Wandering Warrior- Qigong


Wandering Warrior- Qigong

By Jill Roth

This month we’ll be entering the amazing world of Qigong with the gentle guidance of Bina Bou. Bina is a certified instructor of Qigong and Tai Chi who enjoys sharing her knowledge with her students in Cave Creek and other locations in the Phoenix, Arizona area.

I began with Bina’s website (www.binabouchi.com), which answers the question “What is Qigong?” Long used in training for the martial arts, Qigong is described by Bina as an exercise “designed to cultivate your Mind,Body, and your Spirit; and revitalize your Chi, the life force energy, by deep breathing and synchronized movements.”Qi or Chi means energy—a resource so essential it is impossible to define or translate Gong or Kung means to cultivate—a practice or methodology.

Qigong, therefore, refers to the exercise of one’s internal energy, and is a path to Mindfulness. Intention – Attention – Repetition – Guidance.

While everyone has Qi, most people don’t know how to tap its potential for healing and stress management. Qigong training allows practitioners to learn to relax and develop their mind-body connection. Through slow and gentle movements, Qigong has the practical benefits of providing balance and enhancing the body’s own natural healing—benefits which are documented in numerous medical publications.

With this background on the Qigong tradition, I attended one of Bina’s classes. To warm up, the group of about 24 gathered together in a large circle. You could feel the effervescent energy rippling around the room. We started with some wonderful, uplifting music and reflexology for the feet. We accomplished this
by walking in a giant circle, first on our toes, then on our heels, followed by the outsides of our feet, and finally on the insides of our feet. Next, we continued to walk while kicking out to the front, and then kicking our tushes, kicking out sideways, and lastly, marching with our knees up high. The room was filled with smiling faces, exuberant walking, and good cheer. Oh, and did I mention that the participants in the class ranged in age from 55–83?

Qigong can be used for its martial, healing, or meditative aspects. Bina says that Qigong is the mother of all martial arts, and that with slight variations it can be used for each of these goals. According to Dr. Jwing-ming Yang, a well-known teacher and author in the field, there are two separate trains of thought in the Qigong schools focused on martial arts. One, Nei Dan, believes that one should build Qi in the body and then have that spread to the limbs to increase their martial effectiveness. The other, Wai Dan, follows the belief that you should build up the Qi in your limbs and then have it flow inward to your internal Qi. This type of Qi can be used to “energize the skin and the muscles, enabling them to resist a blow without injury.” Both schools teach that by harnessing the focus of the mind (Yi), you can send Qi to the muscles and increase your fighting effectiveness. The progression of acupuncture theory also increased the effectiveness of Qigong as a martial art. By gaining a thorough knowledge of the acupuncture meridians, a Qigong practitioner would know the most effective cavities to hit and the necessary depth at which to strike. This combination of knowledge had made for a formidable martial art.

The meditative aspects of Qigong can be as simple as enjoying the focus and stress release of the movements, or as in-depth as the intense Marrow/Brain Washing, a level of training revered and kept secret from all but a handful of practitioners in every generation. To learn more about this area you can read the Marrow/Brain Washing Classic by Da Mo. Da Mo wrote this book about energizing the brain and attaining enlightenment after nine years ofseclusion in a Shaolin Temple.

Bina Bou has focused her practice on the healing properties of Qigong. I was impressed by how her students were brimming with health. Don’t be mistaken— many of her students have faced and overcome health obstacles that would have stopped others in their tracks. Take, for example, Debra, who developed a serious illness and was having difficulty with stamina and balance. Debra had been in a wheelchair before she started working with Bina. After a few months of Qigong practice, Debra was helped to the extent that she is now walking freely. But more on this later; back to the class…

Read the rest of the article and get facts about Qigong on pgs. 40-43

By Jill Roth

Willpower: Practice Makes Perfect

Willpower: Practice Makes Perfect
By Dan Ronin



I remember one night long ago. I was in my back yard practicing Iaido (Japanese sword form) and having difficulty with how the cut ended. No matter how many times I practiced the cut the end was less than satisfactory. My practice finished with me feeling despondent about my ability. It made me question whether or not I had it in me to be a competent Martial artist and if I was wasting time that could be better spent doing something else.

