BRIAN SERAIAH WOOD & DRAGON TAO - BLOGS

10/01/13

Spirituality: The Lost Art of Martial Arts

DRAGON TAO CHRONICLES are articles and exploratory writings delving into ancient Eastern systems and techniques that are unique to mind, body and soul practices such as. Chinese Qigong, Thai Fon Jeung, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Yoga and Meditation. With articles being both educational and instructional the reader will gain insight into these systems and themselves through personal practice.

Spirituality: The Lost Art of Martial Arts

As I watched Ip Man 2 last night I felt a deep connection of understanding as to the true essence of Martial Arts and the sacrifice that one makes to manifest their dreams as well as survive the sad and demoralizing ways of humanity. He spoke if the spirit of Chinese Martial Arts and the integrity one develops from the ancient techniques and training. He spoke of how it's better to train for self-cultivation than the destruction of others even after the horrible treatment and eviction from the Japanese military. When forced to fight he fought for something much greater that title or purse and something much greater than winning a bout. He fought for the spirit of his culture and the honor of his people in defiance of tyranny and oppression and in doing so became a legend and still to this day his teachings came be found worldwide.

Here in America, we are so blessed to have what we have, train in nice gyms with top quality equipment and work with coaches and trainers on the path to self-experience. In the words of the Bruce Lee, "To Me, Martial Arts means honestly expressing oneself….and it is very hard to do." To know oneself through training and through competition are very different experiences yet they fine-tune the individual's skills and reactions based upon ever changing concepts of free will and fate. Certain situations are but learning lessons to build better character, dismiss the ego along with building faith in the pursuit of personal perfection.

We are what we meditate upon and if one only dreams of blood and violence then that will indeed be what they become. I often read posts and blogs about how excited fighters are to hurt someone else without thinking about the repercussions or aftermath of what might ensue. What I mean by this is people don't think about what happens when one goes home to their family, kids, wife etc….with mangled face, body or being permanently injured from such encounters. I know that both fighters are there for the same reason – to win, yet the sport of MMA has slowly lost the essence of morality and ethically proper karma based energy dynamics. I have learned the hard way about karma and how it can switch on you in an instant, how your thoughts and actions will create and doorway to self-detriment. I know now that my words have power and my thoughts have the potential to alter my very reality the second the thought is released. I have learned such things the hard way and it is my hope to guide others to live better lives and utilize the inherent beauty we all were divinely born with.

My Shaolin Master, Shifu Yan Lei (www.ShifuYanLei.co.uk), expressed his appreciation for MMA but also explained his cultural belief that the Chinese don't train ground fighting with the notion that if someone goes down in a fight, whether it be in ring or street, that the down fighter is let back to his feet out of respect. Coming from someone like Shifu with scars and wounds from knife fights and potential death encounters, this statement speaks to me truth about the honor and appreciation concerning such things. He told me that after being attacked by 3 people with knives that he would never be afraid to fight again. The amazing thing is that he prayed for his attackers and meditated that peace may enter their hearts and that their anger may subside….being that they ended up much worse than he did.

In Chinese Kung Fu, as practiced traditionally at the Shaolin Temples, has no differentiation between internal or external training systems. When I speak of internal systems I speak of Qigong (Energy Exercises) and Meditation, whereas in reference to external I speak of Kung Fu and Physical training. In most Western based schools even the Shaolin is taught primarily with focus on external while neglecting the mind and spirit cultivation. It is my hope to bring something deeper to the lives of those I train and teach and to somehow inspire those I don't know to a better way of life through such ancient systems such as Qigong and Meditation.

Our ever-growing sport of MMA has both humble and arrogant champions who equally urge the youth of today to follow in their tracks. George St. Pierre has always impressed me with his traditional and spiritual connection to competition along with the conscious awareness to know how to win with ethics and respect. I remember seeing him fight against Tim Hardy knowing that he could easily break his arm with the arm lock but chose to let it go and win by points going the distance rather than ending it early along with his opponent's career and future in the sport. This showed me the honorable nature of a true champion with a secure understanding of who he is and what he is doing and how his actions can and will affect others in potentially positive and negative ways.

