eficaz y completa que le ayudará a ponerse en forma, enseñarle como defenderse, y mejorar su vida de maneras que usted no sabía que fueran posibles. Estamos dedicados a proveer para usted la más alta calidad de instrucción de artes marciales a través de un ambiente positivo, y basado en valores, tanto como un programa flexible para adaptarnos a su horario. Nuestra visión es ayudarle a estar en forma física y desarrollar confianza en sí mismo por estudiar las artes marciales para que usted pueda tener éxito en todos los aspectos de la vida.
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