The following nights I continued to practice again and again and again. After doubting myself I decided that it was the practice that made me a martial artist, not my ability. If I continued to practice the only thing that could happen is that I would improve. But why? Why not. Who cares? No one. What difference does it make? Not a thing, except to me.

Ask any athlete, martial artist, artist or anyone who really specializes in something, how they became as good as they are at what they do and you will probably hear, practice. That is generally speaking not what most people want to hear. More than that, it is very difficult to dedicate yourself to regular practice sessions.

You really have to find whatever it is inside of you that will constantly renew and restore your interest in what you are practicing so that you don’t quit. It seems that in today’s world if we can’t become an expert in 20 minutes it isn’t worth it so we give up. Some people are fortunate enough to have a natural ability toward something. The rest of us have to try harder!

One of the most important lessons I have learned is the lesson of perseverance. No matter what happens in life we have the power in ourselves to overcome the hardships and adversities placed before us if we simply carry on. Quitting or giving up is the polar opposite of willpower. Willpower is the well you draw from to help overcome adversity. You are correct in your beliefs no matter what you believe. By that I mean; If you don’t think you can do something, you are right! If you think the task is too hard or the distance too far, it is! However the opposite is not only true but more powerful then most people can imagine. You can never give 110%, the math is bad. You can give 100% though and I challenge you to.

Next time you are doing something you may not be fully into, try giving it 100% and see if it makes a difference. Through the power of your will you can accomplish anything you put yourself 100% into. It starts by setting a goal and seeing yourself accomplishing that goal. Once you set a goal and do something everyday towards that goal you will reach it guaranteed. However there is more than that. Once you learn the strength of your will you can direct it where it is needed. If you truly want to meet someone, go to a certain college or work for a certain company it will happen. Beyond that once you fully understand your potential you will realize that there is nothing you cannot accomplish if you apply yourself. In addition if your will is strong no one can coerce you into doing something you don’t want to! Learn to harness your willpower and your life will change forever!
-Dan Ronin

Dan Ronin has trained in the martial arts for over 30 years. He is a combat veteran who served as a Military Police Investigtor in the Army for 8 1/2 years. Dan offers classes in Counter-Attack self defense for open hands and weaponry, as well as disaster/emergency preparedness.

Contact Dan at dan@roinproducts.com or 602-373-9630





by Jill Roth


If you like music, culture and dance, I have found the perfect martial art for you! Capoeira! This is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that was created by the slaves in Brazil. They disguised its martial applications with rhythm and music. The ghosts of past atrocities add an intensity to this martial art that I have rarely encountered in the United States.The philosophy and etiquette is passed down through oral history, and thus, Capoeira never forgets its brutal roots. Our guides through the world of Capoeira are Professor “Camara” Jay, Instructor Tizoc Guerrero, and Melissa “Iuna” Rex of Axe Capoeira AZ. Reflecting the past of Capoeira, most participants are given a nickname. Historically, Capoeiristas used nicknames to protect participants from being discovered for practicing this martial art. (www.axecapoeira-az.com)

The instructor calls for us to line up for class, and I slink to the back in order to “blend in”. Most of the commands for the practice are given in Portuguese, so I watch my classmates closely. We start with Ginga, a basic series of hand and foot movements used to warm up the body. It reminded me of ancient African dances that I have seen. I’m starting to gain a little confidence and rhythm with this movement when all of a sudden, he adds a step that requires us to turn. Yep, two turns later and I’m in the front of the class. Drat!
Not where I wanted to be. Fortunately, we do several more turns, and I am again in the back. Whew! Much better. By the time we make those turns again, I’m starting to get the hang of it and am not quite as embarrassed by my position in the front. Having survived that, we switch to movements down the floor.

Now, I should say that the website had hinted that we would be doing handstands (bananira) and cartwheels (au). They may have undersold the intensity of this experience. First, we
leap over one of the mat squares, do 3 squats, and then stand on our hands for 1 to 3 seconds. Down the floor we go. Ah, made it! “Very good, now walk down the floor on your hands”, “E”, our instructor, says. “If you fall, do 3 pushups and continue.”

