The Kung Fu Lifestyle

Kung Fu is handed down teacher to student year after year decade after decade. Martial artists are evolving in all areas of life so their skills are also evolving. Change is the one thing that stays the same. As we grow, our Kung Fu grows. The secret to staying relevant is constant and never-ending training. Keeping an open mind and trying new things can help us stay motivated and inspired. Kung Fu exists in us, not in movies, uniforms, sashes, stories, books, etc.

We are Kung Fu.

The first and most important factor is daily training followed by adequate rest. Understanding modern training methods like CrossPit, Sports Performance Training and nutritional timing can help improve our success both as students and teachers.

To build power, speed and endurance, my competition team does three weeks Olympic Lifting and ancillary, building up intensity week by week followed by an active recovery week. For those students not competing I pay attention to the seasons and we start to push harder in the Spring and then extend our limits in the Summer. With this being said, an amateur fighter must always be ready for a fight, where professionals will have more of an advanced notice.

We focus on training that is for longevity: it’s a life-long approach to improve the quality of every martial arts athlete and their life after competition.

Next is to become as strong as humanly possible both mentally and physically. Everyday we focus on improving technical skills. Everybody moves at their own pace. Finding a qualified teacher to help achieve these goals is the most important decision to make. Know your system and cultivate your skills by training more. The answer is always on the floor.

A martial artist should lead by example with a high level of fitness and discipline not only in training but in diet as well. Daily training and elite fitness levels are the foundation for a skilled martial artist.

7 Star Praying Mantis as I understand it was a mixed martial arts of its time – the best of 17 different styles and the fighting movements of the praying mantis insect.

I do my best to keep this original idea alive in my Mantis Kung Fu by putting the M in my MA. I feel we all do our best and we can all learn from each other. I feel the ego is a powerful tool in aiding our development, but it can hinder our growth. It takes putting a lot of good pressure on yourself and those around you to keep growing as a Kung fu practitioner and as a teacher. We cannot allow titles, rank and self-entitlement to hinder our personal growth and development.

Every student has his own path. Not everyone is able to train directly under his master for 10 or 20 years. Not everyone has the opportunity to train under just one teacher. Some like myself must travel a lot to constantly learn more, get new perspectives and new ideas, then take the information back home and work it and try to understand it. I have been lucky to train with many Kung Fu masters from all over the world and get many different insights. The past several years I have trained other styles extensively like Hawaiian Kempo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and more recently BOLT Wrestling. I have learned so much from these other styles and masters outside of Kung Fu. I have always loved all martial arts, respected the different arts and the time the masters have dedicated to the evolution of their system. I have learned so much about Mantis from studying these other styles.

Keeping an open mind and training other styles has helped me reverse-engineer many Mantis forms to better understand the principles, theories and applications, especially takedown defense and ground fighting.

I have said for many years the true gift of Chinese martial arts is its Qigong.

Balancing the Yin and the Yang is very important and a constant challenge in all areas of life. I have been fortunate to be married to an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist who is also a high level Mantis practitioner. As martial artists and human beings the most important thing is our health, second is fighting skills. The youth rarely understand this but with time and experience comes wisdom.

I would like to thank the Chiu Leun family for all your support and patience with me. I love 7 Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu and the friends I have made training and researching the system. I hope more practitioners of Kung fu can work together to keep this amazing art alive and well for the future of mankind. Martial arts does make a difference and it saves lives.

This article was first published in the Journal of 7 Star Mantis

Northern Shaolin 7 Star Praying Mantis Institute and Association

Volume 4, Issue 4


Sifu Jeff Hughes