No More Frog Jumps

Recently we posted about how I need to give up frog jumps because they are killing me. Yes… literally killing me. Not just because they require me to be speedy so I get out of breath, and my chub jiggles all over. Although that part is seriously no fun, the main reason, is because the speed and ankle mobility that is required is exceptionally painful to my not so awesome ankle. 

I have always hated them but I understood Daniel’s reasoning behind their importance. They build speed and cardio. Both of those things are super important in Kung Fu. So I figured I would try to love them, like when my mom made me have four beets at dinner.

Like ingesting the beets, I cut them up into small amounts, and tried not to gag. I started out with 75 frog jumps and doing them 2-3 times a week, they were tolerable but having done them first thing, the rest of the class was harder and harder to get through. My wind got stronger though, so I figured I could just deal with the ankle pain. We increased to 100.. my wind got better,  but my ankle… hips… and back… cried a little louder. We increased steadily all the way to 150. This my friends, was my breaking point.  We have been doing them a few weeks and they are not getting any better. My wind is definitely better but my ankle is so awful from that point on that I have a hard time making it through the 2 hour class. The rest of the day is pretty shot too. I hate having to be sidelined on the weekends.

By now, you guys know me pretty well and you can understand that it’s difficult for me to admit that I cannot do something. Perhaps this is my ego, or maybe it’s me not wanting to “bitch out”. Either way, I hurt. 

I was reminded by Daniel that Rule #1 applies to me too. I drill it into your practice, especially in the beginning, why should I think differently? So, I have to put my ego aside and admit defeat by frog jumps. Part of me is excited to not have to do them. The rest is extremely frustrated over having yet another thing I can’t do. 

Up until now, we have been able to find a way around something that hurt me. I step a little different. I shift a different way. I say all the time that my body was not meant for speed. I am strong and powerful but I am not fast. I am ok with this. I will find ways to work within my circle of excellence. This is a good thing about being a bit older, and learning a new martial art. I already put my body through hell when I was young and dumb. This time around I am smarter, and I only need to impress myself. I can still do things, they just need to be done my way. All that being said… I at least tried it and no they didn’t officially kill me… I stopped before they could. 

~ Kate

PS. I still hate beets. 

Tai Chi – A Whole Picture

When we talk of Tai Chi as a mind/body/spirit exercise, it’s to describe how we use all of our capacities when practicing. With our mind focused, our emotions settle, our body’s movements smooth out, our spirit can then present itself.

It’s an intricate process, beginning on the surface of things. We start with how to move our bodies into specific postures, then we take this a step deeper. We learn how to move with balance, and muscle control. We move as one whole body. Not just arms, legs and a torso doing things separately. It’s one body, with one motion.

Even though we don’t focus on our thoughts in the beginning, our mind is required all along. If we are off somewhere else in our heads, then we can not learn and retain the basic physical form. This again starts on a gross scale. Our hands are in one place, our feet in another, with our torso stacked, and aligned. Our mind works on remembering all this information, and incorporating it into what we are doing.

The mind directs all this at first. However, when we can practice Tai Chi well. We could find ourselves thinking of our “grocery list”, or something other than the Tai Chi. Then, it’s time to take another step deeper. We learn to focus our minds on our breath. Our goal is a quiet mind, and a relaxed fluid body, which is in constant motion.

When the mind focuses, our emotions settle. This creates the internal quiet. The external movement of the body balances with this internal quiet. The body stays in motion, while the mind is steady and silent, like the smooth, still surface of calm water.

Here is where we find the spirit, or the intent behind why we do this. Potentially our intent could just be simple calmness in our lives, the balance it provides physically, or emotionally. We may not even know what it was that started us down this road, and it could be that we just feel good doing it. If we’re interested in our intent we will find it. It’s always there. When we become mindful enough of what, and how we are training, we find it. 

All Tai Chi practitioners have some intent behind training. We all focus our minds, and find that when we do this we relax. Our bodies then move freer, and move more as a whole. This whole process, mind, body and spirit, was always present form day one. Even when we’re learning how to “Hold the Ball”. Especially when we’re learning how to “Hold the Ball” on day one. For those who’ve taken Tai Chi, what first inspired you to try it? For those who have not tried yet, what is preventing you from trying?

Shifu Daniel Cimino

Needing More Horse Stance

A lot of us have seen the memes that talk about someone complaining about Horse stance, which is when someone else says that they need more Horse stance. It gets repeated in our Kung Fu classes often enough. 

