The Journey Begins
When Chris Workman was 14 years old, he found himself drawn to the mystical and disciplined world of martial arts. Embarking on a journey through various styles – Aikido, Karate, Kempo, and Jeet Kune Do – he displayed an insatiable curiosity. Rather than simply accepting techniques at face value, he probed deeper, questioning the intricacies of every move. Interestingly, while many could demonstrate a technique, few could explain the why it was effective.
During Chris’ collegiate years he developed a passion for physics. This scientific mindset reshaped his martial arts perspective: every technique, he believed, was governed by certain undeniable principles.
Challenges in the Landscape
As Chris deepened his understanding, he saw three major problems with how martial arts were being taught:
- Surface-level Mastery: The rush to earn a black sash and immediately transition into teaching led to a dissemination of basic, sometimes flawed, knowledge. A black sash or belt is really only a mark of foundational proficiency; it means you have learned the basics of the art, not that you are a master. The problem was that these first level black sashes stopped studying and making progression on their own martial art. As these entry level teachers were creating more black sashes, their teaching became more watered-down with each successive generation of black-sashes-turned-teachers.
- Lack of Foundational Understanding: Even higher-ranked practitioners and so called masters could execute techniques but did not understand why a technique worked or failed or what made it effective. Too often, their explanation was, “this is what they were taught.”
- Focusing on Money Over Genuine Instruction: The business model of many schools seemed more centered on locking students into increasingly more expensive contracts rather than fostering an environment of genuine learning and growth. While money is important for any business, it seemed that the incentives were misaligned.
Determined to challenge the status quo, Chris ventured out, seeking those who possessed both depth and understanding. His search culminated in training with Shaolin monks, guardians of ancient techniques and wisdom. This transformative experience equipped him with the depth he yearned for in both Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi. He also met his Shaolin Arts co-founder, Kerry Gracey, who shared his ideals and passion for better martial arts schools.
The Foundations of a New School
With newfound knowledge and a vision, Chris and Kerry established their own institution, Shaolin Arts, embodying distinctive principles:
- Freedom Over Contracts: Their schools are built on trust and genuine value. They believe that if students find true worth in their learning, they will naturally want to stay. This ideology led to the complete elimination of binding contracts.
- Continuous Training for Instructors: To ensure that the cycle of stagnation is broken, black sash holders at Shaolin Arts are required to renew their certification every two years. This not only ensures consistent growth but also upholds the school’s commitment to depth and understanding.
- Nurturing Authenticity: Shaolin Arts’ teaching approach is a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation. Chris and Kerry take pride in witnessing the ‘A-ha’ moments of their students, and their deepening understanding of the Arts.
A Haven for Martial Arts Enthusiasts
Today, Shaolin Arts stands as a beacon for those seeking an authentic, enriching, and principled martial arts education. Every session isn’t just a lesson in martial arts, but an exploration into its science, its history, and its soul. Experience a martial arts journey like no other, where tradition, knowledge, and passion converge.