Archive for Bruce Lee

Permanency is Death

Posted in Martial Arts and Training, Quotes and Articles with tags on July 8, 2013 by ctkwingchun

The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.” 
― Alan Wilson Watts

Somewhere along the way, we decided what the ancients did was to be left untouched.

Up until the point before it became a system or style, it was in constant development.

I am curious of the masters of old.

I wish to be able to go back in time to inquire as to what they thought of progress – the kind where things have broken down and need to be fixed.

And for those of us who live in the real world and are unable to unearth The Real Wing Chun, those of us maybe just don’t give a shit – I believe we should just:

Bruce Lee Walk On

Bad Guys

Posted in Quotes and Articles, Strategy and Psychology with tags on April 25, 2013 by ctkwingchun

My son loves to play Darth Vader.  He loves The Joker.  He asks questions about the enemies of the superheroes.

Because, of course, the bad guys are portrayed as having more fun.

Look at the typical ‘cocky Mayweather’ vs ‘humble Guerrero’ picture Showtime is editing.

And being really honest with ourselves, I think we’d rather have the life Mayweather has over some ‘humble’ bullshit.  We love to watch the ones on top fall…

As if there’s something wrong with living life large, if so be your nature.

And therein lies the crux of it all:

KNOW THYSELF.

brucelee

Karate Kid

Posted in Martial Arts and Training, Music and Clips, Quotes and Articles with tags , , , , , on April 19, 2013 by ctkwingchun

I didn’t grow up watching Bruce Lee like so many others.

Being a child of the 80’s meant that I grew up with Karate Kid and American Ninja.

However, like many of the latecomers, I schooled myself on the importance of Bruce Lee and what he brought to not only cinema, but Gung-Fu.  I then immersed myself in Shaw Brothers classics and Wu Xia style movies.

No different than someone who didn’t grow up on KRS-One.

Or Wu-Tang Clan.

Shame on you when you stepped through to
The Ol’ Dirty Bastard straight from the Brooklyn Zoo
And I’ll be damned if I let any man
Come to my center, you enter the winter

At The Playground

Posted in Martial Arts and Training with tags on September 4, 2012 by ctkwingchun

The Funeral

Posted in Death and the Macabre, Martial Arts and Training with tags , , , , on July 18, 2012 by His Dark Side

(Saturday 14 July, 2012, at 11am)

The black shoes that finished off my attire for the funeral shimmered despite the overcast morning weather. White shirt and black suit. It was 6.30am, when I departed my house, headed for Seattle. Ten minutes later, I flashed my passport and crossed the border.

Fog shrouded my vehicle for the initial part of my drive through woodland and rural homes. By the time I reached the motorway, the mist cleared revealing a dull grey slate sky, the sun obscured.

I reached my destination early, arriving at 9.10am. This afforded me time to settle down with a cup of coffee and a book. A short while later I walked into the cemetery with its low laying monuments and headstones set amidst closely cropped grass.

There was an uncomfortable-comfort I found at that burial site, having visited several times over the last decade to pay my respects to Bruce and Brandon Lee, as well as Ed Hart.

A hole had been dug.

A small green canvas tent erected.

Two dozen chairs in orderly lines.

People started congregating shortly after 10am. Within an hour, a small throng of mourners had arrived, people freely mixing, shaking hands, hugging. Old friends, family, Gung Fu fighters representing varying lines, the majority of whom tracing their roots back to Bruce Lee. This gathering brought together the Seattle era of Gung Fu, which began in 1959 when Jesse Glover, met a young Bruce Lee. Together they configured a fighting conceptual framework that endures.

What struck me most about the gathering was the subconscious divide that occurred at the funeral. Seattle era private students within Jesse’s core group tending to remain on the periphery, content to remember our mentor with quiet reflection.

The most notable speeches were made by Bruce Lee’s widow Linda Lee, Jesse’s family members and students. A short distance behind the speakers stood Taky Kimura, a wonderful gentle soul. Within the crowd another friend of Jesse’s from the Bruce Lee era; Leroy Garcia.

