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Archive for June, 2010

The Hole Inside

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

The Kung Fu that Sifu Jones teaches fills the hole inside me. Wow, what a statement. Let me clarify. I believe that most of us at some point feel incomplete. That we’re missing something in life. But we continue on doing the same old thing. Work, sleep, eat, entertain ourselves, go to church, spend time with family, etc.: all the things that we have found that we need. But what if you still feel that something is missing? Then you read a book, watch a movie or meet someone. And then you think, “What about martial arts?”. Then you start looking at different schools in your area. You go to some classes, maybe you participate or just sit and watch. You have searched online, looking for advice about how to choose a martial art. You have read hundreds of articles about which one is the best. But the problem is that everyone says that theirs is the best. Karate is the best; no, Tae Kwon Do is the best; no, Kung Fu is the best; no Aikido is the best; no, Boxing is the best. You get so confused about which is the best that you think that you’ll just pick the cheapest school because they’re all the same. Then you go to one more school to try it out. You walk up expecting the same old thing. But during you time there, you start to feel good, excited to be learning, and part of the group. At the end of class you go to the instructor and ask about how to join. You don’t wait for anyone to ask you if you are interested, you just know that this is what you want to do. You have found what you were missing.

I think that choosing the right martial art for you is a combination of the right instructor and the right style. It’s not about which style everybody says is the best. It’s not about which school has the nicest instructor and staff. It’s about finding the right place for you.

Stretched Thin

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

I have been asked several times “How do you balance Kung Fu and your normal life?” For several years now, I can not separate Kung Fu from my “normal life”… its one and the same. But I completely understand why the question is asked. The more applicable question is actually “How do you fit Kung Fu training into your normal day-to-day routine?

Now that can be a difficult question to answer, as each of us are different. Instead of telling you how you should incorporate it into your routine, I will share with you how I have in my own life.

I am a very busy person. I have a job that works me at least 40 hours a week, usually more, and requires travel that has lasted months before. I also have a wonderful wife and daughter (and expecting another in Sept). I also have all of my family and friends, and quite a few hobbies and projects ( not counting honey-dos and daddy could yous). On top of all of that, I learn and teach Kung Fu. Needless to day, I don’t get to be lazy very often.

Fitting Kung Fu in is not easy. I try to come to class and meet up with my Kung Fu brothers and sisters for hands as often as I can. But for the most part, my training is solo, intermixed throughout the day. I try to start and end every day with some Kung Fu. A good stretch in the morning, roll out of bed, maybe do a little horse stance while brushing my teeth, then the last few moves of the form I am learning before getting dressed for work. The morning drive usually entails me going through a form or one of our fighting drills in my head several times. At work, I try to take a morning and afternoon break, and maybe take a brisk walk around the parking lot a couple times to get the blood and muscles moving. Perhaps running a form through my head, sometimes stopping to physically work a move, pondering applications. Lunch time is usually relaxing with a book, but if it’s getting close to test time, or I need a different kind of relaxing, its form time, either at the school (less than 5 min from work), or in the parking lot.

Evenings are usually the best and worst times to fit in the Fu. I try to take an hour or two a week and play through my forms in the back yard, but it can be hard. It may be 9:30 or 10:30 before I can even start, and after a long day, feeling exhausted, it can be difficult to actually get out and do it. But it is so very rewarding when I do. If I don’t get a chance to get outside, then I will play a form or two before showering (or while in the shower), then some more horse stance while brushing the teeth. After that, laying in bed, I will work for a bit on feeling/controlling my Chi. Many times the last thing to go through my head at night is Kung Fu related.

It all comes down to fitting it in wherever you can, however you can. This usually requires some sort of sacrifice of doing something else, from watching TV, to sleeping, or another hobby. By and far, though, the greatest asset to my Kung Fu outside of the school is my wonderful supportive wife. It was actually her urging, many years ago, that got me to visit Tyler Kung Fu and Fitness, which greatly changed my life for the better.

So to all of the Kung Fu wives, husbands, parents, and children who support your loved ones Kung Fu aspirations; THANK YOU. For without, you, we could not do this which brings us so much happiness!

Become the Principles: Part I in the series

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

The young monk slowly picked himself up off the hard brick floor. He tried to ignore his kung fu brothers’ whispers but Grandmaster’s disapproving stare hit him harder than his opponent’s tiger claw just did. He stifled a groan when he stood straight. Every joint in his body ached, even among his toes. The puffy knot above his left eye throbbed as a hundred of tiny beads of sweat, mixed with rivulets of blood, rolled off his bruised, bald head.

Ashamed, the young monk stared at the floor. “Grandmaster, I’ve studied and memorized the combat principles, yet I can never defeat my brothers.”

From the raised platform, Grandmaster rose from his seat. His traditional orange robe rippled in the afternoon breeze as he walked to the edge of the stage and looked at the wounded young man slumped beneath him. He smiled, stroking his long white beard as he remembered saying those exact words to his grandmaster so long ago. He nodded, agreeing with his thoughts. Time is the answer. He spoke to the monk.

“Memorized the principles, yes, but you have not become them.” The wise master bowed and left training hall.

I remember memorizing the twelve soft principles of 7-Star Mantis years ago. I was so proud of myself. I could speak of the principles as if I were a kung fu scholar. But like the young monk learned, knowledge of something (mental) and becoming something (physical) is two different worlds. I can read and go to school for years to learn how to play the piano—and I bet I could even pass a written test on the subject—but if I never once sat down and played, then I would fail my final recital miserably. Totally the same with kung fu. To learn any art you must first understand the principles that make that art what it is, and then become it.

Sifu Fogg always says, “Believe, conceive, achieve.”

First, believe in your art, believe it WILL work, only then can you move on to the conceive part. Once you begin to understand (conceive) how it works then you can achieve it—in this case, achieving the ability to fight like the most feared predator in the insect community!

So, here is the HOW. (Let’s cover one each visit)

Principle #1: Evade full force. In Fu Slang, Don’t get hit!

Let nothing make contact with your body, a punch, palm, elbow, knee, kick, head-butt, a tackle or takedown, a baseball bat, nothing.

  1. Face-off with your partner. One of you will throw only straight punches (painstakingly slow at first) while the other simply moves away, whether this means to duck, step back, spin, fall, flip, whatever, don’t get hit and DON’T touch your partner. This is all about evading. No contact. Do this for 60 seconds then next person punches. Do 3 sets, increasing speed each time. Then go to avoiding hooks, uppercuts, elbows—make your way down the punch list.
  2. Move on to evading all manner of kicks. Talk with each other; ask “what ifs” as you kick this way or that. Be real. Help each other. Later you can strike with long padded weapons, fast and hard, while the unarmed student evades.
  3. Evade tackles. Have partner charge you and tackle you if you don’t move.

Do these everyday, if able. Maybe pick punches one day, kicks the next. Remember, your goal is to become the, evade full force principle, not just memorize it. This is how you do it.

Begin with these drills. Next time we’ll discuss Redirecting with a dil sao.

Oh, please let me know about your own evasion drills. We all can learn.