Hello, my name is Valery Prosvirov, Headmaster and owner of the Golden Dragon Martial Arts Club (Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Chin Na) located in Los Angeles, California.
Jiddu Krishnamurti once said: “To do what you want – a real slavery, but to do what is necessary – this is true freedom.” These words of wisdom can be difficult to comprehend in the world of today with all of it’s materialism and need for immediate gratification. It’s easy to get confused between what we want and what we need. Satisfying need requires effort, whereas in satisfying desires we look for the easiest means to the end: in other words laziness.
We complicate our lives by storing too much useless information and leaving little room for useful knowledge that can help us to grow. We’re always on the go, waking early, working late and not having enough time for the important parts of life. Neglecting to spend time with loved ones while rationalizing that making money for them somehow justifies the lack of time spent with them. They are not happy and neither are you. You dream that one day all of your efforts will pay off and you’ll be a hero!
Achieving balance should be the goal of one’s life. To live at the extremes in hopes that one day this will bring balance is how life ends with regrets; of promises unfulfilled.
But let’s assume for a moment that one can achieve balance by extremes, allocating all of your time to work, neglecting loved ones for the promise of getting rich. Ok so now you’re rich, how do you repair relationships with your children who grew up without you? A spouse who no longer remembers why she fell in love you. What about the great balance?
Remember that while the sun is over your head, there is darkness over someone else’s. Doesn’t everybody deserve to enjoy the sun? And seriously, have you ever truly thought about the expression – “I’ll do what I want.” How that sounds? You will eat what you want, sleep when you want … will not think about the money, but simply buy a new car when the old one runs out of gas. You will be thinking more about yourself than about others. Maybe as a counter balance you’ll take some yoga classes and meditate the mantra, “I’m not a selfish person, I’m not a selfish person…wow that was easy!” Or maybe instead of the pursuit of money for money’s sake, you will be creative and useful to others, you will become “usefully creative”. Maybe invent a new car, think Tesla…why not? A valiant pursuit, but … and there is always an unpleasant BUT! It is constantly telling us that with any worthy cause, most of the time spent is devoted to things that we do not want to do. Maybe 20% will go into creativity, while the remainder of the time is spent in annoying routine: negotiations, agreements, signatures, approvals, accounting, control to name a few of the mundane tasks one must perform to run a successful business.
As you know, there is no sky without clouds, and life without worries, there is only a different approach to it. Contrary to popular belief, embracing the clouds and the worries help us to do what is necessary.
But, the expression “I want” and the attitude behind it causes us big problems. The sooner we understand this the faster we can adjust our attitudes from laziness to effort. If you understand that all worthy endeavors require effort, then you start out with the proper mindset and create better opportunities for accomplishing goals.
As a master and teacher with more than 40 years of experience, I can say with absolute certainty that there is no better weapon against laziness than martial arts. Laziness is an insidious enemy that has many faces. Look around and you’ll see a lot of seemingly intelligent people in very bad physical shape. They always say that they are not lazy, just very busy. There are others, physically overdeveloped but uneducated; with them the same story, they have no time to read books. These are just two examples out of too many to count.
Many “modern” people posses a laziness that is huge and unrestrained. One cannot gain victory over it by immersing him/herself in fad fitness regimens or fancy combative sports.
These things provide short-term occupation in one place and the illusion of development in another. And wherever there is illusion there is laziness and ignorance, it is a rule that has existed as long as humans have walked the earth.
So how do we combat this illusion and find balance? How do we tell people that are working out hard at the gym or running a half marathon or behind their desks ten hours per day that they are not developing themselves or to the contrary, actually regressing; eating only one part of the meal while ignoring the rest?
The answer is by utilizing a fully integrated system, one that was developed and perfected centuries ago which affects all of the most important parts of a person: morality, intelligence, spirit and body. These integral parts should be developed together, following a single law – the law of The Way of the perfect man. To many people these words might sound pompous, however, there is very deep meaning to them and only by looking deep beneath the surface will there be understanding of them . The main goal of martial arts is so much more than just the ability to kick high or punch fast, it is self improvement!
The traditional Chinese martial arts that I practice and teach is a perfect system for every human being. It is not about belts and awards that feed the ego, it is about evolving to a higher self and therefore, an understanding of life’s bigger issues.
It is an evolutionary practice to achieving balance and perspective.
Blog: Martial arts – a Necessity For a Sane Person
Before we look at the names and dates that make up Kung Fu history, it is important that we first understand the origin of Kung Fu.
The fact of the matter is that Kung Fu is prehistoric: it was simply an inevitable manifestation of early human society. Human nature and necessity during ancient times ensured the development of the Martial Arts.
Keeping all this is mind, Kung Fu can be said to be as old as humanity. The language used to describe it may change, but the pursuit of wisdom and self-perfection is intrinsic to the human experience. The natural process of collaboration and refinement that we depend upon (as individuals, and as a society), can be called the legacy of Kung Fu.
Kung Fu exists beyond any name or individual. It cannot be understood as a style, choice, or trend. It is an expression of life itself, just as a seedling grows into a tree.
Kung Fu encompasses every useful movement and skill one might utilize in the creation of physical force. The compartmentalization of Kung Fu into different styles has separated the art from its defining characteristic.
Traditionally, the style of Martial Arts practice in Kung Fu is called Chuan Fa. Chuan Fa describes basic fighting technique.
Chuan Fa is every punch, strike, kick, block, and movement in its purest simplicity. By developing one’s health through physical exercise and breathing practices, and one’s Martial Arts skills through Chuan Fa, one can be said to practice Kung Fu.
“Monkey style”, “Tiger Style”, “Wing Chun”, and the rest are snippets from the all-encompassing lexicon of Kung Fu.
Individuals—some tall and others short, some skinny and others stocky, some strong and others quick—develop their own “style” by determining the most effective ways they can fight. The movements of Tiger style are effective for the naturally strong, while the movements of crane style are effective for the long-limbed.
The Hung Gar style was developed by the naturally strong Wang Fei Hun, but most of the people who practice the Hung Gar form today would be better served to practice something more appropriate for their own physical and mental composition.
By practicing basic technique (Chuan Fa), a person can come to a natural realization of the most effective techniques they can utilize.
As Bruce Lee said:
“I personally do not believe in ‘style’. Because of ‘styles’, people are separated. They are not united together because styles became law. If people say Jeet Kune Do is different from this or from that, then let the name of Jeet Kune Do be wiped out, for that is what it is, just a name. Please don’t fuss over it. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
“Lineage” and the idea of “who-taught-who” are infatuations to some within the Martial Arts community. There are two reasons to abandon our obsession with this “quasi-historical” perspective.
During the Qing Dynasty (from 1636-1911), the ruling empire banned the practice of the martial arts. At this time, Kung Fu practice had to be done in secret, and so the record-keeping was very limited.
During Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976), everything associated with the imperial times and tradition was outlawed and lambasted in China. The Kung Fu masters who lived within China at this time all had to flee to other countries, or face persecution and/or death. There was a time during Mao’s reign, that the Chinese army practiced the Japanese Karate, instead of their own Kung Fu. During this time, the possibility of clean and consistent lineages in Kung Fu teaching was lost.
