Saturday, December 17, 2011

Circus of Gladiators


For a martial artist  a martial arts demonstration is a place to learn and evaluate movements and ideas. Seeing the power of other styles can lead to gateways of how to unlock more potential power within our own art. There is nothing quite as fulfilling as feeling connected with such a long historic brotherhood.

Because the arts were designed out of war the demonstrations and friendly competitions are a great way to appreciate other martial artists without having to kill each other. These arts were developed in a severe time that most societies to date have completely forgotten about. Martial arts masters  had a status as respected as a doctor or police. Many of them were very wealthy because they often protected those who wanted to protect their money.

With the introduction of new technology martial artists were forgotten to the world. As my father often says, "They threw the baby out with the bath water." Leaving martial artists today in a world that teeters between gladiators and the circus.

Martial artists in a ring beating on other martial artists for the entertainment of a world that doesn't even want to understand them. Or worse the martial artists that have taken all of the nutrients out of their art in order to make it entertaining to the untrained eye. Ring fighting, no matter how good you are, will leave you eventually broken and empty. A martial artist who uses the art to dazzle people will never be quite as impressive as a true circus acrobat. Both are pathways that will leave both the practitioner as well as the art without meaning.

I'm not saying that demonstrations or competitions are bad. In fact they can be stepping stones that can help us find our direction. Still we have to look at what society sees us as, as a whole. Think about what kind of demonstration that Bruce Lee would do. He would do his best to share with an audience that doesn't understand, the power of martial arts. He would never show you a bunch of fancy meaningless moves because he cares for the art too much.

If you ask a doctor to perform for you, what do you think he would say? Of course doctors have demonstrations for other doctors to further and pass along knowledge just as true martial arts demonstrations. Yet a doctor performing for someone who doesn't understand medicine, is a waste of everyone's time. So should the medical industry suddenly try to find a way to make themselves more entertaining to the public? Should they put fireworks inside of arteries so they may gain a greater reaction from the crowd. A doctor cares about his duties and responsibilities. It should be the same for martial artist. The question is, "Do you know the purpose of your art?"

Some would say, "If you don't try to entertain people, then no one is going to want to see your art." I have two answers for this person. The first one is that someone who only seeks to be entertained would never become a martial artist anyway. They want to find something to fill the void in their own bored life. If I entertain a crowd of thousands, I may pull in ten or twenty good students. Students that came because they felt something within.

Secondly if I change my art for the purpose of entertainment then I will become an entertainer instead of a martial artist. Fighting people for the approval of others exposes the weakness within myself. Am I not confident enough to do my art for me?


That being said, it's time for us as martial artists to show the world our true strength. We are more powerful than your guns and fancy cars. Our life may not be as shiny as the lifestyles on MTV cribs, but we have purpose. Purpose is something that many actors and TV stars act out in a movie. But when they go home and face themselves in the mirror they know that they are not truly heroes. They feel as empty as anyone who has yet to do something meaningful. We who choose to better ourselves, strengthen our lives, educate our peers and protect our loved ones, are the true heroes. Martial arts is just a tool to be used to dig out the most from your life. Don't get used by the ignorance of the masses.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

誰看錯功夫?



     
  小時候三兄弟都不約而同的認為,成為ㄧ位武術高手比醫師或律師來的令我們更值得去追求與尊崇,當時我們壓根不覺的有比練功夫更好的生活方式。學習武術近30年的時間,見到功夫悠久的歷史背景下,產生出現今神祕且多元的表現方式 。



    
       我們三兄弟很小的時候就認為功夫就是要實戰實打,二十多年前種族歧視的社會依然嚴重衝刺著我們的生活,幼小心靈要防遇的不只是語言攻擊,還包括身體,所以學習武術不只是打為了好玩或興趣,我們是打為了我們的自尊,我們的命。我們喜歡練拳沈浸在武術的世界裡,看見自己日益強壯的身心靈,但我們實在不覺的真正的攻擊傷害別人是開心的事。終於我們一家人搬到一個不用每天搏鬥的環境,當然我們沒有就因此間斷,還是天天在練,還是一天比一天進步,還是每個禮拜找到不同門派(截拳道  忍術 合氣道  拳擊  泰國拳 巴西拳...等)的老師或是志同道合的人切磋切比劃與學習。

       之後我跟大哥都很幸運能找到ㄧ群真的喜好將武術實以用之的老師,接著十七歲在西岸的武術比賽拿到了冠軍,雖然冠軍這個頭銜是好的象徵,但我依然感到空虛,因為對予我來說打得比別人好,不表示我的程度在提高,反而是一種停滯。我開始思考起比賽的意義,是否贏得只是膚淺的歡呼聲,只是種驕傲的證明而已。習武十四的我,十八歲,我已經很難找到我心目中的老師,所以我開始自己成為老師,授課。我發現當我在教人的時候,其實自己才獲益良多,在這過程中我遇到一位台灣的朋友,他說:『要學更多的功夫,就必須學中文。』

      當我真正開始學習中文候後才發現,我對武術的歷史知識和了解還不透徹也不夠豐富。當時我們三兄弟都是已開始傳授他人武術一段時間。一天,二哥給我看一個影片,而其中一段是在解釋八卦掌,第一次看到它就決定有一天一定要找到最完整的八卦掌,在我學習中文三年後,學校剛好有機會能把我送去中國交換學生。中國浩大,要找到ㄧ位真正好的功夫老師其實不易,尋尋覓覓下,我還是找到八卦掌老師學習了半年時間,回到美國馬上想與兩個習武兄弟過幾招,讓他們見識我新學的功夫,出乎自己意料的,我被打的是落花流水。我開始意識到武功的理論與實際搏鬥的差別,但我繼續每天練我學過的拳法,只是希望能更進一步找到功夫的精髓。接著,這是我人生的轉捩點,台灣!



    兩年的時間,兩年尋找師父的時光,終於我遇到我的師父,柔身連環八卦掌掌門人吳國正先生。我想,師父兩字即是老師以及父親的意思,非常清楚描述了吳國正先生在我心中的重大意義,他帶我進入了真正屬於高手的武林世界,帶給我無限的關懷教誨,並帶領我探討文化歷史外,更別說八卦掌那八千八百三百年也練不完的動作了,我遇到對我人生中最需要保護傳承的珍寶,八卦掌。勤奮辛苦的跟師父練了五年的時間,不論颳風下雨或工不工作我都堅持每天練上三個小時,因為我不知道什麼時候,我又必須回美國。

    當我接受了如此淵博珍貴的武術精神洗滌下,我突然發現別人想要看到的功夫並不是真正的功夫,而是有如馬戲團只是快速飛躍彈跳,喊叫式的表演,在功夫以外的世界的人不是不屑一顧覺得沒有用,就是不了解什麼才是功夫,正因為如此,不幸的是真正的武術正在慢慢的消聲暱跡,所以,我現在在美國練武不是因為還像孩童時想要打某人亦或表演比賽,而是為了給人正確的教育,幫人找到屬於自己的力量。如今,我依舊一往如常,不論下多大的雪,下雨或是天氣多麼酷熱,我堅持天天練下去,為的是下ㄧ代不會遺忘我們,我不再浪費我的拳做很多只是“表面功夫”的事,我的掌是用來豐富別人,在功夫上指點迷津,還給功夫該存在的立足和地位價值,用我所有的精神告訴這世界,真正的功夫才是最精彩最值得一看的。




Saturday, December 3, 2011

The secret of the Roses



In the midst of my search of better ways to fight, think and react to life, something stumbles upon me. I get sick. Something about the viruses in America being different than the ones of my home in Taiwan. It could also be related to the stress of not knowing which country I will be settled in. Always continually searching for the place that the seeds of Bagua will be most fertile, I find myself awake at night with possibilities and ideas. I am usually able to keep sickness at bay  through my Qi training, but some days you're just destined to get sick.

