outdoor kung fu kids

Getting Back To Kickin’

As we get back to our old routine, like late 2019 era, there’s a couple of approaches we should be weary of beforehand. I thought I’d write this quickly because it’s a pressing issue. I didn’t want too much time to pass before I address it.

We’re bound to make one of these two mistakes if we’re not careful.

The first being assuming everything is exactly as it was. The truth is, it’s not. You very likely do not have the same body you had a year and a half ago. You might be the same weight, so you think you’re fine. This doesn’t mean your stamina is the same, your flexibility is the same, your balance is the same. Don’t rush into the exact same type of activity you remember yourself doing pre-demic .

Don’t get flustered when your kicks aren’t as high as they were before,

and don’t push them to that height because that’s how high you remember kicking. Your body might disagree and this disagreement will end in you being hurt.  Take your time. Your comfort zone may have shrunk back down again, don’t rush to expand it back out to where it was previously. Gentle nudges outside of it will do.

Your muscle memory might be a little hazy. If your body structure is slightly different, even subconsciously, your muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, might not support what you’re now trying to do. Take time to build back muscle memory with light repetitions of everything. Refresh those neural pathways lightly and don’t put too much impact in just  yet.

                The same is true psychologically…

You may have spent a lot of time without seeing people face to face, especially without masks on. Trying to jump straight back in to the same social activity before and after class you were used to could be stressful for you. Take your time. Small consistent increments are what made your training great in the first place. If you have had trouble with social anxiety in the past and have overcome it, don’t expect to have the same confidence you earned previously; it may take a little time to come back. Don’t be upset about this. Give yourself time and take small yet consistent actions. The good news is you will return to your previous progress much faster, but no rush is needed.

The second mistake you might find yourself making is not getting moving at all.

You will think of what you used to be capable of, realize you cannot do the same things as before, and then just not start training again altogether. The solutions is the same; small consistent action.

If you’re worried about fitness training, just make it through the warm up. If you’re worried about the warm up, just get to bowing into class. If you’re nervous about bowing into class, just step onto the mat. If you’re shy about stepping on the mat, just step through the front door.

Remember the one dish theory.

When you’re in  a rut and you’re depressed, and your kitchen is a mess and the sink is full of dishes, don’t try and contemplate the whole plan of getting yourself up, getting the house clean, organizing yourself, and getting back up to full speed again. Instead, give yourself permission to wash just one dish and then sit back down. After that if you feel like washing one or two more then go ahead.

The best Kung Fu isn’t found in the dramatic montage you do once, it’s found in the routine that starts off with only 1 minute per day, consistently, that gradually compounds.

Start with just a little momentum. Put on your Fei Yu shoes and wash a dish.


See you in class  😉


Sifu Atalick
Master Instructor
Holistic Kung Fu Online
Niagara Kung Fu Academy

Sifu Atalick has owned and operated the Niagara Kung Fu Academy since 2005 and has been teaching Holistic Kung Fu for 20 years. Holistic Kung Fu as taught at NKFA helps kids and adults build self-discipline, confidence, and focus, helping them to achieve higher levels of success and fulfilment academically and in their careers. He is the author of “Be Like Tea: The Art of Holistic Kung Fu

Find us on YouTube
Find us on Facebook

strike first

STRIKE FIRST! – Getting up early and being proactive as a family

Mastering Praying Mantis Kung Fu has been one of the proudest and most important accomplishments of my life. If had to condense 2 decades of training, teaching, and self-discovery into a 20 minute conversation, I would explain the strike first principle, and then let the person on the other end of the conversation unpack it in their own way over the next 2 decades.

Here is a head start on how to use it with family

Warning – not a sob story

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I had a very interesting time living at home. My father was an alcoholic at that time. I’m not going to go into a sob story here about how rough these years were. That is not my intention. This is more of an uplifting story. I instead want to express the power of getting up early, and striking first.

As a family, my dad was leading us on a path of rebuilding after a long state of depression, financial ruin, and constant lack. My father is one of the most inspiring people in my life. During this time, while he was tied to this destructive habit, he was incredibly functional. He still managed to work hard and build back up a life of wealth that I had not experienced growing up. I attribute this in large part to his ability to wake up early. No matter how smashed he would get the night before, he was always up early, ready to tackle a new day and a new plan.