In many ways, Mao’s time marked the death of traditional Kung Fu within China, but forced its exportation to the rest of the world. Within China, only the Shaolin’s dancing practice of Wu Shu would be allowed to reclaim it’s prominence.
Now that we understand the practice of Kung Fu as a general term, and how it’s history has been twisted and manipulated, we can focus on the specific and note-worthy:
600 – 400 BC
Lao Tzu is the first known Taoist, and the writer of the Tao Te Ching, an unparalleled collection of 81 poems about philosophy and the nature of our existence. The Tao Te Ching is the greatest literary work ever completed.
Lao Tzu practiced Tai Chi, considered the original “Internal Martial Art”. In many ways, Tai Chi is the natural partner to Kung Fu, the shadow that the body of Kung Fu casts. Where Kung Fu strikes, Tai Chi receives. Traditionally, Tai Chi is a martial art, which develops high-level fighting skills. Any practice that does not lend itself to improvement as a fighter, cannot be called Tai Chi.
Any serious practice of Tai Chi, which demands a constant reconciliation and acknowledgment of the nature of our reality, will allow one to understand how the Martial Arts practice was imperative to Lao Tzu’s ability to write the Tao Te Ching.
5th – 6th Century
This Buddhist monk is credited with starting the Martial Arts within the Shaolin Temple. It is said that he travelled from India, where he was a member of the warrior caste. Upon receiving the respect of the monks at the Shaolin Temple, he came to find them unable to endeavor upon a serious spiritual practice. In order to make them capable, he trained them in various physical and breathing exercises. These exercises became the Kung Fu practiced by the Shaolin Temple.
At some point, in an effort to advertise and market itself, the Shaolin Temple disseminated this story as the “Origin of Kung Fu”.
To separate Kung Fu from it’s prehistoric ancestry in this way is a truly egregious and disrespectful act, that deserves to be condemned. Anybody who thinks that they invented Kung Fu is clearly not a martial artist.
The Shaolin Temple currently practices what is known as Wushu. A sport system based on flowery movements, sleight of hand, and extreme demonstrations, much like a circus.
The most famous monk to have ever lived in the Wu Dang Mountains, Zhang Sanfeng is said to have created a set of 72 Tai Chi Chuan movements. He was inspired by witnessing a fight between a snake and a bird (likely a crane or magpie). He was impressed by the ways in which each animal could quickly strike from stillness, and developed movements that would cultivate this ability in man.
Similar to Lao Tzu, Zhang SanFeng’s martial arts practice allowed him achieve the highest levels of reverence and wisdom. Stories of his fighting ability have been mythologized and celebrated, but his practice of the Martial Arts was most impressive because of the wisdom it granted him.
March 24, 1103 – January 28, 1142
One of the most revered figures in Chinese history, Yue Fei was a military general of the Song Dynasty.
He is credited with the creation of Xingyi Chuan (which is considered an internal martial art, a la Tai Chi) as well as the Eagle Claw Kung Fu Style, which is known for its gripping techniques, joint locks, takedowns, and pressure point strikes. This method incorporates much of the skills of Chinese grappling known as Chin Na.
Yue Fei is also responsible for the organization and popularity of Baduanjin (“The Eight Piece Brocade”), one the most effective sequences of breathing exercises (Chi Gong) in traditional Chinese martial arts and medicine. All of his soldiers were required to regularly practice Baduanjin, in order to maintain their condition.
In his adolescence, he trained a great deal in both the literary and military arts. It is safe to say that his training would have focused on basic technique (Chuan Fa), and he later created the styles of Xinyi and Eagle Claw to teach to particular men within his ranks.
Yue Fei was also trained in the eighteen Chinese weapons of war: Bow (弓), Crossbow (弩), Spear (槍), Single-edged sword (刀), Double-edged sword (劍), Ancient style spear (矛), Shield (盾), Axe (斧), Greataxe (鉞), Dagger halberd (戟), Round bar mace or iron whip (鞭), Bar mace (鐗), Pole pick (撾), Spiked Mace (殳), Trident (叉), Rake (耙), Rope (綿繩套索), Barehanded (白打).
Also known as Yang Wudi (“Yang The Untouchable), Yang Luchan created the Yang Style of Tai Chi, which is the most popularly practiced in the world today. Unlike the Chen Style, the Yang Style focuses on developing Martial Arts skills, and so offers the most when it comes to physical and mental benefits.
Yang was born to a poor farming family, but his skills as a Martial Artist led to him eventually be employed as a teacher to the imperial family. It is said that he never lost a fight, and was particularly skilled in quelling an opponent without having to physically harm them.
One of the most prolific writers in Martial Arts history, Sun Lu Tang created the Sun style of Tai Chi. He wrote these five books, which were recently translated into English:
Xingyiquan Xue (A study of form mind boxing, 1915)
Baguaquan Xue (A study of eight trigrams boxing, 1916)
Taijiquan Xue (A study of grand ultimate boxing, 1921)
Baguajian Xue (A study of eight trigrams straight sword, 1927)
Quanyi Shuzhen (An explanation of the essence of boxing)
October 1893 – 2 December 1972
The most famous name in Wing Chun, Ip Man’s name has experienced a great deal of fame because of the fictional movies that use his name. While his skills must be acknowledged, I believe that his fame is mainly dependent upon his opportunity to teach Bruce Lee, and the fact that his name “Ip Man” sounds like a superhero to the western ear.
The current practice of Wing Chun, as it is generally taught, can be said to loosely resemble a Martial Art.
November 27, 1940 – July 20, 1973
The most famous Chinese Martial Artist in history, what can be said about the first person to introduce the martial arts to the western masses?
By demonstrating incredible skills and technique in all of his movies (and any other time he happened to be filmed), Bruce Lee was able to leave a lasting legacy by inspiring millions to reach for his standard.
He first trained in the style of Wing Chun with his teacher Ip Man, but in viewing his ultimate work and philosophy, it is clear that he advanced far beyond the techniques taught within Wing Chun.
He is also a treasure trove of wise quotes and interesting commentary, such as the following:
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”
“The more we value things, the less we value ourselves.”
Born April 7th, 1954
One of the most famous names in recent Martial Arts films, Jackie Chan trained in traditional Kung Fu as a child, and achieved a prolific career in both Chinese and American cinema.
His skills in Kung Fu are real, but his portrayal of Martial Arts technique in his films is decidedly different from Bruce Lee’s. Where Bruce Lee’s work showed real and effective movement, Jackie Chan always prioritized humor, flash, and entertainment.
The trained eye can easily distinguish the gap in skill between Chan and Lee.
Blog: Martial arts – a Necessity For a Sane Person
As we begin our discussion of the styles of Kung Fu, we must consider these two quotes by the incomparable Bruce Lee:
At its core, the Martial Arts is a practice of self-discovery. If you would like to feel an unwavering certainty as to your true identity, than the Martial Arts are for you.
