Advanced Level - 20 Months

Ages 12 + (for ages 5-11 see Kung Fu for Children)

Some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it.

The final level in the Black Belt course is the Advanced level.  This is where students study the 5 elements.  Due to the more in-depth nature of these modules each one is 16 weeks long making the advanced level 20 months in total.  The key elements of this level are:

- Sophisticated, tactical & targeted strike combinations

- Advanced combat techniques to deal with skilled opponents

- Develop a more complex understanding of one’s own psychological framework

- Learn to incorporate the elemental principles into movement, attitude & lifestyle

The 5 modules in the Advanced level are:

Water      Fire      Metal      Wood      Stone

The Five Elements

European alchemy reached its peak of influence and its highest level of sophistication by the sixteen and early seventeenth century.  It started from the premise that the physical world was an echo of the spiritual world; an idea inherited from the Greeks,  “As it is above, so it is below.”  The other great influence was Judeao Christian ideas, so for example as they believed that the Holy Spirit was able to transform a man spiritually into a pure and holy being, so there must be a physical equivalent, an element that would transform a base metal into pure gold; the illusive ‘lapis philosophorum’ or the ‘philosophers stone.’  As far back as the fourth century one can find references to this approach.  The elements of Air Water Earth and Fire were the basis of all other material and the philosophers’ stone was the element from which these came.  These esoteric ideas can be seen as a map, a chart that enabled one to understand the nature of reality.  In much the same way that we are often shown a model of rods and balls to represent a molecule; we know that a molecule is nothing like this and an atom is nothing like a ping pong ball.  If I look from a map to the landscape I see that the roads are not red or yellow; I know the map to be a stylised symbolic representation of reality, but it enables me to carry an idea of a vast area in my mind and indeed to get from one place to another.  We do not dispense with the map when we discover that the road is grey, complaining that it’s not accurate! 

The Chinese developed a similar system of thought.  The elements are wood, fire, earth/stone, metal and water; they pervade medical, spiritual and philosophical thought.  This five element theory is a map to help explain not only the relationship between the physical and metaphysical realms, but also the interactions of everything.  The universe is always in motion, changing.  Everything is interconnected and every element affects the others, but this theory offers a way to understand and even predict how the interconnections work; cycling with understandable rhythms.  When you see a high wave, you can predict it will be followed by a deep trough.  A feast will be followed by indigestion.  A gentle winter will lead to a lot of greenfly, which will be followed by a lot of ladybirds, which will help many birds begin the next winter well fed.  This approach offers a framework, a paradigm for thinking that should only be judged on its usefulness, much like a map, not on its scientific accuracy.

During the advanced section of Tao Te Kung Fu we develop our understanding of each of the elements so that post Black Belt it will be much easier to consider how they each influence the others and how their interactions work.  This process is necessary as those of us brought up in a western culture need to build these ideas into our thinking from the foundations up.

For now, there are two main cycles to be aware of: the Sheng, or Nourishing cycle and the Ke or Controlling cycle.

By Jo-Sifu Mark Ringer

Lesson Times

For more beginner's class times see our timetable page.

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