The 5 unexpected and special things I learned from Taiwan's monkey kung fu master Jiang Yu Shan.
If you have followed our journey during the past year, you may have noticed that we have heavily focused on Qigong and Kung Fu but especially Qigong.
We believe in full immersion – in order to learn the essence of something and dig deep into the subject (deeper than the surface), you have to embody the practice and the history of the craft.
During the past year, a lot of new people have found VAHVA Fitness due to our shift in focus. It has been fortunate to get a new wave of people but a lot of of people seem to have misconceptions regarding our background which we aim to clarify here.
Here is something you may not know about us:
We come from a martial arts background (Taekwondo and Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu) which we did in our teens. In our early 20s, we practiced capoeira for two years. You should definitely see the influence of capoeira in our movement flows.
Later, we focused dominantly on MMA and learned a lot about wrestling, grappling, Muay Thai and Western boxing. We are true martial arts enthusiasts.
We have been through an excruciating Muay Thai camp in Bangkok where we trained two times per day. This camp took our roundhouse kicks and conditioning to the next level.
In Helsinki, Finland we started Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) where we got our "initial education" regarding the art of MMA.
We also trained MMA in St. Petersburg Russia where Eero had the opportunity to teach movement training and mobility training to a local class.
If you know anything about Russia, these guys are tough and MMA and Sambo are very high level martial arts in Russia.
We have trained with national champions and have friends who are national champions in MMA and BJJ.
We have also improved tremendously thanks to many individual masters and teachers we have had the opportunity to meet and train with over the past 10 years.
We acquired wisdom from Steve Maxwell – someone who has had 40+ years of experience in physical fitness and strength training. He had close contact with the Gracie family which is the most accomplished and known martial arts family today.
Maxwell was a former wrestler and the first certified Gracie BJJ blackbelt teacher in USA. He was one of the early investors of UFC and learned directly from the Gracie family (he lived 1 month with them).
Over the years, we have had the opportunity to meet and learn from other world-renowned masters such as Georges St-Pierre and Michael Jai White.
Michael Jai White may be a movie star but he is a legit martial artist with incredible skill and knowledge. His skill has been praised by martial arts experts such as Joe Rogan.
In addition to martial arts, we have had deep engagement and research in yoga, pilates, dance, gymnastics, traditional strength training, old school strongmen and a lot more.
Inevitably, our personal experience has also had a major impact on our methods. We study ourselves and obviously do deep research with ourselves and have done so for many years. Everything we do is ultimately our point of view.
This is why a lot of our content is unique and why we are frequently copied. Our work has been featured on national television in Mexico and our content is used as a teaching material all over the world in countries like Australia and Finland.
In 2020 we became black belts in Qigong and self-defence under the grandmaster Jiang Yu Shan.
We met him Jiang Yu Shan in 2018 and back then he wasn't even sure what he can teach us since he had seen Eero doing 2-finger one-arm push ups on YouTube and considered him already very high level.
What's next? Our goal is to join a local Pro MMA team next month here in Dubai. Hopefully we will be able to fight amateur MMA later this year but it's hard to say during the current climate.
Every teacher and every method has been an important piece of the puzzle when it has come to building universal performance and developing the human body to the fullest potential.
We hope this clarifies and gives context to this video and article and why we have been able to present the Qigong in such a special angle.
Next, we will cover the 5 unexpected or special things we learned from Jiang Yu Shan. Many of these we knew beforehand but they were further confirmed.
1. You Must Have a Teacher, Coach or a "Master"
Every great athlete and fighter has a coach and for a good reason. One person simply cannot know everything and there is no need to reinvent the wheel when the wheel has been already perfected for hundreds of years.
Imagine trying to reinvent an airplane from nothing. It makes no sense and probably wouldn't even be possible. In fact, you would have to be totally crazy to do that.
We have always been clear and apparent when it comes to our background. All of us stand on the shoulders of giants. We have been willing to learn from different teachers to make progress and learn something new.
Interestingly, this tends to become more difficult the more advanced you get. Once you have become known for your skill and results, it's easy to develop a big ego.
Yet, humility is exactly what you need to reach the next level no matter the level you are in now. If not in your craft, maybe in something new.
This "white belt mentality" is crucial to succeeding in fitness or in martial arts. You must always be a student no matter how many accolades and credentials you have acquired.
In order for us to evolve and learn something new, we had to become students and immerse in ancient Qigong to acquire the essence of the art form.
2. Discovering the Missing Piece in Breathing
If you look at our videos from as early as 2018 such as The Art of the Limber Body when we lived in Australia, you will see that Eero has been working on various breathing methods for a very long time.
We learned breathing from yoga, pilates and old school bodybuilding. The old school bodybuilding may come as a surprise but many of these bodybuilders reached a very high level when it came to developing the breathing apparatus.
Like a really high level. However, over the last several decades a large part of this art was lost and it seems that Arnold's generation was the last generation that still understood everything on a deeper level.
You won't develop an impressive vacuum and a large ribcage like the old school bodybuilders did without understanding how to train and develop your breathing. This knowledge is something we want to share at some point.
Moreover, we've also attended in-depth breathing seminars from Steve Maxwell who learned first hand from the Gracie family. Thanks to him we also learned breathing techniques from Systema and other martial arts.
If you have studied the Gracie family, they have been masters of breathing for a long time. Already in the 90s Rickson Gracie was showcasing impressive breathing skills in his documentary "Choke".
We also learned from teachers such as Wim Hof and Tony Robbins (which may come as another surprise!).
After all of this, we thought we had a good grasp of breathing and how to develop the body with breathing techniques.
However, once we met Jiang Yu Shan we noticed that he had one piece that was totally missing from our knowledge that we did not expect at all since he was not advertising his skills in breathing at all.