The discovery of your own personal style, and the style of Martial Arts that is uniquely suited to you, is an integral part of the pursuit of self-knowledge. You have a soul, a spirit, and a style that is uniquely your own. This is something that can be unearthed only through the practice of the Martial Arts.
You cannot approach the Martial Arts with the decision “I want to be a master of the Tiger style” or “I want to be a fighter who uses Preying Mantis style”. This type of decision is similar to waking up one morning and deciding that you want to live your life as a dog. If you are reading this, you are a human, and you cannot live your best life unless you come to understand that.
In this way, destiny is alive within the Martial Arts. Who you are already exists. Your only work is to dive into the darkness within, so that you may bring yourself into the light.
We begin by deciding we are ready to face the truth of ourselves. Only at this point will a teacher become available to us. With honest and diligent practice, we begin to discover ourselves and our abilities. We begin to see whether the “snake style” or the “tiger style” is right for us.
Physical attributes and capabilities are only a small part of the consideration. An individual’s emotional composition is the greatest consideration when it comes to determining a person’s fighting style.
The tiger, the leopard, the crane, the snake, and the dragon are first and foremost a representation of ourselves at the emotional level. It is the true nature of your heart and soul that will reveal itself in your practice as a Martial Artist.
Preconceived notions and expectations can only stand in the way. Are you a tiger? Are you a crane? First, you must practice the fundamentals. The basic principles of striking are the same in every style. You must first understand these principles, before a style can be yours. Quiet the fickle desires of the mind, practice with patience, and everything you want to know will become apparent.
That being said, these are the styles that exist in Kung Fu. Here is what you have to look forward to:
As they are currently understood, the Chinese Martial Arts are divided into two families: The external family, and the internal family.
The practice of the external family focuses on physical details, and an unwavering commitment to the task at hand. The target must be hit and destroyed. Every part of your body must lend itself to your current endeavor, and the spirit and mind must lead this pursuit. When you punch, you do it with the entirety of your being. This is the external way.
Tiger style is the most popularly pursued in the external Chinese Martial Arts. The strength and majesty of the Tiger is something we all hope to embody. A tiger is authoritative: attacking directly and forcefully, entirely at ease imposing his will. Physically, the tiger is naturally powerful and strong. Through practice, this style strengthens the bones so that they can support such a frame, and deliver such powerful strikes.
One can imagine the way in which a tiger leaps upon and tears at its prey. This is the personality of a tiger, and its natural reaction to an opportunity. The tiger may wrestle and struggle with its victim, because it is big and strong enough to survive the ordeal.
In China, the tiger, and not the lion, is the king of beasts. Using short movements in low stances, the tiger’s first strike breaks through the defense, after which it applies a series of two or three strikes for the final victory.
Movements and stances are low. Besides the “tiger paw” (where the palm is the major point of contact, not the fingers), a tiger strikes using the horizontal fist, forearm, elbow, and edge of the hand. There are also double strikes, where both hands attack simultaneously. Kicks are short, made powerful with effort from the hip, and usually come as a singular attack.
Just as a tiger sinks its claws into its victim, pulling its target towards its jaws, the tiger style will teach you how to pull your enemy into your striking range. Once contact with the opponent is made, a tiger can multiply the effect of any strike by pulling his opponent towards the next coming blow.
Tiger blocks are frequently done by the forearm. They overwhelm rather than redirect.
People have an infatuation with the particular fists and hand-forms attributed to each of the Kung Fu styles, but the fact of the matter is that these special hand forms (i.e.: tiger claw) are not the norm in the expression of an animal style. The tiger claw is used in the Tiger form, but the predominant hand strike in the form is the standard fist. Obsession with specific, particular, and unusual hand-forms will only make you one-dimensional and ineffective as a Martial Artist. Clawing in every direction will not allow you to fight like a tiger—it will only allow you to lose a fight.
Quickness is the hallmark of the leopard, in body and mind. Ironically, it is patience—the ability to wait for the right moment—that allows one to be quick.
The fastest person you know might not be suited for the leopard style, if they do not have the emotional constitution of the patient.
The physical strength and accuracy of the leopard are similarly echoed in a person’s emotional being: Do they know what they want? Can they put themselves in a position to achieve it? This person may be a leopard.
A leopard is not as strong as a tiger, but the absence of hard, powerful strikes allow it to move much faster. Body positioning is generally low and wide, but changes frequently.
The level of each strike in sequence constantly changes. A strike to the face may be quickly followed by a leg sweep, and then followed by another strike to the chest or face. A leopard punches with the fist, by “eye” of the fist (the inner side of the index knuckle), and “leopard paw”. The leopard paw is not as strong as a fist, but it can be faster and more accurate.
Unlike the tiger, there are no double punches, but simultaneous punches and kicks are common. A leopard uses an offensive series of five or six strikes. The angle of attack changes rapidly, you have to dance around the enemy and beat him. The strikes should be fast and strong enough.
The leopard-paw fist is one designed to penetrate at the weak points of the human body. This is the strategy of the leopard: To encircle the target, to find the moment to attack the weakest point, and to do so in the most damaging way. Is this how you solve your problems?
Who can fly above to see the big picture? To a tiger or a leopard, distance is something to eliminate. To a crane, distance is a key to its success.
The crane waits in stillness. It hovers in the air. It hunts in a shallow stream, where it perches itself unmoving. It waits for its next meal to arrive.
A broad view, and a willingness to watch events unfold without meddling, are the emotional necessities of the crane style.
The crane does not force itself into a situation, it relies upon it’s vision. The ability to see the place in the stream that is bound to deliver the opportunity. It does not wrestle with its prey, because it may be destroyed in such a struggle.
In the form of Crane there are a lot of high kicks, as well as jumping kicks (the crane does fly, after all). High kicks require a great deal of exertion and energy, so the main physical demand of this style is endurance.
Just as the crane spreads its wings, all movements within this style must be “big”, executed with a wide amplitude. Strikes are done with the outer and inner edges of the palm, with the fingers, and with the crane’s “wing”. Only single punches can be done with the fist. Strikes are rounded, like the flapping of wings – catching the wind beneath it, while also cutting through the air.
There are no hard blocks in Crane form. Crane blocks divert the coming attack, and have a wide amplitude. The blocks are done in the same places as strikes – palms, palm edges, and wrists. As for the kicks, there are a lot of them. You have to have a lightness about your movement that enable you to fly like a crane. Sweeping kicks inside and outside, circular kicks, reversed circular kicks, side kicks, straight kicks by the heel and by the ball of the foot. All of these kicks are done at different levels, and most of them are done while jumping. There are no knee strikes. Standing on one leg is also a hallmark of the form, which trains balance and stability.
If you see the crane hunt in the stream, you will see that the body and legs are still, but the beak strikes with a definitive and fatal power. In this way, a crane must be able to focus its attack at a single point, while the rest of the body acts as a foundation.
A crane must be willing to keep the distance from something it wants. It must be willing to wait for nature to deliver its opportunity. It cannot throw itself at an opponent. When the moment comes, it must be able to remain still, and only extend what is necessary towards achieving the goal.
