Everytime I watch this video I get something more from it.
Everytime I watch this video I get something more from it.
“It does not hit.” Flow state. Higher consciousness. 10’000 hours.
And then I realized this is what I’ve been waiting for. A way to express myself. A way to move without the confines of a robotic system – instead a signpost to point the possibilities.
The personal expression of a system takes years. Gladwell’s 10’000 hours might be right but not when it comes to the intricacies of Kung-Fu. Even with a principle-based martial art such as Wing Chun there are too many permutations and combinations of events that can occur. 10’000 hours for the punch. 10’000 hours for the kick. And so on. It all adds up and there is no easy way to go about it.
Wong Shun Leung the ‘Jum’ guy. Ip Man the ‘Pak and Lop’ guy. It makes sense.
And then after a skill is mastered, the ability for it to be expressed fully, without constraint or restrictions, must take many more hours of diligent practice.
The interesting bit, perhaps, is the fact that the flow state comes out of thin air – yet the foundation of mindful practice is the only way to pave that road.
Ramblings of neurons firing in my mind.
I was thinking the same thing myself while the heavy bag swung in my basement between strikes.
The sky is clear tonight. The moon, a sliver, dancing with the Big Dipper.
I warmed up with the traditional forms. It takes me about 15 minutes to run through them all with my incense burning. I put on Labcabincalifornia and snuffed the incense. Hand wraps on followed by my gloves: punching and kicking ensued.
I followed up the heavy bag workout with straight punching and rubber band work.
Cooled down with Heaven and Earth Sinawali.
I talked with Roger last week and he told me, “Whatever you teach me I have to be able to practice it alone.” I smiled – a big smile and said, “We’re same.”
So Roger and Tom and HDS and I and others will go on training by ourselves and from time to time we’ll hook up for a share. And when I’m by myself training alone in the country, I’ll look up at the same stars you do, perhaps even at the same time, and I won’t feel so alone.
Sitting slouched on a dining room chair, legs stretched forwards. Head down. Trying to figure out a way around a dilemma I seem to face frequently, lack of people to train with. On the upside, it has me brainstorming ways of mimicking opponents with the paraphernalia that I have, such as a wooden dummy, heavy bags and resistance bands. Sore from yesterday’s training sessions, exacerbated by the drills I did at home this afternoon. But not so spent that I won’t do my second training session this evening. We plan. We do what we can. Overall, I’m happy; planning and doing.
Could use a cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits.
This whole week I have been receiving text messages from friends saying, “Are you stoked to fight next week?” It’s hard for me to respond in texts.
I am a predator. I am the one you are preparing for in your self defense classes. My mindset is not to see if I can do this, I am not fighting for some mystical cause, all I will do is to inflict maximum damage and subject my opponent to a level of violence that he has never felt before. I will expose him to pain and break his will so that he will make mistakes that will allow me to finish the fight. Every time a spark of doubt arises inside me I extinguish it by training and perfecting my techniques that will allow me to win. Some say, “Train smarter, not harder.” Bullshit. Do both. Do more.
Fighting is complex in the sense of the scope of what you need to know. This is not a sport where you come off the street and expect to learn everything in a few months(like so many seem to think), there is only one way to adequately prepare yourself. Action. Fighting is simple in the sense that you don’t need to do anything more then punch him in the face. People seem to forget the simplicity of it.
My confidence is bred in a real place. Success in sparring and competition. My training regime is simple. Learn techniques that are suited for my body structure and drill them until my training partner is bored of me doing it. I take those techniques and practice them in sparring. Next Friday those sparring sessions and repetitions in the gym will allow me to flow. My mind is clear. Jediesque. I have one goal. Break his will to be in there with me. Make him realize he made a mistake and there is no time left to correct it.
I know he has seeds of doubt planted in his head by poor choices he has made. I know he had a baconator last week. How did that effect his training session for the day? Did he get his max reps in? I did. I am willing to bet he bought the new Call of Duty, Battlefield 3 and/or Skyrim. These games came out after we agreed to fight. I didn’t get the games, I was training. He might reason that he played at night before bed. I was watching training videos of seminars I have attended, absorbing techniques and theories. I doodled and made pictures. I took notes. I was sitting in the hot bathtub acclimatizing my body so that I will sweat more when I need to cut weight and make it easier on myself. I was reading. I didn’t go out with my friends. I said no to drinking. I said no to drugs. I said no to fast food. I said no to meals that weren’t prepared by my own hands. I said no to distractions. My real friends understand that I have a goal that I wish to accomplish and they don’t distract me from it. They encourage me to keep going, telling me that I am doing the right things. I thank them for this. I educated myself on proper nutrition and I followed the diet I have laid out for myself. I was strict when there was no need to be and it has made it easier now when it is the most important time to be strict. I want it more.