This irritated me to no end. At that time, like many young people, I was up late the night before, chatting with friends, partying, playing video games, etc. As a result, my intentions were to be up at the crack of noon at the earliest if I wasn’t in school. These plans were regularly interrupted by him pounding on my door early, “Rob, wake up! You’re wasting daylight”. For years I hated this, but years later I came to witness how a functional alcoholic could build a life of wealth despite having a massive addiction.

Eventually, when my father chose to be sober, it was like throwing gasoline on a fire, and his growth multiplied, financially, physically, and spiritually. The lesson here is, that even with the monkey on his back, he was still successful because he chose to get up early and get moving while others were still asleep.

If I had heeded this advice in my late teens I would probably be much further ahead in my own development, physically, mentally, and financially than I am now, but like many, I had to relearn the lesson in my own time. Years later I would learn why this simple habit is so important. Dad was striking first. I will share an overview of that with you now.

In Kung Fu Terms:

In Praying Mantis Kung Fu and to a greater extent, Holistic Kung Fu in general, strike first means be proactive, take the lead, don’t react, don’t meet the opponent on their level, bring them to your level. Don’t wait for them to strike, move first and force them to react to you rather than vice-versa. This principle SHOULD NOT be interpreted as hitting people when you think they deserve it, or when they upset you. It means move proactively to redirect the tone of the confrontation. This principle should not be restricted to combat alone. Once you understand it properly you will see that it applies to all relationship. Relationships with an adversary, a partner, a group, and society. There is a difference between waiting for feedback and waiting and being reactive. Those two things should also not be confused here.

It would seem Bruce Lee understood the strike first principle (it’s worth noting he studied Praying Mantis Kung fu through the texts written by my teacher’s teacher, Wong Hon Fun) when he wrote “…attack [the opponent] on his preparation of attack”. This doesn’t have to be in the form of a punch or a kick, but it can be applied for any proactive gesture. If someone seems disgruntled, a smile and a hand shake could be an example of striking first. In an argument, offering a win-win alternative before any kind of name calling ensues is striking first. The sooner you strike first to overcome a confrontation the less likely it will explode and bring about unwanted consequences.

Dad was using the strike first principle in his relationship with society. Society often expects us to get up in the morning, brew our coffee, turn on the news, and react to the narrative that everyone else is reacting to. You are then expected to go to work being angry at the same things that everyone else is angry at.

This is an example of being reactive instead of proactive. In this case our opinions and mindset are assigned to us by the media, and our minds are filled with problems and conflicts that are not within our immediate control, leaving us powerless and unaccountable for our own actions and destiny. We are simply reacting to all the punches that life throws at us, one after another, hoping to successfully block enough shots to make it through until pay day. Dad was up and moving working toward his goals before he had a chance to let mainstream narratives tell him what to think or feel.

When you get up proactively and decide how your day will go, set your own mindset, your own plan, and your own activity, you will be striking first.

When you exercise, or meditate, or use mental rehearsal on your daily to-do list, you are setting your own tone and your own narrative for the day. You will be less likely to be reactive to the regular stresses that trigger negative emotions for most people. This is not just important for you, but as a leader for your family, you will be setting the example for the rest of your crew to do the same.

The late and great Zig Ziglar once said something along the lines of, a must for a happy and loving family is, when you put them to bed give them a kiss and tell them you love them no matter what. When you wake them up, wake them with a kiss and tell them you love them. In other words, put them to sleep with love and wake them up with love. Now at the time of writing this I don’t yet have children of my own, and if you do it might make it more difficult for you to digest this chapter, but just try your best.

After reading this idea by Zig Ziglar in his book “Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World”, I couldn’t help but implement this. Every morning I wake my wife up with a kiss and a cuddle, letting her know she means everything to me. I want this to be the first thing she knows when she gets up. For these few minutes or more I set the tone for our day, whether we’re going to be together or separate for the rest of the day.

This how you strike first with family. As a leader, you want to set the tone and the emotional direction for your crew. If you let everyone wake up on their own and ignore them until they come to you with problems, concerns, urgencies, catastrophes, then you may have fallen into a state of reactivity. You’ll be putting out fires all morning praying for the time when you are either gone to work or until they are all out of the house and leaving you alone.

Having a good morning routine for everyone can avoid this. Keeping the news or social media off, and instead discussing goals and tasks for the day, as well as hopes and expectations can keep the whole family proactive.