When the snake coils itself, it simultaneously assumes its most well-defended and ready-to-attack position. In this way, defense and offense are one-and-the same for the snake. The opponents every advance is met with an embrace; a new opportunity to strike or surround.
The sinusoidal undulations of the snake are the perfect combination of circular and straight movement, and so the snake can effortlessly adjust its angle of attack, keeping the straight line motion towards the target while avoiding any trouble along the way.
Snake utilizes precision and flexibility. Therefore, its strikes, punches, and kicks are precise, but not powerful. All strikes should be light and quick, used one-at-a-time or in a series.
There are no strikes to the abdomen; your targets are the groin, knees, inner thighs, neck, and of course, the face. Punches are made with the fingers, palms, and wrists. Kicks are done more frequently with the ball of the foot, because it is faster than kicking with the heel. The heel is used only for side kicks. A snake uses sweeps and grappling with the legs. Blocks and grabs are used to evade and penetrate the opponent. Positioning is often low; the snake may use rolls or somersaults to move.
Psychologically, the snake is entirely unafraid to engage in a game of mental chess with an opponent. The victory of the snake is an inevitability—it pursues in the same way it receives—and achieves it’s goal by being the most willing to embrace..
The snake has all-encompassing attitude of attack. It attacks the interior with a single venomous bite, or surrounds the exterior with a pulverizing constriction. Upon victory, it swallows its prey whole.
Physically, the snake relies on elongated movements, and hands that can unfurl themselves in the same way a snake elongates as it strikes.
The dragon is the most revered of all symbols in traditional Chinese culture. The dragon represented the emperor, and everything in this world that must be held in high esteem.
Dragon style is marked by fluidity, and a natural transition from hard and powerful attacks to sensitive and elegant action. Dragons are as serious as they are silly. As even-keeled as they are explosive. Change is the only constant, and the dragon approaches every situation with an acceptance and awareness of this fact.
A dragon is comfortable in a position of leadership and has an authoritative air, but it has a decidedly different attitude to that of the tiger. While a tiger may strive to dominate or lead a group, a dragon assumes a position out of necessity. He or she does not wish for fame, glory, or recognition; a dragon becomes a leader because they have no other choice.
Power is nothing. Technique is nothing. The essence of the dragon is its spirit. A dragon overcomes an enemy with heart and determination. A dragon never retreats. He is like a river: never flowing backwards, only forwards. It does whatever necessary, going above, below, or around, to get where it needs to go.
A dragon attacks and blocks at all levels, and from all sides. Dragon requires perfect coordination and a well-trained body. The Dragon is the most difficult form to learn, and the most difficult style to implement in combat. It is also the most effective. You must move properly and quickly on your feet in order to quickly change direction and level of your attack.
The Dragon form requires stepping very quickly from one leg to another, as if you are on hot coals. The technical arsenal of the dragon is very, very rich. It includes almost all types of strikes and blocks. As a symbol, the Chinese Dragon encompasses many other animals: The body of the snake, the paws of the tiger, etc.. That being said, as a fighting style, the Dragon does not have Tiger’s hardness, Leopard’s spurts, Snake’s recoil or Crane’s wide swings. Dragon is not an amalgamation of all styles, but rather a compromise made amongst them.
These five styles are the traditional and preeminent in the history of Kung Fu. They are all incorporated into the overarching practice of Hung Zha Chuan, which is taught at the Golden Dragon Martial Arts school.
Beyond the classic Five animal styles, many others have been developed in the last few thousand years. The thousands of Kung Fu styles currently in existence, both legitimate and ridiculous, are the products of the many eccentric and unusual personalities that exist among us.
The Preying Mantis makes a daily habit of eating others alive. A cold-blooded killer, the mantis in entirely focused, methodical, and efficient by nature. With one move, it cascades upon its opponent and proceeds to eat a hole through the top of its head.
There are two essential steps in the hunting strategy of the preying mantis:
Like much of the insect population, the mantis can generate a tremendous amount of power relative to its size. Believe it or not, it is not uncommon for the skinny mantis to feast on small birds. For all of its prowess, the mantis is an example of how power and fragility often occupy the same body. The mantis does not hold up well against direct blows from the side or above, and so it must be sure to deflect and transform the opponent’s attack.
The mantis style requires a person to come to terms with their own weaknesses. They must trust themselves, even when their strength may be inferior.
Emotionally, the Mantis style is available to those who are willing to clash. Contact must not only be accepted—it must be embraced. A mantis is ready to become interlocked with a problem—to hang upon and survive the worst—while maintaining the composure to strike at the proper moment.
Many of the movements of the mantis style are short, and therefore extremely fast. The power is generated from the waist, whether it is an explosive strike or a contracting grasp. Aerobically, mantis does not require as much physical exertion as other styles.
The preferred distance of this style is known as the trapping range (in which an opponent may be grasped). A common practice to those specializing in the Mantis style is “sticky hands”, where two people maintain unbroken contact at the wrist. This practice develops sensitivity and an understanding of the principles of deflection.
Wrist and arm techniques are particularly emphasized in the mantis form, as well as elbow and knee strikes. One of the most distinctive features of Northern Praying Mantis is the “praying mantis hook”: a hook made of one to three fingers directing force in a whip-like manner. The hook may be used to deflect, grasp, or attack weak spots (with precision).
Traditional Monkey style Kung Fu is nearly impossible to find in modern times. The practice of this form has devolved into extremist performance art, in which the actor’s main priority is to act like a deranged monkey, seemingly in heat. There is little to be gained from the practice of wild, delusional flailing.
In its classic form, the monkey-like gesticulations appear in a decidedly subtle manner. In all the animal kingdom, it is the monkey that most resembles the human, and so it is somewhat puzzling that this style is one that seems to have become the most inhuman.
Monkey style focuses on low positioning (in which a practitioner can easily put their hands on the floor, as monkeys do). This style builds a tremendous connection between the arms and the legs. The power generated from the legs, is conducted in its entirety through the arms. The monkey style often target the lower parts of the body (the groin and the lower legs), with occasional clawing towards the face.
The Monkey style requires a high-level physical condition, and very strong and flexible legs. Much of the form happens in very low stances which are impossible to maintain without great endurance through proper training.
The style of Eagle Claw Kung Fu was created by one of the most famous figures in all of Chinese History: the legendary Song Dynasty general Yue Fei. It is said that he created this style as the most effective form of training and practice for his troops.
Eagle Claw is known for its gripping techniques. It is a system of joint locks, takedowns, and pressure point attacks. A large portion of this style is rooted in Chinese grappling, known as Chin Na. These are some of the most functional and practical techniques for self-defense, making them very suitable for the soldiers in the time of hand-to-hand combat.
Bai He Chuan was developed by Fang Qiniang, a female martial artist. Elongated strikes and blocks along the horizontal plane are a hallmark of this style, as well as the circular transformation of effort from the horizontal to the vertical to enable downward pulling power. Much of the strikes involve straightened and elongated palms and figers, as well as the outside of the forearm. There is a great deal of attention payed to the straightness of the arm from the elbows to the fingertips, allowing the fingertips and and elbows to work in very precise ways.
