Kung Fu and Love

Kung Fu and Love
A great gift for Valentine's day or Chinese New Year

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Back to basics

For a while I stopped making my kids to Kung Fu because we were doing so many Lion Dances. This sounds backward. Like shouldn't we have to practice more if we are performing so much? But the body and mind has a limit and needs rest. They have also been sledding outside quite often. But they also have been behaving sort of badly before the performances. Like they can't follow directions and stand still. Perhaps I should have made them do some drills but I had to gather the rest of the team together that is actually less experienced than my kids. 

So part of the reason why I have started making my kids practice again everyday is for the practice of focus. But I pick and choose what we do since there is a limited time and attention span.  I don't take away from their outside play time, and the reward for the class is screen time. 

With Noah I have been doing 10-20 minutes of sitting meditation followed by 100 standing basics each (though yesterday I took out a couple that are time consuming) and then we run through the sword form three times as if it were Tai Chi (though it is performed fast) I have noticed that I am getting more in shape from this. 

With Jonah we do some meditation that is standing with the balancing of the stick. It is actually the first move in Leen Gung Gwun. Then we slowly ran through part of the form. Not the whole thing. Today we will run through that same part three times. And then later I will add the rest of the form, which he has already learned and performed. But he doesn't have the focus to do the whole thing everyday and for it to be useful. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Work out success/ fail/success?

After New Year I was doing 300 push ups a day. Its not that this was a lot by itself. Its not even that it took too much time. But It did mean that I wasn't doing as much of Kung Fu and meditative type workouts. This morning I did around 20 push ups slowly and I think it may have had more of an effect on my body (positively)
Plus I did some hard style Kung Fu and some Tai Chi like stuff. Balance, the middle path... anyway I feel that this is better for me.

I taught a drumming class over the weekend and my forearms were killing me as well. I noticed that anytime I show someone something, instead of just practicing it by myself, chances are that I am going to be way more sore. I get excited and push extra hard for the student, or maybe the audience.
In any case, I am always sore after these classes where I thought I didn't really do much, but honestly the 300 push ups didn't make me sore. They did make me tired, like I wanted to go to sleep. Actually come to think of it they did make me sore and stiff and less coordinated. Not saying i will never do that again, but I won't try to make that a daily regimen. I also felt jacked... but did not really looked jacked, so what is the point?

It also made me really appreciate resting.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Repainting a lion head

I am going to repaint an extra old lion head that I have that never got to really live its life. That is to say, it never got to brave the firecrackers and so though it is old, it doesn't have that smell of gunpowder or the bids of red paper that should be flecked about its face.
Grace said it will look like crap. But I plan to repaint it in the same style as it was originally painted. I'm not going to do it perfectly. Originally I had wanted the neighborhood children to work on this project but as I put black paint on the brush, I realized how enjoyable it was to do this three dimensional coloring book for myself. Not that the children won't be allowed to add to it.... but I doubt they will get the chance or really feel like doing it. Maybe they can paint a picture where the names usually go in the back. Or maybe I will paint a picture. 

The Tail will have to be some sort of cloth that will match in color. And truth be told we may end up borrowing a head that is already set to go for the upcoming performance requesting two heads.... but it will also be cool to bring this head to life on stage. It will make the performance different. Plus why have a head you can't perform with at all? Why not perform with it?

I don't even need a full set of paint. All I need it yellow, Green, red, and white and orange. I have red pigment already but I'd rather buy the ready made paint just in case that ends up being a disaster.
We'll see.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Monty Python

I 've been watching Monty Python's "Life of Brian" and "Search fo rthe Holy Grail." and I think I really want to make a few scenes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the 108 heroes in this fashion with the kids. Probably we will do something meant to be on stage first. probably not for New Year's but we have some performances coming up in March where for whatever reason we are not allowed to do Lion dance. (Actually the reason has to do with somehow our kids doing lion dance will cause parental political discord or something or other. I was annoyed by it, but it might mean that that venue will be a good place to actually finally add some dialogue to a few of the fighting forms. I am thinking some version of the Peach Orchard Oath (peach Tree Oath?) and when Lin Chong tries to get into the Water Margin, before it is run by Sung Gong or the other guy who is decent.

To be honest, I totally want to make a full length movie on my phone with my kids. I guess what inspired me was the coconuts riding horse thing. Of course its not the first time I saw that. And there are actual parts of say Guan Gong do, where you do something similar, only its not a joke, its just an artistic representation of riding a horse. And I have heard the comparison before.

The kids have performed the fighting form Dai Do cherng before with a galloping out which they found hilarious and in that case it was a joke. But now I really want to have dialogue.