The footage of me fighting that he will have found is very old. Countless hours, countless repetitions, and countless rounds sparring have taken place since then. If I fight like that again and repeat the same mistakes I deserve to lose, but I won’t. Funny thing is I have the password for those You Tube accounts. If I didn’t want him to see those videos he wouldn’t have. I am a different animal now. I hope he trained for that boy in the videos because when he sees the man standing across from him he will realize what happened and the seeds of doubt planted in his mind will be watered by his poor choices. I am the sun and I will allow those seeds to grow and flourish. I made better choices and it has allowed me to remain calm and focused on the task at hand.
I know what the future holds for me. Victory. The only unknown to me is if the referee will raise my right hand or my left. So much I want to say but all I respond with is, “Yes, I am stoked and I am ready”.
Beetle is an MMA fighter, living in Chilliwack, BC, Canada.
Friends come and go. Relationships yield love and hate. Teachers change.
Move to different houses, different communities, different parts of the country.
In sickness and in health. In summer and in winter. In a kwoon, in a garage, in my basement.
It follows me wherever I go. Part of my soul, my being, my breath. The most inexpensive of all activities - the only cost is my unwavering energy towards it.
And through all the ups and downs, it has remained constant: Kung-Fu training.
And with this knowledge Kung-Fu will allow me to rebuild my esteem, drag me from the depths of hell, pull me from the well of depression, silence the demons in my mind, kindle new friendships through training and give me a creative outlet to blow off my anger, frustration and hate to improve my relationships.
Leung, Kwok-Keung sifu (10th April 1927 to 7th December 2004)
This is not a collection of words, ordered so as to sound pleasant to the reader. This is a personal message from me, to you, dearest sifu, wherever you are in your journey outside of the confines of this life. Although you died 7 years ago, I wanted to let you know that your memory still burns bright inside my soul. You continue to be the diya in my heart and I remember the lessons that you so patiently imparted to me, a legacy of sorts, or perhaps, when considered in their entirety, a method by which to live.
This method I call Gung Fu, you called Wing Chun or more specifically, Hei Ban Wing Chun Kuen; the fist of the opera. It took many years for me to realize the life lessons implicit in the fighting patterns you taught. My regret is that I wasn’t a better student, or more rather one who was naturally gifted. Instead I fumbled my way through those many years of punching and kicking under your patient tutelage. Now, as each day unfolds before me, I find myself acting in accordance with those very lessons, understanding that you provided a mechanism that would enable me to self-actualize.
I have come to terms with the sadness you created when you left me, on the 7th December 2004. That fateful morning, the nurse at the hospital told me you had died. I was overcome. I take a small amount of comfort knowing that I had spent the previous evening at your bedside, holding your hand. I realized then, as I do now, that you were reunited with the spring of consciousness that blesses us all with life in the first place. And I also take comfort in knowing that we will meet again one day, on the precipice of consciousness where our journey, which will likely take another form, will no doubt continue.
I still train most days. In fact, tonight my fists are sore from punching. I still practice the forms from Wing Chun and you will be proud to know that I try my hardest to teach Gung Fu in a way that brings your beautiful art justice. I miss you.
Needles in the West come with tubes. That’s so us inept acupunks don’t have to drive a needle freehand. …and there’s some BS that the medical industry tries to force down our throats about keeping the body of the needle clean. If only they knew the freehand techniques of China…
But it’s all about the tap. The moment just before I tap the needle into my patient with my forefinger is the most important time. Silence. Concentration. Ging.
In observation mode. Fully aware that I have been in a foul mood for a few days, perhaps even a few weeks. I acknowledge the feelings that have gripped me and instead of fighting against them I surrender. Allowing the cascade of darkened thoughts to exist without struggle and washing away any guilt associated with having such thoughts.
Irrespective of how things play out, I know that work still has to be done. Sullen leathery gloves must strike heavy bags. Heart rate must be raised and the sweat of toil must drip.
and moon-struck madness.”
Something has plagued me for 17 years – an emptiness that I will attempt to explain. For comparison, I will first comment on a couple of things to paint a better picture.
I’m really good at a few things. Not being cocky, but I can feel down to my core that I excel at certain things. Acupuncture/Chinese medicine comes easy. Patients come in, explain their health concerns, touch their own bodies to express where the discomfort or malfunction is occurring and my brain starts buzzing with treatment protocols so fast I have to write them down right away before they fly away. I know I’m good. I know I’m good because it’s effortless and the picture I have in my head as to what success is – I’m living it – or at least I feel I’m close to living it.
I also enjoy writing. I’ve got a few projects on the go. Words come to me like acupoints floating in the wind. I know I’m good because it comes effortlessly and the picture I have in my head what success is – I’m living it – getting things published and working on bigger works.
