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|PLEASE NOTE: So as to avoid "flame wars" and any kinds of politicking we have omitted the names of styles, it is not about the style but about the individual/students attitude and ability to "be taught", some people are "unteachable". Also, one style may suit one person and not another. E-mail comes with a certain amount of anonimity, you don't actually see the other person. However, should we receive e-mails or questions that seem like trolling they will be ignored.|
|MARTIAL ARTS ETIQUETTE, PHILOSOPHY,
"The one who says it cannot be done,
"Promises may get friends, but it is performance that keeps them" - Owen Feltham
"A boy becomes a man when he learns to walk around a puddle instead of through it"
"Every great man is always being helped by everybody; for his gift is to get good out of all things and all persons" - Ruskin
"Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think" - Benjamin Disraeli
"The worst thing in your life may contain seeds of the best. When you can see crisis as an opportunity, your life becomes not easier, but more satisfying" - Joe Kogel
"Those who speak do not know, and those who know do not speak" - Lao Tzu
"It is better to be careful 100 times than dead once" - Mark Twain
"Imagination is more important than the accumulation of knowledge" - Albert Einstein
"A bamboo door can believe it is a wooden door and never know the truth"
"The wind turns a ship from its course on the waters, the wandering winds of the senses cast a person's mind adrift, and turns their better judgment from its courses. When a person can still their senses I call them illuminated" - A Sanskrit Poem written in India about 200 BC -
"A man is born gentle and weak.
|QUESTION: I have seen your web site and i am very
in your style, but, aside from the beautiful techniques of 5 animal
style i wonder about the functionality of this style in a real fight. I
am currently stuck on a choice between this style or another style
which I think might be more functional, and honestly, i am more
interested in being able to successfully defend myself. what do you
think of the other style, and which is more functional. Thank
ANSWER: Thank you for your questions.
Pardon the long reply but I felt, upon consideration, that your question required a longer reply. I hope you are open to what I have to offer and accept it in the instructional vein in which it is given.
It sounds as if you have already made your mind up. In that case I would suggest that you go with what you have set your mind on, which seems to be the other style you mentioned. There is nothing wrong with knowing what you want and going after that thing, that is what a journey is about. It is not my desire to talk someone out of one style for the purpose of talking them into another style, or my style. I am not a Kung-Fu proselytizer.
To answer your question regarding the style which I teach. You are correct, it could be considered an attractive style to view, although, what I do is not acrobatic or "Jackie Chan like". I don't know if you have actually viewed what I do, it sounds as if you have only been to my website. While attractive, it is not "fancy". What I do is known for it's simplicity and directness. Is it effective? Besides other positions, engagements, situations, etc., in life I also grew up in a very bad suburb of Los Angeles and had multiple opportunities to "acid test" what I was taught against more than one person, on more than one occasion, and dealing with knives. In each instance, what I had learned did not fail me.
You mention a "real fight". Is there anything else but a real fight? I would submit to you that if you are only fighting one person, and if you are staging all your techniques, and if you have any kind of rules, and if you are doing "courtesy attacks", and if you are wearing padded gloves, foot gear, head gear, etc., and if you are pulling your strikes, and if you are limiting the areas you are attacking or being attacked on because they have the potential of severe damage and/or are lethal, and if you are not putting 150 percent into your attacks, ad nauseam, THEN you are not practicing real fighting. I have had people hit me while wearing gloves whose intention was scoring a point. I have also had people hit me with their bare knuckles who meant to do severe bodily harm - there is a vast difference being hit with bare knuckles and one cannot nearly approximate or compare to the other.
More thoughts - if you are barefoot when you practice then perhaps you are not practicing "real", because, do you wear shoes most of the time? If the answer is yes then you should make sure you are comfortable with, and can make what you do work with shoes on (even if you only wear shoes occasionally). It has to work and feel natural under these "real conditions". A person should also spend time practicing in regular street clothes, which our students are encouraged to do and we do have periodic classes that are "street clothes nights". Do you practice on a nice even surface all the time? Is it well lit? is it comfortable with heating and air conditioning? These are likely not to be real circumstances. You might be on uneven surfaces, in dimly lit or dark areas and it is likely that it will not be air-conditioned or warm and toasty. Your are likely to be surprised and not warmed up to do high kicks or to assume a ready stance. You are more than likely to be caught in unfavorable conditions, which are factors that I suggest my students train under and which we occasionally try to simulate in class. I also tell students that when they are sick, have headaches or other such problems they should get up and try at least a few techniques because this is another time when you might be caught in unfavorable conditions. Being a master means being at your BEST when you are at your WORSE. It has little if anything to do with a belt you tie around your waist or a title you or someone else gives to you. Sometimes all that belt does is hold your pants up and your clothes together. It isn't about "having rank", the right associations or connections, or a "position of perceived authority" but it IS about "being capable".
