News and Blog
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on June 19, 2014 at 2:40 AM|
When learning Kung Fu to pursue peace, balance and harmony one learns to fight. When learning Kung Fu to fight one learns to be peaceful, balanced and harmonious.
A concept which repeatedly reveals itself in all manner and variety of forms to the Kung Fu practitioner is “balance” and we begin to understand that all things have an opposite which balances them… all things.
I have deliberated for some time what to do for my first blog post on behalf of Mountain Path Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy. I considered topic after topic, I debated on what to name the blog, I debated on whether or not to maintain the same manner of naming convention for each entry that I did for my previous blog at The Healing Journey Project (www.healingjourneyproject.com). Earlier today I decided I would simply let the universe bring the topic and those details to me; and so it has.
Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum We’ve all heard it, “He who wants peace prepares for war.” At this point, this ancient Latin phrase has been used in so many B-movies and by so many presumed tough guys that the phrase has lost its luster. Pax per Potens “Peace Through Power.” This phrase too, the motto of the USS Peleliu and an old Reagan throw back, seems to have lost its meaning in a world where so many tough guys are only tough if their prey is weak.
It’s all fine and well to sum up Warrior Virtue in a cliché sound bite, but to presume understanding of a warrior culture through such cliché is simply absurd. Of course, these cliché sounding phrases, in any language, end up begging the question: are these phrases for the warrior, or the monk? That is to say who benefits, which does the phrase target, the warrior, or the man of peace?
I saw recently a meme on facebook (which I will try to find and post to our page at https://www.facebook.com/shenabq ); it was a photo of an elderly but clearly skilled martial arts practitioner, sitting perfectly still. Likely he was meditating of course because some clichés make us feel good! The caption read “The stronger you become, the gentler you will be.” I really like this notion because it strikes at the very core of warrior virtue. It truly represents the idea of benign compassion. Further it demonstrates an effort to be kind in all that you do and that even when required to do harm, do only what is necessary.
After having found my Kung Fu school I’ve faced all manner of questions on how Kung Fu is different than other styles, and what is the purpose of the training. Questions such as:
“Does Kung Fu instill discipline in the same way as other martial arts?”
“Do you teach only forms or is there an exercise component?”
“Will Kung Fu help my child to focus?”
“Can I lose weight doing Kung Fu or is the exercise intense enough for that?”
“I’ve been injured doing other Martial Arts what kind of injuries can I expect here?”
“Do you also teach self-defense?” (By the way that has been the most consistent question)
So as you can see there’s quite a range of questions (maybe I should add a Frequently Asked Questions tab to this site!). I’m finding that being able to concisely answer these questions is a challenge for me for two particular reasons: 1. I love to talk about Kung Fu almost as much as I love doing Kung Fu. Secondly, it’s because a great inadequacy I face is the curse of being a long winded fellow! (If you ever sat through one of my Intelligence briefings you know that’s 100% true… Who am I kidding? If we’ve ever talked you likely know it’s true!)
Given my curse of long winded speech I’ll just sum up the answer to pretty much all of those questions in a phrase: Yes, Kung Fu does all of those things. Except injury, you should not be getting injured doing Kung Fu. Expect that a class may leave you sore or that you will have the occasional bumps and bruising associated with intense training. But there is a BIG difference between hurt and injured. True Kung Fu has a very slow and deliberate progression specifically to prevent injury. Additionally, that slow and deliberate progression has a well-documented track record of aiding in expediting recovery from other injuries. Oh and respective to whether or not I only teach forms: No. There’s a lot more to Kung Fu than mimicking a few motions.
As I mentioned the most common question I get is respective to whether or not I “also” teach self-defense. I suspect this is because I have gone to great lengths at the school to outwardly demonstrate that Mountain Path Kung Fu and Tai Chi Academy is a place of academic pursuit. I prize scholarly virtue quite highly. Often times warriors are perceived as being knuckle dragging Neanderthals, the truth is, a warrior must also be a scholar. The effort to present the school as more school than gym was done specifically to offer an alternative to the ground and pound menace that seems pervasive in the martial arts industry particularly within the sporting portions of the industry.
Given the emphasis that I place on academic pursuit and on the healing, centering and balancing aspects of the training it is logical then why I continually receive the question regarding self-defense. So I’ll take just a moment to clear that up. No, I don’t “also” teach self-defense. Kung Fu, if it’s true Kung Fu IS self-defense. I don’t offer a “kids self-defense class” or a “women’s self-defense” class because if you’ve got Kung Fu, you can defend yourself plenty and against multiple assailants at that. (I may likely be opening a Ladies Only class because I’ve received several requests to do so and if that makes a more comfortable environment to learn in, I’ll do it.) Ultimately if you began learning Kung Fu to defend yourself, you’ve made a good choice and you’ll gain a calm and confidence in the process you can’t understand until you know it. If, on the other hand, you are seeking a place to attain a new sense of calm that can only be attained through peace, balance and harmony; then seeking that calm through training in Kung Fu is the other side of the coin. Through seeking calm, you’ll learn to fight and defend yourself extraordinarily well; through seeking a fighting capability, you’ll gain that calm.
This notion of balance is absolutely present in all that we do as Kung Fu practitioners. The correlation between academic and warrior, peace and violence, calm and turmoil, injure and heal, are constant and ever pursuing one another seeking to maintain balance in our own lives and in our world.
A final note on limits: I was asked some time back “Rob, can you make me a champion?” Simply put: No. I cannot make anyone a champion. I can give a student the tools and teach a student how to use them, I can try to inspire, but I can’t make a champion. Champions forge themselves through unquenchable will not beneath the will or instruction of others.