Sao Lim Kung Fu

“Zhaodao hao shifu bu rongyi, Zhaodao hao xuesheng geng nan”.


“It is hard to find a good teacher, but even harder to find a good student”.

“Everything I teach is the same way as I was taught. I want to preserve the old traditional style of Sao Lim Kung fu”. “Sao Lim Kung fu is first realizing the fact of live with honesty and bravery, the practicing the fact of live each day as if it were the only day, and therefore enjoying the fact of life thoroughly and completely”.

People don’t know what Martial Arts can do for their character, for their well-being, for their feeling of accomplishment. In Chinese society it is common for parents to send their children to receive formal training in Martial Arts. For the Western parents this may seem unusual, because they think of Martial Arts as somehow encouraging violence. But for the Chinese parents the exact opposite is true; Martial Arts is a way to train the child in good habits of mind and body. The Chinese community in general, and Chinese Martial Arts society in particular, have always believed morality to be an integral part of Kung fu. To understand the proper relation of morality to Kung fu, one important point must be introduced. And the most important fact in Kung fu is that the level of achievement of any Martial artist in directly dependent on his morality. If the Martial artist is a bad person, then his ability can only reach certain limited levels; If the Martial artist is a good person, then there is no limit to what he can achieve. In China they practice the Martial Arts the same way that they practice writing in school. There is a lot of homework and the student does the same word over and over. When I began to learn English it was the same way. Copy the words over and over.

No matter how fancy, how aggressive or how gentle a form looks, it won’t work if you have to think about what you’ve going to do, because the opponent is not going to wait for you. Techniques that appear exciting often aren’t practical. So it’s not a matter of this style or that- it’s the merging of mind and body working in perfect harmony. Then thought becomes action without the process of thinking. Kung fu in China is not Martial Arts. It is any kind of work where you need skills, and you need time to practice. Like a cook. We would say he has good Kung fu in his cooking techniques. The same in painting or writing. It depends on the talents used and the practice needed. Kung fu also means time, over time spent. You could say to someone asking you do something you have no Kung fu, you have no time to devote to what they want. If we say a Martial artist has good Kung fu, we are saying he has good power, strength and techniques. You can know Karate, but you cannot know Kung fu. You have good Kung fu of you own style.

In Hong Kong Martial Arts is call “Kwok Su”, that translates to National Arts. In China (PROC) they call it Wu Shu, meaning “War Arts”. Kung fu is the slang term for the same idea. In written language they use Kwok Su or Wu Shu in Chinese characters. Kung fu is actually a South Chinese slang expression. Still, the full story of Sao Lim Kung fu (and all it’s sophisticated fine points) has not been told to the ouside world. Sao Lim Kung fu is not only fighting. It is more than that. It is philosophy, principles, power and strenght: It is History and Art. But still it is fighting. You build up you chi basicly with correct use of forms. At advanced rankings you can build you chi move. In Sao lim, the more you practice, the more chi you have. In doing Sao Lim forms; the mind, the spirit and the body should all be fully expressed and arrived, you will progress verry fast, so that you get a different feeling every day. Your students should carefully realize this. If your forms, your mind and your spirit do not arrive, you are wasting your time and will never succeed; Power is derived from the inside out. “The more you practice, the more chi you have” What is Chi? “It’s an inner feeling, like a push. It’s a combination of mind and balance, like equilibrium.

In the old times the student sometimes practiced about ten years before his master would teach him “Hay Kung”. “It’s impossible to gain tremendous power because your master feeds you a special formula or teaches a unique style of Sao Lim Kung fu which is done softly, slowly, easily and comfortably. The necessary sacrifrees must be made” The student of Sao Lim kung fu learn to relaxed, but relaxed is not adequate in translating the Chinese idea. What is meant, is that the Martial artist is; “Hard of firm on the inside and loose outside”, like an iron bar wrapped in cotton. Knowing the solo form without knowing the application is like buying a new pair of shoes at a store and then going home with only the shoe box. Learning of Sao Lim Kung fu is a continual process of discovering the uses of the postures in the forms. Each Sao Lim posture compares a package, wich must be unwrapped to find out what is inside. Not only do forms give the student a basis for further development, but they allow him to use his technique full out. The reason that some of those techniques are lost, is not because teacher witholds the knowledge. But because the students today don’t work to understand what lies behind the techniques. “Sao Lim Kung fu is first realizing the fact of live with honesty and bravery, the practicing the fact of live each day as if it were the only day, and therefore enjoying the fact of live thoroughly and completely”.

René Scharff

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