Kaizen Kung-Fu

Kaizen is the concept of making improvements to make people, processes, things incrementally better. 

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is one of my favorite movies.  I discovered it through listening to Wu-Tang Clan.  One of my favorite examples of Kaizen is in this movie. 


A majority of the film takes place in a Shaolin monastery, where the main character San-Te, is learning Kung-Fu.  Through each of the 35 training chambers, he is met with unique physical and mental challenges.  Through repeated failure along with incremental improvements, San Te is able to defeat all 35 chambers faster than anyone before.


The justice officer for the monastery, seeing San Te unfit, challenges him to a duel.  In the first match, San Te is defeated.  Using the Kaizen process, he chooses a different weapon.  In the 2nd match, his fighting skills improved, but he still loses.  After the 2nd loss, instead of using an existing weapon, San Te created one.





To defeat the sword, he needed a weapon that could create distance and light for attacking, but also strong for blocking.  He made a three sectioned staff.

The new and different defeated the traditional through continuous improvement.