Shen Chi Do: What is this word “Do”? What does it mean? Is it a physical thing? How does one get it? Is that possible? Would I know if and when I’ve got it?
The word “Do” in a martial sense would mean “the way of ...” or “the method of...” etc of whatever it is relating to.
When I first began my journey along the martial way I had no knowledge, understanding or for that matter any interest in “Do”. My interest was only in what skills I could acquire physically, how much stronger, swifter and more physically destructive I would become as a fighter. For a couple of years I continued my martial arts training in that vein. My physical development was very satisfactory indeed but something was missing, what it was I didn’t know. The answer became evident to me one day when my teacher finally consented to engage in free fighting with a fellow student who had continuously been asking for an opportunity to test his skills against the teacher only to be told time after time that he wasn’t ready. Up until that fateful day i thought as I’m sure my class mate must have thought that the teacher was in fact afraid of such a confrontation. I must in my defence stress here that at that period in time I was a mere novice and very naive about most aspects of the martial art. Teacher and student took the stage my fellow classmates and I were the audience. I watched as my teacher stood with such calm detachment from all around him not even looking at the student who had dared to test himself against him. I was nervous and a little afraid, not for myself or my class mate, but for my teacher after all I was fully aware of my classmate’s electrifying capabilities but had never been witness to my teacher’s. The student attacked his teacher with almost blinding speed and a savage ferocity, but almost as though not deserving of the teacher’s attention, the student was repeatedly send crashing to the floor with techniques so beautifully executed they appeared simple. The teacher at times appeared to not even be looking at his attacker, he just flowed. The student bowed his apologies to the teacher and retreated. I felt his pain, sorrow and disgust with himself for what he had dared, but greater still I felt joy and pride for my teacher and grateful for the valuable lesson I had learned. A lesson in the “Do” of Shen Chi Do.

I have now been training for over a decade and have been teaching for over half that time, I see students who fail to grasp the very important lessons that their teacher is trying to impart because they refuse to look beyond what can be achieved physically. They either fail or refuse to understand the oral transmissions which are being given by the teacher. They do not give their attention fully when the teacher is demonstrating and so fail to gain the valuable and subtle lessons which are being given sometimes indirectly. After several years of training those students look and reflect on their progress, not being satisfied with that progress they proceed to blame. The teacher inevitably receives all that blame. I have heard students say ‘this is boring’, ‘same old thing’, I’m not being taught anything’, ‘I haven’t been taught anything after all these years of training’. If only those students would first look at themselves and question themselves honestly they may come to realise that the blame rests with them and them only. The student must realise that in his quest for perfection, for oneness and self realisation, the teacher is that guiding light on the distant horizon. It is the student’s duty to constantly watch the teacher’s actions, the way he conducts himself in the martial context and listens to his words. The teacher for his part has the greatest responsibility. He is responsible for the proper development of the student as his every word and action is being absorbed by the student. He must behave and conduct himself with propriety. The “Do” of Shen Chi Do is the totality of the art: the physical, mental and spiritual. One who trains in the “Do” has no desire to prove himself in the area of combat just to show that he is better than another. He tries only to conquer himself. The qualities of one who follows the way are, to name a few: civility; uprightness; discipline; and good etiquette. He should be humble and respectful of others. “Do” is not something one gets, it is something one becomes part of. If you look for it you will never find it. It’s an experience. Ultimately, it is a way of life. Myself, I am trying to follow the “Do”, my path is lit, the light is my teacher. However, I am but human. If you notice me veering off the path for any reason, point this out to me.
Thank you.
Godfrey Dornelly