Kung Fu and Love

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017


A few weeks ago I promised myself I would start keeping an old school journal. Like a notebook written by hand. Then I forgot about it, and today I was all excited because I was going to set aside time to write in it, like some sort of mental meditation. Looking for where the hell it was, I realized why I started blogging.

In any case I found another notebook and will try again this time, having it set aside as if on an altar. More importantly, I will force the children to make entries every day as well. And then I think I will force them to re-enter those entries into this Kung Fu Dad blog. In the beginning I thought I would make them write one page but now I am thinking three lines is a good place to start. In any case... expect to hear from Noah and Jonah on this blog more often. Yes I have given up forcing them to do Kung Fu or Violin. But much of their time recently has been consumed with Pokemon to the point of addiction and I guess I am sick of it. I may bring back Kung Fu into the mix as well. Not a whole form, but a technique a day. Something like that.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

MMA vs. Tai Chi from a teacher's perspective

This video is going viral

And I guess the first thing that popped into my head was from a teacher's perspective, because I have totally had miniature versions of both of these guys in my classes. (There are other body types and personalities that tend to repeat as well. "The athletic trouble maker" for instance. ie not necessarily a fighter but a spry guy who does flips and everything that did not come into the equation in the above fight.)

First of all, everything that all the martial arts experts on both sides are saying have their point. But what I do not like is that a lot of Tai Chi people are now saying that it isn't good for Tai Chi people to spar MMA people. First off, if these two guys were in my class as children, I would try to encourage both of them to spar (in a game where neither of then gets hurt.).. but also I would force both to do Tai Chi. 

More than "Modern" vs. "Traditional" what you are seeing probably has more to do with personality and approaches to education. Both of them are doing Modern martial arts because they are practicing in the modern world. Both of them are also doing martial arts with deep rooted tradition. You can pretend MMA is a new thing all you want, but the fact of the mater is those moves are not new. 

The MMA guy taught himself. He may be horrible in your very structured follow what I do Martial Arts class where everyone lines up. He is the type that is bouncing of the walls and picking fights with the other people in line. So he might even get kicked out of class. But of course he is running around because he is bored because perhaps he can learn faster than everyone else. By learning the moves himself, and then testing them out in the field, he is able to learn more efficiently. 

Were he to teach someone, what would he show them though? Perhaps he would guide them through learning on your own. 

The Tai Chi monk probably does very well in the structured class and maybe has done some partner drills with people before but I don;t think he has been in many fights based on his reaction of sticking both hands out in panic. That being said I might do the same thing. I have done the same thing actually. Then again I also have not been in a lot of fights. 

The Tai Chi Monk can demo self defense and definitely has a lot to draw on when leading a class. All the techniques he learned he can bring out at any time. But in a fight against a Musashi type guy, yes he lost in 10 seconds. 

The goal of the martial arts has been to be a combination of these two characters, Mun Mo Song Chuen, a scholar and a fighter. But this combination is rare. It is more likely that you are one or the other. Or a little of both, but not a master of both. 

 But when you teach just fighting... the kids will actually have a lot of fun. But parents will wonder, "Aren't you guys just running around with sticks playing? What did you learn?"

And if you are thinking the MMA guy has no place teaching kids.. I BET you he could run a very fun kids class. He would not necessarily be the more strict of the two. He would be doing a lot of inventive games. 

The Tai Chi class would be the one to make kids cry in America. It's not so much that all that slow training and all those moves are useless. But does everyone have to learn every single one? Look at the MMA guy. He just learned some techniques as needed. COULD a Tai Chi move or two help him in a fight? or perhaps some basic Chi Gung concepts to supplement his training? Of course. But that doesn't mean he should bother to memorize a WHOLE Tai Chi form let alone master it. He is right. In some cases this is a waste of time. The only person for whom memorizing and mastering a whole Tai Chi form is useful is the teacher. Especially before you could just pull out a Youtube video on your phone. Even with the screens or books as a reference it is good to have memorized a bunch of technqiues so you can teach this student this one for a situation and another student a different one. But no fighter has to know them all, only the teacher needs to know that. That's why you are a master and a Sifu. 

But I feel like people got lazy and just started showing EVERYONE the whole form and making them memorize it as a way to just show them the curriculum and have them figure it out. Remember those stories where learning the form was a secret? 
The form is basically like the teachers book with all the answers. But it doesn't mean that the teacher can say...do all the things he is teaching. Like you teach physics and chemistry... but it doesn't mean you can build the plane or the bomb. But you need someone to teach the future engineer. 