Most of those who’ve done any of the classes at AFC716 has been in a Horse stance. It’s the position we would be in if we were in a horse’s saddle on their back. Our feet are wide, our knees are bent, and our back is straight. Our head, shoulders and hips are stacked over the center of our feet.

The strength that training this stance offers our legs is why we use it. It’s not highly effective in any fight, which is why it’s typically not seen as a fighting stance martial artists use. 

When training Horse stance for strength, we often get into the stance and stay there for long periods of time. I’ve recently pushed my students to stay in this position for 4 minutes. Each student trains it as low as they can manage holding the stance, but going no lower than if their thighs were parallel with the ground. 

The lower we go, the tougher this becomes. Our breath picks up pace, our heart’s beat faster, and our thigh’s start to burn. Eventually, if we’re doing this as long as we can, our legs are so tired, that we can barely stand up after wards.

That being said, this is training for our Kung Fu classes, but not our Tai Chi Classes. The Kung Fu classes require, and build a great deal of strength. Our Tai Chi classes are a re-energizing, or a renewing exercise. Tai Chi builds our body’s energy back up, whereas, the Kung Fu uses that energy.

Why would we want to push ourselves to the point of muscle failure though? I’m sure we’ve all heard the term “No pain, no gain”. This gets to the heart of it. 

Martial artists don’t love pain. We really want to stay healthy and live long lives. The strength we gain far outweighs any discomfort the training puts us through. 

Any of our strengthening exercises builds each of us up. From our Kung Fu Blitz endurance only class, to our Kung Fu Fundamentals classes, to our Traditional Kung Fu Classes, our strengthening exercises do one thing… They build us up. 

We not only have the strength to succeed, but the will to succeed, and drive to never give up! This is really why we need more Horse stance. It’s not about anything but building our strength. Physical, mental and spiritual strength. I would define spiritual strength here as our will, or our drive to keep improving. It’s all there in one stance, one exercise. It’s all there every time we do anything really. We just train this here.

Shifu Daniel

10 Components of Fitness

I was listening to a pod cast the other morning, where they were discussing the 10 Components of Fitness. As they discussed each of them it made me think of how they relate to Kung Fu and Tai Chi. You often hear Daniel talk about how 8 Step Preying Mantis Kung Fu is a complete system. We learn physical techniques, combine them with mental strategy, and add in our Spirit for a three part knockout.

When people think of Kung Fu, or really any martial art they think of all the kicking, punching and fighting. Which is a lot of the reason that people walk into the school to begin with. They want to learn these things. These are hugely important to Kung Fu. We spend a lot of time refining these movements until we know them in our bones, and they become second nature. 

The other part of the physicality of Kung Fu is the strength that is required. We can know how to punch but if your arm and shoulder are weak, the punch isn’t as effective as you would want it to be. This is where the endurance training comes into play.  We need strength to be effective martial artists. 

At this point you are probably wondering what this has to do with the 10 Components of Fitness. A quick internet search will give them to you, they are as follows:











Kung Fu has all ten in every class. Take for example a Saturday Morning Traditional Kung Fu class. We do a quick warm up, working the major joints through a full range of motion. We progress into strength as we complete push-ups, leg raises and stance training. Power, agility, speed and balance are trained once we get into our techniques. The better your technique, the faster you can go, which will help increase your cardiovascular ability. We train hard so we have the stamina to do it again. We finish up with stretching.  Everything we do in class creates over all fitness for the rest of our lives. It’s hard work but the rewards are infinite. 

I was also thinking about how this can be rather intimidating to someone new or someone who is thinking about getting back into “something”. I can answer that simply. Start! Now! It doesn’t matter what “shape” you are in. Start! Even if you can only come one day a week. Start! If you have not done a push up in twenty years… Start! Maybe you don’t know what a leg lift is… Start! We will be there every step of the way to help you meet your goals. Community is everything at AFC716. We work hard together. We show up, we all put in the work, and we will be awesome together. 

One more thing for my Tai Chi friends… We meet 9 of the 10 components… I will give you are really slow high five if you can guess which one we miss!!


What Makes A Teacher Great?

I’ve been a Tai Chi & Kung Fu teacher for just about 15 years now. I have found back then that teaching is my mission in life. This still rings true in my life. I find that I take on that role whenever it presents itself to me, and I love doing it. I like to think, that I’m an excellent teacher. I have even been told as much.

I’ve spent the last few years continuing to learn these arts. I’ve practiced and practiced until things start seeming clear to me, then I practice some more. I love the act of learning. When my eyes open wide form seeing something clearly, when three seconds ago I could not. Those epiphany moments make it all worth it for me. 

