Archive for January, 2010

04
Jan
10

Thoughts -New year

Well, and here we are. Another beginning to another New Year. It has been a while since I have written anything here. My apologies. I have been busy with other things in life, much of it related to keeping the school afloat in these difficult economic times. This month of January will be a period of heavy lifting for me as I must devote all the energy I have to marketing and trying to grow the school. I am hopeful that all of you who read this had a wonderful time through the holiday season and a happy ( and safe ) New Year.  So…on to the matter at hand… A few of my youngest students were influenced to start studying Kung Fu  rather than another style by a movie called  ” Kung Fu Panda “. I had not seen the movie, but the kids were always talking about it. An older student purchased a copy for me as a Christmas gift and I finally got around to seeing it on New Year’s Day. There is much I could say about it, but I will stick to only a few things. On it’s surface it is almost a typical ( what was called ) “chop- socky ” movie produced by the likes of the Shaw Brothers back in the 1960’s and ’70’s. I had to laugh at some of the references to those flicks. The fight scene between Po ( the Panda ) and Master Shifu ( a rather humorous play on words there ) utilizing chopsticks has been played out in many of the old movies. The fight scene on the bridge hanging over the gorge between the animals, particularly Tigress, and the character of the villain known as Tai Lung ( kind of odd using that name as it could mean “Great Dragon” in Mandarin and the character was drawn as a big cat ) has been shot several times in a number of the newer movies. Just kind of cool to see the homage done by the director to those who came before him. Incidently, I am not much of a fan of the newer movies. This is mostly for reasons of purety…all the wire action stuff beginning in the 1980’s bothers me. It has its place in a fantasy story like some retelling of  ” The Monkey King ” but that’s it for me. The main reason I prefer the old horribly English dubbed flicks to the new ones are that many of the actors in those movies were real deal fighters before entering film. For instance, the original ” Iron Monkey ” stars a man named Chen Kwan Tai who very recently passed away. He was the all China Middle Weight Champion in 1969 and Light Heavyweight Champion in 1970. He was a Master ranked practitioner of Monkey style. Kuo Shi Hung ( Eddie Ko Hung ) retired undefeated as all China Middleweight Champion in 1969 after winning the title in 1960. He was an Eagle Claw practitioner. He made many movies during the 1970’s, usually playing the bad guy and getting killed by the good guy -often played by an actor with little real Kung Fu backround – at the end of the movie. He is probably best known here in the US for his role in “Lethal Weapon 4 ” where he plays the part of the father whose family is held hostage by Jet Li’s character as he is forced to make engraved plates to counterfit Ren Men Bi ( Chinese currency ). I though it extremely ironic that Jet Li kills Ko Hung’s character with an Eagle Claw strike to the throat as Ko Hung was a Master of that style and would take out Jet Li in a real fight in a matter of seconds ( as Jet by his own addmission learned lots of forms but never even once sparred an opponent ). Anyway – getting back to the Panda. For me -as for many no doubt who have seen it – the most important scene in the movie is when Po realizes the truth revealed by the reflection of his own face in The Dragon Scroll. He awakens to this truth when his father tells him that “there is no secret ingredient ” in the family recipe for noodle soup. And this is one of the highest truths in Kung Fu. There is no secret ingredient…no Holy Grail Style nor Holy Grail Technique. As Kien Shih ( another real deal Master from the old days ) states in his monologue as his character ” Mr. Han ” makes himself known to the attendees of the welcoming dinner in Bruce Lee’s “Enter The Dragon ”  …” We forge ourselves in the fire of our will “.  There are only three ingredients in Kung Fu- our Shifu, the Kung Fu we learn from our Shifu and ourselves. The style in and of itself is not the most important thing ( taking into account the reality of some styles certainly being more ruthless and efficient than others ) as a lesser efficient stlye can defeat a more efficient and ruthless style if the practioner of the lesser style has trained relentlessly and his opponent has trained lacksadaisically. The most important ingredient is ourselves. We only recieve from Kung Fu that which we put into it. Over time with relentless training the “spirit of the thing ” will reveal itself to us. If we practice with only half a heart, the true spirit will never be revealed. The limit we place upon ourselves will be the deciding factor in how far we advance. And advancement is not rank or acquiring of yet another form – that is a subject for another post!!! So- as this New Year begins, train with resoluteness, with knowing that you are your own forge and strive to achieve as close to perfection as can be achieved. Study of Kung Fu is a journey – like our own lives it is a journey across time – and that journey ends in only two ways ; we stop and choose to ( foolishly and ignorantly ) believe that we have it all figured out or with our death. My journey will end with my passing, another step on my journey across time begins today.

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January 2010
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