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Get to know your Sifu

Did you know that your Sifu, Leo Ming, started training in karate when he was a child?

And that since then he has focused his training and experience in Kobujutsu karate and tai chi, training under masters all over the world in places like in China, Athens, Boston, Toronto, Taiwan and Japan?

And did you know that he is known to make appearances in TV commercials once in a while?  Like this funny one, for Castrol Oil:

 

 

To get to know your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, contact him on 0833780468.

Get to know your Sifu Did you know that your Sifu, Leo Ming, started training in karate when he was a child? And that since then he has focused his training and experience in Kobujutsu karate and tai chi, training under masters all over the world in places like in China, Athens, Boston, Toronto, Taiwan and …

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018.

Standing meditation in Tai Chi

The article explains how martial arts like karate and tai chi can help us develop the ability to prevent ourselves going into the fight/flight response.  When we don’t have this ability, we can lose part of our logical thinking faculty and can make less healthy decisions, and we find it harder to manage our emotions.

One of the key ways that martial arts helps one to be stress free, is its meditation component.

We ask Sensei Leo Ming to give his input on this key element of martial arts training, and encourage you to learn more about the science and research into this aspect, in Bruce’s article.

 

Q: What is Beginners Mind and why is it important in martial arts training?

Leo:  Sho Shin…beginner mind… This is such an important concept in the martial arts. We always have the ego which gets in the way of the reason for doing our martial arts. We get side tracked, whether it be from something visual, something external that catches our eye, or from an internal thought. A simple example would be when we are trying too hard to impress others, or wanting to over achieve in class. Once this happens your ‘way’ (or dao) is lost. We need to always remember to keep our training pure and authentic.

There is a saying that in the beginners mind there are countless possibilities, but in the experts mind there is only one. Thus we get stuck because we think that something can only be done in a certain way, and that our way is the ‘correct’ way.

If we look at children, they are very spontaneous and have an open energy. It is free, uncluttered, and natural. They can absorb but they can also let go of. They cry with intensity, and then it’s all over. We want to train to attain our original mind, our spontaneous and empty mind – this is a good example of sho shin.

More often than not we bring our baggage wherever we go, in the dojo, onto the court, on the field, even into our homes.  This weight prevents us from flowing and feeling the moment.

Q: What are the benefits of this ‘beginners mind’ for life outside the dojo?

Leo: There are so many. A few benefits are:

  • learning confidence
  • learning about breath control – for anxiety and for focus
  • letting go of the ego – developing humility
  • growing your perseverance and overcoming obstacles,
  • and overcoming stress build up.

    Martial Arts meditation in Wudang Mountains, China

 

Q: What is meditation in Martial Arts?

Leo: It is essentially learning self introspection, being aware of self, being aware of breath, emptying the mind -having the beginner mind.

Q: What aspects of your teaching do you do to encourage this development?

Leo: Meditation is one of the teachings that I integrate into all my classes- to learn patience with the process. Mindfulness is learnt through meditation as well as through self perfection of techniques. One trains a single technique repetitively until it becomes part of you, or you become part of it, hundreds and thousands of times until you reach a state of ‘no-mind’  or mu-shin. Everything muscle and tendon is relaxed, flowing and natural, yet filled with chi. This is something which cannot be replicated through learning theory.  You need to experience it.

We welcome you to join us for a complimentary class, so you can experience a taste of Sho Shin, and the benefits of becoming a martial artist.

 

For more about Tai Chi and Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018. The article explains how …

How to prepare for Grading in Karate

How to prepare for Grading in Karate

Part of Karate is the process of grading.

What is Grading?

Gradings are a test of your skills and how they are integrated.  As you reach higher levels in your ability and understanding of martial arts, students must also be able to do more skillful and precise moves.

During black belt grades- the highest levels – students are tested physically and mentally, and then in their knowledge of theory as well.

Coloured Belts

Achievement of a grade is represented by a coloured belt.