All Traditional Chinese Martial arts include practice with weaponry, but some schools of the White Crane style have stopped using of weaponry.
The term “Chuan” can be translated to mean “fist”. This is a symbolic description of the knowledge and wisdom incorporated into any style. It is what can be held, the emptiness of the palm allows for the formation of the solid fist. This is a core understanding of the Martial Arts.
Hung Gar style was created by Wang Fei Hung, one of the most famous fighters in the history of China. His father was the creator of the Hung Zha Chuan style, and Hung Gar is Wang Fei Hung’s interpretation of how these original five animal styles were practiced. Wang Fei Hung was a very powerful and strong man, and so Hung Gar style demands a great deal of physical strength in order to effectively practice and apply.
Made famous by the Ip Man movies, Wing Chun specializes in short range strikes and work with the wooden dummy. Wing Chun can be considered a limited and selected portion of the Chinese Martial Arts, which is only effective in particular enclosed situations. The lack of long range techniques makes it an unideal focus for real world conflicts, and a limited tool as a method of self-discovery.
Cha Chuan, also known as the “Muslim Long Fist” was developed by Chinese members of the muslim faith. It is an acrobatic and effective series of practical striking and direct kicking. The legs on one who practices Cha Chuan are light and flexible, able to effortlessly perform twisting ascending and descending maneuvers.
There is a great deal of running in this style, as it involves what can best be described as gliding in wide, curved movements while performing all the various punching and kicking techniques.
The specialty of Bajiquan is short-range power attacks. Similar to Tiger style, Baji quan involves attacks to wedge between and force open an opponent’s arms, followed by attacks at high, mid, and low levels of the body. It is most useful in close combat, as it focuses on elbow, knee, shoulder and hip strikes. When blocking an attack or nearing an opponent, baji quan techniques emphasize striking major points of vulnerability (the internal organs enclosed within the thorax), legs and neck.
Bajiquan is known for its strenuous lower body training, and its focus on the “horseman stance” (though its horseman stance is generally less extreme than other styles).
Choy Li Fut combines various aspects of Northern and Southern Chinese kung fu: The twisting, extended body movements, and agile footwork of the north, combined with the powerful upper-body techniques from the South. It contains long and short range kicks, punches, sweeps, take downs, grappling, joint locks, and pressure point attacks.. For what it’s worth, Bruce Lee is quoted as saying:
“Choy Li Fut is the most effective system that I’ve seen for fighting more than one person. [It] is one of the most difficult styles to attack and defend against. Choy Li Fut is the only style [of kung fu] that traveled to Thailand to fight the Thai boxers and hadn’t lost.”
What is unique to the Choy Li Fut style is the use of the upper torso. In this style, emphasis is paid to the twisting of the torso, to amplify the power of arm techniques. In other martial art styles, the upper body is less dynamic, but generally more stable.
The translation of the term “Wu Shu” is literally “Martial Arts”. In an ironic twist of fate, the term “Wu Shu” now describes a practice that is not a martial art.
At a certain point in its history, the Shaolin temple did practice the traditional Martial Arts. As of 600 years ago, it stopped its traditional practice, and began to transform itself into a type of “Buddhist Circus”. From that point forward, it placed its emphasis on marketability and spectacle. It was not, and never has been, the birthplace of Kung Fu, as it has advertised itself to be.
In the 1970’s, fresh off Mao’s Cultural Revolution and purge of traditional culture, The Shaolin Temple ® adopted the term “Wu Shu”, and used it to describe its extreme dancing practices. From this point forward, “Wu Shu” no longer meant Wu Shu. “The martial arts” could not longer be considered the martial arts.
Similarly, the term Chang Chuan (loosely translated as “Long Fist”) was once used as a way to describe the slower practiced Martial Arts (such as Tai Chi). Today, “Chang Chuan” is the main style incorporated into Wu Shu, and so it has lost its traditional practice.
One reason that the Traditional Martial Arts have lost their reputation and grandeur as methods of fighting and development is because of the prevalence of modern day Wu Shu. Today, Shaolin Wu Shu mimics the movements of the traditional martial arts, but it is not a Martial Art. Wu Shu is a sport, where the players exploit and undermine the health of their body in order to accomplish arbitrary and meaningless feats. The priority of this practice is to appease the judges and impress the audience in a staged performance. One does not practice with the goal of health and self-discovery. The ability to throw an effective punch is unimportant in the practice of Wu Shu. The only thing that matters is the ability to perform a flowery movement. This is good for dancing, but it cannot be considered a genuine or authentic form of Martial Arts.
Blog: Martial arts – a Necessity For a Sane Person
We take water because thirst is something we cannot refuse.
We warm ourselves by fires that consume and destroy.
What truth lies beside the need for water?
What reality warms itself by the heat of the flame?
In Chinese culture, the Dragon represents reality.
It is a familiar sweetness, a bitter disappointment, and an unquenchable desire.
It is ever-present and all-powerful.
Yin and Yang, Light and Dark, Life and Death: They manifest in every situation.
When you improve your vision, you can see what transcends.
When you improve your feeling, you can differentiate between the natural and the forced.
The Martial Arts are for improving our vision, our feeling, and our creativity.
The ultimate goal of the Martial Arts is self-perfection.
The Golden Dragon is humanity at its best; acting in harmony with the ebbs and flows of our selves and our world.
The Golden Dragon represents the most revered and respected of qualities. It symbolizes prosperity, health, and wisdom—the signs that the right path has been chosen.
The Golden Dragon represented the emperor, and everything in our world that must be held in high esteem.
It was the early morning. There were only two people in the class. One was flexible, and one was not.
We were in the midst of stretching exercises. The inflexible one had hit an extremely uncomfortable impasse.
He was nowhere near the desired position, but he felt that he could not stretch any further. At this moment, he looked at his flexible counterpart, and contemplated: “How the hell is she doing that?”
The flexible one could feel that she was being noticed. She turned to acknowledge her struggling peer, whose beleaguered bewilderment begged for some sage advice:
“You can do it… Don’t bend in a place that can’t bend. Find the place that can bend, and bend there.”
It’s obvious. It’s simple. It’s almost obnoxious…but it’s true.
Pain screams and yells. It demands to be heard. As we begin stretching, our pain begins screaming: “Stop this insanity!”
The pain of stretching is like a passing siren: As you begin, you hear its approach. As you continue, it blares so loud that you have to cover your ears. As you endure, it passes and fades.
Perseverance is the first necessity. Have your mindset. Endure long enough to explore small adjustments to your stretching technique. These small adjustments can afford you huge increases in flexibility.
The practice of stretching is a full-body exercise, but the pain of stretching is often localized. A man tries to touch his toes, and his hamstring feels like it is “on fire”. The man’s focus is consumed by the feeling of his hamstring. He ceases to be a human being. During this stretch, he is simply a burning hamstring, with sweat on his brow and a grimace on his face.
His other ligaments and tendons are ready and willing to stretch more, but he has completely forgotten that they exist.