Besides having a resolution to get ripped, or my version of ripped, the Chinese New Year season being around the corner has made me want to resolve to seriously put together a group of people that will get stuff done. That means adults. It doesn't mean that they have to be able to endure long hours of lion dancing (though that would be nice) and it doesn't even mean I need 100 people (I am actually thinking of 10-15 people... which is actually high. But maybe 10-15 people total and 6-8 people who can seriously do the art. That don't mean stilts and poles.. it doesn't even mean multiple forms. But be able to drum, lion dance, be or work toward being athletic, and at least one form and willingness to learn more.

More than that, willingness to do creative stuff like make videos, write stories, draw pictures, post memes, organize events... that kind of stuff.

Since store to store seems difficult to coordinate.... even just getting together and doing lion dance would be awesome.... but wait.. is store to store lion dance THAT hard to coordinate? Actually it isn't. You just need a group that is willing.

I guess me resolution is to more actively recruit people. I mean yeah I can do a performance any time with my kids. By I really need teens to adults that are a unit, a team, a group. They don't have to be willing to sacrifice studies or sports or other activities. They just have to be willing to do. To train, to perform, to show up, and to put in mental effort or even social media effort.

Its just that to get a small group together will take more searching and questing than I thought. It will take more effort. I will have to search through and teach 100 people to get those few Knights of a Round Table or Wuxia Heroes, or 108 Heroes (again more like 5-8)

And of course I have to adapt to the people in front of me. If small children don't like a line up and drill class, but they obviously have some talent, then I have to switch it up. yes I have been doing all this, but seeing that I am not where I wanted to be in this goal by now... but at the same time seeing that some of my students have improved (surprisingly) and have more potential than I once thought shows me that I just have to do more. Why? Because I knew 20 years ago that this was who I am and this is what I was meant to do... but in the interim I seemed to have lost my way a little and forgotten that.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot

I used to be sad when the Christmas and New year's season ended as a child. For some reason Chinese New Year seemed so far away and unconnected. I have tried in the past to connect Lion Dance and Chinese New Year with Western New Year and Christmas (though Chinese culture has its own solstice festival, which I never actually celebrated other than showing up to other people's celebration.
This year we did do a Lion Dance right after Thanksgiving and we will probably be doing some Chinese New Year gigs the week before Chinese New Year. This is actually becoming more and more normal, and I have been told that you can totally do this according to the old Chinese rules anyway, by having a celebration to wrap up the old year. But in America, where Santa Claus is a big feature right after Halloween, it makes its own kind of sense.

I have been in New Jersey for about a year now and I have observed the local State Culture a little more. I am not saying I understand it necessarily. But I can see that it is way easier to get your Lion Dance team to join in Festivals that already exist than to try and create new Chinese New year Festivals. This is not only in terms of logistics. But people will think more about Manhattan's Chinatown in NJ rather than say, a a vision of a huge event in Edison.

NJ seems to be full of people from NY or Philly. Even if they are the children or grandchildren of people from NY or Philly, it is part of the legacy to "go into the city" for celebrations events, mischief, crime, business, whether it is Tracy Morgan or the #2 guy for Madoff, the action happens in Manhattan or Brooklyn and NJ is as Morgan calls it, "the Fortress of Solitude" so whether you are a Wall Street Criminal or gangster or whatever and you are neighbors to such types, NJ is almost like a vacation place where you don't want to see any signs of this. Rules keep the area residential and quiet. Yes this is the opposite of what shows like Jersey Shore and other stereotypes in NY run media show, and of course there are raucous areas of NJ but it all seems to be compartmentalized by geography.

Long story short... this means some sort of Lion Dance parade is a foreign thing to people here. You can do it on a stage in a school or festival, or in a parade that already exists, but the store to store dance so common elsewhere is logistically quite difficult. There are hardly any sidewalks, and you can't cross the street. You will have to load up equipment and drive across a highway.

Not only that, but because the concept of doing lion dance like this is so foreign, even though i am working with the community in several overlapping organizations, pulling together enough people for a team, a real team, a team of adults and teens and kids and elderly that will play for an extended period of time and be really into what they are doing ritually, socially and traditionally, has been hard to make materialize. Yes I can do a school or library with my kids and some students anytime, even a "formal" or "serious" performance... but that feel of a Chinatown Lion Dance or a Chinese Village Lion dance....which is less performance and more ritual, where the difference between the audience and the participants is actually not that clear, and where the beginning and the end of the celebration is not as clear, where the dance lasts the whole day or even seems to carry over several days in a dream like floating world that ties you to the traditions and spirit of people past that you know, even though you have never met them and don't even know their names or stories.

That type of dance is more difficult to bring about it seems.