Looks Cool. Sounds Good. But Does It Work?

I have a really cool doctor.  I pay him a lot of money and I try to go to his office as often as I can.  I really like him and the nurses there.  Really cool people.  He tells me a lot of stuff about how to stay healthy that, to be honest, doesn’t work.  He sounds pretty skilled and when he goes through his medical techniques with me, they look like they might work as long as I go along with him.  To be honest, if I had a real life emergency like a heart attack or a stroke, I don’t think that what he has taught me will actually work and I’ll probably die or at best be severely messed up.  The point is, though, that I really like going to his office and talking about his medical theories and ideas.

Funny, but that also describes my auto insurance guy.  I love to talk with him and discuss his theories on defensive driving.  Problem again, is that I really don’t think his theories of “turn left and barely scoot by the other car, then hang a u turn and skid your tires while the other driver looks over his left shoulder  yaddayadda…”  would actually work.  I like these two guys so much that I really don’t give a darn about how my wife and kids will fare if I have a heart attack, stroke, or if some drunk guy runs into me on the freeway.  I just really like hanging out with my doctor, insurance salesman, and their gang.

Anybody get my point, yet?  Have any of you who are true martial artists ever talked with someone about their system, only to ask them, “But would it work on the street?” and then to have them say, “Probably not, but I really like the school.  It has a good kid program.”  Or maybe something like, “I really like the facilities.  They’re so clean and the equipment is new.”  A few days ago, I had an acquaintance who studies a Korean system notorious for selling belts and contracts to children say to me, “I know I probably couldn’t defend myself, but I’m almost to my black belt (he has studied for about a year and a half) and then I can help teach the children.”  Of course, he will have to keep paying tuition in order to help the owner by teaching children a system that he acknowledges doesn’t really teach self defense.  Is this the state of ‘martial arts’ in America?  It may be, but it sure isn’t in our little corner of West Asheville.  Want to get healthy, strong and fit?  Want to meet a super bunch of hard working examples?  Want to learn to defend yourself for real while learning the beautiful art of ShaoLin Kung Fu?  Pay us a visit.  No sales pitch or hard sell.  Just a lot of sweat and kung fu that actually works should you ever need it.  Talking theories is fun for after class.  Let’s get on the mat and see what really works.

Bob C

ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville  619 Haywood Road  Asheville NC 28806

sifubob@bellsouth.net     828-775-9122

Transitions and More Transitions

The only constant is change, right?  After much thought, prayer, and looking toward the future, my wife and I have decided that it’s time to transition the School to our very capable and excellent Black Sash Jeremy Miller.  Sue and I have operated ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville for 15 years and it’s time to add some fresh blood and enthusiasm.  As some of you know, during the day, I work for a local not-for-profit named ARP Addiction Recovery and Prevention as a substance abuse prevention specialist.  I have worked mostly in two local high schools and I’ll be picking up two middle schools in another county.  Part of what I do involves taking students camping, canoeing, rock wall climbing, and getting away from techno stuff and back into basics.  One of my goals is to spend more time in the woods, more time sailing and canoeing, more time in Church, and more time with Sue.  I’ll still be running the Tuesday upper rank Kids and Adult classes, will still work on my own kung fu, will continue to train, work with Jeremy, Scotty, and the upper folk, and will totally support Jeremy and the staff as we all make this transition.  It has been an amazing and wonderful 15 years.  This School gave me health, meaning, purpose, it gave me some of the best friends that I could ever hope for, it gave me the most wonderful and godly wife I could ever imagine.  It also gave me a way to love and give to others something that I love and want to share.  I’ll continue to do that; I’ll just be sharing less kung fu and more of other things.  And isn’t loving, giving, and sharing of ourselves what’s it’s all about anyway?  Feel free to call, write, or come by.  I’ll still be around, punching, kicking, and breathing hard.  Expect the School to soar under Jeremy’s leadership.  I look forward to watching it happen.  I love you all and am so grateful to God and to you for what you have allowed me to be a part of for these 15 years.  See you on the mat, yes?

The “New Traditional”

At ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville, we say that we’re a ‘traditional’ kung fu system.  By traditional, we mean that our forms and systems are handed down from the ShaoLin Temples of China and/or are based on the kung fu handed down from pre-Mao/pre Cultural Revolution China.  During the Revolution, most true kung fu practitioners had to go underground or flee the country, seeking asylum in Indonesia, Mayasia, and other Asian islands and countries.  (In fact, there is an amazing documentary called Needle Through Brick that I highly recommend, discussing this part of history.  Watch it on Youtube or Hulu.)  We’re not a trophy or show system, our goal isn’t to win awards, or to make up forms that are showy or gymnastic.  We teach traditional kung fu.  Our forms and systems are pretty and artistic, based on animal movements, but have to be street effective.

