The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

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 ~


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Photo Essay: The Legacy of Huo Yuanjia


This came to my attention via the Kung Fu Tea blog.

Huo Yuanjia was a famous Chinese martial artist who was active around the turn of the 20th century. Some of his exploits were the subject of the Jet Li film, Fearless.

Huo was one of the founders of the Jingwu (Chin Woo) Athletic Association, which still exists today and remains his legacy.

Here is a link to a photo essay from Xinhuanet, which focuses on Huo Jing Hong, a fifth generation descendant and inheritor of Huo's system. Enjoy.





Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Third Option

Below is a post from Steven Pressfield's blog. Steven Pressfield is the author of books such as The Legend of Bagger Vance and Gate of Fire. 

While the post isn't specifically about martial arts, it applies. The full post may be read here.

The story of David and Goliath is one of history’s greatest reruns—played out on repeat in books and boardrooms and battlefields.

Big Guy goes after Little Guy.

Little Guy finds inner strength.

Little Guy taps into inner strength.

Little Guy fights Big Guy.

Big Guy falters.

Little Guy knocks Big Guy’s lights out.

The David and Goliath story is the story of the “win.” Think Luke against Darth Vader, Daniel Larusso against the entire Cobra Kai dojo, and pretty much any Disney classic (insert any princess or talking animal against any evil witch or demented talking animal here.).

The opposite—the story of the lose—plays out in two forms: Little Guy goes after Big Guy and is squashed by Big Guy (think of all the companies Gordon Gekko crushed before being sent to jail) and Little Guy hides from Big Guy, only delaying Big Guy’s deathblow (think George McFly and Biff Tannen before Marty went back to the future).

Then there’s a third option—when David ignores Goliath and Goliath moves on. And it comes with the realization that David and Goliath don’t always have to face off in order for someone to “win”—and that the definitions of “win” and “lose” aren’t so clear cut.

***

There are a million great lines in the movie Bull Durham. One of my favorites:

This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while.

Think about it. There’s always a third option.


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Wudang Taijiquan

Cheng Tinhung was a real force in Hong Kong Taijiquan in the 1970's and 80's. He was known as a fighter.

In a nutshell, his Wudang Taijiquan seems to be branched off of the Wu Family style, but with an entirely different Neigong set.


One of

One of Cheng's most notable students was Dan Docherty, then a member of the Royal Hong Kong Police, who went on to win the South East Asian Chinese Martial Arts Championship, which was a full contact affair.


Docherty moved back to Scotland, taught many students and has overseen the Practical Tai Chi Chuan organization since.




Sunday, May 05, 2019

Testing a Calm Mind

If asked, I’d have to say that the main reason that I study taijiquan is to help cultivate a calm mind.

That it is also an excellent exercise for a man my age (61) which helps with leg strength, flexibility, range of motion and balance is also true, but secondary.

As a man my age has no business getting into fights, self defense isn’t really on the agenda for me anywhere.

The organization I work for was hosting an event over several days at a hotel. We had around 150 registered guests. After our closing banquet on the last day, we had opened a hospitality suite for our party.

As a member of the staff, I was one of the first ones there to make sure everything was going to go smoothly. A couple of our more prominent guests were there and I joined them. Everyone else was still in the banquet room.

I’m standing there talking to our guests when a stranger kind of bursts into the room like he owns the place, grabs a beer and just walks up to our conversation. It was clear that he was quite drunk. He was loud, but he was funny, so we humored him. My idea was to let him have a beer and ask him to leave before our people started showing up in any numbers.

Well, he was loud and sloppily spilling drinks. He started becoming abusive towards the bartender.

When he cracked open another beer, I told him that was enough. He wasn’t a part of our group and he had to leave. He didn’t like that.

So here I am, nose to nose with this guy who is a good twenty years younger and in far better shape than I am. He was really worked up.

I found that I was dead calm. I was firm and assertive. He couldn’t get a rise out of me.

Other people from our group started filing in now. The bartender had his hand on the house phone; to call security I suppose, if needed.

He kept flashing his credit card and a wad of money around. He couldn’t believe that I was kicking him out. He could buy and sell the whole lot of us he said. I wasn’t backing down.

Maybe he became embarrassed by getting faced down by an old man, but at this point, he finally left.

We could hear him at the hotel bar which was across the hall from us carrying on and learned that security had asked him to leave there a little later.

For cultivating a calm mind, I think taijiquan worked.

Addendum: they told me at the hotel that this guy got into a fist fight with someone else later and was  evicted from the hotel. He was there with a work group, apparently and I imagine will have some explaining to do.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Contemporary Duelling

One of the reasons that I enjoy the book The Secret History of the Sword, is that it contains recounts of real duels both in English and translated from other European languages. It's a little easier to wrap one's head around than translations from Eastern languages.

It seems in some German universities, there has been a tradition that goes back a couple of hundred years, of intra mural fencing with sharpened swords.

The rules are rigid. The fencers must maintain their position on a line. Protective eyewear is worn, but little else in the way of facial armor. Basically, the goal is to scar the opponent's face.

Do you know the famous Heidelberg Scar? That.

The author of the book took part in one of these duels (and drank beer afterwards).

Below is a short video on the phenomenon. Enjoy.