Archive Page 2


Thought’s…on “rank”

Been thinking on this as a recent article I read was discussing ” BlackBelt Factory ” schools that issue a B.B. in 2.5 years (average time) or sell 3-4 year ” B.B. Programs “. I have certainly known of places like these, but I have been consistantly displeased with the caliber of ” martial artist ” these sort of places turn out. They are also notorious for handing out B.B. rank to 6 year olds that began ” training ” when they were 3 years old. Sorry, but there is not a child alive that has the cognitive ability to truly grasp what is going on conceptually in any so called system of  ” martial arts “.  ( It is for this reason that I accept no student younger than age 7 at my school .)  There are far more adult practitoners walking around dojo’s wearing a B.B. that don’t have a clue as to the what, how, and why of their ” martial art ” than do have a clue, never mind a 6 year old. And, truly, any parent who believes that their 6 year old B.B. can defend themselves against the average full grown adult is kidding themselves. Yes, there are specialized techniques that a small child can use to attempt to escape from a would be abductor, but these are not taught in a typical modern ” martial arts ” school ( I do teach these techniques in my ” Child / Parent ” self-defense seminar – parent (s) must attend this class ). The classes taught at most modern schools are a watered down version of what is taught to the older kids and the adults (  and the adult classes are mostly watered down versions of the original style as it was practiced in the country of origin! I have known of schools that don’t teach such things as elbow strikes because they were considered to be too dangerous! ) The issue I want to address here is toward older teen / adult classes. No true traditional school is going to allow a student to become ( yes, ” become” as the path is a process ) a B.B. or Yellow Sash ( “teacher” level in my school ) in 2.5 years. There is just way too much to learn…not only is it the basics, techniques and forms that one must be adept at, one must be able to perform all these beyond the level of imitation – like a trained chimpanzee. One must really ” know ” both literally and conceptually everything they have learned physically. Beyond this, however, is the idea that “rank”  is just a thing to be achieved for the sake of achieving something – a goal in and of itself.  Back before a Japanese man named Kano first came up with the presently used belt system – later adopted in sash fashion by the Chinese – there was no formal system of rank. Students of a school knew where their place was in the hierarchy, but this place was not advertised on the students waist. In most of the Chinese systems that pre-dated the sashes worn today, there were only three ranks : student, teacher, and master. A practitioner was awarded rank only when the Master  ( DaiShi ) decided that the student had achieved the standard of proficiency and understanding that the Master  required of his students. Always know that ” a student is a reflection of his teacher. ”  Hard core traditionalists such as myself demand a very high standard as I will be judged indirectly through my students by those who witness my students. I tell my adults ( age 16 and older ) not to be concerned with rank at all. If their concern is rank and how quickly they can obtain it, I tell them to leave and go to such and such a school as it is known as a ” B.B. Factory “. They can then go get a B.B. and attempt to impress their friends by stating ” I’m  a Black  Belt “. Their friends will quickly discover the invalidity of that statement if the braggart ever finds himself in a real fight and gets his head handed to him. The path of the Martial Artist should be one of gathering knowledge and never ending exploration. Knowledge is gathered through the instruction of a competant Master. It can also be gathered through one’s own exploration. For instance, the student may purchase a textbook on anatomy. Through study of the book, the student will understand exactly how certain techniques directly effect the human body. This will contribute to the students understanding of ” the how ” a technique such as a wristlock works and better prepare the student to ask meaningful questions of his Master concerning techniques the Master educates the student in using. The student who has chosen the path of the true Martial Artist will never ask his Master when he will be awarded rank. If the Master raises the subject to the student, the student may inquire as to where the Master thinks the student is along the path thereby leaving open to the Master a response. A Master realizes that the student who persists in inquiry as to ” when am I going to be promoted? ” is not yet ready for promotion. This is a thing the student must come to recognize. The Master will percieve in the student that the student has let go of his concern for being awarded an outwardly visible symbol. This is when the student can truly begin to receive the teaching of the Master as the students mind is free of the restraining chains of bondage that are what thoughts of being awarded ” rank ” actually are. Letting go of the consuming cancer of  ” needing to have the outwardly visible symbol to display as proof that I am somebody ”  is one of the most important of a number of  ” letting go of ‘s  ”  in the process of de-cluttering the mind. These ” letting go of  ”  such and such an ” attachment to a thing, material or temporal ”  lead to a state of  ” whole mind ”  allowing the student to progress along the path unfettered someday arriving at a moment when ” Doing ”  such a thing as performing a form becomes ” Being ” the form – the practitoner runs it as it runs the practitioner. If the practioner were to look behind him at a visual representation of the path he has followed, he would see milestones along the way marked by chains of bondage left in the wake of a moment of letting go of an attachment. The chains of bondage at the point of letting go with ones concern as to rank would be a long length of chain indeed.