As my body shuts down my mind turns on and casts lights at shadowed questions in the room.  The loudest question being the one all martial artists continually ask, "How do I get better?" Next to a cup of used tissues I scan across videos of the masters I met in Taiwan. While watching the videos I felt I was with them again as we exchanged different ideas on what it meant to "Get better."

We spoke of different theories and concepts about power development, focus and life.  The discussions were important, but not nearly as important as the conversation that took place without words. Every gesture and facial expression said far more than the polite words that were spoken about the tea. I payed attention to every detail and movement that was made amongst the masters. After a person has practiced thousands of movements, millions of times, they even breath differently.

With this sickness in my system, I was certainly breathing differently. Coughing through out the night, filling my system with medicines of all kinds, I managed to keep a good mood. I may not have learned the  kung fu that prevents you from getting sick (like many masters), but I have learned that a bad attitude weakens your spirit. The last thing you want when your body is all ready breaking down, is a side order of emotional issues. So when you feel the sickest, it's most important to smile!

After all, the flesh battle pales in comparison to what is really going on. I know that all forms of sickness have demonic roots. And when the mind ponders on self pity the roots strengthen the trees of  aggravation. Dark thoughts only bear poisonous fruit.

So while I lie in my bed filled with Qi and Nyquil, I keep my thoughts on the blessings of all the new training I will begin when the virus leaves. If this sickness was permitted by God, then I know there is something good within the extra mucus. Besides it was so close to Thanksgiving and I had much to be thankful for.

When the headache receded I began to practice my Chinese characters. I've learned that calligraphy is directly connected to the sword, and I was getting sick of not knowing the secrets within my sheath.  The point of either the pen or sword, is it must be guided with the hand, but the energy is from elsewhere.

"Elsewhere" is the place of many martial arts secrets. A land with a language so secretive that it can't be uttered. It may only be hinted in a hidden, unspoken conversation that appeared to be about tea, wine or whatever.

As I wrote characters I recollected on how I saw one master who appeared to be old and frail, grasp a heavy jug of water and pour the massive weight as if it was filled with helium.  I smiled as I took my cup of tea and pretended not to notice just as the other masters. I felt at many times I was a martial arts detective searching for clues of each master's power. The only thing I was able to find was that each master had a connection to another skill that appeared to be unrelated to his martial art, but they somehow strengthened each other.

The sword master's handwriting was startling. I peeped over as he wrote a personal note to his kid, it looked like it should be posted in a museum somewhere. The master historian spoke of details and developments of each style that had only been written in books that had been burned. The heavy master's eyes scanned the room with a flush red face and genuine smile. He looked over weight, but he was the only one they classified as a kung fu genius. He had the ability to master any technique after just seeing it one time. I raised my glass showing my appreciation to my own master who had become a second father over the years.


"Tailong your master's fortune is in your hands. How will you pass it to the next generation?" The Taichi master asked.

This was the question that I didn't answer because I knew no words would be appropriate. It was this question that lead to me over training and getting sick in the first place.

When Thanksgiving arrived I was almost fully recovered aside from the occasional sniffle and cough. My wife read movements at random choosing from thousands within the text that my master has given.

"Pressing Palm Counter, Intercepting Kick, Reverse Palm Break" She reads as I move from technique to technique. Though I am fluent with every technique, I am searching for something that lies between the movements. Another epiphany that can help me further highlight my style. My wife had been around all the masters and had been a key factor in my journey. She seems to always know what I'm looking for without having to explain it. I'm blessed to be able to talk with her for hours about martial arts without her ever tiring.

"Come on man we gotta eat sometime Mr. Kung Fu." My brother Eddie said as he finished his own training in the other room. I admire both of my brothers who were on the same path as myself. Yet the power I feel when we exchange is from a completely different source.

Aaron has become like an immovable stone connected to the Earth. Only my most practiced techniques were able to move his solid energy. Eddie had become burning fire, the slightest touch would burn the tendons within my wrists and forearms. They referred to me as the wind, as I used the art of changes to manipulate and control the outcome. My brothers have always been the key to discovery within my training. I enjoy the miracle that we have all trained nonstop since we were four. We have our own hidden conversations amongst the table, but we have seen enough to know that we are still very young masters with much to learn.

When the holiday passes I begin my sword training anew. I leave my sword at home because I feel it is distracting me from my understanding. I find time before, after and between work to squeeze as many hours as possible out of the QIng Ping Sword. After a week of diligence I feel that something has changed. An energy suddenly flowed through me that disorients me. I bring my training to an end for the day thinking I'm light headed because I'm still not completely recovered.

A week later it is my wife's birthday and my sickness still tries to hide behind my lungs. I buy a dozen roses and place them on my dresser to surprise my wife. She sleeps soundly as I begin to practice techniques in the mirror. As I move I can feel a connection between me and the roses. They whisper to me a secret that energizes my technique. The beauty and power in their design blends within my style. My practice with the sword had opened a new gate way that was as delicate as the pedals reflected in my mirror. As I our energies combine my soul heats the entire room allowing me to unleash a new found power.

"You found it." My wife said while rubbing her eyes, excited for me.

"I guess it's a birthday for both of us." I said to her while giving her a hug.

I felt the phlegm in my system emerge as I spit the virus out of my body entirely. I knew I was fully recovered and now ready to begin a new level of training. I think I will call it, "The sword of roses."












Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Colors of the sky


This morning when I exited my house I felt a chill that dug between the fabric of my thin gloves. I took my staff and saber not certain what todays training regiment would involve. It is so early that it feels like night time as I see the light from the half moon refract off the iced and crispy blades of grass. The stars on Orion's belt are clear and I use them to roll through possible training ideas. The stars turn like a slot machine as my thoughts wander on what needs to be trained the most. I take my stance as I see the stars light up "The unlimited fist."

The sky is black as I slowly begin my journey through 28 movements. My mind hasn't woken up enough to think passed the first technique. I dive into the first technique both deeply and completely. I finish dozens of repetitions before I relax and my arms become one with the darkness. The heat from the Qi trapped within my gloves creates a milky mist that traces my movements.

The sky changes to dark purple and my stance lowers bringing me closer to the chilled road. There is no life about except for my movements. Even the animals remain asleep as I move silently and unnoticed. I'm so alone that it is almost terrifying if I think about it. Especially when my thoughts wander to the funeral home nearby. I attack through my random thoughts of fear as I reach the street light and turn around for another lap.

When the sky becomes dark blue I notice a change in the rhythm in my technique. A question about the arts that I had asked my master many years ago had been revealed to me. I had finally broken into a new level of understanding with my movements. I am thrilled to see that at the beginning of my workout, I have already touched upon a new level.

A bright white line splits the sky in half as I come to the end of unlimited fist practice. I am lost within the new perks of my level up when one of my movements opens a new chamber of possibilities. The chamber is filled with answers that I have wondered about for many years. New ideas that I have been touching on in my Nine Palace training. I vacate my original training in order to run through the halls of the Nine Palaces just long enough to find a missing jewel. I search between the lines of every movement looking for a key to another level. After a half hour passes I realize that it is not something I can find today. I return to the last movements of the unlimited fist. Just as I bow out the street light turns off. It seemed to be cuing me to the next section of my training.