Preparing you for possible street altercations should involve more than one person coming at you, it should involve protecting yourself from multiple attackers. This is something we work on doing. You should also prepare for the reality of weapons and the sobering consequences and sacrifices that might have to be made in defending yourself against weapons.
There are no "flowery movements" in what we do, there is no wasted movement. Every movement has a meaning, every movement is a tool and every one of them is an effective tool. If a person cannot make them work then they either 1) didn't learn 2) didn't pay attention 3) was not taught or 4) was a bad student. I was taught to make every move I do effective. Students I have are also "capable" I have had new students come into my class from time to time who needed "convincing", that is one reason I am there, but it is far from being the most important reason I am there. Having to "convince" a person extensively is a waste of time and takes time from serious students - as the old saying goes "if you don't like my fruit, don't shake my tree".
Forms, which is how technique is "coded" in Kung-Fu, are not useless tools as some might contend or assume. Forms are a tool box. You extract the tool that you want to use when you need it. Repeating forms ingrains those tools into your body and mind so that they become a reflex. Forms do many other things for you as well but that is a large article of information in and of itself which is beyond the scope of your question, in some regards.
Here is a thought for you. If you only want to learn to fight go over to the worse side of town you can find, go into the worse looking bar you can find there, find the biggest and meanest guy in the bar you can. Go over and spit in his drink. When you get out of the hospital do it again. Eventually you will learn to fight. Of course is that really the pathway and method you want to follow to learn how to fight? For some, I guess it is. Put a hard fighter against a smart fighter and the smart fighter will win. Kung-Fu is called the art of moving 1,000 pounds with one ounce - there is a lot in that statement that goes beyond the body. Some people will tell you that what they do is very "visceral", that which is instinctive and felt in the gut. However, all martial arts should be. "Martial" arts, martial is defined as "war like" - not war like in the modern sense. Long ago there was no Geneva conventions, no neutral zones, no rules of engagement, etc., there was the guy that walked away and the guy that did not, that is pretty visceral and that is what these arts arose from. There is the spirit and attitude that if you are willing to attack me then I am willing to die with you, I'd call that visceral. But there is also the spirit that if we have common ground perhaps we can get along, if we have no common ground then we can get along by being better strangers. It is said there was an Indian lake which had 2 tribes of Indian, each living on opposite sides of the lake. They did not like each other, so they stayed on their opposite sides of the lake. The name of the lake, in English, was "you fish on your side, I fish on my side and no one fishes in the middle". That is a higher degree of wisdom. You don't have to like everyone but you also don't have to be at everyone's throat. There is no need to fight all the time or convince everyone that you are the top dog, or that you are the man in charge or biggest and the badest. Those attitudes arise from insecurity and lots of "baggage". There is yet another saying that "a boy becomes a man when he learns to walk around a puddle instead of stomping through it".
You have asked me about other styles, perhaps to even tell you which is more effective and functional. That, ultimately is your call, not mine. I'd suggest you check out the other styles, compare them yourself. I spent many years learning my style from my teacher because I felt it was the most functional and effective for me and because I felt I had the best teacher available - not because I thought it was inferior. Had I thought the best or most effective style for me was something else then that, obviously, would have been what I would have studied and spent long hours sweating over and working on. So I can not guess what you are hoping to ascertain or accomplish by asking me that question. IF there were one superior style then everyone would be studying that one style by now. There are many arts out there and they have been out there for quite a while - we can safely say that the proverbial "cat" is "out of the bag". So everyone would be studying that ONE superior style. Since that has not happened then we can safely say there is not one superior style - there is what fits you best. You have to find the "pathway" that works for you. What will you do with what you learn? Will you assume you can absorb it via osmosis? Will you assume that learning a technique merely adequately once and then rush on to the next one will prepare you adequately? Will you assume that you can take a 6 week self defense crash course and be the next martial arts wonder? Will you assume it is an easy task? I can tell you that an attacker, street attacker or someone with skill and training, can be a formidable opponent. They have experience, have hurt other people and only view their victims as an obstacle to be over come, something to be removed from between them and what they want. They're not squeamish about doing whatever they feel they need or want to do to you, and without any compunction of conscience whatsoever. They are a different category of humanity, if you want to classify them with humanity. On the other hand will you train hard, listen, be regular in class and take instruction? It never ceases to amaze me how people come to martial arts and think it is Burger King where you can "get it your way". Why would someone assume that. Would you contact a neuro surgeon or heart surgeon and tell him how to operate on you? Would you tell your car mechanic how to fix your car if you don't know how a car works? Presumably you seek out an expert in a given field because you know nothing of it and they, on the other hand, do. If that is the case then one should enter humbly, accept instruction and criticism and follow that person who has been where you want to go. I have written alot and I offer all of this to you for WHEREVER you decide to train, it is important that you have the right attitude. Attitude wont make training easy but it will make or break, thwart or facilitate your training experience (and your interactions in all walks of life). Martial arts is a discipline not only of the body, but of the mind, and of the mouth and a discipline of the filter between the mind and mouth, it is a discipline of discernment to see people's agendas and motives and much more.
