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My name is Taylor McConnell, I've been studying Kung Fu under the Hip Kyun Kung Fu Federation for about five months. I study under Sifu Chris Craig, Jeff Malm, Aaron Faulkner, Bev Haines, Debbie Bubar and John Willis. Predominantly I've learnt Hung Gar, I know Aarow Hands and Gun Gee Fook Fu. I know a little bit of Shaolin (Tun Da) and will hopefully be learning Praying Mantis from Sifu Chris. As of two days ago I am a white sash and very proud to be.

I had always be interested in martial arts, and always wanted to learn it. It was not until recently that I finally persuaded my mother to let me join. I've been loving it ever since, I personally shit kick myself everytime I happen to miss a class, for any reason.

Pop Culture and the Martial Arts

It is funny the effect of popular culture on our everyday life. Recently I was watching a show on TV about Star Trek and the influence it had on today’s technology. They showed that what were once science fiction TV props had now become a fact of modern day life. This was because the TV show had such a profound effect on a generation that when that generation came of age, the ideas planted in there minds as adolescents became reality. An example was the Star Trek hand held communicator and the modern day cell phone.

As for me, yes I like Star Trek but the TV show that had the greatest influence on me was Kung Fu. Now this TV show what not rooted in the future but in the past, so there were no science fiction concepts to realize. No, the concepts in Kung Fu were ancient concepts and ancient wisdom that once embedded in the hearts and minds of the viewers, was there for life.

Is This Martial Arts?

Some of my earliest memories are of going to the gun range with my father. He was a career military man and shooting was his passion throughout his whole life. He taught me to shoot as a young boy and I enjoyed it a lot. Later on in my life, after I was married and had kids, my focus was on my martial arts and I did not pick up a gun for almost 20 years. I never thought much about it really, as I had my Kung Fu weapons to master and that took up all my time and money.

Last year on a trip to visit my Mom and Dad, I took my 10 year old son shooting with my Dad. I taught my son to shoot a .22 magnum rifle while my Dad watched and made some comments himself. You could see his chest well up in pride as my son hit the target time and time again. This was a special moment for all three of us. When we returned home, Dad shipped the gun to CA and my son and I continued to go to the range. Later my Dad sent me a hand gun that I started to teach my son to shoot as well.

The Strongest Man I ever knew is Dead

When I was a young kid, my heroes were Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Willie Mays. When I became a teenager, my heroes were Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. As a young man, my heroes were Ronald Reagan, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Frank Sinatra. Funny though, through it all, I never really realized who my real hero was. My real hero fought in the Korean War. He was a Marine through and through. After he retired from the military, he was an investigator for the US government Department of Labor. He helped me understand what it was to be a real man. The greatest gift this Man ever gave me was to tell me that a real man is not afraid to show his emotions – that a real Man is not afraid to cry. He taught me when to be hard and when to be soft. He taught me when to fight and when to forgive. He taught me when to be strong and when to be gentle. He was a shining example of what a husband and a father should be. All that time I did not see the Man, the Hero ….I only saw my Dad.

Carrying the Torch?

Did you aver ask your self why you train in Kung Fu? I mean really be honest with yourself? Is it because you want a healthy body? Is it because you want to learn how to fight? Is it because you love the Martial arts?

Well …. IMHO….those of us who have stayed in Kung Fu for any length of time have come to the realization that learning to fight is a byproduct, and a low level byproduct at that. Having a health body, although it is important, is a byproduct as well. And of course, if you stay in the Martial Arts for any length of time you grow to love it. But what do we really get from studying something that might have been created over 100 years ago? Why not just learn to fight with a modern style of man to man combat?

Is Kung Fu Useful?

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the WLE forum about the usefulness of the Kung Fu that is being taught today. This discussion is relative to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and fighting in the UFC. Most feel that the MMA guys are more realistic and have boiled down what is useful to them and that is why they are more successful in this ring and why Kung Fu guys get their ass kicked.

My opinion is “Who gives a damn?” You have to ask yourself some questions: Why do I study Kung Fu? What are my goals – just to fight? If I were going to fight in a UFC situation, will their rules restrict my technique to the point I can not win?

Your School is Your Family

Yesterday my son and I attended Black Belt promotions at his Karate school – a once a year event. One of my concerns (one if many issues I have with American Karate schools) is that the younger students are shuffled in and out of the classes and do not have the opportunity to spend time with or even see senior students train. They have nothing to shoot for, learn by example or look up to. This promotion event is a big deal for this school and students from all over California showed up for the three hour show. It was very impressive as I watched them all greet each other. The shear number of them is enough to make you step back and say WOW.

The Martial Arts Brotherhood

Fortunately, my job takes me to Japan a lot. I am there as much as ten times a year and, I am in fact there now, as I write this blog. I was a little uneasy about this particular trip however as I was scheduled to have several meetings with the new VP of Sales for our Japan office. He is not Japanese but an American who has lived in Japan for 15 years and is fluent in all four levels of the Japanese language so I did not know what to expect.

As I entered his office he was all smiles as we shook hands and he immediately commented on the strength of my hand shake (Chinese Iron Palm training). As he was talking, I looked around his office and noticed several wooden swords in the corner, the type used in the practice of Kendo and there were also several pictures in his cabinet of him in a Karate uniform with a semi worn black belt tied around his waist. Right then and there all apprehension left me and I told him that I was a martial artist myself. So....for the next hour.....instead of discussing sales quota and revenue accountability, we sat in his office and discussed the Martial Arts. What an ice breaker! The Martial Arts is truly a Brotherhood.

Martial Arts Forums – Library of Information or Virtual Sparing Ring?

Forums of all kinds have been popular over the last 10 years and Martial Arts forums are no different. As a tool to disseminate information, help and encouragement with WLE product and the systems of CMA that Sifu Wing Lam teaches, we created the WLE forum. I can say that, to that end we are successful and I am proud to moderate this forum. There are other forums however where name calling, slandering and challenging are the rule and not the exception. These forums are controlled by a few “virtual masters” that run roughshod over posters belittling the posts, teachers, ideas and opinions of all posters that have not been accepted in to the cliché.

Old Friends

When you spend a lot of time training in Iron Palm your mind will tend to wander over the course of the training session. I always warm up with my gravel bag before I go to the steel bag and today I noticed a couple more holes forming in the bag that need a bit of athletic tape to cover them up. This started me thinking that I really need to get a new bag. Then I asked myself why I would want to do that since I only spend a few minutes with this bag and, I have grown attached to it. This then got me thinking about the other training aid I have had but just can not seem to give up. Even when I have a pair o shoes that I just can not ware anymore, I still can not throw them out.

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