Pink stretches across the sky as I look at my two weapons on the floor. I know that there is no way that I can practice my staff techniques while wearing gloves. I remove them reluctantly and find myself being electrocuted as I grab the blistering cold staff. The staff slides back and forth through my hands like razors, completely overpowering the warmth of my Qi. The numbness in my fingers begins to affect my thoughts as I am determined to finish all 8 sections of the spear and staff 3 times. The pale blue sky seems to mock me as I use every effort in my body to ignore the pain.

The color of the frosty grass and naked trees comes with the sun. I grit my teeth through the remainder of my techniques just long enough to drop the staff. The sound shatters the quiet and startles all of the animals that have not yet awoken. I immediately practice the Eight Silk Brocades that I learned from the Southern Shaolin monks. It isn't related to my Bagua training, but it acts like a heater in the center of my palm. After only two movements the feeling returns to my finger tips.
My shadow seems to turn red as the energy circulates through out my body.

I look to see the sun and the moon now both in the sky at once. It makes sense that at this time of day there is more power to be gained. I inhale all of the power of yin and exhale the power of yang. When I finish the remainder of my techniques it is met with the applaud from the nearby animals. The energy of the atmosphere invigorates me like 1000 cups of coffee. There is nothing better than getting the hardest part of the day over before the day has begun.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

End of Fall




Fallen Staff  -The perfect training for the end of fall has been with the staff. As the cold makes the leaves crisp they are easy to fall with the lightest touch. By using staff attacks I remove one leaf from the tree at a time making sure not to touch the other branches. The slightest in accuracy will cause the leaves to fall and I have to begin my count again. I must remove 100 leaves at great speed without hitting an undesired leaf in the process. This workout is internal with movement, but you are sure to gain a lot of muscle in the end.

Brisk Blades- Saber and sword training are also great for fall conditions. However the two types of blade training are very different. The saber can be used to first bang the tree and then slice the leaves as the fall. The back of the blade acts as a hammer or shield when defending an attack. After the forces shoots through the tree the leaves will fall giving you a chance to attack multiple targets before stopping. It is most important to make sure every slice is channelled through the ground. Keep a  low stance is priority as you step along the rooted forest ground.

Solem Sword-The sword is much more of a patience and reactions game. Wait for a day that the wind gust are strong enough to pull the leaves off of the tree. You using footwork from the nine palaces will allow you to flow continually while letting the sword strike through the breeze. It is best to practice piercing attacks instead of slices. See how many leaves you can stack at the end of your blade before having to start over.






If you haven't started your fall training yet then it's time to jump into winter season. I could smell the winter in the air today and it's time to change the tires of my training for snow. My biggest goal is to focus on my ice spear training. I intend to learn all about the winter season through the eyes of my spear for the first time. I will take lots of notes and bring you the update when it comes into spring time. Train baby train!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gifts and Opportunities


After finishing my book I had a good friend of mine ask me what I planned to do next. Of course I have developed dozens of plans on how to get to where I wanted to go. I've made plans regarding film, writing, translating, training, business, teaching, researching and on and on. I have laid out blueprints on how to more efficiently train everything from new weapon ideas to memorizing Chinese characters. It is my determination and diligence that has prepared me for great things to come. Yet no opportunity I've had in my life has arrived due to my own plans.

In fact all of the greatest things that have happened in my life were given to me at the proper time. Though I had made countless plans on how to utilize my skills, none of them actually worked out. I ended up going to Taiwan because China didn't accept me for work. I met my Bagua master because I was chasing a girl. I made my first movie because of an opportunity brought to my friend. Every amazing step that I have taken has not been because I was chasing my dream, but because my dream had found me.

The truth is that none of us are able to control what opportunities may come. In a world that nothing is for certain it is only vanity to imagine that we could pull our own strings. Still I continue to make plans about what I am going to do next because making plans for one opportunity can prepare you for another. I don't know what the next opportunity is going to be that comes my way, but by continually polishing the skills that I have, I can be sure to do well when the chance arises. The only thing I can control is that I will be better the next time you see me.

In very recent days I have come to learn chasing dreams will only drain you of your energy. It is not in chasing the dreams that we attain them, but by continually cherishing them that they are received. Therefore the only thing that we can do is what we are called to do today. The fastest way to get to your goal is to help others with their own. Our dream is a piece of the grand design that can be easily lost when we are trying to do things our way. When we are patient in our diligence the dust settles and we can see what we want more clearly.

My plans are to enjoy myself with the betterment of my skills. I have dozens of Chinese novels in my closet that need reading. I want to write Chinese more beautifully than my calligraphy teacher. I have new training equipment that needs to be design as well as possible modern Bagua weapons. I have new fight scenes that will show martial arts to the world with out compromising its true internal beauty. I am busy everyday with a project to finish every hour. Who has time for a plan?



I'm so blessed to be in the moment that I am in now. This chilling morning was the best workout of my life. We miss out on our life while were making plans. Accept what comes and always improve.




Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lucky number 13




About three months ago I started a new movement training designed to enhance my "Shen Fa" (Way of the body training). It is one of the key components to harnessing power in every step. With good Shen Fa you are able to better blast, entangle, misdirect or off balance your attacker. This training can only be done after first spending crucial training time on footwork or Zou Fa.




The training I developed was to do one movement for one mile. The movement can be an attack or a defense with many different variations. More importantly it is the movement we use to engage the opponent allowing us to launch our attack more effectively. It closes the gap with the advantage in your favor. This spear hand can also be found in another article on my blog that I translated for my master, Wu Guo Zheng. I made a plan to practice this movement one time a week for the the next 25 weeks, giving me twenty five miles with the technique all together.

Unfortunately I didn't account for the change in weather conditions which hinder me from finishing this particular training. When I finished my 13th mile last week, I was forced to put an end to this training temporarily.

This actually is great news because it allows me to investigate other ideas that I have been researching and developing. The grueling cold winter is upon us and the snow will fall soon. It is this type of climate that most people fear to do any exercise in, yet I know it is the best opportunity for warriors. I want to spend the winter adding frost to my saber and staff.





Training weapons in winter add for many new pains to be revealed. The slippery surface and burning cold handles make it easy to feel uncomfortable. As my wife said, "You have to use real kung fu to deal with the blistering cold."

This forces us to keep Qi in our hands with every movement and a lowered center of balance and connection to the earth. The process is agonizing at times, but when I'm finished I really enjoy the comfort of my home. Not only am I enhancing the power within in my technique, I am also magnifying the treasures with in my own life. These are treasures that we neglect every day as we chase after things with lesser value. Only when I tire myself do I enjoy my time to rest.

This morning the sun rose as I tucked away my sword and I felt an energy I never get from my coffee mug before going to work. We must embrace our discomfort at times in order to remember why we live. We would never know who David was if he didn't deal with Goliath.

I will continue my Shen Fa training when the spring returns. For now I look forward to being baptized in the blizzard.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seminars, Questions and Comments!


I have been truly blessed to be able to finally come into contact with the style that I had been searching for most my life. Bagua is the most potent style I have ever come in contact with in regards of combat, healing and research. Each movement is a seed that through practice will become a fruit that will bear thousands more seeds. Meaning that if you start with almost ten thousands seeds, you will soon find yourself in a harvest of countless possibilities.

Today I am faced with the challenge of spreading these seeds across the world so that everyone who desires to may grow their own fruit. I do this not only because it is my responsibility, but because it is necessary for my safety.

The truth is as I practice and meditate on the movements they continually divide into countless mathematical equations. At times the thoughts actually create a weight within my mind slowing down my processing ability on every day thoughts. I literally find myself lost in the supermarket splitting the atoms of different palm techniques.

