I know I can
be what I wanna be
if I work hard at it
I’ll be where I wanna be.
I know I can
be what I wanna be
if I work hard at it
I’ll be where I wanna be.
Skill is easy to acquire.
Skill can and should be dispensed freely without ‘secrets of Gung Fu’ baggage.
The best advice we give to a student is to; sharpen their wits, learn how to run fast and should these 2 things fail, punch.
“You held out your hand for an egg, and fate put into it a scorpion. Show no consternation; close your fingers firmly upon the gift; let it sting through your palm. Never mind; in time, after your hand and arm have swelled and quivered long with torture, the squeezed scorpion will die, and you will have learned the great lesson how to endure without a sob.”
***this post is about the suffering required in learning a craft such as Gung Fu.
The rain fell hard this morning. In fact, I don’t think it really fell with all that wind – instead it pummeled. Horizontally.
Looking out past the porch at the back door moments before I would go downstairs to hit the heavy bag, I thought, ‘I’m not going out in that.’
One hour later, post forms and heavy bag, I finished off my burpees outside on the porch.
Sweating, I thought, ‘I’m already wet with sweat. What’s the difference?’ And with that, I laced up my Pegasus.
Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though.
He will not see me stopping here,
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer,
To stop without a farmhouse near,
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
– Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
Intrigued by this concept, I spent some time pondering the meaning of the phrase. The word “sweet” has many confectionery and feminine connotations, but in this context it means “winning and persuasive.” The word “science” is defined as “knowledge and skill.”
Putting the two words together has a truly artful meaning: “a winning and persuasive knowledge or skill that is accumulated and established over time.”
-White Collar Boxing by John Oden, Pg. 18-19
A very fast paced hike with a friend. She’s loved and lost – literally. She’s had significants leave, die, hurt her, etc. Yet, she’s full of life.
She was my guide on this hike because I wanted to see the terrain for the adventure race in June. The single-track trail is rated a 5/5 on the hiking difficulty scale. Something new to train for, to live for.
The topic came about due to her mentioning a personal fitness client of hers who suffered from depression. This client ended up quitting fitness because of the emotions that it was bringing up. I was sad to hear this. I told my friend, “If only she could have channeled her depression into something fitness-like that she liked. It’s one thing to feel pain and channel it into potato chips, pop, chocolate and late-night TV. That’s called hurting yourself – but what if she could hurt herself in a positive way: a fitness lifestyle.”
“Exactly,” my friend replied. ”When I had all this bad stuff going on in my life, I thought that instead of someone else being in control of my pain, I would be in control of it. So that’s why I built a life around fitness, adventure racing and challenging myself.”
“Concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.” Malcolm X
SIMPLE SURVIVAL TIPS
***John David Guise Cannan, the British serial killer and rapist attacked many of his victims just as they were putting the keys into the ignition. He would yank the door open and shove his victim into the passenger seat.
Fook Yueng Chuan or Quan or Fook Yueng’s Boxing is a rich method of Martial Arts that is effective for overall health/fitness development and is exceptionally functional for self-defense.It is synthesized from over 160 martial art styles and Tien Shan Mountain Chi Kung by Fook Yueng who was an actor in the Red Junk Opera and Kung Fu brother with the late Bruce Lee’s father. The bringing together of the styles was more a matter of that it fit together and after 70 years they become “all same”. Fook Yueng has closed his hands for Kung Fu teaching but has several people are teaching his methods.
Fook Yeung passed away the evening of April 23, 2012. Our hearts go out to the family, friends and martial artists who’s lives were touched by this man.
Just finished perusing another martial arts magazine. Unfortunately, I’ve come to a sad conclusion after it all: I didn’t learn anything about anything.
There seems to be little point in contributing to written works and here on the blog.
When the only thing that works in the real world is real world experience, I wonder what words can hope to achieve – because talking about it doesn’t actually cook the rice. We need pour it in and boil it up. Read: do the work.
Therefore, upon unsatisfactorily getting my fill, I have redefined my writing goals. A strong reminder of why I do what I do: I want to help you free your mind.
I’ve suffered. Weighted vest instead of a cilice. Toiled before an unforgiving sun. My hands shake from punching. Lower body sore throughout. A migraine failed to dissipate. And the dead tiredness I pined for, remains plainly obscure.
So I surrender to my wakefulness.
I allow myself to be alert.
As the sun sets, I sit in silence. Meditative.
Tomorrow I will try harder.
Hand wraps wrapped tight. Seams withered soaking crimson water from knuckle cuts, over used. Bone beneath chipped and fractured. Extremities shake. No nerves. Just inner coiling serpentine wiring, frayed down to cells. Muscles taut on stick thin copper piped frame. The last vestige of vigor signaled by burning eye gleam. Ready to fight life.
When the body fails, the soul fights on.
You sure you want to be with me? I've nothing to give. Won't lie and say this loving's best Leave us in emotional pace Mmm, take a walk take a rest, a taste of rest Don't wanna be on top of your list, Monopoly improperly kissed We overcome in sixty seconds with the strength we had together. But for now, emotional ties they stay severed. And when there's trust there'll be treats When we funk we'll hear beats.
“I’m just a normal guy, with things to do before I die
Don’t always know the how or the why
Saw that I seemed to have a mind in doubt
So now I do what I can before my time is out
I’ve gotta do whatever helps my name
If I sleep on opportunities I’ve only got myself to blame
I felt for healthy change, left everybody else the same
All hell bent on the wealth and fame”
“I’m only human, slowly finding my way
Reminded each day of reasons for the lines that I say
I’m only human, someone who makes mistakes
I’ve had my fair share of mishaps and great escapes
I’m only human, tryna provide the stuff that you need
I’m not a machine, I promise if you cut me I’ll bleed
So stop assuming you get less than high quality
That’s got me fuming, and not someone that I wanna be.”
