The Lion or Nian Dance is a folk tradition performed in conjunction with Kung Fu meant to bring about good luck and positive energy by working together with the drums, the power of the movements, the intent of the mind and the spirit with positive energy. I try to do this in all things I practice, from teaching and activism to raining my children....I'm still learning, and this blog is as much about learning through failure as it is the meditations of a detached sage.
Kung Fu and Love
A great gift for Valentine's day or Chinese New Year
Never directly attack an opponent whose advantage is derived from its position. Instead lure him away from his position thus separating him from his source of strength.
Well I can't think of anyone that I care to attack. However, I have made it a point in my life to put myself in awkward situations. To Challenge myself and try to see people's point of view who I don't agree with. To help others. To extend myself.
Now don't get me wrong. I have a very diverse background and upbringing. So sometimes I don't look like I would fit in in a certain place, but actually I am quite comfortable there. Often this is means being around people who do not look like me. But actually I come from a similar background.
But now I literally live on a mountain...and I think I am going to go to where I am comfortable. I tried really hard to understand people of a different viewpoint. And I think I tried hard enough for other's sake. From now on any effort will be more for me, or the people who actually reciprocate help. Which can be new people I meet. I won't be close minded. But I need to find where my mountain is and stay there.
Take an institution, a technology, a method, or even an ideology that has been forgotten or discarded and appropriate it for your own purpose. Revive something from the past by giving it a new purpose or bring to life old ideas, customs, or traditions and reinterpret them to fit your purposes
Not that the Wong Fei Hung song is underused. In fact it is overused. But when I taught it to my kids. I realized that it is an awesome self affirmation. I was looking for some cool stuff to say in the morning. The Our Father and the Hail Mary honestly, have problems when you look at the words themselves. The words are not very empowering. But Nam Yi Dong Ji kerng is. the only problem is for female students But you can easily just sing Lui yi dong ji kerng, so whatev.
Basically Kung Fu itself, was resurrected and re-purposed and if you are looking media to teach the idealogy of Kung Fu you have access to so many movies (many of which Mandy Chan is in)
The HK gangster movies too. I mean if you wanted to brainwash yourself... there is no shortage of stuff to sing, watch, and and even physically practice. It's amazing that this stuff has been used mostly as a means for entertainment. One could argue that the God of Gamblers movies probably increased profits at casinos...
But there is a lot of negative stuff that goes with these old movies too. Nam Yi Dong Ji kerng is pretty clean.
I have been pretty depressed recently. And I realized I haven't been singing this song in the mornings. So a) I should gt back into that
b) I need to start teaching classes, because that gave me an adrenaline rush that was able to satisfy me.
In other words, I have to teach... sort of like it is a drug. And I have to teach people that are interested in learning.
So really, I should open a school. It sounds so simple and so many people have done it I mean if I am ADDICTED to teaching, then it makes sense that I should open a school. Even if I break even, that is actually a profit when you are comparing it to alcoholism, gambling, or an opioid addiction.
I mean I guess I could lose money.
I could also make money.
Only writing this did I realize that I sort of have no option. I have to teach Kung Fu.
I mean yes there are other things that could satisfy me too. Maybe even more so. But all of those things are dependent on others on so many ifs... and I guess I could pursue those simultaneously.
This one I took to heart when my Uncle Francis taught it to me.
Not so much the pilfering... but you take what you can get. Basically after my mom died he offered me some money and I was gonna be all Chinese and refuse it and he was like,"That's not what I want to here. You take what you can get."
There are several ways of looking at this.
First let's look at the pilfering way. I am reminded of Truman Capote's in cold blood where the killer is taking coins from under the bed after murdering a whole family. This is even lower class than the pilfering the goat in the example.
But here is another example.
Once in Boston, I helped this lady carry her bag to the train station. When she got there she tried to tip me and I refused at first and she was like, "please don't make me chase you I don't have the energy I'm old."
This was before my Uncle had taught me the lesson. I took her money reluctantly, but you have to remember that when someone is trying to give you something.... to refuse it can be rude too. Not only rude but it will hurt their feelings.
Later in a snowstorm (actually it was in New Jersey) and post Uncle Francis's lesson, I was helping this guy shovel out.
I did it in horse stance and enrgenitically.
"Aww man I didn't ask you to do this." (btw it only sort of matters but he was black and I am white passing)
"I'm just getting a work out." I said. Because of the proximity to New York. He probably thought all of this was a hustle. I actually was just getting a work out and had nothing better to do. I didn't want to be stuck in the hotel room. I had run on the treadmill at their little gym and that really messed up my lungs because of the nasty air. So shoveling was a way to get out of that. Because I treated it like Kung Fu, I was shoveling harder than say the normal person would shovel. I was not looking for money.
But when he handed me $20 I said "Thanks!" just as Kung Fu energetically.
That money bought my family some yummy dumplings at 88 which was the only store that did not close because of the snow and was within walking distance.
And I know you cannot judge a whole race based on one or two interactions. But I will just say that I like how this man PAID me and $20! Bam!
I will always remember it even though that $20 is long gone, the experience of getting it and buying dumplings with it in a blizzard is still there almost 5 years later.
Personal: Well the above was personal too but more up to date.
Today was a Kung Fu day. Thursdays is usually sparring day. I have made a point to try and be a better father. So there was no scolding. The kids jumped the Card board Coscto box that is our hit pad. And that was a lot more fun than usual. Then they did sticks which was dangerous as hell for me and then I fought them with sticks, back and forth between going against me with a stick and just attacking the card board. Then we did "swords" which were just shorter metal sticks and then knife against sword (could use a plastic bottle but in this case I used a duplo building block) and we ended with double sword against the stick.