I want to get back to the whole reason for the challenge. The MMA fighter said that Chinese Kung Fu needs to modernize and change etc. I will say that as a teacher... yes he is right. Not because the old way is wrong. But I will put it this way. The kids will spar all day long for hours and laugh about it the whole time. But my son does not want to do forms. But how did he learn the techniques to fight with in the first place? It's could to do SOME forms but you don't need to FORCE them to do so much. Unless they are going to be teachers. And again. The teachers will not necessarily be the best fighters. 

These Tai Chi classes with old ladies could have a little more fun if they brought their grandchildren and did some sword fighting with pool noodles with them. And Tai Chi Classes in general could benefit from learning some boxing just for measuring distance. In "Fist Stick Knife Gun" Geoffrey Canada talked about doing slap boxing and also punching each other  in the body in a game on the block to prepare for fights. It was a game but you could still get hurt. Canada was a martial artist as well but knew that the way that the martial arts was protecting the youth from gun violence was more about keeping those kids off the street to begin with. (I feel that the terms, "Of the street" may be antiquated now that a good deal of the "street" is gentrified.) 

These simple games can definitely help your Tai Chi. Conversely, someone like Mike Tyson could benefit tremendously from taking up Tai Chi NOW. During his fighting career Cus D'Amato had all sorts of strange practices that did not just involve punching things. He actually hypnotized Tyson before fights. I'm not saying that Tai Chi is hypnotism... but I will say there is something to hypnotism in the long hours of meditative form practice.

But would Tai Chi have made Tyson better then? Doesn't really matter, he was the champ.

But I guarantee that Tai Chi, Yoga and that sort of thing would help Tyson NOW.

What about the MMA fighter in the 10 second duel?

Well he should just keep doing what he is doing. Watching the fight, I actually had an itch to fight as well even though I am in the worse shape I have ever been in Kung Fu wise. And I did modify my training this morning.  I "freestyled" my practice to be more efficient. I started with meditation and then mixed the calisthenics with stretching in a more free flowing way and started just doing random Kung Fu techniques instead of this then this then that like a list.  Noah came in and then we play sparred.

We didn't do all this for long, but I feel that doing 2 hours of that is better than the "Serious" training I sometimes do. perhaps even the 10 minutes I did was more efficient than the 2 hours I usually do as well. Hard to say. Also.. Noah actually did something with me without arguing.

Does that mean I shouldn't teach forms? No. But the forms and even memorized sequences of stretching are actually something to sort of fall back on when you are running on auto pilot.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kung Fu and Music Teacher

Well now that I am leaving, the two preschools where I teach Kung Fu are looking for someone to come in to replace me. This is actually more difficult than you would think because most Kung Fu People I know have regular jobs, and those that do not, may not want to teach pre schoolers.

On another note, the middle school where I teach Lion dance is looking for a part time music teacher, preferably someone who can teach a three part choir.

Know anyone?

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Rat swimming in my subconscious

We are getting ready to move which fro whatever reason I have no interest in writing about. I will only mention that I have begun to question everything and everything is on the table.

Instead I will write about more mundane things.

Walking around a pond I happened to notice a rat at the edge of the water. It sensed I was there and dove under the water, but the water being clear.. i could see it swimming.

It swam quite well, which I knew about in theory and from footage on the internet, but I had never seen it with my own eyes. It swam our and out and then swam back to the edge. I wondered if it swam well enough to catch and eat fish. It was simultaneously disgusting and fascinating.

I thought about the rat as symbol... and a bunch of different rat notions went through my head. (Ratatouilee pops to mind now but not at that moment)

I just thought about how rats are pretty strong and resilient when you think about it, but though they are part of the Chinese Zodiac there is no Rat Kung Fu. In fact that would be seen as kind of stupid.. but why? I mean I might do white crane.. but I get a lot more opportunities to observe rats in their wild habitat and frankly they are largely out competing cranes.

Side Note: I have considered making Kung Fu that is more accessible to Americans (including Jook Sings) by just going with the Chinese Zodiac for Kung Fu animals instead of the 10 major Shaolin animals.  After all, every American Chinese restaurant will give out some calendar for free or some place mat with the zodiac. There is also the "Spring Roll" Punch. Chuen kuen (or penetrating punch) was often mispronounced by the ABC kids (whioe parents did restaurant work or even owned restaurants) as Chuen Guen, or spring roll. Now it might not sound very powerful but the straight punch does kind of remind you of a spring roll. I may have to run with this at one point with Restaurant super powers and all that.

But back to rats.

I heard that some of the gangs in Northern China used the Wu Shu or dark rat (or mouse) as a symbol. When I heard this I thought it was so lame. But come to think of it, rats get things done right?