This is true whether I’m having the epiphany, or one of my students. This is the most rewarding part of teaching for me. I’m very grateful I get to see this happen from time to time in my students. Some day’s we struggle to keep on task and learn anything. Other day’s it’s like the doors are thrown wide open, and we’re aloud to know what’s behind them.

I have been thinking lately about what makes a good teacher a great teacher? What does a great teacher value? How can I improve my ability to teach? What direction would I like to head in to do this? Thoughts like these don’t keep me up at night, but they are part and parcel to me being awake.

For any teacher to be great they must value learning immensely. You’ll see this in what they learn, how much time they spend learning, etc. They will be bettering themselves every day.

A great teacher will empathize with their students in order to understand where they are coming from. They will be able to be flexible and to adjust what they are doing/saying. They can change their way of teaching in order to show their students from a different perspective. They will be dedicated to helping their students learn.

Any great teacher will be patient and respectful of their students. They’ll listen and understand where the student is, in order to teach them at that point. 

The great teachers of this world will give their students space and time to make mistakes. To let them suffer and sweat. They will leave the students alone at times, and allow them space to work through things themselves. This allows for each student to eventually depend on themselves, not their teacher. Which is the ultimate goal for each student… To know what’s being taught so thoroughly that it’s ingrained in their bones.

The biggest thing that makes a great teacher, in my opinion, is that the teacher is not in it for themselves, but in it for the student to learn. They realize that this whole thing is not about them, the teacher, but about the student!

Shifu Daniel Cimino

Try Something New… Learn Kung Fu

The New Year is upon us. Many see 2020 as a rough year. They’re happy to be done with it, and ready to move on to 2021. The New Year is often looked at as a way to start over or to try something new.

Learn Kung Fu!

As we learn Kung Fu and begin the journey, it becomes part of who we are. 

Enjoy the Self-discovery.

Embrace the Self- discipline.

Reap the benefits of full body fitness.

Become a Bad Ass!

Now is YOUR time.

No matter what 2021 brings you can count on your practice of Kung Fu. There is always something to learn, practice at home, or with us in class. We work hard together and share the camaraderie of class time. It feels like a second home for us at AFC716. 

~ Kate

The Benefit of Teaching

Over past few years, I have found that not only do I enjoy teaching, but also that it improves my own skills as a martial artist. We all know the rewarding aspect of being able to help a student “get it”. Where that light bulb goes off in their eyes. When you know that they understand completely what you were trying to teach them. Teaching, however, offer’s so much more to our own practice. Answering questions from our students, being able to explain each move in detail for them, over and over again, has provided the foundations for improving our own technique. 

We’ve all heard and found in our own classes how teaching teaches us. Sometimes it teaches us as much as it teaches our students. I’m the kind of student that likes to spend time with the material I’ve learned; I’m the kind of student that needs to let the material sink in to learn it. To know it on a deeper and deeper level. To know it “to the bones,” as I like to say. Spending time teaching the sash level students that I have becomes equally as beneficial to me as to those students.

Without teaching these levels we run the risk of focusing on what we are learning. Teaching any of the material is considered a gift to me, where we can learn this technique down to its bones. Where we can get into a crossing leg stance perfectly, and swiftly every time, for example.

I think that teaching offer’s this more than what merely training could do. Being able to explain this to not only one type of person, but learning to pass this information on to people with different learning styles too. Being flexible in our own teaching style, pushes our boundaries open. Instructing not only the way we were taught, but teaching to a student who learns differently than you might. Whether verbally walking through each move, or visually showing it to the student. Maybe even talking about what you feel when in a Mantis stance, or just having your students try. Throughout time when they try, and they become familiar with the material, you can correct them closer and closer to the bone’s of the technique.

Teaching clearly benefits the students. It also offers something deeper to those teaching it. Teaching provides the system with new students, who will become new shifu’s. These new shifu’s will continue to grow and preserve this system as they continue to grow in their own training. This act of teaching improves that teacher’s own abilities as a martial artist. The Shifu’s improved skills helps them teach even better, and therefore, the students learn more as they go along. Like a constant oscillation between Yin and Yang that never stops. This mutually beneficial cycle continue’s on and on.

For example, I was teaching High Pat in section two of Shyun Style Tai Chi to a group of Tai Chi practitioners. Since these students were not Kung Fu students, they had never even thought of a crossing leg stance. After a few minutes of teaching at a broad/coarse level, I went into the details. Being able to explain the fine points of shifting my weight, and sinking. I continue to describe turning the body, keeping my head over my shoulders. My shoulders over my hips, and my hips right over the front foot. Not bending at the waist one bit, but having a stacked upper body ensuring proper balance.