Thoughts from GM Cook -Basics

Hello. Once again, it has been awhile…life seems to get in the way not allowing me windows of opportunity to write here. That said…here is this turns topic. Basics. We all learn them ( hopefully correctly !!! ) very early in our martial arts training. But many come to a point in time when the basics are left behind…many choose to believe that once learned and drilled ad nauseum that basics can be substituted and maintained through the running of forms alone.  As someone with decades of study behind me and as a practitioner who also has taught for decades, I believe that this attitude is mistaken. Quite simply, I believe that basics win fights. The fighter with the better basics has a distinctive advantage as his natural reactions/actions honed from years of developing muscle memory will result in superior execution of movement. This is especially true in regards to footwork as properly executed footwork puts us in the most advantageous position in relation to our opponent…if the footwork is correct, the rest of the technique will have to succeed as our position relative to the opponent is perfect – we have him right where we want him to be and he won’t know that until it is too late for him to do anything about it. Basics are often taught as not much more than a series of exercises to teach new students with the aim of moving them along to the point of being ready to learn their first form. It is believed that once somebody knows how to properly execute a front punch or a side-kick that those movements are akin to riding a bicycle, that is never forgotten. True…these movements may never be forgotten, but without constant honing to a high level of proficiency, consistency, and improvment of execution, true expertise and effortless fluidity will never be achieved. Think on this – stripped to their absolute essence, all technique, no matter the degree of complexity, are nothing more than extrapolation of basic movements. The most straightforward blocking motion – say something like a closed fist  ” inside ” block ( rising from across the waist, circling up to stop with the fist facing knuckles in at the face ) can be extrapolated out to many varieties of blocks or strikes with nothing more that a change in the hand position – Open? Closed? Open with palm facing in? Open with palm facing out? Used as a block or as a strike either open or closed hand? Essentially, the ” basic ” movement is all the same. Whether I utilize a hard closed fist block to smash the opponents arm attack or I utilize a ” soft ” open hand ” jou shou ” type block leading to a grab /wrap, the movement of my arm is essentially the same. Only the hand position is different. With my new students, even ones with years of study in other styles, the ” basics” are always visited. I run a ” basics drill ”  in every class stressing as this exercise is being run the importance of these movements and the importance of perfecting them as best we can. I demonstrate to the students how the first 10 movements they learn are the most important they will ever learn. These movements are ” the foundation of the foundation ” that will be layed down when they learn the first 3 forms I teach ( three forms that stress/instruct the student in basic movement, footwork, timing, breathing, rhythm – they are repetitive drill forms that hammer the basics of martial movement into the student ). Forms are a collection of technique in a choreographed arrangement, but technique is a collection of basic movements also arranged, but in a specific order designed to result in a specific outcome. The most complex technique can be broken down to seeing each individual movement at it’s most basic level. This allows us to see how it is possible to ” mix and match ” that which we call ” basics ” in seemingly infinite combinations to create techniques. The key is to first understand  and be able to execute a technique as it is presented in a form, then be able to comprehend the concept being expressed through that technique which will then allow us to extrapolate that concept which lets us perceive the variations of expression in that technique. This allows us to be much more flexible, fluid, and adaptive during an actual fight. There is an old expression in Chinese philosophy first expressed in the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu, the most ancient text of original Taoism. It is stated in that work as an expression of extreme importance and variations of the theme are presented across the work – ” know the root “. This applies to many things and even quite a number of things in the Martial Arts, but most important in relation to the Martial Arts it applies to ” the basics “. Know the root and all else will reveal itself to you with clarity – forsake the root and all else will remain hidden behind a gauzy veil, forever almost seen, almost understood, almost ” I breath it, it breathes me “.