That being said, we have to keep in mind that traditional kung fu forms were developed to fight against other kung fu practitioners.  There are blocks and defenses against kicks, sweeps, back sweeps, etc.  Many of the hand blocks and techniques are against someone utilizing similar techniques.  What do we do then, if we’re using our kung fu against someone who is using basic boxing or street thuggery (Hopefully, real martial artists don’t go around causing trouble and looking for fights, right?)  We have to take the essence of the traditional kung fu forms and adapt them to modern situations.  Blocks against La Ma ridge hands or Wing Chun chain punches are not likely to be needed as much as against a haymaker or a push, shove or grab.  We modify close quarter defenses and offenses to handle these street techniques.  In many kung fu systems, they stayed off the ground since the ground was often a battlefield.  Today, many fights go to the ground.  So we modify stand up technique to be ground technique.  (If I’m standing up, my power from a front snap kick comes from the stable foot; on the ground, the power comes from my hip which is basing on the ground.)  We always assume multiple opponents in all our forms, so our forms constantly turn and change direction, change technique, etc.  Our weapon forms are traditional, too.  Most people don’t carry swords around anymore, nor do people carry the 7 foot Kwon T’ao or 6 foot staffs.  No problem.  Use the same techniques with a broom or a pool cue, or (and this is really cool)  do the same techniques, moves, chops, blocks, and strikes with no weapon, and you still have an incredible fighting form.

So I guess that we’re the “New Traditional” in kung fu.  If beauty, hard work, self defense, and an incredible part of history, as old as the ancient Temples and as new as today, appeals to you, come try us out.  NO sales pitch; just a lot of hard work.

Si fu Bob

ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville  619 Haywood Rd  Asheville, NC 28806  828-775-9122  sifubob@bellsouth.net

Who’s Not Happy With Your Kung Fu, Anyway?


I hear it a lot, mostly from lower rank (although not always).  We’ll be in a workout or doing a form, the student will make a mistake, and will say something like, “Dang!  I’m sorry!” or “That was terrible.”, or some other derogatory remark about their kung fu.  Or I’ll just see that ‘look’ in their eyes; not the look of determination at trying to get a difficult move or the look of determined frustration (is that really a term?) at trying to remember a sequence and getting it wrong for the 20th time.  The ‘look’ that says, “I’m a failure” or “I’ve really screwed up and let the whole School along with 1600 years of ShaoLin tradition down and I ought to be beaten and kicked out on the street in the rain”  OK, maybe not that drastic, but you know what I mean.  I know what it looks like and feels like because I’ve been there, done that, got the t shirt, and lived to tell the tale (Thank you, Master Garry, for your patience).  When that happens, I really want to stop the student for a minute and just ask, “Who’s not happy with your kung fu, anyway?”  “Certainly not me.  Not the other instructors.  Not the rest of the students who are sweating and breathing hard and pushing themselves as hard as you are to get this right.  Who are you apologizing to, anyway?”   Now, I appreciate that you want to do well and get things right.  I love the fact that you’ve chosen be a part of our School to learn kung fu.  I really respect that you’ve chosen to study with one of the hardest working and toughest Schools in Western North Carolina.  I just wish you’d cut yourself a break and realize how much you’ve done, how far you’ve come, and where you’re going to be, if you stick with us.  I’m just tickled pink that you come to class and do all the sit ups, push ups, drills, punches, kicks, elbows, etc.  I’m happy that you bruise and laugh it off, get hit and ignore it, get kicked and act like it never happened.  Hey, who’s not happy with your kung fu, anyway?  If you need correction or instruction, a little motivation or a swift kick, I’ll be glad to provide it.  You focus on your kung fu and feel proud that you’re a part of our team.  Most people would never walk into our School, and those that do often walk out because they can’t hack it.  You’re still here.  Come back tomorrow and we’ll do it all over again.  No apologies next time, though.  Agreed?

SiFu Bob

ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville   304 Waynesville Ave.  Asheville, NC 28806    828-775-9122




There Really Is A Difference!

