Shaolin Kung Fu & Yang Tai Chi Classes Now Forming in Berryville, VA
By Lacy Colley
There are countless styles and systems of martial arts training available to a prospective student in the modern world. Most people associate these ancient arts of self-defense primarily with the Asian cultures, but few realize that it was the Chinese systems, Shaolin Kung Fu particularly, that provided the foundation for many of the modern Asian martial arts. With a history dating back approximately 1,500 years, the practice of Kung Fu in China took root at the famed Buddhist monastery known as Shaolin Tzu (“Little Forest Temple”) in the central region of the country.
Kung Fu, which can be translated as, “a skill acquired over time and with tremendous effort,” evolved from a series of exercises taught to the monks living at the Shaolin Temple by a Buddhist patriarch whom the Chinese called Da Mo. Da Mo had grown weary of the Buddhist doctrine of his time, and shifted his perspective to reflect the importance of living in the moment. He travelled from his homeland of India to China to share his newfound ideas, and when he arrived at the Shaolin Temple, Da Mo found the monks living there to be in poor physical condition from long days spent transcribing Buddhist texts with little activity otherwise. Upon realizing that the monks could not maintain the long periods of sitting meditation that his philosophy, which is now known as “Chan” or “Zen,” demanded, Da Mo implemented a series of daily exercises that eventually evolved into a system of self-defense. As it was often necessary for the monks to travel the open countryside alone to other temples or villages, the need for a measure of self-defense skill was paramount; as the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of all invention.”
Over the centuries, as the practice of Kung Fu spread throughout China, countless systems and variations evolved from the source material. One of these evolutions was the gentle art of Tai Chi Chuan (“Great Extremes Fist”). Its inception is most often credited to a man called Chang San Feng, who is said to have had an epiphany about the martial arts as he witnessed an epic struggle in nature between a snake and a bird approximately 1,000 years ago. He noticed that the snake gently evaded the bird’s unrelenting attacks until its energy was depleted from exertion, at which point the snake fatally struck and killed the bird. Armed with new insight, Chang San Feng set about creating a system of self-defense that emphasized the yielding motions he had witnessed from the snake. Having trained extensively in Shaolin Kung Fu, the movements of Chang San Feng’s new art reflected this experience. The hallmark of Chang San Feng’s Tai Chi training was the emphasis on correct posture, breathing, and overall, yielding and balance.
There are millions of people around the globe that still practice these ancient arts daily and with dedication. Both systems are still evolving and producing newer systems of training. In the modern world, Kung Fu is practiced for many reasons, aside from its original intent as a system of self-defense and personal protection. Some train for the sheer love of it, and others are just as interested in the practical self-defense applications as ever.
Dedicated students of Kung Fu training strengthen their bodies and master physical conditioning. Tai Chi is often practiced today for reasons aside from the self-defense aspect of the training, not the least of which is its many health benefits. There have been numerous studies that have concluded that Tai Chi practice, with its gentle and passive approach, can alleviate stress, reduce blood-pressure, and strengthen the muscles and joints of those afflicted with various medical conditions or chronic ailments.
Lacy Colley, a 16+ year veteran of Chinese martial arts training, is now forming classes in both Kung Fu and Tai Chi in Berryville, VA. Shih Fu Colley is a 3rd generation lineage-master of the Tien Shan Pai branch of Northern Shaolin Kung Fu, and a 6th generation master of Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan. Shih Fu Colley has been fortunate enough to have trained under and learned from several renowned masters of Chinese martial arts, including Lin Shih Kuang, Sean Marshall, Robert LaPointe, Luo Dexiu, and Su Dong Chen. In addition to Kung Fu and Tai Chi, Shih Fu Colley has also studied to lesser degrees the Chinese arts of Ba Gua Zhang and Xing Yi Chuan. Shih Fu Colley’s approach to teaching is to adapt the material to the fit the student’s needs or goals specifically, and to make the training accessible to anyone, regardless of ability or past experience in martial arts.
Kung Fu and Tai Chi classes are forming now, and will be held weekly at the spacious U.S. Tae Kwon Do & Martial Arts Academy located at 850 West Main St., Berryville, VA 22611. Trial sessions are available for a nominal fee of $10 per session, and require no commitment or further obligation if you are unsatisfied with the course or material. Many martial arts schools require a long-term commitment or contract of their students, which is typically one to three years. Shih Fu Colley is so confident that there is such a need in the area for quality martial arts instruction that binding contracts will not be required, and students will proceed on a month-to-month basis if they elect to enroll in one the programs. Day and evening classes will be available, as will group or private instruction. The Kung Fu and Tai Chi training offered by Shih Fu Colley will be appropriate for students age 16 and up, regardless of skill level or past experience.
If you have any questions or require more information, please call the academy directly at 540-955-0055 during the afternoon or early evening hours