The best way to learn about anatomy is not from a book or a smartphone app. It is by understanding, feeling, and experiencing your own body.
The function of your body should not be foreign to you. If there is one thing you should know how to use, it should be the physical body in which you have to spend this lifetime.
The knowledge of the human body cannot be confined to a book. Our bodies keep this wisdom alive. It reveals itself constantly, in everything we do. We just don’t notice.
Every breath is a reminder that we are more than ourselves
Without air, we do not exist. In this sense, we are as much the air, as we are ourselves. We are individuals, but we can never be truly free from dependence.
We depend upon air, water, food, and shelter. We depend upon ideas, trust, stimulation, and love. Without these things, we do not exist. Our existence necessitates that we be more than ourselves.
Every action we take demands reconciliation with gravity
Our lives are a constant dance with a planet that holds us very close.
Yes, rockets can take us to space—where our bodies wither and atrophy without gravity.
The planet is our natural partner, and it is a dominant dance partner. There is no respite from gravity.
To those who wish to float away into oblivion, gravity can be seen as a limitation. Totally isolated from gravity, in the middle of deep space, every human action would resemble a squirm.
On earth, this physical attachment to our planet, and the constant interaction with others who are also “stuck” here allows us to do more than squirm. We can walk, run, dance, jump, bounce, slide, hold, push, and kiss. Gravity is a limitation that allows us to do much more than we would be able to do without it.
This is the way to view any limitation. Your limitations are your partners.
If you have no choice, make the best of it. If you have a choice, choose a good one.
Your limitations are opportunities to be more than yourself. When you understand your limitations, you can exceed them. You can utilize them.
Life is a lot like gravity. Constantly tugging, constantly demanding. One breath after another, for an entire lifetime. There is no end to the obligation, no end to the responsibility. Our limitations are the fuel that fires the creativity within our souls.
Blog: Martial arts – a Necessity For a Sane Person
This article is meant to convey the fundamental and philosophical differences between Kung Fu and Karate. It will focus on the different principles at the root of each practice, rather than a tedious details of “The Kung Fu finger strike vs. The Karate finger strike”, etc.
Methods have their uses and their limits, but the principles of a practice are echoed in every movement. If you understand the difference in the principles of Kung Fu vs. Karate, you will have a greater understanding of the grand separation between the two.
As Martial Arts, both Kung Fu and Karate include innumerable self-defense techniques. They are also marketed as practices that improve general health, body conditioning, and breathing. The similarities between the two end there.
Kung Fu has been practiced in China for at least seven thousand years. In its traditional practice, it is the same today as it always has been. Kung Fu is a representation of ancient Chinese culture, philosophy, and wisdom. Some generations have been taller, shorter, fatter, or skinnier than others, but the human body has always been the human body, and so the development of this body in the practice of traditional Kung Fu has remain unchanged.
Karate has been practiced in Japan for approximately 200 years. The beginning of Karate can be traced back to trade relations with China, which brought Chinese families to the Japanese island of Okinawa. During this time, the Chinese introduced aspects of Kung Fu to their Japanese hosts.
Whether it be pride, prejudice, or greed, the Chinese were not willing to introduce the full spectrum of their Martial Arts to the Japanese. The Chinese disclosed certain ideas and explanations, but the cultural gap ensured that much was lost (or purposely omitted) in translation. The Japanese practice of Kung Fu quickly diverged from it’s Chinese origins, and Karate was the result of this divergence.
The purpose of the Martial Arts is to improve a human being. Which of these Martial Arts will allow you to be the best version of yourself? How will the principles of each practice lend themselves to your best life?
At its heart, the purpose of Kung fu is to develop effective fighting skills for real warfare. On the battle-field, it is not uncommon to find yourself surrounded by enemies. Life is the same: there is no guarantee that you will only have one problem to deal with at a time.
The idea of a “fight” as a controlled contest of one-on-one combat comes from modern sports systems, where fighters are isolated in a ring, and fight under agreed-upon rules. In a real fight, there are no rules. You must be able to quickly deal with every threat surrounding you, while putting yourself in the best situation to emerge unhurt and alive.
The practice of Kung Fu focuses on our ability to quickly deal with one opponent and move on to the next, keeping you in the most favorable position at all times. In any fight, we can expect to be hit, but if we find ourselves wrestling and struggling for minutes-on-end with one particular opponent, we will quickly become exhausted and exposed to attack from another. The traditional practice of Kung Fu begins with the development of basic skills that are useful in real-life scenarios: developing a physical and mental awareness of your surroundings, and a spirit strong enough to maintain composure and act with confidence when everything hangs in the balance.
Modern Karate’s attention to belts and tournaments has made it almost completely useless as a system of self-defense, and limited as a method of self-development. Karate that is practiced as a sport is ineffective in real life combat: strikes that earn “points” in a tournament, will often cause no real damage to an enemy in a real fight. Training Karate as a sport is also a quick way to develop many delusions about yourself and your abilities. You may believe yourself to be an outstanding fighter because you were able to pass a belt test or win a tournament, but your punches and kicks will be nothing more than dance moves. How can we develop ourselves if we are delusional about our abilities?
To be fair, Chinese Kung Fu has suffered a similar bastardization in modern times with the popularity of “Shaolin Wu Shu”. The term “Wu Shu” can be literally translated as “Martial Art”, but ironically enough, today’s “Wu Shu” cannot be considered a real Martial Art. Wu Shu focuses on flowery movements and circus-like displays. It develops the ability to win tournaments and wow the onlooker.
Practiced Traditionally, Karate is a practice that dedicates itself to developing an ability to kill someone with one single punch or kick. While this strategy sounds quite impressive, it is nearly impossible to effectively execute in a real-life situation. If you sneak up on someone and sucker-punch them in the back of the head, you may successfully kill them, but in a fight for our lives, our opponents cannot be expected to willingly absorb our best shot. Even an unskilled opponent will dodge and put up some kind of fight, and so it will take more than one perfect punch to get the job done. In many ways, Karate strikes are “all or nothing”. If your skills are not perfect, you are more likely to come away with nothing.
“The war” that we fight as Martial Artists is very rarely against an opponent or an enemy. The real fight is the challenge of everyday life, and the Martial Arts are one of the healthiest and most effective ways to prepare ourselves to meet this challenge.
Simply put, life as a human being is not easy, and our emotions and desires often get the best of us. Dwelling in the past and worrying about the future are especially crippling to the mind, body, and soul. Anxiety and regret can be two of the heaviest loads we carry in this lifetime.
For most people, the ability to let things go and embrace what comes next is not a simple choice. It is an emotional and mental strength that must be practiced and earned, just as physical strength is.
The practice of Kung Fu is wholly devoted to expanding our ability to live. The purpose is to make the most of the present moment. Every movement in a Kung Fu form should blend seamlessly into the next. The “moment of impact” exists, but there is no noticeable pause in movement. Just as a ball bounces on the ground—beginning its ascent at the precise moment it finishes its fall—the end is the beginning. This non-stop, flowing movement is a representation of how things are in the real world.