There were too many notable martial artists to list individually. Students from as far off as Switzerland, Germany and England. All great fighters in their own right, many of whom remain indebted eternally to Jesse Glover.

The funeral began under the looming presence of an angry sky. Rumbles of thunder rippled when speeches commenced. By the end of the funeral, as the coffin was lowered and soil placed above, the Heavenly host had cleared the sky, unleashing the skin warming glow of the sun. As the world mourned his loss, the divine spirit celebrated the arrival of Jesse Glover. A man who practiced Gung Fu and taught the art of transcendence.

20120717-212303.jpg(flowers and fresh grass mark the spot where Jesse was laid to rest)

Gung Fu Master of Nothing – Part 1

Posted in Martial Arts and Training with tags , , , , on April 14, 2012 by His Dark Side

The Beginning

Wing Chun is my art. It is the art that I have chosen to follow over and above others, which were on offer. I remember carefully considering my options back in ’93, skimming through the back pages of martial arts magazines, searching for the most appropriate style, the one that ‘fit me’.

Like many people who had taken a brief excursion into the kicking and punching arts, I had a small amount of knowledge of karate, mainly through the fanatical dedication of my elder brother. Gladly, the memories have now become somewhat forgotten, possibly by way of forced repression, as they tend to be less than glamorous. However, I do recall myself as a sickly boy being swung around the dojo by the lapel of my Gi, by bigger, burlier students. The style never particularly interested me, from even a child’s perspective it seemed too conformist and uncompromising. The students were often loud and brash and had quirky tendencies to scream ‘KIAA!’ at the slightest of movements.

Thankfully I have since met karateka who have dispelled my notion of impracticality or rigidity of the art.

Kung Foolery

Through the rest of my early formative years I was able to train under the watchful eyes of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and ‘Black Belt’ Jones. I followed their on-screen mannerisms, taking particular note of their facial expressions and battle cries. I recall a certain oneness between me and these iconic figures who seemed to ooze charisma unlike many of the successive line of Kung Fu flick counterparts. In fact, some of my fondest childhood memories were of me playing Bruce Lee aged 6, against my best friend who would play ‘Tarzan Lord of the Jungle’ – hardly the most apt nemesis for our Kung Fu hero.  Never was I able to dissuade him from his method acting choice in favour of ‘O’Hara’ or even ‘Han, the man’. No, Tyrone wasn’t the brightest friend I had in School. He lived in a semi-detached shoe box on Clarence Street and devoted much of his time to sobbing his ‘King of the Apes’ eyes out after receiving a roundhouse from me, accidentally of course.

Even now I am captivated by the enduring image of Bruce Lee. A flashback t0 a film where he draws his fingers over his wound, tastes the blood, spits and ‘KABAAM!… BLOOM!’. A sense of awe washes over me.

Admittedly, ages 9 to 18 were without any martial influence whatsoever. No kicks were thrown. No techniques mastered. I call this the temporary lapse period;  my soul restless. Body pubescent!

Nightmares

The universe is in a constant state of flux.

Things change and they certainly did at age 18. I was out hip-hopping at a nightclub in Leicester Square, London with a 20 strong posse. Following what seemed like a minor scuffle I witnessed someone get stabbed in the face with a bottle. I saw pain, suffering and blood. I experienced dread, fear and revulsion.

I hadn’t lived a sheltered life, but to have seen such an event close up in all its glorious technicolour changed my outlook. It taught me how fragile people were. Before this, I had assumed that no such tragedy could possibly befall me. Surely, such things were just make believe, part of Hollywood machinations and therefore limited to on-screen violence.

Could it be that such atrocious crimes were or could be real?

I didn’t sleep for a week.

I realise now that this single event was to symbolise my first step towards Wing Chun Gung Fu.

