Sydney Uni Kempo-Karate Club: The Lion’s Roar

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The Sydney Uni Kempo-Karate Club practises Shaolin, a Chinese Buddhist tradition of self-cultivation and self-defence every Monday, Thursday and Friday from 8 pm.

Training takes place in the Group Fitness Studio of the Sports & Aquatic Centre.

Club President, Serge Martich-Osterman, shares insight into the class open to all:

“Our training is classified as inner-work (內工 nèigōng) or outer-work (外工 wàigōng). This distinction is a conceptual or didactic device.  Ultimately, inner-work and outer-work are like the two sides of a coin.


From a Buddhist perspective, inner-work signifies mind work.  This covers the psychology and philosophy of the tradition and includes specific meditation methods.  It’s a private affair, invisible, often silent, and therefore inaccessible to an outside observer.

Inner-work is concerned with the notion of vital energy or breath-energy (Greek: πνεύμα / pneuma; Sanskrit: prāna; Chinese: 氣 qi).

This is a threefold analysis of action:

1) Mind (Sanskrit: manas; Chinese: 意 yì) directs 

2) Vital energy (Sanskrit: prāna; Chinese: 氣 ), which produces 

3) Strength (Sanskrit: bala; Chinese: 力 lì).  


In the broadest sense of the words, outer-work signifies bodywork. Since bodywork can be seen, photographed or filmed, it’s potentially public. Traditionally, even the potentially public aspect of our training is conducted in private.  We don’t encourage or allow spectators. However, intending participants are always welcome to take part in our activities.


The techniques illustrated in this article are based on the threefold paradigm discussed above.  They record visible body movements and represent the public phase of our activity.

The techniques begin by directing one’s vital energy to the fingertips. This phase of the activity is a mental event.  It’s invisible and represents the private phase of our activity.

The energic component of these movements is experienced as ‘a path of least resistance’.  

This means that while from the agonist’s point of view, the techniques are easy to perform, from the antagonist’s point of view; they’re difficult (if not impossible) to resist.     

Please note that the ‘releases’ and ‘throws’ based on wrist holding are not predicated on the assumption that an assailant is likely to grab you by the wrist!  They’re simply exercises that cultivate the efficient exertion and direction of vital energy.

Once mastered, this process is applied in deflecting blows, striking sensitive areas, locking joints, throwing, or breaking holds. 


This is a brief introduction to the theoretical basis of our training.  It is a non-dual approach to life, where the notions of ‘body’ and ‘mind’ are seen as co-dependent designations.”

(Editor’s Note:  The title, “The Lion’s Roar,” is the Buddha’s call to awakening. It is a challenge to overcome ignorance and fulfill one’s potential. In our tradition, this signifies the non-dual cultivation of body-mind).