In our lives: time never stops, and Kung Fu never stops. Too often, we want to dwell within feelings and moments that are good and bad, but we must realize that any pause or break in our focus causes us to lose momentum. The power we can apply to our next movement entirely depends upon a smooth transition. We must, in essence, bounce off of one target as we attack the next.
Even when we practice punching and kicking into the air, the practice of Kung Fu allows us to discern how we can most perfectly blend our movements. Just as life can be viewed as one long moment, a form/combination of 100 different kicks and punches can ultimately be described as one movement.
In Karate, a great deal of attention is placed on the “moment of impact”. Forms involve strikes which are almost always followed by pauses, emphasizing the all-encompassing independence of each movement. While there is much to be gained in practicing the isolated perfection of a single punch, pauses in movement do not allow the human body to express itself at its best. The human body is like a Ferrari—It’s beauty cannot be understood in stop-and-go traffic; it can only be appreciated on the open road.
When asked which Martial Art was the most effective, Bruce Lee said:
“Its bad to say the best, but, in my opinion, I think Kung Fu is pretty good. Kung Fu originated in China, it is the ancestor of Karate and Ju Jitsu. It’s more of a complete system, and by that I mean that it is more flowing: there is continuity in movement, instead of one movement, two movements, then stop.”
What is our human body?
Is it a stiff and inflexible fusion of aching joints?
Is it a fluid and dynamic vessel capable of incredible mobility?
Our ability to use our bodies relies heavily upon our conception of our bodies.
A person’s conception of their movement becomes very obvious when you watch them practice. A person who is obsessed with the idea of being “physically strong” will often tire quickly, making every punch into a difficult, grunting display. The general idea they wish to convey is: “What I am doing is extremely difficult, and I am tough for being able to do it.” In reality, what they are doing should not be so difficult, and the struggle they are “overcoming” is entirely self-imposed. In this way, our conception of any situation can make or break our ability to deal with it.
The conception of the strike in Kung Fu is very different to that of Karate. As Bruce Lee explained:
“A karate punch is like an iron bar—whack. A kung fu punch is like an iron chain with an iron ball attached to the end, and it goes—wham!—and it hurts the inside.”
The difference between “whack” and “wham” is not the difference between Kung Fu and Karate. It is the difference between a iron bar, and an iron whip. This quote comes from an interview, and it is not perfectly transliterated without Bruce’s accompanying mannerisms, but I hope it provided some form of insight. A bar is stiff and rigid, while a whip is fluid and flexible.
To expand upon Bruce’s explanation, we may choose a couple other allegories. A karate strike is like a sledgehammer: It is difficult to lift and difficult to get started, but if you hit the target, it is good for one good hit. A Kung Fu strike is like a wrecking ball. It is capable of bringing down the entire building as it swings back and forth. There is only the effort to provide the initial momentum, but the wrecking ball strikes countless times, acting a pendulum.
The human body is not meant to be stiff and rigid. It is meant to be strong, but also soft and supple. As it says in the ancient Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching:
“Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.
Thus, whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life.
The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.”
Simply put: Kung Fu, a soft and supple practice, leads to better health and a longer life. Stiff and inflexible practices such as Karate will lead to the breakdown of the human body.
The practice of Kung Fu prioritizes efficiency and effectiveness. The method of striking must be fast enough, accurate enough, and powerful enough to protect you in a particular situation.
In western culture, we think of the fist as the most dangerous form our hand can take, but the fact of the matter is that the fingertips, the palms, the sides of the hands, the top of the wrist, etc. are all extremely effective as striking implements. The only way to develop the capabilities of your hands are to utilize them to their maximum potential. There is a reason it is known as “hand-to-hand” combat, and not “fist-to-fist”.
There is a great deal to be gained by developing the coordination necessary to use the hand as more than a fist. While punching with the fist is a big part of Kung Fu practice, there are many other hand strikes that must be practiced a comparable amount.
In Karate, strikes with the fist are the focus and emphasis. The fist can be a very effective tool for self-defense, but the purpose of the Martial Arts are to develop a person as a whole, and so every part of the body must be brought to its full potential. Diversifying the strikes we practice allows us to reach this potential.
Kung Fu has no belts. How do you know if someone has skills? They are simply able to demonstrate their skills. Acknowledgement and respect from others is an inevitable side-effect of a good practice.
Those reaching a certain level in the Martial Arts often look healthier than others, and this health is reflected in nearly every physical movement they make in the course of a day. Beyond the physical, accomplished Martial Artists can often express some semblance of the wisdom their practice has imparted them. Bruce Lee is so often quoted because his words echo his high level of practice. He did not need a colorful belt to prove himself.
In Karate, belts are used to ensure the recognition of a person’s skill. Because of the need to pay the rent, many Karate schools use belts as a way to charge their students. They charge for the belt, they charge for the test, and the promise of progression from one color to the next is the “carrot-at-the-end-of-the-stick” that they use to inspire continued payment from their clients.
Some modern “Kung Fu” schools have adopted this “buy a black belt” policy, usually with a sash instead of belt. Belt or sash, it is the same inauthentic and meaningless facade of skill.
In traditional Karate, as it was practiced in Japan, the belt did once mean something. Only those with real skills would be able to achieve a certain belt status, but modern schools are generally in the business of selling belts, rather than teaching the Martial Arts.
In Kung Fu, the main purpose of training is to improve our health, wellbeing, and the general clarity with which we are able to live our lives. If any part of our practice detracts from our health, the practice is not authentic.
Fighting ability, impressive displays of athleticism, beautiful physiques, and increased creativity are all side-effects of the pursuit of good health.
In Karate, the pursuit of improvement is a slippery slope that is more-often-than-not slipped upon. When Karate is made into a sport (a la Shotokan), practitioners start to focus their training towards their ability to score points and win a competition. This inevitably leads them to begin exploiting their body to accomplish this goal, rather than working to improve their health.
Breaking boards or bricks is another wayward pursuit in Karate, done by those who overemphasize the need to impress others or instill pride in themselves with hollow accomplishments.
In Kung Fu, the extreme is a place to be avoided. Incredible displays are made into normal occurrences, and so they become normal. The extremism is only in the eye of those who are unfamiliar with the capabilities of their own body.
In Karate, training often finds itself being extreme for the sake of extremism: training in sub-zero temperatures, or submitting to a grueling practice of being hit and kicked during random, overly-enthusiastic training sessions.
The human body is best trained in a consistent and smooth manner. If you train your abdomen by getting kicked in the stomach every day, the human body can actually adjust to this and develop itself to deal with this new reality. However, if you are kicked in the stomach intermittently during overly intense bursts occurring on random sporadic days, the body will not be able to develop in a smooth way. This random extreme outburst in training will lead to an extreme development within the body, and an increased risk of health problems.
Kung Fu training is the balanced, patient, and steady development of the body’s health as a whole. Karate training often finds itself intent upon extremism, and so it leads to extreme problems.