The Journey

It took a long while to rationalize the stabbing. Many attempts to reduce the image to enable it to become more palatable. The event also served as my re-introduction into the martial arts. I visited bunch of London based schools; Capoeira to Tae Kwon Do and beyond. Impressed by a few but bewildered by the majority. But even those that raised an eyebrow of marginal curiosity had some defect that was difficult to reconcile. I come to realise now that those same styles were never really defective, if anything, my own prejudices stopped me from seeing their true worth. It was only on reading about the Chinese arts that I was drawn closer to the one I am so heavily involved with these days.

I became more enthuisiastic about Wing Chun. I joined a local club primarily due to its location. The regime consisted of a warm up by way of push-ups and numerous sit-ups. This was followed by the collective of students, drilling a few basic techniques. Week in, week out, I would venture to the converted church hall, to shuffle and shift, in and out of rudimentary techniques on the carpeted floor. I happily paid my fiver to physically exhaust myself each Monday and Wednesday evening. This went on for quite some time until I received a telephone call from a representative of a Kwoon (Gung Fu School) on the other side of London. The chap on the line asked me to visit the coming Saturday in order to try out a class. I was told to participate rather than watch and he encouraged me to ask any questions I had. Lastly, I was told to keep an ‘open-mind’.

That weekend I parked my car, walked around the grey block building and came to a double door with an inconspicuous buzzer to the side. After breaching main security (being let in) I walked down the equally grey and equally imposing steps toward the basement. Before me stood two great doors that were guarded by a dragon motif that stretched across them. The design was heavily studded, was large, red and garish. This in addition to the permeating scent of incense added to the mystique and made me increasingly nervous. Through the doors and dressed quite plainly was an oriental man who was later pointed out as being a Chow Gar Mantis master and the proprietor of the Kwoon. He collected the modest fee and I was allowed to proceed to the next stage.

The narrow corridor led to the main hall in all its gloriousness. Concrete floor, stone pillars, hanging sand bags, wooden men and an awe inspiring, larger than life, statue of the Buddha. I was captivated.

My Sifu

Although age has made my memory somewhat hazed, I remember being in the dimly lit cavern and instructed to follow the movements to the best of my ability. The only sounds were those of the sweeping of shoes that skimmed the floor in their quickness and the divided breath of the nine students who devoted their entirety to this endeavour.

Wing Chun is not better nor worse. Wing Chun is the truth.

We were gathered into the centre of the space, yet there sat, no more than 10 feet away, an old man wearing a trilby hat. Gazing at the movements, yet paying no more attention than a pacifist in a street brawl he sat, watched and did not interrupt. He was aged. The wonderment that would have been his youth had been replaced by wisdom and brilliance. He was without expression, yet he oozed the magnificence of a warrior. He did not move, though I could see electricity coarse through his raised veins, fuelling him, driving him.

When I questioned my peers about this Chinese man, the answers came back in whispers… “he was an Opera House actor”… “he had trained his entire life in martial arts”… “he lived on board the travelling Red Junk Theatre”…

He was Leung, Kwok-Keung, (Liang, Gou-Qiang) and he would become my Sifu.

***written circa 2000

Bruce Lee and Yip (Ip) Man

Posted in Martial Arts and Training, Quotes and Articles with tags , , on January 16, 2012 by ctkwingchun

“You can well say that I do not have any style, though I have to admit that I initiate from my wing chun instructor, Mr. Yip Man.  We had tea not too long ago, and although our ideas differ, I respect this instructor of mine.  Whatever happens, he is my wing chun instructor.

What it boils down to is my sincere and honest revelation of a man called Bruce Lee – that is, regarding martial art (which always comes first), his viewpoint on movie-making, and last, but not least, just who is Bruce Lee?  Where is he heading?  What [does] he hope to discover?

To do this a person has to stand on his own two feet and find out his cause of ignorance.  For the lazy and hopeless, they can forget it and do what they like best.”

-Bruce Lee (excerpt from Artist of Life, Pg. 228)

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