Lucky for me I am still very young to this new world of quantum martial arts so the side effects of these problems are very minor. By passing on the things that I have learned I unload my mind of the old information and am able to think freely on the new growing and developing ideas. The older information is seen in the students making them into new data containers. Every student that I teach is a load off my mind.

This December I will be going to Scotland to teach a seminar where my goal is to unload enough information in a few days that can be digested over the course of a few years. Yet I would like to hold a yearly seminar, ensuring they always have a heavy dose of Gao Bagua. This is a wonderful opportunity for myself and Scotland to grow within our realms of understanding. If there are enough students in any area I would happily offer my services to the dedicated. New students are my only chance of maintaing my sanity. It would also be great to not be the only person taking crazy pills.

I am not only grateful to those of you that have been following my progress, I need you in order to pass on the legacy that has been given to me. My book is near completion and I have dozens of projects that will be filled with the art, yet the only way Bagua will be able to survive is in a living container. So I am begging for comments, questions and different thoughts. Bagua is just too good to be stuck in one place.



Let's work together and share the dream.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The art of perception


Today I made a comment about feeling better about each day that I have been given. Being able to see the good in any situation is the ultimate form of kung fu. Through mastering this technique we are able to let the light within us shine affecting not only ourselves, but the attitudes of those we come across. The truth is that even the most powerful of arts can not be understood until we first go through painful training.

Those around me see me smiling and may believe that everything is going my way. The look on my face says content, success and excitement. I have been chasing dreams for as long as I can remember. I have learned to relish in the frustration of self development by using the discipline attained from my martial arts training. Yet even my training is not the way that I yet desire it to be. In my eyes I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of my objectives. I find myself receiving news that would be disappointments to many on the daily basis. Outside accidents, arguments and misunderstandings are unavoidable even to the highest level of kung fu masters. So what's with the goofy grin?

My reality is not something that I will ever be able to control. I am even less able to control the opinions of those around me. The strength of perception is not held in avoiding conflict, but facing it. Tomorrow it doesn't matter if it rains, snows or the sun doesn't come out, I will still train martial arts. The same can be said for what I decide to see in every given problem. If I lose my job, will relish in my extra time. If I wreck my car, I will relish in my appreciation of my other belongings. If my goals fail, I will relish in making new goals.

Relishing in good things is not enough to erase pain. You are a fool to think that there isn't a time to morn, cry or even be afraid. After that feeling has been given its proper attention, we must return to our training. It takes far more strength to be positive than negative. Those who do not follow their dreams will always think of themselves as cowards, making all other forms of success only surface level. You must remember no matter what happens that you will be joyful tomorrow. Your joy as your training should never be dependent on the weather. Face the storm with a fearless grin. Everyone deserves to be happy, but unfortunately not everyone is strong enough to own up to it.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bullies? That's what kung fu is for!



Today in my English class I had to listen to debates about the bullying problem around the world. After listening for a of couple hours I came to realize that the ignorance about martial arts is evident in our social problems. My issues dealing with violent racism as a youth required me to confront bullies on a daily basis. All bullies used to be bullied themselves.  Their insecurities become targets they seek in other weaker individuals.

Martial arts being the practice of daily refinement is the most obvious answer to the problem. Yes the teacher has a responsibility to the children to look after their safety. The reality is that no one can be around your kid 24 hours a day or be involved on their social networks. Parents have an obligation to teach their children about bullying, but they can not live their child's life for them. The child needs to understand that life is filled with dangerous situations and sometimes you got to dig yourself out on your own. It just so happens the universe has provided us the perfect tool for bullies, kung fu.

I say kung fu meaning all martial arts but you have to be careful using the word martial arts these days. Some people would tell you that martial arts is two guys in a cage beating each others faces in over money. No disrespect to gladiators, we all have to find a way to make money. Fighters use a lot of martial arts, but most fighters are not martial artist.

True kung fu first attacks the weakness within one's own character: laziness, fear, low self-steem and lack of strength. These flaws mold into traits that eventually act as a magnet to bullies. It is the essence of which the bully must feed on.

In China many families would take the weakest child to the temple to train for fear of his life. Maybe he was always sick as a baby or even picked on. They took him and left him on the temple stairs to be adopted by the monks so that they would train the weakness out of him. These sick babies usually turned out to be the most powerful masters. The advantage of being weak is that you understand the power of strength.

If you have always been strong then when training a technique you do not need to follow every detail to generate power. You use talent and muscle to make up for what you don't understand. Yet only starting as a weakling will you truly need every move to be perfect before you can generate power. The weakest will always become the strongest. Martial arts is a gift for the meek.

In a martial arts class the first thing that they will introduce to you is pain. Every stance, step, stretch and sparring session is going to be painful, but also it will be positive. Any child quickly gets used to the idea that getting hit is not so scary anymore. He will feel a confidence in his achievements and accomplishments. Martial arts will give him the ability to deal with his problems in many ways. The fact that a child would not admit to his parents that he was being bullied is an indication that he doesn't even have the confidence to speak up in his defense. And if push real comes to shove on the playground, bullies only want prey. They don't want a really fight.

On the flip side martial arts is also the solution for the bully himself. If he is in a style that utilizes his potential and worth while at the same time showing him the error of arrogance and pride. An art that gives him a true confidence along with peace of mind. So that when he wakes up in the morning he will feel to good about himself and his place in the world.

Bottom line is everyone needs to know kung fu. Plain and simple.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Light is less visible through a dirty glass. For us light symbolizes the power we attain through our positive efforts. These efforts create a pathway that will ultimately lead to our dream. While on this pathway we feel at rest and no obstacle can stop the force that is within us. Yet this force leaves us even as we think dark thoughts.  Dark thoughts soon become soiled gestures and our pathway to perfection is unseen. Lost again in a crowded office, the loneliest person alive.

Dark thoughts are something that come to all of us, usually at a time we feel vulnerable. The sad truth is this negative thought of vulnerability is what attacks at the wisdom that would reside in us. Wisdom can never accompany unrighteousness. Therefore when we involve ourselves in this energy we are unable to access our powers: creativity, insight, passion, charisma and all other heroic traits. Fear comes in many shapes and strangles the potential of what we could do in every minute of the day. Call the light by name and it will always return to you. When you debate about the little matters you waste time you could be spending on your growth. Who cares if people don't know what you know? What difference does it make if you think I'm a dreamer? 

Live as a righteous example and all that you have will be blessed. Kung fu with the wrong habits is a sure path to self-destruction. It must always be righteousness before kung fu for you to know any real power. I only speak to those who listen and those who don't are not a part of a problem I am able to solve. Many are addicted to darkness and claim to love the agony within. Pity them as they mock you for wanting more. There will come a time for all of us to face the person we have been. Lying to one's heart rots the soul. On the surface money may look cozy, but nothing compares to being loved. There really shouldn't even be a decision. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Follow Through


There is a Chinese idiom that is one of my favorites: 一諾千金. It means that your word is a s good as a thousand gold pieces. You must never say anything unless you intend to do it. Once you have committed to an attack, to stop half way would leave you even more vulnerable to your opponent. Where as even missing will place you in a position for a better recovery than a half movement.

Myself I have been in the middle of many projects that all require attention. I am continually writing songs, designing fight scenes, researching new techniques, translating the scrolls for various masters, reviewing thousands of movements, designing better training programs and of course writing my book. This is all in the process of adjusting to my life in America and filling out mountains of paperwork to bring my wife home.