“In the West, the emphasis is too one sided on belts. A belt holds one’s pants up. Yet it is also a visual illustration of the length of time a student has trained in Karate” explains Sensei Leo Ming.

“Usually there are what we call ‘kyu’ or rankings. There are about 8 to 10 kyus depending on the style, before one gets black belt.”

Essentially the first belt is white, representing purity and being a novice, as in ‘being empty’.  Then after passing through many other coloured belts, we reach the black belt.  Again, the black represents the ‘start of’ another phase, or the start of the journey.

Black belts are called ‘dan’ of which there are 10. There are also more specific names given at 5th dan, then again at 8th and again at 10th.

“When the black belt eventually fades back into white, one has gone full circle – back to novice” enlightens Sensei.

Preparation for Karate Grading

Preparation of gradings takes time and patience.   The time students spent committed to come to classes will show.

Their ability to overcome challenges from their previous grading, like if the student has improved on not only his/her strengths, but also weaknesses, is also looked at during a grading session.

Failure

Failure is difficult to deal with.   There can be so many areas that resulted in the ‘failure’, like nerves, physical technical errors, a poor mental attitude on the day, anxiety levels.

Even the fear of failure itself can cause the frozen rabbit syndrome – where a well-prepared student can just go blank and lose focus, displaying a poor level of skill.

If a student failed and didn’t get the next belt, it may cause that student to put more time and energy into their training, or it may cause them much inner disruption and mental and emotional issues for them.

“I think this is all part of the ‘belt’ and grading learning.  It’s what you do with the result.”  Leo encourages.  “But eventually the persistence pays off into a new level of confidence and further humility.”

Participate in Gradings

There are benefits to students to work towards their next grade, and want to progress through all the gradings.  Sensei Leo adds:

“I think the main aim is to set a goal for oneself to overcome. There are a few students who I’ve taught who don’t want to grade and just want to train for the sake of training.”

All approaches are welcome, and each student sets for themselves their goals to work towards.

We hope you will join us on your journey through the colours of the ‘kyu’, or rankings in Kobujutso Karate.

 

For more about Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Part of Karate is the process of grading. What is Grading? Gradings are a test of your skills and how they are integrated.  As you reach higher levels in your ability and understanding of martial arts, students must also be able to do more skillful and precise moves. During black belt grades- the highest levels …

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened.

These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like Johannesburg, where there is a high risk of being mugged, or car hi-jacked.

When in Car Parks

  • Place your valuables in your boot, out of sight.
  • Make sure your vehicle is locked once you’ve parked it. Double check that it is locked, as Car-jamming devices are a common means to gain entry into your car after you have left it.
  • Don’t be distracted by checking your phone, and rather be aware of your surroundings. Scan the area and notice if there are any loiterers around.
  • Park in an area which is not out of sight or tucked around the corner. However, also try not to park in between large cars where your car is hidden. Parking out of sight will make it easier for hijackers to accost you.
  • It is preferable to also park your car nose out, by reverse parking it into the parking spot.
  • When returning to your car, have your keys in hand, so that you don’t have to be looking for them when you get to your car.
  • Don’t dawdle to your car and once you are inside your car, don’t linger and delay leaving the car park.
  • If possible be with someone. If you are alone, your first defence is your awareness – especially of loiterers.
  • When possible, get the car guard to help you with loading your shopping packets into the car, while you keep scanning your surroundings.

When Driving to leave or enter home or work, at the gate on the street

  • Awareness is so important. Notice other cars in the street, people hanging around the gate or walking nearby, and look out for anything suspicious or unusual.
  • Be cautious in driveways – do not hang around waiting in the driveway or when entering apartment complexes. Boomed off areas can be used as a trap area for car hijacks.
  • Be extra vigilant in dimly lit areas or quiet side roads.
  • If anything seems out of place or suspicious, rather drive away and call for help before returning.

