By Szilvia Balazs, PhD
I was a single girl from Europe, living in New York City around 2005. It was a time in my life when I was ready for a tremendous change. I had to leave the past in the past and start something new, something unusual to purify my soul and body. I had to do something very challenging but rewarding in the same time. I wanted to be able to find the balance in everything and feel strong and confident. After thinking about it for a while, I had to realize that the best option to fulfill my new way of life, I had to start martial arts.
I was searching for a good martial arts school for a while, but all I’ve seen in New York that time was karate, taekwondo, jiu-jitsu and so on. I have practiced karate as a child, and I liked it as much I remember, but I did not like what I’ve seen at these places in New York City. Stiffness and tense bodies. I was not impressed.
It was a beautiful spring day when I walked into a building with a sign “Shaolin Kung Fu” – I said “yeah right” … however let’s give it a try. In my mind, Shaolin Kung Fu was taught only in China at the big mountain, and it was more like a legend than a real thing. When I walked into the building, I smelled the incenses burning, and I heard a quiet, very calming music with Buddhist chanting. As soon as I entered the room, I was asked to take off my shoes. I set down with the others by the wall and watched as the students were getting ready for the class.
A few minutes later, I’ve seen monks quietly chatting at the door and started to walk toward the training area. The students got very quiet as the first monk walked in and started the training. He was majestic, powerful and very calm. They were all welcomed him with their palms put together, bowed their heads and said Amituofo Sifu. Wow….I though I was in a movie set for minute… and then I realized this is reality. I’m here, watching a Shaolin Kung Fu training. It was amazing.
The stiffness and tense bodies I’ve seen at the other places were nowhere to find. All I’ve seen is fluent movements, relaxed bodies, calm faces and yet, amazing power. They had three classes scheduled for that day, and I set there and watched all three of them. At first, I watched a Chi Gong class where they practiced breathing technics with slow movements for internal energy. After that the “regular” Kung-Fu class where they practiced forms and movements and finally, I watched the Sanda (self-defense) class.
By the time I finished all three classes, I felt something amazing. I found that one thing I was missing from my life: Shaolin Kung Fu. It seemed very unusual, very challenging and absolutely perfect. It was everything I searched for, to turn my life around. After I finished watching the third class I went up to the counter at the front and signed up for classes (even that I was convinced after the first few minutes that I belong here).
After a few months of training with these amazing monks and martial arts masters, my life has completely changed. Physically and mentally, I was a new person. I always thought I was not flexible, Shaolin Kung Fu showed me, I was. I always thought I was weak, Shaolin Kung Fu showed me I was strong. I always thought I was too angry, Shaolin Kung Fu showed me I can be calm.
I become confident and calm with a very strong, flexible and (very toned!) body. I was more than happy. I found what I needed physically and mentally, and I found it through Shaolin Kung Fu. Since then, I am a fan, and I am unstoppable.