There are only so many hours in the day but everything thing must be finished. The best way to finish projects at the same time is to prioritize. These projects are going to continue stacking up until I knock some of the bigger projects down. My book so far is a total of 800 pages and rewriting it is quite time consuming. However I must put this onto the front burner so that other activities can take place. I plan to have the rewrite finished by November 11th. (My favorite video game comes out then)

Many other projects rely on the assistance of someone else, just as when I finish my book, publishing it will be a different project. At least once it is finished, I won't have to worry about writing it anymore. The good news is, you're going to love it! It's way cooler than my blog.

The other project on the front burner is training my student to fight in MMA. I  know he is going to do some serious damage and shut up a lot of skeptics about Bagua. The only problem is, I have to really water the movements down so that he doesn't seriously hurt someone. The only problem being the most correct way to do the technique is also the deadliest way to do it. The angles that give the most power are the same angles that break the most bones. As the successor of the style it is not my responsibility to make sure the style is "sport safe." My students will all be given a full blueprint of the style and what they choose to do with it, is there own.





Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chores


I think one of the trickiest parts of learning Bagua is a matter of time management. This style traditionally has been passed through the hands of individuals who didn't have an additional obligation like a job. Kung fu used to be an occupation for those who had devoted their life to their art. Their missions were related to fighting, teaching, passing knowledge or even research for the purposes of their style. In the process of my own training, I must also make sure that I not only practice the movements, but improve upon them to the best of my ability. The question is, where do I find the time?

One thing that I have learned to be true is that because Bagua is a collection of limitless angles and equations of combat, making literally an endless amount of ways you can train and project energy. I have found it best to take advantage of a mundane task such as chores and make it into a way to train, killing two birds with one stone.

Loading Dishes

When I take the dishes out to put them in the cabinet I can gain about 10 minutes of training time with my inward and outward stepping  (Kou Bu, Bai Bu扣步擺步). When the dishwasher door is down I have to take a dish out while pivoting around it and place it quickly (yet carefully) into the cabinet. I put pans into the lower cabinet making me hold a much deeper stance with the heavier objects, while practicing lifting power placing items in the higher cabinet. Make sure you never sacrifice technique and structure and you'll be sure to clean up a few techniques.

Sweeping

When sweeping there are a lot of options you can use, but currently I have been doing cross step (Tou Bu 透步) training. This is a step we often use in Bagua. First we step behind the leg and follow through with the energy forward. Meaning we start with the right leg in front, step through behind the leg, and end up with the right leg in front again. Of course we can change to start with the left leg in front. We can also practice the stance deep, or take short dashing steps. While sweeping the floor you have to adjust the step to the room. Holding the broom in a closed structure in the center of your body. You shouldn't be moving you arms aways from your body but only using your hips to swing the broom in position.  The deeper the stance, the deeper the train. You can get about 20 minutes of training with a medium sized floor. A good way to get at some of those footwork cobwebs.

Drying clothes

In Taiwan sometimes hanging clothes up won't dry them off quick enough, so putting a little kung fu into your hang dry will do the trick. Ringing out clothing (preferable clothes your not worried about stretching out i.e. work out clothes.) By pinching it between your finger tips and dropping your weight, making sure to ring the water out with your stance, not your arms. Do it only once and afterwards use whip chain techniques until it airs out. If you don't know any chain techniques you can also use double stick exercises or butterfly swords. You'll find your arms will get a hell of a work out in only a few minutes. Careful, unlike boards, socks do hit back!

Driving

When driving a long distance you may have never noticed that by locking your arms into a structure you can control the wheel even easier. This lets you develop your circle power. It may take a little getting used to so take your time. I would suggest doing it for a few minutes at a time, but when you get sleepy it's great to recharge you.

Cooking

This has an endless amount of possibilities that you can explore. A master once told me he didn't like anyone to see him cooking because he uses kung fu to cook. Basically everything you reach for, grab, scrub, dice, or anything can be used to train. At the very least while your standing you can keep all your weight on the back leg. When it gets tired you switch legs.

I saw that master do a move where he used one hand to throw up an onion, then used the same hand to grab a knife and cut it into two halves. He then told me his goal was after he had cut the two halves, he wanted to put the knife down and grab the two halves with the same hand before they separated. Your kung fu can always get better!

These are just a few simple things that I can explain with words. The point is to use your mind to see things in a way that they become opportunities, not burdens. I could take any of these tasks and use them to improve my other skills as well. I can scrub the floor while I practice music, fold clothes while listening to a language CD, look at flash cards in my bathroom mirror. Design your life in a way that you are forced to see the skills you wish to acquire on the daily basis. Stop saying I will practice this when I have time. Take some of those times that you aren't using your brain and stimulate it.

At anytime you have to do something that is unpleasant, change your perception immediately. Take something little that you can work on so that at the end of the unpleasant situation, you will have gained. Trying to find a convenient time to learn something new is almost as difficult as trying to find an opportunity to attack your opponent. Sometimes it is only when our opponent attacks that we will see an opportunity to gain. Every chore is a chance for self development.




Friday, September 23, 2011

Everyone wins


It is often said that your desires are what cause you to suffer. Chasing after uncertainties and dreams will eventually lead you to be disappointed. You should let life happen around and through you while capitalizing on the opportunities that come. Wise words and mostly true. Your life is a puzzle piece that fits together in the whole of time and the universe, making a beautiful masterpiece. As Ghandi said, "What we do is insignificant but it's very important that we do it."

 It is all God's show and we can only do our part. Yet  your desires were also created by God. The things that you wish to do are more complex than you could ever know. Of course on the surface it may seem the same as other people. Everyone would love to have that job or everyone believes the same woman is beautiful. Looking deeper into the details you would find that even at the same job as your co-oworkers, you would rather do things differently. You would also find that there is a mate for you that can reach you in a way no other could. Your desires are a unique fingerprint unlike anyone else in the world. But we are not wise enough to identify all of the things that are good for us. So we must always seek council before we begin any quest.

Recently I have been emphasizing my circle training. I have seen my master do the movements to such a level of power and control that I felt the earth move from under me. Leaving me watching while understanding that his decades of training surpass my own age. It will take me at least twenty more years to begin learning the things that he is coming into an understanding of now. Yet my desires are not to be as good as he is. My desires are to be better than him in my own way. To use what God has given me to overcome the obstacles in my life.

As I went through the motions and harnessed the energy into the coiling points in my structure. I practiced the movements first at the slowest possible pace. Taking almost a minute to complete one movement. I made sure that every stance was so deep that it would be unbearable. Then after 40 minutes I added a snap at the end of every technique. I used much force on the snap but never exceeded more than a half inch motion. About 20 minutes later I switched into a endless energy. Moving swiftly but not fast. A continuous flow of energy from beginning to end......

Somewhere around this point in my training I lost where I was. I lost who I was. I was my master. I saw him inside of me as if I was a vessel and he was the pilot. Then there was a twitch in the air and I was operating my master's motion. For the first time, all of my technique was in the perfect position. Our energies flowed as an indescribable color. I enjoyed the feeling of moving within a different realm. Every turn and pivot was just where it needed to be. Then for only a fraction of a second, I saw my masters father, Wu Jin Yuan.





When I finished I felt like I had stepped out of a time machine as I almost fell to the ground dizzy. I didn't mention the details of my strange experience to my student. I hadn't finished digesting what had happened yet. Now I realized that I tapped into a frequency of some sort. I was practicing the movements at the same time as my master and my master's father. This of course seems crazy because Wu Jin Yuan has been passed for many years.