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.


Thoughts from GM Cook on “Forms”

Ni Hao. I’ve been thinking about this subject after, once again, recently experiencing a familiar interaction with a couple of new students. Bruce Lee once famously ( or infamously depending on one’s point of view ) stated in an interview, that he thought ” Forms are a road to nowhere “. Me, I take the latter point of view concerning this subject. I don’t know what caused him to reach this conclusion and I can only speculate. I speculate that Yip Man and his previous teachers must not have explained ” forms ” to him. It is true that in some very traditional schools ” forms ” are taught merely as a dance. Once all the forms in a system are learned, the student and Master  ” return to the beginning ” and begin to break down each movement in each ” form .” Other teachers like myself and those that taught me had a different philosophy, that being teaching a ” form ” and breaking it down into the present individual techniques plus the concepts those techniques express before learning another “form “. Either approach will work, but a teacher may lose a student, especially in these modern times when a student is not some sort of indentured servant to the Master at his school or a monk at a temple, if the teacher fails to impart some level of education as to what the ” form ” being learned is really all about. I raise this subject because of two very recent interactions with students. One who is a student in my Self Defense course and another who is a student in my adult class. Both have experience in other styles from what I teach. The Self Defense student studied years ago and quit after three years. His reason for doing so was that after nearly three years of study he was allowed to participate in contact sparring. He told me how the blackbelts at the school looked incredible running their kata. And yet when it came to sparring,  this ( at the time ) young adult who had run the streets of Baltimore beat every blackbelt in the room. He asked himself what he was learning if he could beat the top students easily as a blue belt. He felt as though he had been wasting his time for three years and walked away from study. My full time student has experience with several other schools and near ten years of study. He has been with me a short time. The other night the students were working on a quite basic technique taken from the very movements I had taught this fairly new student. As they were working this technique, I would step in and do the technique to his partner talking all the way through it, explaining each individual movement that made up the complete ( and seemless ) technique. I showed him exactly where in both the ancient animal based Qi Gong exercises conducted at the beginning of class and in the very first ” form ” he is learning where this technique came from. A near visible lightbulb flashed over his head. Both of these students said almost identical words to me…” Wow! You know, Master Cook, nobody ever explained a form like this to me before “. My self defense student said these words relating to the techniques he had learned as I do not teach any ” forms ” in the Self Defense course, but this is irrelevant to this discussion. What is relevant is that in both of these instances ( and this scenario has happened innumerable times in my 30 year teaching career ) two people that had studied two different systems at schools in different parts of the country from different instructors had very similar experiences. They learned ” forms “, but had no clue at all as to what they were doing beyond running them like some sort of a choreographed dance routine. Very sad. I do not look at ” forms ” as a ” road to nowhere ” although I agree that one cannot become a proficient fighter by running them only…one does need to engage an ” opponent ” in practice to really comprehend concepts like timing, speed, balance, etc. along with the physical feelings of contact made when blocking, striking, throwing,etc. Yet this idea remains – ” forms ” are a reference manual of technique and concrete ideas and abstract concepts. Every movement executed in a ” form ” has – or should have – purpose. A ” form ” should be understood to be an educational tool that instructs, through endless repeatition, footwork, handwork, breath control, muscle control and tension, and technique. Most important, a ” form ” should awaken in the practitioners mind the concepts the techniques and the individual movements in the ” form ” represent. Many ” hard ” and ” soft ” techniques are very, very similar if not identical in their individual concept…it is how the concept is expressed that is different. Many techniques or movements also have ( as the “principle of opposites ” expressed through the Tai Chi Diagram – the concept of Yin and Yang _ demands ) both offensive and defensive applications. Beyond this separation of offense / defense, many techniques also contain conceptually the very idea understood by serious students of ancient Chinese Philosophy…Yin and Yang dissolve into nothingness, negating each other, becoming one. In applied technique this means that we do away with the idea of separating offense and defense and execute both at the same time. All of this can be come to be understood through learning ” forms “, but only if the ” forms ” are taught in complete context. Complete context is not as an empty dance, but an encyclopedic reference manual that can be understood on many levels and , just like a book, offer deeper and deeper comprehension each time it is ” read.”  Of course, one must have a teacher that understands the ” concept of Forms ” in this manner. If not, as like  the students mentioned above I have encountered in my career, ” forms ” will always be an empty dance and ” a road to nowhere “. What a pity…


