Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Mantis under the Tiger's Shadow

This post was written by an online friend, a man I know as "Zen." He's the author of Zen's Sekai I ( Sekai is World in Japanese). He's a 36th generation student and teacher of Northern Shaolin through .the line of Jack Man Wong. He's also a 6th generation student and teacher of Tai Chi Praying Mantis. Among his other accomplishments and activities is the study of  Chan Buddhism.

Zen is planning on sailing from California to his wife's homeland, Japan. There he will teach Chinese Martial Arts and study Kyudo.

Please pay his blog a visit. Enjoy.
A Mantis under the Tiger's shadow

I was asked by my blogbud to do a guest spot here. He had a topic of sorts in mind about my teaching a Chinese Art in the land of the Rising Sun, Japan.

On first thought that would seem a bit off and when I first thought of moving to Japan I also thought, hmm this will not do well.

However let's look at s few things in perspective. A large part of the Japanese culture was developed from China, written language, medicine, ceramics, Zen, just to name a few. Even Karate itself, The kanji for Karate at one time meant Tang Fist or China Fist, before it was changed to Empty Hand. Historically Japan has held things from China in high regards.

The Shaolin arts of Kung Fu are not just about combat. Combat is one of the smaller parts of training. Many forget that Shaolin Kung Fu as we know it today was developed in a Buddhist Monastery with heavy Taoist influence.

Buddhist philosophy is about love and peaceful existence with all. All life is connected and interdependent. Combat skills are a by product of training to live harmoniously and safely in a violent world.

With Japan having the highest suicide rate of the developed countries there is a market for something that will help calm the troubled spirits.

I made an acquaintance in Kobe Japan who teaches Chinese Hung Gar and Tai Chi. He says that most of his students are females, they are the ones with the adventurous spirit these days. I have heard there is a rise of females taking up sword training. Guys are busy being stressed out, working, etc. That is ok, I am finding most of my students here in the states are female as well. Perhaps the guy will benefit indirectly.

On a few of my several trips and stays in Japan I was able to join into a park Tai Chi class that had been going on for several years. The leader had studied Tai Chi at the local Chinese community center.

I also came upon a large Shaolin center during a vist, this was written as Shorin-ji which is the Japanese version of Shaolin.

These things tell me there is a place for the study of Chinese arts under the shadow of the Shotokan Tiger.

Over the years of my study in the Chinese arts I often heard, there is more to Kung Fu than fighting, but no one taught or spoke on it in any detail other than the mention of it in passing when discussing Kung Fu philosophy. Over the last several years I have made a point of finding that “missing” element of Kung Fu and learning how to reinstall it back into my teachings. This need lead me to the Art of Kyudo, and the practice of Zen in order to become a better Kung Fu teacher. This may sound kind of strange, but as we say in Chan/Zen all things are connected. On searching this path I found a Shaolin Chan group who’s head teacher is a “vice-president” of the Shaolin Temple in China. He is in charge of bring back the original form of Chan meditation and teachings to the temple.

After the last few years of training and study I have little by little been bring that into my current class teachings of Northern Shaolin Tai Chi Praying Mantis Kung Fu. I find, it balances the program and training for the students. I have heard my current Praying Mantis Sifu speak on this, This is a new age he says and the “daily fighting that needs to be done is more for our health and well being than fighting the bad guys”. Most people get into a fight once or twice in their life. But everyday they have to fight for their health, fight stress, fight sickness. This will be the path of my teachings in Japan... Kung Fu beyond Combat.

As a artist uses different “mediums” to express their connection to the Universe, the Art of Kung Fu will be yet another medium for this expression in Japan through my classes. The combat, the self defense will be there, but so will be the added balance of spiritual and health training. Shaolin arts are also about healing and love not just destroying and violence. Kung Fu is an ancient art that still lives and adapts for modern times.

Having studied Karate, and Kyudo as well as other aspects of the Japanese culture I feel comfortable in using this as a method of communicating this multi-cultural art form. As I am not out to make a financial success of this teaching. Just even sharing and helping a few will be considered by myself a success.

A Zen master once said to me, in joy there is also sadness. In this adventure of resetting myself on the other side of the world it is exciting and there is joy in leaving the madness that is becoming norm for survival life here in the States. There is sadness in leaving my Kung Fu family and support of many years. There is a certain joy in not being a teacher, removing that robe and just be a student with peers in a training class.

I am also fortunate in that I have been invited to train with a Kyudo dojo and have met several of the senior members, this in addition to other acquaintances I have developed is a joy. This is good for moral support of being a stranger in a new land. In fact I feel in a sense like I am going home rather than a new place.

However I will be alone on my Kung Fu path for the most part under the Tiger’s shadow. Yet even still there is the light of visits from my Sisuk, who loves Japan and who promises to come visit and train me so to continue to raise my skill level and bring honor to lineage of Grand Master Chi Chuk Kai and the Northern Shaolin Tai Chi Praying Mantis system.


Zen said...

Nice picture I may have to borrow it :-)

Pancho said...

Good post. It reminds me an article in Nat Geo. It says:

"Isn't kung fu essentially about violence, I ask him, and doesn't that conflict with the nonviolent principles of Buddhism? No, in essence kung fu is about converting energy to force, he explains. Absent an adversary, the practice is a series of movements. The practitioner's own physical and mental weaknesses become his adversary. In effect, he goes to war with himself and emerges better than he was before. "In this way," says Dejian, "kung fu is nurturing."

Perhaps you find it interesting:

Rick Matz said...


Thanks for the link!

For myself, my interest in martial arts is mostly to have a clear mind and fit body as I grow old.