When Walking

  • Be aware of your surroundings. So don’t walk with your awareness in your phone checking social media.  Notice what is happening around you.
  • Walk in a busy area if possible.
  • And walk with others if possible.
  • If it is a casual walk, leave all your valuables at home. Carry your mace / whistle/ body alarm / weapon of choice.
  • Walk with a dog if possible.

When waiting at a Bus Stop or for an Uber Taxi

  • Yet again safety starts with awareness. Notice what is going on around you.
  • Know your bus stop or Uber pick up point and its surroundings.
  • Know the arrival times of your bus or taxi. Time your arrival to the bus stop or pick-up point to avoid waiting too long for the bus/taxi.
  • Avoid being on your phone texting while waiting for the bus. If you are checking your phone for your Uber details, be sure to keep aware too of your surroundings.
  • Be vigilant of loiterers.

How can learning Tai Chi and Karate help with developing a sense of Self-Defense?

Martial arts brings awareness to one’s behaviour.  It also develops an attitude  of alertness and awareness to ones surroundings.   Awareness is key to one’s own safety.

The next aspect is self-protection. Not only does martial arts teach us basic self defence movements, it also teaches us confidence in bodies and in ourselves. With this confidence we can have a different insight and awareness to the world around us, and a more assertive response which is needed to protect ourselves.

One also learns and understands the psyche of people and potential threats through training in martial arts.

All these give us a better insight of scenarios and hopefully our coping skills are heightened.

Be aware, and be safe!

 

For more about Self-Defence and Martial Arts classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened. These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like …

Tips for beginners learning Karate

Tips for beginners learning Karate

When we start to learn something new, especially in a class format like Karate Classes, it can feel daunting and our self-consciousness can get the better of us.

Sensei Leo Ming has some points to keep in mind, so that you can enjoy your classes, and get the most out of your karate learning journey.

Sensei Leo Ming suggests that you should do no preparation for your class, as a new student.

“I usually like to see the student in his/her natural form. In this way I can teach and ‘fill the empty cup’ ” he explains further.  “If the student has preconceived ideas, then I would generally need to teach them to empty those thoughts which may hamper their advancement.”

The thoughts could be from martial arts movies they have seen. Some ideas may also be totally unrealistic.  For example, a goal that they want to achieve and a specific time frame in which they want to achieve it.

So, Sensei Leo recommends that students of Karate rather bring an attitude of an open mind to class.

They should also not spend the class comparing themselves to others in the class.

“For motivation it may be good to want to achieve something, but students should always bear in mind their own capabilities while striving for a goal.”

Sensei Leo also suggests that no food should be eaten about an hour and a half before you train.  However, liquids to hydrate should be taken frequently, during and after class.

The Role of Sensei in Karate

Your Sensei is your karate teacher and guide. He or she should always set the tone and set the example of what needs to be done. As you progress there will always be times of physical and mental discomfort for you, the student.

“As the Sensei I may give you a hard time depending on your personality and how you generally cope with yourself and others. These are tests for the students to see what they are capable of and how they handle tasks and difficult situations,” says Sensei Leo.

“It may be partnering with another difficult student; it may be just simply coping with the amount of push ups or abdominal exercises in the class. It may even be in the form of constantly giving the student critical comments.”

In traditional times the Sensei could not be bothered with students just wanting to learn something quickly and then leaving. Sometime students just wanted to ‘steal’ techniques, or students were not sincere in their pursuit of mastering the art of karate. If the student was really sincere, he would stay on through all the hardships of the training and become a ‘worthy’ one.

Still today, there are Sifu’s and Sensei’s who are aware of this.  Thus, Masters will still have certain students who are close to them in the inner circle, and they would be taught in depth.  These are called the ‘closed door disciples’ or ‘inner disciples’, and then there are those that are the ‘open door disciples’, and then also the normal students in the classes.

Join a class with Sensei Leo Ming, and not only will you learn karate and improve your physical fitness, you will also experience the mental fitness and personal growth that the martial arts are known for.