In traditional Kung Fu, there are 18 weapons used, known as the 18 Chinese weapons of war. These include:
Bo Staff (弓)
Single-edged sword (刀)
Double-edged sword (劍)
Ancient style spear (矛)
Dagger halberd (戟)
Round bar mace or iron whip (鞭)
Bar mace (鐗)
Pole pick (撾)
Spiked Mace (殳)
In traditional Karate, as it was practiced on the island of Okinawa, there exists a weapons practice known as “Kobudo”. Depending upon the school, Kobudo generally encompassed the use of 12-14 weapons. These include:
Sai (three-pronged short blade)
Tonfa (pronged staff that rests upon forearm)
Nunchaku, Kama (farming sickle)
Tekko (similar idea to “brass knuckles”)
Tinbe-rochin (turtle shell shaped shield and a short spear)
Surujin (a 2-3 meter long rope, with weights tied to each end)
Eku (an oar-shaped bludgeoning device)
Tambo (an 18” length staff)
Kuwa (a weapon based on a gardening hoe)
Hanbo (an approximately 3′ long staff)
Nunti Bo (a spear with a sai mounted on the end)
Sansetsukon (a three-section-staff, each part being attached as a Nunchaku is).
In modern Karate, weapons are notably and remarkably not utilized. This can be attributed to Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate, who brought Karate to mainland Japan. The literal meaning of “Karate” was originally “Chinese Hand”. A homophone of “Karate” (a word that is pronounced the same, but has a different meaning) is “Empty Hand”. Funakoshi used this coincidence to change the meaning of the word “Karate”. He proliferated the lie that Karate meant “Empty Hand,” because his method of “Karate” was fighting without weapons. As Shotokan and mainland Japanese Karate became popularized, the practice of weapons disappeared, and Karate was further separated from its Chinese roots..
Even in its traditional practice, the lack of swordsmanship from Karate is a grand omission. The sword is one of the most important practices of Chinese Kung Fu. It not only teaches one how to use a sword, but how to control and direct the effort of their body in general. Simply put, the sword is an irreplaceable and seminal part of Chinese Kung Fu, and this is yet another glaring shortcoming in the practice of Karate.
To the trained eye, Kung Fu and Karate hardly resemble each other. It is the flow vs. the moment of impact. The hand vs. the fist. The skill vs. the belt. The classic vs. the trendy. The healthy vs. the extreme.
There is a reason we practice Kung Fu at the Golden Dragon Martial Arts Club.
Blog: Martial arts – a Necessity For a Sane Person
The human body is a rather complex system, but its proper function is based on some very simple principles. Here are the main three:
The human body adapts poorly to a sedentary style of life. All of us, without exception, need to exercise every day. Laziness must be overcome, every day.
We need to look beyond the trends. When it comes to nutrition, it is imperative to stick to the middle ground: not too much and not too little. This is the simplest way to maintain a healthy diet. For those who are more ambitious, it is important to know when and what you can eat, and the effects of combining different types of food. At first, this issue seems quite difficult. Most roads of internet research lead to some trendy diet. You must resist this temptation.
Trendy diets, predominantly based on deprivation, are generally bad for your health. Your diet has to be simple and rich in vitamins. Your body needs fats, sugars, proteins (from meat), carbs, minerals, fiber, and everything in between—just not too much of it. Eat a big breakfast, and avoid huge dinners. As they say in China, the reason for your troubles can be found on your plate.
People today seem convinced that life is unbearably tough, and requires constant distraction, leisure, and rest. “Fun” for a modern man generally involves ingesting some sort of mind-altering poison or zoning out on primitive, mind-numbing entertainment. What is a proper recreation? There is a wise ancient saying: the best kind of rest is changing work. Once you are tired of sitting at your office computer, it is the perfect time to do some exercise.
Work does not need to exhaust you: Collaborative artistic endeavors can rejuvenate. Simple chores like cleaning can renew your enthusiasm for your surroundings. Indulge in productive self-reflection, and take a moment every once in a while to do something that is truly important to you. After all, you can always lie down and enjoy idleness at bedtime. That is exactly what bedtime is for.
You can find “health nuts” and “know-it-alls” on every corner, but you will be hard-pressed to find someone leading a truly healthy lifestyle. Keep it simple, resist the grips of laziness, and you will be ahead of the curve.
Japanese Noodle Master
Food for the hungry.
Protection for the endangered.
Company for the lonely.
In times of need, the simplest gestures become the most meaningful.
No matter how complex a situation may appear, we can only succeed if we are determined to view it from the simplest possible vantage point. “Complications” are synonymous with “problems”.
In an effort to make sense of our volatile reality, the ancient Chinese created the all-encompassing notion of Yin and Yang. Understanding the infinite manifestations of Yin and Yang is a daunting pursuit, but we can master it by taming our desire for a flowery intellectualism.
“As for yin and yang, if we count ten variations, we can deduce a hundred. If we count a thousand, we can deduce a myriad. If we count a myriad, our deductions are beyond counting. In truth, there is only once essential factor.
If we understand this crucial factor, we can discuss it and draw our conclusions. If we do not understand this crucial factor, our comprehension will be endlessly scattered.”
This excerpt speaks to our ability to comprehend the “myriad of things”: all phenomena that occur in our world. In short, if you would like to understand everything, you must understand one thing: Yin and Yang. The universal principle that explains everything in existence must be kept simple. Simplicity makes this idea useful. Complexity makes it overwhelming.
How do we come to understand this one thing? By simplifying our lives, and committing ourselves to the simple necessities of health and well-being. In the search for pleasure and excitement, we often overcomplicate our lives. We have to be patient, and allow the simple to bring us something better.
“We need food”—the guiding and inspiring principle for the development of complex agriculture.
“We are sick”—the simple demand for the miracles of modern medicine.
Simple pleasures put the mind at ease:
Rest after exertion.
Hot tea and dry clothing after the rain.
Shade after being beat down by sunlight.
In our practice of the martial arts, we must allow ourselves time to fully explore the simple. If we rush to perform more complicated maneuvers, or to speak on more complicated ideas, we will deprive ourselves of any real knowledge.
The simple is the essential. It is unquestionably beautiful.
There are two rules:
This is the paradox to live by.
Be aware, but unbothered.
Act with purpose, and without expectation.
The overzealous are easily led astray.
The disenchanted have been numbed by cliché.
How can you feel ready when you are exhausted?
How can you stay calm when you are agitated?
There is no method. If there was, you would have figured it out by now.
Uncomfortable feelings will come and go. Life is a pendulum—it swings left and right, but always returns to the center.
How can you be smarter, better looking, and more charming than you actually are?
In the process of self-discovery, you will encounter the best of what you are. You will physically transform and mentally evolve. You will feel honored and humbled by the existence that you were born into.
You will also be confronted with the worst of what you have become. You will come face-to-face with your weaknesses, and you will fully realize the consequences of your previous mistakes.
Forgive yourself: If you could have done better, you would have.
Trust yourself: Your body and mind were made to adapt and improve over time.
Never relax: As long as you exist, be unwavering in your self-expression.
Always relax: Some things are not yours to control, be comfortable with who you are.
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