The Breath of Mental Power added a whole another DIMENSION to breathing that wasn't present before. It brought "the aliveness" of our bodies to a whole another sphere.
But what is more important is that it "opened a door" to develop all breathings methods even further. Eero has continued to practice breathing and has had many amazing discoveries.
3. You Can't Find Everything Online or From Books
What a lot of people don't know is that prior to us working with Jiang Yu Shan, he had almost no presence in the Western world. All of his videos were in Chinese (which there were not many of) and he was mostly active in Taiwan.
He was respected and known in Asia but in the West very few apart from a few hardcore Kung Fu masters knew about him. This is why we wanted to learn more from him in the first place – he had knowledge that was foreign to the West.
This was due to the fact that he had learned from Taiwanese sources and books that were written in Chinese. He became our link and connection to the ancient Qigong and Kung Fu that was not available in the West before.
Nowadays, people think that you can find everything on Wikipedia, YouTube and Google. The reality couldn't be further from the truth.
Many Wikipedia posts written in English are often too simplistic and misleading when it comes to understanding what happens in the parts of the world where they don't speak English.
A lot of knowledge exists that is still not exported to the English speaking West, at least not in the complete form. In Russia or China most people don't speak or understand English at all.
When it comes to Asia, these cultures are very secretive when it comes to dealing with foreigners. In many of these cultures, knowledge is protected like it's diamonds (maybe it is as valuable?).
Even if the knowledge is widely available, in most instances outsiders won't be able to understand it or get a proper grasp of it without "being part of the tribe". Everyone can see the surface but very few can understand the depth.
One important thing to mention is the fact that the more complex the method, the more difficult it will be to demonstrate it in the written text.
This is why books are horrible for learning physical and practical methods and can mislead people. In-person learning is the best but videos are often more than sufficient.
It's good to understand that no one who has invested a lot of money, time and effort to create something great, is probably not going to give it to random people for free so they can abuse and ruin the original method.
We haven't taught our training methodology to the public either except in small bits and pieces. In our training programs such as Athlete 20XX you will get a deeper look though.
We are planning to provide more in depth courses soon which is something a lot of people have been waiting for.
4. You Can Affect Your Body and Brain Chemistry with your Posture
Three of our core values.
Interestingly, many years ago when we wrote our core values, posture was one of the core values when it came to our sustainable training methodology.
A strong, healthy and structurally balanced posture is behind universal athleticism. Fixing your postural problems will add more athleticism to your body than almost anything will.
When your body works the way it's supposed to and it's structurally balanced, the human body is already very capable and athletic. Once it's done, you can work on specific skills and power.
One important thing we learned from ancient Qigong was how dramatically you can influence your body and brain chemistry with your movements and postures.
In the West, we almost tend to believe that you can only influence your mood and brain chemistry with drugs and medication. This is obviously not true.
The effects of your posture has already been proven by science. To recap: you can seriously influence your hormonal production (cortisol, testosterone, estrogen etc.) by how you sit, stand and move.
In Qigong, the ancient masters went a step further. We learned that you could imprint different mental states on yourself based on the posture and method that was used. You could cultivate "rage" or calm the mind.
Many of these methods we have already implemented in our regular training (fitness or strength training) and with great success. We will apply the principles of ancient qigong in the context of modern training in the future.
5. Harden Skill Can Be Useful in MMA
When you first start sparring, wrestling and grappling, you will notice that your body is full of bruises. In other words, your body is already getting harder from the training.
After 10-20 years of training Muay Thai, the practitioner should already have hard limbs. After 5 years of wrestling, rolling on the ground should feel like nothing.
Natural body hardening is important but what most people don't know is that you can deliberately harden your body and to a much higher level than it would naturally become.
The effectiveness of this is hard to believe until you see it first hand. We didn't believe it before we saw Jiang Yu Shan's hands and forearms. His hands were thick and hard like nothing we had witnessed before.
Eero had strengthened his fingers before but this was a different level. This new level we have covered in the Internal & External Kung Fu course at WarriorNeigong.com.
We believe harden skill can be useful for MMA. It will have both physical and psychological advantages. It's great for injury prevention since hands and feet are very easy to damage and break in competitions or real fighting.
By hardening your limbs, you will not only be able to inflict more damage but you will also have a psychological advantage when it comes to both attacking and defending.
You will feel less pain (or no pain) when you absorb hits and when you attack, you can attack with full force without worrying about getting hurt. The hardening will turn your limbs to real body weapons.
Are You Ready to Learn?
The best part about our journey is that we have been able to gather all the information together and provide it for others to enjoy and use.
All Jiang Yu Shan's courses are available at WarriorNeigong.com. People have said that this is already a real master's "lifework".
These are in depth educational courses that teach something that is hard (if not impossible) to find anywhere else.
In addition, you can find our workout programs here. We have LOTS OF martial artists from Taekwondo, Karate, Kung Fu, BJJ and MMA etc. following the programs. However, you don't need to be a martial artist to enjoy the programs.
We are martial artists by heart and soul and we created the programs for ourselves and for our students. We didn't create the programs to only improve our physical fitness and appearance but to also give us a real advantage over our opponents.
When you step inside the cage or the ring or have a real fight, there are no friends in there. Someone is going to get hurt and hopefully it's not you. Make sure it's not you.
We consider these programs the optimal supplementary training for martial arts or fight sports. More and more martial artists are joining the programs because many get fantastic results especially when it comes to injury prevention and increasing athletic ability.
If you are a real martial artist, strength training is an area you cannot neglect. Technique is nothing but an application of strength. Without strength and athleticism you don't have a base.
If you are a serious martial artist or fighter, these programs will be a real competitive advantage. You will not just increase your success rate in competitions but you will able to avoid many training related injuries your entire career.
I hope you enjoyed the video and article.