Perhaps I have given you more information than you wanted, perhaps not what you wanted to hear. But the lesson is usually what is "needed" not what is "wanted". Somehow I feel as if all of the proceeding information was necessary and should be of use to you. Someone once asked a person who had achieved enlightenment how it was and they replied "I am as miserable as ever, it is an arrow straight to hell". People are miserable or upset with the answers they sometimes receive because it might not be what they want to hear, be open to what you hear and do not do what most people want to do, to deconstruct the truth in order to accommodate what they are doing or what they want to do or what the want to delude themselves into believing. They should not fish merely for what they want to hear.
That is an ailment that is prevalent in society now.
I hope you have found some, if not all of this of use. I wish you the best of luck on your journey and I hope you find not what you seek but what you need, if you are open to it you will be far more enriched by it.
QUESTION: Hi i am 16 years of age, and after training for 7 years I feel that I wish to start training in other forms, mainly weapons as I have had allot of interest in that area since I was young. I live in New Zealand but have not been able to find any local weapons specialists to advise me. Can you please
ANSWER: Thank you for your question.
Weapons training is indeed an interesting subject and there are many excellent benefits to be found in training that I think might not be obvious or escapes people sometimes. 1) you learn to control a weapon should one ever be pulled on you, 2) you learn how to improvise that weapon from commonly available objects should you be in a situation where you need to use a weapon, 3) you get weight training which can build strength which also vastly benefits your empty hand work, 4) that weight training from weapons, some of which are very heavy, help build bones as you get older which is good for your skeleton/bones (and a little more interesting than just pumping a weight up and down ;-)), 5) you can develop speed and control when you learn to manipulate a large heavy object without that object's weight taking control over you (some weapons are very heavy), 6) learning to manipulate that weight and heavy weapon transfers over into other areas of your training such as learning to manipulate another persons weight and throw or otherwise position and manipulate them with much more ease, 7) improves your grip and hand strength because you have to be able to hang on to the weapon so you do not lose it, 8) this grip power also transfers to joint locks, pinching blood vessels and many other hand manipulations that are necessary in your martial arts forms and training. I could go on and on but I am going to stop myself there :-).
I mention this because I have heard people say that they do not want to do weapons training because it is "too violent". I think that violence is a state of mind that comes out of the body, the state of mind that we, as martial artists, train in is one of peace and self control, that we only use our knowledge if we have to. So weapons are not a matter of violence, weapons training teaches you all of the things listed above and teaches you self-control. Besides, if you think about what we train to do empty handed, that is pretty violent :-). We have the ability as martial artists to do great harm and damage yet the desire to hurt no one. So we train to have the ability to do great damage should we need to, sometimes you may want to get along with a person, but as badly as you want to get along with them they want just that badly to do harm to you. There is a saying which goes "as much as it is up to you, live in peace with everyone", the key part of that phrase is "as much as it is up to you", when the other persons is in a state of contention and coming at you it is no longer "up to you" they took the choice away. Make sense?
Pardon my taking a detour there, to answer your question now. It is difficult for me to tell you what to do as I am not from New Zealand. I am also not in your school but if you have not already looked into your style you might check with your instructor to see what weapons there are to learn at your school. After that, my best advice would be for you to check out schools that have the weapons you are interested in and seeing about training there. I am assuming that where you are there are no weapons or limited weapons. So, if that is the case, then just shop around and see what is available to you. Check the local schools, see if there are classes in the local parks, the YMCA's, etc. It will take some work on your part but I bet that if you work at it you will find what you are looking for. Does that help? Please feel free to contact me via my e-mail if you need to, just go to my websites listed below and you will find my e-mail there.