Haters always hate that champion for being on top but in all reality they really hate all that they cannot be nor can cultivate within themselves. They are not content with self so they tear down others to satisfy ego yet the ego is the very enemy that combats the spirit. Release the ego and move into realization of self through and honorable existence thus focusing on the only thing one can control – oneself. I am still learning about me daily and will always be a master-student and in being so I will strive to become the shining light the Great Spirit within has destined my to be.

Thank you for your time to read The Dragon Tao Chronicles.

-Brian Seraiah Wood (NSCA-CSCS & CPT)

Brian@Seraiah.com
10/01/13

Defeat, Integrity & Honor

DRAGON TAO CHRONICLES are articles and exploratory writings delving into ancient Eastern systems and techniques that are unique to mind, body and soul practices such as. Chinese Qigong, Thai Fon Jeung, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Yoga and Meditation. With articles being both educational and instructional the reader will gain insight into these systems and themselves through personal practice.

Defeat, Integrity and Honor

In the world of Mixed Martial Arts, fighting and combat sports, there will always be a winner and subsequently a loser. In the pursuit of greatness and perfection we are all striving to be better than we were yesterday and as we engage in competition there is always the possibility of defeat and or injury. Concerning these matter I hope to express that there many paths to self and understanding self through competition is the best way to cultivate and honor the skills and abilities that the spirit has blessed us with.

In my last article, "Spirituality: The Lost Art in Martial Arts," I express my viewpoint that most athletes are training only physical aspect of the total package. Many fighters neglect the mental and spiritual side of competition, which enable one to have a clearer awareness of themselves along with the many trivialities of won and loss. No fighter is undefeated forever, and even if his record states so at some time in his career or training he has indeed been knocked down, knocked out or injured while training or as a youth. So one must be weary that as the wins rise so also does the pressure to maintain that record.

All the great legends and heroes of the eras have lost at some time, and those who are labeled the best of all time will one day be surpassed by the next youthful generation. The hope is to be the best and stay on top for as long as possible, but someday there will come the time to retire or quit either forcefully or humbly. In example: where the Gracie family once dominated and astounded the MMA world, now its rare that they even are recognized as contenders or high level competitors unless its strictly GI Jiu-Jitsu in which they are still regarded as respected founders. You can watch Matt Hughes vs. Royce Gracie to see a prime example of how in 10 years one can be both legend and obsolete within the same MMA decade.

We all must accept defeat at sometime, and it's the way that one handles such experiences that one either grows or crumbles, one learns or shuts down and or one frees themselves or adds more weight to their already burdened shoulders. What is the purpose of competition for you? If your answer is always, "Smash someone's face or hurt someone badly," then the very thing which your hope for others will someday possibly happen to you. I have learned the hard way that words, energy and actions will manifest in reality and karma is a real encounter that can be painful or blissful. The outcome is up to you.

The EGO is the most illusionary component of the human design yet some grip so enduringly to this image that they become blinded to the truth about themselves and the world around them. In MMA, everyone is the "best or the baddest" self-proclaimed fighter in the world. It's curious how the very foundation from which most build themselves is the same destructive ego that misleads the spiritual enhancements of such souls. We as humans are always looking for new ways to better ourselves and it's in the face of adversity that ones knows who they are at a core level. In defeat we must learn to look at ourselves from a third-person perspective while analyzing the situation and circumstances that were involved.

So much can dictate the outcome of a fight and the stressors involved can be: food, diet, sleep, personal matters, family, relationships, travel, illness and focus etc. So when we look at dynamics of competition there is so much more involved than people in the crowd think. And in the event where someone who shouldn't have lost experiences such hardships then the emotional aftermath can be evolving or destructive. If the ego is still in tact and has a voice then one will usually direct the negative energy towards others such as refs, coaches or the opponent. The classic "should've, could've, would've" dilemma arises and one focuses on what others did that restricted them from fulfilling the mission.

