Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of the above Chinese character, which became standard in Western countries during the 20th century. The Mandarin-Chinese pronunciation is Ch’an while in Cantonese it is spoken as Sim. In Vietnamese it is pronounced as Thiền, while in Korea – where there exists the largest Zen monastic population in the world today – it is pronounced as Sŏn. The original Chinese was itself a transliteration of the Sanskrit word ध्यान dhyāna which means to train the mind.

The reader will by now grasp that there are varied ways of approaching Zen (mind-training) practice which – across all varieties stemming from East Asia – is a body of teaching styles which point directly at the mind. As a practice, Zen emerged from Buddhist teachings but it can be secular and non-religious. To be clear, no mention of religion or any form of religious observance is necessary in order to train in and benefit from Zen practice. Some schools emphasize sitting-meditation only, others integrate other kinds of practices to train the mind. All schools of Zen trace their roots back to the Shaolin Temple in China. Shaolin Ch’an integrated martial arts and Chi Kung as a vehicle for mind-cultivation and is a fluid approach to practice involving Chi Kung, standing-meditation, sitting-meditation, interaction with the master and Kung Fu practice. In Shaolin Arts, every time we perform a Kung Fu set, we practice Zen.

Above: Shaolin Wahnam Students from Over 15 Countries at the Historic Zen Intensive Course in Dublin, February 2016.

Executive Zen

I am not a Zen master and teach Zen to Kung Fu students simply in the way that I practice it myself. It is however my honour at certain times subject to Master Wong’s availability and inclination, to connect individuals or groups with Master Wong’s Zen through an Executive Zen Masterclass.

You can find out more by emailing myself, John Ó Laoidh at; wudangzen@gmail.com