QUESTION: Hi, have a bit of a delima, I was learning Kung-Fu style and reached Brown sash level, our instructor left and I took over the class, I learned the black sash but could not grade because I had to go to "2 brown sash courses" first, but I moved, I've contacted the organization and basically been shut out, not paying dues, no info type thing. Anyway, I would like to teach here but I don't know how right it would be, I don't feel comfortable with not being a Black sash, even though I know the syllabus. Is this a real problem? I don't want to seem like one of those people who learn a bit and then quit and open their own school.
So I'd like your advice, is it possible to open a small school/class(this is for more of a hobby not a business) but not being a black sash? Should I name the style something else?.
ANSWER: Thank you for choosing me for your question.
Well, first of all I am not involved in the style you mention (name of style has been omitted) system so I can't advise you on the inner workings of the system, how it is structured or what is and is not appropriate in your instance. I am also NOT involved in any kind of politics or political structures. I solely run my teachings and school
I am independent from anyone, any persons or any organizations, I am not under anyone's behest.
I can tell you about my background and experience which may or may not relate to you. My instructor had me start teaching here and there in his school as a brown sash. While I was a brown sash he wanted me to start teaching on my own. I was reluctant and simply told him that I was not comfortable doing so until I was a black sash. So, in my instructor's eyes I was ready to teach as a brown sash.
Now you have said in your first paragraph that you have "learned the black sash" then in the second paragraph you say that you "know the syllabus" then in the last paragraph you mention not being a black sash. So I am a bit confused in a way. I am not understanding since it seems that you have indicated in one place that you have the knowledge of a black sash, but you are a brown sash.
You also talk about paying dues, joining organizations and being shut out. These are all things I can't tell you anything about because I am entirely independent. Being an individual and independent was something that my instructor emphasized. I have found over the years that I entirely avoid affiliation with any organizations that wants to tell me how to be, how to do things, what to do, where to go, where I cannot go, etc. I figure I am an adult (and an American) and so I don't need that kind of "monitoring" and "micro managing". By being independent no one can tell me that I CAN'T go to a certain event, school, etc. I also cannot be told that I HAVE to go to another event, school, etc. By my thinking I am an adult and live in America and as such I have certain inalienable rights, as stated in our Constitution. I have a drivers license, I vote, I get myself up in the morning and put myself to bed at night, you will have to pardon my bluntness but I feed myself, I wipe myself, I blow my own nose. I have a family and bills, and I work hard, I am a man - and I see no reason why I would give up any aspect of my manhood, my American rights and my independence over to anyone for any reason - I have far more to loose in giving up any of my independence and I have far more to gain by retaining my independence. There are many who give up a great deal of their independence and manhood to others. This society and country is not based on serfism, so why self impose it on one's self.
To be told what you can and cannot do in your own school and, in effect, your own life speaks far to much about a persons insecurities and ignorance of the freedoms they have - if they live in a free country.
I apologize for going on and on but I feel very strongly about independence and freedom as I feel people have forgotten sometimes that they are American and have certain rights.
Now having said all that, of course, I am not by any means saying that is what is taking place with you, your school or the organizations you have been associated with. I am simply telling you that I have no advice for you in the area of organizations or any of the things you are talking about because anyone I am associated with have had the attitude that I am, first and foremost, independent and stand alone.
So, I guess this is a situation you are going to have to use your judgment on this issue.
I hope this has helped some and not sounded too harsh or abrasive, it is not meant to be, it is just how I do, feel and think about such things. I hope, too, this has given you some things to think about.
|A Vessel of Honor
The following writing was doing by Dorothy Jean West and has many good points for us to consider, read it and see what you get from it - thanks for your contribution!
Vessels must be prepared to have value (here we could consider ourselves the vessel)
Vessels must be empty
A Vessel must be ready
Finally, you should meditate and think on these things, contemplate on what you offer and give in a positive way, perhaps you need to be more positive and offer more positive things, you may then receive more positive things. Do the things that occupy your mind and thoughts enhance, encourage, and build you up? (and the others around you).