 Our bodies are antennas that can transport energy past our own dimension. To a place where we are all is connected in both purpose and desire. In this place there is no time.

 The endless energy that lives with in all of us is the same. The world being run by our flesh confuses our purpose into different ideas and religions. Only through knowing we are one will we know joy as a universe. I want everything great for you, just as you want everything great for me. Everyone wins.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

With the Wind


Bagua is the art of eternal change. I have been training various methods of moving from one movement to the next while gaining power in every following technique. It feels much like harnessing the energy in the air through an electrical current. The more I relax the more I can feel the power surging within my core and just when I try to control it....it's gone.

The energy flows through me, but I do not own it. It is mine as long as I cooperate with the true current in the earth. I borrow it and can use it for many things just as long as I don't try to control it. The moment my thoughts are focused on "How do I control Energy" is the moment the energy leaves. For the energy to continually flow we must learn to let go of our "self".

The self is the part of you that seeks to do things for the reward that will come. We work for money and train for power. Everything that the self does is for something else. In our lives we become conflicted with many energies through making plans because we continue to ask "what's in it for me?"

This is a seemingly innocent thought but the roots travel into the soil of selfishness. Soon we find ourselves not doing things that would be good because there is no immediate reward involved. We also find ourselves doing bad deeds because there is a reward. Reversing our natural wiring and corrupting the nature of our existence.

When we can not see good things happening in our day, we must become the good thing for others. The energy you put out will always come back and sitting around waiting for life to be good to you is just lazy. Do every good thing that comes before your path because that is what you are called to do today. You will find that by ignoring your selfish needs you will actually help your "self" even more.

Now as I train I am learning no longer to see the destination of my attack but to allow the wind to tell it's story through me. I enjoy the cooperation of energy that allows me to paint my fingerprints in the universe in my own way. God is inside of both my movement and the wind, he is therefore the conductor of every thing good. Have you ever thought about all of the details that are in something good?


To meet the right person you must find someone who's sum of experience and ideas completely matches and reflects your own. Someone who has seen a mirror of life that is suited and tailored to only you. Every good thing you find has been on a road for a long time before finding you, meaning you should be enjoying the gifts that come to you, not controlling them. Remember that the best gifts can only be developed through time.

The more you try to plan your day, the more your going to be frustrated with the way things go. Let yourself become one with the wind.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Flaws


Sometimes the flaws in our technique can act as mirrors for the flaws in our character. Maybe we have a weakness in a punch because we lack the patience to practice it slowly. It could be that your unwillingness to commit is stopping your kick from gaining speed. Inconsistent practice doesn't allow for any technique to develop fully. Frustration is the same thing as anger especially when it causes you to be hard on yourself. If you punish yourself for not doing well, you are only going to do worse. We must encourage our technique and ourselves in order to enjoy our art.

No technique is perfect just as no person is perfect. In the end we are measured not by how many times we fell, but on how many times we got up. Learn to see your flaws for what they really are, "blessings in disguise."

When I was a young man I used to lie and exaggerate stories. I thought by making people think that I was more interesting they would accept me. The ironic thing is that I lied about all of the things that I really wanted to do. The desires inside of me were actually of a good nature, but my insecurities perverted it into something negative. In a since that is what a flaw is: truth that has been twisted.

I eventually had to deal with all of the consequences of my actions head on. Be assured all wrongs will come back to you, no one gets away with anything. The consequences of what happened left me battered and almost broken. Even as I felt deserted I continued to do all of the things that I loved. When you love something, it doesn't matter what your situation is, you will continue to do it. I didn't care anymore about trying to prove myself to the world. Yet all of the things I used to lie about came true.

It turns out that I was never a liar, I was only a dreamer. I projected many of the ideas that helped me to find my success. When I became secure in my being, I was able to use these thoughts to accelerate my growth.

So it is only by conquering our weak points we are able to gain strength. Before you can have strength, you must first have a flaw. So instead of being hard on yourself for your mistakes, overcome them. Then be proud that you have come to be a better individual. We all got problems, but every problem you conquer makes you wiser. Meaning the more troubled you are, the more wisdom you will have to gain.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Basically....



 We here it so often in the martial arts world, "The basics are the most important for your development." Even as patiently as we may endure the basics we are very eager to move into the more interesting and complex motions of our art. Through time we grow in ways we never imagined and feel new potential power growing from within. Our research, training and trials opens a new world into infinite possibilities.

Soon we find movements we like and movements we love. The continual practice is a mathematical equation for your progress and success. We know that we have come to learn so much and have much more to learn. Soon we contemplate why some movements have developed well while others haven't really developed into what we want yet. How is it possible that I have trained so long and this move lacks so much of what it should be. We develop and design countless ways to make the move progress but it is obviously at a plateau. Every new concept and idea bears fruit but the move still doesn't have the magic it should have. Finally we find the magic in a place that we have long forgotten....in the basics.

It's funny how what we are looking for is always right in front of us. We just don't know what we are looking for yet. In practice when we are doing a deep and uncomfortable step it is easy to really think about what we are going to do after this move ends. When the discomfort sets in we naturally stand taller and taller until the discomfort becomes some what tolerable. In fact you can find plenty of motions that we choose to skim through instead of really feel the pain. Until one day you finally realize: the only thing that matters is the pain.

The pain is your body's way of trying to communicate to you. It doesn't have a mouth to speak so it uses nerves to say, "That's uncomfortable." Yet the nerves only hurt because that very basic and simple stance is changing you from the inside out. In another dialect your body is saying, "I'm getting stronger!" To try to make it more comfortable would be the same as trying to drink soda without the carbonation.

In life we often want to choose the road that is the most comfortable, but in comfort we hardly can grow. It is through long suffering that we actually find what we are looking for. What we seek is not in comfort but in purpose. Purpose and comfort rarely go hand in hand. The only true comfort rests at the end of your purpose. Once you have become the person you wish to be, you spend the rest of your days enjoying being who you are. Not contradicting yourself with negative thoughts and doubts of your own character. Look deep into your life at the many basics that you may continue to skip pass because those problems will always return to your path in a new form. Conquer your lack of patience, your temper, bad attitude, or apathy and enjoy who you are meant to be. Your pain is the pathway to your dream.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Joy in Improvement


Today I was sitting outside reading my Chinese novels that I enjoy at Starbucks. The stories of martial arts masters and lifestyles is like James Bond meets Batman. Some of it is just fiction and other parts are filled with true information about the history of many lineages. With the many responsibilities I have it is important to find those things that are pure joy and relaxation. To my surprise I continued to hear, "Don't work too hard, it's Saturday." from many passing customers.

I have always loved how friendly people are in America, it allows me to really see into the culture that I have so long been away from. A common denominator that I have found in both the Western and Eastern world is that relaxing entails turning your brain off and not thinking about anything.

It would seem like wisdom at first to want to calm your mind from all of the chaos of work and studying through out the week. So much time thinking about how to do your job better or raise your grades can be very exhausting. Yet most of our thoughts are consumed with trying to make more money or gain a position in life. Meaning we don't spend many thoughts on how to improve our own worth and being.

When I was in the university their was a point that I thought that Chinese might be useful for a job some day. When I began studying Chinese I lost all ideas for trying to use it for some superficial gain, it was something I did because I felt the characters were beautiful. I wanted to be able to understand it and maybe one day communicate with people in the martial arts world. My goal was something real to me and therefore attainable. My classmates who studied to find a job found themselves burning out early on and never actually became fluent.

