The human body is an amazing machine. The study of the human body will continue for many years as scientists try to understand how our bodies function and how exercise, proper nutrition, environmental influences, and emotional stress all play a role in that function. At the Gung Fu Institute, we strongly encourage living a life that is based on being physically active, eliminating as many toxic environmental substances as possible from your home, work, and other surroundings, maintaining healthy emotions, using natural remedies as a first option for treating sickness and disease, and last, but not least, fueling your body with a wholesome diet that incorporates foods from a wide base to avoid deficiencies and to give life and vitality to your meals. Part of being an efficient martial artist includes all these aspects. As leaders at the Gung Fu Institute, we model living a healthy lifestyle and teach others to form good habits for themselves and their families. Many individuals have been raised to believe that processed foods, over- the- counter medication, and a high stress life are normal and acceptable. At the Gung Fu Institute we strive to challenge that thinking by educating our students and encouraging them to educate themselves to know what they are subjecting their bodies to, rather than just accepting the norm.
Over the years there have been many fad "diets" that make endless promises. Most of those diets have faded away as we come back to making "common sense" choices about what we eat. If we look back at the lives of farmers of the past, we see food being produced that was in its natural form and had minimal or no processing. Many families are going back to this natural way of eating as they see the risks associated with eating foods that many times have been shipped from half-way across the world. Many individuals have concerns about the safety of processed food and the costs of these foods when they can be purchased locally from farmers markets at a fraction of the price. Eating foods grown from the ground, or in a form into which they have been ground with minimal external influences, means you are getting the most nutrition from that food because it has not been stripped of those vital nutrients through processing. When you eat broccoli in its natural form, it is a stalk with flowers on the end. This delicious vegetable can be steamed, boiled, or cut up and eaten raw with dip or on a salad. The life or nutrition has been maintained and now passes into your body. Now on the other hand, if you go to the processed food section to purchase a dinner that has broccoli in it, it is very difficult to determine what nutrition still remains in that broccoli. Processed foods must have preservatives to maintain freshness and many foods are put through additional chemical baths to extend the shelf life of that product. How many people have handled that broccoli? What chemicals have been sprayed on it to keep it that bright green color? This is just one example of the importance of eating foods as close to their natural form as possible. The more processed the food, the higher your chances of encountering food additives that are harmful to your body and that defeat one of the purposes of eating, which is to give nutrition to your body.
This leads to the topic of organic foods. Wikepedia states that: "Organic foods are made in a way that limits or excludes the use of synthetic materials during production." Many, if not the majority of, foods are grown with the use of synthetics. This can include pesticides, fertilizers, growth hormones, and antibiotics, to name only a few of the synthetics you might encounter. Some foods are more heavily sprayed with synthetics, so be proactive and educate yourself. There are plenty of books, magazines and websites about organic foods that provide an overview indentifying which foods are heavily, moderately, and minimally sprayed. So be aware that those strawberries may look plump, juicy, and delicious, but if they were not grown organically, they may have up to 14 different chemicals sprayed on them. Once again, one of the main functions of eating is to put nutrient food in our bodies, not ingest foods that our bodies must fight against.
Sickness is something that happens to all of us. How we treat that sickness influences the strength of our immune system to resist future illnesses. We believe God has provided many herbs to be used to fight infections and those herbs work gently with our bodies and have little or no side effects. (This is, of course, aside from poisonous plants like poison ivy or poison sumac.) While there are times that antibiotics may be needed, herbs have stood the test of time as a safe and effective means of treating disease. As the use of antibiotics has increased dramatically in recent years, we have seen an increase in resistant bacteria and individuals with weaker immune systems because they rush to the hospital to get a prescription as soon as they have a sniffle. Once again, our bodies have the ability to fight infections if given time, proper rest, and gentle herbs that work with our bodies to kill the infection. It comes back to educating yourself and not putting your health completely in the hands of another. Knowledge is power. When you have taken the time to understand the basics of how your body works and what it needs, you will be better equipped to make an educated decision as to the best method of treatment for your illness. There are many qualified herbal doctors that have written well-researched books documenting their success in treating illnesses with the use of herbal remedies. While prevention is the always the best path, as it increases your body's ability to resist infection, you want to be prepared for when sickness does come so that you have the proper resources handy to assist you. At our institute, herbal medicine is covered in the Jeet Kune Do as well as the Wing Chun program.
Physical exercise is a main component in living a healthy life. When selecting a type of physical activity, it is important to choose something you really enjoy. Finding a sport that involves your family or friends is an added bonus. At the Gung Fu Institute, our classes are fun and give you a great workout. We offer classes for ages 5 and up so you can have your family training with you, which helps develop unity. You are more likely to be successful if you are supporting each other. This is a lifestyle, not a 30 day, or 90 day program. We are equipping students to become active and take care of their bodies for a lifetime. To do this requires surrounding yourself with others that have the same goals. Once you have that support system, you can begin to affect others at home or work to begin making healthy choices, too. Visualize where you want to be in 20, 30, or 50 years. If you don't want to be sitting in front of the TV watching Wheel of Fortune, you need to begin to make changes now. Say no to all day football and yes to taking a bike ride with your family or friends. Challenge your friends to a 90 day weight loss program to get a jump start. Do something physical. It's exciting and rewarding.
Two areas that are very often overlooked are proper rest and maintaining positive emotions. While at times we may have little control over these areas due to external circumstances, the majority of the time we can increase our overall well-being tremendously by making changes in these areas. Sleeping 7-9 hours a night is a great place to start in giving your body the time it needs to rest and recover from the demands of the day. Take care to guard that precious time-your body depends on it. You may need to invest in blinds for your windows, a fan to block out noise from your neighborhood, or a nature sounds CD to calm your mind and help you wind down and prepare for sleep. Do whatever works for you and stick to it. Emotional well- being may take more time to establish, but each step you make will bring you closer to a more fulfilling life. At the Gung Fu Institute we have students from all religious backgrounds, though David and Toni Gallaher are Christians. Love is the foundational teaching of Jesus and we believe it is what we need to strive for in our lives. Love includes actions like forgiveness, grace, giving, patience and kindness, among others. For individuals who want to have peace in their lives and be a positive influence in their environments, you should begin learning about these qualities and implement them into your life. Once you take the focus off your negative habits and begin to reach out to others and establish positive habits, you will quickly begin to experience the joy of giving and of being a help to others.
At the Gung Fu Institute we emphasis the whole package. It's not enough to just fight well or eat healthily. We want our students to evaluate their lives and eliminate the negative, destructive elements and replace them with positive, enriching habits that will change you from the inside as well as the outside. Taking care of yourself and reaching your full potential is one step, but this can lead to selfishness and self-centeredness if not balanced with seeking to positively influence others and encouraging others to do the same. Our society needs strong individuals that won't compromise-men, women, and children who stand for something honorable, who refuse to fall prey to peer pressure and ridicule for challenging that which is expected, but which only produces death. We make no apologies for what we stand for. We are proud of our values and we hope to pass them on to many future generations. We welcome you to join us in our journey. A journey of no regrets.