The mere ability to articulate in detail how to perform this “simple” technique, helps me. While performing this technique slowly, leading the students through the stance, created the foundation for performing it well when moving fast. When it’s necessary I won’t have to think about it, at this point I’m on my way to knowing it to it’s bones. 

Applying this understanding to body coordinations 5 & 7 of Eight Step Preying Mantis Kung Fu, my technique has also improved. The timing of the strike, with the sinking of my weight into my stance, and the pull of the opponent’s wrist to my hip. Performing all this at the same time ensures proper control and delivering of the strike.

Whether training on my own, or with a partner, I know the building blocks of this stance. I can use that knowledge to move quicker, smoother, more powerfully, and with the appropriate timing. In doing that I am able to perform La Bie, Bung Tiao, or another throw using a crossing leg stance better every time. This is equally from being able to teach the “basics” to new students, as it is from training it over and over again.

We can know these techniques very well without ever teaching it, but not nearly as in-depth as if we spent time teaching it to others. If we were never able to break it down into its parts and show it to someone, how could we ever think to master it? What would happen if we were never able to help that same student improve and grow? Helping that student become solid in a crossing leg stance, but yet still fluid, and wasting no energy, helps us as well. I don’t think we would know it as well as we currently do without having taught it.

How many times we teach something only increases our knowledge of it. Even something we learned on day 3 or 4 of our training can still have an impact on our learning. When does one ever master a technique, or is mastery more of a process that continues without end?

While there’s more material to learn as we develop in the system, teaching the beginning level techniques from this perspective continues to teach me and increase my understanding. Where would we be as practitioners if we didn’t teach these fundamentals of the system, deepening our own understanding over time. If we think of these “fundamental” techniques as living and breathing, then they will continue teaching us more.

I do not think there’s a completion point. A point where training will not teach us more. I think that, like life is never complete in its teachings, practicing Kung Fu & Tai Chi will only continue to teach us. This will happen whether we train 20 years, or 80 years. 

When training we are essentially teaching ourselves how to do this better and better. Teaching then becomes training, and training is teaching. Each of us teach. We all clearly learn. Both are two sides of the same coin. Neither exist without the other. One could be considered yin and the other yang. Two parts of one whole. I think that knowing this, we can then direct it in a fashion that helps our students and ourselves grow as human beings and as martial artists.

Shifu Daniel Cimino

Losing Should

I have been taking a lot of walks these days which gives me a lot of time to think. Sometimes I really haul it and can cover more than my 2.2 miles. Sometimes I need to take my time and it takes longer than my 45 minutes. I decided that I am ok with both. I want to talk about something that has been rolling around in my head for a while now. It pertains to us all… We are all guilty of it. I decided today that I want it to stop using the word “should” when I talk about the things I am able to do.

Daniel and I talk a lot about how things feel. How the set feels, how your body feels. There is a lot of feeling that goes with studying and practicing Tai Chi and Kung Fu. We don’t have mirrors on the walls because we want you to FEEL what is right… Then you will know it in your bones. So when we ask you how does this or that feel? We truly want to know how you are in that given moment. This moment, this time through, this class. In this moment we can take the opportunity to fine tune what is happening. Whether it’s your balance feeling off or your coordination feels disjointed… maybe your body doesn’t like how you are shifting your weight? There is plenty of things going on in any one move. I desire “real time” feed back so we can help you move forward. 

I hear and read many people in my life using the word “should” when talking about what they are doing or accomplishing. 

I just walked 2.2 miles but I “should” be able to do 3. 

I just finished this awesome book but I “should” have read it quicker.

I just nailed three high pats in a row but I “should” be able to get deeper into crossing leg stance.

I just finished section one all by myself but I “should” be in section two by now.

The list goes on and on with how we think things “should” be. I want us to be AWESOME now. We can always do better and get stronger, but right now WE ARE AWESOME. We need to lose the word “should”. 

The “should’s” have no place in AFC716… I am focused on where you are now and how I can help you move forward. What you are doing now and how you feel now is what is important to me. Talking about where you want to go from here is important to me. Together we can get through anything. Daniel and I don’t have an agenda or a time frame when it comes to the speed of your learning. Every day you walk in to class we are ready to teach you where you are. We’re happy to celebrate your successes even if it’s a little thing like you remembered to flip your hand out in Cloud Hands. It’s all a win. 

