Spring Renewal, Austin Festival

Carnival time is here, and classes are on hold until Ash Wednesday. Even though the standard calendar doesn’t acknowledge it, Spring has arrived in New Orleans.

Spring is the time of rebirth, renewal, new beginnings, so it is the perfect time to recommit, reevaluate, and renew your kung fu practice. That means coming back and attending regularly again if you’ve let your practice slip, or taking some time to reflect on what you want to get out of your training, and setting some goals to guide your development over the coming season.

I tailor every class to the people in attendance that night, doing my best to give you the experience you want and/or need, but eventually you need to start taking more responsibilty for your own path and learning how to transform yourself into the martial artist and person you want to be. The student manual has some very motivational essays and sample workouts that can help guide you. If you haven’t gotten the manual, contact me and I’ll send it to you.

My blog  has articles about my take on training, diet, and other topics (it might be helpful to go back in the archives and start from the oldest posts and move forward).

If you’ve never done the goal-setting exercise I wrote on my blog, here is the link

If you have done it, it’s probably been several months or more, and your ideas about yourself and your goals may have changed since then.

One way to really kick-start your training and draw inspiration from fellow students, senior black belts, and masters, is to make the trip to Austin next weekend for my teacher’s tournament. This is Master Joe Schaefer’s 10th year hosting this tournament that draws students of Grandmaster Sin from all over the country.


A few years ago, Master Joe had an epiphany that made him rework the whole tournament format. He stopped calling it a tournament and called it the “Spring Festival” because competition has never been the big emphasis. It is more a celebration of learning. There is always some kind of seminar component built into the day’s events. The overall atmosphere in the form and sparring divisions is not one of cockiness but one of mutual respect. You can learn something from watching anyone put him or herself on the line and show you the limits of their abilities, whether they are a complete beginner with no natural aptitude for sports (as I was when I started 13 years ago), or a gifted athlete with years of training.

Unlike many martial arts schools, our tournaments are not required for advancement. They are also (like our test fees) much, much cheaper because a) we have a great martial arts system and don’t have to use hidden fees and intimidation to keep our schools running and b) we love what we do and want to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

So contact me if you’re interested in making the trip.

Here’s what Master Joe has to say in today’s email newsletter:

What Are You Made Of? by Master Joe

Here it is, my yearly rant about why you need to get involved in the tournament. I will give you 4 different reasons that will get you into motion.

1. It is the 10 year anniversary of my very first tournament. Therefore, I want to have the best tournament yet. I ask you a favor to show up in force, bring the most friends, invite people on facebook and every other electronic network you have and in general SUPPORT the school and the tournament.

2. You joined the school because you wanted to be different in some way. You were choosing NOT to be the same. This means that things that are outside your comfort zone are things you are supposed to be doing.

You might have convinced yourself that you are growing as a person, but the fears keeping you from getting involved are your real challenge. You thought it was getting in shape, but it is not, it is the process of meeting and moving beyond your fears.

Guess what, if reading this even makes you nervous, then you MUST compete in the tournament or admit to yourself that fear is more powerful in your life than the desire to reach your true potential. Fear is a powerful force to be sure, but don’t give me or yourself excuses; you’re scared plain and simple.

3. There is a quote and I can’t quite remember it, but it goes something like, nobody will follow the general when he doesn’t even wear the uniform. My point is, how can you expect Shaolin-Do to impact your life when you place Shaolin-Do in the back seat of your life. Get involved!

Just the simple act of getting involved will tell your unconscious that Shaolin-Do is important and will make the lesson and transformation mean more than ever. Wear the uniform and patches with pride.

Come to watch your classmates test and cheer them on. Honor your classmates by competing with them at the tournament and cheer them on when they rise to a higher level in their own lives. Take seminars from masters and other teachers and stay in the flow of energy from the top. Bring friends and family to try and join classes.

I think that at times people forget just how much Shaolin-Do has impacted the course of their lives. They become way too casual about something that has CHANGED their lives forever. They should be shouting it in the streets, dragging every friend to our door and should themselves never go a week without some to a couple classes.

The lessons never end, they only get deeper, more painful, and difficult to understand and face. To turn away from those lessons is to turn away from the journey and admit defeat.

4. You have absolutely nothing to lose except your delusions that you are really awesome. The major injuries in the tournament will be the bruised egos of people who have told themselves and others, stories of their greatness. So what is your excuse now?

If you have been telling yourself how awesome you are and therefore things like this scare the #$%^# out of you, then isn’t that a bit silly. Are you really going to support that kind of behavior in yourself?

So to summarize: I would like you to participate in the tournament (just in case you missed my point).

Mental Tricks For Competing

Not really tricks, but ways you can relax, conquer anxiety, etc… if you are afraid to do this.

1. If it’s an open hand or weapon form, practice a lot! Being prepared is over half the battle.

2. Remind yourself now and as you bow to begin, that you are just there to have fun.

3. You spar in class and this is no different. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose – neither is a reflection on who you are. Just have fun.

4. If this is a really big deal for you, keep patting yourself on the back. You are facing a big fear, growing a huge amount and conquering your world – no matter the outcome of the match!

Congratulations to all competitors.

Master Joe

Happy Mardi Gras!


~ by nolashaolin on February 19, 2009.

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