ABOUT THE ART
Ping Shen Tao: The Name
What is “Ping” ? Lao Tzu noted that violence and conflict, no matter how tightly controlled, could not help but cause negative side effects. The ideal is to solve problems through peaceful means. Ping can be Justice, Calmness, Serenity and Tranquility, or just “Peaceful”.
What is “Shen”? There are more than just prerequisites to gain a physical understanding of our art, and to develop the ability to direct the mind without “doing” at all. This includes the conscious and unconscious mind. It goes beyond technique, in which the practitioner responds with sensitivity to a set of conditions, drawing on one’s full awareness. This may be the highest stage of development for a Martial Artist. Simply put, Shen could be said to be your inner “Spirit”.
What is “Tao”? Tao is a universal principle that underlies everything from the creation of galaxies to the interaction of human beings. The workings of Tao are vast and often beyond human logic. In order to understand Tao, reasoning alone will not suffice. One must also apply intuition. Pronounced “dao”, it means literally “the path” or “the Way.”
“Ping Shen Tao” as a maxim is profound to me. When one is provoked and irate, one can calm his or her heart and quiet the mind to acquire serenity and tranquility. Life is growth. When we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead. The true Art of “Ping Shen Tao” is not just to learn how to defend ones self but to realize that life should be a celebration of the bonding of humankind, not a fight for life. The PST way is all that is true, good, and beautiful.
“PING SHEN TAO” = “PEACEFUL SPIRIT WAY”
At their most basic level, the martial arts are nothing more than ways to prevent someone from harming you. At their highest level, the arts are paths to self-knowledge, brotherhood and the beauty of life.
The martial artist must be both artist and scientist. We must learn the traditions, techniques, principles, and theories upon which martial artistry is based.
We must then practice them with passion so as to properly learn and understand what it is we are doing. Only then can we master ourselves, our lives, and the Arts.
Ping Shen Tao is both an external and an internal style that incorporates both linear and circular techniques. In addition, much emphasis is placed on learning to zone on your opponent’s energy and to flow with whatever your opponent comes at you. Stopping with one counter hit is not likely; students must learn to flow until the situation is no longer a threatening one. When this is done; we have Ping Shen Tao.
The martial arts are both art and science. It can be said that art is a passion pursued with discipline; science is a discipline pursued with passion. Over my lifetime, I have created a successful teaching technique that incorporates character building philosophies with traditional martial arts training methods. With younger students, the art focuses on helping them to understand and use the martial arts in order to develop discipline, self control, and respect. It also helps them to establish healthy life style habits at an early age.
With older students, we enjoy sharing the intricacies of a modern martial way. Our unique style of traditional martial arts training and modern workouts, plus stress reducing Chi Kung sets, allow individuals to gain the physical benefits, and confidence that can only be achieved through effective self-defense training. Basic meditation is also part of the curriculum as a way to help open one’s mind to the learning process. Students are instructed in the ethics of the martial way, including loyalty to nation and family, truthfulness, keeping one’s word, and the necessity to “justify your means” when using force.
In a sparring competition or a street fight, the basic strategy is the same: to cause your opponent to submit as quickly as possible while absorbing the least amount of punishment possible. Ping Shen Tao teaches one to control an opponent, concentrating on balance, leverage, and technique to control one’s opponent and ultimately end all conflict.
A fight should never last for more than few seconds. Learning to control an attacker is the key to ending a fight quickly. If you can’t control a man, you can’t cause him to submit. And if you are finding yourself fighting, you are probably not controlling your opponent properly. There are many set techniques, but there is much emphasis put on improvised problem solving. Sparring emphasizes blocking and attacking at the same time along a center line strike points. When we must use our art to defend, we “use the whole body as a weapon”. This is not for everybody. It is sometime very brutal but there is no question that it is effective.
Stated in the simplest of terms, PST teaches you how to effectively and efficiently control and defeat your opponent. As the name Ping Shen Tao (Peaceful Spirit Way) suggests, peace comes first. Thus, a PST practitioner must first learn to avoid problem situations, as much as learn blocks, take-downs, controls, locks and positioning. To use your whole body as a weapon, you must first learn control of yourself. Endurance and conditioning training is rooted in the basics of take downs, footwork defenses, and joint control. These are the first concepts drilled.
PST’s goal is to cover all facets of fighting, ranging from striking and grappling to weapons, and incorporating all the different martial systems so that any given art may be countered. The main distinction between most martial artist and those skilled in the PST way is that there are no illegal holds. There is so much more to martial arts than strikes, arm bars and chokes… in real combat. We as martial artists should understand the science of body manipulation. Ankle locks, knee locks, hip cranks, forearm locks, wrist traps, and neck cranks are all incorporated into the training. It doesn’t matter if you are on top, bottom, sideways, or on your feet. Once you understand the physiology behind any art, you can apply it from most any position, in a most crippling manner.
In its ultimate form, PST is as much a psychological mastery as it is a physical one. You train to bait your opponent and continuously control him. You train to trap your opponent from any position. You train to maintain control by flowing into what they themselves are pulling or pushing themselves into… don’t fight just flow from beginning to end.
We as martial artists should always be on the lookout for what works and what does not: this is the only true way of the arts. This is why I have gone on to explore such arts as Kali, Goju Ryu, Kobudo, Ju Jitsu, Silat and Shotokan to bring back what really works. Remember, “Ping Shen Tao is not better than any other Art, it’s just some of the best of many Arts combined.”