We all have goals. Where we want to go with our practice. I love goals as they keeps us moving forward and winning. Let’s promise each other that we will stop with the “should’s”. We deserve to be happy with how we are now and where we are going. 

Ok I will step off my soap box now… hopefully I don’t trip. 


Living A Healthy Life

What we offer at AFC716 isn’t just Tai Chi and Kung Fu instruction. It is more than that, hence our logo fo Kung Fu, Tai Chi & More. All of it is about physical fitness, and more importantly it’s about living a healthy life. In fact, everything taught here has the underlying motive of helping people be healthier.

An internally balanced human being will see the absolute necessity of health in their lives. Without their health, they struggle to live to their fullest each day. With good health they no longer have to just survive, but are free to expand into what they want to do.

What do I mean when I speak of an internally balanced human being? I am referring to a person who is aware of their emotional, mental, or spiritual leanings. I am referring to when this person works to balance those leanings & tendencies.

What we offer at AFC716 helps build our health. Our bodies need to move, they need to be exercised. As Kate likes to say “A body in motion, stays in motion.” This is the beginning for some. 

People see Tai Chi as a slow moving exercise that is not only easy on our ankles, knees and backs, but helps restore the body. This practice is also helpful in focusing the mind. It helps keep it fresh and active throughout our life.

The Kung Fu is a much more vigorous exercise. It is what people think of when we say “martial art”. Yes it teaches how to defend ourselves, but it also teaches respect and care for ourselves & others. With a more vigorous exercise it strengthens the body in order to succeed at learning it.

Our Kung Fu Blitz program is our physical fitness class, which is based on traditional kung fu strengthening exercises. It’s simple, quick, and can provide a good workout for anyone from beginners to those who are physically fit. The trick is to have the determination to keep at it.

When strengthening the body, we strengthen its organs, tissues & immune systems. This keeps the body healthy and helps it avoid getting sick as much. 

The point of all this is to show “briefly” that all these classes focus on health of our bodies, and more. It’s meant to introduce the fact that the body, mind and spirit are so intertwined that they cannot be separated. Whether we’re aware of it or not, this is true. The great thing about the value of what we teach is that it has always been this way. These programs have, for hundreds of years, intertwined in the health of the body, mind and spirit. 

Shifu Daniel Cimino

Our Blitz Challenge

Not too long ago I posted about a new class that we had launched called Kung Fu Blitz. It’s our take on combining HIIT style training with Kung Fu in order to get maximum martial arts physical fitness with not too much of a time commitment.

Daniel and I spent many an evening figuring out the best way to put these classes together. Deciding the best times to hold the classes live in the school, and via Zoom. During one of these conversations we were enjoying a glass of mead (or two) I suggested we put this class to the test.

I wanted to commit to three times a week for 30 days to see just how great it really is. After a bit of figuring things out, we picked our start date. We took our weights and measured our arms, waists and chests. We thought of doing all the typical measurements, but we figured most people are really only wowed by arms and bellies… lol.

For our Blitz challenge, we had to do three blitz classes a week. We had to really work in each of those classes. I chose to really dial in on my low carb eating and Daniel chose to keep on with his normal healthy eating.

I really went back and forth with putting our before and after measurements on here and ultimately decided not to because that’s a huge struggle for me. I’ll tackle self esteem in another blog post.

What did happen over that 30 days was this…

Daniel lost 7 pounds, 1.5 inches from his waist and 0.5 inches from his chest. His arms stayed the same. 

I lost 20 pounds, 2 inches from my waist, 1.75 inches from my chest and my arms stayed the same. Despite our arms staying the same “size” they really toned up. 

Before you get too excited about my weight loss, Daniel’s results are the more realistic results. He only changed his life by including these 3 classes.

I made an intensional overhaul of everything. I chose to incorporate these workouts into a larger challenge for myself. I had good long talk with myself and chose to make some changes with my nutrition, and added more workouts to my days. I am over half way done with the first leg of my challenge. I will share with you all the inns and outs of what I have been up to when I complete it. I just wanted to let you know that my results may not be typical for the Blitz only challenge.

Committing to 30 days of 3 classes a week really gave us good results. We worked hard,  and it proved to us that this class helped us.

So if you are on the fence.. come try a class. We have been having a riot with it, and it’s improving us greatly. The class times are below.

Tuesday 5 to 5:30 pm
Thursday 5 to 5:30 pm
Saturday 8 to 8:30 am

Want to try a class for free? Call, text, email or message me and I’ll sign you up.