Only when one releases the ego and with humility and humbleness will the competitor understand the lessons, teachings and ability to differentiate between positive and negative reinforcing factors. Pride will also be a detriment to cultivation by creating the idea that one deserves or is entitled to win just because he/she fights outs of a certain gym or has certain coaches. All the underdogs are doing is training everyday thinking of new ways to innovate and adapt their style as to one day upset the champion.

A true champion is a humble, honorable and respected by both fans and haters. Attitude and presence is paramount and I have seen myself in the eyes of others and I have seen the errors I have made during my MMA undertakings. By seeing myself, hearing myself and understanding myself through others perceptions I can create the changes I wish to have in myself. The hardest thing to do for most people is look inside and really want to change and similarly in meditation the hardest thing to do is gaze inward searching for answers and divine intuition. I feel at times I will be a much better coach than a competitor and its my hope to guide the young talent I'm surrounded with to reach a level of performance that I couldn't during my time as a modern day warrior. Our dreams are what we wish them to be yet even with our highest hopes and desires we still will fall short of our goals, and it is here that we must appreciate the journey God has blessed us to be following at the current time.

No one can fight forever and no legacy will remain untouched. So when the fans forget your name and the crowds no longer cheer just remember the times you once had and the person you have become in the process. My hope is that you are content and happy regardless if you are a World Champion or not. For truly smashing another face in does not make one a good person and it's in the hidden gems of humility that the humble heart beats eternally.

Thank you for your time to read The Dragon Tao Chronicles.

-Brian Seraiah Wood (NSCA-CSCS & CPT)

Brian@Seraiah.com
10/01/13

Misconceptions of Yoga & Meditation

DRAGON TAO CHRONICLES are articles and exploratory writings delving into ancient Eastern systems and techniques that are unique to mind, body and soul practices such as. Chinese Qigong, Thai Fon Jeung, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Yoga and Meditation. With articles being both educational and instructional the reader will gain insight into these systems and themselves through personal practice.

Misconceptions of Yoga & Meditation

Western and religious conditioning have persecuted other cultures and their traditions and have thus given ancient traditions negative stigmata and false labeling. Concerning the questioning of Yoga and meditation and wether it there is a gateway for evil to enter the mind or demons to take over the body are but illusion. Meditation and prayer are very similar but in all truth prayer is speaking to God and meditation is silencing the thoughts so that one can listen or have a deeper insight delivered through intuition.

Meditation is currently practiced by millions worldwide and regardless of social, religious, financial or other status, the positive effects it has on overall health, stress and immunity are scientifically proven with amazing clarity. When one empties the mind and clears the thoughts they are not opening a gateway for demons to enter nor is there any portal for evil to move through. The fast paced western world is finally realizing that these ancient traditions such as meditation, yoga, qigong and tai chi are highly successful ways to calm the mind, body and soul.

Meditation is used by athletes, musicians, executives and countless other occupations with the same focus and emphasis of perfecting mental visualization and seeing performances as the wish to be. Kung Fu and movies star, Jet Li, has spoken many times about meditating 14 hours a day before his first world championships in which he was outstanding and victorious. Bruce Lee was a big proponent of meditation.

With some many styles and ways to meditate one can create their own protocol. Seated or lying stillness meditation is a great way to completely calm the mind and relieve the stresses of life. Movements meditations such as Chinese Qigong and Tai Chi are wonderful ways to align the breath, intentions and movements in a flowing and graceful expression of self. One doesn't have to clear the mind completely but rather can focus on one thing, affirmation, prayer...anything that may override the 10,000 meaningless thoughts.

One of the goals of meditation as referred to by Buddhists, Yogis, Taoists and even many Christians is that it is not a religious requirement or protocol of religion but rather a beneficial element of peaceful and healthy living. Quality and longevity of life are found through keeping the mind free of stressful constraints and confines. Everyone has their ways of dealing with stress but meditation had been medically and scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure, increase immune system and aid in stress management.

So only self-experience brings understanding and one should research meditation before judging and labeling. It has changed my life dramatically for the better. I now have the ability to control my emotions, focus my energy and concentration while having the ability to handle stress in safer ways with higher productivity. All good things happen in time and indeed meditation does not come easy at first but one learns about themselves quickly by viewing thoughts and patterns objectively and being a witness to emotions and unconscious conditioning.