Perception in the end is what decides if something is stressful or enjoyable. If you watch how much energy people use to play basketball it is obvious they are working very hard. Yet we find most people play basketball because they enjoy it, not for some kind of personal gain. We have many tasks that we are required to do that may not be easy to enjoy. This is mostly because your work is usually for someone else's well being, not your own. All of your effort calculates into the betterment of a company that you may or may not believe in. As my dad often says, "You can't throw out the baby with the bath water." Meaning not all work should be a bad feeling.

I can say one of the best parts of my life is being able to read the Chinese stories that I would have never known about if I didn't work at it. Now I completely forgot about all of the time I had to spend to get fluent. It's because once you have accomplished a task for yourself, you don't spend time thinking about how hard it was. You think about how fun and wonderful it is now.

Initially all work is going to seem agonizing. Especially if you are doing something that you have heard is difficult. When I came into learning Chinese I was scared because I wasn't very successful in Spanish. "You are crazy to learn Chinese! You couldn't even learn Spanish!" some one said to me once. Life is not a matter of difficult and easy, it's all matter of perception. I looked at Chinese just the same as those playing basketball.  I found that it was much easier to me than Spanish ever was. I had fun in the moment of learning something new. I didn't distract myself with discouraging thoughts, or listen to those around me who were full of negative energy.

There are things that you have been called to do that reside in the middle of your soul. You may have been discouraged or intimidated for what ever reason, but you must keep true to it. Not for money, fame or anyone in your family. Like a fingerprint it is personally calling you so that you my find out who you really are. Only then will you find balance.  I was scared my first day of Chinese just like anyone else, but now I laugh at the idea of being scared of a new challenge. A new challenge is only a chance to show the world and yourself you are special.


It's turned out that after I embraced Chinese I found most of the things in my life needed Chinese to even be possible. My master, my wife and my entire life took place after I took control of my fear of change. For you it may be something you wish to know about cars, cooking or science. It's different for all of us so only you have the answer. It probably looks like a mountain in comparison to all of the regular things in your life. But through your faith, all mountains can be moved. Learn to enjoy moving them.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Martial Arts and Heroes



When you practice martial arts you are in a sense opening yourself to become a container for information. Martial arts and traditional dance uniquely share information that can only be held in their truest forms in living containers. No book or even video could ever capture the energy of the tiniest details buried deep into the arts. Therefore what we are able to learn lives through us and we become keys for the future of the style.

Every so often the art finds itself in the hands of someone who thirsts for it. Someone who will not be satisfied at just having bits and pieces but should adopt the art into his/her lifestyle completely. The art and this person blend into a harmony that becomes more than human. It becomes something we have grown to know as heroic.

In recent times our heroes have been replaced with actors and movie stars who carry the fame of heroes but lack any real heroic intent. We slowly follow them into a blind pathway of logos, sponsors, and name brands which are all part of a system that weakens our being. Heroes in fact are just the opposite.
In martial arts we have examples of different types of martial arts heroes that we identify with for many reasons. The truth is that many icons of the arts may be less involved with the art than you would suspect. However let me first say that all the people I am mentioning, I hold in the highest respect. I am merely making an observation based on conversations I've had with a variety of masters in Asia.

Let's start from the most obvious and influential hero, Bruce Lee. Bruce's first intentions with the arts were to learn how to be a better practical fighter. His course took him through many roads and teachers who were containers for the arts. However Bruce was very much unlike his teacher, Yip Man, who wished to be low key while preserving all of the information in the art. Bruce believed that if he found a faster more efficient way to fight, it would be better than learning any style in it's entirety. Bruce was very successful in his unique path of creating Jeet Kun Do which opened the doors of thought into the martial arts world. Still he had underestimated the root of his power which stemmed from routine Wing Chun training. Because he never gave his students a full blueprint of what he had learned, none of his students ever made it passed his level. And he himself, never surpassed his master.

Next we can take a look at Jackie Chan. He was the inspiration that followed Bruce and kept the martial arts in the spot light for years to follow.Without him, martial arts would clearly have a much different face today. In both the Eastern and Western world he is responsible for countless numbers coming into the arts. Yet he was birthed from a school that was focused on entertainment first. Starting as a performer in "Beijing Style Opera", he had to learn many different martial arts routines. The goal of the routines were to make something entertaining that looked like martial arts, not making martial arts look entertaining. He has inspired a new way to look at the arts through a lens which has birthed into what we know as martial arts film. Any master you meet will tell you TV martial arts and real martial arts are quite different. Therefore even with all of his inspiration, we still see the real arts struggling to survive today.


Jet Li is someone who has started with his roots in the arts from an early age. He is the one who is responsible for making me want to learn Chinese and come to China. He started as early as I did and spent the rest of his life doing demonstrations, movies and many forms of media. Though his roots are very deep in the art he has chosen to share the "performance" part of the art to the world. The performance being a side that is beautiful but not practical. This is a continual plague among martial arts films today. If people could only see the true arts, they would never choose to watch unrealistic movies. It is the lack of understanding that leads those to believe that real arts can not be captured in film. A real martial arts movie would feel much more like CSI with intricate details of how every battle has taken place. The continual spread of unrealistic marital arts movies creates an overall belief that kung fu is fake.

After the Great Culture revolution many masters of the traditional arts were killed, leaving many styles without teachers. When they witnessed the fame of Bruce Lee they decided to revitalize many of the arts that were lost. They created extravagant movements from the readings that were left behind but lacked the reason behind the moves. This is what has become modern day wushu. Very few individuals are like Bruce Lee and Donny Yen who put the art before entertainment. Still they are all heroes for if they did not exist, nor would I.

These heroes were recognized in a time of peace making them very different from the heroes who preceded them. The masters of today are birthed from masters who lived in a time of term oil where the look of the art could never compare it's effectiveness. Many masters would have to kill literally dozens of individuals before they were recognized for their art. Whether they were fighting for peace or for fame, it is clear that they have very different characters than we would be used to. It is said Ghengis Khan killed 10,000 with a sword. Imagine how that would affect the way you think when you go outside. What kinds of things would you talk about? How would that change what you dream of?

The point is that just because spends most of his time showing martial arts on the camera, does not mean he spends his life in the real martial arts world. The martial arts world I have come to know is full of heroes who have never had the chance or desire to be in a film or a ring. They thrive on the fact their art will be passed on and relish in the actual training. Nothing can be quite as fulfilling as doing a perfect move. A completely correct interpretation of power through your body is like a full body orgasm. (That's why the monks don't need to leave the temple) The best things in the real arts are the things now one but you gets to witness.

Now we live in an age that a different kind of hero is needed. The true arts remain in the hands of a few and we must train and fight for their existence. Between the need rise in technology and the laziness of people we may find martial arts in museums some day. Which means that if you are training right now, you are a hero that's legacy will be for future generations. We may not compare to those of Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and others, but we are equally if not more important than they are in our quest. Tomorrow go to your teacher and become the thirsty container that needs all of the information. Culture will be the new riches and you will live a life of wealth.



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Glitter


It's really not as complicated as everyone makes it out to be. You do good things and the same energy of goodness will be drawn to you. You do bad things and the reverse applies. This rule is as true for individuals as it is for groups or even countries. Usually the easiest decision is the wrong decision, making our society a true collection of easy decisions.

Imagine if in martial arts we decided to only train the easy or comfortable moves. No deep stances that would test your endurance and never a moment that would surpass your comfort. What would you gain in the end? The only way for a move to work well is if you have had an intimate moment together. Meaning like a relationship you have had trial and error, misunderstandings and even disagreements.  Through all of these discomforts we gain what we call strength. Strength begins with the acceptance of your discomfort and later maybe even enjoyment. A pearl is merely an irritation to a clam.

