A real lesson in not only mindfulness, but the power to use deeper senses within ourselves to connect with others intuitively and attain harmony in movement, sound and expression. Real kung fu.
“He always took the time to do everything. That’s being in time” (David Chadwick, writing about zen master Shunryu Suzuki).
The snow has arrived in Minnesota. Now my Kung Fu training will move from my teacher’s driveway to his basement, where we will practice in much more small confined spaces. In these little corners, we will learn that there are possibilities for movement and change no matter how tight circumstances become. This is also the time of year where the added difficulty of snow, ice and cold will teach us to give things (inside and outside of ourselves) the time that they need in order to happen, evolve, renew…or even just be as they are. I appreciate this time of year very much.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I came across this excellent video of a shufa (Chinese calligraphy) master creating a beautiful depiction and characters for the Year of the Ram. His skill and flow exemplify the broader meaning of gongfu. Celebrations of the new year are already underway in China, Viet Nam and other Asian nations and cultures. It is my understanding that the exact date of the lunar new year is this coming Thursday. My own Wing Chun and Taiji Quan school will be having its celebratory dinner this coming Saturday night. It should be a very good time! Wishing you all a very happy New Year!
~ Tom Delaney