Okay, now I am digging deep into my acrobat training as a kid. I’m feeling pretty good as I make it down the floor without doing too many push-ups. “Ok, excellent, now do it backwards”, leads the instructor. WHAT?!!? Hmmm….we never tried that at my acrobatics class. Shockingly, I am able to do this and again make it down the mat. “Very good, now
jump on your hands while scissoring your feet”. Haha…. Oh, you’re serious? So, off we students go. And, lo and behold, this is also a skill that we are able to do. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am starting to gain some confidence. Time to try some combinations.

“E” demonstrates this beautiful flow of movements that are quite low to the ground and striking in their martial intricacies. I watch intensely as the higher ranks progress down the floor. Truly an exciting combination of steps; I never quite get this one, but our instructor is patient and supportive. In the next flow there are two kicks involved. I’m lucky as we move down the floor this time, as there is a woman right in front of me that I can follow. I note that the Capoeira movements are much lower to the ground, more fluid, and have a lot more leaning involved than most martial arts. “E” now splits us up by rank and takes the higher ranks into the other room.

We are now prepared to work on basics with Professor Camara (Portuguese for friend). He leads our group through Martelo “the hammer”. This is quite similar to round kicks in other martial arts, but your whole body ends up horizontal as you are striking the pad. Professor Camara shared that this is so your face is not a target as you are kicking. In addition,
you continuously block your face with your arms and elbows. We practice with him one at a time, and it is very helpful to watch the other students’ efforts, as you learn a lot from both their strengths and challenges.

We then pair up with a partner and do reps of 10 until he calls us back. Now onto the queixada kick; Professor Camara points out that Capoeiristas have actually woven three kicks into one. This kick starts like a front kick, moves to a sidekick and ends in a back kick. He taught that this “braiding” of techniques is one of the things that makes Capoeira so formidable. This kick is a beautiful kick and could easily be made into a dance-like movement…

Read the rest of the article and the interview on pages 42-25

-Jill Roth

Jill Roth holds her fourth degree Black Belt with the American Tae Kwon Do Association, a Blue Belt in Kempo, a level 2 Reiki and an NRA Certification in Basic Pistol. She has taught Tae Kwon Do across the country. She studies different types of martial arts all over the state and writes about her experiences in her “Wandering Warrior” column.
Email Jill at:



Self-Defense | Training | Commitment

The most important cornerstone for building a foundation in your own personal protection is understanding the importance of training and the commitment level with which you chose to subscribe.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy and the chance to draw back. That always leads to ineffectiveness. Think about this statement. Today I want us to look at commitment in a new, more definitive light.

I think there are many historical lessons we can look at to gain insight on current objectives. For this lesson I believe the story of Hernando Cortes would be quite appropriate. Hernando Cortes was a Conquistador who was tasked with conquering the central corridor of Mexico. He went to the new world with a handful of ships which had a compliment of roughly 300 men. Now keep in mind that the Mayan and Aztec cultures were already in place with millions of inhabitants at this time. Doesn’t sound like a very fun job with odds like that, now does it?

The interesting thing was that, at one point, after several engagements with the native people his troops’ commitment to their job started to deteriorate.  His men wanted to mutiny and head back home. So before yet another battle Cortes sank his ships.

Why do you think Hernando Cortes sank his own boats? After all this was the only means of returning to safety. The Conquistadors were shocked that Hernando Cortes had ruined their only way to escape. But let’s pre-frame this from his standpoint. He personally was committed to the task at hand. Without any way of escape – how do you think the Conquistadors fought? Why?

Once you are fully committed, a whole stream of events is put in motion. Things you probably wouldn’t have even considered prior are now on the table. And when you are fully committed, your creativity and perseverance are at their peaks. How does this apply to your martial arts training? What area or areas within your training or within your life have you been hesitating, holding back, or avoiding?

If you do not fully dedicate yourself there is a lack of sincerity in your actions. Indecisiveness and hesitation are roadblocks that will hinder you from reaching your full potential. Don’t be that person who has one foot in and one foot out so if things don’t go according to plan you have an escape route. Commit yourself to those you love, and to yourself, and to living your fullest life possible. Make sure you do not have the means of escape built into your mind as this will cause you to stumble.

Sometimes we don’t know what the outcome will be. As long as we hold back, we will never know what it COULD be – therefore, dream big dreams and make a commitment. Eliminate the possibility of retreat or failure and begin with boldness!

I dare you to be GREAT!

In Oneness,