Martial arts in my life has been a strange beast. I’m a tortured soul with it in my life…and yet if I were to let it go it would haunt me until the end of days. Thing is – I don’t know what ‘good’ looks like in martial arts land. And when I say ‘good’ I don’t mean your good or some authority’s good – I mean the good in my head: what I think success looks like in the study of martial arts. I can’t figure it out. I just don’t feel like I’m any good at martial arts.
So, like Bruce Wayne, I feel like something is missing. And so I wait. And I train. And chase something resembling a fragment of a shadow of a thing I don’t even know exists.
I’ve been told by my learned friend to fill the space during our Gung Fu (Wing Chun) training sessions. The concept seemed simple; something that made sense at the time, but I now realize that it hadn’t quite fully formed in my mind, until now.
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to train in a sport kickboxing club with a bunch of jiu jitsu fighters. An interesting environment in which to find myself. However as my training partners are primarily grapplers, much of the time is spent on fundamental techniques, with little theory. One thing I noticed was that the students were not actively encouraged to fill space in the way that I had been taught. In Gung Fu, we fill the space generally by way of a well-timed and precise strike, either to cause damage, or to create a window by which we can escape. As an example, the double jab is a beautiful way of both delivering power or alternatively, as a movement used to plug the gap between you and your opponent. It enables you to keep pressure on the opponent and can be used as an effective bridge for the next shot or to allow you to fall back into immediate cover or to create some distance.
I thought it strange that I never saw the bigger picture of consuming that space while training Gung Fu with my learned friend. Then I realized I spent all that time with him fighting over control of that very space.
If you meddle too much, I’m going to drop you like a hot potato.
A fleeting character study is undertaken as I look at the dusty window to see my own reflection. Tie, white shirt, even mouth, hinting a smile. Sherlock Holmes was perpetually bored, other than the times when he applied a frenzied energy during crime investigation. He found boredom so troublesome that he turned to opiates to help carry him through the monotony of day-to-day life. Schopenhauer wrote that “the two enemies of happiness are pain and boredom”. I am inclined to agree with this, especially here. Especially now. I find myself sitting in Starbucks, minding my own business. Face buried in my laptop writing about the very topic that seems to stalk my very existence at the first hint of vacated time; boredom.
On the upside however it gives me time to plot out, with diamond cut precision, what I intend to train tonight. Along with heavy bag punching, I have a set of partner drills planned (should a kind- hearted, well-intentioned, yet notoriously unreliable mate actually turn up). Some good therefore, can come out of my own pained boredom, the opportunity to plan my Gung Fu training.
If you are wrong about something, I am entirely convinced that the universe/source/whathaveyou will conspire to send you a message.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about how I don’t find relaxing too much does anything for your kung-fu. I mean, what good is getting all ‘relaxed’ for? When the sh*t hits the fan and there’s nothing but tension?
And then there’s one of my training partners. He’s new and comes once every two weeks. Most of the time, I can get guys to ‘get’ Chi Sau quite quickly, but it’s taking me a little longer to get him to this point. What must be emphasized is that when someone is practicing a lot on their own, it’s on me. If they aren’t practicing a lot, it’s on them.
So today. I had the wonderful opportunity to train four guys over the lunch hour at Bushido-Kai. They wanted to learn some Chun and two of them had no martial arts experience at all. They had just finished a 30-minute meditation. I took them through my ‘intro’ to Wing Chun: punching in two’s, Pak Da and Lop Da. Thing is – they were all really good.
So after these events, I took a step back and realized: the group of individuals were really relaxed and that’s what made the learning process work. With my aforementioned training partner, I need to help him with his relaxation.
And therein lies the irony, maybe. Relaxed play = learning. Hit hard = training.
“Love the industry cause I needed a force to work against.” – GE
Staring into a plastic bowl full of mushy goo, vaguely resembling food. Slivers of chicken float on top of some miserable soup-salad combination, looking as if it were prepared in a mental institute by an in-patient. Yet, I chug it down. I don’t enjoy it. Merely a means to an end. My focus is to get this done quickly so that I can workout in the deep underbelly of my house; my batcave, my dangeroom, my ‘chamber’. I’m treating this soupy gloop, the way I treat many things in my life. Actions of a mind preoccupied with the notion of unifying his spirit and body through the medium of Gung Fu.
Unlike many people, I don’t have many distractions. I don’t drink or smoke, and eat generally good food, whilst not always aesthetically pleasing. Obviously I don’t do drugs, play video games or watch too much TV (with the exceptions of Mighty Boosh, Celebrity Juice, Walking Dead, True Blood and about 2o other shows).
Yesterday evening I spent an hour repeating the same punch on the heavy bag with my dominant side. My hand hurt, quite a bit. But there was no skin peeling, no blood nor any aggressively bruised knuckles which was some small comfort. Its hard to describe the sensation of standing in front of a bag, for an entire hour. Just hitting a heavy bag like a slow beating metronome. Mind numbing. I never said Gung Fu was meant to be enjoyable.