Thoughts from GM Cook on “Styles”

I’ve been mulling this thought over again in my mind as I have received a couple of phone calls over the last two days. The calls were a result of the latest advertising campaign for my school. I always ask the caller what their interest in Kung Fu is…why did they choose Kung Fu as opposed to any other martial art. What has occured in these two latest calls is this ; the caller states that they are looking for a very particular style, inevitably a style I do not teach. I ask them why they are looking for that particular style. They tell me that they have heard or read about it and that it sounded like the ” Holy Grail ” of styles to them. I try to explain that no such style exists and how some styles simply work better for different people and that the caller needs to explore a bit to determine what style fits them best. I also explain that I teach a variety of styles to my students, taking them through a varied curriculum of 15 empty handed forms ( weapons are taught after completion of these forms ) then allowing them to choose a direction to focus on…”hard” style, “soft” style, a style that focusses more on grappling than boxing, etc. The callers find this interesting, but I already know as I am speaking that they will never come to my school. I know this because I know that these people have closed their minds to any other possible outcome to their search than the one they have decided on. It is interesting to me that the overwhelming majority of these people have either no experience or extremely limited experience in the martial arts. They have put their trust in the cover article of a magazine or something they found online. This leads me to say the following ; there is no ” Holy Grail ” style of martial art. The now extremely popular Brazilian JuiJitsu is a great workout and a great sport style. But as a pure street fighting system it is lacking. The last thing a person who finds himself  / herself facing a multiple attack situation wants to do is to take the first attacker to the ground to put a choke hold on them. That choke will take upwards of 7 seconds to have the desired effect of loss of consiousness of the attacker. Meanwhile of course, the first attacker’s buddies are just going to stand there and watch their leader being choked out, right? No, they won’t. They will tear you off of the lead attacker and in the process literally kick the crap out of you while you are down on the ground. On the other hand of this argument is what does the pure boxer do if faced with even a one-on-one attack situation and he does find himself taken to the ground by a reasonably skilled grappler? The pure boxer will find himself way outside of his element and in big trouble at the very deep end of the pool. Yes, there are styles within the martial arts that offer some degree of a blend of techniques, but these are few, especially here in the USA. Many focus on one area, such as BJJ focussing on grappling or Tae Kwan Do focussing almost exclusively on foot fighting. The problem with this is that the artist who chooses to focus on only one aspect of the martial arts has imposed limitations on themselves. They frequently become so specialized that they are at a complete loss when faced with a situation that is outside of their area of expertise. All aspects of the martial arts have their valid reasons for existing…if a thing can happen in any situation imaginable, it can happen in a combat situation. Knowing that this is a truth, we must logically conclude that we must have at the very least a cursory understanding of all approaches of the arts. This does not mean that one needs to be a Master of all the arts…one would need several lifetimes to acheive such a thing if it would even be possible under such a scenario! But a practitioner should be more than familiar with a varity of approaches. The priciples of absorbtion and redirection in the ” internal ” or ” soft ” styles should be understood well enough to be utilized by the practitioner of an ” external ” or “hard ” style and vice-versa. The practitioner of a pure boxing style should know well enough how to be able to utilize joint manipulation techniques ( and how to counter them ). In short, we should not as practitioners of  ” the martial arts ” confine and limit ourselves to one aspect of the arts. We should pursue mastery of that which we feel ” fits ” us best ( and much of this  ” fit ” is personality driven…a person of a passive nature will almost universally be more comfortable with a style such as Tai Chi Chuan as opposed to the direct and violent confrontational attitude of a style such as ShanTung – ” Black Tiger ” ) on our journey across time. We should never cease pursuing never ending self improvement in both ourselves and our chosen art. But we should not neglect understanding nor certainly not choose outright ignorance due to ego issues, other approaches to given situations than that which our chosen art offers us. Think of this outside of the martial arts world…who would you rather spend hours of time with; an individual that has the capability to discuss with obvious knowledge a wide variety of subjects or a person who only knows everthing there is to know about only one subject? Yes, the level of information you could acquire from person who knows that one subject better than anyone else would be substantial. But the facination would wear off quickly if no other subject could be discussed. A well rounded education is important for both the average person in the world and the practitioners of the martial arts. One can be a specialist in ancient Greek literature, but please have some semblance of a clue of some general knowledge of other areas. Across history many of the finest minds of the martial studies from cultures across the globe advocated the concept of the ” scholar-warrior “. From monks at temples in ancient India and China to the Greeks of ancient Athens ( Thucydides for instance) to Japanese Samurai such as Musashi through to institutes of higher learning here in the US such as West Point or Annapolis, the constant is education and knowledge of areas outside of ones expertise. As Bruce Lee so eloquently put it to his “student ” in a scene early in the movie ” Enter The Dragon ” …” It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory”.


