Martial Arts Articles
Within Chinese culture, any traditional skill may be passed down from master to disciple, whether it be martial arts, scholarly arts, painting, cooking, even the art of being a barber or an executioner. Becoming a disciple forges a unique bond between you and the long line of ancestors who forged your tradition before you. It is a very special relationship between master and disciple, full of ritual and meaning. You become family. However, like so aspects of Chinese culture, it is woefully misunderstood by outsiders.
Turn Around, Open the Door
Right next to the front gate of Shaolin Temple is a mural of a Buddhist Wheel or Dharmachakra. To me, the Dharmachakra represents impermanence, the transient nature of our existence, and the inescapable progress of time (there is another meaning relating to the eight-fold path, but I'm not going to get into that here). My fascination with this particular Buddhist symbol makes the Shaolin wheel particularly special. Submitted for your approval is an account of how impermanent the world is, how you have to keep up with the changes, especially when it comes to Kung Fu Study tours in China.
Chin Na in Three Easy Words
"Follow the twist." These were Sifu Wing Lam's three simple words of instruction to me. We both knew, however, that they came too late; at that moment any attempt on my part to counter his joint locking attack would end in futility. Hopping about on one foot, with one arm pinned behind my back in a distinctly unnatural manner, I was once again a victim of Sifu's Chin Na technique.
Mount Tai Crushes the Head
The winter months are hard here at Lam Kwoon. Despite living in sunny California, our Kwoon building was designed to keep in the cold. Originally, it was meat locker. Later it became an ice skating rink. Now, it is my very cold work space. But we Kung Fu practitioners are accustomed to hardship. After a good workout, steam is rising off everyone's heads. We thrive here, working in harmony with the seasons of nature. While those other schools with their central heating may be more comfortable, we embrace our environment and adapt.
The Two-Warrior Family
I've seen it happen far too many times; one of my fellow students at the kung fu studio finds a new boyfriend or girlfriend or gets engaged, or--God forbid--gets married. And after a few weeks, maybe a month, the student disappears, never to be heard from again. Sometimes they actually do stop by, sheepish yet proud, and explain that there's just not enough time for both martial arts and a relationship. At such times I sigh and shake my head, appalled by the tragic waste.
Shaolin Leg Wraps
For the longest time, leg wraps were the most requested Shaolin item that we did not stock. These leg wraps are a distinctive accouterment to the Shaolin Monk robes; All the monks wear them in those movies and books, so everyone wanted them. Always mindful of your requests, we introduced our Shaolin Leg Wraps as a new item in our last issue. Since their addition, we are experiencing a new request - many of you have started asking what they are for.
No Lions In China?
Everywhere in China the images of lions abound. Pairs of carved stone or cast metal lions adorn every conceivable business, house, main thoroughfare, and side street. Even in the West these images are common. Yet, lions are not native to China. What are the origins of China's infatuation with a rarely seen animal from a far land?
Step Back, Thread Palm, And Finish Form
Dear readers, submitted for your approval are a few fleeting observations on the martial journey just before the millennium. If you have been following our little newsletter up until now, you may have noticed reoccurring symbol that has been a consistent thread through a few of our previous issues - the Buddhist Wheel, or Dharmachakra. This was unintentional, subconscious on my part perhaps, but believe me, I wish I could have planned it so elegantly.
From External to Internal - Applied Yin-Yang Theory
Last year I returned to my studies at Wing Lam Kwoon after some time away attending night school to further my education. I had been studying Hung Gar and Iron Palm from Sifu since 1982 and, except for few of the Ha Say Fu Hung Gar weapon sets, I had learned the whole system. Although I did not really want to suspend my study, at this point in my life I felt that the extra education would benefit both my family and career.
The Single Palm Change: Baguazhang's Fundamental Movement
Since I have been practicing Baguazhang (Eight Trigram Palm) at Lam Kwoon, I have had other students come up to me and ask "What the heck are you doing?" They see me walking around in a circle, making a few movements, and then walking in the other direction. What is it? Surely it's not Hung Gar or Shaolin. Is it Tai Chi? I guess I have to laugh when I think of it from their viewpoint. At least from what I have seen there are not a lot of other Lam Kwoon students practicing Bagua.