There is also this Chinese cartoon that was allowed to play for about 10 minutes when I went to Red Oak summer camp before the counselors shut it off for good reason. 10 minutes was all it took. It was about some police cat. And the criminals were mice. (So like the opposite of mouse, the hero was the law and the cat)

It was so China of the 80's. This police cat showed up to a crime scene (this is a children's cartoon mind you) and of course didn't read rights (there are none) he just goes "Don't move" And proceeds to shoot a bunch of unarmed rats dead. Some of them push their comrades in front of the bullets to show the young children that there is no honor among thieves.

But it was just interesting because all of this was not only acceptable, but commendable. Like "Good job Police cat!"

Anyway... even though the rats were bad guys there and cowardly, it still shows that they are a force to be reckoned with. And of course there is master splinter.

Don;t get me wrong. I don;t want rats near me. They freak me out. In my childhood a couple of them jumped on me running into our section 8 apartments closet. and another one died in this plant right next to where I was playing.

But it's not like Tigers and Dragons are preferable to rats. And jut like that Buddhist New Years story goes with the rat being increased to three times the size during the parade of the animals, I mean if a rat was the same size as a tiger.. which one would win? Hard to say right?

Well enough of rats. I will try to write in this blog more often if only to practice writing.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Kung Fu Jesus

So we are packing up and getting ready fro a big move to another state, in doing so Grace found a miniature Christ the Redeemer which a friend had bought for us and then not given to us but hidden because the small statue had broken in transport. Grace fixed the little pocket redeemer easily enough. But I later found Noah playing with it like an action figure. I explained that this might be considered disrespectful and Noah said, "So I don;t believe in him"

Well I wasn't upset as some might be but I was also a little weirded out using the statue like that. I complained that it might be damaged, but he said it's stone why would it be damaged.

"It;s more like an adult statue."

"Then why is it so small?"

He then had Jesus throwing been ngau kuens and started singing, "Kung Fu Jesus>' In a very carefree way.

And then I thought, "How could it be that I haven't written that book yet?"

I mean I thoiught of writing KUng Fu AND Jesus... and even thought of writing a Kung Fu gospel.. but actually Kung Fu Jesus would be so much cooler.

He started singing Kung Fu Jesus like Kung Fu panda (which if you watch Kung Fu Panda up to part 3 there is a ton of correlation there as Po actually dies and then is resurrected through the Chi of the panda village (or as they say in the Catholic language... faith... in fact in some Churches, this camp I went too, everyone did the whole chi hadn thing to bless someone exactly like they did in Kung Fu Panda 3, and never in all my expereince Kung Fu ing did we all do that in some sort of ritual ever. Just saying.)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Trying new stuff

I was working out with a friend who was showing me some Silat... what I realized (again) is that anytime I try something new... even though it is hard to necessarily learn an entirely new system, especially in a day.. it will broaden your perspective about whatever you know. Whether you are doing Yoga or even a new sport or game for a day or just switching something up.

Yesterday teaching at Nativity I used the Magic Rocks game which I adapted from a birthday party I went too and the "Monkey King" game I already. This game was for young children, and I told this to the 4th graders and they were like "We don't Care!" They liked it better than the "serious" basics.

I realize that this could potentially have the same effect on adults.

For Silat... I just started looking at a lot of the techniques I already know in a new light. And honestly it might even be the WAY that my friend does Silat and what he focuses on vs what other people might focus on. Like he likes to focus on a form of light sparring and we had a discussion about what he likes to do and problems that you run into sparring with the most normal looking people who end up being extremely aggressive. I thought of how children can actually play for hours "fighting"

And that although forms appeal to some people... maybe I shouldn't be so rigid about people learning them.

Then again I get very upset when Noah can't even remember his forms. Going forward... would I just allow him to completely drop them? Because I know he likes to practice... moves, and fighting.. and to follow along doing forms... but not to be forced to do them on his own all the time...

I don't know I struggle with this question all the time.

For Jonah it is very difficult for him to learn forms... but I have a feeling once he learns them he won't forget them.

Or maybe I should just leave forms for certain people who like them.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mating Robins

Walking to school today I saw two Robins encircling each other as they quickly flew up and down.

"I think those two Robin's are mating." Commented Noah.

Remembering pigeons mating in the spring at Castle Square I remembered how the male would mount the female from the back. A very unique coupling that you would not see unless they were doing that specific act.

"I think they would be on top of each other both facing the same direction." I said. But as it turns out I think Noah was right and that he must have seen them earlier than I did doing just that.

I suppose the male was for it and the female not so much. But of course I am just jumping to conclusions. I only heard what Noah said and assumed what he saw.

It is spring despite the snow on the ground and the arctic blast soon to come tomorrow and that pull of nature to begin to reproduce is strong.