Thoughts on “nutrition”

Ni Hao. I would like to comment on Vinny’s comment regarding “nutrition”. I too get a laugh from the phrase ” fastfood martial arts “. I also am dismayed by that phrase. I am dismayed by it due to the reality that so much of what passes for ” martial arts ” in the world today, but most especially in the United States, falls into that catagory. Much of this is due to the overegulation of our broader society in general and the litiginous nature of our present modern society. Many ” martial art schools ” will not teach certain techniques out of nothing more than fear of being sued into oblivion by a student ( or more likely the parents of a younger student ) because that student received an injury during class. By the action of avoiding teaching certain techniques or not teaching certain styles coupled with using an overabundance of protective gear ( head to toe padding so constrictive as to leave the person playing attacker near immoble for example ) everything taught at such a school is watered down. Usually, the bigger the school the greater the watering down. This is a result of there being so many students in so many classes that the classes are being taught by ( maybe ) a first degree black belt. And most of these “black belts ” earned that rank through study under other “student teachers ”  who receive a lesson with the actual head of the school once a week. This leads to the status of  ” fastfood “. The school is a money making machine and it is understood by the owner that the bottom line is the primary function of the school. It is assumed that most students will come and go within a year, perhaps less. A typical class runs 45 minutes long and largely consists of people lined up in neat rows “practicing ” punches and kicks. When a technique is ” practiced ” all reality is removed from the scenario by the overuse of protective gear. The students psychologically and unconciously rely on the gear. What care is there if the student is actually hit? There is no pain received from the blow, so there is no fear. How does this relate to “nutrition” some of you may be asking at this point? Easy – it relates to nutrition for the mind. If the mind understands that the body will not feel pain because the protective gear will disallow that feeling, if the mind understands that the body will not be touched when “point sparring ” because actual contact is disallowed, the mind suffers from lack of  “nutrition”. The mind comes to believe that  this practice ” is real ” when in fact it is not-at all. I have taught students that came from schools that teach in this manner. ” Black Belts ” that have never been truly hit. The first time they get hit they fold and drop. The mind just received a serious dose of nutrition as the body is registering pain from the hit just taken. Please understand that I am not advocating the use of un-necessary brutality in teaching. I am, however advocating realism. Practicing exercises that teach how to absorb a blow, practicing techniques in a realistic ( yet still controlled ) manner, sparring with moderate contact…these methods are vitamin nutrition for the mind. The body takes the hit and there is pain, yet the mind comes to understand after being on a steady nutritious diet, that pain is temporary, that the body can continue to function through it. In a real life dangerous encounter with an attacker one must be prepared to be hit. If ones reaction to being hit is to drop into a fetal position from experiencing real pain from a blow, one is doomed. If ones reaction to being hit is to acknowledge the pain of the hit and then engage the opponent with a ferocious counter strike, doom is now the realm of the opponent. The other part of this ” nutrition ” for the mind is meditation. Meditation feeds the mind by ” removing and organizing the clutter ” bringing us to a mental state of clarity, focus, and calm – an inner state that is reflected in our outer affect. Meditation is a super vitamin of nutrition for the mind. For the body, food is our source of  ” nutrition “. We should eat the best food we can. We should eat a well balanced diet and eliminate from our diet that which we know is terrible for us to consume. Know that there are two types of  ” Chi “…refined and coarse. Refined is taken in through the lungs through breathing ( ” Chi ” in Mandarin very literally means ” breath “, but is also translated as meaning ” ultimate ” as in the case of  Tai Chi Chuan which is translated as “Great Ultimate Fist ” ). Coarse Chi is taken in to the stomach through the food we consume. The higher the grade of food we consume, the higher the grade of Chi and the greater amount of Chi do we take in. One can receive near zero benefit from consuming a diet purchased at McDonalds and Krispy Kream. I do not mean to imply here that one must be a strict vegan purchasing only all organic produce. What I am implying is to learn what food is good for the body, what to eat and when. One should know what to eat before a heavy workout session and what to eat immediately after to receive the maximum benefit from both the pysical exercise performed and the ” nutrition ” consumed to best compliment all that pysical work. One should know what foods are best known to ward off sickness and disease and eat these, knowing of course these foods opposites which contribute to sickness and disease and to avoid them. ” Nutrition ” for the person who has chosen to follow the true path of the ” Scholar / Warrior ” consists of many diets. There is the obvious physical nutrition we receive through exercise ( which includes our training ), but there is also the nutrition we receive through the consuming of the foods that are the best for us. And then there is the most often neglected nutrition, that for the mind. That nutrition comes in the form of meditation and never ending self education i.e. continuing study of other subjects which interest us be it music, history, medicine, science…The true ” Scholar /Warrior ” neglects none of these areas of potential “nutrition”. Our path is one of constant examination, reflection, analysis, education and self-education…a path of constant self -improvement always leading us to achieve the status of  ” Tong Chi Ren ”  i.e. a Superior Person ( and that means leaving ego in its place !!! ). Our path is a journey across time and we must come to understand that this journey is not measured in days or accomplishments or things acquired both material and not ( such as “one more form” ) but in the never ending polishing of the that which is that which we are.