For more about Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

When we start to learn something new, especially in a class format like Karate Classes, it can feel daunting and our self-consciousness can get the better of us. Sensei Leo Ming has some points to keep in mind, so that you can enjoy your classes, and get the most out of your karate learning journey. …

How to choose to train in Karate

How to choose to train in Karate

When considering taking up Karate as your hobby or sport, here are some points to consider Karate over other sports.

Self Improvement

While training the body, one learns about the Okinawan or Japanese culture; such as its history; its tradition of respect in the symbol of bowing, and the distinction in seated bows, standing bows and the reasons behind this.

One also learns about discipline by way of being on time, by way of dress code, and mind and body preparation.

There is etiquette involved in the process of learning, so it is not just how fast or strong one is, but how to reduce the ego and become a more refined person in life.

Sports in the modern day is about winning or losing; points or no points; highest; fastest; best. The values of traditional martial arts are about the inward qualities of winning over oneself, the ego. They are about striving for self improvement.

In the words of the late great Funakoshi:

“The ultimate aim of karate lies not in winning or losing, but in the perfection of character of its participants.”

Logistics and Lifestyle

Obviously one also needs to take into consideration the times and costs of classes.  Look for a dojo location that makes it easy to attend class, due to it being close to your home, work or school.  You also want class times that suit your other life activities and family obligations.  This way it will be easier to make your karate practice part of your lifestyle, and hence a more sustainable health choice.

Karate Teacher Influence

Even more important than the logistics of class, is the instructor’s methods and philosophy i.e. the actual teachings of your Sensei. The second point to consider when choosing your Karate teacher, is the reasons you want to train versus the reasons the instructor wants to teach his karate system.  Do they match or compliment each other?  Or will they lead you in opposite directions?  The difference can mean a far more enjoyable and rewarding experience for all.

Kobujutsu Karate

Karate is known to improve fitness and strength and sharpen self defense skills.

Some systems or styles of Karate have more emphasis on different criteria eg. sport karate vs traditional karate. There is no problem with just doing sport karate, as long as one realizes that it is but a small part of karate itself.

Karate is a paradox. When one learns a technique a thousand times over many years, it not only builds physical strength but also mental confidence not to have to get into an altercation.

Kobujutsu  = ko -traditional     bu- martial    jutsu- technique . The karate we teach is an art of traditional ways.

Choosing Kobujutsu is essentially choosing to experience personal growth while learning martial arts.

 

We look forward to welcoming you to class.

For more about Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

When considering taking up Karate as your hobby or sport, here are some points to consider Karate over other sports. Self Improvement While training the body, one learns about the Okinawan or Japanese culture; such as its history; its tradition of respect in the symbol of bowing, and the distinction in seated bows, standing bows …

Weapon Training

Weapon Training

Recently Kaicho Akamine come from the Okinawa island of Japan to Johannesburg.

He gave a Karate weapons workshop, which Sifu Leo Ming attended.

Akamine is an 9th dan and head of Ryu Kyu Kobudo.

Hiroshi Akamine was born in 1954 in Tomigusuku City, Okinawa Prefecture, as the fourth son to Eisuke Akamine, the second President of Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai.

At the age of 6, he was given instruction in Karate by his father.  He began his serious practice of Karate in his junior high school days.  While he studied Karate under Shijin (old name for Hiroshi) Gushiken Sensei of Shorinryu Kyudokan, he learned Kobudo from his father.  In 1999, upon the passing of his father, he became the third president of Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinko Kai, thus inheriting the organization.
(from http://ryukyu-kobudo.com/hiroshi-akamine-kaicho/)

 

“He is well respected and pleasant to converse with. Some of the weapons which we covered were the Sai, Tonfa, Tekko and Bo” shares Sifu.

