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Archive for June, 2009

The Bug Within

Monday, June 15th, 2009

It was an average enough day. Nothing out of the ordinary, when a strange man came up to me at work. I was helpful and got him what he needed, but I had second thoughts about his mental competence. He went on his way, and I went mine, thinking nothing more of him and moving on to the next customer.

About fifteen minutes had passed and I heard a page on the intercom system. It said, “Mr. Decker to the front lobby, REDLINE.” This means to drop what you are doing immediately and get to the front. This is when my spidey senses told me something was wrong. I could hear the anticipation and nervousness in the person’s voice that called me, and I was off with the speed of a ninja.

Once I got to the front lobby, I saw a manager, a helpful customer, and the same man that I had encountered earlier, sitting down on the ground. I then ask the manager, “How may I be of assistance?”, as I pushed out my chest and dropped the tone of my voice. He told me that the man sitting on the ground made it to the front, left his groceries and proceeded to stand on the counter. He then began to undress. They stopped him from undressing and got him to the lobby and called for backup. Since I was backup, I introduced myself to the gentleman and ask his name.

He was very nervous and couldn’t sit still. He then began to take his shoes off. I called him by name, asked him to sit still until the police came, and asked him to put his shoes back on. He said “WHY. I would never hurt anyone.” He then stood up and came toward me with his hands out.

Without thinking, my body reacted. I blocked his hand, moved to the side, twisted his hand behind his back, and helped his face to the floor. He started kicking violently and yelling. I told him to be still and the police would be here soon. The more he moved and twisted, the further I pushed his fingertips up his back.

The police arrived soon after, and my heart was still beating 100 miles an hour. Once the man was off with the police the manager turned to me and said, “How did you do that?” I gave him the best answer that I had; “I don’t know.” It was really all a blur to me, I really didn’t know what I had done. It was pure animal instinct. It actually kind of scared me. The manager said, “Show me how to do that. That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” It wasn’t just animal instinct; it was the “BUG” inside me busting out. I told him I couldn’t show him how to do it. I could show him the moves, but he would have to come and train to find the “BUG” inside him.

And He Could Show Up Any Day Now…

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

We hovered around the door, watching the young man testing play his staff form for a minute or so before the baritone voice of Sigung Fogg asked;

“Would you guys like to come in?”

Everyone stopped what they were doing to find some extra chairs as we tried to quickly (and subtly?) make our way from the door to the other side of the room, crossing in front of at least 3 Sifus, the tester and a couple of other students. Once we got our seats there were three things I noticed right away:

  1. The test was taking place in a school weight room which was probably the size of our big room, except that about 1/3 of it was filled with weight equipment – and that the whole thing was carpeted.
  2. An odd sticky thwap-thwap sound, and
  3. That there was no air conditioning.

As he moved through his weapons sets I realized that the thwapping sounds were the guy’s shirt – which looked like he’d literally been hosed off in the parking lot – thwapping and sticking against his chest.

After the staff he went into his straight-sword form which was interesting as I’d never seen that.  From the straight-sword he moved to the spear form.  The emotions I felt as I watched him try and try. and try. to pop that spear up off the carpet with his toe at the beginning and then flip it around his back and catch it with the other hand ran from pure heartache to relief, to “Yes!” when he finally got it.  He finished his weapons with Yin Ching broadsword which was the same but with totally different emphases than what we learn at our school.  It was interesting though, after he played his weapons sets he touched hands with a couple of people and eventually got what they called a boxer’s cut which bled quite a bit, but it was watching him struggle so determinedly with that spear form that was more disturbing to me.

While he was fighting, Sifu Perry and his student arrived with the benches and everyone was called into the office where we relinquished our funds and were told to grab a bench and head outside.

It was standing in that parking lot, in the bright sun that made it feel like at least 107°, that caused me to briefly question both my sanity and the black kung fu pants and dark shirts we had all decided to wear.  We’d all lined up and had done a couple of drills when Sifu Curtis came out and just started doing the form.  There was no warning, no “let’s get started”, just straight into the form.

With a jumping inside crescent kick.

Over.  The.  Bench. 

Needless to say, he had everyone’s attention then.  Sifu Curtis didn’t speak much; he would occasionally say something like “now, on your own,” or “ok, from the beginning” but he really didn’t need to, all eyes were on him.

“And then you set the bench down, do a front flip over it and bow.”

We finished the form after that final tidbit of information and then took a break to get some water, find some shade and catch our breath.  As I sat there Sigung Fogg came out from the school and as he walked over to where we had gathered asked

Everyone’s got it? Wintor you got that flip no problem right?”

and instinctually, before my brain could even engage I grinned and answered

Well yeah, frontwards and backwards!”

