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Kung Fu is Everything

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

One night my eight year-old asked to read Sifu Fogg’s book before bed. Awesome, I though. My son loves Kung Fu as much as I do.

We started at the beginning where Fogg talks about our history, where we came from and how the Mantis System was born and developed. As we read, I try to imagine what it must have been like in the beginning. 

 A monastery in China, Kung Fu, two friends, two Kung Fu brothers. Wait, friends? OK, hold that thought….  One is continually being bested by his Kung Fu brother, long hours of training and work aren’t helping. His brother leaves for a year and Mantis is born by a river from simply being there and through observation. 

 Our art is deadly and highly effective. We learn techniques that can maim and kill. We learn strikes that can effectively stop an attacker cold. We are warriors, we train to fight, we train to protect ourselves and those that we love. What struck me was HOW our system came to be. My son and his love of Kung Fu showed me that our art was developed by two friends. Friends, not through war or battle but two friends with a mutual love of Kung Fu.

As the story goes the monks’ friend came back after his travels and fought his Kung Fu brother, much to his surprise his Kung Fu brother bested him that day. He was not insulted by this defeat, he was excited. Mantis Kung Fu was born that day and it was born out of friendship and the love of Kung Fu. 

 Throughout life we develop friendships and relationships with others. We all have family that we are attached to and we love deeply. The relationships that are formed through Kung Fu are some of the deepest bonds that I have seen.

We fight for fun, we hit each other and laugh, we discuss with enthusiasm the technique that just threw us to the ground. Why do we do this? We make each other better, we motivate each other to excel and train harder. We correct each other and accept criticism no matter what rank we hold. We do this with mutual respect and admiration for each other and for the art.

We are the carriers of centuries of knowledge and we have a responsibility to uphold the principals of our Mantis System both internal and external. Everything we do is Kung Fu; how we act, how we accept defeat, how we train, how we treat others. 

 Two friends developed a deadly art out of mutual respect for each other and the love of Kung Fu. I write this after having spent nearly 3 hours training with friends. We help each other and we critique each other. There is no room in our training for pride or ego, we respect each other as we respect the art.  

These are my brothers and sisters and I am ever in their debt and I owe them more than words could express. They are my motivation, my direction, my teachers, my role model, my friends and my family

 

Life After Black . . .

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

It seems like so long ago that I walked through the doors of Tyler Kung Fu & Fitness…..  a life long goal to be realized, obtain a Black Belt.  Now that I that I have achieved this goal things have changed, in a good way.

1 in 10,000, that’s the number that sticks in my head.  Sifu wrote that only 1 in 10,000 of individuals that start martial arts achieve the Black Belt level.  Why is this important to me?  Little did I know when I started Kung Fu that it would touch every aspect of my life.  Kung Fu has changed everything; the way I feel, the way I act, the way I treat others.  The importance of Kung Fu for me was a slow incremental change in myself that I can only see in retrospect.  Every little step along the way has changed me for the better.

The months leading up to August 11th were filled with intense training often times loosing sleep in order to train twice a day.  There was excitement and anxiety, fear and self-doubt.  I am so thankful for the support of my Kung Fu brothers and sisters during this time, we forged a bond that can never be broken by distance and time.  A bond forged through combat, pain, and honor.  I often thought to myself – how will I feel after I am a Black Belt, how will achieving this goal change me?

How I felt before August 11th and how I feel now has surprised me.  Prior to the test I told myself that this was it, this is the goal.  After the test I thought that I’m just going to train.  I wasn’t planning on testing further; I was planning on learning Kung Fu and having fun with it.  All of that has changed; I am now a Black Belt in the 7 Star Preying Mantis System.  What does that mean?  To me it means that I represent my system, my school, my master and my lineage.  As a Black Belt I am held to a higher standard, the students in our school will look to me as a source of guidance and inspiration.  I feel that I owe it to my school, my master and other students to be the very best that I can be.

Testing post Black Belt?  Wasn’t planning on it, really.  In my mind I’m working through this, and I come to the realization – why train and not test?  I owe it to myself; I owe it to my system.  The second realization I come to, I know so little.  Is this a bad thing, absolutely not!  How great is it that there is so much more to learn!  Motivation at it’s finest, the travel on the path of Kung Fu is endless and the journey is a gift.

So what is life like after Black Belt….  I know it is different for everyone, for me I am more motivated and excited than ever but the mindset has changed.  Before the test I was training for me, to get the belt.  Now I am training to honor the system, to pass down the knowledge to those who come after me, to honor my master and school.  My Kung Fu has become selfless.  In the intense weeks before the test I was talking to a Kung Fu brother about the time and sacrifice that we pour into our training and he said something that just made sense, “Kung Fu, it’s what I do…”  That simple yet profound statement summed it up; IT’S WHAT WE DO AND HOW WE LIVE.  Kung fu is woven into the very fabric of my life and every day I get to train is a gift.

Train hard!

 

The Fear of Running

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

In Kung Fu we don’t run, we know Kung Fu why would we….

That being said, running is absolutely an essential part of Kung Fu training. Why?

Kung Fu like any other training requires hours of physical activity.  In order to train at a higher capacity your body, and more specifically, your cardiovascular system needs to be able to withstand KF training.  Additionally, the higher the level of Kung Fu the more demanding the training required.  Building cardiovascular endurance can be done in a variety of ways; walking, running, cycling, rowing, and swimming are all examples of cardiovascular exercise.  Keep in mind that training is specific; for example you wouldn’t find a cyclist swimming to train for a race (think muscle memory).  So running is essential for training and running is the best activity that complements our Kung Fu training.

As many students I don’t like to run.  As a matter of fact I don’t like to run unless I’m being chased.  There was a time in my Kung Fu journey that I realized that I wasn’t able to train as hard as I wanted to, I was holding myself back and cardiovascular endurance suffered.  It was decision time, either I just push forward with my Kung Fu training and not run and hope that the endurance will follow or I take the next step in my journey and start running.  All of the excuses in the book were applied; I’m too busy, too tired, too fat, and too out of shape.  My love for Kung Fu was and has been my motivation to run and get in cardiovascular shape; it is what drags me out of bed at 4 AM 4 to 5 days a week to run.

Where to start?  Common question…..  There are so many ways to go and so many things you can do.  There are apps, websites, trainers, etc, etc, etc.  Usually simple is better, especially when you are starting out.  One of my favorites has been the couch to 5K program.  The beauty of this program is that it is dead simple and provides direction as well.  As you advance with the running you can add the Chi Running system which is a great complement.  Benefits of cardiovascular training won’t be immediate but you WILL see the benefits.  You will be able to train longer and train harder with your Kung Fu, you will feel better overall, you can eat more (my favorite), and you will fight better as well.

Keep in mind that cross training isn’t a bad thing.  It can add some life to an otherwise mundane routine.  Running should be the primary exercise modality but some swimming, cycling, rowing, or kickboxing thrown in can’t hurt.  Additionally, weight training is helpful as well but that’s another post.

You can do this.