If you are more spiritual family, taking time to discuss your dreams from the night before can also be a great family exercise. In her book “Living the Field”, which I also highly recommend, Lynne McTaggart explains that many native cultures believe that your own dreams do not belong to you as an individual, but are a gift from your subconscious or super-conscious mind that belong to the tribe, and should be shared… provided they’re age appropriate, obviously.

Physical exercise together may seem like a stretch, but if you can pull it off it will do wonders for everyone.

Easier said than done I know, but if you really want to learn how to masterfully apply this principle for your family in the morning I HIGHLY recommend you read 1-2-3 Magic Thomas W. Phelan. You will learn the difference between start and stop behaviour. Very simply summarized, start behavior is behaviour that you want your child to start doing, and stop behaviour is behaviour you want them to stop immediately, because it is inappropriate, undesired, or dangerous. The techniques for either are quite different, but you will discover that start behaviour is basically the strike first principle. Strike first or start behaviour is proactive, and stop behaviour is dealt with reactively. In a perfect world we would deal in only start behaviour. The world being imperfect, we must learn both, but constantly strive for more start discipline and less stop discipline.


Sifu Atalick
Master Instructor
Holistic Kung Fu Online
Niagara Kung Fu Academy

Sifu Atalick has owned and operated the Niagara Kung Fu Academy since 2005 and has been teaching Holistic Kung Fu for 20 years. Holistic Kung Fu as taught at NKFA helps kids and adults build self-discipline, confidence, and focus, helping them to achieve higher levels of success and fulfilment academically and in their careers. He is the author of “Be Like Tea: The Art of Holistic Kung Fu

Find us on YouTube
Find us on Facebook

The Mysterious Origins of Kung Fu

In Chinese ‘Kung’ means energy and ‘Fu’ means time. Kung Fu is any practice that requires time, patience, and energy to master. So it does not only stand for the martial art that is synonymous with that name.

Kung Fu became popular in the West with the coming of Chinese action movies depicting it. Martial artists and actors like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li have also contributed to raising its popularity in the West. There are actually many stories of how Kung Fu developed. Here are some of them:

One theory: Kung Fu and all other Chinese martial arts originated in India

One story is that all Chinese martial arts including Kung Fu have their roots in India. It is possible, because China and India have had extensive trade relations for centuries and Buddhism did come to China from India. Chinese merchant ships even traded in the port city of Calicut in Kerala, India, for many centuries. Even now, there are Chinese fishing nets in Calicut, which are locally known as ‘Cheena vala’. The Indian martial art called Kalaripatayam is also said to share many characteristics with Chinese martial arts. Without contradictory evidence, these facts make it entirely possible that the rudiments of Kung Fu came to China from India.

Another possibility: Martial arts came to China with an Indian Buddhist monk

The second story is about how martial arts were introduced to China by an Indian Buddhist monk known as Bodhidharma. The Shaolin temple in Henan province also confirms this tradition. The early Buddhist monks were proselytizers and they went far and wide to propagate Buddhism. They often had to travel treacherous paths which were roamed by waiting bandits.

The Buddhist monks had to protect themselves against these bandits but there was a problem. The monks were pacifists so they could not carry weapons. Instead, they learned to defend themselves with their fists and legs. Slowly and steadily, they developed the martial arts forms that over time have become modern martial arts. Even now, the Shaolin temple is known as the Mecca for martial arts.

Another thought: Kung Fu came from the exercises developed to make the monks stronger

Boddhidharma developed 18 exercises which had to be performed with the hands. He taught it
the monks in the Shaolin temple. Apparantly, some of the monks used to fall asleep during his sermons. Buddhism also had very austere practices and he found that the monks were not physically prepared for the vigors of the religion which often involved frugal living and even fasting at times. Boddhidharma believed that by developing a strong body, the monks could follow the tenets of Buddhism better. The monks later took these exercises forward and codified them into a system which became Kung Fu.

Eight hundred years after Boddhidharma’s death, during the rule of the Yuan dynasty (between 1260 and 1368), a monk called Chuan Yuan accepted the help of two boxers – Pai Yu feng and Li Cheung – and added more detail to the original Kung Fu.

He believed that the system as it was taught then was incomplete. His contributions included dividing the system into five styles, which were derived from animals – Crane, Tiger, Dragon, Snake, and Leopard. Modern Kung Fu is more advanced than the Kung Fu of olden days. It generally takes several years to develop proficiency.