And just as my brain fired up and realized that maybe, just maybe that wasn’t the most appropriate response, he laughed.  Sigung Fogg has a pretty good laugh.

Sifu Jones asked me to write about my experience that weekend and it’s taken me a while to gather all of my impressions and try to get them compact enough for a blog post.  But there are definitely certain moments that stand out in my memory:

~  The thwap-thwap-stick of Dustin’s shirt;
~  Dustin’s determination to persevere through that dang spear form;
~  The searing heat out in that parking lot;
~  Uh? The jumping inside crescent kick. Over! The! Bench!;
~  Not getting a grunt of disapproval for joking with Sigung (whew!);
~  The smile that completely took over Sigung’s face when I mentioned that it was probably time for another trip to Jucy’s, and
~  Everyone’s enthusiasm, to both learn and help in the heat of the day, in a parking lot in Richardson, Texas in the summer.

From a Personal Trainer’s Perspective:

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Many times while I am at work at the gym I am asked about my Kung Fu training. I have been a student of Sifu Brandon Jones for about 8-1/2 years. I am also a personal trainer, certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, since March of 2002. Although I had lifted weights for many years prior to Kung Fu, at the beginning of my Kung Fu training I had no balance or flexibility whatsoever. I could not even bend over and touch my toes. That has changed tremendously through the years.I feel that Kung Fu training is the full package deal. Through the training you can get your body to do things that you once thought impossible. It is a place to work on strength, balance, endurance and flexibility while learning a skill in self-defense.

After reaching black belt you begin to realize there is always another level to achieve no matter how far you have come and much more to learn. After each test you realize that you can achieve these goals with hard work. By the way, hard work is literally the definition of Kung Fu. It is also extremely fun and challenging. I had personally rather do Kung Fu over walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bicycle or using an elliptical machine.

Although I still lift weights some, the majority of my training is done in Kung Fu. I feel I get all I need there.

If you are looking for more of an athletic build and want to get in really great shape, as well as working on endurance, strength, flexibility and balance, and learning a skill in self-defense, Tyler Kung Fu & Fitness is the place to go.

Jow Gow Brent Hooser
Personal Trainer, NASM

Jow Ga: The Navy SEAL of Kung Fu

Friday, June 5th, 2009

The U.S. Kung Fu Exchange is rapidly approaching two-thousand members worldwide. Of those 2000, less than 35 people have earned the title Jow Ga. That’s not even 2%.

Now think about how many people are in the U.S. Military and how many of those (who have the desire) become a Navy SEAL? Considering that the six-month BUD/S training is known as the most difficult military training in the world, and has an 80% failure rate, I bet it’s less than 2% as well. The United States Navy SEAL is by far the best of the best. When you want to be the best, you emulate the best. That is why I use the analogy of the SEAL to the USKFE’s Jow Ga.

Google SEAL and see what is required just to “try out” to become a SEAL. One requirement report I read was three pages long! And once you make SEAL, that’s when the training really begins . . . and continues until you retire. Same with Kung Fu. Earning a black sash is simply the basics.

What is Jow Ga? In Mandarin, the English spelling is jujiao, meaning junior teacher. We use Jow Ga, more of a Cantonese version and explain it as a disciple of a kung fu system. Someone who pours their heart and soul into learning 7-Star Mantis and becoming the very best they can be at it.

When John (Sifu Cheng) and I were young, we traveled with Sifu Fogg to train with his kung fu brothers and with his Sifus, both in Wah Lum and 7-Star. What an awesome experience. From New York to Florida, we (John more so than I) had the opportunity to meet and fight with the best mantis fighters of that time. Only a handful of Fogg’s students ever had that privilege. I’m eternally grateful to be one of that few.

Once Sifu Cheng and I had our own schools, we wanted our students to have those opportunities as well, to pursue excellence way beyond black sash. So, with the help of Sifu Jeff Hughes, we developed the criteria to become a Jow Ga as well as a training regimen to achieve that goal.

The first step is you must be black sash and have held that title for 12 months. Second, your sifu recommends you as a potential Jow Ga to the USKFE board, again, akin to SEAL. A soldier’s immediate Chief must recommend him for the SEAL application process.

Third, in keeping tradition with my and Cheng’s experiences in fighting other mantis brothers, you will then touch hands with other Jow Ga candidates from across the States. In 2007, in Hollywood CA, we had thirty Jow Ga candidates. That’s a lot of people to fight! Now you see what drives me to keep in shape.

The icing on the cake however, is a Jow Ga candidate has the opportunity to engage in combat with a sifu! This is great fun, although often extremely painful for the student. Jow Gas have a separate code of conduct and are held to a higher standard than other kung fu students. Jow Ga is not for everyone. Neither is SEAL. The training is brutal and ruthless but the end result is a transformed individual who is the best at what he does.