Thank you for your time to read The Dragon Tao Chronicles.

-Brian Seraiah Wood (NSCA-CSCS & CPT)

Brian@Seraiah.com
10/01/13

Meditation Basics for Athletes

DRAGON TAO CHRONICLES are articles and exploratory writings delving into ancient Eastern systems and techniques that are unique to mind, body and soul practices. The main focus of these articles will be around Chinese Qigong, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Yoga and Meditation. With articles being both educational and instructional the reader will gain insight into these systems and themselves through personal practice.

Meditation Basics for Athletes

I would like to start off this article with a quote from my Shaolin Master:

"To me the purpose of Meditation is to have One dominant thought override the 10,000 distracting or meaningless thoughts."

- Shifu Yan Lei (34th Generation Shaolin Warrior Disciple)

In this sometimes hectic and fast paced world we live in, most people cannot or will not let themselves relax or calm the thoughts even for 5 minutes throughout the day. It has been proven scientifically and intuitively that stress is the #1 cause of illness, disease and cancer. If one can learn to combat these stresses in positive and enlightening ways one can increase quality and longevity of life. This information breaks down some basic meditation techniques and is outlined for use by fighters and athletes. The following are positions or postures that can be practiced for focus or relaxation and can be led by intention of thought or absence of thought.

Lying

In yoga this is called Savasana, otherwise known as "Corpse Pose/Relaxation Pose." Lying flat on your back with your legs straight and your feet one foot apart with toes hanging outward. Your arms are straight with hands six inches from the hips palm up. Or you can put your left hand palm down on your heart with right hand palm down over the left. This creates a energy (chi) feedback loop cycled from energy entering left palm and channeling through chest down the right arm then back into of the left hand. To me this is very powerful due to the intensity of the heart chakra (4th energy center – circle). Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth.

Seated

This will be your more common meditation posture and can be done sitting against the wall with legs crossed, unless uncomfortable to knees and hips then you straighten your legs. Move from your seated base and straighten your posture up your spine, into shoulders and up your neck. Many Taoist meditations will require you to sit on the front of a chair using no back support or you may just sit with the most proper posture using no wall or chair. From here you will put your left palm facing up and your right palm facing down. This creates the Energy (chi) feedback loop. Again, put your tongue on the roof of your mouth.

Standing

This is perfect for channeling your energy right before, during or after competition. While standing your feet are hip width apart and your posture is aligned in a neutral fashion from you ankles into knees into hips up your spine, shoulders pull back and your neck aligns with your spine. Your arms are straight with hands hanging in front of your hips – your palms are facing each other. This creates the energy (chi) feedback loop. Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth.

Choose your appropriate posture position and lets begin….

Adjust body and spinal posture, put your tongue on the roof of your mouth, if you have time close your eyes if not relax your gaze and clear your mind. When in meditation or flow zone one sees everything but focuses on nothing but breath and relaxing the mind, body, heart and soul. Center your attention 1/2 an inch up from your eyebrows and 1 1/2 inches back inside your mind. Inhale. The breaths are deep and full. As you inhale, energy rises from the of the spine and travels up the back then up and over the top of your skull. From here the energy enters your third eye (6th chakra – 6th sense), otherwise known as the pineal and pituitary glands. From here it connect to your tongue on the roof of your mouth as you exhale the energy down your chest and past your lower energy centers (naval) and wraps underneath. From here the next inhale begins with breaths deep and full. As you exhale you contract your upper ribs, then your outer obliques, then lastly abdominals. This ensures you will exhale as much of the stale, negative air in the bottom of the lungs as possible.

With each breath you clean your mental slate and defragment your mental hard drive. What I mean by this is consciously analyze your thoughts & identify negative tendencies such as:

Worry – This only wastes vital energy needed for performance since the brain functions on many of the same nutrients that muscles (Glucose, Complex Carbs etc.)

