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What Does Dao Shi have to say about Meditation, Kung Fu, and Basketball?

Kentucky guard Jamal Murray finished the Wildcats’ regular season with 10 straight games of 20-plus points. (Sean Rayford / The Associated Press)

An excerpt from a recent Toronto Star article by sports writer Chris O’Leary:

Dao Shi is the chief Shaolin instructor who teaches meditation and kung fu at the Shaolin Temple Quanfa Institute in downtown Toronto. A 35th generation traditional Shaolin disciple, he was also a big fan of the Vince Carter-led Raptors.

“The first purpose of meditation is to clear your mind,” he said. “If you want to do really well, you can’t worry about all the different problems or stresses you have in your life. What meditation does is it takes away all the many, many thoughts that you have.

“The second purpose is it helps you control your emotions. You try to get into a state of neutrality.”

The pursuit of that state of neutrality is what pulled Raptors centre Bismack Biyombo into meditation a little more than a year ago.

“I’ve meditated before games, meditated . . . to take good action in stressful moments. I find that’s how meditation has helped me,” he said.

“Before I was too stressed and there was too much going on. Overall it has helped me and I know I still have a long way to go, but it’s one step at a time. You can’t master it. You take away your anger, you help your anger management in game situations.”

“When you close your eyes, you’ll see things, think of all sorts of things. To think of nothing at all is actually very, very difficult to do,” Shi said. “So meditation is a tool and a skill that you can acquire to improve your focus and then reduce your mental stress. It’s allowing your brain to sleep without sleeping. It needs rest, too.”

Roger Murray practised kung fu and saw it as something that could apply to basketball when Jamal started playing it.

“You think about kung fu or martial arts, you think about fighting but there’s also a mental part,” Roger said.

It might be the mental part of kung fu that aligns it with basketball. The one-on-one battles have similar elements, where you’re studying and anticipating the moves of your opponent. As Shi explains it, he starts to sound like a basketball coach.

“Shaolin kung fu is about self-defence first,” he said. “It’s from a self-defence that you think about offence. That’s the strongest way.

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