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[and it's importance to Female practitioners]

      There are many reasons why women should study martial arts, including self defense, and to improve general health and self confidence. The Kienando Shaolin Kung Fu system addresses these reasons in such a manner that it has become a particularly beneficial system for every type of practitioner, including women and children. This is due, in part, to the relatively open minded attitudes regarding female martial artists found in some cultures in the East. In Western history, for instance,  there is a long tradition of powerful female heads of state. These women, like Queen Elizabeth the First, Catherine the Great, Queen Isabella of Spain, and Eleanor of Aquitane, had the experience of ruling during times of war, developing strategies of battle and controlling their armies.  None, however, could be termed ‘martial artists.’ In truth, prior to the last 30 years, the West has had a general lack of female martial artists - women warriors who fought alongside men, with weapons or empty hand technique. Even today, many women in the West meet certain attitudes about studying martial arts - a certain resistance from some friends or family members that can be challenging to encounter.
          Compare this history to the history of Vietnam: during the period of the Han Dynasty in China, Vietnam was dominated by their huge and powerful neighbor, and ruled by Governor To Dinh, a cruel and corrupt Chinese official. Sickened by this cruelty, two young Vietnamese noblewomen, the Trung Sisters, raised an army and led it to defeat the Chinese invaders. Trung trac, the elder sisters, was known as a swordswoman of no equal, and led the armies herself into battle. Further, the Trung Sisters recruited other women to be generals and warriors in their armies, including their own mother! Additionally,  the women Binh Dinh province, Vietnam, have long been feared for their skills with the proximity fighting techniques of sword and long staff. Binh Dinh is one of the famous cradles of martial arts in Vietnam. It was from Binh Dinh the hero Nguyen Hue, aka Emperor Quang Trung arose, with his female General Bui Thi Xuan and her husband, General Tran Quang Dieu. These Generals aided Nguyen Hue in his battles against foreign invaders from China and Thailand. Bui Thi Xuan was well known not only for her prowess with the long staff but also for her leadership and strength.  

            Now, in America and Vietnam, Kienando Shaolin Kung Fu draws upon this long history of women martial artists to create an open attitude towards the female student. Competent female masters and instructors welcome young women at every school, providing strong role models and training geared towards their specific needs, understanding the specific fears and issues that a female practitioner may face. The Kienando studio is a safe place for learning and practice, where a female student can feel confident about being accepted and understood.

            Once inside the studio, the female student will find a diverse and challenging training schedule, with great emphasis on self defense technique. Many of the Kienando Shaolin Kung Fu self defense techniques come from the Vietnamese traditional close-in hand fighting, as well as Chinese techniques of “Chin Na,”which means “to capture and detain.” These methods are important techniques for women and also children because they do not depend on the size or strength of the defender. Instead, the Chin Na practitioner uses pressure points and joint locks to disarm and hold the opponent. In the instance of self defense, when size is often with the attacker, the Kienando student uses skill, speed and precision use of these techniques for self defense. For instance, in the “Grasping Hand” technique against a hand attack, the practitioner wards off the opponent’s blow with a simple blocking motion, while using a  twist and lock on the wrist to detain the opponent. Simultaneously, a low sidekick in the backside of his knee will bring the opponent into a subdued position. This technique uses the opponent’s size and momentum against him, and is easily achieved by a smaller, but well practiced, defender.

            Therefor, Master Lam’s teachings emphasize the importance of mastery of technique over the use of raw power. Precision and technique will usually have the better of raw power, in part because a practitioner, male or female, who has mastered the technique, will remain confident of his or her skills and cool headed under attack. For this reason, the Kienando student is drilled again and again on the exact techniques to be implemented. Further, the student spends time practicing these techniques as part of various combinations; this practice allows the student to efficiently adapt the techniques to fit situations, creating a more solid and thorough line of self defense in the face of ongoing and unrelenting attack. Finally, the student periodically practices these techniques against the mock attacks of her superiors, testing her skill against the skill of larger or more advanced students and instructors. These practices, closely supervised by her masters, allow the student to quickly upgrade her skills against an opponent of larger size and strength, an upgrade that is very important to the confidence of the student against attack.             


             It is the way of the universe that there should be balance in all things, a wisdom understood by ancient martial artists and chi masters. This balance is reflected in the basic differences of physiology of the male and female form. For instance, while men are usually stronger in their upper bodies, women are built stronger on their bottom half. Kienando Shaolin Kung Fu has developed a course of study that is optimal for both body types, with a wide variety of hand technique and Kienan’s wrestling techniques, but also utilizing the famed Shaolin kicking techniques. The wide range of powerful kicks are the perfect application for the strength and flexibility of a woman’s legs.   

            In order to further equalize the differences in physiology between the male and female body, Kienando students train in the arts of sword, staff, and spear use. These proximity weapons provide reach to fighters of smaller size, diminishing the ability of a larger opponent to out range them. Like the female martial artists of Vietnam, the Trung Sisters and Bui Thi Xuan, female students of Kienando are often unequaled in the use of these weapons by their male counterparts.

            Further, Kienando utilizes Chi energy, the interior energy that can be used to create a powerful force, as well as to improve health and to cure a wide array of illness. Khi, Chi, or Qi, also helps the practitioner achieve and maintain a high level of mental calmness or peace. Fortunately, the benefits of Chi focus are not lost on either sex, but can be used and enjoyed by men and women equally. The Kienando system recognizes the importance of Chi for all martial artists and uses a variety of Chi Gong (Khi Cong,) meditation and soft style, or Wudan Kung fu, techniques for the creation and optimization of Chi energy.

            As the Kienando system helps to create a woman who can defend herself using self defense techniques and interior and exterior energy, it also helps to strengthen a woman or girl’s character, instilling traits like self discipline, self confidence, humility and loyalty. Our testing for belts, or dan, depends not only on the physical skill of the student, but on his or her personification of our nine commandments. Further, the student is required to spend time teaching as his or her skill advances, teaching patience and leadership skills that are indispensable as adults. In Grand Master Nguyen Lam, all Kienando students have a perfect role model, as he is both skilled and powerful, but also wise, humble, and patient. All of our students, male and female, are influenced by his presence.

            I often tell the women that I meet that they would do well to practice a martial art; that it has been, with out a doubt, the best decision I have ever made. I myself am an example of how this beautiful system of martial arts can benefit a woman. Not only has my health improved in the years I have practiced, I have also used the skills I learned here to defend myself against an attacker in the night. However, the traits that I feel most improved with the help of the Kienando Shaolin system are interior ones: I am more confident, more patient. I am more disciplined, focused, and calm of mind and heart. I strive to be a master both of physical skill but also of my own heart and mind.



 Practicing at a Temple in Vietnam Shaolin kungfu self-defense

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