So as the reflection of a negative society may shine in your eyes when you wake up, you must hold to your faith in goodness and overcome. Mirrors at times may seem very real but all mirrors are easily broken. The mirrors that have been placed around you,  to believe that you are learning, working or even helping at times, may be working against you entirely.

By standing and looking at something long enough we can begin to see if it is something real or a reflection of society. Do I do this job because I can gain from it? Is this job only gaining from me? I have used martial arts as a way to keep myself focused on what I was doing. Still it in no form can replace our need for purpose.

Look deeper and longer into what you are doing. Is that really you or a reflection? A reflection can never express joy for the true treasures that we have been given. The treasures lie in the center of your heart tucked safely away next to your purpose.

Lastly I would like to make a comment for all of the scared heroes who have forgotten we're going to win this battle. Don't step away from your responsibility to be better for yourself and for your family. Sometimes we may get our hands dirty in the process, but we will understand what it means to be clean in the end. Draw good within, harness it and enjoy. Every dream you have ever had is rightfully yours and deserves do be realized. Of course don't get distracted by all the glitter that surrounds your dream. The glitter in most cases can make you miss the gold.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Now's the Perfect Time


Today as I feel the brisk wind occasionally accompany the once searing heat of the summer days, I realize  summer is approaching an end. I've decided to slow my training routine to match the rhythm of the winter season. The season adds color to every technique we practice while the theme is established by strengthening of our deepest weakness. Tragically most of us over look the blessings of our self inflicted pain and are distracted by goals that are admirable but meaningless.

A goal to become better, be a master, obtain a new weapon or even learn a new technique will only pull your mind to a place that you do not yet exist. Forcing you to guess and ponder on the possibility of a fictional you. The only you that is real is the one who is reading these words at this moment. The "present you" holds all the keys to being joyful in this minute, hour and year. The key is to view things in a larger reality than yourself and know that this moment fits perfectly together to a master piece of a plan. All you have to do is take a breath from time to time and focus on the beauty of the moment.

Bagua is a mathematical equation for both power and growth. The eight sides, angles and trajectories combined with the power of variating circles releases energy that spirals through out the universe. At first it changes the way you move, later it changes the way you see.

Looking at other combat styles it is much easier to see progress. When training boxing it is immediate that we see the results. Only a few basic offensive and defensive techniques that can be trained and understood immediately. Taekwondo may take longer to grab a hold of, needing both flexibility and balance, more body management is necessary to fight effectively. Jujitsu having the largest advantage over the two because the number one requirement is to be on the ground, making the style it is fighting against useless in its territory and a need for balance unnecessary.

Of course Jujitsu is easiest to learn for a sport but also the easiest to foil in a real fight. A sharp object, rough terrain (such as pavement or gravel), biting or busting an ear drum are all techniques that don't even need to be trained to deal with a grappler effectively. Yet these tools will serve no great advantage against a boxer or Taekwondo practitioner. Taekwondo is best for fighting against more than one opponent yet it offers the most vulnerability on the ground. In these styles we see a paper rock scissors scenario that shows us a balance. So how do Bagua and other internal arts relate to these external styles?

If the first three styles are shelters, we can compare them to huts of various materials. Quick and effective to keep you away from danger but vulnerable to a serious storm. As time passes this shelter is heavily weathered and unfit for living. This is especially true for those who continually use fighting competitions to show their art. It is the same as taking a beautiful car and smashing it every couple of months. Of course you can fix it but the continual smashing of anything will eventually lead to it's demise. It's not a matter of if, it's just a mathematical equation of when.

Bagua in the early years serves very little benefit for fighting. All of the basics that are designed to give you strength take years to grasp a hold of. Power is continually but slowly being gained in both defense and health. Still everything has to be carefully attended to and researched before reaching it's true potential years and years into your training.

Why does it take so long to learn Bagua? Bagua when compared to the smaller shelters is like that of a complex building or skyscraper. All of the blueprints must be laid out according to plan in order to stand it up properly. Pipes, wiring, ventilation, foundation, windows, stairways and more must be established before the building is even usable. The advantage is once this building is up, you have it for the rest of your life. Weathering against any storm easily and comfortably.

So when laying out the blueprints of your training, you must pay great attention to the details of your overall plan.

Here is a rough outline of some of my notes from planning:

Basic training- The first learning season is about setting a solid foundation. Practice all of the movements you learn thousands of times which teaches the nature of the art.

Reaction- Taking every routine through reaction training is essential for every movement. Start slow and steady with a partner then escalate adding speed, weapons and eventually put it against other styles to get comfortable.

Footwork- Footwork teaches us to move from A to B smoothly and easily. Practice so that you don't even need hands to defend yourself mastering controlling the space between you and your opponent. In addition to practicing this on many different surfaces it is most important to practice against low kicks and grapplers. If you can get out of the way without your hands, it makes it easy when you can finally use your hands.

Flow- This is the practice of movement to movement having no stopping or starting point. Every attack smoothly leads into another attack making combination speed and power primary.

Movement Change- A combination of flow and reaction training teaching you to move from offense to defense at any given time.

Trapping- Trapping practice involves baiting your opponent from any position into a desired "trap" or attack that can not be countered.

Slow motion- Slow motion training teaches more body power and balance. The more complicated the motion the slower it must be done to learn the nature of it's power for 100 percent of the movement.

Nine Palaces- Zig zagging through the footwork of the nine palaces teaches us the nature of gaining the advantage against multiple opponents. Almost like building up an electrical current as you shock enemy after enemy.

Weaponry- Of course all of the weapons will need a season of their own. It's best to choose a weapon to master first instead of trying to master them all at once. After unlocking the secrets of one weapon it makes it easier to understand the nature of others.

Projectile- This is projecting energy from the coiling power and combining it with a step which lets you extend your energy out of your hand. When done properly even a hat can cause serious damage.(That's why I love hats.)

Kicking- To be effective with kicking in Bagua you really have to take the time to hash out an understanding of the footwork and kicking so you don't get tripped up. It's almost like a tornado effect.

Finger Strengthening- Fingertip exercise which gives us both grip and piercing power.

Chores- Doing sweeping, dishes or mowing the lawn allow for us to do many different posture techniques. Dishes give us hand dexterity and accuracy if we put them away quickly and carefully. Sweeping is an excellent chance for wrist to hip control, meaning that the wrist only moves because of movement in the hips. The wrist then guides the broom into the desired direction.  The lawn can be done using a simple "mud step", all weight in the back and hands in a structured position. (Yes chores taking longer, but you kill two birds with one stone.)

Shake down- This is a coiling exercise designed to reflect the opponent from close quarters. Allow him to try to grab you and use structure to project him in different directions. This takes great understanding of footwork and fajin.

I think this is enough to show you different ways to aim your training. This here includes about a fourth of the things I have been training for the last 10 years. I like to think of it as making yourself into a work of art, like pottery.

The basics cut of the biggest pieces of clay and smooth out the first details of your shape, reaction training puts you into the fire hardening you. Later footwork solidifies your movement and framing while the training that follows adds the paints and colors of your own choice. Slow motion takes us through yet another intensive heating which polishes us off. This accompanied with different weather conditions adds a different tint to our artwork. Finger strengthening in the winter on pavement is much different than in the woods in Spring.

The more we look into the different things that can be trained the more we see an endless amount of possibilities and variables. Meaning that everyday and every minute our training is only limited to our imagination. So instead of thinking about all of the wonderful stuff your going to do in the future, why don't you start enjoying the possibilities of what you can do right now.