Doubt – If you doubt yourself at all you display that by hindered performance and lack of total commitment. You must free yourself of doubt then change can begin.

Fear – Most are truly more fearful of succeeding that failure. One must conquer fear by relying on training, knowledge of game and experience oneself through competition and performance.

Stress – The mind creates only two vibrations in response to experiences – positive and negative. Stress is negative and causes repercussions within the body and mind. One must learn to master their own energy, emotions and actions.

Once you have consciously transcended your emotions you may begin to channel your energy into positive and constructive creations and performances.

Blessings and Respect. Thank You for Time to Read the Dragon Tao Chronicles.

-Brian Seraiah Wood (NSCA-CSCS & CPT)

Brian@Seraiah.com
10/01/13

Chinese Qigong Background & Principles

DRAGON TAO CHRONICLES are articles and exploratory writings delving into ancient Eastern systems and techniques that are unique to mind, body and soul practices. The main focus of these articles will be around Chinese Qigong, Thai Fon Jeung, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Yoga and Meditation. With articles being both educational and instructional the reader will gain insight into these systems and themselves through personal practice.

Chinese Qigong Background & Principles:

Traditional Martial Arts in the Chinese Culture can be traced back 5,000 years and can be linked to ancient and mysterious system of movements that were designed to unite the mind, body and spirit by focusing on the breath and intention behind ones thoughts. This legacy of wisdom was then known as "Dao Yin" and only till the recent 1960's has the common term been bestowed as "Qigong" (Pronounced "Chee-Gung"), which literally translates as "Energy Exercise" or "Breath Exercise". The terms Qi (Chi) can be identified as Vital Life Force from which the entire universe and human entity is comprised, while Gong (Gung or Kung) can be identified as skill, ability or exercise.

As the foundation of Tai Chi, Kung Fu and Acupuncture, Qigong is the essence of the divine integration of the Heavens (Tian), Earth (Di) and Humanity (Ren). By blending and harmonizing the subtle energies of Yin (Earth) and Yang (Heavens) within the mortal body one can tap into the inner peace and gentle strength that the Taoist and Buddhist teachings are attributed to and inspired by. These simple but effective movements were shown to reduce stress and disease and increase strength and immunity while fortifying the entire biological system within the human design. In ancient times and even today, practitioners of Qigong can find tranquility amidst chaotic surroundings, as well as increasing quality and longevity of life while enhancing the ways one sees their own self and thoughts.

With thousand of styles of Qigong developing worldwide, it's very hard to say exactly where and how they originated. We do know however that these techniques were only accessible to Emperors, high-ranking officials and the wealthy elite. It's no surprise that these techniques were mastered by Abbots, Monks and Warrior Disciples from the Shaolin Temple and still to this day those teachings are all only passed down through the ages by oral or verbal transmission. Thus its no surprise as to why these disciplined and innovative martial artists were hired to protect and teach those who would one day try to destroy the source from which they channeled their inner peace and power.

All Tai Chi and Kung Fu forms are based on Qigong principles and have a deep sense of inner peace, proper body alignment, focused breath and intention along with bio-mechanically simple and intricate movements. Qigong systems can be Martial or Healing based and some utilize both aspects while increasing the resistance to stress, illness and disease. Masters of the old were required to understand the Martial application while being able to manifest Healing energies to aid themselves and those close to them.


Millions of people word-wide practice Qigong as a form of Healthcare and you can see thousands of people in China practicing daily in parks, cities and temples. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that all cancer, illness and disease can be linked to blockages or stagnant Qi/Chi somewhere within the body's many Meridians/Channels linking the organs, nerves, bones, muscles, connective tissues and all subtle energies that cannot be seen, identified or explained by modern science. Even though Qi/Chi cannot be seen it can be felt and measured by the sensations of heat, magnetism and electrical current.

In the following articles we will begin to explore more deeply Qigong, basic techniques, principles and it's amazing benefits for health, strength and longevity.

Thank you for your time to read The Dragon Tao Chronicles.

-Brian Seraiah Wood (NSCA-CSCS & CPT)

Brian@Seraiah.com
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