道场 Dào·Chǎng

Notes of a lifelong learner and perpetual beginner on martial arts, mindfulness, Chinese calligraphy…and many, many cups of tea.


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Green Tea Leadership

I have been studying and thinking about leadership styles recently. Driving home from work, I came up with the idea of “green tea leadership.” It goes something like this…

Green tea leadership style:
Too strong, it is bitter to the taste.
Too weak, it will not invigorate the senses and spirit.
In between, the work is accomplished, and there is no resting in it.

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Small Vessel

This past Saturday my kung fu teacher David Wong taught his first class since returning from his visit to Hong Kong and China. I was conscious of how much I had missed his personal flair, humor and guidance in my life. My morning thoughts on the way home were about my estimation that I could never learn and be as skilled at kung fu as much as my teacher. I fear that I could ever learn only a fraction of what he has learned in  his lifetime. If I ever became a kung fu teacher, everything I know would only be a snapshot, a sample of what my teacher knows. Thinking about it as I drove, these thoughts came to my mind: You might think to yourself, “I will never be great. At best I can only hope to be a small vessel.” But it is important to remember that even a single drop of water contains the essence of all water. Small things contain the essence of great things. Conduct yourself accordingly.

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Video: 徐紀老師 伝統北派武術技撃秘訣 後編

Came across this excellent video depicting applications of movements similar (if not the same as) the style of taijiquan I study with Sifu David Wong. Interestingly the title refers to “northern school.” Sharing this here, as I plan to study it with greater attention when I get a chance at home.


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Moving Clouds and Flowing Water – 行雲流水

Yesterday I purchased a copy of Chan Heart, Chan Mind by contemporary Chinese Buddhist monk Guo Jun. The book begins with Guo Jun’s account of his first teacher Songnian. As Guo Jun described the rough personality and teaching style of Songnian, it reminded me a great deal of my own kung fu teacher. More importantly, as Songnian taught the principles of grinding ink for use in calligraphy (shu fa), the essential principles reminded me of the important lessons my own teacher imparted to me especially with regard to the “pushing hands” exercises (tui shou) of taijiquan. Luckily, this chapter is also available online as a publication of Tricycle magazine, and I am able to share it here: http://www.tricycle.com/feature/calligrapher%E2%80%99s-apprentice.

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Bad Luck, Good Luck

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There was a man who lived near the frontier who was well versed in the workings of fate. For no reason his horse ran away into the land of the nomads. Everyone else commiserated with him, but his father said, “How do you know this won’t unexpectedly turn out to be good luck?”

After several months his horse returned with fine nomad horses. Everyone else congratulated him, but his father said, “How do you know this won’t unexpectedly turn out to be bad luck?” The family was rich in fine horses, and the man’s son liked to ride. He fell and broke his hipbone; and everyone commiserated with him; but his  father said, “How do you know this won’t unexpectedly turn out to be good luck?”

After a year, the nomads made a great raid into the border. The young men in their prime  took their bows and went to do battle. Of those who lived near the frontier, nine out of ten died. But this father kept his only son because he was lame.

Thus good fortune turning into misfortune and misfortune turning into good fortune is a transformation without end, and the depths of it cannot be penetrated.

~ from the Huai Nan Zi (2nd century B.C.E.)


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蛇拳 Snake Fist

Last night I was doing some light sparring with Michael Hubbard at the Oakdale Wing Chun Club and busted a Snake style move out of nowhere…and it worked as an effective “moving” block! I can only think that it is a memory I have from the little bit of work I did on a Shaolin Five Animals form years ago. Anyway, it got me doing a little research on Snake style and I found this video. The interesting thing is that many of the moves in this form will look familiar to my fellow students from the Wing Chun forms we learn at Oakdale Wing Chun Club. I wish I knew who the teacher is in this video, his form is very good. Check it out!