The Shaolin Monks. . . . . of Systema and the Ten Tips

shaoGreg Prescott wrote an exceptional article for the site about the Shaolin Monks and the 10 steps to live a long happy life. It was one of the very best articles I have ever read. Though it was Shaolin specific, a little adjustment here and there make it quite applicable to those of us in the Systema World.

The 10 tips, along with Systema-approaches are as follows:

1) Don’t think too much. Thinking takes energy. Thinking can make you look old.

This really applies not so much to creative thinking but rather to obsessing or worrying about the things we cannot control. Focus on being happy and things have a way of working out.

2)  Don’t talk too much. Most people either talk or do. Better to do.

Yes, action is the missing step for many. Talking, planning, revising and the like are fine but without the proper action steps, all is wasted.

3) When you work, work for 40 minutes then stop for 10 minutes. When you look at something all the time, it can damage your eyes and also your internal organs and peace.

Think. . . computer, iPhone, TV.

4) When you are happy, you need to control your happiness, if you lose control then you damage your lung energy.

I disagree with this. I have never seen anyone “too happy.” I think the author is referring to “too manic.” Frenzied, unfocused energy would damage the lung (and heart) energy.

5) Don’t worry too much or get angry because this damages your liver and your intestines.

Actually, anger damages the liver but worry damages the spleen

6) When you eat food don’t eat too much, always make sure you are not quite full as this can damage your spleen. When you feel a bit hungry then eat a little.

This is one of the most effective, age-old principles in Chinese medicine. Excessive consumption is the cause of our obesity epidemic today.

7) When you do things, take your time, don’t hurry too much. Remember the saying “Hasten slowly you will soon arrive.”

Truer words have never been spoken. When you watch the masters like Mikhail and Vlad move, there is a patience and precision, but never a rushed action. So in Systema. So in life.

8)If you only do physical exercise all the time and you never do Qigong this makes you lose your balance and you will become impatient. You lose the Yin of your body. Exercise balances the Yin and the Yang.

When I (re-) started practicing Tai Chi and Qi Gong, along with the inner arts such as Hsing I and Bagua, not only did my health greatly improve, so did my Systema. The inner arts are the key to both quality martial arts as well as wellness and longevity.

9)If you never exercise, just peace, meditation, soft training, Qigong, then this doesn’t give you Yang energy so you use up your Yang energy.

Again, it bring up the notion of extremely. Too much activity burns out the yin. Too little burns out the yang. Balance based on your chemistry, is the key. This varies greatly from person to person. For some like Dean Karnazas, it is running a marathon every day for 50 days. For others, it is 20 minutes of training, 3 times a week. Specifics matter only to the individual and there is no universal law governing all, other than “Follow your heart and listen to your body.”

10) Shaolin Gong Fu gives you everything. The purpose of our training is to balance our Yin and Yang.  How many hours is not important. It’s down to knowing what your body needs.

Systema give you everything. The purpose of our training is to balance yin and yang. How many hours is not important. It is down to knowing what your body needs.

In addition, it is about become a better person in the process, and assisting as many as possible along the route.