I’ll share the training requirements with you later as well as some of my own experiences in training with the legendary Fogg-Man.

As a side note, for some great SEAL reading, check out novels by Vince Flynn and Brad Thor.

Boxer Rebellion v2.0:

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

…”Dude, you’re in my room.” I had to get my legs untangled from my sheets. I wanted to kick him in the head first.

“Screw ‘em,” Jeff shouted. He lunged and smacked the guy closest to him in the jaw.

Then all hell broke lose.

As Jeff swung away, I dove off my bunk and landed into a mosh pit of fists. Before my feet touched the floor, I was blocking punches and kicks . . . all in my florescent boxers. It was so crowded the frat boys were hitting each other. It was complete pandemonium. I dodged tackles, blocked more blows then shoved the clumsy drunkards toward the door, hoping my bare feet didn’t get trampled on.

At 6’2 and 190 pounds and being a football player, Jeff mowed his way to the door before three guys tackled him right outside. All but two of the pack followed Jeff out. Crooked-Nose and Fat-Boy were still inside with me. We stared each other down like old western gunfighters. I even had the urge to hold my hands next to my hips and flex my fingers, ready to draw. It was mid November and the night air blowing through the door was freezing and I really wanted to put some clothes on. I scanned the room for a shirt but Crooked-Nose took a sloppy swing at me. I ducked. His fist collided with my metal-framed bunk bed. He howled like a wounded animal and collapsed to the floor, cradling his bloody hand.

Then Fat-Boy really ticked me off. He charged, cursing my mother. That’s not what angered me though. In his advance, Fat-Boy grabbed my only jar of Jif Peanut Butter off the top of our microwave and threw it at me. I sidestepped the creamy missile and the plastic jar exploded against the wall. My cherished peanut spread oozed to the floor in brown globs.

In college, peanut butter meant survival. Whenever my pockets were as empty as my fridge, peanut butter kept me alive. Now, it was lumped on my floor like a pile of manure. As Fat-Boy dove for my legs, I moved to the side and hammered his ear with a palm strike. He dropped like the Hindenburg.

“Let’s go. The cops are coming,” someone outside shouted.

Everyone scattered. Jeff and I threw Crooked-Nose and Fat-Boy out. I wanted to throw Jeff out. For the remaining semester, Jeff managed to avoid luring angry mobs to our room. I heard a rumor however that the real reason we weren’t attacked again is because everyone was so traumatized over seeing a skinny white guy duke it out in his boxer shorts.

Boxer Rebellion v1.0:

Monday, June 1st, 2009

You know when you have those dreams where you’re running around in your underwear? Well, that happened to me in reality.

One of the craziest experiences I’ve had defending myself was in college when my roommate and I took on an entire fraternity inside our Cracker-Jack-box-size dorm room. He was fully clothed and drunk. I was sleepy and wearing aqua-blue boxer shorts with orange palm trees on the front.

Returning from a long night of partying, Jeff, my roommate, who was also a frat-pledge at the time, threw open the door to our dorm room and announced he was home. I glanced at the clock from my top bunk; the green numbers glowed 4:01 a.m. He was actually early compared to other nights. I rolled over and buried my head in pillows, hoping to return to my interrupted dream-that didn’t happen.

I suddenly heard rumbling–well, more like an elephant stampede–and then angry shouts followed by crashing noises. Jeff was cursing, yelling for me to get up. I shot up, pillows tumbling to the floor. With sleep still clouding my vision, I had to blink several times to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. Surrounding my bed was at least ten guys wearing matching fraternity T-shirts. They were all drunk and mad and said they were there to kill my roommate. I looked at Jeff. He was standing in the corner between his desk and closet with his fists clenched shouting, “Bring it on then.” He was saying this to not only the ten already in our room but to the other twelve crowding our doorway and spilling into the parking lot.

We lived in The Units; apartment-style dorms which were designed like old motels where you could park right outside your door. I heard tires skid and doors slam. More enemy troops had arrived. Through the dented window blinds, I could see the parking lot filling with people. The scene reminded me of those black and white horror movies when the bloodthirsty torch-carrying townspeople surrounded the castle, salivating to get inside to kill The Monster.

“What’s going on?” my throat was dry.

A dude with a scar on his chin and a crooked nose pointed to Jeff. “He’s talking —- (for the sake of any children or families reading this, I’ve activated the sensor button). “We’re gonna kick his —”
Considering that within the first five days on campus Jeff’s mouth landed him in five fights, this came as no surprise.

“It takes all of you?” That was the wrong thing to say but remember, I was delirious, my subconscious floating between the sleep world and the awake world.

“Shut up,” a short fat one said, squeezing forward, “this aint about you. But it can be.” …