Why are these things important, because the things that take place in your mind, that occupy your thoughts and heart are manifested in the real world and can beneficially or adversely affect not only you but others and the entire world around you.
Remember, nothing that is good and of worth tears down, nothing good or of worth is achieved without giving of yourself, and nothing good or of worth is gained without battles scars.
Written by Sifu Jean
|Bury Me with Soldiers
I’ve played a lot of roles in life
I’ve met a lot of men
I’ve done a lot of things, I’d like to think
I wouldn't’t do again
And through I’m young, I'm old enough
To know someday I'll die
And to think about what lies beyond
And beside who I would lie
Perhaps it doesn’t matter much
Still if I had my choice,
I’d want a grave amongst soldiers
When at last death quells my voice
I'm sick of the hypocrisy
Of lectures of the wise
I'll take the man, with all the flaws
Who goes, though scared and dies
The troops I knew were commonplace
They didn’t want the war
They fought because their fathers
And their fathers had before
They cursed and killed and wept
They’re easy to deride
But bury me with men like these
They faced the gun and died
Its funny when you think of it
They way we got along
We'd come from different worlds
To live in one where no one belongs
I didn’t even like them all
I'm sure they’d all agree
Yet I would give my life for them
I know some did for me
So bury me with soldiers, please
Though much maligned they be
Yes, bury me with soldiers
For I miss their company
We’ll not see their likes again
We’ve had our fill of war
But bury me with men like them
Till someone else does more
- Author Unknown Soldier
By Bill Wilson
|THE MARTIAL ARTS INSTRUCTOR
The relationship of the instructor to the training hall is very difficult to define, as it encompasses many varying aspects of life. The instructor must flow through the student in many levels of communication and reach to the far corners of his life. The instructor is a father and at times , a mother; an advisor and a chastiser. The instructor though different, is the same as everyone else. He is human and deserves respect, for he has traveled very long upon the way.
The instructor is a good teacher. By this, it is meant that he can convey the appropriate knowledge to his students at the correct time in the best manner. He must be able to see them and their problems as they seldom can - impartially. The instructor shows no favor. As progression is attained he becomes harder on those who progress. He is kind but firm to the beginners on the path.
He advises in an appropriate manner on the inner spiritual aspects of the art. He always has a friendly ear to listen, but is not outwardly moved. Many people are unable to see the instructor properly. They tend to seem him as a teacher or friend. He is neither. He is both. He is more. He sees a student in a free way, unmoved by the external face or appearance, and helps in the best way. If he has to be hard, he is so. If he has to be soft, he is so. His attitudes are in the best interest of the student.
Often the instructor may test his students by taking views diametrically opposed to theirs and watch their reaction. He will seldom openly praise. In the martial arts, silence is the best praise. He will note what affects the student in and out of the training hall, how he acts towards his friends, family, fellow students; and act accordingly. He will say nothing when he should speak. He is kind and understanding. He can be hard. He can be compassionate. Through all these externals, his heart is forever with them. He listens when they speak and understands their feelings. He is unmoved but can move charitably if necessary.
He is active in a subdued way. He gives while others take, and asks no reward. He is sad. He is happy. He is let down. He is uplifted. He holds to the way, for that way is him.
Through outside may change, the instructor does not; though he can adapt at will, he inward ideals are always there.
He may be abused, but he thanks in return; blamed or criticized, he persists. He persists when there is no reason to, that is why he is a Master.
On the average, it takes 2,000 students to produce one good master/martial arts instructor.
If you have one - take good care of him.
- AUTHOR UNKNOWN -
|The following is an article written in the form of a
is very interesting, read it and see what it means to you.
When the Wind came
The Wood was retrieved
The Ox would not lead
Refusing to Learn
The Seeker's cup was too full
So left to himself
What does this mean to you
The Ox they killed and ate
Written by Sifu Jean
Sifu Jean, recently had this poem published - Congratulations!
|CLASS RULES AND ETTIQUETTE
- get to know this
information and put it into practice.
Try to arrive on time for class, things do happen but for the most part try to be punctual. This is so you get the most from class, if you are late just join in quitely.
No hats in class - exception would be for outdoor practice
Keep your sash and uniform in clean and neat condition.
Practice between class. If you have to review old material that will be your instruction for that class.
Be prepared when I come to check you - meaning you have practiced and are ready.
be considerate and respectful of your fellow classmates
be considerate and respectful of the teacher and school
when you can't make it to class notify me and/or Sifu Jean, that is part of your discipline, be sure to do it
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