Shaolin kungfu has eighteen different official weapons, but there are forms for more. Shaolin has five main animal styles – tiger, leopard, eagle, snake, and praying mantis – but there are more. It is estimated that Shaolin has more than 200 open-hand forms, but no one has been able to record them all.
Historians of martial arts explain the creation of all these styles either for self-defense (Shaolin was an isolated monastery often attacked by bandits) or religious reasons (kungfu forms are a type of moving meditation), but that doesn’t explain the complexity.
It took me all of a week to come up with own theory: boredom.
Put a bunch of sexually repressed young men on a mountaintop with nothing to do but meditate and practice kungfu and the myriad of Shaolin styles is the result.
- American Shaolin by Matthew Polly, Pg. 91
The Small Idea
My left arm moves slowly forward as I try not to be distracted by the haze of the sun, or the wasp that is bemused by the trickle of sweat running down my cheek. I feel a dull ache from my shoulder. The pain is distant as if muffled by a pillow, but it grows steadily worse. I know that soon my shoulder will collapse with the weight of my outstretched arm. The burden is greater when I make my fingers jut out straight, pulling my arm desperately downwards. I wait for the slight relief that I feel when my arm begins its retreat. I am awash with blissful harmony when my fist finally returns to my side. As it rests, my other arm starts the torturous labour.
My teacher, the bane of my life sits calmly on his chair, in front. He is quiet aside from the occasional tar filled cough, a memento from his previous life as a smoker. I try not to look at him, instead I remember back to recent readings that had instructed me to fix my sight on nothingness, the scriptures that tell me to turn my mind inwards.
Despite this, I can’t help staring at him, his gentle leathered face. The old man is an imitable puzzle. Even with his warm brown skin and light smile. He seems composed of elements from a bygone era; ether, fire and brimstone.
His age was one in which men were not created but were forged of martial metal. His demeanour is that of a sleek sword, slicing rather than stabbing. His hands are of the densest oak, ever powerful. And when he moves, the air around him becomes distorted. It shudders when it feels him lunge and pierce and kick and punch. The air does not carry him nor does it help him gain momentum. When he moves the air ceases to exist.
I continue with the Siu Lim Tao (Small Idea Form).
Older and one is inclined to argue, wiser, I started learning Wing Chun from Leung Kwok Keung (Liang Gou Qiang) by attending classes held at the appropriately named Temple school of Kung Fu, London, England. I persevered despite being at a disadvantage compared with some of my peers who it seemed were already well versed in other martial arts.
I had a desire not only to learn, but to be the best. I think this mindset has been essential to me and even now I thirst for a deeper understanding of this art.
I kept up with my colleagues and picked up new techniques as well as new bruises along the way. It was after about a year, perhaps slightly longer before Leung Sifu finally acknowledged my existence. Uptil then, the majority of what I had learnt was second hand, a result of being spoon fed by one of the more senior pupils.
One day, the teacher of the Praying Mantis School, who was conversant in both Mandarin and English, translated the old mans words to me. Leung Sifu felt that I had come a long way because of my dedication to the art. I specifically remember him describing by meeting his hands together and saying that from such inability I had come to the point which he described by parting his hand past shoulder width. This encouragement spurred me into practising harder.
One day I overheard that a classmate had booked a mid-week, private lesson. I approached the student asking how this was possible. He told me that since Sifu was retired, he was able to devote all of his time to teaching and on occasion allowed people to come to his house to train in the back garden. As you can imagine, I was determined to become a regular and invited myself to accompany this student. Sifu was happy when I arrived on that breezy, sunny day.
Thus began what I would call my ‘true’ period of learning. No more second hand training. Soon after that lesson my classmate dropped out, yet I continued to go to visit Leung Sifu for private lessons. It was a blessing. I was able to tap into a wealth of information at the source. Sifu was untarnished by the politics that were rampant then and continue now within the Wing Chun fraternity. Come rain or shine, I would venture to his home as often as my timetable would allow. I have no doubt that had this arrangement not have occurred, my Wing Chun would not have been anywhere near the level it is today.
I remember being there on a brisk winter’s day, one year, when it started to snow. Regardless of this my teacher continued to teach. It has to be said that I treated all that he taught me as a precious gift. There was no way I was going to disrespect my teacher by making excuses for not turning up.
Fill your Cup
We were in a restaurant in Chinatown during the New Year celebrations. That evening my teacher had become annoyed at an outside Wing Chun performer who was demonstrating the sword form on stage. Although technically good, Leung Sifu felt that he had failed to perform the movements with beauty or grace.
One would know that Wing Chun is not an aesthetic art per se, but regardless of this Leung Sifu insisted on there being a certain way of moving where you would flow. I took from this that he did not encourage disjointed techniques. He would advocate that you should set the movements to imaginary music or rhythm that was prone to changing tempo. Sometimes melodic and slow, sometimes desperately quick. This is even more profound when one considers the chaotic rhythm of a streetfight.
I sat next to Leung Sifu whilst an assortment of other students were seated around the table. Halfway through the meal one of the group offered to fill Leung Sifu’s tea cup. Custom dictates that the tea is drunk regularly during and following the main course to help cleanse the system. The old man declined. Instead and somewhat surprisingly, he turned to me and lifted his hand from the top of the cup. Quite plainly he motioned me to pour him a new cup full. I was perplexed but obliged nonetheless. I stood up at the table and reached over for a teapot. Bringing it nervously closer I started to pour and stopped at my own discretion. I sat down. Leung Sifu was satisfied at the event, which was in contrast to my own sheepish nonchalance. He smiled and leant over to me. “Tradition” he said. I was astounded, considering this made up one of only a handful of English words he knew. Tradition.