I had a fun conversation recently with a good friend who studies a style of karate, one of the several that actually derived from ShaoLin during the diaspora when Chinese fled to Japan and began teaching a ‘Japanese-style’ version of a ShaoLin system (Isshen Ryu from ShaoLin White Crane, Shotokan from Tiger Claw, Shorin Ryu, which actually means ShaoLin style, etc).  The conversation was about the differences in our respective styles.  We were clear that we were comparing/contrasting real martial arts styles, as opposed to systems that are sport or trophy oriented, and that focused on selling contracts and making 6 year old black belts.  He showed me a couple of his forms; I showed him a couple of mine, we sparred a little.  It was a great time of learning and sharing.  His main comment to me about ShaoLin was, “There’s no pattern in your forms.  It all seems to flow into different movements and approaches, but there’s no pattern.”  My question to him was, “Do street fights or attempted rapes have patterns, or are they 7 seconds of chaos in which the defender has to do as much damage as possible, then get away?”  His forms displayed distinct patterns (punch, punch, kick, block, step right, repeat, turn around, repeat).  His body was rigid, his back straight, everything was precise.  It was fascinating to watch and that’s the way my friend likes his martial arts.  ShaoLin, on the other hand, is based on animal movements, is loose and flowing, moves this way, that way, turns and steps, always assuming multiple opponents.  As the animal changes in the form (and especially during sparring or an actual self defense encounter), speed, stepping and body mechanics change.  As my friend said, “There’s no pattern…”     We both ended up respecting the other’s arts, but also appreciating our own.  There’s no doubt.  If I were in a street encounter, I would want this guy by my side (if there were no ShaoLin people available, of course, J  )   There is also no doubt that there are multiple differences in our styles and approaches.  If you’re interested in trying a couple of  classes and experiencing the difference, feel free to call me or come by.  No sales pitch, no contract.  Just a lot of hard work.

Bob C.

ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville

619 Haywood Rd.  Asheville, NC  28806

sifubob@bellsouth.net   828-775-9122

Give your kid some credit.

It happens way too frequently; even once is too much.  We’ll get a young student who begins to thrive and do well.  They learn stances, body control, respect, how to punch and kick.  They come to class, have a great time, and begin to get some “BooYahs” from staff and other students.  Then (and I’ve seen it so often and I just don’t understand), I or another staff will tell the parent how well the child is doing.  Just as a smile begins to open up on the kids face and they begin to stand a little straighter, the parent will say something like, “Well, I wish he’d work that hard at home.” or “Yep, she’s OK, but she really needs to put a little more effort into those warm ups.”  You can watch a kid deflate and lower those eyes in a heartbeat when the one who is supposed to love and uplift suddenly says something negative about their child in front of the instructor.  Of course, I really want to say something like, “Well, why don’t you get your fat, lazy, cheetos-filled a## on the mat beside your kid twice a week and see how well you do”, but I know it wouldn’t help a bit, so I don’t.  I usually just say something like, Well’ he’s doing a super job here and we’re glad to have him as a student.”  Parents:  Don’t Do That!!!!!   If one of our instructors pays your child a compliment, say something like, “Thanks for telling me that.  We’re really proud of how well she’s doing, too.”  Or how about, “Heck, yeah!  I bet I couldn’t do what he does in a million years.  He’s really come a long way.”  If you tell me how great your kid is, that might be bragging.  If I tell you how great your kid is, and you agree, especially in front of them, that’s showing love, respect, and being a good parent.  If you ever doubt how hard our School is, or how much effort your kiddo is putting forth on that mat every week, try a class or two sometime.  I bet you’ll never say anything negative about your child’s kung fu again.

Bob C.

ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville  619 Haywood Rd  Asheville, NC 28806


Everybody doesn’t want to make a full commitment, sooooo…..

for those looking for a way to stay active and involved in something physical during the summer break, we’re offering our first Summer Special. Anyone who signs up and pays for June and July will not have to pay the $45.00 sign on fee; just the tuition. PM me or call at 828-775-9122 for tuition costs (based on age). As always, we start with two free lessons. No sales pitch; just a lot of hard work. Get in shape or stay in shape this summer.

ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville  619 Haywood Rd.  Asheville, NC 28806


Walk a Mile in High Heels???

We did it again (for the fourth year in a row).  Men (real men, of course) from our School donned hot heels and walked a mile in downtown Asheville to raise awareness and funds for OurVoice, the local sexual assault crisis organization.  We joined about 500 other men who took a stand (and for a couple, a fall) against sexual violence.  Rape affects EVERYONE, whether you are a victim, a friend or family of a victim, or whether you live in a society that allows or ignores the fact that 1 out of 5 women will be sexually assaulted in some way in their lifetimes.  And, since the majority of perpetrators are male, we are the ones who have to speak up!  That’s why ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville was a proud sponsor of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes this year.  My shiny red pumps are back in the closet for now, but I’m looking forward to next year already :)

ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville

619 Haywood Rd  Asheville, NC 28806

828-775-9122    sifubob@bellsouth.net


Our Primary and Secondary Purpose

ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville is a martial arts school in West Asheville.  We teach people how to defend themselves against crazy people, dates gone bad, rapists, muggers, idiots who can’t control themselves or live by simple rules of an intelligent society, etc.  That’s what we teach.  The method is by learning the techniques from the ShaoLin Temples of China and learning how to incorporate these techniques and methods into our modern world.  We hit, kick, knee, use weapons, and practice as realistically as we can AND as new students can tolerate. We don’t have trophies lining our walls and we won’t teach you how to win a ribbon in a tournament.  Tournaments are OK for some people, although systems and schools that teach tournament skills tend to not prepare people for real life attacks and problems.  Most rapists, bullies, and dates gone bad don’t follow rules and regulations.  We teach self defense. That’s the art of ShaoLin Kung Fu.  That’s our primary purpose.

That being said, we also see lots of secondary benefits when we follow the ShaoLin program.  We lose weight, we get healthy, we learn focus, patience, diligence, and perseverance.  We get hooked up with one of the hardest working group of martial artists in Western Carolina.  We gain a whole new perspective on life and the world around us.  If we come in afraid, we learn courage.  If we come in boisterous and arrogant, we learn humility and how to be kind.  If we come in knowing everything, we learn just how little we truly know.  People find a spiritual direction and connection.  We become different people.

The caveat, though, is that these things happen, almost by accident, only as we pursue the primary purpose.  So many ‘martial arts’ schools have this reversed and advertise that they teach discipline, focus, yadda yadda yadda, and barely mention the martial (having to do with war or combat) element.  Perhaps they want to appeal to people who want the benefits without having to actually work hard.  ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville is unabashedly a martial arts school. If you come to us, you will participate in the primary purpose.  Otherwise, you’ll choose to leave.  You’ll also notice that as you diligently pursue the primary purpose, the whole new wonderful world of Purpose Number 2 will slowly but surely open up to you.  Purpose Number 1, God willing, I will never have to actually use again.  Purpose Number 2, I am blessed by God to live every minute of every day.  Come try us out, but be prepared to work on our primary purpose.

Bob C.

ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville  619 Haywood Road,  Asheville, NC 28806


And yet another example of the present state of the martial arts in America…

I got a notice a couple of days ago about another “Hall of Fame” banquet where you nominate yourself or somebody else, send them some money, and you get the opportunity to pay more money for a banquet, get a certificate, a pin, probably a patch, and a picture made with all the other Hall of Fame honorees.  I get them all the time.  They usually are sponsored by yet another “Grandmaster” or Exalted Grandmaster of some system that already has multiple grandmasters in different parts of the country (or city).   Then you are able to say that you’re a member of the SomethingSomething Martial Arts Hall of Fame and you can put that on all your advertising along with a picture of your certificate and your patch.  How cool is that?

Is that what the martial arts in America have come to?  Apparently so, since I get these invitations all the time.  A few more, and I might start thinking that I really am a famous martial artist….maybe not!

I would like to think that our School is part of another Hall of Fame, and I also have plenty of evidence to back it up.  We didn’t get this nomination due to what we paid to somebody or some organization. .  We got it due to what we do, day in and day out.  That Hall of Fame is called the “I’ve heard about your School” Hall of Fame.  (Please note, this isn’t about me.  This is about our School and the reputation we have in our community.) 

When students come to our School and get healthy, lose weight, get fit and strong, word get around.  When students learn how to defend themselves physically (aka ‘fight’), word gets around.  When we don’t even know that we’re in the running for the ‘Best Of’ category in a local publication (so I never tell my students to go on-line and vote for us), and we place first or second year after year, that puts us in the Hall of Fame.  When a teacher at another martial arts school in another county tells a mutual friend that ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville is the hardest hitting martial arts school in Asheville, that means that word is getting around.  When we get referrals from counselors, therapists, county social service workers, treatment centers, etc., saying that they’ve heard about our School, that’s another nomination.  When our students become martial artists in the truest sense of the words,  word gets around.  And, truth be told, when someone comes to a class and just can’t hack it, or joins up then leaves shortly afterwards and tells all their friends that it was too hard, or too intense, or they got hurt, or (yep, I’ve been told this too,)  “Those people are crazy in there.”, that adds to our reputation and entitles us to the Hall of Fame.  I’ll probably continue to throw away the invitations to be inducted into a hall of fame, just like I ignore offers to be ordained as a minister in a phony church or hook up with “beautiful  mature Russian women who want that correspond with you to for friendship.”   Maybe I’ll just keep opening the doors and getting a good workout with the best and hardest working group of Hall of Famers I have ever met.  If you want to join us, get in touch.  No nomination needed.


ShaoLin Kung Fu Of Asheville

619 Haywood Rd.  Asheville, NC 28806