For more about how to handle weapons and for Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Recently Kaicho Akamine come from the Okinawa island of Japan to Johannesburg. He gave a Karate weapons workshop, which Sifu Leo Ming attended. Akamine is an 9th dan and head of Ryu Kyu Kobudo. Hiroshi Akamine was born in 1954 in Tomigusuku City, Okinawa Prefecture, as the fourth son to Eisuke Akamine, the second President …

The Importance of Being on Time

The Importance of Being on Time

Dear Students

Please revisit this blog about uniforms and bowing for valuable information going forward, and learning an art and a discipline such as taiji.

Also remember, if you are learning, then in the spirit of learning anything, a certain code of conduct is expected. Arriving to my classes on time is one of them.

I have noticed that the aspect of time tends to be overlooked. In some arts such as karate, if you are late for your class, you would enter the dojo and kneel at the back of the room, and wait until the teacher acknowledges you.

It may be 5 minutes, it may be 15 minutes, or 40 minutes. In other words it can work both ways. If the teacher feels you are genuine in your heart, he will be genuine with his teachings toward you. This however does not mean that one can or should continue to arrive late.

Lateness and the wearing of inappropriate clothing is a form of being rude and ill-disciplined. It shows a lack of respect. It is not what one would do at a wedding, or a funeral, or any other occasion which we do not want to take for granted.

It shows that you think you can catch up or do what you have missed at a later day. It is being unaware , not mindful. Remember, tomorrow also does not exist. If we are mindful, we should have this realization.

Lateness also disrupts the other students who are trying hard in the classes. It distracts them. Being late sets a bad example that others can also have the excuse to follow. It disrupts the teacher’s flow. Being late can become a habit without realizing it.

While on the subject of identification, discipline and co-operation , please read our “credo” too!

Dear Students Please revisit this blog about uniforms and bowing for valuable information going forward, and learning an art and a discipline such as taiji. Also remember, if you are learning, then in the spirit of learning anything, a certain code of conduct is expected. Arriving to my classes on time is one of them. I …

Code of Conduct at Mings Martial Arts Academy

Code of Conduct at Mings Martial Arts Academy

Conduct Code

  • Dress appropriately in Ming’s uniform.
  • When entering or leaving class , or commencing a class please take note of the gesture of acknowledgement of bowing and respect.
  • Use the appropriate term “sifu / sensei (karate)” when addressing the teacher.
  • Show respect for one another, and welcome new students by introducing yourself.
  • Being late for class is considered a lack of respect.
  • Advanced just means that the student has more insight into the art. Be humble.
  • Only certified instructors may teach the art so as to propagate authenticity.
  • Do not abuse your martial knowledge.
  • Payments to be made in advance. 3 months in advance allows for a discounted rate. However if payments are made late then it does not allow for the discounted rate.

 

Other topics of discussion related to this Code of Conduct:

 

CONTACT DETAILS

For more info on this Code of Conduct and tai chi and karate in general, contact your Sifu Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468

Conduct Code Dress appropriately in Ming’s uniform. When entering or leaving class , or commencing a class please take note of the gesture of acknowledgement of bowing and respect. Use the appropriate term “sifu / sensei (karate)” when addressing the teacher. Show respect for one another, and welcome new students by introducing yourself. Being late …

Kobujutso Karate with Weapons

Kobujutso Karate with Weapons

Kobujutso is the Japanese term for “Traditional Martial Arts’. It is a form of karate that is a combination of open or empty hand techniques, and the proficient training in the use of weapons inspired from domestic and farm tools.

Here are two of our teenage students demonstrating the use of the sai (a set of dagger-shaped truncheons) and the (a very tall and long staff or stick weapon):

For more about classes in Johannesburg in Kobujutso Karate, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Kobujutso is the Japanese term for “Traditional Martial Arts’. It is a form of karate that is a combination of open or empty hand techniques, and the proficient training in the use of weapons inspired from domestic and farm tools. Here are two of our teenage students demonstrating the use of the sai (a set …