We had to do slow and controlled... but honestly we did a lot of moves (Noah that is. Jonah is not ready) Looked pretty cool. I saw that the time just flew by and we were working out.
"Would you do this everyday?" I asked.
Noah paused. "I still like having says off."
So we will keep it like that.
Friday is a day off with optional Lion Dance. Saturday is supposed to be fighting forms.... but given that Jonah simply isn't ready and that Shao is actually doing pretty well at the free styling weapons... maybe we will just do some light lion dance.
I found where the Asians are in the neighborhood. Different types of Chinese.
Maybe we can get some kind of lion dance thing going after all. Maybe it will just be seasonal. And maybe Grace can help with the Lion dance class.
We are actually going to go someplace to do Chess and Yoga I think and a birthday party so we will see if any lion dance happens this weekend.
Wikipedia says this is the scapegoat strategy...I am often a scapegoat.... but I don't see these words meaning that (i'm only reading the English.)
A Western example for me has always been Sacrificng the Western Roman Empire to Barbarians so that you can keep the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire... did I remember that right?)
Anyway, to try and hold everything down and keep everything going you might end up losing everything. Instead, something's gotta give.
My kids have been lying to me about homework. And I have been slacking a bit on teaching them Kung Fu. Basically, i am going to have to really go over their Homework with them, really watching them do it, which is annoying because there is no way these kids can't do it themselves. They could have done this homework years ago except that sometimes the instructions are a bit confusing and unclear.
Hell maybe I'll just do the damn thing for them. It's not that they won't learn that way. They are ahead of this shit. They know how to read. They know more math than they are doing in their grade. They are learning more when left to their own devices. Perhaps for peace at home, I will just hold their hand on these foolish assignments.
Because something's gotta give.
And I have my assignments that I need them to do. Like Kung Fu, and maybe I should start having them write Chinese. Hell maybe I should be like one of those annoying as super moms and be all hippy and liberal. "Is that what you want to do? Wow that's great, let's write another word. Now let's do algebra honey." Cause this Manly raising the kids shit ain't working. And I need a distraction.
To distract myself from how I am feeling I will play the role of the supportive loving father and husband.
I see people do this all the time. And even more often then this you see people calling out people for doing this on Facebook.
I say if you can actually manage to ingratiate yourself with enemies... hell why not actually make them friends and do the whole love your enemies bit.
I would say do away with the knife completely... but at least know that others are moving against you. Defend yourself....protect yourself... I don't I guess.
I was actually thinking about knives and "protecting yourself" the other day when I heard there was a stabbing in Boston's Chinatown. The thought was this.
If you stab someone to protect yourself with a blunt object, you will probably deter them just as much. It's just that you are less likely to kill them. Where as a knife raises the possibility of killing them. Not saying a dull knife like this can't kill someone too it's just that you are less likely to.
The other day I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and somehow between doing that and coming back I forgot that I know longer sleep on a bed on the floor (which is really meant for Jonah and sort of misjudged distance in the dark. I thought it was pretty funny.
Since then Noah has joined me on the floor preferring that to his own bed, and I think we are going to be getting rid of some of the furniture including some of the beds.
Now We won't redo the whole house with Tatami mats... but I really do like that Japanese style of no furniture... especially when I got the opportunity to visit the Royal Palace (Kyoto right? So embarrassing I forget, and a lot of Japanese Citizens are kind of pissed that it's only tourists that get to visit) But anyway, it's not less luxurious to sleep on the floor or not have any furniture. I like how there is just more space. And it's not even like this house is small. But more space is just nicer to me. I like that spartan feel. And you can arrange a few things around that are manageable. Well we aren't any where near that yet, but that's what I'm going for.
How is life?
Well someone mentioned that from the way I talk, they would guess that I am loneley and bored.
It is true.
But to be honest, I am beginning to feel it is not where I am geographically. It is just where I am emotionally. I won't lie. I am struggling. And there seems to be no reason to.
It is difficult to be cut off from everything.
"You have your kids, you have your family.." people could say.
And now I even have a job so there is some social interaction there. But I realize that say when I had a customer service job in Chinatown, it was cool to see all these people you know all at once every day. At work!
And then you go hang out and see even more people.
And in a way I even felt loneley then.
Always in my life I have always been yearning for something or someone or some change or some experience. And I think most people are like this.
It's just that I seem to be particularly distraught recently because I guess when you are little you believe, when I grow up I will have this, and then when you are a young adult you have all this potential and dreams. Now I am not middle aged or old. But I sort of see a sea of suburban comfortable mediocrity out into the horizon. And it is exactly what I wished for as a child. That rock hard stability.
Maybe it is all just that or maybe I just need to make more friends. Maybe I am just projecting.
But I just felt like before I was able to fill the void with distractions, and now I long for some of those distractions which felt like real connections and mild adventures.
I knew and worked with other creative people and talked with people everyday before at the playground, at a restaurant, at the park.
I even feel like maybe if this house had more people, that it would be more fun.
My kids don't seem to mind at all somehow. They are adequately distracted by each other, either fighting or playing.
You know what is strange, my surrounding remind me so much of my childhood. Of the Philadelphia house and simultaneously of the apartment I grew up in with my father and mother there and so I am having constant flashbacks.
And I guess I am getting caught in fantasy thinking about what could be or what was or how my father must have felt to be here in this country, not speaking English, but still having lots of friends.... and how gambling is actually a better hobby than just sitting here alone, even if you might lose money.
But also thinking about what really makes my blood rush, if it is not the roll of the dice, what makes my heart beat faster if it is not the roar of Mah Jong tiles clacking against each other.
And of course I hone in on more recent events.
It is difficult to leave them behind, but perhaps more painful to try to clutch at what isn't there.
I suppose a knife is not the only thing that can be hidden behind a smile.