Some quick thoughts on the comments…

I would like to say a few things about the comments so far. As for the questioned posed by Steve concerning “warrior mindset” and the potential difference between the level of aggression in a style such as Shan Tung versus something like say,Pa Men…there is no difference. This is where the concept of  ” being ” really comes into play. Recall I have stated that ” as you run the form, the form runs you ”  and that ” when running an animal form, be the animal “. The Tiger explodes with ferocity in its attack on prey…this is its  ” nature “. The Preying Mantis will sit patiently in perfect stillness as it awaits its prey to enter into the Mantis’s range prior to the explosion of released speed used to suddenly overwhelm the prey…this is its  ” nature “. Pa Men uses softness to absorb and redirect the opponents attack taking the opponents energy directed at us away from him and then returning that energy coupled with our own energy back to him…this the  ” nature ” of Pa Men. So, whether a “form” is modeled on the ” nature ” of an animal or modeled on concepts of physics and geometry such as ” Classic Manner ” the “form” ( or more properly the ” style ” ) still has a ” Nature ” of it’s own. In the ” warrior mindset ” there is no difference between using any of these styles in combat. There are, quite simply, ultimately only ” technique “…a methodology. Regardless of the style, when we utilize the style in either ” Practice ” or in “Combat ” the  ” warrior mindset ” is the same. We are ” Being ” the style and the style is  ” Being ” us…the execution of our movements reflect the ” nature ” of the technique being expressed through us. The mind is still calm, focussed, clear, and poised like the open bow regardless of the technique being expressed. We are expressing the ” nature ” of the technique by ” Being” that which we are expressing and that which is expressing us. Thus, to the warrior, there is no difference between the extreme aggression of the Black Tiger or the water like principles of Pa Men. There is only the ” Nature ” of the technique  ” Being “. The attitude is the same in true practice or in combat. ” Be ” the technique, train until the technique ” Be ” you understanding on all levels that the mental and physical training has one ultimate aim…to destroy the opponent. I will return to this subject and give more thought concerning this at another point in time.

February 2020
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